Knitting And Weaving through Winter (And Yarn Store Advice!)

I love my new fingerless mittens and wear them everywhere!

This is my latest project--one many knitters will recognize from Interweave Knits in Spring 2009. I had to teach myself the "tubular cast on" for the collar. It took me five attempts. I was pretty proud of myself, actually.
My first basket--I call it Calamity Jane. It's how I was feeling at the time.
A basket I designed on my own--not truly structured in the sense of straight lines and all--but if you've been reading this blog, you've probably figured out, I am not a straight line kind of gal.
This is called coil weaving. A wonderful, sort of mindless weaving. Wrapping natural fiber wool yarns around a clothing line to create shape and containment. It turned out lovely and was a fun class.
This is my recent coil weaving project. I pick it up once in a while when my hand begins to hurt from knitting. I can't sit and do this for very long. But when I do, I enjoy it. (Bigger arm movements involved.) I am planning to make it in the shape of a plate--for a wall hanging piece, perhaps. You can see the clothing line being used.

It's knitting season. It's also basket weaving season. I love to do both. Not at the same time. And I would not call myself a "regular weaver"--though I have had many fine experiences with reed. I thought I'd share a few of my baskets with you. I received a really nice email from a fellow weaver. This post is for her. The rest of the post is for the knitters. I have a new cardigan I am working on--and wanted to show you my finished fingerless mittens, too (pattern by Nancy Fry)--I love them! But onto an ugly knitter-reality: bad knitting store customer service.

Yesterday I ventured out in the snow and went yarn shopping. I had spent the morning on the internet combing through site for which only the truly knit-inclined can appreciate--it is like a black hole for me. Before I knew it, I had spent nearly three hours of my morning just stumbling through page after page of beautiful projects and yarn. I was inspired, armed and ready. Sadly, one of my yarn stores was not ready for me. I made a special trip to a past local favorite. Too bad for me they were not in a "customer service" mood, too bad for them I have a blog to talk about this. I am not someone who demands a lot of attention when I shop. I worked retail for nearly 18 years--most of it in management--not the best time in my life by a long shot, but certainly a time in which I learned a thing or two about customer service and running a business. My favorite store I visit is one in which I am welcomed, smiled at (they know my name), and find that no matter what my mood, knitting project or obsession might be--they help--they listen, or they make sure to let me know they'll be there should I have a question if I appear to be "wandering aimlessly"touching this, touching that, rubbing a skein on my face or arm--things very common amongst the knit-types. They have been a saving grace for many of my knitting crises. They know who they are--and I would have been there yesterday, but they are closed on Sunday. So, ladies in other yarn shops take note:

1. No matter how prepared or focused one seems (with pattern book in hand)--approach and re-approach for possible suggestions on what guage yarns may work with my particular need of the day. You are, after all, a small, local yarn store--if the ratio of customers to associates is lower (and nine times out of ten, it is)--there is no reason to not keep those already on the premises in your store there. . . and perhaps have them make a purchase to boot!

2. Don't sit at the wrap station dissing previous customers (using your "outside" voice so all of us shopping are indirectly warned) who were a bit peculiar (like the lady who kept pulling yarn from the bin and replacing it in a "new" home--only to add to your already frustrating day)--you work retail, that is your job. AND you work in a yarn store, a small yarn store--where it may take you twelve steps to get from one bin to another. Most knitters are, by and large, quite esoteric, but very bright women--just do your job and be grateful you have customers!

3. Don't turn on NPR in the middle of the day--especially if Click and Clack are on. Muzac was bad enough, oh and the day someone thought it'd be fun to listen to their boyfriend's downloaded Ipod "alternative bands" music--nothing better than to shop with that in the background.

4. If you in any way, shape or form take on an attitude (and you know what I am talking about) with any customer regarding a knitting question or problem they may have encountered while knitting their "most-favorite-I-must-make-this-in-a-month" cardigan with fingerling yarn (which may or may not have been purchased in your store)--check your attitude in the break room and keep a smile on your face! The next yarn project purchase could be a conversation away. You will lose business if you appear to talk down to someone--and have lost business by doing so (just because you have been knitting since you began to walk does not make the rest of the world less talented or less worthy)--they just did not have the mother/grandmother you had.

5. If you are a knitting store proprietor, don't ask your associates how the day's sales are and then say, "Oh" in dissappointment--only to then walk over and turn on NPR--perhaps to liven things up. Walking past two other customers in the mean time. First, ask that question in the back room, second, perhaps you might help your associates with a sale or two yourself!

6. Michael's and Hobby Lobby carry yarn, too. I have seen plenty of big box yarn showing up on We are in a recession. It might be good to remember this.

7. Online yarn is cheaper.

8. Yes, people do purchase yarn from stores/websites other than yours and may on those small occasions, need assistance with a tricky stitch--help graciously, it will reward you tenfold in the future. If you dare ask "where did this yarn come from" (with your eyebrow arched and your downturned frown) you are itching for a fight, and that ladies, will only cause one to look elsewhere the next time one shops.

I have plenty of knitting I want to do this winter--along with my cooking. But making a case for us "knitters" who, again, are quite smart, are willing to listen to sage wisdom and suggestions and who turn to our LYS for such wisdom--a little self checking on your part wouldn't hurt. I'll be back to the vegan goodness in a bit, but I felt this diversion was needed. Plus, I just got a lot off my chest that needed gettin' to. I feel better, that is all that really matters.