10 Terms to Survive A Fiber Artist by The Crafty Husband

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Hello, readers! Hubs here. My wife asked me to write a guest post, so we came up with a list of several things new or maybe less experienced significant others of FIber Artists need to know to survive their day to day existence. We have been together for over a decade and a half, and if I can help some fellow husbands or wives navigate the dark and treacherous waters of the handcrafting world, I’m happy to do it.

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FIBER ARTIST -  A term new to even me. This is the name my wife gave me when I started writing this post. I asked what she wanted to be called; a small business owner, a crafter, an artisan, or a hooker (which is a crochet term, calm down). I guess this is the name that some people who travel in my wife’s circles prefer, like how “Star Trek” fans prefer “Trekker” to Trekkie”...Oh, I’m confusing you more now, aren’t I? Sorry. Look, this is just what they want to be called and it’s their world, not mine.

FROGGING- Not a retro video game about dodging traffic. It actually means pulling stitches out to correct a mistake, probably one you caused via distraction. Pro-tip: when your wife is crocheting, save internet videos for later. Frogging is usually accompanied by generous amounts of swearing. This is the action you will see your FIber Artist performing the most, sometimes even more than actual crocheting, especially if she is learning a new titch. There is no way to soothe the frogging crocheter, just wait it out. Like a storm. Of flying yarn. And profanity.

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FABRIC SCISSORS- 20+ pairs of scissors reside in your house. Guess how many you can use? NONE! The best thing you can do is buy a pair of scissors in secret and lock them away for your use only, and use only that pair. Nothing enrages a Fiber Artist faster than the sound of fabric scissors being used to cut something other than fabric. Don’t argue. Even if they gave you the pair you just used in error before, using them this time was wrong. Suck it up. Admit it, you committed a crime, so when she confronts you, treat it like a traffic stop: Look straight ahead and give short, “Yes” or “No” answers until she leaves

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KNOW YOUR HARDWARE- Knitting has needles. Crochet has hooks. Get it straight. Keep it straight. Never forget it, and all will be right with the world. Pro-tip: Make sure your friends and family are aware of the differences as well, for their own sakes, and yours. If you let them use the wrong term, you are at fault, not them. Remember that. Also, be aware of that one friend or family member that will use the wrong term deliberately to “Poke the Bear.” She didn’t find it funny the first time, Kevin. She doesn’t find it funny now.

YARN PUKE- This one is more for the novice Fiber Artist husband’s peace of mind. I was guilty of this one, too. Imagine it: Wife goes to yarn store, drops a healthy wad of money on brightly colored yarn, then starts talking about puke. Did something get sick and ruin all of that expensive yarn?! Even worse, does she have to go get more now?! Relax. She just means the middle of the yarn pulled loose in a big chunk. Did you know that she pulls the yarn from the center instead of grabbing the end on the outside and unraveling that way? Because I didn’t.

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YARN CAKE- This is more to save you disappointment than a survival tip. There is no cake. What she has done is taken the big bundle of yarn, called a skein, and made smaller, tightly wound bundles of yarn, called “cakes.” There is no actual edible cake. The cake is a lie. Great, now I want cake.

ACRYLIC VS. NATURAL - Did you know most yarn is fake? Yeah, I didn’t either. Yeah, I didn’t care before my wife told me, either. But, buy her the wrong stuff just once, suddenly, you care, and you’ll never forget. Acrylic yarn is man-made, made of polyester, which is plastic. Cotton yarn obviously comes from cotton, wool comes from animals (and apparently not just from sheep!) Bamboo is bamboo, and all three are acceptable, but acrylic (which I just thought was a kind of paint) is artificial, like the Terminator, but instead of being badass, apparently kinda sucks.

DON'T VOLUNTEER- This isn’t a warning about the dangers of charity work. This is to warn you not to volunteer your wife’s fiber skills, especially for free. For example:

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  • Co-Worker: “Look at this hat I found on Facebook! It’s so cool!”
  • You: “My wife can do that!”
  • co-worker: “Wow! That’s awesome! Would she make me one?”
  • You: “Sure, she’d love to!”
  • Co-Worker: “For free? Since you guys know me?”
  • You: “Of course!”

This is a fatal mistake, one that I have luckily never made, but I have seen made. Still a little shaky on the issue? How about this: are you good with computers? Ever been volunteered to fix a friend’s PC for free as a favor? Even better example: ever own a pickup truck? All those people asking you to move their stuff for free? Now imagine you own a moving business, but your friends expect the service for free. See? Now you get it.

KEEPING THE PEACE- The title of this one has a dual meaning. Keeping the peace is literally keeping the peace. Let me explain: when your Fiber Artist is quiet, do NOT engage! Retreat! If you walk into the house bleeding out, grab a towel and handle it. Do not, under any circumstances, bother her. Why not? She is counting stitches. Fiber Artists create their art from intricate patterns written in an odd almost foreign like language that must be followed exactly. I’m lucky, my wife has a tell when counting, her mouth moves. If she misses a stitch, its like missing a step in a Lego set; the end result will be off and, worst of all, just like Legos, when she realizes she messed up, she has to go back to square one. Remember frogging? Yep, she made a mistake, so she has to tear it all out, wasting all of the time and effort she just put in, and, more than likely, all that swearing and tearing is your fault. Apologize, offer chocolate, and run. (BTW, did you know its called frogging because they have to r-r-r-r-r-rip-it out. Can you believe that? They turned the worst part of their day into a freaking pun!)

PRE-YARN -So, when my wife originally approached me about writing a post for her blog, I had no idea what to write about, so we sat down and brainstormed a few things. After several permutations and many cups of coffee, the idea for this post took shape. We started to list all of the terms I’ve covered so far, then my wife tossed out “Pre-Yarn.” Initially, I was hesitant to include this term on the list, mainly because I thought it was a term that was strictly hers. When I voiced this concern, it was met with several gestures I know very well:  a slow shake of the head, a gentle, consoling touch on my arm, and a pitying smile. “Oh, honey…” she sighed. Well, long before she spoke, I knew from her body language that I was clearly wrong. Apparently, far from being our own private bit of silliness, this term is widespread. (See? Over a decade into this relationship, and I’m still learning!)

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...Anyway, Pre-Yarn. Guys, if the FIber Artist in your life says this term, it’s too late. She has already caught sight of something fuzzy and cuddly to snuggle with. Well, try to, anyway. The rub of all of this is that the creature she has found, which she has dubbed “pre-yarn,” produces wool, which is what yarn is made from, so literally, she is referring to the coat of the animal, which could become yarn someday.  “But,” I hear you asking, “doesn’t wool come from sheep?” Why, yes, it does, but what they’re not telling you is that sheep are not the only sources of wool that exist. Allegedly, there is an entire breed of rabbits that produces wool, and so do alpacas. I feel it is my civic duty to warn you of this, O fellow significant others to the fiberously inclined, because there are two things you need to be aware of. One: Your Fiber Artist has an undeniable pull toward these creatures. Avoid petting zoos, unless you’re into watching a grown woman run full speed toward alpacas or rabbits like she is reenacting a scene from “Jurassic Park.” Even privately owned specimens are not safe. There is a certain farm in our area that has an alpaca. Might have more, but I’ve only ever seen one. My wife looks out the window every time we pass it with the same expression my dog gets when she hears the mail truck. If the alpaca (which she has dubbed “Henry.”) is not in the field, she is actually sad. Not just “stick the lower lip out, fake pout” sad, legitimately sad. If “Henry” is out in the field, she waves to him. Like he’s going to wave back. No, I’m not making this up. Don’t laugh. Your fiber artist will do it, too. It’s instinct. They can’t help themselves.

 

The second thing you need to be aware of is the inevitable conversation regarding acquisition of one or more of these animals. Again, it will happen. You will have this conversation. It’s instinctual. The thought process that leads to this conversation is something along the lines of “I could make my own yarn, and save money! Oh, and the animal(s) is so cute!” It makes perfect sense. To them. Just a heads up: If she approaches this subject, just give in, you have already lost. You may even win the battle, but she will win the war. You may (and likely, will) say “No,” but the hours of research on dyeing, weaving, feeding, caretaking, and habitation she has already done, say “Yes.” It’s like the old joke goes: “My wife wanted an Alpaca. I didn’t. We compromised; we got an alpaca.” Welcome to the family, Henry.*

Seriously, all joking aside, guys, the best thing you can learn to happily coexist with the fiber artist, crocheter, knitter, seamstress, or artisan in your life is to put forth the effort to care. Listen when they speak, be active with their art and interests, encourage them,  believe in them, and express that belief. Celebrate them in their victories, and console them in their defeats. But most of all, love them, and enjoy them. And don’t forget to have fun!

*Disclaimer: Honey, this is NOT clearance or permission to get an alpaca. I already agreed to rabbits.