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Yarn and cheese

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On the way home from the retreat Sunday we stopped at Wegman's in Fredericksburg.  I had never been to a Wegman's, but I'd heard all about their fabulous bread and cheese and produce.  I love food and cooking as much as I love yarn and knitting, so I was pretty excited.  I picked up a few things I knew and wandered over to the enormous cheese section.  There were all the standards, and so many other things I knew I wasn't going to see in St. Mary's County. 

Walking around and gazing into the cases, I'm sure I looked totally overwhelmed, which I was.  I love cheese, but I really don't know much about it.  The woman behind the counter spotted me and asked that fateful question: "Do you need help?"  I'm thinking to myself, "Of course I need help.  I am completely lost in this world I so much want to be part of.  I want to buy something really wonderful and delicious.  I want to try something new, but what if I don't like it?  This stuff is expensive, and I don't want to waste my money."  This is the moment of truth.  Do I smile at her kind offer and say, "No thanks, I'm just looking," or do I bare my soul, look like the newbie I am, and take her help? 

I see this scenario play out in the shop all the time.  For new customers, and especially for new knitters, it's very hard to articulate all of one's hopes and dreams and fears.  Good yarn is not cheap, and the whole knitting process represents a significant investment of time and money, not to mention an emotional commitment to the project.  I really, really get that.  That's why it can be intimidating to come into a yarn store.  It shouldn't be, but it is.  Cheese shouldn't be intimidating either, but it was. 

At the counter, I took a deep breath, and bared my soul.  She listened as I told her what I had tried, what I preferred generally.  She suggested some she thought I might like and gave me a taste of lots of different cheeses.  Feeling like a bother, I kept apologizing for taking her time.  She smiled and said, "Honey, this is my job, and I love it.  I want people to taste things and buy cheese.  You're doing both, and you're making my job easier!"  I ended up with a selection of 6 wonderful cheeses and was very happy. 

It's the same in the shop.  Our goal is to help you find something beautiful that will delight you.  We want you to find a project that suits your knitting preferences and a yarn that works with your project.  So we ask a lot of questions and try to see where you are.  It's a delicate balance, giving the right amount of help - not assuming too much knowledge with a beginner or insulting an experienced knitter.  That's why I usually ask new customers what kind of yarn they like and what kind of things they like to knit.  But these questions only help us so much.  If you want a really great experience in the yarn shop, please open up to us.  Tell us if you're on a budget, or you hate fingering weight yarn, or this is your first yarn-buying trip outside of Michaels and you haven't a clue what "dk weight" means.  We'll be able to tailor our help to meet your needs and preferences.  So please, please ask, and don't be embarrassed. We love to talk about yarn, and we want to help you learn about yarn.  Because the more you know, the more success you'll have, the more confident you'll be, and the more happy knitters there will be in the world.  Which is what we're all after anyway.

So come and pet the yarn.  Ask to see samples of it knit up.  See if there's a skein of it you can knit on or if there's a yarn tasting coming up.  I look forward to having you in the shop seeing, touching, knitting, learning, or buying -- you are always welcome here. 

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Comments on this post (7)

  • Apr 29, 2015

    Ellen I can’t believe that you have never been to Wegmans! They originate from my hometown-Rochester, NY. I grew up with Wegmans. Now you can understand why I did not want to move to Southern Maryland. NO WEGMANS!! At least now they are getting closer.

    — Ami Ridgell

  • Apr 29, 2015

    I’m so glad this was helpful! It is hard to admit how much we don’t know, but mostly people are so happy to share what they know and help you learn. That’s what specialty retail is all about!

    — Ellen

  • Apr 28, 2015

    I loved this blog entry! Some because you referenced Wegman’s and cheese (both my favorite!) and some because you really hit the nail on the head for tons of new knitters or LYS shoppers. You and your staff are very helpful but I also appreciate when you trust me to just browse for hours and contemplate my many options.

    I love your shop, Ellen, and still recommend it over any other LYS that I have visited. I am going to have to visit Leonardtown this summer, since you took away my guilty pleasure in La Plata. ;)

    — Polly

  • Apr 28, 2015

    What a wonderful analogy. Great story.

    — dana russell

  • Apr 28, 2015

    I enjoyed your description of buying the cheeses and then the comparison to buying yarn and/or knitting related items. I learned a long time ago that I was wasting my time and money if I didn’t ask questions. It also helped that at one point in my work career, I worked in a craft store and ran into the same thing…people unwilling to ask questions. Thank you for the blog as it helped make my day.

    — Shirla Ghadaki

  • Apr 28, 2015

    What a wonderful post! I will have to try more cheeses and ask more questions at all shops! I am too often embarrassed to be a bother. Thanks to you and your team for always being so welcoming and helpful!

    — Eveline Marquardt

  • Apr 28, 2015

    This was a delightful little article! I could visualize the experience. Thanks!

    — Elaine Phillips

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