Who Are We?
The Anatomy of a Knitter, As Revealed in the KR Polls

What happens when you take more than 200 questions and look at the answers?

We knitters may differ in many ways, but we share a peculiar and unspoken bond. Only a special breed of person goes weak at the knees in the presence of yarn.

Over the past four and a half years, I've asked you random questions in our weekly poll. I thought it'd be fun to study all the results and see if one, common personality type emerged.

Join me for an insightful—and entertaining—look at our composite self. Don't worry if you don't see yourself in all the answers. That's part of the fun of this exercise.

In the Beginning...
Dan, in my knitting group, teaches a newcomerYour mother taught you how to knit. Or did you teach yourself? Interestingly enough, it was a tie. Although legend usually dictates that the grandmother passes on the craft to her grandchildren, only 15% of you learned from your grandmother—the same percentage as learned from a friend or teacher.

But you've been knitting a long, long time, having learned at the age of 10 or younger (43%). Several of you are also lapsed knitters (19%), recently returning to the fold after years of silent needles. And a sprightly 14% are new recruits, having learned to knit less than a year ago. Welcome to the family!

You feel absolutely passionate about knitting (41%). Although you consider yourself an intermediate-skilled knitter (47%), you still have lots to learn (72%).

In the Beginning
the first scarf I made from my handspun yarn, using a simple K1/P1 ribYour first project was a scarf (33%) or, for the more ambitious, a sweater (22%). You chose a different yarn than the one specified in the pattern (48%), and you worked with the yarn in your right hand (52%).

But soon you got distracted by all the beautiful yarns and patterns out there, and you started another project without having finished this one (82%). You felt guilty about that unfinished project (46%), but then again, you do tend to get bored with your projects (52%).

The Merits of Multitasking
Still, you show remarkable restraint. You usually have no more than 10 projects in various states of completion (80%), although some of you stopped counting your unfinished projects years ago (16%).

While your oldest unfinished project tends to be just a few years old (30%), some of you have projects so old they require carbon dating (30%). If the project stops being fun, however, you're not afraid to abandon it completely (41%).

Stocking Your Stash
inside the Woolly Lamb in Pennington, New JerseyWhen it comes time to find yarn for your next knitting adventure, you tend to visit your local yarn store (59%) despite the fact that you feel perfectly comfortable buying yarn online (51%). If it's a new store, you may feel a bit nervous entering it for the first time (43%), although enthusiasm and curiosity usually win out (36%).

In your quest for a new project, you tend to fall in love with a pattern (51%) and then find a yarn to go with it—preferably wool (81%).

Your budget? For an adult-sized sweater, you'll spend anywhere from $60 to $120 (54%), although the more frugal manage to fund an entire sweater for $60 or less (32%).

If you really like the yarn, you'll usually buy it regardless of the cost, figuring that it's worth the extra money in the long run (48%).

You do feel a little self-conscious about your yarn stash at times (37%), which is large but always in need of more stocking (84%). (When storage space gets tight, you get creative.)

Picking Your Needles
choices, choicesWhich needles do you use? Well, that depends on the project, yarn, and your mood (32%). Generally you prefer bamboo (26%) and metal (25%) needles. Whenever possible, you like to use circular needles (56%).


Watch Your Swatch!
Two swatches of the Jade Sapphire bulky cashmere
Before delving into the project, you begin by knitting a test swatch (40%). Well... sometimes. You often get so impatient to begin that you jump right in, using your first few rows as a gauge swatch (34%).


Goof Tolerance
So your gauge is set, you begin your project. Things are going well until you look down at your work and discover something terribly wrong. What do you do?

Most of you will try to figure out how you can fix it without undoing your work (49%). But what if you discover another mistake later on?

Heck, a few modest goofs don't count (66%), unless you're one of those people with zero tolerance for any mistakes (28%)—in which case the entire project must be unraveled and started from scratch (30%).

Are You a Blocker?
So you've finished your project. Will you bother to block it? While some of you insist on blocking (31%), others never bother with this step (38%).

Knitting for Others
don't try this at home!Who is this sweater for, anyway? If one thing is clear, it's that you're a generous bunch. Last December you knit many gifts for friends and family (48%), including several bulky scarves (54%). The gifts were very well received (68%), although in a few cases you thought the recipients were slightly disappointed (26%).

Generally you're surrounded by extremely supportive friends and family (48%), although they may occasionally shoot you an exasperated glance (41%).

Gifts from Others?
Despite those supportive friends and family members, you're clearly long overdue for your own knitted gifts. Nobody has knit you anything in a long, long time (53%).

And in some cases, you've never received a handknit gift (35%). Sounds like it's time to befriend more knitters!

But you remain cautious about knitting for a new love interest (41%) for fear you'll be hit by the curse of the love sweater. While others maintain it's just a silly superstition (30%), some of you have experienced the curse firsthand (15%).

It doesn't hurt to be careful.

Turning Passion into Profession
Annie Modesitt has made a career out of knitting -- here she teaches at the 2004 Knitter's Review RetreatIf knitters were given a toaster oven for every dozen new recruits, we'd have a lot of appliances on our hands. That's because the majority of you enjoy teaching others how to knit whenever the opportunity presents itself (55%), and some of you (10%) even get paid to teach professionally.

In fact many of you dream of a career in the fiber arts—you just can't figure out how you'd go about getting started (37%).

You dream of owning a yarn store, but doubt you'd have the courage to do it (58%). Some of you actually do have a career in the fiber arts (6%), while a few others (9%) have your plan for success all figured out.

What's Next?
You made ambitious lists of projects for 2005. Although many of you don't believe in making official New Year's resolutions (38%), some of you did (28%).

a felt swatch in the snowWhile some of you are curious about learning how to dye your own yarn (37%), a larger majority has no interest in this whatsoever (38%). Felting is on some people's to-try list (27%), although most of you (47%) have already tried felting and enjoy it.

While many of you (59%) are tempted to try using software to design your next project, most of you (50%) have no interest in learning about knitting boards.


Question Assumptions
If this exercise has taught me anything, it's that you can't make assumptions about knitters. For every person whose answer was in the majority, several more people answered the polar opposite—but because my polls often include several contrary answers, they remained a statistical minority.

For example, 43% of you agreed that all knitters love cats, but 34% of you insisted that such an assumption is absurd.

Then again, you categorically chose yarn over both chocolate (77%) and caffeine (66%).

So maybe there is some truth to these silly numbers after all?
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