Hard to believe I’ve been at this 7 years now. I turned to crochet-as-therapy as a way to deal with, well, some not so good things that were happening at the time. Looking back is bittersweet (when is it not?), but I’m glad to have a narrative thread, so to speak, to hang my milestones on.
Many of you who crochet as a hobby can relate to the zenlike state you achieve once you find your rhythm on a project. An easily memorized repeat is probably on par with a low dose of prozac or xanax when it comes to calming the mind and shutting out intrusions. For me, my thoughts become more focused, more linear, and if i’m obsessing about anything, my inner analyst becomes more logical instead of magical, furrowing her brow to get to the answer instead of pulling rabbits from hats for applause.
While I do enjoy the end products and moreso the satisfaction when someone appreciates my work, I’m also all about learning new techniques and trying to master a new stitch or pattern. For this I know the bar is incredibly high and if I plug along diligently there will always be another step to climb, even after the longest plateau. (Sorry about all the metaphors and allegory, I’m feeling particularly wistful today.) Finishing can be hard if the process ends with, “whew that was tough” instead of “now I can give this to so-and-so”. Wholly evidenced by bags and boxes of half-started projects, unwoven ends and bits and pieces waiting to come together.
If I’m not making a particular item as a gift or (rarely) a commission, I have to summon an incredible amount of will to finish. I gravitate toward hats mostly because of they’re easy to finish and I don’t have time to a) get bored or b) lose interest because something else caught my eye (insert “ooh shiny” ADHD reference here). Conversely, I’ve been known to make trouble for myself by taking on a project at someone else’s behest, not enjoying it, and ferociously fighting even picking it up as the due date grows closer and the tension mounts. Charity donations seem easy by comparison.
So, hats, scarves, baubles and one-offs. Easily finished and blocked, wrapped and sealed against the elements and into the box in the basement they go, waiting for their moment of glory. “You should sell those..!” ingenues cry, “That would be a good business!” I explain that there’s no real money in selling crochet, that the time in, plus materials, far outweigh any financial gain. There may be money in selling patterns, I reply, trying to make it better. “See, you know enough about the business to be aware of that…!” I really do adore my cheerleaders.
For me it’s enough to get out on a sunny weekend and be amongst other crafters at a bazaar or flea market. I could do without lugging a dozen boxes and a table across a dirt parking lot and sitting in the hot sun trying to smile and make small talk and not seem desperate to make a sale everytime someone chances to pick up an intricately cabled hat or a fluffy wool scarf. Then there’s the worrying – did I overprice it, or am I short selling myself? The payoff, material or otherwise just isn’t there for the amount of mental anguish I put myself through.
I’ve had an Etsy shop for years. Empty. As a prolific early adopter with dreams bigger than my means, I went through the motions after exhausting the funness of eBay when it got to the point you couldn’t “just find” interesting or great deals, and formula replaced abject honesty in writing auction ads. Figuring at the very least I could sell excess craft “supply” purchases if and when goings got tough, and with no fees unless you posted an item for sale, I let it sit; occasionally buying soaps or stitch markers or tickle-your-fancy impulse buys while keeping my feedback somewhat current. And the whole time watching the site grow and seeing it go from a quality crafter haven to a largely unchecked marketplace (Regretsy anyone?) Qualifying that, I have absolutely no beef with them, only with myself for falling for window dressing and overpaying for inferior product. Caveat emptor, baby.
So now I have a shop. With things in it. I made business cards ages ago and invariably at a fair when someone would take one and ask if I sold online, I would have to shake my head and give a sad “No, sorry” and reconsider how much of this I was taking seriously. When I had my last Big Idea™ and a web savvy friend suggested I “make a site and sell them” I don’t think she envisioned all the padding that goes along with such an endeavor for a combination procrastinator and perfectionist. Nice photos, good descriptions, and proper layouts all matter to me. I guess that’s Hobbying 2.0. I’m still a mom first and a creative second, being a businessperson is a bit further down the list. But I’ll continue taking artfully lit pictures of stuffed toy snakes and granny-square neck pouches, writing flowery prose rife with keywords and hoping someone somewhere gets as much joy out of what I make as I do.