While I was working at my LYS, a customer was admiring some sweaters we have on display for upcoming classes. Each one has a sign stating the name of the pattern, the dates and times of the classes, and at the bottom a simple request, “Please do not try on.” The customer turned to me and asked if people actually try on the samples. This sparked an interesting discussion and I am interested in what other knitters think.
If you see a sample sweater/hat/shawl/mitts, etc., in a yarn shop, would you just try it on? I personally do not try anything on at a yarn shop unless one of the staff invites me to do so or I ask one of the staff if the item is available to be tried on. In our shop, some of the models come from the yarn companies and those we allow customers try on if they desire. We also have a lot of models that were knit by our staff which are their own personal items.
I have encountered many customers who politely ask if they may try on a model. But there are just as many who walk in, take the model off the display mannequin, and proceed to try it on without asking. I wonder if they are mistaking the yarn store for a department store. Is that possible?
I never allow a customer to try on someone’s personal knitted item without that person’s permission. A shawl or scarf is permissible in my opinion. Allowing people to try on a model risks having that particular model stretched, snagged, or worse. I personally don’t want numerous people trying on my own handknit sweater, hat, etc. I do let customers try on my scarves and shawls as there is less chance of damage to the item.
I also encourage customers to touch the finished projects. Knitting is a very tactile process. I think most knitters are initially drawn to a yarn’s colors, but many knitters skip over a lovely dyed yarn because it feels rough or harsh. Knitting is not a speedy craft and we want to enjoy the yarn as it runs through our fingers while we form the stitches. I do not want to spend weeks knitting something with yarn that feels awful in my hands. In fact, if I don’t like the feel of the yarn I will probably not knit on the project much. Then we have to think about how the final garment is going to feel while we wear it. This is where touching the models comes in. Sometimes a yarn may feel a bit rough in the hank or ball, but once it is knit up it becomes soft and yummy. It’s all about how it feels . . . during the process and as the finished project.
This also brings up another knitting etiquette question . . . if you see someone knitting something, do you just walk up to them and start fondling their knitting as you ask them about the project?
So what do you think? Do you walk into yarn stores and just try things on without asking first? Do you think customers should ask or do you believe the models are there for you to try on? How about touching someone else’s knitting while they are working on it? Speak up knitters!