If You Ask Me To


I’ll admit it. I can be very willful and independent. Tell me I can’t do something, and I will show you that I can. Tell me I have to do something, I will show you that I do not have to do it. This is especially true of my crafts.

A lot of times, people have turned me off of certain projects or techniques because of how they initially approached me with the project or technique. They say it with the best of intentions, but are just a wee bit overzealous. Here is a general one that seems to happen too often.

“Oh, you have to make this (insert project here)! I did, and I just loved it.”

Well, I am glad you had such a great time doing it, but I am not you. I have plenty of projects already in my queue. And what you are insisting that I do? Not happening. Not any time soon, at least.

Here are some specific instances from people about technique.

“You knit really inefficiently.”

I was knitting a scarf for Mr. Penney’s birthday while at a conference, and this is what one of the other people at the conference said to me. As a knitter, I am a thrower, not a picker. It is not that I don’t know how to pick. It is just that I prefer to throw. This woman was chomping at the bit, though, to convert me to being a thrower.

Judging by the look on this woman’s face and the rate at which she backed away from me after saying this, I must have had the look on my face like I was going to kill her right where she stood. I did take a bit of offense at the remark, partly because I didn’t see her as any great guns on the knitting or weaving front herself. (She was dropping what she thought were all of these “little pearls of weaving wisdom” during the weaving workshop, while having all of these problems with her warp and weaving that none of the rest of us were having.)

“You are going to have to learn to warp back to front. You can’t weave things like chenille warping front to back.”

This was told to me by a weaving teacher in a class she was teaching. After that statement, and how it was said to me (kind of condescendingly,) I never took another class from her again. Why? Because I knew from experience that her statement was patently false. Right before taking that class, I had woven my first chenille scarf, warping my loom from front to back with no problems. It made me wonder how much of what she was saying in class was fact as opposed to her own prejudice.

I have since learned to warp back to front, but I still do most of my warping front to back because I find it easier to do with fewer tools. It turns out there are a lot of weavers that think like this instructor, as I have read a number of them poo-pooing front to back warping. I am more in the camp of “do whatever gets you to your goal.” No one can tell how the loom was warped after the item is woven, anyway.

The thing with all of these remarks that are meant to help is that I might have been persuaded to change if it was just said in a different manner or if it was just reworded. But people get very passionate about all of this, which I can understand, and forget that I might not be going in the same direction with a craft as they are.

All of this said, I sometimes wonder how I come off to people when I talk to them about my projects or theirs. I often ask why people did something they way they did. Sometimes the response sounds kind of defensive, so I wonder if there was some inflection that I failed to put in the question. It sounds like they are saying in their head, “You Assh*le.”

If you had said that in your head when I have asked you a question about what you were making, please accept my apology. I am asking because I am really curious about why people choose one way over another. After all, you might know something that I don’t know!

5 thoughts on “If You Ask Me To

  1. Maybe it wasn’t you – some people are just too sensitive, you know? Or maybe insecure about their abilities, so they default to defensive.
    Then again, maybe it is you! 😉

  2. Thank you for your entertaining blog. Though it is not the same thing, it reminds me this receptionist who thought, of course, I would knit her husband some slippers that he wanted. I told her I had too many projects in my queue. Each week she sees me knitting and I imagine her thinking that I could be knitting those slippers for her husband. Maybe it is our expectations that can get us in trouble.

  3. I can really empathize with the way you feel. I like to figure things out for myself but ask if I want help or advice. I do not appreciate unsolicited advice, it really turns me off. I don’t mind discussing different techniques if I don’t feel like the person is trying to convert me to their way of thinking. It’s all in the approach.

  4. Ha! I have the exact same attitude. I really can’t stand those “Holier Then Thou” attitudes, but if someone is genuinely curious about my methods then I’m more then happy to explain them. 🙂

  5. I’m a thrower, too, and it drives me crazy when people try to “convert” me. I run into it quite a bit when I’m knitting in public while visiting my husband in Scotland. British knitting magazines even go so far as to have these little tutorials in them to show you how you should never, ever throw the yarn. Does it really matter? I view the difference as simply a matter of preference or style. It all comes out looking the same in the end anyway.

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