Confessions of a Yarn Snob

Okay, I admit I am a yarn snob…but I am a nice yarn snob. My lip doesn’t curl in distate at yarn choices that are not to my liking. I don’t tell others that they should buy certain kinds of yarn. I am enthusiastic about others projects that I see that might not be to my liking. I am honest, I just screen what is not to my taste. You can admire the knitting of others honestly even if it is not to your taste.

Which leads me to my post today. I bought a hefty ONE POUND (it says so on the label, in all caps too I might add) skein of yarn from Caron, that I purchased at JoAnne Fabrics. In Acrylic worsted weight. Ask me what I normally like to work with and you will get a list of wonderful wools and other natural fibers. This is a special project though. The folks that do Patriotic Pillows (Project Comfort) for our wounded soldiers also have a project going called Kenny’s Caps, and Christine, the woman who started it all, asked me to write up a pattern for the knitted version.

Here is a bit I copied and pasted from America Supports You: Kenny’s Kaps was inspired by a Sergeant in the Marine Corps who had sustained traumatic brain injuries.  Kenny asked for a purple skull-cap to help keep him warm, and his simple request has launched a new Patriotic Pillow Project initiative.  Each skull-cap is embellished with the insignia of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the decoration Kenny received for his wounds.  The group is also helping homeless veterans in the north brave the cold winter by distributing hand-made mufflers, gloves and scarves and encouraging members to organize gatherings to send Valentine “Love Notes” to the troops in February. To learn more about the Patriotic Pillow Project and all their new programs, log on to

The yarn I purchased (the acyrlic I mentioned above) is the yarn their volunteers use as it has a high yeild, wears well, and is machine washable. I will be the first to say you don’t want a fine merino going to a marine that doesn’t know what to do with fine hand washables. Particularly one in a military hospital. 

I met Christine online, when she contacted me about the project. She came across my website when cruising the internet one day. I spoke to her on the phone after recieving her email and liked her immediately – she is a dynamic go getter who is married to a Vietnam Veteren. She is an American citizen by choice (she was born in the Netherlands and is a naturalized citizen). She is passionate in her efforts to help our men and women in service and I am frankly in awe of her.

Which leads me to an additional sub topic. I will be making this pattern available of course, completely free. It will be posted on more than one web site. There will no doubt be those to whom it is not their taste. I am fortunate in that I have not had any of my designs (well, I take that back, there was one) commented on negatively. I don’t remember the name of the blog, but the lace fingerless mitts in Interweave Knits not long ago (Wine and Roses Mitts) had a comment along the lines of “not another f—ing fingerless mitt pattern” and charged that it was slapped together due to the popularity of fingerless mitts. I did post on the blog that I don’t have a problem with folks expressing their opinion, but that I did not want anyone to get the wrong idea regarding my work. I explained the design process behind what I did (not that they were interested, I am sure) and politely exited.

I know a designer who is mauled frequently on certain types of knitting blogs that pride themselves on witty prose and dissing designs they do not like. They have gone so far as to say cruel things about the children of the designer, who have modeled garments for the photo on the pattern. I personally don’t find these types of sites to my taste and I do not frequent them, as I don’t find it funny, amusing, witty, or entertaining. Too much negative energy for my taste.

Not long ago I visited a blog after a fellow sister on a knitting list (Traditional Knitting) had an anonymous posting on her blog that basically told her that her knitting was a disgrace. The anonymous poster went on to state that she was a fashionable young mother (so she would know, at least in her mind, that a beutiful little sweater in a soft nut brown color is NOT “the thing” to put your baby or child in).

There are all kinds of yarn snobs out there, and while I am one I am tolerant. I don’t expect others to have the same tastes that I do, I just expect to be allowed to have my own. Really, this is not rocket science or brain surgery. But we can get our knickers so twisted about things that are related to a hobby. In many cases,  a passionate hobby. Passion and honesty are wonderful things, but they do not dictate causing another to loose face or be made to feel as though they have just been raped by the knitting police.

In all honesty, I doubt that those reading this blog are likely to fall into that category so it would be somewhat like preaching to the choir. But it has been on my mind. In the knitting scheme of things, I want to be like Christine. Uplifiting and passionate about what I do, assertive but not aggressive, animated and vigourous. I also want to be like Elizabeth Zimmerman, an advocate for believing in yourself and taking charge of your own knitting. She was a great one for encouraging knitters. As I have said before, it is a personal thing. Who am I to tell someone that their own personal choices are wrong in knitting? I will be happy to share why I like the choices I make myself, but I am not going to tell someone that they should not put a baby in a nut brown sweater (which is pretty chic actually). Nor am I going to say I won’t do this project if it is in Acrylic (which was actually a very practical choice).

We love diversity, we talk about diversity, but when it comes down to practice that is often a littler harder to be tolerant.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

15 Responses to “Confessions of a Yarn Snob”

  1. Chris Says:

    I find that I do make vocal comments to my friends and co-workers in regard to the tacky or ill-constructed garments the “newbie” designers are cranking out. I find the bulky/chunky, shapeless garments appalling. But I would never leave a note on a designer’s web page/email with thoughtless remarks. I choose to just not purchase or knit them. As to color, everyone has their own sense of color, what’s it to someone else which colors I prefer.
    You know the “love” I have for your designs. I can’t imagine anyone looking at your mitts and saying anything negative. At least your mitts have thought and beauty to them. If I never see another chunky fingerless mitt I would be happy. But lace or color work mitts? Bring them on!

  2. Nancy J Says:

    Thank you for the Positive Energy. It is what we need above all.

  3. JoLene Treace Says:

    Just like the Beatles song! VBG.”All you need is love, love, love is all you need”

  4. JoLene Treace Says:

    Thanks Chris! I think we have all done our share of talking about designs we don’t care for in private. I think the online forum just makes those with ill manners (or those who are just thoughtless) to be more free with their comments, as they are not face to face with their “audience”.

    As for snarky comments with my designs, I am supremely happy I have not encountered more than the comment by the one review of the magazine by the person unhappy to see another fingerless mitt. To be honest I had not noticed that it was something that was turning up everywhere. I like to be influenced by a lot of different creative things, not just what is going on in one area of knitting.

    The mitts were rather fun. When Interweave sells out on that issue I am going to do them in a pattern leaflet, and include perhaps a scarf and hat.

  5. LaurieM Says:

    I like to advocate constructive criticism. I think we have either cheerleading or smackdowns but very few opinions being backed by intelligent thought. I remember being told by a professor in university “You can say anything you want, so long as you can back it up.”

    So I try to voice my opinion politely and back it up with insightful points.

    BTW-I’ve no intention of knitting fingerless mitts, but I thought your version was pretty classy. 🙂

  6. JoLene Treace Says:

    Laurie you are right on. Constructive criticism is a good thing. When folks ask for an opinion it is the best way to go. I think it is a lost art!

    I usually focus what things I think are good, unless I am asked “What do you think?”, in which case they are truely asking for input. Then I say what I like to do and why. It is both kind and honest, and instructive.

    Really just a windier way to echo what you said. VBG.

    And thanks for the comments on my mitts! I probably never would have knit a pair, either, but I live in a very old (100 year old or so) house that gets drafty in the winter. I am like a little old lady and get cold easy, and decided I needed to feel a little pampered.

  7. connie Says:

    Somehow the anonymity of the internet just seems to let loose the snarkiness in some. I’ve criticized designs before, but I try to not make it personal and instead just comment on the aspects I don’t find appealing. As a beginning designer, I would hope that when (if) people talk about what I’ve designed, even if they don’t like it, wouldn’t attack me personally. Still, whenever I do things of a creative nature, it’s almost always personal and it is hard not to take even the most constructive criticism well. But I’m trying to develop a thicker skin. So far, the worst I’ve heard about one of my designs is that it reminds them of a Walmart top. Ouch 😉 The blogger was, incidentally, mistaken about the one element of my design that made them say that, but I figure it wasn’t worth correcting her…

  8. connie Says:

    Oh, and I forgot to say… When I saw your fingerless mitts on IK, I did also think ‘oh, just another fingerless glove’, but looking more closely at it, I was quite taken with the pattern and how delicate and pretty it was worked up in laceweight cashmere and fine beads. Good job 🙂 I’m working on my first (and hopefully not last) Interweave design project slated for the winter issue and I’m really nervous about doing a good job for them!

  9. JoLene Treace Says:

    WooHoo! Good for you Connie! That is pretty exciting news. I’ll be sure to look for it. VBG.

  10. Leanne Says:

    A good point finely written. Thank you for it.

  11. Christina Finn Says:

    I am so very grateful for your generous contribution of Time, Talent, and kindred Compassion for our Healing Heroes! I know there is a large knitting/crocheting community out there that is willing to become involved. Due to the fact that there are so many senior volunteers that may be on a fixed income, we have chosen to make our project “Kenny’s Kaps!”sm affordable. The caps are adorned with the Purple Heart patch, due to the nature concerning how our Wounded Warriors acquired their injuries in battle! On 7/7/07 we will be in Indianapolis Honoring the survivors of the ship sunk by the Japanese during WWII. The survivors of this attack waited in the ocean for #5 days to be rescued, all the while more than 900 of their battle buddies were consumed by sharks! Our senior Veterans and our Brave current Military Personnel deserve our constant Appreciation, Respect, Support, Prayers and Love! I for one will do so until my last breathe……

    Jolene Thank You for sharing your God given gift to Help a little lady Heal and Nation! We ALL Can “Make a Difference!” It is simply a Choice! Visit the ASY America Supports You network dot MIL and you too can find hundreds of ways to give back to our Active Duty Military, Veterans, Gold Star Families, and Wounded Warriors. Thank You for your kind consideration to become a part of the process. “I Believe in this great Nation; The UNITED States of American, it’s caring citizens and the future generations!” The Pillow Lady GOD Speed!

    God Bless Our Troops, Our Veterans, Our World Leaders, & America!

    Christina Finn
    Founder / Coordinator
    Patriotic Pillow Project SM

    “I have learned that in order to bring about change, you must not be
    afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try. Each
    and everyone of us can make a difference.” Rosa Parks

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    Confessions of a Yarn Snob | JoLene Treace Unraveled

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