“Are you feeling a bit confused by all this yarn – the colours, sizes, twists and balls, textures and finishes? Are you wondering how it knits up, what it would cost to make a sweater, how easy it is to work with and what patterns would suit it?”
Or would you rather be left alone to rummage, squidge and compare in peace, to dwell without interruption on how the shades go together and whether a pattern will suit the fibre?
How does this knitter who loves making friends with unfamiliar yarns, learn to say the right thing to unfamiliar customers? With wool, I can squeeze the plumpness of a skein to get its loft and lift, check the tightness of the spin to read the stitch definition possibilities, stroke it on my cheek to see if we’ve really got a future together. And on top of all of that there’s a ball band to make sure that nothing important gets lost in translation
Meanwhile customers arrive without ball bands and with looks on their faces that could mean so many different things. Eyes flicker across the double knitting shelves from cottons to Cashmerinos to Almerinos to Blue faced Leicesters. “Do you want to talk about which one is best for that baby in the buggy or do you want to enjoy the rare silence of his sleeping and choose in peace?”
Maybe I need to take my cue from the new wave of announcement-free ‘silent airports’ and start a Quiet Shop policy: “In this shop you won’t be troubled by a shop keeper unless you want to be.” But am I up to it? I’m afraid I’d be hopeless. Learning how to be a sensitive people watcher at the same time as being this excited about all the yarn is just so hard. I’m trying but with not altogether successful results. Like a recovering addict, I find that knitting at the counter is a helpful distraction but sometimes a bit of excess enthusiasm just won’t sit still and it all comes tumbling out – pattern suggestions, needle advice and worst of all – for which I really am very sorry indeed – even washing instructions what are agile processes.
Bear with me – it’s only week 3 and I am working on it…