Next time, just say "It's magic"

We were up in San Francisco for the weekend and managed to wander past the famous SF yarn mecca, ImaginKnit. Wonderful store, btw. I love that they have so many finished objects lying around for inspiration.
I picked up a scarf that looked like it was knit on the bias and asked the clerk if it was done by adding a stitch on one side and dropping off the other side, as you go along. (I should preface this by saying that I'm not a very experienced knitter.) He said it wasn't done on the bias, and the slanted rows were achieved from the way the stitches were lined up. This explanation meant nothing to me. I'm sure I had a blank expression, and I told him I didn't understand. He gave what seemed to be a condescending smile and shrugged, as though it were useless to try to explain.
I didn't expect an impromptu knitting lesson, and I guess I could have smiled and nodded and moved on, but I was curious enough to ask, and was a little put off by his response. I probably blushed (as I often do) and we left the store.
I don't participate in this forum very actively because I'm not even in the same league as y'all, but I appreciate that, in here, I'm not made to feel bad about where I'm at, knitting-wise. I've read many posts complaining about women's attitudes towards male knitters, but have any of you experienced the same from other men?


Crafty Andy's picture

I feel for you. I will say that Imaginknit as a friendly store is going down the hill. I would suggest that you write the Owner an email telling her exactly what you experienced. I avoid the store myself unless I really need something. There are some of the staff who are very friendly and love to share their knowledge with you. Be glad you did not ask a crocht question, that would have gotten you a "Do you see anything crochet Here? " (There is, one of my samples), but believe me crocheters do not like that store because a lot of the staff is very unfriendly to crocheters. You go figure.

If he was a short asian guy, that must have been Joshua. Maybe he did not know how to explain to you what you ask him about. I am trying to be diplomatic, you should have never left the store without an explanation, they must have the pattern in there because as I was explained by the "Owner", they do not showcase anything they do not have a pattern for.

TinkerJones's picture

Thanks, Andy. I don't know his name and I didn't mean to put the guy on blast, because I was otherwise getting friendly service. I should have known in the small world of SF knitting, his identity wouldn't be much of a secret. My bad.
When I think back, perhaps my question was a difficult one to answer without actually pulling out some needles and showing me. But I wish he had said so.
The anti-crochet attitude is perplexing. If you don't shop there, where do you usually go in SF?

Crafty Andy's picture

If I must I shope there, but otherwise I go online. For Fiber I go to "A Verb for Keeping Warm" in Oakland. Another shope even though is a lot smaller is Atellier Yarns on Divisadero near California Street. If you go toward the lower numbers on Castro , Castro turns into Divisadero. It is smaller selection, they are always nice to help you.

I also go to the Cliffs the hardware store, "Side Store", their yarn supply is very limited and small, but it has fabrics.The reality is that I go to Imagiknit if it really serves me, I like to see yarn before I purchase it, but I go online a lot. I used to support Imagiknit a lot, but then I realized my money was welcomed , but I was treated lukewarm for whatever reasons. The reason I made my own swift is because of the hassles of using Imagiknit's Swift.

So short answer I shope there if I have to, I definitely go and look at yarn, I really don't ask many questions, less attitude. There are some excellent people that work there and if it happens that they are there the day I go, I may purchase something, otherwise I don't.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I'm sorry you had a sad experience. I hope you follow up with the owner to explain your situation. Still, I'm glad you enjoyed your visit to the store itself and found new inspiration.

As for not participating here...Please do. That is part of why MWK is my main knitting community of choice: We accept all knitters here, regardless of skill level and such. Mainly men, of course, but the common thread is that we are all knitters. It's all about sharing the love of knitting and encouraging each other to enjoy it even more. If there is a question we can answer...great. Just so we all have fun and enjoy one another's company. After all, we were all beginners at one point and we continue to learn new things as time goes by. I, for one, learn just as much from another knitter's conversation - or a pupil in a class- as I ever do from other sources.

Take care.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

cobwebmsnd's picture

I don't live in the SF area, but I do consider myself an experienced knitter and, while I'm not looking at the piece to see exactly what is going on, I can't think of any technique where that explaination would be useful to anyone. I suppose there is something to be said for not giving away stitch patterns and ruining a sale because somebody thinks they can go home and do it themselves.

But your question was clear and , man or woman, it was clear to me that you knew enough about the structure and process of knitting to be able to understand a full answer and deserve to have your interest rewarded with more knowledge, if I had it to give. That's what knowlegable sales people are paid to do and that is one of the reasons you give them your money with their store mark up instead of shopping online. I think if I had gotten that response from someone I probably WOULD go home and figure out how to do it myself just to spite them, but maybe I'm bitter. I have had similar things happen to me in local shops before. If you are not a part of their regular circle you obviously don't have enough knowledge to spend time on. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience and I hope you are able to find a place that is more open and forthcoming.

scottly's picture

Oh my gosh, what's more ironic than an uppity knitter!!!!! I'm sure his attitude is the byproduct of low self-esteem.

Bill's picture

I'm sorry you weren't treated well at Imagiknit...I shop there a lot...and will let Allison, the owner know. Were you one of the out-of-town guests at Monday Night Knit?
...I had to miss last night...

TinkerJones's picture

I wasn't there on Monday.. but it sounds fun. It might be time to socialize my knitting.

superi's picture

Yes... that is just very poor customer service. If he didn't really know the answer, he should have at least offered to tell you the pattern, and showed you some yarn that would be good for it to try to make a sale. Unfortunately a lot of people think their egos are more important than conducting good business, but I know there are a lot of other people in the world who would go out of their way to help too. I would definitely folllow the suggestions above, and send the owner a comment on the service you received.


CLABBERS's picture

I can't imagine not spending time with someone to help them understand something. I guess that's why I have been a teacher for most of my life. I am wondering if this guy actually knew how the scarf was made. To ensure that you came back into that store to shop again, he could have taken 5 minutes to not only tell you how it's done, but he could have shared the pattern, or, God forbid, picked up a pair of needles, sat down with you and spent a little time showing you how things lined up according to the pattern. Silly man! I agree with should write to them and tell them how you were treated. He could have easily squashed a lesser man's enthusiasm in knitting and that would be a terrible shame. I wonder if he is like this to all the customers he "greets." If so, perhaps, according to Andy, the place is not doing as well as it should.

Here is the store's Web site contact page:
I don't like that they ask for your phone number, so you may want to just call them.

You can alternately use your own email, like Yahoo, Hotmail, etc., and email them directly at to avoid giving them any information other than your email address.

Calling them might be the best way. Then you don't have to worry about getting a barrage of junk mail or calls. As of 8/17/2011 the owner was Allison Isaacs, according to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. She and Sara Lucas are the two who first opened the store in 2002. The number is (415) 621-6642. In 2011, thye only had five employees. I'm sure they can't afford to have this guy treat customers as you were treated.

God, I love what a person can find out on the Internet!

Hope this helps!


That's terrible. I really feel for you. I buy yarns from a few of LYSes we have here in northern Michigan where the general attitude is not one of openmindedness, but I've never been made to feel out of place or unwelcome.
At the craft store I work at, I do have some of the female shoppers look at me as if they don't believe I really do knit, but after a couple of seconds talking about projects, they're very welcoming and even let me know where there's some knitting groups are in the area.
Shame on him!

PaulKnittingNow's picture

I lived in SF and now Oakland. I don't go to Imagiknit anymore for the the very reason of what happened to you. I agree with Andy...their customer service is definitely going downhill. The only person I found friendly and helpful was the owner - she was very nice.
On the other hand I absolutely LOVE my LYS in Oakland - Piedmont Yarn. Bente (owner), Michaela, Christina and all the other employees are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Always full of helpful suggestions, great classes and a large selection of yarn. They greet me by name every time I go in (and I never fail to leave without something!) making me feel right at home.

TinkerJones's picture

thanks to all for your comments. I fear that I might be a little thin-skinned, to let this kind of thing get to me. My partner likes to tell people I'm a 'knitting savant', and I hate it when he does that because I'm smart enough to know how little I know. Asking for help, like asking for directions, takes a certain amount of humility. I'm humble enough to ask for help, but not always humble enough to admit I didn't understand the answer. I've been in the knitting doldrums lately (boring projects, frustrated with sizing issues, etc.) Maybe it's time for a class or something else, to refresh and restart.

KnitteryNinja's picture

As the manager of a local yarn store (Northcoast Knittery in Eureka, CA), it saddens me to hear of your experience. One of the key advantages of a brick and mortar store, and a key reason for supporting your local yarn store with purchases to keep it open, should be excellent customer service. Even if the person hadn't knitted the piece personally, he should have pulled the pattern, talked about it with you, and simply said, "Let's see if we can figure this out together." At our shop, we are always ready to help people figure out patterns, learn new stitches, and share our knitting and crochet knowledge...and if it's something that I don't know personally, I will research it and get back to the person.

We always want all people who enter our shop to feel welcomed, curious, and encouraged to ask questions. That's why we're serve the knitting public and in our particular shop, to build a "unique gathering place", which is the by-line motto of our shop.

So next time you are in far Northern California on Hwy 101, stop by for a visit!