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. 😊

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!