Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Commissioning Crafts

Its interestsing to receive commissions from people, either for handmade items to your design or to a design they have in mind. As a tutor, meeting the learners needs also demands flexibility and the need to adapt lessons or even devise them to suit the customer's needs.

Over the past few months I've had a few commissions for items as diverse as caravan cushions - reupholstery - which I've learned on the hoof!! to hand crocheted bags. Some customers give me a pattern and I simply get on with the job, others have a pattern that requires luxury yarns way beyond their means - so as well as finding a substitute yarn, lots of reworking needs to be done to ensure the tension is right. Others give me a pattern and yarn and say I love this but I want less colours. Others give me a size and come and rifle through my stash for their choice of colours. I then start playing with ideas and see how the design evolves.

Its also a learning curve for me about pricing commissions, I've used this series of work to calculate the time it takes me to produce an item or a piece of teaching. And I've realised I drastically undercharge most of the time. Its also making me query my pricings in my shop. I really need to sit down with an "expert" in the field and get them right. I think I'm beginning to realise that if I under value my work or my time, it leads people to wonder if my work is of a suitable quality and skill level. Quite how I'm going to "up my game" price wise I'm not entirely certain but I know I need to do something. I do have a bit of a "mates rates" policy and will also barter - you can see below the outcome of bartering in a very yummy way. But when I start to charge the wider public I can't quite get my head around asking them for what I'm worth! From reading forum posts on Folksy and Creative Connections, I know I'm not unique in this.... but as I want to make a living from crafting and teaching crafts I need to make sure I put my business head on when going forth into the world.

Here are the commissions:

Red Bolero

Knitted for the customer from a pattern. However the customer wanted to cardigan knitted in a machine washable, reasonably priced yarn. The original pattern was written for Louisa Harding Silk. I did search for it online but the colour had been discontinued - had I managed to get some surplus stash from EBay I would have been very pleased. However I did manage to find the standard meterage for the 50g balls of silk yarn, so this made it possible to estimate the quantities of a replacement. I started off knitting a tension square and quickly realised that the yarn was going to give a much looser tension that the silk yarn. A few mathematical workings later, I arrived at the solution of knitting the cardigan 2 sizes smaller - 12 - 14 instead of 18 - 20.
The bolero is knitted in one piece from the bottom of the back to the bottom of the fronts. It was surprisingly easy to put together at the end too!

Caravan Cushions

My daughter sort of volunteered me to recover a set of 15 cushions from a caravan. am very much on the home straight now with only a few left to do. Some are the same size as a single caravan bed so have been quite time consuming. I devised a method of covering the tops of the cushions and then whip stitching the fabric to the thick piping around the base. They've turned out really well. Some cushions can also be entirely covered so again they've proved fairly easy to sew up on the machine - once I'd figured out that it didn't like upholstery thread anyway!

Crochet Bag

Made of from granny squares, the customer liked the pattern in principle but not the colours. Also instead of 6 colours she wanted 4. So with a few suggestions and ideas from the ladies at the church "granny sport" club I came up with the idea of having 4 solid coloured squares and the rest 2 coloured. I worked the coloured squares in pairs so I could keep count - so when I worked a pink and white, I would then work a white and pink and so on. When I put the bag together I chose 2 solids for each side and then worked out a pattern with the coloured squares to so that the featured solid colours dominated their side of the bag. The bag is lined in a white silky feel fabric. I'm strongly considering making another to my own design and putting it in my shop as granny squares seem popular at the moment. They're also portable so I can take my work wherever I tend to roam!

Mobile Phone Case

I make mobile cases from small amounts of left over yarn in my stash. In the summer I made a rainbow zigzags one. The lady who commissioned this one, loved it but wanted one made with a cord so she could hang her phone around her neck. It meant she had her hands free to cope with her small children. So I knitted up an I Cord on 6 stitches and worked in some rainbow stripes symetrically on the cord. I turned out really well.

Bartering for Cake

The final piece is very much a work in progress. I was asked to knit and crochet a bag as a birthday present for a friend's mum. She chose chocolate, raspberry, soft pink and cream. She wanted the main bag to be plain with a hint a contrast colour with the flap and strap in all the contrasting shades. I've knitted the main bag in chocolate stocking stitch. I then knitted in a raspberry stripe every 14 rows in moss stitch. The strap and sides are worked in crochet in 2 continuous loops which I'll then join together. I then need to get the flap completed. Its actually flowing together really well and I hope she'll be pleased with it. The same friend was then commissioned by my daughter to make her 18th birthday cake. So in the end we decided to do a trade - the cake for the bag. I think in terms of time, effort and materials its a fair exchange. 

And the cake!!!!!!

Can you believe the cute baby on the left is the teen on the right! Its not been an easy journey for either of us at times but I'm proud of my beautiful 18 year old daughter!

The Folksy "Commissionaires"

As well as "blowing my own trumpet", I've decided to give some fellow makers over at Folksy an opportunity to let the world know that they too take commissions:

Unique Beaded Gems

As well as offering a beautiful selection of handcrafted jewellery featuring beautiful gem stones, owner Jo Walters is always ready to take commissions. This beautiful Blue John Sterling Silver Ring is just one example of her beautiful work:

NofKants Curio's

Natalie Ofkants produces beautiful hand crocheted bags and accessories including the fab "witchy woo hats" pictured left. Natalie also polishes and mounts fossils and gemstones into fabulous keyrings and trinkets. Her shop is well worth a visit and she is always happy to take commissions.

Kawaii Boutique UK

Kawaii in Japanese means cute, pretty, lovely, charming and Kawaii Boutique UK definitely deliver. There is a fantastic range of handcrafted jewelerry, which in the words of the owner is "handmade kitsch and kawaii jewellery, inspired by animals, cupcakes, sweets, anything cute and colourful. I also make custom-designed pieces so you can have something entirely unique."
The Pink and Blue Rainclouds especially appeal to me, I think they're really cute!

Gaia Noir

Owner Jane Faye makes an eclectic range of unusual makes from ethically sourced / green materials. She does not work with plastics or other toxin based materials. Jane especially welcomes commissions that have an ethical basis. She also has a range of beautiful vintage style made to order items in her Folksy shop.

Girly Bunches

Oliva, owner of Girly Bunches, has a shop full of crocheted delights. From traditional doilies to funky coasters and hair accessories. She welcomes commissions and says "I love making things that I wouldn’t have normally thought of…. helps me to keep my work evolving!"

The Press Gang

This beautiful handbound journal is created by owner Leanne and her collection of presses. Leanne loves to take commissions for bookbinding and you can see from the quality of this journal, that it would be worth the outlay for a treasured item like a wedding album or special journal.

Baggie Aggie Too

Designer, maker Rosie has a wide range of beautiful covers and cases, from specs to kindles. The Mushrooms Business Card Wallet pictured is just one example of her work. Like the other makers featured, she can share photo's of previous commissions with you. She welcomes custom orders via her Folksy Shop

Friday, 16 September 2011 Well Prepared!

Today's been spent finishing off the pics and postings for Craft Fest and I can safely say I am copy and pasted out!! I spent yesterday evening getting sorted for a craft fair with cream tea today. Its in aid of a Christian charity - Evangelical Action Brazil. They do amazing work providing education and support to kids who grow up in some pretty horrendous conditions and are suffering because of it. One of the best things - in my opinion - is the extra schooling they provide. Families all over the world sponsor a child and the money pays for extra education and support. Kids who were not expected to achieve anything much end up leaving school with qualifications that give them a real hand up, out of poverty. So will be more than happy to donate 15% of anything I make tomorrow to send to the kids. And to keep costs down and make sure the money goes to the kids, all the admin is done by a small army of volunteers - of which I'm 1! We're just mentally gearing up for the Christmas update, so I'll soon be up to my ears in paper and envelopes instead of yarn!

Here are a few more examples of the work I'll be selling via Craft Fest and you can view a side show HERE

Please Click on The Photo to Visit My Stall




And for my Folksy Friday, here is a treasury of Folksy Sellers who are also taking part in Craft Fest. Again please click on their photo to visit their stall:

1. Diomo Glass       2. Dottie Designs          3. Infiniti Jewellery
4. Lynwood Crafts   5. Martha Moo Beads     6. Nofkants Curios

DIOMO GLASS Dottie Designs Infiti Lynwood Martha Moo Beads Nofkants Curios

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Relax at Craft Fest

How many of us love to shop online? Beats trudging round the supermarket, competing with the "demon old ladies" with "trolley rage", the confused single man who has no idea what anything other than oven chips are, tantruming toddlers, stressed out mums and dangerous women in wheelchairs like me! I know I'm hopelessly sterotyping here but you get the idea. Online shopping means a relaxed look through the cupboards to see what you might like, a cuppa, maybe some biccy's, no having to fit round opening times, bedtimes, naptimes and all the other restrictions we have on life.
And when it comes to Christmas shopping, it gets worse - I know I become evermore invisible in my chair - the temptation to fit it with airhorns and a "people plough" always surfaces around mid-November and gently fades away by mid January! The shops are more crowed, you get jostled as you browse, tempers seem shorter and the struggle to find something nice for Great Aunty Maud, that won't be hidden in the cupboard and recycled to another relative next year seems even harder than last year...
So what if there was a solution? An online craft fair where you put your feet up, log on anytime in a 48 hour period, email the makers for advice and help, maybe even to ask if they could possibly make something in a different colour etc... Well the clever people at Creavite Crafting / Creative Connections have put their thinking caps on and come up with such an idea. On 17th and 18th September there will be a showcase of shops all in one place for your browsing pleasure. Many of the makers will be around, and if they can't be at their PC all the time, message them and they'll respond. And I'll challenge anyone not to find the perfect Christmas present for the most hard to choose for person on their list.

As a taster I've chosen some beautiful makes from some of the registered sellers:

Bits and Bobs Selection Pack


Guest Selection Pack 
1. Aingeal Designs       2. Ann Chandler Designs       3.Buttercup Boutique
4. Colour Me fun          5. Daisy Beth Creations         6.Egyptian Inspirations

Aingeal Designs Ann Chandler Designsbuttercup boutique Colour Me Fun Daisy Beth Creations Eygyptian Inspirations

Monday, 12 September 2011

Showcasing Finesse

Some weeks back I blogged about a commission I had to create some crocheted lace for display in a local store. I handed the work in a coule of weeks ago but holidays, return to college for one disorganised teenage girly and life in general has meant I've only had time to edit the pics today.

I said I was looking forward to the return to college but its oddly silent here this morning - so have dear old Homes Under the Hammer running in the background for some noise lol! Only because I'd been watching Helicopter Heroes over breakfast though - I have a real thing for the gorgeous presenter - am probably old enough to at least be his aunty though lol <blush>

Anyway enough digressing into parts of my mind best left unshared and onto some beautiful lace work:

A beautiful butterfly - was a real challenge to read the chart for this one but I was determined!

Shelf edgings, butterfly, circles for cushion covers, tablecloth edgings

Close up of the filet work for the table cloth edging - you'd need at least 20 panels to do one cloth! But would be well worth it.

Lace for trimming towels or cushions

It really makes me take my hat off to the number of Victorian and Edwardian ladies who pioneered crochet lace, often by candle or gaslight - what must their eyes have been like?

The pieces above were created on 1.0 and 1.5mm hooks, which were fine enough. I then received a commission for a bookmark - to fit the wording in, I had to go down to a 0.75mm hook - which raised some eyebrows in the yarn shop - the lady thought I'd be crocheting with human hair! But the effort was well worth it and this was the result:

 If you would like to commission your own lace pieces please email me with your requirements

Adventures with Henrietta

Before I move on to the fab intricate work offered by the September Embers over on Folksy, I'll just share a tale or two of my experiences related to "Henrietta" my polystyrene head:

Having just finished a craft fair, I loaded up the wheelchair with all my stock but just couldn't squeeze her into a bag. Having arrived there before 9am, she's already sat on my lap en route, so not thinking that I had 3 pubs / cafe bars to pass at 4:30pm I decided to repeat the idea! As I'm trundling along the pavement avoiding running over those who seem to think wheelchairs come complete with their own Harry Potter style invisibility cloak - very common in seaside towns - I heard a comment "There's a woman in a wheelchair with 2 heads" lol! Obviously some alcohol had been taken and I couldn't help laughing!

Small children and Henrietta

I did a community fair yesterday and had Henrietta modelling a hat for me. Some friends' children came along and were fascinated by her - in fact I had to go on a hot pursuit with a walking frame to reclaim her from one child!
The main question was "Why have you got a head on your stall?" Being a bit of a wind up merchant and already suspected by the kids of being barking mad, I then told them that I used Henrietta when I had a headache - my real head could go and have a rest and Henrietta could keep working. Great discussions then ensued about how I managed to take my head off and do the swap! Fortunately I wasn't asked to demonstrate!! One little boy gave me a look that said it all! A sort of old fashioned sideways frown often reserved for maiden aunts of a certain age who are definitely becoming eccentric!

September Embers

This is the Folksy daily listings club for September - I aim to list "dailyish" depending on other demands on my time.  For those who want to see more, there's a Flickr Group with many more photo's

Here's a showcase of work that I feel, echoes the intricacies of lace making:

1. Lilac Elephant       2. Diomo Glass Gifts      3. NofKants Curios
4. Clouberry Gems     5.TheCrafty Warren       6. Pip Designs

Please click on the image to visit the makers' beautiful stores

Lilac Elephant Diomo Glass Gifts Nofkants Curios Cloudberry gems The Crafty Warren Pip Designs