Dear Clara: The Case of the Patronizing Admirer

February 26, 2018

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  • LOVE!!!

  • Thanks so much for all the Monday motivation I would ever need. And yes, I do talk to middle school kids about Minecraft a lot. 🙂

  • “Raging in Rambouillet” seems to have special powers in the ability to discern who is and who is not a knitter. Even of the “non knitters” who I know sometimes one of them will surprise me by saying, “you know I used to knit”. So, I agree it’s probably best to take each comment as a compliment to one’s knitting.

    I do wonder however, how anyone could call MY first grade macaroni picture aberrant. It was created with the finest macaron: small shells, ditalini and pastina for portraying the stars in the sky. We have had it up on the wall for all of these years and it’s just really become a PART of us. Tell me, Dear Clara, are WE aberrant too?


    Penny A. Lavodka

    • My first macaroni picture was the Blue Bird pledge and was magnificent 🙂

      • 🙂

  • I think, and I’m just an everyday person so maybe my thoughts aren’t important or right, but I think that “Raging” is maybe just rude. Unless the person asking is asking with derision in their voice, maybe they’re just curious. Maybe? Maybe, like I once did, they’ve long had an interest in crafting and were trying to open a discussion that might lead to asking to be taught or where to learn? What happened to kindness? I take great joy in my knitting and my first reaction to someone asking me about it is to claim their curiosity as a compliment to my skill and follow up with “I CAN TEACH YOU HOW!”. To get angry because someone shows interest in your crafting sounds like one is looking for something to be defensive our angry about.

    Dear “Raging”,
    Try being kind. Everyone will feel better in the end.

    If, however, the person asking is being snide, tell them in your sweetest voice that you’d be happy to teach them how to make such beautiful items anyway, despite their rudeness. They probably won’t have much to say after.

    • Agreed.

  • What an interesting perspective. I tend to be pleased whenever I’m asked, regardless of the knitting status of the person asking the question. i do tend to downplay my skills – again no matter who is asking. But that’s another issue. Maybe I’ll write to you! 🙂


    • LOL!

  • I just took up knitting last summer, but I’m in love, and I’m going like gangbusters. I’m self-taught, but I’ve done lots of other handcrafts, I’m not easily intimidated, and I have a good sense of what patterns I can handle. As a result, I’m moving quickly and starting to knit some more-difficult-than average stuff.

    I have a (male) friend who has watched this happen and is fascinated by all of this, as if I were performing magic, and he has asked if I’ve knit things that I could clearly not have knit. But he doesn’t know that.

    It’s a good opportunity to educate that person with your response. No, people generally can’t knit as finely as a machine does (or it would take forever, or bore them to death!), so I didn’t make this sweater. No, I appreciate the compliment, but here’s why this pattern would still too difficult for me. No, this fabric is actually not knit; here’s how to recognize knitting. No, to knit this sweater would take me an extraordinarily long time, since I don’t have a lot of free time; I couldn’t have possibly made this in the short time I’ve been knitting (experience levels aside).

    At the very least, I know that — as a friend — he’s interested supporting me in my new favorite hobby. At best, he’s actually learning something new. And, while I never expect him to take up knitting (for his self-professed lack of patience), a different friend might actually decide to take up knitting as he or she learns more about it. You never know!

    Maybe, Raging, you can exchange your frustration for becoming a knitting ambassador? 🙂 Like Clara said, most people are probably curious, clueless, and trying to be complimentary.

  • Knitting, like baseball, should be our national pastime and then we’d never have to deal with such questions. Better: “Did you see what Mary was knitting at the Royals’ game last night?” “Yes! Fabulous lopapeysa. Say, how did the game end?” “The Royals won the pennant! The Royals won the pennant! The Royals won the pennant! And Mary bound off in a lovely hot pink.”

    • This is my dream for the world and the reason for MDK. Knitting as part of a life well lived.

  • You really hit this one on the head. I tend to recognize (if it is such a thing) who is a knitter by the item they are wearing first, rather than view an item and wonder if it’s store bought or hand crafted. As a long time knitter I am still in awe and feelings of a sisterhood is immediately felt when that connection is verified and made with another knitter through such recognition.

  • Another thought: sometimes a question is merely a request for information. That is nothing to get angry about.

  • My friends and I have been talking a lot lately about assuming that people who know us are well-intentioned, even if their delivery is offensive. I don’t think you have to be all Pollyanna all the time, but at least with those who are closer to me than passing acquaintances, I want to go into interactions assuming that they have a positive motive. I may be wrong sometimes, but I’ve found that I’m wrong less often than if I assume the worst.

    • Haha. My husband is find of the quote, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” 🙂

      • Fond. He is fond of the quote. (You can explain my typo by stupidity!)

  • What’s wrong with macaroni wall art?
    Pretty in Penne

    • Nothing! At! All!

    • Nothing whatsoever! But it’s not the best thing to wear as clothing. You know, moisture management properties and all. Noodles might get a little soggy.

  • Knitting I have been doing forever…. Friends family know & received as gifts knitting presents. When someone says “did you knit that” I never feel afended being that they really can’t tell if I did. What a compliment !! I knit for children’s charity that is where I know that question will never be ask. They wrap themselves in a blanket that gives them comfort from pain & to know you added to there comfort nothing can make you knit faster an knit more blankets.

  • I can kind of understand where Raging is coming from, because sometimes I feel the same way. It stems from my own insecurities though. Emotional unsecurities, financial insecurities, etc. .
    However I have recently realized how many folks are just amazed. If it is a hat, bag, toy, dress, making our own items, even down to dishcloths is becoming a lost art.
    Revel in the fact that you are one of the few holders of that knowledge that evades our society in this day and age.

  • Love you Clara!

  • Your response to “Raging” is dead on. I am one of those fans that gushes over accomplished knitters. I absolutely love looking at online images of the things they have created. I want to knit. I’ve tried. Many times. At first, I made a lot of scarves for Barbie. Then, when I finally felt ready to make a scarf for myself, the stitches were so uneven. After dropping a stitch I threw in the towel, wadded up the mess and pitched it out. Be nice to us “Raging.” We are in awe of you and your magic needles.

  • I gave my father a counted cross stitch item that I painstakingly created with my own hands. Many years passed before I realized he did not know I had made it myself. I wish he had asked or I had not assumed he would magically know.

    Now how about people who comment that your knitting is so good it looks store-bought?

    • It’s intended as a compliment, I think, so I take it as a compliment.

  • I think Raging needs to chill out a bit really. No need to give someone a hard time when they are likely asking an honest question out of curiosity. I am intrigued though – do non-knitters somehow present differently to those who knit – to my untrained (but knitter) eyes, they all seem the same?

  • Oh dear! I hope this question is not from the woman whose skirt I admired in Whole Foods the other day. I could tell she was upset by my question, “Your skirt is fantastic and clearly not mass-produced. Did you create it?”, but I couldn’t figure out why. Is there a better way to admire? Honestly it was admiration and frank envy of your having time, space, and mental energy to create something tangible and visibly good. (Parenting a preschooler “likely on the spectrum”– I’m always tired, never done, and things are rarely found in the place or condition in which I left them.)

    • I think you touched on something really important here. When I’m out and about, wearing something I made and am asked “did you make that?”, I have two thoughts. The first is did they notice because it looks like macaroni art, and they’re trying to figure out why I’d waste my money, or are they asking in awe?

      I’m really good at spotting handmade items, particularly knitted items, out in public, and I love to compliment the wearer. Because of my own hesitation, when the tables are turned, I always start with “that sweater is fantastic! Did you knit it?” so the wearer knows the question comes from awe, and possibly curiosoty about the yarn or pattern. Perhaps if more people gave their opinion first, Raging could appreciate the question for what it is, rather than letting doubts present an incorrect interpretation of the question.

  • You’re asking if it’s you? Yes dear, it’s you. What have your parents done to you that you can’t take a complement? Now get over it and on with the knitting, spread the gospel of yarn, and make every non-knitter envy and wanting to learn!

  • I’m kind of sad that there isn’t more sympathy for the question asker! I can totally sympathize. While I think 99% of the questions come from a good place (and the rage that *I* feel often comes from insecurity), it can still be frustrating to grapple with other people’s commentary (perceived or otherwise) on your choices. Especially because there can be an undercurrent of, “oh, it must be nice to have so much time” or “huh, I wonder why she doesn’t do something more intellectual.” Even comments about the supposed difficulty of a project–“Oh, I could never do that!”– can feel like they undermine the hours and hours of work and practice and frogging that we’ve all done to master new techniques.

    I agree that the we should all try to give people the benefit of the intentions, but let’s have compassion for anger and frustration too.

    • I am one of the “I could never do that” commentors. I wasn’t out to undermine the “hours and hours of work and practice and frogging done to master new techniques.” Really I wasn’t. I totally get that quality knitting is a skill that takes time and dedication. But I admit that I am too easily frustrated to ever achieve that level of skill and I suspect I don’t possess a thimblefull of the talent required. Thus, I stand in awe of those that can and do. I think this thread points out a much bigger problem that many of us have in relating with each other today. So many people seem so ready to be offended that I often hesitate to give a hearfelt compliment. What’s wrong with us? Why are so many people going around carrying a fifty pound chip on their shoulder? Maybe we can all take a deep breath and dare to assume that when a stranger extends a compliment to us (however awkward that compliment might be), that they are being sincere. Afterall, what motive would a total stranger have in walking up to you and cutting you off at the knees by making a snide remark about the article of clothing you knit for yourself? I can’t imagine. I have no compassion for that kind of anger. Only pity and sadness.

      • I totally understand that these comments aren’t meant to undermine anyone! I guess my point is, we all have insecurities that present in different ways. Just because my insecurities present differently than yours doesn’t mean that yours aren’t real and valid. And I’m making a big assumption here, but I bet the question asker is isn’t rude to random people, but struggles with this angry self-dialogue.

        It feels like this question has opened a can of worms that might be in Max Daniels’ wheelhouse–maybe on self judgement?

  • Yes! Can’t tell you how many times that has happened to me. My latest story, I have a very sweet niece, who admired a school friend’s knitting and, knows I knit, so she asked me to teach her. Wow! I was really excited. Went to the store and picked up a cute knitting bag a basic knitting book, yarn and needles (especially for beginners) row counter and needle sox. Again I was excited and wanted her to have everything she needed to start. After four lessons she shyly said, “Aunt Peggy could you just make me a knitted blanket?” I said, “Sure Honey, what color?” She said, “All different pinks?” I said, “No problem.” End of her knitting experience. So while some people have a desire to learn, not all will and that’s OK. Accept the compliment and don’t buy them their own supplies! P.S. she is doing well and working on a degree in Psychology …… graduates in June……. Hope she remembers to pack her “pink blanket” for her next adventure