The weekend before last was my first craft fair – I know long times – I had a tendency before of being a bit sporadic with writing blog posts and true to form here I am, almost two weeks later. Do you want to know how my first fair went? Read on. The couple of weeks leading up to the event I did feel that I was working on some kind of unachievable deadline, a deadline with little to no time to make the things for the deadline. That type of self imposed deadline (who else signed me up to that fair?) that I made more complicated for myself by deciding to create unnecessary things like crochet signage which took f.o.r.e.v.e.r and meant I had less time to make the things that I would actually sell and make money on. The sort of deadline you stop at times and think ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing or where I’m going with this’. But I have to say I was impressed with my (relative) chill leading up to the fair, a kind of acceptance that I would get something together and that I would do my best to enjoy everything leading up to it – I already had the ever growing stack of baby blankets – anything else was a bonus. Right? I’d see it as an invited life experience. It certainly had it’s place low in the hierarchy of things to worry about. Also I knew I’d learn a lot leading up to it. So game on.
Creating and planning for something in the window of opportunity that is between drop off and pick up is no joke. The issue of time scarcity is conversational currency as a mother, it seems to be a failsafe topic to which we have no end of negative vocabulary to sling around but though I can be VERY guilty of it, for the most part I just fitted in the hooking when I could and got on with it to varying success.
I’m going to briefly give a run down of the journey between my acceptance email and the event in this post. I had my reasons for doing the fair, I’d wanted to do one for a while, it was on my list of ‘things to try’, I wanted an opportunity to grow whatever Disco Stitches will turn into because I really do love crochet, I knew the why, I just didn’t know the how. My biggest problem with this fair was deciding WHAT TO MAKE. Such a headache. I can crochet just about anything. I’ve been crocheting for years now and I pretty much make sure I do everyday, so much so that I could turn my hand to a big variety of projects if I wanted, coasters, mats, blankets, cushion covers, scarves. The big question I wanted and needed to ask was what to make and weigh that up with how long it would take. Should I focus on blankets which are time consuming, though satisfying? Should I have a big variety of stuff? Too much choice and not enough decision.
It was advertised as a festive fair so I immediately thought I’m going to need Christmas Decorations, I remembered some stars that I had pinned on my pinterest Christmas Board and so for the first week I experimented with learning that pattern and with different cottons. The second week I took out my snowflake bible and started hooking up some snowflakes too. I think I crocheted snowflakes for around a week and then I ordered some Petra DMC cotton in some bright colours and started messing about with that. I imagined snowflake garlands as well as standalone Christmas tree decorations, maybe I would turn them into mobiles! or add them to wreaths! In fact, hold on a minute! I’d seen some AMAZING crocheted Christmas Tree skirts, hold the phone! I’ll find the pattern for that and make 5.
Then it was my birthday – I’m hitting my mid thirties, even a tame evening in can take me out for a couple of days, I lose my creative intent, I truly do, and then it was a wedding. Wow, that took me out for quite a few days, creative intent well and truly annihilated. After recovering from LIFE, I finished up and started 3 baby blankets and then another, and then I got commissioned by my sister for another. You can appreciate, I did feel lulled into a false sense of productivity, because I was slowly making, but it wasn’t specific stuff for the fair and that’s when I started to get mildly panicked. At the time I was doing a lot of running training for Bright 10 which was really eating into my making time and I still hadn’t figured out how to stiffen the snowflakes nevermind working up a decent amount of stock. I went as far as creating a daily planner with a lovely chart layout and a list of what I would aim to make. While the list was lengthy the planner remained very much empty, I never did get my shiz together and distribute all those projects into manageable daily tasks. Nice idea.
Disco Stitches blanket
More on the snowflakes later – let me list the ideas of things you could make if you ran your own crochet stall, I got these from my followers on Instagram and Facebook:
- crocheted brooches
- tree decorations
- snowflake garlands
- Christmas decorations
- Cushion Covers
I didn’t even scratch the surface on these suggestions. After hooking up a load of snowflakes, I was still finding the solution to how to get them to stay rigid a problem. I tried ‘pro’ stiffener spray which was a waste of money, expensive and inadequate and also made my lungs hurt, I tried epsom salts which left a horrible dusty icky residue and finally I hit upon the PVA glue/ water solution, the ratio of which I’m still not happy with. Basically I spent way too much time in October and November troubled by the snowflake problem. You would think that a resolution would have been forthcoming (how hard can it be?! Really???!) but no, it was a niggling frustration the whole time. With this in mind I just wanted to forget all about snowflakes… I needed some other low priced takeaway items so for a few days I hooked up more coasters, thought about dishcloths and I also messed about with digital images and emails with printers for greetings cards and other items.
Half term came and went in which I did absolutely no craft, none at all, I hit 9pm and I felt like I’d walked into a wall. At the tail end of October George decided to switch up his Halloween costume and was set on Dennis the Menace. How is this at all relevant? Well apparently, it’s pretty impossible to find a black and red striped jumper anywhere, the net included, and so came the next creative diversion to throw me from what should have been my focus. George had to have a proper jumper, a t-shirt was no good. “Mummy? Can you make one?” OF COURSE I CAN SON, I WILL DO ANYTHING FOR YOU. I never learn. That was three days of crocheting in the fringe hours, gone, and it was a great many hours. I know, true love.
By now we are up to two weeks before the fair. I have some floppy snowflakes, a handful of blankets and a few sets of coasters and I am starting to refer to myself in the third person, by my maiden name and that is when you know things are really serious. When I’m giving the slow headshake and trying to thread a needle to sew in ends saying ‘come on Amy Cox,’ we have problems. I am starting to get that all too familiar sweaty, almost sticky sense of discomfort that I am not very organised and so begins two weeks of coffee fuelled late nights and early mornings and a lot of calming glasses of wine and excess sugar. Such a positive combination. A few days after Halloween I try out a bauble pattern and then that changed everything. It worked, it was seasonal and they ended up being really very popular. So popular I am still making them. So the heat was off, I started getting orders for them via Facebook through friends and family which meant I knew that the cost of the stall had been covered and whether I sold anything on the day or not I had hit upon something that I was supposed to be making. I stopped thinking about making anything else and just stuck with them. They were my pivotal craft fair One Thing and if I had been smarter I would have known that ages before.
I think to sum up, if you are thinking about doing your first craft fair and you want to share the things you make with other people by all means force your hand like I did by signing up to one but try to know what you are good at making and what you are going to focus on beforehand. I had swerved blankets, my primary love, because I felt I couldn’t make enough in the time and knew that people are looking to buy lower priced affordable items at these events. Baby blankets was just going to narrow my appeal and they are relatively expensive but most people are in a position to buy a Christmas Decoration. I’d advise though, take the pain out of the process by doing all the experimentation before you commit to a date. Having said that if it’s something you have been thinking about, don’t hesitate, likely you will somehow find your way. Try not to be too broad or too discouraged by all the ideas that you do not execute, pick three or four items and do them well. Start a Facebook page, share your work with your friends for some honest feedback and inspiration will eventually strike.
:: the actual day is another blog post entirely ::