Tag Archive | craft fairs

What a Weekend!

There was so much going on this weekend! I’m glad to finally have a quieter day. The kids have a long weekend, thanks to parent/teacher conferences and Washington’s birthday, so they had Friday off. I drove downtown to take the girl to a weekend-long honor band, and that was only a little stressful for my small-city-driver self. The fun bit was that we met a knitter from Vietnam! During our downtime, we hung out at the B&N cafe, and I was knitting a Yoda hat. An older woman came over and asked where she could get needles like mine (I was using my 12″ Addi Turbos). She lives in Vietnam and comes here to visit her son, who attends the local university, so she didn’t know the area well at all. She was really only familiar with Michaels stores, and didn’t seem to understand the concept of local yarn stores (so sad). We chatted a bit as best we could with the language barrier, and it was neat to share the love of knitting. It made me realize that’s really the only time people come up and talk to me, when I’m knitting. It must be a good ice-breaker! Either that or I suffer from RBF (Resting B*#@% Face) when I’m not knitting. We may never know.

Saturday morning was my craft show and it was a whirlwind five hours. I had some family visit me (and buy a couple of things) but I also had several real customers too! I focused on hats for this show, and I think I sold 6 or 7. The Yoda hats were a hit, of course, but so were the black hats. Note to self: make sure to have black hats at every show. My Knitting SIL was up there with me, and we had a grand time knitting and chatting between customers. Really, it went much better than I expected, and it makes me think that focusing on hats might be a good strategy. But…I LOVE cowls! Love making them, love wearing them. Why don’t people buy them? I just don’t know. Still, hats are good. I like hats.

Yesterday was the concert for the girl’s honor band, and though it was a struggle to get the boy awake (forget about happy) by 9 a.m., we managed. The concert was marvelous…IMG_5069and the lunch afterward was marvelous too… IMG_5074Look: the boy has a new hairdo! It was a bold move for him; we love it!IMG_5077And look: the girl has a new smile! She got her top braces off finally and is SO HAPPY!

Then we came home and I took a bunch of photos of my newer hats and updated my Etsy shop. It’s all current now, and I’m going to step back from Yoda hats and work on the rainbow cowl for my mom.

But now I have a question for you fellow sellers of knitted goods: I was invited to do a show in June. It’s a good show, well-advertised and popular, and the booth fee is very reasonable. BUT, that’s the middle of summer. It’s warm here then. How well do knitted things sell during the summer? In my experience, not that well. I can modify my inventory a bit, have more summer-weight hats, baby hats, cotton bags, etc, but I’m not sure I’d have enough for a show. Have any of you done well with summer shows? What advice do you have for me?

I will wait patiently for your replies, as patiently as Jack waits when it’s dinner time. (Sorry the photo is so bad; I had to take it quickly before he moved.) I just love how he sits!IMG_5145

Oh Yeah, Knitting

I’ve been distracted from my knitting the last few days, but I came back to it yesterday. While in a waiting room, I knit up some Yoda ears and completed another Yoda hat. IMG_5035It looks a little long, doesn’t it? Hmm. I used a different hat pattern this time. I might modify it a bit next time. I’ve got another Yoda waiting for one more ear, and then it’ll go into the For Sale pile too. I also finished the pink and gray hat last night. IMG_5032IMG_5034Now I need to make one in the reverse colors, but I don’t know if it’ll happen before Saturday. You may remember, I have a small craft show on Saturday, and I’m focusing on hats for this one. I’m trying to get a good variety of price points, and acrylic kid hats seem to be popular. Anyway, once I finished this one, it was time to get everything tagged and priced. I turned up Adele and got to work. IMG_5037I added 17 hats and 4 cowls to my inventory! With any luck, I’ll come home from the show with a lot fewer. Now, let’s see how many more hats I can knit before Saturday…

A Day of Antiquing, and a Hat

Yesterday was the husband’s birthday, and we started the day by going out for a BIG breakfast. IMG_3841 Then he wanted to celebrate it by going antiquing. We managed to hit one huge antique mall, a tiny antique store, and a medium-sized antique mall in around four hours. No yarn, but that doesn’t mean I came home empty-handed. IMG_3847This coat tree is made with cheap “wood” and is a little short, but at $5 it’s a perfect display for my craft shows. It’ll be fantastic for scarves and bags. The top section even twirls!IMG_3853Vintage buttons!! Love them.IMG_3854These are my favorites. IMG_3846I also found a new Joseph Original figurine. (Sorry for the really bad phone photo.) They had four and I only bought one, but I’m really tempted to go back for the others. My first was the dark pink in the back, the one without arms. She was given to me by my mom’s mom, and somehow that started a wee collection. Now I look for them every time I’m in an antique store.

I did manage to get some knitting time in the car while we drove around. IMG_3844And during the game (WOOHOOOOO GO ROYALS!!!!), I finished it. I’m calling it the Pumpkin Slouch Hat and even though I don’t wear orange at all, I really like this hat.IMG_3850 IMG_3851I especially like the reverse side!IMG_3852I modified my favorite Broken Rib Slouch Hat pattern for worsted weight, and though it came out a bit bigger than I wanted, I’m calling it a win. I’m a terrible mom, though: my daughter asked if I was selling it. I said yes, I need inventory for the craft show. She asked if she could buy it. I said no, she had more important things to spend her money on. BUT I did say if it didn’t sell at the show, it would be hers (for free, of course). I feel bad, but I’m just really low on hat inventory and I can’t make money without having a good selection of things to sell.

Today is sunny and warm so I’m going to take my yarn outside and enjoy the good weather while we have it. Happy November, and best of luck to all of you participating in NaKniSweMo!

I might be…a good knitter…maybe? Sometimes?

I got a fantastic email last night, another thank-you from a happy Etsy customer. This one turned into another special order, so now I’m making two more scarves before December. That’s added on to a mermaid blanket, an earwarmer and two pairs of fingerless gloves. Whew! I’m gonna be a busy gal. I better get out my elbow support and just start wearing it every day.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would have any kind of knitting-related business, not before a couple of years ago. But then I learned to knit in April 2013, and now here I am, with glowing reviews from Etsy customers and craft show customers, repeat business from those customers, special orders, and it feels…perfect. I feel so very lucky. It’s hard for me to think very highly of what I do, because it’s not that special, it’s not unique. Many people knit just as well as I do, and many do more complicated, unusual patterns than I do. And that’s okay. I’m happy where I’m at with my knitting.

So why am I succeeding now? No idea. My attention to detail, maybe. My commitment to customer service (thank you, Coldwater Creek), maybe. I put myself into what I make and I share myself with my customers (and all of you!) and I think people respond to that. I don’t really have the answer, and that’s okay too. As long as I can keep doing what I’m doing, it works for me. It’s not like I’m making a ton of money. Nowhere near it. But I’m at a point where I think the knitting can be self-sustaining financially and that’s huge. (That’s also assuming I can resist big splurges at the yarn stores!) And I think if I keep at it, I might actually profit someday. Wouldn’t that be cool? Yep. Very cool.

This weekend might have been my last free-knitting time before I plunge into all those custom orders. I splurged on some buttons recently, wanting to make more button slouch hats before a craft show next month. IMG_3705I decided the big pink one was perfect for the black and white hat.IMG_3708Yesterday I spent a couple of hours listening while my daughter rehearsed with her local honor orchestra, and cast on for another Borealis beanie.IMG_3715I was done 20 minutes before they were.IMG_3718The girl saw the hat and promptly stole it. This is the same girl who spent an entire day off school making cookies to sell to help offset the cost of the tuition for that orchestra. Voluntarily. So, she wants a hat, she gets a hat.IMG_3722How can I resist when it looks so cute on her?

Keep The Momentum Going

Wow, this has been a crazy wonderful week! So I last blogged about the craft show, and since then, I’ve had a lovely flurry of custom orders and Etsy orders and nice messages. The best was from a woman who bought one of the button slouch hats at the show. I attach a tag to all my items with my website, etsy shop, etc, and she actually took the time to find me online and found the blog post where I wrote about making her hat. She loved getting the backstory, and asked me to make her another hat. How cool is that?? I swear, I had a smile for hours from that, just that my hat and I made that good an impression on her. Even better, I had the perfect yarn for the second hat she wanted, my last skein of this purple/red/black/gray Borealis. IMG_3646But before I could do that, I had another special order to finish. My Yoda hats are my most popular items on Etsy, and someone who’d bought one messaged me after receiving it. She loved it, and since I’d done such nice work and was so quick and friendly, could I make a Princess Leia headband for her daughter? Well, of course I could! I could and did, and though it wasn’t as easy as Yoda, I liked how it turned out and I really hope she was pleased too. IMG_3638Then another message from a satisfied craft show customer: she loves her hat, can I make her a Where’s Waldo hat? Oh yes, that sounds fun! That’s on my needles right now, actually. IMG_3649And during all this, my Etsy app kept dinging at me: Ding, a hat sold! Ding, a hat sold! Ding, a scarf sold! Oh my stars! It’s been SO MUCH FUN. I wish it could always be like this, but I know it won’t. Still, I’m going to keep doing craft shows and getting my name out there, and I’m going to keep making fun, unusual stuff for my Etsy shop, and maybe someday I’ll get back to knitting things for myself. As I sit here typing, I keep glancing at these skeins of Chateau, which have been wound for several days waiting to be knit into a cushy cowl. Don’t worry, little yarns, I’ll get to you soon enough. IMG_3652

Craft Show Results

This show freaked me out. Big time. I showed up to set up and it was in this BIG pavilion, and there were all these vendors with fancy displays and tons of product, people who clearly did this all the time. And then there was little old me, with my styrofoam heads and makeshift thrift-store displays and a wide variety of products. I was paralyzed for a little while, with no idea how I was going to do this. Thank goodness, my Knitting SIL showed up to help and jump-started my competitive nature. Between the two of us, we set up a professional, attractive display. IMG_3590 IMG_3591The first day was disappointing. Big crowds for the first three hours or so, but over the course of the 8-hour day, I made less than $100. Plenty of people stopped and admired, but no one was buying. I was discouraged but still hoped the second day would be better, and it was! The crowds weren’t as big but I made some sales, enough to sell twice what the booth space cost me. Great? Nope, but good. The Royals hats didn’t sell as quickly as I expected but I sold four of the six button slouch hats I just made last week, so I’ll be making more of those.

Here’s the highlight of the entire show: mid-afternoon on Saturday, two women stopped by my booth and admired several of the hats. The older woman tried on a red slouch hat and liked it, the younger woman tried on a few, then they said they still needed to look around. About half an hour later, they were back. They’d seen everything, trying to decide what their ONE purchase would be…and out of 100 or so vendors, I’d won their business! That made the whole experience worth it to me. Two hats, not a huge sale, but it said huge things to me: they appreciated the work I’d done, they liked it enough to spend their money on it. THAT is why I do this. THAT is why I price my items as fairly as I can. I’m not in this to get rich. I’m in this to do what I love and share it with others.

It wasn’t just them, either. I got so many compliments about my display, my products, my fiber choices, my workmanship. People stopped and really looked at my pieces, felt them, and told me I did very nice work. No, most of them didn’t buy, but that’s ok. It was enough to tell me that I’m on the right track with what I’m doing. Enough people get it, get that my goal is to take a beautiful yarn and find the right pattern to show it off, and do it in a high-quality way to produce something that’s better than you can buy at Target or Kohl’s. I did have one person ask me if I’d take $10 on a $15 acrylic hat (I said no) but only one. That person is not my target. My target is the person who appreciates beauty and quality and is willing to pay what those things are worth.

So now I have to figure out how to reach my target. I’m not sure this show was worth doing again. I had a wonderful time, but the profit wasn’t huge. Am I better off doing smaller, less expensive shows? In the past, I’ve made almost the same amount of money at them while paying smaller booth fees. Do I search for shows in areas that are typically more oriented toward handmade/artisan/independent sellers? Areas that are higher income? Or do I just keep doing a variety? I’m not sure. I’m pondering while I start looking around for some more shows to do.

What’s my takeaway from this show? I need more depth in my kid hat inventory. People wanted them. They loved my Yoda hat, but since I only had maybe five kid hats available, they didn’t sell well. I need more colors, more styles, more sizes. And the button slouch hats will definitely be a staple. They’re quick to make, stylish, and the buttons add great flair. I want to have some chemo caps too, soft and snug acrylic beanies. I had a request for them and hated that I didn’t have anything that was just right. (Of course I also had a request for camo alpaca beanies/gloves marketed as “Hunters’ Special” but I don’t think I’ll go that route.)

I’m never going to be the both with tons of colors in only three or four styles. That’s just not me. But I think I can find a way to meet the customers’ needs and still make what I love. They want kid hats? I love making hats. Having a variety of colors and sizes is all I need; they don’t have to be the same pattern. They want slouch hats? Man, the possibilities are endless. I’ll be making slouchy beanies forever and be happy doing it.

Making money from yarn is hard. It definitely takes time and effort and patience. In the last month or so, I’ve been posting more frequently on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and it’s helping. I’m nowhere near a rockstar but I’m engaging with more people, and I think my visibility is slowing growing bit by bit. Now I need to to take the next step and be more present in person; i.e. do more shows/fairs. I’m looking at this as a job, but I’m still loving it. How lucky am I? Very! Especially since I had so much time to knit the last two days that I finished three hats, including this one. IMG_3614IMG_3613

Just a few photos today

I’m not feeling very wordy today and I’ve got a lot to do, so today’s post will be mostly photos.

Location of this morning's newspaper. Yep, that's the street.

Location of this morning’s newspaper. Yep, that’s the street.

Grace's new favorite thing is lounging in the greenery to watch the street.

Grace’s new favorite thing is lounging in the greenery to watch the street.

Tubs are packed with inventory and props for today's craft show set-up.

Tubs are packed with inventory and props for today’s craft show set-up.

Included are these 4 new Royal blue hats to celebrate my KC Royals in the post-season!

Included are these 4 new Royal blue hats to celebrate my KC Royals in the post-season!

I managed to make not one but TWO super bulky striped hats yesterday! That was fun. Don’t know that I’ll get much knitting time today, what with setting up my booth, stopping at Costco for dog food, and the boy’s choir concert tonight. But I’ll be sure to post photos of the craft show once it’s all done!