Monday, July 20, 2009


I still have at least one more Scotland post tucked away, plus one finished object to block and show you, as well as Younger Daughter's socks to photograph and display (not to mention the new pair I cast on), but I've been fiddling with this questionnaire, and I think that I need to get it out of my head and into the real world for some knitterly feedback. I am not yet asking anyone to actually respond to the questions; that will come very soon, once I've uploaded it to Survey Monkey (which will happen after I figure out how Survey Monkey works). My goal is to solicit responses sometime towards the end of this week (!!). Right now, what I'm hoping is that some or all of you might be willing (and have time) to read through these questions and tell me a) whether they make sense, and b) whether I'm missing some really obvious question that I absolutely ought to be asking in the final questionnaire. My leaning as a researcher is towards transparency, and towards the involvement of the "research subject" in the research itself: in defining the research question, and in refining the analysis of the data; hence my request for input at this stage.

Also, I should probably mention that I have not had access to incoming email since about 6:30 am yesterday (apparently I can send messages out, though); IITS peformed one of its "updates", the result of which is usually that something breaks catastrophically and leaves me stranded in a world without contact. I'm checking my Ravelry messages, though (which doesn't help at all with the work email that I'm sure is piling up). At least this time I'm not the only person whose email is down, which (I hope) should lead to quicker action.

Updated to add: I just started receiving email in my inbox. Huzzah!

So, without further ado: Questionnaire, Beta Version. (Note, for the purposes of this post, I am not including all of the reassuring verbiage about anonymity etc; it will most definitely be there, though.)

1. Age:

2. Sex: (circle one) Female Male

3. (Circle one): Single Married/Partnered

4. Children? (circle one) Yes No
If yes, how many?
Grandchildren? (circle one) Yes No
If yes, how many?

5. Highest level of education achieved:
High school Associate’s degree Bachelor’s degree Post-graduate degree

6. Annual household income:
< $10,000 $10,000-$25,000 $25,000-$40,000 $40,000-$60,000 $60,000-$80,000 $80,000-$100,000 >$100,000

7. Would you call yourself:
- Someone who knits
- A knitter

8. If you would call yourself “a knitter”, what marked the transition, for you, from being “someone who knits” to being “a knitter”?

9. How old were you when you first learned to knit?

10. How long have you been knitting?

11. Who first taught you how to knit?

12. Why do you continue to knit? What makes knitting so addictive or compelling?

13. What have you learned from knitting?

14. Approximately how many hours a week do you knit? (circle one)

15. How many projects do you generally have on the needles at a time?
1 2-5 6-10 >10

16. Approximately how much money do you spend per month on knitting (e.g. yarn, patterns, needles, bags, notions, etc)?
<$50 $50-100 $100-$250 $250-500 $500-$1,000 >$1,000

17. Do you have a dedicated knitting area in your house?

18. Do you have a stash of yarn? If so, would you call it a small, medium, large, or extra-large stash?

19. Do you also participate in other fiber crafts? (circle all that apply)
Petit point

20. Where and under what circumstances do you usually knit? (circle all that apply)
At home alone
While watching TV/movies
While listening to the radio/music/audiobooks
At my children’s activities (e.g. sports games, recitals/rehearsals, practices,
playdates, etc)
While talking to friends
With my knitting group
At my local knitting store
While waiting for appointments (at doctors’ offices, post office, etc)
During meetings at work
On the bus/train/airplane
In airports, bus stations, etc
At restaurants
At the theater

21. If you knit in public (e.g. outside of knitting-oriented venues such as a knitting store, or outside your home), has anyone ever commented on your public knitting? If so, were the comments positive or negative? Can you give some examples?

22. What image do you think non-knitters have of knitters? Do you think it’s generally an accurate image?

23. Who makes up your “knitting community”? How would you define that phrase?

24. How often each week do you interact with other knitters? Where do these interactions take place? (At your local yarn store, knitting group, blogs/blog comments, Ravelry, other?)

25. Where do you get your knitting inspiration (e.g. to try new yarns, patterns, techniques, etc)? (circle all that apply)
My local yarn store
My knitting group
Knitting blogs
Pattern books
Knitting classes
Longer knitting workshops
Knitting conventions (e.g. Stitches West)

26. Are there any topics of conversations or words or phrases that you associate with knitters? If so, can you give some examples?

27. Where do you learn those topics/words/phrases?

28. How many projects, approximately, do you complete each year?

29. What kinds of projects do you usually knit? (circle all that apply)
Baby clothes
Household items (pillow covers, tea cozies, etc)

30. For whom do you mostly knit? (circle all that apply)
My immediate family
My extended family
My friends

31. Does part of your income come from knitting or fiber-related activity (e.g. pattern-writing, making knitting notions/bags, working at/owning a yarn store, knitting for other people, etc)?

If so, approximately what percentage of your annual income comes from your business, and what form does that business take?

Actual knitting tomorrow -- stay tuned.


kellijean said...

You might also look at posting the survey on google. They have a survey tool that I actually think is better than Survey Monkey.

Wool Enough said...

Hmmmm. Question #7 makes no sense at all to me. Someone who knits IS a knitter. What's the distinction? Oh, and you might want to expand the train/plane/bus thing to include any and all public transportation (ferries too). And do you want to maybe get into the type of fabric being created, i.e. some folks are lace fanatics, some crave cables, etc. They care about that more than whether it's a sweater or a sock.

That's all I can think of right now.


What struck me, was #10. Fiber arts and/or crafts would be more appropriate.

And like Wool Enough said, the difference is knitter/someone who knits - not relevant.

Otherwise, GOOD JOB!

Anonymous said...

Two of the items asking to circle don't have a range of numbers (#10, and something in the #20s, maybe 28? - I should have written down the number before coming to comments!)

Also, it would be helpful to have some kind of quantity associated with size of stash - number of skeins, or amount of space it takes up, or something - my small might be someone else's medium...

I also didn't see the distinction between knitter/someone who knits.

You've covered a lot; I don't have the experience in surveys to guess what might be missing.

Rachel said...

I think you need to add to #20: while traveling in a car - I think many of us knitters knit while traveling when we are not the driver.

Another thing that I saw someone else mentioned too is some way of quantification of the stash, small, medium, large is very subjective especially when you talk about something that not everybody is willing to admit to its size!

Another question that popped into my mind is: what is the reaction of your family to your knitting.

Do any other members of your family knit?

Ooopps,,, maybe it is 2 different questions?

This is what I thought about for now. Will take a second look later or tomorrow.

Roger R. said...

1. I'd change number 11 to ask if they are self-taught (I am), and if so, what sources, books, internet, patterns purchased at yarn stores or craft shops.
2. It might be nice to know if people are craft-store people (Michael's, JoAnne's) versus LYS vs. internet purchasers.
3. I like the questions trying to differentiate between someone who knits, who just lists it as a skill they happen to have, vs. being a knitter, who defines her/himself in some way by this hobby.
4. On 20, you might break up the kid activities thing between practices and competitions or performances. For me, those are very different situations. On the other hand, for your purposes this might not seem like much of a distinction.
5. Finally, I don't know if you want to open this can of worms, but you might consider talking about terminology in directions. Here in the US, it seems pretty standard, but when working with a foreign pattern, directions can be very different. How do we react to those differences? How do we translate from the English of (say) Scotland to the English of American pattern-writing? And, an important one for me, how do those of us who knit non-standard American translate and deal with those terms? Is this something in which you are interested? I have tor "translate" ssk into "left-leaning" decrease, for example, or even k2tog, for it to work with my silly knitting style.
Debbie masquerading as my son Roger

Dawn in NL said...

Here are my comments:

Are you interested in people outside US? If so, perhaps a question on location.

Perhaps a question on whether people work outside the home - this may have impact on time and money that can be spent on knitting(which you have questions on).

Perhaps ask if there was a gap in knitting, a period when knitting was abandoned.

Q 12 strikes me as too leading - suggesting everyone who knits finds it addictive or compelling, some may do it for other reasons.

Some people have commented on the number of options in Q20, I suggest you add "etc" to most of them to aviod people feeling that their option is not included, or make them more generic eg in public/private transport rather than in bus/train etc.

Q21 may need rephrasing, I think you have used the word "outside" twice with two different meanings, needs to be disambiguated (love that word that came up twice in the last week ;-)). First occurence could be "other than" and second one could be "in the area around your home". Of course, I may have misinterpreted completely,

Q29 - may be better to rephrase or give a hint of what 'usually' means. I suspect people might circle everything they have ever knitted rather than things they knit frequently.

Interesting that you are already getting comments on that knitter/person who knits Q. So you may want to make it into a two parter, Do you think there is a difference and if so ...

I am looking forward to hearing more about this questionnaire in the future, fascinating topic. Good luck.

KnitNana said...

I get the subtle nuance of #7. If you just "knit" once in awhile, you can, but it's not a passion, it's a, stop, pick up some Red Heart, knit a gift for a friend's baby, then not pick it back up forever. You are "someone who knits."

If you're like most of us? Knitting whenever we can't surfing blogs in snatched moments of time during the day and evening (midnight when we can't sleep?), knitting 4-10 or more things at once, stashing yarn against a rainy day (or for retirement when funds will be limited), you know the Harlot, Wendy, Knitspot (and have multiple of her patterns in stash ready to knit), the compulsion is strong to do nothing else but knit, no matter where?

Then you are a KNITTER.
I like the idea of expanding the type of fabric created...cables, lace...

Hmm...I like the idea of where we are within the world, and also as to whether we have outside commitments for pay - because, in a way, that further defines us as "Knitters" vs "someone who knits"

And check #14. I saw that too - a range of hours perhaps?

I cannot wait to take thinking about how I'll respond - especially the "what things have folks said to you about knitting"

Rachael said...

I agree that stash needs to be quantified, some people might think they have a Very Large stash if they have enough yarn for 10 pairs of socks and 5 sweaters. *ahem*, I barely remember the days when that's all I had, but then I thought it was huge! lol

I'm not sure the best way to get at this though, lbs of yarn? yardage? people on ravelry can tell how much yardage they have (and it really does shame me, but I love every inch of it)

for how many projects on the needles are you interested in whether or not people are knitting the same or different types of thigs? like is it all baby blankets or is it one lace, one pair of socks, one sweater, something with cables, etc?

I totally agree with the someone who knits/knitter distinction. I actually got really aggravated recently at a coworker who found out I knit and said 'oh, everybody knits, it's the thing to do'. It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut and point out that the sweater I was wearing was knit by me and really everybody DOESN'T knit like that. Hmf. I now bear a completely unfair resentment towards her, I'm trying to get over it.

And seriously, if you need help with anything with this, proofing or idea vetting or whatever, I'm happy to help!!

marit said...

Great questionnaire! I agree with those that say there is a difference between someone who knits and a knitter, so I'd keep the question as it is. Location might be okay to include(I'm Norwegian...)and way of knitting-I didn't know there were other ways than how we knit in Norway until only a few years ago...also there are big differences in ways of writing patterns,I see that American patterns are much more detailed than Norwegian ones(maybe because "everyone" knits kids, now 12,14,16 and 17, all learned how to knit in school) so maybe a question about that. Don't know how to phrase it though...I hope this survey will be open for us nonAmericans too;-)

Carrie K said...

Is this going to be anonymous? Because if not, I have a tiny, tiny stash and I can quit anytime I want to. ;)

Great questionnaire and some very thoughtful feedback.

Janet said...

I'm trying to remember why you are conducting your survey. Have I missed something somewhere?

AlisonH said...

I love #7; maybe you should capitalize the K for Knitter? The Knitters would so get that.

EGunn said...

I like #7. It's about self-identifying as a Knitter, and I think that there is a difference. Maybe include a "what's the difference?" option in the survey?

I'm not sure that I understand #26. Are you asking what comes to mind when I think of knitters, or things that you're likely to hear from knitters, or for buzz words within the knitting community? Maybe all of the above?

My quantitative self had an automatic reaction to #29, where I wanted to be able to say "socks: once in a while, sweaters: all the time" etc. Or even better: Socks: 4 pair/year, sweaters: 6 per year... It might also be interesting to look at the percentage of time that I spend on each project, but that's probably a bit much for most people. Don't know if you need/want that info, but it might give a more detailed picture, depending on your research question.

I also like Wool Enough's suggestion that you ask about the kinds of fabric people like to knit.

It is so hard to get good questions that really reflect the questions you want to answer! This looks great, though. =)

Gwen said...

I'm a great fan of the open-ended question. Just call me qualitative girl! (and the reports are so much more interesting to read)

An interesting thing would be to have both the small/medium/large stash and a separate question with approximate #. To get at the idea of one person's small is another person's large.

Q11 - how did you learn to knit?

Q12 - yup, very leading second part there. It's not addictive at all! I can stop anytime. In fact, I'm not knitting right now!

Will there be spots for notes by the 'circle one' questions? I very seldom manage a simple answer.

Willow said...

I see the difference between the two in #7. Someone might saw, I'm a crocheter but I knit too.

I was confused by #26 and #27, concerning the names/words we use for knitting.

I like a lot of questions the others suggested.

Anonymous said...

Great survey, and I have enjoyed reading all of the responses to the questions. I want to comment on one that no one else has yet. In 19, you list a number of needlecraft types, but you leave out needlepoint. That is a much broader category than petit point. In my experience, few needlepointers in the US do petit point these days - it might be different in other countries. I will be very interested to see the survey when it comes out.

- Cleta

Bea said...

I'm late to the party and I can't think of anything that hasn't been mentioned here. Also I'm already thinking about the answers :)

twinsetellen said...

You might want to include a question on whether using the internet connections or in-person connections increases the amount of knitting accomplished, or how it changes one's knitting in other ways, too.

I DO see the distinction between "someone who knits" and "knitter". Maybe if it were "knitter" and "Knitter" it would make more sense to some. I can tell you when I made the change, for sure.

FredAstep said...

..."Someone who knits" or "A knitter", "If you would call yourself “a knitter”, what marked the transition, for you, from being someone who happens to be able to knit to being “a knitter”?"... The phrasing of this second question angered me. To make the assumption you are either a knitter or just someone who happens to be able to knit seemed rather dismissive, one sided and biased to me. It put me off, and at that point i decided not to complete the questionnaire. A bit of the old "you're either one of us or you're not" line when actually there's room for a whole lot of people/knitters in between. Just because i retain a sense of myself apart from my knitting and didn't just stumble or "happen" upon knitting doesn't make me any less of a knitter. Nor does it lessen the amount of time or money i spend on my knitting.

What do you think is the difference between a knitter and some who knits? Because i think your whole questionnaire is based on this assumption.

I note that the wording of this question changed between the Blog and the final questionnaire. In my reading, there is a big difference (obviously or i wouldn't be writing this ;-) between "someone who knits" and "someone who happens to be able to knit". I think the questionnaire suffers as a result of the inconsistency between Q3.1 & 3.2

Perhaps if you had put these questions at the end and phrased it as it was in your blog i may have felt differently.

Please do not be offended by my comments, they are not intended as such. It's my intention to be constructive by providing my honest and direct feedback. If i can assist in any other capacity outside of the actual questionnaire i would be happy to.