Crafting for Cash

Long time no posting.  That’s not to say nothing has been happening.  Just that I don’t want to bore you – or myself – with an incessant stream of dribble that seems to afflict some and that has nothing to do with the point of this blog.  A diary of my exploration of a life in fleece and fibre.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the rhythm of the year for spinners and folk that work in fleece.  March, do you remember March?  So cold and dreary.  March was all about clearing out the remains of last years fleeces.  Spinning up all the projects that i had put aside ready to start knitting up.  And thinking about what to do with all the stuff I had dyed and spun.  There was quite a bit.  I’d filled up the workshop and had started to creep into TOH workshop.  More than I could use.  Not good.

It had to go to people who could love it and take it on to its next step in life  Craft Fairs obviously.  April was all about carding, combing, felting (more on that in a later post as part of my Wasted thread).  May was a frantic, panicking sweat of thinking, designing, dyeing, spinning and making.  The workshop is now clean, neat and ready to go for shearing season and the arrival of this years fleeces.

June.  June is.  June is craft fair and woolly festival month.  There is not a free weekend.  The season kicked off for me at Felbriggs Made in Norfolk event on the 1st June.  Typical for the 1st of June it was blowing a gale and was colder than Christmas.

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My cheapo gazebo was on the edge of its capabilities.  And having the lightest fluffiest of things was just not sensible.  I lost count of the number of times I had to go running across the field to retrieve my stock.  It sucked!  The rain was frequent and horizontal.  But it was the wind that is my nemesis.  However, I sold enough to cover my costs and my profit went on a bottle of chilli sauce from the chilli man you can see in the photo.  I am glad I took some fingerless gloves – sold out!  I also got to wear them and a woolly scarf.  What did I learn? I can get my entire ‘shop’ of gazebo, two display rails, a table, one mannequin, plus all my stock and display frou frou and a wheel into my crappy Peugeot 106.  All those years playing Tetrus have paid off. Oh, and I need a better gazebo.

This was followed with Ickworth Wool Festival on Saturday and Sunday the 3rd and 4th June.  The sun was actually shining.   The summer was on.  I had perfected my packing technique.  It was splendid!  So many enthusiastic wool folk.  The pitch was a double act this time with Lizbeth sharing the pitch.  As you can see the sun was so shiny!  We had a blast.  Not sure we were the worlds best salesmen.  A bit shambolic.  Probably very inappropriate at times.  Often times telling people they didn’t want to buy our spindles etc but rather to go on YouTube and DIY before you buy.  I think we enthused enough people to have a go at spinning. We enjoyed ourselves.  And that’s a result.

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The hardest thing was what price to put on my work.  The dyed fibres were relatively easy as there is a well established market for hand dyed rovings, tops and carded batts  the rate is pretty much set by a quick scan through Etsy, Folksy and other online shops.  but it was my yarns and pretties made from my handspun.  I know how much of my love and labour went into these.  I am a realist and know I can never charge a decent hourly rate for the production of these things.  A quick bit of research shows a massive range in pricing.  but through into that mix the audience at the event…if I am next to a sweet lady who bangs out skeins and knitted things for £5 and the audience consists of families  on holiday on a grand day out then I am stuffed.  Its raised eyebrow time and ‘how much!’ followed by “its very pretty but what can you make with it?  Whats it for?”.  On the other end of the scale are events, like Ickworth Wool Festival, where the audience is appreciative of the craft and workmanship.  Recognising that we are not talking about a hank of factory produced ‘wool’ but a lovingly crafted thing and are prepared to pay an appropriate price.  When I work out a formula that works for me I will let you know.  But until then I will continue to price what I think is appropriate and see how it goes. If anyone has any thoughts on this I would love to hear them.

As a bonus I bought a fleece, a Jacobs/White Faced Woodland cross.  Lovely colour mix from the Jacob and a long lustrous staple from the Whitefaced. Which is pretty much bringing me back full circle.  Its time to get in the fleece.  July and August will be about cleaning and carding and storing.

Woolly Worstead on 16th and 17th July is the next in the Diary.  This will be a Guild gig.  Looking forward to it.  Except now I need to make more stock to replace the stock I sold…and so it goes.

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