Times Change ~ Mountain Mama

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Times Change

When I was a new knitter (age 7), and once my mom accepted this fact, I was taught a very important lesson--knit with the best materials you can afford. Yarn is expensive but you get what you pay for. That was long ago and generally this still holds true.

So step forward 15 years to when I started living on my own completely. I had a job that paid me no money and I scrimped for months so I could enter the yarn shop about 200 feet from my home. I finally had saved $150.00 for this indulgence. I didn't think I would need all of it, but I wanted to be prepared.

Imagine how I felt when I walked into the shop, was greeted by the employee (for her benefit we wil assume she wasn't the owner), given a once over, and ignored. I asked if she had Vogue Knitting--she haphazardly gestured toward a wall. I leafed through the current issue and found a sweater I liked and asked her if she had that yarn or something comparable. She glanced at me and sniffed a little. At this point I was annoyed, but the clicher was when I started poking around at yarn. I picked up a ball to check its fiber content and put it down when I saw that it wasn't 100% wool. She said--assuming I had seen the price tag-- "the craft store has cheaper yarn." I was mad but I still wanted a project. I ended up buying a couple small cones of a rayon ribbon to make a purse. I was prepared to spend over $100, and I spent $15. To this day I wish I had said something ala Pretty Woman.

I get better treatment now. I worried it was because I was looking old, but I'll assume it's because knitting is more mainstream these days. But I have noticed two trends that yarn stores are missing:
  • Children are learning to knit
  • Parents spend money on their kids

It seems a logical conclusion--sell to kids. And yet somehow they just miss it:

  • Kids (and mothers of kids) rarely feel welcomed in stores
  • There are few quality products (books, patterns, yarns, needles) that are age appropriate
  • Products that are marketed to kids are cheap quality and do little to encourage creativity

Between the ages of 3 and 18, kids go through many stages. Rainbow acrylic yarn and plastic needles don't cut it. Don't be afraid to challenge kids--my first knitting swatch was intarsia because I didn't know it was hard.

My 5yo can knit. He has the attention span of granola, but he knows how the yarn works. He has claimed my Bamboo size 12's and has his favorite rainbow acrylic yarn (you win some you lose some). He made a blanket for a stuffed animal and is convinced he can make himself an alligator scarf. I dare a yarn store owner to show him the "toy basket" so mommy can shop. Who do you think I'm shopping for?

The best formula for a new child knitter:

  • needles they choose themselves (or make!)--my son shopped from my needle vase
  • Whatever yarn they want (alas the craft store may be the smarter place for this)
  • Your time to teach them.

And whatever you do, don't tell them they can't do something. Everything is easy if you make the steps small enough.

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