Tag Archives: Conversations

Around the table at the LYS

So yesterday afternoon I went in to speak with Sirkku, the owner of the LYS who is most local to me. She is a huge supporter of my endeavors. I’ve known her for about 9 years, pre-LYS days even, and she is an amazing person to know.

She and June (the knitting instructor) and I often sit and work at the table in her 1600 sq. ft shop, and discuss the troubles of dealing clients and students. Of course not when they are in the shop mind you, but we all have our war stories.

We swap technique information, and teaching techniques, and problem solve together, it doesn’t matter which craft mind you, because some of this stuff is just universal. Anyway, as we were working on our projects and chatting, the subject of yarn purchases came up.

Funny this, they get as many knitters asking for cheap acrylic yarns in there as they do crocheters. They have as many knitters afraid to try things beyond wash cloths and scarves as they do crocheters. Hmmmm. Really? Of course that doesn’t surprise me at all, if you look on Ravelry, amongst the stellar and beautiful projects in both crafts, the majority are either more utilitarian, or less expertly made. Nothing wrong with that, everyone has to learn some time, but crochet does not have the corner on the ugly market. Just sayin’.

It is so validating to sit with these expert knitters and have them voice the same frustrations I do about my students. Which is mostly that people are afraid to rib out mistakes as if it were a failure. I was watching June, who is a phenomenal knit artist, rip out an entire row of 4 color Fair Isle, in a very fine and fuzzy yarn. Yeah, she’s good. I rip out my mistakes in the shop all the time. Ripping out doesn’t mean you’re bad at what you do, it means you’re good enough to catch mistakes that will really alter the final outcome of your project.

One of my other frustrations is my students expect to crochet as fast as I do. No matter how much I explain I’ve been at this for over 35 years, and that there are many experienced crocheters who don’t crochet as fast as I do. Then there is the person who is so worried about looking foolish that they won’t try a new stitch pattern, or project because they don’t want to make mistakes.

Mistakes are what we learn from the most. No one learned a dang thing from being perfect people. Oddly, June has the same frustrations.

You know what’s the most refreshing thing about chatting at the table in the LYS. We have found that although our techniques work differently, we have a lot in common. June wants to learn to crochet more, and I have agreed to pick up the sticks. She wants it for edging and embellishments, and me? I want to knit to make a plain knit sweater back. That’s it. That’s all I want to be able to do. I can crochet it, but it might be cool to make a plain sweater back just once and then decided which technique I’d rather do. I have no interest in learning knit lace, I can crochet lace in my sleep. I have no desire to learn knit cables, I can crochet those too. We’ll teach each other cause we can, and probably understand how to teach folks even more effectively.

I like that Sirkku and June are honest about their customers instead of pretending they all gravitate to the silk/merino blend and purchase bags at a time. At least they can be honest. It doesn’t matter which fiber art you do, there are those who will spend money and those who won’t. There are the adventurous and then there are those who are not. They invited me to promote the retreat at the local knitting guild. I’m going to, we’ll see if I make it out alive or not (joking)…June and Sirkku will have my back, and are really intrigued to see what we come up with there at the retreat.

Crochet Conversations…

Yes, the CLF Blog has been quiet, so why am I losing my voice? AH HAH! Because, I’m at the Stanwood Camano Community Fair , being all official like. No, not as Fearless Leader, well…not for the CLF, I have my All Fiber Arts hat on this week, as the Superintendent of the Handspinning and Fleece Dept.

So, besides running around making sure the entries get judged, clerked and recorded, and make sure all the ribbons are correct and accounted for, organize the spinning, felting, and handworking contests, oh yes, lest we forget making sure the MORE THAN 50 FLEECE ENTRIES get judged tomorrow; I get to sit and spin awhile, and possibly crochet for a bit. (Oh and hang out with some of the lovliest, kindest, and talented people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.)

I was taking a break from being all official like, and just sitting with my friend and teacher, she was making a braided cord, and I was crocheting a miniature sock (which I shall sport proudly on a pin at the crochet summit), when a little girl of no more than 11 came up to me.

“Oh that’s beautiful”, she whispered with the brightest of eyes shining.

“Thank you, I’m crocheting.” I replied.

“Oh I know, I crochet too! But not with thread that tiny, or with a hook so small. I just work with yarn.” She said rather humbly.

I looked up at her over my work, and said, “Well, then you can do this, it just takes counting and practice.” I showed her that I was just using half double crochets and single crochets. Then her face lit up like the Forth of July.

“Well, actually I’m not too bad. I just made a pattern for my own purse.” She then proceeded to explain to me in “crochet speak” how she made it. She doesn’t know the stitch names, she learned from her grandmother, but as she described her “pattern”, I knew exactly what she was doing. Why? Because until 5 years ago that’s exactly how I would have written a pattern.

Then, head to head, no age difference involved, I showed her how to do a 2tog decrease (she was skipping stitches to decrease, which is how I was originally taught, but makes for a holey fabric), and I showed her how to increase. She caught on in two seconds. I completely forgot to ask her if I was making her mother wait, or if she was on her own, the two us had just sat down to design a hat pattern to her specifications in a “language” she could understand.  I even quickly mocked up a miniature hat with all the stitches she would need to do. (It looked like a finger puppet, but she’ll be able to remember from the stitches in it.) She wasn’t sure she knew what the stitches meant, but I assured her that her grandmother would know (all single crochets and half doubles), and I didn’t use abbreviations.

Then she said her grandma had trouble finding good patterns, and she was trying to find them. I asked is she was able to access the internet, and she said she could but that “Grandma” didn’t know how. “But, I could download them for her!” So, I gave her a list of websites, and of course a link to ours, and told her that she was definately a member of the CLF.

She made my fair. We talked about how people don’t get crochet, and how versatile it is, and she told me her dreams of making sweaters and other things later. “But, I don’t really read patterns, I just make it up.”

“You, my dear, are a designer. You could learn to read patterns  to write them, and make really great ones!Or you can just make really fabulous things!”

Cheyanne, where ever you are, you made this matronly lady’s day! It was an honor and a pleasure to meet you and just sit and speak crochet!