When I was in Cardiff Bay last September – OK hold on a minute – I have something to admit. I am a geek. Officially. I was visiting the Doctor Who Exhibition and happened upon the Makers Guild in Wales at Craft in the Bay. Seeing the wonderful work of the craftspeople there got me thinking about setting up my own little craft business.
In my years of crafting (and my year and a bit of crocheting and knitting!) I can attest that there is nothing like working with a beautiful yarn or fabric. My mum is a wonderful hand quilter who always uses good quality fabric – I have two beautiful quilts which she has made me and one is nearly 25 years old and the other I had just after moving into my house which was nearly a decade ago!
I find it hard then to work with cheaper fabrics and went a little bonkers buying some wonderful hand-spun and dyed wool from Celia Gwynn recently at a craft fair in Sussex when visiting Mum (of course, Mum wants me to make a shawl for her out of it but I am desperate for once to keep it and actually make something for myself!!) I will have to add in a picture later to show off this delicious wool, but at the moment it is safely nested away in my stash and will come out hopefully this summer for me to decide what to do with it!
Although not the best quality picture this lovely cotton yarn, Katia Degrade is a subtle and occasionally startling mix of blue, turquoise and cream. I had lots of fun making this lavender sachet from it.
When it comes to making clothes or accessories that will lay next to the skin, I think it is a shame not to use the best quality wool or cotton, rather than acrylic, especially when it comes to items for babies. These baby booties made for my newest little cousin were made from Sublime Yarns Baby Cashmere Merino Silk and are as soft as you can imagine little Charlotte’s feet are!
The quality of the materials used made me decide to use the best quality fabrics, cottons and yarns that I could afford. The decision to do this was vindicated by what I read in the fabulous book – Your Craft Business: A Step-by-Step Guide by Kevin Partner. This told me everything I needed to know about pricing and materials and he explained how to always go for quality and not undersell your products. As long as you have a good idea how much it cost you to make it, the price should then reflect its value. If you start off too cheaply then people will not recognise the quality of your products.
This seems to be borne out by one of Etsy’s three main principles listed on their homepage around being a marketplace for people with a passion for beautifully crafted items. Online craft purchasing is on a steady incline and people expect quality and seem to be happy to pay for it. I haven’t yet dabbled my toe in the online market, but may do in the future, especially it if is the right market for me…
Some craft fairs have a mixture of mass-produced and crafted goods – I haven’t yet done one of these but may be soon doing one in Bath. I’m not sure how it will go but hopefully my stall will be able to hold its own against the mass-produced items. I have seen a few stalls at craft fairs with people making beautiful designs but using cheap goods, maybe it is snobbery on my part (after all acrylic does wash well!) but I think if they have designed and spent time making something, it seems a shame to not make it the best that you possibly can.
So for now, albeit my stash is growing at an alarming rate, I am always ready to add some striking new yarns to my collection. These two have my attention at the moment – and surprise surprise they are both quality yarns… Firstly (above) Rowan Lima yarn which can be bought (amongst other places) at Deramores and Debbie Bliss Angel Prints (below) which you can find at several shops including Wool Warehouse