Crochet, Ponderings

Hand Made with Love. This is Luxury.

Recently, I’ve been listening to a number of hand made / yarn related podcasts: Creative Yarn Entrepreneur, B Hooked Podcast and Etsy Conversations.

These are brilliant resources for anyone who is looking to set up or already has a small business. Generally they consist of a themed topic, an interview with a tutorial /suggestions about how to approach various aspects for business management.

One theme that’s come up several times in the podcasts and that I’ve been considering is: How do we value or price hand made/ hand crafted items?

A few titbits I’ve learnt are if you’re a maker or customer:

  • Stop undervaluing the work!
  • Every time a crafter says yes to one thing, they have to say no to another – if a crafter chooses to work on a project, they are making a choice not to do something else.
  • Just because it’s a hobby or a side gig doesn’t mean it’s worth any less. If someone else is trying to make a living and the one who makes as a hobby undercuts on price, both parties loses out on potential additional income; the one making a living because they must compete at unsustainable prices and the hobbyist because they lose additional income to feed their hobby.
  • When pricing, make sure to account for time, overheads and materials.
  • ‘Materials multiplied by three’ is a sucky formula for pricing crochet work, because it doesn’t account for intricacy or skill in the project.

In the past, like so many others, I’ve often gone to craft fairs (not being a crafter then myself) and compared items I saw there to what I may be able to purchase in a large store. “A scarf for £35?!” Many times, I admired the work, got chatting to the owner and then walked away because I thought the item too expensive. To those people, I humbly apologise now! I’m so sorry for wasting your precious time!

For the last five years, I’ve massively got into crochet and handmade. I am a hobby crocheter at the moment, but in time would love to launch a business in this area.

I finally realise how much time, blood, sweat and tears have been invested into these hand made, works of art. Let’s be frank, it’s a feat to turn, what’s essentially a ball of string, into a fabric which resembles anything useful. Not to mention those who paint, turning blobs of oil or plastic into beauty; make ceramics, cultivating mud and silt into vases, plaques and various other items and those who create cards, transforming paper into stunning ways to pass a message… I could go on.

My friends, I have had an epiphany that I must share! Hand made is luxury, not cheap!

It’s the curated work of someone else. They’ve willingly researched the right material to use, chosen colours /themes, developed a skill to convert that material into something of value, designed (or purchased a pre-made pattern) and then made useful items for friends, family and customers. So much effort goes into these lovingly crafted things.

I have been reflecting on an item I made recently – an absolute privilege, for wonderful, family friends. The item took 20+ hours to complete, the yarn was approx £20, the backing ~£15, the packaging ~£5, postage about the same. Not counting my time, I already started at a basic cost of £45! I could’ve bought in bulk and possibly halved these costs, however, the most valuable thing I put into this was my time; not mentioning the practise and patience it took to learn the craft in the first place. 😊

Please, when you look at hand made or painted or crafted, think luxury!

The closest analogy I have for this is the difference between a microwave meal at home and eating at a restaurant: Eating out is a treat because someone else carefully thought it through, developed the skills to make it and served it beautifully for you to enjoy. A microwave meal requires similar skills at the start, but it’s created for the masses and it’s not as fresh or tasty as the restaurant equivalent. We’d expect to pay more at the restaurant, crafting is no different.

If you’re someone who has thought like me in the past, I hope this post has helped you to consider the purchasing choices you make, I hope that any myths about hand made being less quality than factory manufactured are put to rest (micro meal vs. restaurant) and that when you next see a small, local hand made fair you remember that these products are LUXURY.

On a side note; check out the Just a Card campaign. If you go into a local gallery/shop try to buy something, anything small if you can’t buy big. Its keeping this type of local art industry thriving.

Thanks for reading my latest ponderings. I hope this post has made you think and would love to hear/read your comments!

To keep up with me on a more regular basis and see my latest makes follow me on Instagram. 😊

Colour, Ponderings

Visit North Wales!

After approximately 10 weeks of almost non-stop, sunshine, it rained when I visited North Wales a few days ago! I hasten to add the whole of the UK had similar weather and North Wales (despite the rumours) didn’t have a climate of its own. 😉

We stayed in a beautiful country house hotel (Sygun Fawr); nestled in the country side, with magnificent views in all directions, this was one of the most peaceful places my husband and I have ever stayed.

The mountain view in the picture above offered hours of enjoyment as the clouds billowed around the landscape. Within a few minutes we saw the picturesque view disappear under clouds, reappear in a haze and then highlighted to full colour by glorious sunshine. Near Beddgelert, these types of views are seen often. There are several walking routes available, including a climb up Snowdon Mountain,which is only a few miles away.

We wanted a restful weekend, so no climbing for us; however we did visit a spectacular copper mine (Sygun Copper Mine). My love of chemistry and my husband’s love of history were indulged, as well as both our love of art and colour.

The mine tour is self-guided, following signs to various stations, listening (via speakers) to the story of a miner describing the conditions and offering an insight into the process of mining copper. We climbed through the mountain, up metal steps; the highlight being several stalegmite/stalegmite formations and ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’; the stunning views at the top (bottom left of the above picture).We spent a good while taking pictures and then meandered down the path back to our car, where we drove to a nearby lake.

The second day was spent in Portmeirion. This village, known as the ‘little Italy’ of North Wales, was designed by Clough Williams Ellis; he wanted to show that it was possible to place buildings within a beautiful landscape, without ruining the atmosphere. He also loved Italy, therefore there is colour, pattern and stunning architecture whichever way you look in the area. Also worth noting, Williams Ellis often saw buildings elsewhere and when possible and only when he felt they would add to the village’s unique outlook, they were imported into the structure. For example this Bristolian columnar structure:

The colours and the playfulness of the architecture are nothing like I’ve seen elsewhere. There may well be some art or crochet piece in the future completely inspired by Portmeirion.

As an example, in the picture above, the stores for the garden area, painted to blend in (bricks and what appears to be arches) are really made of wood and metal.

I honestly think we could have spent an inordinate amount of time in Portmeirion and we are sure to return.

Our short trip has given us a taste of this beautiful part of the world and I hope it has inspired you to visit. Be assured, you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks for reading, wishing you safe travels wherever you journey this summer.

If you’d like to see some more pictures of the mine or Portmeirion, please check out my Instagram 🙂

Bullet Journalling, Crochet, Ponderings

Crochet Diploma; Was it Worth It?

Approximately a year and a half ago, I came across an advert on Facebook for a Crochet Diploma by the Centre of Excellence. Online and self-paced, the idea of this course appealed straight away- the advert also had a code for a significant discount, meaning it was ~£30 to sign up. I was conscious the qualification may not mean anything to anyone else (in a professional capacity), but I love to learn, so this was ideal.

Having been crazy about my hobby for a while and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, encouraged by my friends and family to pursue (at least part-time) a creative business, I signed up and took on the course.

Whilst on holiday earlier this month I completed the course, about a year after I initially began it. I have a full-time job and a busy social life, so I chose to study only when I felt like it, to stop it becoming a burden. The diploma could definitely be completed in a shorter time frame, if you so wished.

The course covers how to crochet; advanced techniques; reading patterns and charts; designing various items from scarves and bags to clothing and finally the course finishes by covering basic business approaches, including considering your target market and writing a business plan.

Although I learnt new approaches from the first few modules, since I could already crochet and had some experience of the advanced techniques, the highlight of the course for me personally, was not only the modules about designing garments, but the final modules on thinking through a business plan. Both these aspects of the course were new to me and having a platform to go on from was just what I needed.

The assessments at the end of each module are largely simple and useful to cement knowledge. I treated them as open book and reviewed the content as I went along if I wasn’t completely sure of an answer. The final assessments were far more personalised to a business you may want to create, so required a lot of (good, needed) thought and reflection. A word of caution here, you cannot access the answers you submit for your assessments once completed, so make sure these are saved or written elsewhere. I wrote mine in my bullet journal and a separate crochet notebook.

Once I completed the course, I received lovely feedback and a certificate from CoE with my grade as well as confirmation of 150 hours of Continuing Professional Development. In addition to this, I received a certificate to say I was part of the International Alliance of Holistic Therapists as a result of getting the qualification. A note, you can access the course content after completing the course, very useful for a reminder! 😄

As I mentioned above, I’m not sure whether this will be recognised professionally as a qualification, but I think it demonstrates a love of the hobby and an ability to pursue learning & development for my own pleasure, so I think if re-doing my CV for example, it will feature as a personal achievement.

One other benefit I haven’t mentioned; doing the course qualifies you for an National Union of Students (NUS) card, enabling you to have student discount at various shops and the cinema; this is definitely worthwhile!

I would recommend doing this course or one similar if you’re considering setting up a business or want to get into designing – COE also provide a Sewing and Knitting Diploma too; make sure you look/ask for discount codes, as these make the courses far more accessible financially.

From a personal point of view, I recently realised that learning new things is a major factor for my motivation. For a time I had lost my ‘Crojo’ (the motivation and heart to crochet), so this course has helped to cement the love of crochet and I am now picking up my hook more often. I look forward to putting the skills I learnt into practise and hope to design something soon.

Doing the course is also part of the reason this blog exists, rather than remaining a longed for dream. As well as the blog, I also set up a Facebook page and Instagram feed (@mayailoves on both platforms). To be honest, I find it much easier to engage on these regularly, so please feel free to follow me there too to keep up to date. 😃

If any of you have an questions or thoughts, about the course or my journey, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

Bullet Journalling, Crochet, Ponderings

Rest! What is it Good For?! Absolutely Everything!!

I’ve been AWOL for a little while on the blog, Facebook and Instagram as it’s been a manic few months.

It was only when I finally stopped last week, on holiday I realised how long it had been since my last real ‘rest’. This view from our balcony did me the world of good:

Being away made me think about a couple of things.

  1. Why is rest important?
  2. What strategies could I incorporate into daily life to introduce more rest?

Why rest?

Simply, because it’s good. Rest allows contemplation, celebration and restoration. When we stop being so busy (as has been my experience last week), we are able to think more clearly, observe details often missed otherwise and focus more on the current moment. We also have opportunities to celebrate what is going well and consider where we need to make changes.

I feel less frenzied this week, my mind has more freedom to dream, hope and think. I’ve actually become far more productive too. I think these are some of the benefits of rest, but how to actually introduce rest?

Strategies to have rest

In the midst of busyness, I find that I often fore-go things I enjoy, fun goes out of the window!!

So, with that in mind, I hope to:

  • Walk more; at least twice a week – I started walking by the river and through the local park recently and it has done me the world of good to be outside.
  • Crochet – this goes without saying given my previous series of posts, but I love to crochet. However, crocheting is one of the first things to get taken out of my schedule if things are busy. Whilst on holiday I crocheted more in two days, than in the last two months. The sheer joy and the ‘mindfulness’ of hook and yarn was exactly what I needed.
  • Sew – I recently bought a new vintage sewing machine (blog post to follow), one I’ve dreamed of for many years. However, I don’t feel that confident sewing, so I am going to spend some time re-learning how to sew. This will hopefully be another calming activity.
  • Bullet Journal – I recall a time, as I first began the Bullet Journal journey this year, I wrote a couple of lines each day or drew a small picture to represent my thoughts for the day. A real journal as such. I found that I slept better and it was a good record of life, I felt less like ‘life’ was just passing me by. So, I hope to do this as a wind-down before bed each night. While on holiday I updated my pen test list:

  • Finally, I’d like to introduce regular nights off in the week. I am notorious for being unable to say, “No”. So in a bid to take care of myself and take opportunities for rest, I will have a night off planned each week, with no responsibility! On these evenings, I may just stay at home. Though, as I also love art/ arts & crafts, live music and dancing, I may use these to have some fun with the people I love.

I hope that these new ways of living help me to rest in my everyday and this post has inspired you to learn to take some rest too. If you have any other strategies or thoughts regarding rest, I’d love to hear them – please comment below. 😃

Colour, Ponderings

I Decided to Follow a Prompt….

I’ve never heard of it before, but today I came across a word prompt to aid inspiration in content for a blog post.

The word was Fabric.

To be honest, I’ve published one post only yesterday after a month+ of hiatus, feeling like I had nothing to say. This prompt made me laugh since I read it just after completing a draft version of blog post ideas in my bullet journal. I had literally just written down “Fabric”.

So here goes:

For me, there are two threads that immediately spring to mind with the word ” Fabric”:

1. ‘Fabric of life’

2. ‘Fabric to make something’ i.e the thing sewn together to make garments, covers etc.

When I initially wrote it down in the web of ideas above, I was thinking of it as part of my theme about Colour. As you know if you’ve read Adventure Begins (my first post), one of my aims of the blog is to celebrate colour and pattern in life. This view in my bed earlier today was the source of inspiration for the word Fabric in my blog post web:

I love the pattern of the owls on the fabric, but also the brightness of colour. It got me to thinking, how does someone go about printing fabric like this? How did they choose this combination of colour? What made them choose red and white?

This also reminded me that I have another one of these duvet sets with the same pattern, but with completely different colours and I love it just as much:

As you can see, they are completely different, but are linked by the pattern. That led me to think about the fabric of life. I think of the fabric of life as the richness of life, the threads and patterns that run through. I find it fascinating that from day to day we’re able to see our life from a different perspective – see my last post. In the example of the duvet sets, even the type of cloth itself; a simple cotton fabric is the same, the detail is the same (the hearts and flowers on the chests of the owls, as an example), but the way the colour is applied is completely different.

This leads me to ask: What makes up the fabric of my life, what colour can I add, what do I miss when I only see that the pattern is the same? These seem to be questions at the forefront of my mind given yesterday’s post too. To be honest I haven’t got any coherent answers yet, but I think it’s worthwhile pondering.

Also, depending on your outlook, one could perceive the red and white set as boring or dull in comparison to the tartan pattern and several colours of the other set. But I think that’s the key; I wonder if the killer to inspiration, the one that steals joy is the very act of comparison?

In my eyes, both duvet sets are beautiful, in their own right.

However, I often see myself playing a comparison game in my life, thinking that someone else’s life looks better; someone speaks more eloquently, etc. What if they’re both beautiful in their own right? What if my life is as beautiful as theirs, but my trying to line up the pattern and compare the colour actually leads me to think of it as dull, when it’s bright and powerful just as it is? Life is rarely dull I’ve realised, but my perceptions can lead me to think that way. So my hope is that I’ll choose to see the colour and beauty in my life more often and wish you the same opportunity.

That’s my thoughts on the word, “Fabric”. Out of interest, what would your thoughts be if your prompt was “fabric”?

Thanks to Ben Huberman @The Daily Post for the prompt today – it’s served me well.

Comment below with your thoughts and follow me for the next update. Thanks again for reading 😄

Ponderings

Snow! When Everything Has New Perspective

As I woke on Thursday morning this week past, everything around me had a taken a new hue. The sillouettes of my normal view were visible, but the details were missing.

I’ve often thought that snowy scenes offer some kind of magic; but these last few days I realised that their beauty comes from hiding the familiar edges of what I know and offering a renewed perspective.

It can be so easy to slip in to feeling like life is a bit dreary, dull and monotonous; to be honest there have been many moments when I’ve felt like this. Today, however I realised that sometimes this comes only because we focus so much on the minor, insignificant details that we miss the outlines of our lives.

If I’m honest I forget that each day I have the privilege of being able to read and write, running water, a beautiful home, a car, family- I could go on. The reality is I am so familiar with these things that they take a back seat quite often and the stresses and strains of work, busyness of life and worry take precedence.

The snow however afforded me the joy of going for an impromptu walk; discovery of a deserted, snowy, children’s park; watching a duck skim along a river and listening to birds sing. I suddenly noticed the pops of colour that are so easily lost in my normal observations. The vantage of my locality covered in snow also highlighted the colour that’s normally missed. I also managed to work on a crochet project and to top it all off I had an enormous amount of time with my loved ones. For me, that’s the magic of snow.

I guess my biggest perspective shift is to understand the sillouettes of my life are consistent; but they’re not going to be looking like this forever. What will I do to make sure that I don’t miss the joys of life around me in my everyday? How will I see the beauty and listen to the melodies of life more clearly -even without the snow?

I think it would be wise to make a concerted effort to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of life and remember to shift perspective; embrace the here and now and see the precious things in life today.

The snow is an inconvenience for sure, but it’s also a pace-changer. What has the snow revealed for you and what will you do to help you to recall this in a few weeks time? Comment below, I’d love to know your thoughts.

I’m hoping to write again soon; the intention is to write as inspiration strikes. If you’d like to follow me to read the next update, click follow below.