Tejidos Jigra Knits

November 30, 2011

Some Local Yarn Stores aren’t getting their slice of the pie

Filed under: Uncategorized — jigraknits @ 8:41 am

… and it’s their own fault.

With permission, I’m posting an essay of mine that was published in the Fall, 2010 issue of Yarn Market News, a trade magazine that goes out to subscribing yarn stores in the big picture “yarn industry”.

The Missing Piece of Pie

Have you lost a share of the yarn market?

A pastry chef walks into a highly-recommended culinary equipment supply store and happily browses the displays and shelves full of a range of tools. The experience makes her giddy and she pictures her work station well-stocked and convenient to use. She paces herself and makes a list of the things she needs vs. wants, and writes down prices so that she can plan future trips to finish stocking her kitchen. To appease her dreamy desires, she modestly takes a whisk, a set of knives and two sauce pans off the shelves and heads happily to the cashier’s counter.  She can already picture the Boston cream apple torte she will serve the head chef and food and wine manager at the restaurant the next evening for their approval.

“What are you going to use these for?” The store’s owner asks encouragingly across the counter. The pastry chef smiles and eagerly describes the torte and how the restaurant is changing its seasonal dessert.

“Oh,” says the owner. The acrid tone of this simple utterance draws the chef’s eyes up from her wallet to look at the speaker, and makes her feel suddenly doubtful, and a bit confused.

“What do you mean?” The pastry chef asks.

“Well,” the store owner says with a quick glance at the ceiling and then down at the counter, then slowly raising her eyes, “You really shouldn’t use these tools for baking a torte.” The chef shifts her weight uneasily and draws her eyebrows together in further consternation. The owner continues, “This whisk is only for the best béarnaise sauces and balsamic vinaigrettes, these knives shouldn’t touch fruit, and these saucepans, well they’re only for jus de beouf. And, um…is that all you’re buying today?”

The chef blinks in disbelief.

“Really, all the bakers I know buy their equipment at the Pans & Pins Depot. We’re not really a store for bakers, just for real chefs.”

Biting her lip, and taking several deep breaths before starting, the chef says, “But I am a real chef, and I see that you even have rolling pins here, too. So what would a real chef do with a rolling pin?”

“Oh those are for savory dishes like somosas or wontons. By the way, do you cook or do you only bake?”

At this, the chef replaces her wallet in her bag, shakes herself as if to rid herself of the insults she feels have been directed at her and storms towards the door. Before walking out, she turns and says “and I’ll let my fellow pastry chefs, and the teaching chefs at the area culinary schools know that you don’t cater to our kind.”

This story illustrates an event which almost any retailer, no matter what kind of merchandise she carried, would see was ludicrous. However, a similar behavior happens often in local yarn stores, and those venues are losing a big piece of the yarn market pie, the crocheters. The main reasons some crocheters struggle to enjoy trips to LYSs are the inventory of tools, familiarity with yarns, and the attitude of salespeople. The solutions to these can be creatively varied and both fun and profitable for LYSs to explore.

Low end plastic crochet hooks can be found anywhere, so it would behove a store to carry instead a full range of sizes of hooks, with at least two different brands with the main two different head shapes. Many crocheters also enjoy looking at hooks that are unique…lathe turned wood hooks by local artisans would certainly stop a shopper in her tracks. Ask your distributors to show you the latest in Tunisian hooks, double-end hooks, and interchangeable hook and cable sets. The smaller size steel hooks are also an asset to your inventory. Having more than a token plastic hook or two on your display rack will immediately tell a shopper that you are a crochet-friendly store.

There is a stereotype that crocheters only use worsted weight acrylic, washcloth cotton, or crochet thread, but this isn’t necessarily always true, nor is it something that should stop any LYS from being crochet-friendly.  A quick look on Ravelry’s yarn list shows two popular brands of affordable acrylic yarn in the top five. This means that knitters are also using thrift when shopping for yarn, it’s not just crocheters, so the stereotype doesn’t hold water. Crocheters are interested in all kinds of yarn, and LYS sales staff should not tell any potential customer that a particular yarn just wouldn’t be used by crocheters. Any fiber type, and any weight of yarn can be used for crochet. The success of a given yarn in crochet depends on the hook size (designers are now using several sizes larger than ballband recommendations to achieve excellent fabric hand and drape), the amount of twist and its direction, and the stitch pattern used. A crocheter may want to use one of the higher-end acrylic yarns to make a baby blanket or an afghan, or they may want to use silk or bamboo lace or fingering weight yarn for a shawl or merino fingering weight for a sweater and a sturdy DK wool for a jacket. A yarn store owner should make sure she and her staff do not tell a crocheter what she shouldn’t crochet with. Another way to make a crocheter feel welcome is to have swatches of the new yarn arrivals alongside the knit swatches.  Swatches allow both knitters and crocheters to see how a yarn works up in their craft of choice. They also give you an idea of how much more yarn a crocheter would need to create a piece of fabric of certain dimensions. Be sure to swatch with different crochet stitches, too, some lacy and some plain, whatever helps that particular yarn show off its best for crochet. A series of amigurumi items or pillow covers done in unique yarns may inspire customers to venture out of their comfort zones.

The inventory of patterns in yarn stores is a mammoth topic with the ongoing discussion around print vs. online options, and this would apply to crochet as well. If you are just starting to foray into crochet friendliness, it would be a good idea to carry a good selection of crochet stitch dictionaries, the main crochet magazines that feature some of the yarn in your inventory, and any crochet patterns that the yarn companies have for their line. Research Ravelry’s crochet groups to find out which designers are being hailed as the next best thing since row counters for more ideas of whose books to carry. Crocheted garments are only beginning to make a comeback, so for now many crocheters may still work on small projects or home décor items, but with time and beautiful display pieces, like lace stoles, interest in garments and accessories will grow.

The attitude of the sales staff and/or owner of a yarn store makes the biggest difference towards keeping crocheters coming back to your store and making purchases. Even the most well-intentioned yarn store owners may inadvertently do or say something that discourages a crocheter or knitter who is new to LYS yarns. The biggest hurdle to overcome perhaps is the lack of crochet knowledge. If you or your sales staff do not know how to crochet or to advise about appropriate yarn or hook choices, make it a goal to learn enough about crochet to direct people to the resources you have in the store. If you are going to hire staff, look for someone with crochet skills. The easiest approach is to ask some of your experienced crocheting customers themselves. Be honest and say you don’t know much about crochet, but ask if they would they show you something useful you could share with future clients.  If you offer classes on crochet, you will need to look for instructors that can move beyond the basic “crochet for knitters”, or “crocheted finishes for knitwear” type class. Look for crochet teachers that teach about modifying or grading patterns, Irish lace, Freeform, or other techniques like Tunisian crochet or how to read crochet symbol charts. Lastly, a compliment about a client’s crochet project goes a long way in building rapport and encouraging a return. Most importantly, avoid being like the culinary equipment salesperson in the story above.

What should a LYSO do when a crocheter selects yarn for a sweater and then balks at the price when it is rung up at the till? I would suggest she does the same as when a knitter used to discount or “mega-marked down” yarns balks at yarn prices: suggest smaller projects to start, suggest substitutions, have a conversation about the differences between being a product crocheter and a process crocheter. Maybe she has never thought of the time spent working on the project with luxurious yarn as a treat in itself. Share with her how the many hours spent on crocheted the piece at the higher price will still be cheaper than so many movies or café lattes. Not all individuals can be swayed, but a little sugar does go a long way.

Crocheters, in North America in particular, have faced a stigma that has evolved for too many reasons to count, and exploring this history does not fall within the scope of this article. The principal stereotypes that are widely held are that crocheters only use cheap yarn, that what they make is largely for home décor or babies, and that they frequent big box stores and don’t ever go into local yarn stores. The stigma doubles in strength, when the crocheter in question doesn’t knit as well. However, if you join the movement of welcoming crocheters into LYSs, then perhaps you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see your store’s name in the Ravelry thread that celebrates and recommends crochet-friendly stores. Perhaps you, too, can have all the pieces of the pie.

February 28, 2010

Oh Canada, We stand on Guard!

Filed under: Uncategorized — jigraknits @ 8:10 pm

This was written by someone who appears to want to be anonymous.  When he/she takes credit, I’ll gladly give it.

We never claimed to be perfect. That means we’ve learned to be humble.

We say “excuse me” and ”I’m sorry”, as well as “please” and “thanks”.
Even when it’s not our fault, we apologize.

Sure, one arm of the torch didn’t rise, but when the earthquake struck
Haiti, Canadians raised their hands to say “we’ll help”.

And yeah, there’s a fence around the torch, but you can walk right up
and shake hands with our Prime Minister, and most famous Canadians. We
put Gretzky in the back of a pickup, in the rain, not surrounded by
police, and he was okay. And by the way, the “Great One” is Canadian
and he wasn’t complaining! We do have security at the Games, of course,
but most people don’t even have a gun they have to leave at home.

The medals ARE under lock and key, but our doors and our hearts are
open to the world.

It has been pointed out that some buses broke down last week, but let’s
not overlook the fact that our banking system didn’t!

We didn’t get the “green ice-maker” right this time, but we will,

Just like we did when we invented the Zamboni.

Citius altius fortius

If you don’t reach higher, how do you get faster and stronger?

Was the first quad jump perfect?

Should we not have given snowboarding to the world “in case” it didn’t
take off?

So big deal one of the four torch arms didn’t rise, good thing we had
three more! It’s called contingency planning.!

But remember, the Canada-Arm works every time in outerspace, and
insulin turned out to be okay.

We couldn’t change the weather, but maybe we can help to stop global

We don’t have the tax base of the US, or the power of the Chinese, but,
per capita, we ponied up for some pretty kiss- ass venues in the worst
global recession ever!

Sure, some folks couldn’t afford tickets, but our health care is

We have shown the world that we can raise our voices in celebration and
song, but moments later stand in silence to respect a tragic event
….together….spontaneously, and unrehearsed.

What’s more, we don’t need permission from anyone to have a slam poet,
fiddlers with piercing’s, and a lesbian singer tell our story to the
world, while our multilingual Haitian-born (black) head-of-state
shares a box with her First Nations equals.

We’ve shown the world that it doesn’t always rain in Vancouver, that
you can strive for excellence, but not get hung up on perfection. And
we’ve learned what it feels like to be picked on by some no-name
newspaper guy, and we don’t have to take it lying down!

So the point is not the snow, or the hydraulics, or a couple of guys
being late to a ceremony.

We know we’re lucky that these are the biggest problems we had to deal
with in the last few weeks.

So take your cheap shots, Guardian newspaper and cynics of the world!!
We’re bigger and better than that.

What’s more, we’re finally starting to believe it!

Do you believe?

June 16, 2008

WWKIP day / Dia internacional de tejer en público – 2008/06/14

Filed under: Uncategorized — jigraknits @ 9:36 am


Antier tuve la oportunidad de tejer en público con un grupo genial. Eramos 20.

The day before yesterday I had a chance to knit with a great group. We were around 20.

April 27, 2008

All in one piece cardi / chaqueta de punto de una pieza

Filed under: Uncategorized — jigraknits @ 9:19 pm

Acabo de terminar de tejer con ganchillo una chaqueta de punto que se trabaja en una sola pieza.
All-in-one Cardi
I just finished crocheting an all-in-one cardi that’s done in one piece.

January 30, 2008

Knitting Heritage / El patrimonio del tejer

Filed under: Uncategorized — jigraknits @ 9:50 pm

My sons joined me at the knitting group last night because we were going to go skating right after, across the street at the outdoor rink in front of city hall. The local newspaper was coming to do a story on the knitting circle and found us there. Here’s the article.

Mis hijos me acompañaron al club de tejer anoche pues inmediatamente después ibamos a patinar en la plancha de hielo que está al otro lado de la calle en frente a las oficinas municipales. Un periodista del local llego para escribir un artículo acerca del club de tejedor@s y nos encontró. Aquí esta el artículo.

December 19, 2007

Estrenando Podcast!

Filed under: Uncategorized — jigraknits @ 12:28 am

Aqui pueden escuchar el primer episodio de mi podcast en castellano, ‘El Tejedor Listo’.

You can listen to the first episode of my Spanish podcast, “El Tejedor Listo”.

March 29, 2007

Toe up sock!

Filed under: Uncategorized — jigraknits @ 8:21 am

sock1This is the sock I’ve been working on for the top-up tutorial on my Spanish sock blog. I’m using knitpick’s Palette (which I know will probably pill or felt quickly, but it’s inexpensive and colourful). The stripes started as fibionacci numbers but I lost track somewhere after the heel and didn’t want to frog or tink back so I just made things up from there on.

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