Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Ugly Knitter

Recently I came in contact with a group of knitters. They aren’t all in the same knitting group, they just happen to be in the same place everyday. I was happy and excited to meet so many knitters at once. What a great thing I thought… Or so I thought.

The Ugly-Knitter (I’ll call this person) and I seemed to have much in common because Ugly-Knitter appeared to be a fun person and almost always in a good and uplifted mood. Ugly-Knitter and I chatted about out passion for knitting, how Ugly-Knitter was taught to knit by a college chum and so on. I introduced Ugly-Knitter to Ravelry and different designers; I shared my views on knitting and methods of knitting. Ugly-Knitter took in all the information. All of this face-to-face sharing really revved me up. I was happy to be amongst a group of knitters, chit-chatting about what we all loved.

One Day…

Ugly-Knitter is asking me to show how I cast on. I did and Ugly-Knitter said that I cast on weird. That’s right, weird. Ugly-Knitter then did a cast on and said “See, this is how you do it!”. My first response was “Whaaaat?” I then explained that perhaps someone taught that cast on or it came out of a book or off the internet but everyone does not cast on the same way. I explained that many years ago (over 30), everyone I hung out with crocheted and thought I was crazy because I wanted to learn to knit. There was no one to teach me anything and I am a lefty to boot. I couldn’t even find a book that taught lefty’s how to cast on so I did the best I could with a right-handed knitting book. I explained that my method of casting on may not be a conventional one but, it works.

I was offended but calm. How dare this person that’s been knitting less than 8 months criticize me, Carolyn Two Cables !!! I took a look at some of the other knitters and noticed that they were also feeling awkward about Ugly-Knitter’s comments. One knitter knowingly and blatantly looked into my face. I wondered what she was trying to tell me with that look.

One day while I listened to Ugly-Knitter brag about being able to knit better than many others, it somehow made me think of Ugly-Knitter’s knitting relationship with the others we know. Two of them never, ever share their work with Ugly-Knitter and the other knitter that has been knitting as long as I, actually goes to Ugly-Knitter for advice. Why, I don’t know.

Not Only an Ugly Knitter but a Competitive One…

I was working on my cabled wrist warmers and Ugly-Knitter asked where my cable needle was. I explained that I don’t use one. A blank but shocked look came over Ugly-Knitters face. “You will have to show me how to do that.” -- “Okay” and I did.

That same day, Ugly-Knitter and I were looking at Ravelry patterns. I was telling Ugly-Knitter about one of my favorite cabled patterns and how I was going to “Knit this one next” but “I just haven’t seemed to find that right color yarn yet”.

A Few Days Later…

Ugly-Knitter excitedly came to me to share with me a different (any method but mine) method of cabling without a needle as well as the start of that favorite cabled pattern I showed. Ugly-Knitter was working on the pattern without a cable needle also.

Okay, so Ugly-Knitter is knitting up the cable pattern that I was going to knit next and though Ugly-Knitter has never knitted cables, the choice is without a cable needle. Hmmmmmmm. We’re in America, the land of the free, the land where any-knitter-can-knit-from-any-pattern-when-they-darned-well-please, right!!! Heck, they can even do it without a cable needle. Then why was I feeling a bit awkward about Ugly-Knitter’s choice. Oh, I know, it was the devilish smirk of competitiveness and the flat-out “I Got Ya” look on Ugly’s face. I’m a cool cookie though, I smiled and encouraged Ugly-Knitter and complimented the yarn and wowed at the idea that no cable needle was being used. On the inside, I was cracking up because though cables are not hard, I knew that the mere constant no rest cable coupled with the construction would frustrate Ugly-Knitter to hell and back. Yeah, I encouraged Ugly-Knitter to think about casting on not one but two. “You must have more than one color” I smiled.

Ugly-Knitter came in complaining about all of the ribbing and hadn’t even gotten to the cabling. Oh, this will be such fun I thought. As the days went on, Ugly-Knitter at first tried to pretend to like the pattern, then Ugly complained about the awkwardness working small cables without a cable needle and wondered if using one would make the project easier. Ugly looked at me for advice. I hunched my shoulders up and said “I dunno, whaddya think?” I smiled and walked away.

After that day, it was complaints from Ugly-Knitter all the way. Everyday I smiled doe-eyed and kept complimenting on how gorgeous the project was turning out. -- A few weeks later, the project was finished and pretty nicely. However, I don’t think Ugly-Knitter will be making another one just yet.

Some folks would say that my behavior as a knitter was ugly at that moment. Perhaps it was. Perhaps it was justified, perhaps not.


Knitting is a Feel Good...

This craft-criticism is a first for me. I don’t know what craft world/planet Ugly is from but in my world, crafters DO NOT criticize each other. They don’t intimidate each other. They don’t scold each other. Or do they?

For me, crafting is an art. Sometimes methods are different. So I named this knitter UGLY because this is how I see this person’s behavior. Who wants to compete with their knitting. It's a feel-good hobby for me. To criticize other knitters to the point that they won’t even share their work is a crime and a shame. I’m getting upset again even as I type this.

I don’t share much of my knitting with Ugly anymore, if Ugly sees me knitting I keep the project conversation short. I don’t share any of my proposed projects anymore either. It weirds me out a bit that Ugly wants to make almost everything that I want to make. There are other incidents also as you can imagine.

Please share your views on this subject. What is the climate of your knitting group and friends ? Are there any ugly crafting behaviors ? Or am I the only one to run into an Ugly ?

16 comments:

Confessions of a Knitting Diva said...

Oh my goodness, I have come across an ugly knitter too, she is always "one upping" people. We took a sweater class a few years ago, and she had already finished her sleeves before the first class. She did duplicate stitch for an intarsia part because she didn't like how it looked. She finished her sweater by the second class (there were four scheduled). It took all the fun out of the class and I didn't finish the sweater. I can hardly look at it.

Norma said...

Well, hello. I'm here at your invitation, and thank you for your hospitality! Here's a plate of cookies for you!

:)

Your story about the Ugly Knitter is mostly why I don't knit too much in groups. There seems to be one in every crowd, or maybe that's just me. There are also a couple (more than a couple, I'm sure) of bloggers like that.

I did meet one exactly like you mention in person once. It was our very first meeting, and we met up for lunch when she visited my town. She was knitting on something nice, and she shoved it in my face and very smugly said, "This is what happens when *I* knit a [insert name of shawl pattern here]" I looked at her completely BLANKLY, because I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what she was talking about -- I did not know the pattern, did not know what she was being so smug about. Turns out she was trying to tell me she was making a triangular shawl into a square or rectangular one, modifying the pattern.

You know the moral of the story, right? "It takes all kinds." Sadly, some of these kinds make it unpleasant for the rest of us. Then again, my friend Sandy and I often say, "If it weren't for those kinds, what would we talk about?" :D

del said...

This may be why I don't do knitters groups, at least not right now. I'm sure this Ugly person does this in all areas of her life, not just knitting, which is a sad way to live! You've got the right attitude, though, to save your sanity. Just smile & keep walking.

Eryka Jackson said...

I have always felt to second-tier in my knitting to put down the work of anyone else. I am fortunate in that my knitting group is filled with so many talented knitters, that I feel as if I learn something new every session. I think Ugly Knitter is too new in the craft to know any better. or perhaps she is knitting for the wrong reasons. Whatever it is I hope she soon comes to the realization that she is alienating some great teachers.

BTW Carolyn, you handled it much better than I would have. After a while, I would have told her about herself and freed her from any obligation she felt to speak to me again. Knitting is what I do for peace and I don’t like people trying to tear it down. They can share in it, but I rather not have it polluted.

Melodye said...

I agree with Del. She probably does this in other areas of her life as well. From all appearances she knits for the wrong reason and hopefully won't last long.

Anna said...

I can honestly say that the majority of my knit group experiences have been positive. I've had the occasional run in with a knitter or two that felt the need to compete. Internet-speaking, it's tough to make out a person's tone sometimes, but in person it can just be put out there and it can definitely get ugly. At the end of the day, I've given up on knit groups at the moment. They're nice to go to, but I can't say I've built any real bonds as of yet. Great post!

urbanknitrix said...

Ugly is the correct word. But like Del said, she is probably like this in every aspect of her life.

I thin you handled it quite well. I would have handled it the same way until she kept it up. The next time she said something to me about showing her something I would direct her to Knittinhelp or youtube for techniques. "i'm a lefty and I don't want to show you a weird way." GTFOH.

I would not give her any of my time, I feel like you have to get negative people out of your space, so I would avoid her like the plague and if she comes by I will smile and keep it moving. It takes too much energy to be unhappy.

Carlene said...

Kind of made me get a knot in my stomach just reading about her. I've definitely known an ugly-knitter.

Beverly said...

life is too short to knit with ugly yarn and ugly knitters. let her shine like that if she wants to - there's so much more of heaven where you can stand in your own light.

Camille said...

What a nightmare to think that you have met a nice little knitter and the person happens to be a monster. I agree with the fellow bloggers, I bet this person is just as monstrous in their non-knit life. It sounds as though Ugly has traumatized the fellow knitters also.

Estella said...

How awful! My stitch n bitch group has a bunch of different level knitters/crocheters and even an embroiderer - we never criticize we only encourage. Thing is you can't change her. Maybe she'll get a moth infestation in her special new cable method or her "better" cast-on technique! :)

hakucho said...

I must say I'm pretty much a solitary knitter. The only group I used to knit with was my prayer shawl group and I never ran into any one criticizing. We don't meet any more due to peoples schedules...finding a night that works is difficult.

I fully understand your feeling about the ugly knitter and I would feel the same way as you do. You are not alone. Her copying your project ideas reminds me of the old saying "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".

hugs :)

No mas Tenured said...

Esta persona es muy fea verdaderamente. Cuán inseguro y grosero. Ella sólo puede disfrutar de su tejer dejando otros. Usted debe huir de ese grupo. La reacción desfavorable no es buena.

Judy said...

Whoa, 'Ugly' is the right word for such a person who takes all of the joy out of the art of knitting. I think you handled the situation(s) very well! I don't much knit with a group anymore, but I have witnessed an 'Ugly' person before in that setting. Thank goodness I wasn't their target. Good job!

Shameka said...

What you did to her was exactly what she deserved. My motto is give them the rope and let them hang themselves. She obviously caught a fit trying to work on your pattern because she was doing it to "one-up" you and not because she actually really loved or was ready to do the pattern. Hehe!! Out of curiosity, what was the pattern? I would love to see how intricate the cables were. Just an FYI....if I am slipping more than 3 stitches, I am surely using a cable needle. LOL!!

EARTHROAMER said...

OMGoodness! I didn't know you lived so close to me, your Ugly Knitter is in the group I used to attend. Yea, Ugly knitter is very competitive as though we were in a tennis match with a $100,000 prize for the winner, and she knows it is going to be her, no matter what.
She has a lap top that she is constantly using to surf Ravelry members, right there in front of the "group". She checks the members groups and reads all their postings, and tells all of us how we can see what a particular person is saying/posting in the forums. We all call her the control freak. She often does one better than any "B" knitter I have come across, and that is she will sabotage a knitters work, when she is "helping" them. Happened to me twice. She lets everyone know that she is at Level whatever in her knitting certificate of some sort. (I hope you know what that achievement is, because I was so turned off to this Ugly Knitter, that I could laugh and have fun with the other knitters, which she hated.) She doesn't smile, it is a though she is the sergeant of arms on fun, like no fun, all serious. Kill joy, castrating every comment with her dead pan voice and expression, while she throws cold water on the fun. She is so protective of her "nest" that she will even slander members, but only when they aren't present. She is poison. I have stopped knitting with groups, the fun gone with her presence, and I ask why be in the presence of a kill joy. Gossips and competitors and snoopy invaders of thought kill and I don't need that.