Yarn Snobbery is a pet peeve of mine. To me it demonstrates a lack of understanding of yarn and its use. And maybe I also feel a little bit icky because before I opened the shop I may have been a little guilty. I’ve learned a lot from running Knit Spin Weave for over 4 years now. I have reflected on my choices and listened, hopefully, with an openness to the suggestions of others. I have changed my beliefs and opinions over the years. I’ve come to see ‘Yarn snobbery” is just another way, we as human beings, like to exclude others.
I opened with no acrylics! and learned my lesson fast as I lost over half of those who would have been customers. I now have acrylics. As much as I love the high end yarns I’m also coming to see how my choice to only stock them was excluding others. Creativity should be something that brings us together, not another way to measure and divide.
I only like fine merino..
Fine merino is a beautiful fibre but not my first choice for a blokes or kids jumper that needs to take a bit of everyday work. I love a good old fashioned bouncy cross bred in my jumpers. That will take the wear, with minimum pilling. The type of wool that made jumpers that lasted 30 years and still looked fabulous. Ashford do a great old fashioned jumper yarn in Tekapo.
Its not always the case that the more you pay for a fibre the better it is. It’s a bit like buying a car, you choose something that will do the job. I certainly wouldn’t be buying an expensive sports car to be driving on outback roads. Or even the Horrocks Hwy! You need something a little sturdier that can take the constant jarring.
Why I think yarn snobbery is not a great way to be?
Like all snobbery, it excludes and looks down on the choices of others. Making the person being snobby feel superior. It’s really not a great way to live your life.
Snobs are a bit like being ‘a know it all’. They have stop learning. Life would be totally boring if there was nothing new to learn and try. They have a set opinion and a closed mind.
For me it is another of those ‘Unconscious biases’ that I have had to uncomfortably examine. I never intended to make others feel bad about their choices but by making the choice to only stock natural fibres I had done that. As a retailer it is my choice in what I choose to stock, but I also have a responsibility to look at how my choices affect others.
I now stock a much broader range of yarns and as a result have a a much broader customer base. I get to meet the most creative people. My shop is a much more accepting and comfortable place for all. I occasionally will still screw my nose up at a discount chain acrylic but I try my hardest not to let it show. Every yarn has a perfect purpose and use.
Read more about the why’s and why nots of being a Yarn Snob:
I realized that yarn snobbery goes in two directions, and it is breaking creativity into groups of people.
The classic snobs are seen as pretentous the acrylic snobs are accused of beign cheap. Is it really worth it to park firmly in one camp or the other?
On Instagram, I saw a comment from a knitter (sorry, I don’t remember who) who mentioned that she didn’t feel comfortable or welcome at yarn shops or in the mostly-white knitting community where she lived because she can’t afford to spend $30 per skein. She didn’t feel like she fit in with those who knit with nothing but expensive yarns.
There is a good use, and a perfect project, for every single kind of yarn on the market. Hand dyed, expensive, one-of-a-kind, yarn makes for lovely shawls and terrible dishcloths. Scratchy acrylic that costs less than 50 cents an ounce makes terrible socks, but it will make the best, long-lasting floor mat you have ever seen. There is no such thing as bad yarn because all yarn is yarn and therefore good.
The shopkeeper basically asked me why do I bother knitting if I don’t use the highest quality yarns available? I was quite shocked by her response to my tales of woe. I couldn’t even think of a response at the time. She proceeded to insist that I was holding out on my customers by only providing them with items that are made out of commercial and mass produced yarns. I ended up accepting defeat, quietly paying for my items, and leaving her store feeling confused and a little hurt