Something I have come across in my short career as a knitwear and crochet designer is the undeniable experience of crochet snobbery. Knitters are guilty of statements such as "crochet creates a really stiff fabric", "crochet isn't good for garments" or "crochet stitches aren't as pretty".
No one has to like it. No one is forcing you to like it but I do ask what your opinion is based on? Is it just something that you've heard or have you tried it?
Some people can't crochet, have never tried crochet and never will. That's absolutely fine. Some people feel more at home when knitting. Some people are only interested in knitting and only ever will be. All of these feelings are fine. I do wonder though, why the negative comments on a crocheter's social media post?
I learned to crochet around the same time as learning to knit. I wasn't taught by anyone I knew. I learned from books and videos. I was therefore oblivious to the phenomenon that is crochet snobbery.
Crochet as 'other'
In the yarn world, knitting seems to dominate. A lot of LYS websites and newsletters focus on knitting. This is usually because the owner knits or only has a team of knitters. What about crochet? Is there not an entire additional customer base there of people who also like crochet?
I don't expect knitters to start blogging and posting about crochet all of a sudden. I understand that it isn't their area of expertise however, I don't understand why yarn shops are guilty of only focusing on the one yarn related craft. I received newsletters this week from two UK local yarn shops. Both talked at length about new knitwear designs, knitting tools and knitting yarns. What about crochet? Why are people who crochet some outsider cult living on the edges of the craft world doing weird things with hooks?
Big box yarn companies will tweet asking everyone what they're knitting. Sorry, do you only sell yarn to people who knit?
Crochet snobbery became apparent at a yarn festival.
I witnessed it last year at an autumn yarn festival. I'd gone to a previous one in the summer and it had gone down well as the visitors seemed to be a mix of crocheters and knitters (or both).
In the October event, it was more or less an unofficial knitting festival. I had more samples on display than the previous event but the ones initially attracting the most attention were crochet. The bestselling hat pattern, the Jewel hat, was back and had been really popular at the last event with the knitters in particular.
This time around, it was not popular.
There was however, one knitter in particular who was loving the sample. She was holding it in her hand and admiring the work and the yarn used, telling her friend how much she loved it. As soon as I told her that the body was crochet, she dropped it like it was on fire. She did not put it back on the mannequin. She dropped it, scoffed and stormed off.
I'm not over sentimental about my work, but it is my art and I do put some of myself into it as you'd expect. To see someone disregard my hat sample and march off as though I'd said "I'm not selling it to you" was a bit hurtful.
Her friend felt so terrible about the incident that she came back and bought the pattern by way of apology for her friend's outburst. This was how I knew that I wasn't just being sensitive.
That was just one incident. On display at the front of my stall was the Daphne shawl. I had been so excited to bring this new design with me after such a positive response on social media, but I didn't sell a single copy of the pattern. I was wearing another sample of the shawl too. Nobody wanted to talk about it. What a flop!
People would look at the mannequin sample, say 'ooo' and hold it up but as soon as they saw that it wasn't knitting, they'd turn and walk away. I asked one lady if she could crochet and she said "not to that standard". She didn't want to know how straightforward the design was. It was not knitting. It was anticlimactic to say the least and the looks of indifference made me feel like I'd done a rubbish job.
It wasn't a complete disaster as I did sell other things but it was nigh on impossible to talk to anyone about crochet. People would walk past and say "oh it's all crochet" and not come to the stall. Little did they know that I also had sock patterns, yarns, knitting needles and stitch markers. They had made a decision based on seeing one design sample and decided not to bother.
I couldn't help but feel that there was indeed a bit of crochet snobbery among the knitters.
I've scoured reddit to make sure that I'm not making this up as some knitters have tended to tell me that it wasn't a thing; people were just tutting at my work because they wished they could crochet. At the bottom of the page you'll find that thread of jaw dropping tales for reading later.
Crochet snobbery on social media
It's the same on social media. I shared a tweet about the shawl on launch day and I was met with comments along the line of "Is there a knit version?" No, there wasn't. I had just spent time and effort and money putting this one out into the world.
Other comments included "It's lovely. It's crochet though :("
I've discussed this comment with knitters and even if the knitter means it in a "I'm gutted that I can't crochet" it was not what I needed to see after a weekend trying to sell a shawl to the wrong crowd. Someone does not need to see that comment beneath a picture of something they've put their heart and soul into.
The crocheters however, felt the same as I did. They too had experienced negativity towards their work.
It's really hard to pinpoint the snobbery but you do see it, even in books! One crochet/knitting book actually says "knitting is probably the better technique of the two... knitting has a better drape than one worked in crochet" says who? Based on what? I've written about this in my blog post How to create drape in crochet.
There is less division than there was
Before Lovecrafts became Lovecrafts, they used to be two websites: Love Knitting and Love Crochet. Apart from patterns and tools, there really wasn't much difference between the two. It felt silly buying my knitting supplies from one website and hopping across to get my crochet supplies from the other. It was the same warehouse that they were picking and packing in. It seems that the owners of Lovecrafts too realised that it was silly and just became an inclusive craft empire instead.
As people are realising, crochet is its own craft. Crochet is not as ugly as 70s patterns and colour schemes would have you believe. Crochet is changing all the time. Crochet drapes, crochet stretches, crochet warms as well as wraps. It's not just for amigurumi, granny squares and dishcloths.
I don't expect every knitter to suddenly love crochet. I just ask that crocheters and their work are given the same respect as knitting is. If you can't crochet but really like a picture of someone's crochet, please just say that you like it. They don't need to know how much you hate crochet.
Anti crochet thread
I knit more than I crochet but I’ve just managed to crochet a lovely lap blanket for my mum who is in a care home. I could never have knitted it in the same amount of time and I’m really pleased with the result. I’m a very novice crocheter so it has to be a relatively easy pattern that I can follow. Both crafts have their pros and cons but I’m amazed at the fabulous results you can achieve with crochet. My LYS features both crafts equally and its owner and her staff practice both too. I’ll finish my current wips and have a go at one of your shawls. Which would you recommend as a starter project?
As far as snobbery is concerned, just thumb your nose at them in the full knowledge that you’ve got the upper hand.
I knit and can crochet if it’s a loose tension, and not too fine a yarn. I need to learn to relax my grip on the hook more as the way I death grip it it sets of my joint problems if I try and do something with a tight gauge like amigurumi so I do tend to stick to just knitting. But I would have been all over your stall because your stuff is amazing and I like admiring other people’s work even if I think it may be beyond me. I like rummaging through craft stuff even if it’s a craft I thinkIi’ll probably never try, it’s still fun to be nosy about all the bits and bobs.
People are strange, and crafters are people ;)
The first “crochet creates a really stiff fabric” made me think: “Yes, isn’t it great?” Crochet and knitting are two different crafts, both with pros and cons depending on the result you want to have. And if you combine both, the possibilities are endless ;)
I learnt both at elementary school here in Germany and I know many people that know both. And the “knitting dominance” is mostly in North America + parts of Europe. Look at Southern Europe, South America or South East Asia – knitters are rare, the vast majority are crocheters.
Such a great piece Hanna. Since dabbling a little more in crochet I have definitely become more aware of the language I used in my own blog posts and social media, and although I’m still primarily a knitter I try to use more inclusive language when I can. Asking “what are you working on” rather than “what are you knitting” for example