Many of the joys of yarn crafting come from the craft itself. However, there is also a lot of joy that comes from the craft community. Talking about knitting and crochet can be a really powerful part of being a crafter.
Yarning in Public Starts Conversations
Image from I Love Yarn Day 2014
Do you knit or crochet in public? If so, then there’s a good chance that someone else has asked you about it.
The most common thing that will happen is that a person will ask you either what you are doing or what you are making. They’re trying to start a conversation. If you want to engage in the conversation, here are some next steps you can take:
Explain about the Craft
Sometimes people will make mistakes with their questions. For example, people might be familiar with knitting, but not crochet, so they’ll ask what you’re knitting as you pull your yarn over your crochet hook. If you want to, you can explain what crochet is or what the difference is between the two.
If the person asked generally, “what are you doing?” then it’s up to you how much you want to share about the craft. You might go deep into its history or your own history of how long you’ve been doing it. Alternatively, you might just say “knitting”, and see where they go from there.
Share about the Project
You can typically have a great conversation about the project that you’re working on. Who are you making it for and why? What made you choose this project? When you share something your passionate about, it makes other people excited. This makes for rich conversations.
Answer Briefly then Ask a Question
You might not want to share too much at first. That’s okay. You can answer simply with something like, “oh, I’m crocheting a scarf”. Then, to keep the conversation going, follow up with an open-ended question. Some good questions include:
- What crafts or hobbies do you enjoy?
- Did anyone in your family knit / crochet?
- What inspired you to ask me about my work?
- What do you think you would make if you could crochet?
- What does this project make you think about?
Share Tips and Resources
You might quickly learn that the person you’re speaking with also loves to crochet. If so then you can delve deeper into the topic. You might talk about favorite stitches, where you like to buy yarn, or the best resources for finding new patterns. If you love crafting, this can become a really rich conversation.
Answering Uncomfortable Questions
Yarncrafting is often a great topic to avoid uncomfortable discussions. For example, when you’re crocheting in the lobby of a doctor’s office, someone can ask about your craft – and not why you are seeing the doctor! However, people will sometimes inadvertently touch on a sore spot, even when it comes to yarn.
For example, let’s say that you’re crocheting an item in memory of someone who has passed away. When a stranger asks what you are making, it can trigger a flood of emotions. You might not want to share that with them. Instead, use a simple statement to end the conversation. Then redirect them by asking an unrelated question of them, similar to those discussed above.
More commonly, people will ask questions that are rude, even though they don’t realize it. For example:
- Isn’t that something that old people do?
- That’s awesome! Can you knit me a sweater?
- Wouldn’t it be easier to just buy the item online?
- How do you find the time to craft? (This is okay if it’s a genuine question, but it often implies that you don’t have better things to do).
It’s up to you how you want to deal with these situations. You can take the opportunity to educate the person. (For example, “actually, there’s been a resurgence of young people interested in crafts like this.) You can explain why you dislike the question. (For example, “people often ask me to make them things, but they don’t realize that it’s really costly in both money and time”.) Or you can just change the subject and move on.
Social Anxiety and Talking about Yarn
Many people experience some degree of social anxiety. Talking about yarn has both pros and cons if this is something that you encounter.
On the Plus Side
Talking about yarn can be a great tool to help people who deal with social anxiety. Here are some of the reasons why:
- You have a good excuse to look down at your hands. This is great if eye contact makes you uncomfortable.
- It gives you a very specific thing to talk about. This prevents you from having to wonder what to say.
- Yarncrafting is an easy subject. It’s a non-threatening topic that isn’t too personal, and yet it tells people something about you because you enjoy it.
- Focusing on the work in your hands will ground you. This tactile focus can help reduce anxiety.
But, on the Other Hand
Unfortunately, it’s not all good when it comes to yarn talk and social anxiety. There are two times when it can be a major problem.
The first is when you talk your yarn somewhere, and someone is asking questions about it, but you really want to be left alone. When you go to a coffee shop with a book, people usually know that you don’t want to be bothered. When you go with yarn, they might think that you’re open to conversation. The good news is that you can give short answers, then politely let them know that you really need to finish the piece. Most people will take the hint.
The second issue is when you go to purchase yarn and craft supplies. If you go to a big store, then it may not be an issue. But, if you go to a local yarn store, then there will be few or no other customers when you enter, and the staff might begin to ask you questions. This can feel like a lot of pressure for someone with social anxiety. It’s okay to let the person know that you just want to browse. The people at yarn stores are very knowledgeable, so they’re actually great folks to start practicing with when you’re ready to come out of your shell. However, if you’re not ready, then just indicate as much and make your purchase. Of course, you can always buy yarn online to avoid this issue altogether.
Where to Talk to People about Yarn
Maybe you do have social anxiety, but you feel like yarn is a safe space where you can begin to branch out and talk to other like-minded people. Or maybe you don’t have anxiety at all, and you’re just eager to talk to others who also love knitting and crochet. Here are some great places to go to talk about yarning:
- Your local yarn store. These people know their stuff, and they’re happy to discuss it.
- Knitting or crochet classes. These are often available at yarn stores and libraries, among other options.
- Craft meetups. These are places where people go intentionally to craft together and talk.
- Expos, conventions and fiber fairs. For example, attend the annual Chain Link Conference put on by the Crochet Guild of America.
- Volunteer to talk about yarn crafting. Visit a classroom or nursing home to tell them about the craft you love.
Of course, you can also chat about yarn online. The Red Heart Yarns Facebook page (and other social media channels) is a great place to start connecting with other people who love yarn. Chat through messages about the craft, join online groups, or even see if a favorite podcaster will you have on to discuss the yarn you love!