Why a little bit of snobbery is good for you

Why a little bit of snobbery is good for you

It is generally understood that if you learn too much about something, so much that you understand how it works, that you become a snob. It is generally thought that this is a Bad Thing.

I disagree. Strongly. And I’m going to explain why using a couple of examples.

Yarn. My first example is yarn. Less than 2 years ago I didn’t know how to knit. The wonderful knitters of Dublin fixed that failing and now I’m quite happy to count knitting as one of my skills. But before I started to knit I was learning about yarn. Sure, I’d grown up with the Australian Wool Board’s adverts so generally had an idea that wool rather than acrylic was “better” but to be honest I hadn’t given much thought to the fibre itself and certainly not to the different finishes and other animal fibres that it could be blended with or substituted by.

I soon learned about different brands (granted it’s shopping so I pick this stuff up fast) and what types of yarns cost how much and had an idea of what was a reasonable price, so instead of comparing the gorgeous hand-dyed pure wools or wool blends with the giant balls of acrylic, I was in a position to compare like with like.

Eventually I picked up some gorgeous merino wool from Australia for my first knitting project, and I am so glad I did – the yarn was a pleasure to work with, and the pattern (a softly cabled cowl) was tricky enough to keep me interested which meant that not only did I finish that project, but I actually wanted to do another… and another…

Then earlier this year I decided to grab some acrylic. It was for a “throw-away” project. I cast on and the squeaking was the first thing I noticed. I knit the first row, my hands felt horrible. The yarn was truly awful, even though it came in a good range of colours and was a good price. After a few days of trying to persevere I could stand it no more and I put it away.

Now, if I had not learnt about yarn and become a yarn snob I still would not have continued with that acrylic – it was beyond ghastly. If that had been my first knitting project I wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all, and I wouldn’t have continued through the tricky side of learning a new skill and I certainly wouldn’t have had anything at the end if I had continued that I would have wanted to wear. What a waste! If I hadn’t learnt to knit I probably wouldn’t have found the knitting group in Edinburgh, which means I would be minus some great people in my life. How horrible! And all for the sake of not being a snob? I’m very happy to be a yarn snob, thank-you!

Coffee. When I was younger I didn’t like coffee. I know, sacrilege for someone born and bread in Melbourne! I generally found it bitter and the aftertaste of foul. But that was before I started to learn about coffee.

I learnt that coffee can be burnt, that a barrister makes a difference. I learnt that different brands/origins of coffee have different notes and subsequently different flavours. I started to pay attention when I was in a cafe and I liked or didn’t like the coffee and you know what, I noticed a trend. It turned out that I could after a while quite reliably know that I would not enjoy Lavazza or Grinders, but that illy and Coffee Mio would leave me feeling happy. Once I’d figured that out I simply stopped ordering coffee if the brand was one I didn’t enjoy. I also made sure that if I was stocking up for home that I bought the brand I did enjoy. Simple. And I don’t feel I’ve missed out at all – in fact by being able to make an informed decision, I’m rarely disappointed when I have coffee, which is totally awesome compared to the old days of pot-luck randomness I used to experience!

Do I still like instant? Sure, there’s some that I do like and some that I don’t. I see instant as a different type of drink really. I did learn one trick, and that was to put in my milk before hot water so that the grounds don;t get burnt – makes a huge difference to the instant experience for me.

So, whatever it is, don’t feel that you need to shy away from learning about something just to avoid becoming a snob. Being a snob is just another way of saying that you’re discerning and being discerning is not a bad thing at all. After all, life’s too short for scratchy jumpers and bad coffee!

Image and pattern for cosy – Design Sponge