Has anything like this ever happened to you? You’re traveling on vacation, cruising down the road, joyfully knitting away on your lace shawl project that you saved to knit on your trip when suddenly you realize your stitch count is off. You count and recount your stitches and sure enough you’re one stitch short. Great, now what? You examine your work and try as you might you simply cannot find the missing stitch. OK, you take a breath. Then ever so carefully you pick back a few rows, stitch by stitch, to see if the missing stitch miraculously reappears. After counting your stitches again, you discover you’re not off by one stitch, now there are two stitches that have gone missing. With all this down time on your vacation you really really want to finish your project, and now you’re at a complete standstill. Time to consider your options. Option 1: Get frustrated and angry and stuff the whole mess in a bag and vow to quit knitting forever. Not really an option. “I knit therefore I am”, right?
Option 2: Rip the whole piece out and start over from the very beginning. A drastic measure and a terrible option. At this point, anyway. Maybe you need a “professional” opinion.
Option 3: Turn to an old friend – Google to the rescue. You’re only a few miles from a yarn shop! Perfect.
Sounds like option 3 is a great place to start, and maybe you’ll get that professional opinion.
A few minutes later you arrive at the shop, and as you walk through the door with fingers crossed, you say a prayer that help is near. With my yarn shop owner hat on, let me share my thoughts on how you might best make your approach. I’m far more receptive and eager to help when the knitter says something like “I’m on the road and I know I didn’t buy the yarn from you, but I could really use some help. Do you have a little time to get me back on track?” I really appreciate it when a knitter speaks to me honestly and respectfully about whatever the problem is. You’d be surprised how many times this is not the case. It automatically puts me in the mood to want to help.
Let me say that I will ALWAYS do my best to help any knitter in this situation. After all, I’ve been in those shoes myself. A few more words of advice. Be patient if the shop is busy. If you’ve come at a busy time, be prepared to wait a bit until a moment presents itself. Maybe a friendly knitter at “the table” will offer to help while you’re waiting. That’s how we knitters are. Hopefully, in either case, the problem requires a fairly straightforward fix, but brace yourself in case you hear the dreaded words you so hoped you wouldn’t. “You need to rip it out.”
If it is salvageable and seems to be a complicated fix, offer to pay. Keep in mind that what looks to be an easy job for your knitting angel, likely took years of knitting experience to achieve your repair with such ease and skill. Personally I don’t charge for helping a knitter in need in a situation like this, but I do understand if some shop owners would. And in my opinion that’s ok. After all, a yarn shop is a business, not a nonprofit organization. Something else to keep in mind, if payment is offered and declined, a nice form of “payment” regardless of the nature of the knitting problem, might be making a small purchase like a package of ring markers or darning needles. You can never have enough and it’s a nice gesture. A small price to pay to be back on track with your shawl. Remember the state of your knitting when you walked in the shop. Hopefully you never heard those words of defeat and are now back on the road, with needles clicking happily away.
p.s I LOVE the Beatles:)
Welcome to my home on the net! I’m Kay and I’m glad you found me. It took me awhile to get here – I seem to get sidetracked by life.
Let me introduce myself. I’m a wife, mom, grandmother to precious little Jack, relentless knitter, yarn shop owner, and knitwear designer.
A little bit about the knitting/designing me (the condensed version)…
My lifelong passion for knitting led me to open first yarn shop in the fall of 1981 in Northway, Alaska. Through the years, in my travels around the great state of Alaska, my little shop with its humble beginning in a small Indian village has grown into a bustling business in Anchorage. The shop names have changed over the years, as did mine, but that’s another story – I’ll save that for another day.
I discovered in my experience as a shop owner and knitting instructor how important it is to have well written basic patterns to give the new and growing knitter confidence and success. In my early years in business I found that there were few really good patterns available. There was no Ravelry, so designing was a natural next step for me. Having shelves of beautiful yarn to play with only fed my desire to design. One aspect I truly enjoy when designing is discovering unusual techniques and incorporating them in my designs. My goal then becomes writing a clear and easily understood pattern. It’s certainly been an advantage to have a shop full of knitters at FNYC (Far North Yarn Co.) testing my designs.
All of my 4 children have been part of the business in one way or another, almost since birth they like to say, but particularly during their high school and college years. Lucky for me a few years ago my oldest daughter, Annie, became a full time partner in the shop allowing me to devote more attention to my designing, and making it possible to spend more time in our home in Madrid. How fortunate I am to literally have the best of two worlds.
I’ll use this blog to share my experiences with knitting, designing, favorite techniques, travel trivia, and most likely some family stuff. I’ll introduce you to several characters in my yarn shop world who provide inspiration, joy, and comedic relief to my life. Wait ’till you meet them!
In my many years as a knitter and yarn shop owner I have come to realize that every knitter falls into one category or the other. I know, you can’t always generalize, that there are certainly knitters who fall into the gray area between the two groups. Choosing just the right pattern and finding the perfect yarn are common denominators in either group, it’s what happens next that defines the true/core type. Process knitter or project knitter. I define a process knitter as one who subconsciously is not strongly driven to produce a finished garment, although there is always the belief at the start that it will be completed, and timely at that. For sure this won’t be another unfinished discard. As a process knitter myself, who has been knitting for almost as many years as I’ve been alive, I invariably believe that the project I’m so excited to start will be finished before I know it. Unfortunately, this knitter (me) can become thoroughly caught up in the challenge of deciphering a complicated pattern, maybe modifying it along the way, ripping back and redoing, changing a color – all for the joy of doing. Easily distracted by the next best thing to knit, the works-in-progress can really pile up. Don’t look in my closet.
By my definition, a project knitter is one who is motivated most strongly by the end result. The finished project. This knitter works diligently to the finish line, easily able to resist the temptation of beginning a new project until the last tail is woven in. There is always a next project in the wings waiting its turn. For this type, it defies understanding how one could have numerous items in the works. No bags or baskets of unfinished and abandoned projects for this knitter! An added bonus for the project knitter – as if a new sweater or a pair of socks isn’t enough – all needles are accounted for since they’re not buried and forgotten in aging projects.
Yes, I proudly declare, without excuses or apologies, that I am a process knitter. Stepping off my pedestal, I’m truly embarrassed to admit what I’m about to write. My most recent confirmation of this fact that I’m a process knitter, is the overflowing basket of half finished sweaters for 6 month old grandson, Jack. Oh yes, I started out with the best of intentions to finish these sweaters long before Jack was born. I carefully chose the patterns, the yarn and supplies for each, stored them neatly in their own little project bags then packed them in my suitcase to be finished on my January trip to Spain. I’m sure you can guess what happened. Yup. They’re still packed in their pretty little project bags in various stages of completion.
Thankfully I chose to knit them in a larger size (I know myself fairly well) so there is still time. I hope. Fortunately my daughter Leigh, Jack’s mother, understands me and how I work. This is extra nice since she is a project knitter at heart. Note that Jack has many completed items that she created.
The truth is that with the birth of Jack I was inspired to design a collection of baby hats and off I went in that direction. I have about dozen in the works to date and true to form they are at various stages in the design process right along side of Jack’s basket of unfinished sweaters. The good news? Eventually I do finish almost everything I start even if it’s not on the original timetable I’d envisioned.
There is a moral to my story. If you are a project knitter keep right on churning out those garments – your friends and family will love you for it. If you are a process knitter with piles of unfinished projects, don’t let feelings of guilt and embarrassment over unfinished business stand in the way. Embrace your style and knit on!