Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ghosts of Knitting Past

This is a rant.

In the last week, I've been brought face to face with other people's old knitting. And it's not pretty.

Last week, a woman came in to the shop and pulled out patterns from the 1960's. Ok. Vintage knitting is Cool. Vintage knitting is In. But hanging on to old patterns because they're the only ones you knit is not cool, and actually is kind of stupid.

I was being asked to figure out what yarn she needed and how much. The pattern called for x number of balls of a now-defunct yarn that once upon a time came in 2 oz balls. That tells us nothing. However, as I explained to her, the needle size and gauge will help us, along with an in-house cheat-sheet that estimates (key word here: estimates) how much yardage you'll need for a sweater. Size 10 needles/3 stitches to the inch: hmmmm, sounds like bulky yarn to me. (But, the customer says, the photograph of the sweater doesn't look bulky.) Since I can't climb inside your head, dear customer, and see what you're seeing, all I can do is repeat the needle size and gauge and point out that the same (exact same!) needle size and gauge are here, on this yarn label.

She has to think about it.

The next pattern is from a kit that was packaged in the '60's; there is absolutely no mention of what kind of yarn was used. The directions give three different sizes that are based on changing the needle size----it could be fingering (baby) weight yarn, or dk (sport) yarn.

Long story short, she ends up buying worsted weight for the bulky weight pattern (because the photo didn't look bulky), and some fingering for the baby sweater.

I guarantee that she'll be back, and she'll be complaining because things didn't turn out "right".

This is what I'm talking about when I say that knitters need to take responsibility for their knitting: just do it. Try it. Do a gague swatch. Think about what you're doing. But please, don't shift all of the risk and responsibility on to someone you don't know who can't see inside your brain. Come on.

The other incident was being stopped by a neighbor who knows that I knit. She has a project that she's been working on for about four years,and she wants me to look at the directions and tell her what she's doing wrong.

Again, can I really climb inside your brain and figure this out? I don't think so.

So, the bottom line here is: if you want to knit from vintage patterns, do the math yourself---don't spring it on someone who doesn't really know what it is you want and is also trying to help four other people who are actually on the ball. Also, there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying new patterns. It's ok. They're not that expensive (and there are a lot free ones crammed in the tubes, if you want to take the time to

And if you've been working on a project for four or more years, maybe it's time to frog it or just put it in the trash and start fresh. If you can't remember what you were doing when you put this weird piece of crap down, why do you think that my brain is somehow more magic than yours and I'll know what you were thinking and doing four years ago?

Ok. Rant done.


CC said...

Oh dear, so what do I do when we had lunch? Ask for knitting help.
As I am moderately hopeless, meaning I can only do the basics, that must have been a real treat. Forgive please.

Erika said...

There's a difference between needing help and being really, really dense and stupid. Believe me, you're neither dense nor stupid!