I thought that it only happened to people on the internet…

I’ve read a lot about a yarn store rudeness but I never thought that it would happen to me….

We went on a family holiday to a small country town in NSW.  Those of you who read the last post,  will be delighted to know that global community of knitters came through for me, and I secured enough yarn to finish my Nesselrode, all in the same dyelot.  During the holiday I manged to finish the front and the back,  and was champing at the bit to get going on the neck.  To my mind, the generous neck is an important feature of the pattern, and I was happy to compromise on sleeve length to get the neck right.   Despite owning plenty of pairs of  3.75 mm needles (one of the perks of being a former yarn shop owner), I did not bring them with me.

Anyhow,  I noticed that there was a haberdashery shop¹ in this small town and I decided to go an buy the 3.75mm needle from it.  When I ran into the store, desperately trying to avoid getting wet in the sudden downpour that had just started, I was ignored.  There was one woman working in the store who was busy chatting to her only other customer about recent social events.

I perused the yarn (small, very dated selection) and even smaller collection of patterns, most of which dated back to the 1980’s.  I eventually found the knitting needles, and could not locate a 3.75mm needle, or even a 3.50mm needle that I liked, so I went up to the counter with a 4.00 mm needle and a 3.00 mm needle and waited to be served.  The ladies chatted, and I learnt more about the recent bowling club dinner.  I waited.  I wondered if there had been some improbable cosmic intervention, perhaps due to the storm, that had rendered me both invisible and soundless.  The ladies chatted.  I cleared my throat after another 5 minutes, and the customer collected her change and finally left.

The (presumed) owner of the shop finally greeted with a curt “hello”.  I asked politely if they had a 3.75 mm circular needle or double pointed needles. The owner said “they don’t make that size”.  I was surprised by that statement (especially since I had many pairs of the non-existent needles at home in Sydney), but chose not to directly contradict her.  I instead said “I’ll just check the pattern, I did think that they specified 3.75mm needles”.  When I opened the pattern, the owner sneered “Oh, its an American pattern”, in a tone of voice which suggested that Australia was at war with the US, and I was an enemy collaborator.

Despite being quite affronted, I knew that I wanted to get moving on the neck, so I purchased the 3.00 mm needle for $4.95 (figuring that I could knit looser, and that having the inside of the neck a bit smaller would be OK), and left and stewed a bit.   I have had pretty uniformly positive experiences yarn shopping around the world, but if I were a beginner, the owner’s rudeness would have been truly off-putting.   My lack of forward planning is especially annoying when you can purchase 15  sets (US sizes 0-15) of DPN’s here for $9.84.  Get together with your mates to meet the order minimum, or purchase some buttons, and needle rolls.

Of course I got back to the holiday house, and looked at the pattern again, and realised that while I had been seeking the 3.75mm needle for the neck, that I had, in fact, knitted the body of the sweater on completely the wrong sized needle.  Apparently, when I decided to knit to the underarms in the round, I decided to use the sizes recommended for circular needles (4.00mm – intended to be used on the outside of the turtleneck) instead of 4.50mm needles indicated in the pattern for the body.  Luckily, Nesselrode is a pattern that has a lot of ease, and the error is not fatal, even despite the slightly firm nature of the knitted fabric.  It has been a lot of knitting so far, and there wasn’t much chance of me unpicking it.

The last question is – do I knit the sleeves on the recommended size needles, or do I continue on with the mistake?

1.  I’ve decided not to name the shop because they have no other internet presence, and I don’t want their only mention to be about rudeness.


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I can be contacted at travellersyarn at yahoo.com

6 thoughts on “I thought that it only happened to people on the internet…”

  1. I encountered pretty much the same in a Sydney shop when I wanted to buy 3.5mm needles. I was told quite categorically that there was no such animal but I pointed out that I already had a couple of pairs. “You must have bought them in America” said the LYS owner. No – the US doesn’t use mm sizes. Gave up. Why go into retail if you can’t even PRETEND to be charming??

  2. Oh, aren’t people funny. Good of you to take the high road.Guy and I still refer to the time a coffee shop server told us quite seriously “You can’t decaffinate an espresso bean.”

    I’d do the sleeves on the same needle as the body, unless they are already narrow by design.

  3. Having a little giggle at this post. How rude of you to interupt the gossip, heheheheh.
    Definately stay with the smaller needles for the sleeves.
    Can not wait to see the finished article.

  4. Can’t advise on the needles I’m afraid but I enjoyed the giggle about your shopping expedition.
    Thanks so much for your lovely comment about my Tova, I notice you’ve got the pattern too. Have you made it up yet?

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