Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Knitting Police

There is no place for this!

Do you remember when you were just learning to knit? When you were just beginning to understand how the loops wrapped about your needles form a stitch? I experience that feeling very often. Not in myself, but through the eyes of new knitters when I am teaching a newbie how to knit or helping a seasoned knitter learn a new stitch.

Last week I had that experience again when a friend of mine, a seasoned knitter, asked for my help with a pattern. To me, the pattern was a pretty simple, but for Betsy, I knew some of the stitches were new and a bit beyond her current skill level. When is great. You always want to stretch yourself to things that are new; that's how you grow, right? Also, I knew she was very sensitive to the fact that she didn't understand some of the terminology in patterns, even though she has been knitting for a long time.

Like I said, Betsy is a seasoned knitter. She has been knitting for longer than I have been alive. However, she, like so many knitters like her, she was content to knit simple projects that did not require a pattern for a long time. And that is totally fine!

Now, with Ravelry and all the resources and online communities available, Betsy and many long time knitters like her are venturing out to learning new techniques - which I love.

In my previous life in corporate finance and accounting, I wrote training manuals and trained new hires. So, I have an background in teaching in a way to address the end user's need at the level they are currently at, so after a quick 10-minute lesson, I was able to get Betsy's stitches sorted out and to the point where she understood the pattern and was comfortable to go knit on her own.

But, before we parted, Betsy said something that really got me mad.
mashpee, shawlette, knit, Tian
Mashpee Shawlette

She said she had taken a knitting class for help. It was a paid class, that was not cheap, that knitters could bring in their current project for help. She didn't have a problem paying, but she said she left the class early and in near tears.

Now, why would a knitter be so upset by a knitting class? As a retiree, Betsy felt the instructor spoke down to her, belittlingly for her lack of experience, and told her she "knitted wrong" so she (the instructor) couldn't help her anymore.

You knit wrong?! What the...? ok, just breath.

I thought those days of knit shaming was over! It's hard to believe there are still some people out there making others feel awful at their craft because they do things a bit different or are not as advance as some others.

Betsy experience made me think, "What if Betsy was a brand new knitter? Would she continue to knit or just quit because of how she was treated by this knitting instructor?"

KNitDesigns by Tian

Lets be clear. There are no knitting police, even though some people like to think their way IS the way. Be conscious of how you treat other knitters. Take that time to put yourself in their place because how you act, how you make them feel, will impact their future fiber life and leave a lasting impression, a negative one at that, on the whole craft and the community.

Luckily, I was able to talk Betsy of the yarn cliff before she went back to only knitting scarves. There is nothing wrong with knitting only scarves your whole life, if that is what you want. But Betsy want to do more and for that I encourage to try. Make mistakes. After all, it's only yarn. And, now she knows that whenever she has a problem, she can just call me up.

Now it's your turn. {Leave a comment} Tell me about your experience with the knitting police! Have you every had the knitting police after you or know someone who was told they knit wrong?

Knit On!


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  1. Ugh! This makes me so angry! As a knitting teacher I always try to encourage my students to find what is comfortable to them. I often say "There is no wrong way of knitting, with 2 exceptions...if the way you are knitting is injuring yourself, then you may want to find another way; and if the resulting knit fabric is not pleasing to you, you may want to change needles, yarn or technique to get the desired end-project." Otherwise, there is no "right" or "wrong," in knitting, only "different!

    1. Great point! You're absolutely right, if the technique is harmful or not getting the desired result, then that is a place to recommend change.

  2. I'd be steaming too! There is no "right" way ... they're all just different. Yes, there are more common ways of knitting but that doesn't mean they are exclusively the only correct ways. What if your friend was disabled and had to adapt to be able to knit? Would she still be knitting wrong? I'd heard of cases where English-style knitters telling Continental knitters (the way I learned) they weren't doing it right, but I thought those days were past. How sad.

    p.s. You didn't say if the class was taught at an LYS, but if so I would let them know how dissatisfied I was with the teacher - and the specifics why (that might get tricky if the teacher was the LYS owner). I'm sure what happened to your friend wasn't the first time / won't be the last, and they might like to know.

    1. Thank you Carmen for sharing.
      It wasn't at a LYS, but at a learning center, which kinda makes it worst, since it's focus is on adult learning. You're right, it's not the first or last time this kind of thing will happen. It seems to happen way too often, especially to the meek who are too afraid to stand up for themselves.