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