Article

How to Drive a Maker Nuts

If you ask most knitters or crocheters what annoys them about their craft they’ll probably say. “yarn vomit”, “knots in balls” or, at a push “having to hide my yarn hauls from my family” AM I RIGHT FRIENDS? This article goes a bit deeper however, because I wanted to explore a little about the more gut-wrenching aspects of being a crafter that really stick in the craw. From pattern theft (if you follow me on Instagram – thank you – you’ll be WELL AWARE of my recent rants about this) to strangers chuckling at you for daring to be under 80 and enjoy knitting, I’ve got you covered. Let battle commence…

So, do you want to drive a Maker nuts? Why don’t you…

Ask a crafter to make you something for free.

I’m not sure which is the more insulting version of this: someone asking you to make them something for zero money or excitedly offering you a tenner for something that is worth ten times that (or more) in terms of labour and materials. It is of course possible that the person has literally no idea how much time and effort goes into creating a handmade item (and that’s not even including the design process) but that doesn’t mean you should undersell your work.
How to deal with it? Well, be honest. Explaining the process, how long it will take and exactly why you have to charge more than Primark for a blanket is a good place to start. If they still don’t get it after that you let them toddle off to buy something else and be done with it.

“LOL! Aren’t you a bit young to be knitting? LOL”

Lord give me the strength to deal with these ones. Aside from the lazy assumption that knitting is something that only a retiree can enjoy, what kind of person shames a person (especially if it’s a stranger!) for a doing a hobby they enjoy? Yeah, we know it’s ‘just a joke’ most of the time but it’s annoying af and yet another example of how fibre artists are not taken seriously.

Be a yarn snob

I unfollowed a person on Instagram last year because of this. The owner of a relatively high-end craft store in a city near me (the sort of LYS that doesn’t sell hanks for less than double figures), this woman would berate people who ‘insisted‘ on knitting using acrylic or cheaper yarns, completely baffled as to why anyone would even consider daring to work with anything less than mohair/silk blends rolled on the thighs of… You get the picture. This señorita had trouble understanding that the majority of people can’t afford to make things with expensive yarns because, well, they can’t afford it, no matter how much they’d love to. Luxury yarns are obviously fabulous, but most of us have bills to pay and/or kids to pay for and the idea of spending €40 on a 50g skein of yak makes our eyes water. I guess some folks have other priorities, or maybe they’re just so gosh darn rich that they can fill their stash with as many hanks of llama as they like without going overdrawn. By all means gush over luxe, but don’t shame those of us who can’t afford it.

Copy other people’s ideas and patterns

I don’t have enough space here to tell you why it really sucks to copy other people’s stuff, but I’m pretty sure you can work out why. Instagram is chock-full of examples of this: Pee-poor copies of well-known designer’s work with a slightly different take on it, maybe a pompom or two less, but it’s the same thing. I’ve even seen people copy a pattern or idea entirely and have the cheek to TAG the person they coped from in the description bx saying “inspired by – insert original designer here – “I’ve been so tempted to call this out in the past, but what can you do? It’s a sad fact that people who agree with naming and shaming are usually labelled as rabble rousers/trouble causers and that’s that. The only thing worse than this is pattern theft (be careful when you choose those pattern testers, huns) which is something I and a few of my maker friends went through last year. All I can say is that the people who steal or copy other people’s ideas have little clue how much work goes into the process, and it’s even worse when another designer you respect does it. Gross. Grossest of all though is that now most designers see theft as part and parcel of being a designer, and accept that this will happen to them at least once or twice. How can we solve this? It’s hard, but make sure you’re choosing carefully when picking testers, go with reliable people with proven, completed tests on their feeds, steer clear of people who are slow to respond to messages and give feedback, and go with that gut feeling; if you have a bad vibe from someone don’t even go there.

Ask a designer for their patterns for free or – possibly worse – parts of their work

Let’s explain this one a bit. One of my friends (a very talented, well-known crochet designer) was asked recently by someone for the measurements they use when designing garments (i.e one of the most complicated parts of garment design and not something you’d offer to anyone freely, even your pals), another was asked to deconstruct a finished sweater and write the pattern out for this random. For free, obviously. You don’t have to be into this kind of stuff to understand why this would annoy any designer. I’ve also heard tales of people asking others to pick apart finished garments in order to count stitches… The entitlement is real.

Don’t take it seriously

Those of us who are lucky enough to do our craft full or part-time as a job are in a great/dream position, but it’s still quite hard to get people to see what you do as a real job and source of income. Choice comment, “Oh, so you just sit at home and knit all day? Bloody hell…” Do one, mate.

So, what can we do with all of the above? The fact is that a lot of the problems listed are down to one thing: ignorance. If someone asks for a pattern for free they’re probably ignorant to how much work writing a pattern actually is. If a person laughs at your hobby they’re probably ignorant to how much of a valuable, rewarding and important activity is is. If someone steals your pattern… No, those people are just dicks.

Thanks to everyone who inspired this post (my Instafamily) and those of you who shared stories – both funny and horror – to be included in this post.

Article · parenting

The Other Parents

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As we battle through this extended, special edition episode of The Krypton Factor that is parenting, you come across all kinds of people. People who, until now, you may have overlooked or not been aware of. Strangers who are all up in your bizniz in the street because you kid is barefoot in the pram, old bints in Tesco who comment on the gigantic size of your bump (yup, it even starts before the child has come out of your bod) and numerous other examples of humanity that you’d enjoy kicking in the head.

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Then we discover another breed of individual known as ‘The Other Parent’.

It has to be said that the majority of other mums, dads and grandparents that you meet are fantastic people. But sadly, like most things in life, those are the people we don’t notice so much. The ones who stick out like a sore thumb are the irritating ones.

My advice is that when you find a normal, brilliant other parent, hold on for them for dear life and never let them go because these dudes are a dying breed and we need them around us.

Let’s take a look at the wide variety of oddball parents we can find at the school gate…

The One Whose Kid Does Everything Better Than Yours

If your child has managed to tie her shoe laces for the first time, theirs has been doing it since they were newborn. If your child is a fussy eater and you’re having trouble getting them to ingest anything that isn’t a chicken nugget, theirs eats five-course organic meals and superfood smoothies. Cross the road when you see these people.

The One Who Tries To Flog You Tat

From ugly, badly-glue-gunned things to hang on your door to their nephew who can tattoo you in his bedroom for a fiver, this specific type of parent varies from country to country, but the principle is the same; they constantly try and sell you stuff, get you involved in pyramid schemes or know someone who can get it cheaper. They take one look at your daughter’s new pair of trainers and, with a slightly sulky face, sticking-out bottom lip proclaim that you “should have asked them” and that “they know a bloke called Dave who could have sold them to you cheaper”. Another variation is the mother who shows you a carrier bag of her atrocious crafts and guilt trips you into paying a couple of quid for a nasty crocheted bikini top or similar. And let’s not go down the road of those Juice Plus people…

“U Ok Babe?”

This is the woman whose eyes laser onto that jam stain on your top, or those huge dark circles under your eyes, or those slightly greasy roots, places her hand on your shoulder and – with loads of sincerity – says, “awww! You ok babe? You know I’m here for you!” even though you’ve known each other for five minutes. She probably means well, but she’s as oily as fuck and is definitely judging you.

“The Bitch”

We all bitch about other people, but this lady is the maximum level. She bitches about every other parent, telling you stories about how Josh in 2C’s mum has had three boob jobs, how Marigold’s dad is having an affair with one of the dinnerladies and “have you seen the state of Milo’s shoes?” but deep down you know she’s probably saying the same things about you and your kid too. These types of parent can be good for a bitch now and again, but be suspicous of the ones who seem to do it by default. You ain’t that special to be left out.

“Not My Son”

This one is for the teachers out there (holla!) who I guarantee have dealt with one or twenty of these in their careers. It’s parents evening and you need to have that awkward chat with the mum and dad of a naughty little shit in your class. Instead of taking it on the chin and actually considering the fact that the teacher isn’t just gunning for your kid, they turn it onto you, informing you that you are obviously not stimulating them enough or that they are just “gifted” and that makes them play up. And punch other children.  And call their teacher a “Knob’ed!”. Legit.

The Overly Familiar One

They’ve only known you for a month and you don’t have anything in common apart from the fact that your kid gets the same bus as theirs, but they want you to come round for dinner/ask you questions about your reproductive organs/interrogate you as to why you didn’t breastfeed/etc. Just leave me alone.

The One Who Means Well But Gives You Rubbish

This kindly person clearly means well but this is directly connected to hoarders who cannot bear to chuck anything out. They offer to gift you a few items that end up being in the vein of broken toys, worn out clothes, bicycles missing wheels and generally just things that should have been put right in a black binliner. Lady, it’s very kind of you, but if you haven’t used that sticky, broken pushchair in 10 years chances are that I won’t either.

The “If You Mess With My Kids I’ll Kill you” One

This nasty specimen is specific to social media. You’ll visit their Facebook profile (we all do it) and every other image is some hostile weirdness like this…

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And my personal favourite…

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Calm down unresolved-anger-management-issues lady. Why do some parents feel like they need to spell this out to strangers? What kind of paranoid bollocks?

And here are some beautiful examples of other parents from some of my Instagram followers. Hold onto your hats…

The “I Know All Things” Parent

They’ve done it, bought it, tried it… Whatever thing you’ve been through they’ve experienced it twice and are a total expert. That’s amazing, but they share this information with you in that self-righteous way that makes normal parents cringe and run a mile.

The “My Child Has Never Had Sugar” Type

Most commonly uttered sniffily whilst your child is polishing off that packet of Jammy Dodgers right in front of them. Always.

The “I Can’t Be Away From My Kids For A Second” Parent

Not to be confused with Attachment Parenting – a parenting style connected to co-sleeping and baby-wearing – but those parents who simply cannot leave their kids for a second. They make you feel guilty and look at you like a freak when you mention that you’re leaving your baby with a sitter for a night or with its grandparents for a week so you and your other half can have a – God forbid! – BREAK! Any mention of you enjoying naptime as a way of switching off from your kid for an hour is met with gasps of horror. Because once we have a kid our own needs are bollocks, right? Eye roll.

The Smartphone Parent

Kid is taken to the park to play, parent sits on bench and stares at phone for 45 minutes, ignoring aforementioned child. Child is waiting at school gates with her mum and calling, “Mummy? Mummy? Mummy? Mummy?” whilst the parent scrolls up and down and ignores. Family in restaurant and every member is engrossed in some kind of tablet or smartphone for the entire evening. Depressing as hell.

Antivaxxers

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKKKK!

Just… Fuck those people.


A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this very salty article possible by contributing your tales of Other Parent Hell! If I didn’t manage to include your response, it’s only because this entry is so long that it’s rivalling War & Peace. Don’t forget to drop me a line if you feel like sharing your examples of annoying parenting.