Why I quit shopping at a local craft store

This may be a bit of a rant, but I’ve kept it inside all month and now I’d like to talk about it.

I recently started a new hobby and wanted to find shops in my local area that cater to this new hobby. I prefer to shop at local stores because it helps keep them in business, I meet new people, and get help on projects. I found one that was about 45 minutes to an hour away depending on traffic. For me that was reasonable even though the road I had to drive was a very busy main artery with three lanes and lots of delivery, service, and trade trucks. If I like a place I’ll deal with the traffic and the drive. (Caveat: I am going to refrain from disclosing the hobby because anyone who lives in my area could easily figure out what shop I am talking about. And I really don’t need a shop owner getting pissed off at me.)

I’ve been to the shop three times, once for a class, and I’ve order online once. The following (in no particular order) are the reasons I will never do business with this shop again (This is written to the “Shop Owner,” Even though I am fairly certain she will never read this, writing it this way made me feel much better.)

1. Have only one web site, or if you really need more than one make sure they are all linked and kept up-to-date. Just because you own a bunch of URLs that have your craft and local area in the name doesn’t mean you have to use them all.

2. If you are going to sell your product online then make sure your online inventory is up to date and that the product number and color that the customer orders is what they get in the mail. What I got in the mail had the correct number but it was a different color. In fact I could not find the color I got listed on the web site.

3. When a customer (especially a new customer) comes into your shop and you are on the phone with a friend or relative and it is not an emergency – then get off the phone and take care of your customer.

4. If you have more than three customers in your shop and they all need help of some kind and you are getting frazzled, then maybe you need to hire help, even part-time help. Telling me that the way you keep your prices low is by not hiring anyone is not enduring me to come back to your shop. With all the online stores doing sales and You Tube how to videos – I don’t really need to shop in your store.

5. Don’t ever berate a customer, especially in front of other customers. If you are having a problem with a customer there is a better way to handle it like taking her aside and talking to her away from everyone else.

6. Holding classes in your shop.
a. When people sign up for a class – give or email them a supply list and make it clear that the supplies are a separate price. Don’t tell them that everything they need for class is in the shop. This tells me that the supplies come with the price of the class.
b. Also giving them a supply list will allow the students to get the supplies beforehand. Having ten students show up a half hour before class to get their supplies just causes confusion. By the time class started most of us did not have what we needed.
c. The days you are having class in the shop would be a good time to have part time help. That way you can help the students, make sure the instructor has what she needs, and maybe even take the class yourself so that when we come in for help on the project you can give it.
d. If you are going to allow your neighbor to deliver Pampered Chief, Avon, etc or allow some guy to sell muffins in the store then have them come before class starts. It disrupts the class and is disrespectful to the instructor to have these kinds of distractions going on.
e. If the instructor sends you updated instructions on the project, please send the new instructions in an email or call students and let them know there are new instructions. I went to the shop for help with the project and you casually mentioned that there were new instructions. Then you told me if I wanted them to send you an email. Really???!!!!

Ok – I am not a shop owner and never have been, but as a long time knitter/crocheter I have been in a lot of yarn stores, so I feel I know good business practices when I see them. I also know that it’s a lot of hard work to own a craft store, especially if you’re doing it by yourself. This shop owner was a nice enough person, but she was overwhelmed at times. I think one of the best things she could do would be to at least hire someone part time. If nothing else that would give her room to breathe and maybe reassess how she is doing business.

Poor Planning. Rip Out or Fix It. A Knitter’s Conundrum

So in my last update I said I would talk about the sweater I’ve been designing. Well since then I have completely knitted the sweater and all I have left is to sew up the armholes. Well I don’t like it, the sweater that is. In the beginning I had an idea; so I made a plan (more or less), made some swatches, took some measurements, did a bit of math, and then just started knitting. I made the sweater in the round with raglan ¾ sleeves. I think if I had planned better and knew more of what I was doing then I probably would be happy with the sweater and not thinking about ripping the entire thing and using the yarn for something else.

I decided to design a sweater that I could wear to work. Since I live in Florida the sweater had to be cotton or cotton blend and lacy. So I started with choosing a stitch pattern. Since most of my stitch-pattern books are still packed away, I went to the internet for inspiration. I found a great website called KnittingFool.com, which has loads of stitch patterns. The patterns are listed not only alphabetically, but by type and count. This is where I should have thought it though more and maybe sketched it out. I found a pattern I really liked for the bottom of the sweater, Feather and Fan 2, which had 17 stitches to the pattern. There was also another pattern, Passion Flower, with the same number of stitches that would go perfect. However, this stitch count poised some problems with shaping when I got to the raglan part. So from the armpits up I just did basic stockinette stitch.

The real problem came at the neck line. I didn’t do any shaping and ended up with a boat neck which droops. I know I could go back and do some shaping, but I’m not sure how I want the neck. What I really wanted to do was work the Passion Flower stitch pattern all the way up to the neck, but the stitch count was off because of the sleeves. But the other reason was I would have to alter the stitch pattern to incorporate the decreases of the raglan. And let’s just face it (and I’m wining here) it got too hard. So below is what it looks like right now. I’ve put in a few life lines so I could fix this. I’m just not sure I want to.

Here is the bottom of the sweater. I really like the scalloped edge of the Feather n Fan stitch pattern.

This is the top part. I didn’t do anything decorative with the raglan decreases. I think it would have looked better with maybe a lace decrease. And the neck is really floppy. I only put a few rows of garter.

Three years, a move to Florida, two knee surgeries, and lots of knitting

Well it’s been three years since I started this blog and a lot has happened. First the wrist is doing great. I’ve got a lot of hardware in it so it should last. It took a lot of physical therapy and healing, but that was expected considering that I didn’t just break it, shattered it. For some reason I can’t doing anything simple.

Now on to what’s new. We moved to Florida, specifically the Tampa area. Love it. We found a house on two acres with a pool and lots of oak trees. It’s just what we needed. Of course during the move to the house I fell and hurt my knees, so had to have surgery for that. I just finished my second surgery a few weeks ago. Next step, according to the doctor, is knee replacement. Oh yay!!

Enough of that sad sap stuff, now on to the knitting. I have been knitting a lot since I got to Florida. Part of that is because I discovered the best knitting shop around, Knit n Knibble. It’s a great place to just hang out, knit, get inspired, and have a cup of coffee at the same time. It also happens to only be a few miles from where I work so that makes it easy on the days I don’t carpool to stop by, (which has been very seldom lately). In the past three years I’ve knitted about 18 projects, mostly baby stuff because a lot of people at work were having babies when I first got there and then our granddaughter had a son last year (yes, makes me a great-grandma). But I’ve also gotten in other projects such as a few socks, shawls, some toys, and I am designing a sweater for myself. For anyone interested in seeing pictures of most of these items you can find them on my Ravelry projects page under the user name of Martha1958. With all of this there were three projects that were really big challenges, two of the shawls and a toy cow.

The first challenge, which took a year to do, was the Aeolian Shawl by Elizabeth Freeman. I made this for my Sister-in-Law and after I gave it to her she decided to learn to knit (great inspiration). Knitting the shawl wasn’t the challenge, it was the seed beads and then the blocking. I had never worked with beads this small before. I’m not even sure how many I used; I just know I went through almost two tubes. I used a crochet hook to put them on the stitches and had to make sure I had a lot of light to see what I was doing. There other part of this challenging shawl was the blocking. This is where I made my biggest mistake. I got in a hurry and really didn’t block it correctly. You’ll see in the picture that I should have spent more time on the edge. So the lesson learned here is to take your time in the blocking process and do it right.

Blocking gone bad

Blocking gone bad

The next challenge was the other shawl I made, but it was a challenge for a different reason. This was the 105-3 knitted shawl in “Alpaca” with various lace patterns by DROPS. This was a challenge because the pattern was so poorly written and it seemed to go on forever. Had I read through the pattern I would have seen the confusing bits and either graphed it out or just not taken the project on. The shawl itself came out huge. I ended up breaking a set of circulars and bending another set on this project. I still haven’t blocked it, because I don’t have the room. So I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it. So I guess the lesson learned on this project is to read through the instructions before you start to know and to really look at the pictures that people have posted on Ravelry. Had I looked at some of the pictures I would have seen how big the shawl was going to be.

The last challenge, which is still in progress, is the Sonia Cow by Janice Anderson. The knitting, which is done, was somewhat challenging on a couple of sections, but the sewing up is a bear. I am still working on it. This was something my Mom wanted and every so often she will ask me about it. When she first came to Florida for a visit I took her to Knit n Knibble and that’s where she saw the cow and decided she wanted me to make it for her. Maybe I’ll get it done by Christmas. Lesson learned – don’t take your non-crafting Mother to a yarn shop and if you do, don’t tell her “sure I can knit that.”

Next time I want to talk about the sweater I am trying to design and all of the issues that come with designing a sweater around a specific stitch pattern.

Mostly Knits, but……

Since I currently can’t knit due to a broken wrist, I decided I would start a blog about my knitting odyssey. It all really started at age nine, when my Mom taught me to crochet to get me out of her hair. After crocheting a lot of granny squares and making some obnoxious 70’s clothing, I decided to try my hand at knitting. Since I didn’t know anyone who knitted I got a book and taught myself. Of course the first thing I made was a sweater, well more or less a sweater. I knitted 2 large and 2 small squares in a basket weave pattern. sewed them together and then crocheted a long chain for a draw string at the bottom to make it fit. Luckily Mom had made us learn to sew, so I understood clothing construction. After that I continued to knit more than crochet, though every once and a while I would go back to exclusively crocheting. Through the years I learned to spin and weave, but my passion is still knitting.

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