Rant the first:
Why do vendors sell items to the uneducated public, then not include instruction sheets or a quick lesson? I'm not talking mail/internet ordering here - most of the weaving/spinning shops I've dealt with have instruction sheets or videos that are included when a beginner purchases something: case in point, when I bought my very first wheel, the dealer (I think it was Halcyon Yarns, but it could have been any of them), one of the "freebies" that I could choose from was a "How to" video (the one with Patsy Z.) In fact, they assumed I wanted the video - they asked if I was a beginner so they could include it.
However....we had a lady come up yesterday with an inkle loom. She had NO CLUE (and was, quite honestly, either totally brainless (I wondered how she managed to dress herself) or so totally confused that her brain had shut down.) Seriously - she was SO confused, she got into an arguement over what type of yarn to use to weave with.....I had to leave. I wanted to whap her over the head - Yarn is YARN, it's not rocket science, it's not going to be the end of the world if the project doesn't work out....call it a learning experience and move on. Seriously - 2 FREAKING HOURS this lady spent; every explanation offered to her was argued. *sigh*
She had borrowed Helene Bress' Inkle Weaving from the library, but totally didn't understand it. I'm not sure why - I had that book (it got borrowed and never returned; I need to replace it but haven't gotten around to it yet), and it is pretty clear on the explanations...if you have 1/2 a brain. This lady was getting hung up on the yarns - "the book called for #10 cotton; none of the stores have that so I can't weave on this loom!". Ummmm, YARN IS YARN, idiot - buy what you want and go to town. I finally asked her to vacate my chair so I could get back to what I was there to do - spin. *grumble, mumble*
Rant the second:
Don't volunteer to demo something if you don't like being interrupted with questions, and people wanting to touch. It's generally good form to *ask* before you touch, but most people are so enthralled by the wheel that they can't help themselves - kids expecially. If they are reaching for a non-moving part, I have no real problem with it - sticky fingerprints can be washed off - but I will speak up if they are about to hurt themselves.
Seriously - people don't, as a rule of thumb, see a loom or a spinning wheel or someone quilting/knitting/tatting/lacing, so be nice. Don't take it personally. Do your best to Educate them. Don't snap at them because they are interrupting you, or asking "stupid" questions - remember, if you've never seen it/been exposed to it, ALL your questions can be considered "stupid" by the operator. We were all in that position at one point in time - the difference is, *we* did something about it. The average person *won't*.
Rant the second, part deux:
Don't pretend to have more knowledge than you really do. People aren't totally stupid - they can go grab a book (especially if the demo is IN A LIBRARY) and see how stupid *you* really are. Talking out your ass will make it harder for other demo-ers next time. You don't know the answer? Say so, then make an educated guess. Case in point: I had a young, pre-teen girl ask me what the "monkey" was in "Pop goes the Weasel". Now, there's been a lot of talk that "weasel" DOESN'T mean the popper on clock reels, but most people have heard that one many times, and accept that it has something to do with spinning. I said, "well, I don't know - the "weasel" is a thing on a reel - which is something you use to wind the yarn off of the spinning wheel bobbin, here - that makes a loud "POP" sound when so many revolutions have been made. If I had to guess, I'd say that the monkey is the spinner - you sort of "chase" the reel while you're winding on the yarn...but I'm not really sure." She said "OH! That makes sense!" (and proceeded to tell me she had monkey toes....O...K) and bounced off. Talking out my ass? Maybe - but I admitted I didn't know before I suggested a possible meaning.
Rant the third:
Please, please, PLEASE - arrive early enough that you can get totally set up before the unwashed masses arrive. People don't want to watch you casting on, or setting out your merchandise (for the vendors), or trying to warp the loom, or trying to get the stupid wheel set up. All that does is make you look stupid and incompetent in front of people. Case in point - we got set up with 15 or 20 minutes to spare. Normally, I have my bobbin started the night before; for some reason I didn't do that this time. I have been spinning on my Ashford a lot recently...and I had forgotten that the flyer whorl on my AA is "backward" compared to the Ashford. (On the Ashford, the "big" end of the whorl goes next to the bobbin; on the AA, the smaller end goes there.) It took me a few minutes to figure it out.
Now, if there had been an audience, I would have looked *totally* stupid. They have no clue that different wheels are set up differently - a wheel is a wheel is a wheel to them. I am trying to educate....don't think a lot of educating would have happened if I'd been running later than I was. Well....maybe *language* education. *g*
Rant the fourth:
Try to do your best work while demo-ing. Remember my rant against "Art Yarn"? Memorize it - Live it! Non-fiber folk think that lumpy bumpy yarn is trash (we got a lot of comments on that yesterday: "I thought handspun was all..y'know - lumpy and stuff" to which I would happily reply "Nope! See!" and display my froghair singles.) If you're new to the craft, or restarting after a hiatus, TELL PEOPLE that - they'll be more forgiving; and as an added bonus, they will say "Wow - if YOU can do THAT after ___ length of time, maybe I could do that!" Yes, we had a lady do that - she saw a Martha Stewart show with a weaver, was intrigued, and now has my contact info so she can learn to weave. She wants to weave "art" scarves - *I* personally, don't see the point, but if that's what she wants to do, Cool! I'll be happy to teach her the basics and give her what knowledge she needs to create whatever her heart desires.
Boy, I had more in me then I thought! I must have *really* been irritated......