A lot has been written about the many changes in the world of knitting and fiber arts. As retailers, we hear concerns about the closing of local shops, the growth of internet sales and the glut of free patterns that don't make it easy for designer and magazine sales. While we agree that rapid change is on-going, we would like to share another perspective on the evolution of the market.
It is true that the market has been altered by institutions like Ravelry and the proliferation of independent designers, brands and online sales. Online groups are terrific. They link people all over the world, create international camaraderie and, in some cases, create lifelong friendships. Since there are now more ways in which yarns and equipment can be purchased, buyers have more options and sometimes those choices leave an individual store out of the equation.
Equally important, however, is the personal interaction that can happen only in the real world. That is where the store or organization comes in - as a facilitator of community. As a local retailer of yarn and related products, we have witnessed, first-hand, the way in which the fiber arts facilitate an intimacy that happens when people personally share their interests. We have seen how kindred passions break down barriers, encourage learning and facilitate growth.
A few days ago, we sent out a newsletter, asking for "stories" about the difference that knitting and related crafts have made in people's lives. Almost immediately, we began to receive examples of kindness, healing and friendships. The following is from one of our customers. We are honored that she makes the trip to see us since it involves more than one subway change. The power of our community draws her to us as we are drawn to her.
I was asked to knit for my relative Adam, who had been diagnosed with cancer, a cozy woolen hat to keep him warm. One he could wear once he had lost his hair during chemo treatment. It takes me four subways to get to the Knitty city store, but I went almost immediately. I asked your son, Zach, to help me find the right material, in the right color, which he did. 'Do you need a pattern?', he asked, and I answered 'no'. I thought I was experienced enough to make my own pattern. However, it did take a couple of tries of knitting and undoing before I had the correct measurements. My completed hat was shipped to my 36 year old relative. He said in his thank you note that it fit perfectly and that the color and material were just right. The good news is, that Adam is responding to treatment. - Story submitted 12/7/16 PS: This picture shows the author who was a contributor to the Blanket Square Project - a worthy and "warm" cause supported by NYC knitting guilds, groups and organizations for The Blanket of Love Program.
We often hear the term "random acts of kindness", but it can be seen in action in the spontaneous and generous things that people who make things together often do for one another. Here's another case in point, sent to us by one of our KC team members, Melissa:
This gift was a great example of what I value about Knitty City;. I was recently covering the register for just a few minutes on a day that I wasn’t working. I checked out a customer who was visiting from Montreal. I started to ramble on about how I loved her city, and how I missed my regular supply of yogurt seasoning from Akhavan, a great Middle Eastern food store. She offered to pick me up a bottle and send it along to NYC. Initially I declined, as it would be asking too much of someone I barely knew…..she insisted and I offered to give her money for it, which she declined. Weeks later, a bottle of yogurt seasoning was handed to me. This delicious act of kindness is a reminder to me of two things: First, knitters are awesome. Second, to continue this act of kindness by doing the same - no strings attached.
We have seen sharing like this played out for the past 5 summers when Knitty City partners with the Bryant Park organizers for our weekly free summer knitting classes in the park. People teach one another, swap stories, histories, losses and gains all within a 90 minute session in the center of the city. Sometimes people learn to knit, sometimes they share their knowledge and, sometimes, they even entertain.
Always benefit abound. - and it happens with the type of relationship that is facilitated best in person. Local stores have a unique opportunity to offer something no isolated computer or discounted price can compete with.: personal touch and relationship.
We would love to hear your stories about how the craft or a shared experience has helped you. If you have a personal anecdote, tale, or experience regarding knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, or any fiber work, we would be interested in hearing it. We are compiling them to create a regular feature for our website: The Knitty City Diary. If it involves Knitty City, so much the better, but that is not a requirement.
With your permission we will share them, as the opportunity presents. Unless directed otherwise, we will keep them anonymous. Please send directly to email@example.com with the subject: KC Diary