Sunday, 20 November 2011

Craft Shows & Fairs

Happy Sunday to all you lovely readers. I have been going crazy with cowls and work...that I have temporarily abandoned my blog! Accept my most humble apologies as I now jump right back into it with a tiny little commentary on a craft show I recently attended.

In an effort the protect the privacy of the person I am about to blast, I will not name the craft show I attended over the past weekend. However, if you dig hard enough (or if you may have attended) then you know which show I'm talking about. I decided to browse the various tables and booths to get an idea of what was being sold, how it was being sold, prices, displays, customer service, and the type of crowd to expect. Needless to say, things were very different through the eyes of a possible vendor rather than a consumer.

Since I specialize in knitting cowls and other warm fuzzy accessories, I was drawn to booths of the same genre. There were about 5 or 6 booths with an array of different knit and crochet items (hats, scarves, wrist warmers, doggie gear, baby gear etc). Many were lovely, with a gorgeous assortment of designs and items. The products were different, well made, well priced and well displayed. It made me so happy to see people interested in the craft (well, in particular, the yarn) world.

There was one vendor who slightly irked me. She was a cute little old lady, sitting in her walker and with a breathing tube no less. She was selling lovely scarves and cowls, and so naturally, she got my attention right away. If you, my yarnaholic knitting freak of a reader is for whatever reason standing up as you are reading this: SIT DOWN NOW. I warn you, the words I am about to type will possibly enrage you. This cute little old lady was selling the most lovely ruffled small stitch scarves....3 for 10 dollars. Yup....3 scarves...for $10. That's $3.33 each. That's not even enough to cover the cost of yarn used (one was made of a yarn I have seen at Michael's that sells for $6.99 plus tax).

I don't know if I'm proud or not of the fact that I told the lady off. Anyone that is in the business of selling knit items knows that non-knitters tend to not understand the work, effort and dedication involved in knitting something by hand. So when a scarf is priced at $3.33, a non-knitter would think "Hey, what a great deal! Why is the lady at the next booth over selling it for $30?!". I told the lady that it wasn't fair or right that she was selling her items for such a ridiculously low price, that it did not do justice to the community of knitters and that she wasn't being fair to herself (for the amount of work she put into the items) or to the other vendors trying to sell similar products.

Let me conclude this blog post by stating one thing: I will be at that craft show next year, and I will sell my cowls for the price that I think is fair for a consumer and for myself. I will do justice to myself, and to my fellow knitters. I will do justice to the quality of the work involved, the yarn being used, and will not sacrifice drawing in people with low prices in exchange for short-changing myself, my passion for knitting, and all other knitters and crocheters out there.

If you are reading this and you are a non-knitter, and maybe you have looked at my products (or other people's products) and thought that the price was a little steep, let me humbly clarify some things. To knit a cowl (for example) takes me anywhere from 3-6 hours. It physically strains the fingers, wrists, elbows, upper back, neck and eyes. Yarn costs money (the better the quality, the higher the price). Knitting needles cost money. Cards, bags, gift wrap, and business fees cost money. Patterns take time to develop and perfect, mistakes are made, costing more time. At the end of the day, the profit margin is not high...but I do love what I do.

Someone who sells scarves that are hand knit for such a ridiculously low price has one (or all) of the following things underestimated: themselves, their effort, the quality of the scarf, or the intelligence of the consumer. So although that little old lady may have possibly sold all the scarves she toiled away at knitting, I ask you, reader, what is your opinion?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Ravelry = Heaven

I noticed that I tend to start my blog posts with "so...". I just realized where it came from. Ever watch "Clueless"?! Cher tends to start all her debate speeches with , "so, ok, like...". I think I may have watched that movie a few too many time. Not like I know the dialogue like the back of my hand. Anyhoo, I digress from my intended blog topic...RAVELRY!

Ravelry is like facebook for knitters. It is splendid in every way, shape, and formI joined Ravelry a few months ago on the advice of my boss. It has since changed my life. I find fellow knitters from my community, check out sales, knitters in other countries, knitters with my interests (um, chunky yarn anyone?). If anyone reading this blog has not tapped the infinite resource that is, please do so. Now.

Let me give you a few examples.

Example 1. When I was in Italy this past summer, I hit the lovely little town of Bergamo (I was on my way to Milan to check out a very high profile concert at San Siro stadium), and came across a lovely little store that sold Tarn (t-shirt yarn). As I was sitting and having my super expensive cappuccino and brioche, I noticed many young women carrying purses crocheted with this gorgeous material. I go on ravelry, find a group based out of Bergamo, and BOOM, I have begum my journey of finding out more about this tarn, how I can knit this purse, and be happy.

Example 2. Yarn swaps. There are hundreds of groups designated to yarn swaps. What is a yarn swap, you may ask? The moderator of the group partners you up with someone with similar interest, then you swap yarn and other goodies. How cool is that?! SUPER cool, if you ask me!

Even if you are not a knitter, but want the perfect knit item, check out ravelry for pics, patterns and ideas. Then send it to your favorite knitter (Nonna, mother, aunt, sister, friend, or commission someone to do it, someone like, maybe, The Little Cowl Company).

Happy Ravelling!