I completely understand. And I've been thinking more and more about this lately. You see, knitting is my hobby. It is the thing that I do to de-stress. The thing I do that I enjoy. I love to take beautiful yarn and make it into something fabulous. After a while, I started making so many fabulous things that even after giving many items as gifts, I was still having an abundance of finished items that I couldn't always use. So I decided to start selling some of my finished items.
My philosophy was simple at first. Knit what I want when I want. If I finish something and I don't want to keep it myself or give it as a gift, list it in my Etsy shop. But still knit whatever I wanted first without thinking about selling it while I was knitting.
That was how I started out and it worked well. I didn't make a lot of money selling items, but that was okay. Occasionally something would sell, and I would use the money to buy new yarn. Then something changed. I started reading a lot of the articles on Etsy and other places about ways to really get your stuff to sell and be able to quit your day job. I dreamed about knitting all day and making a living from it. And I stopped knitting what I wanted to knit and started knitting things that I thought might sell. I focused on smaller items so that I could finish more of them and have more to sell. I stopped using a lot of the beautiful hand-dyed yarn in my stash because selling something made from that yarn meant the price had to be really high. I started buying more workhorse types of yarn to use for the items I was making to sell. I even started to destash some of my beautiful yarn because I wasn't using it and I figured I could at least make some more money that way.
I was starting to think like running a business rather than just knitting as a hobby. I created a Facebook group and a Twitter account after reading books about social media marketing, and at first I worked really hard trying to build a following. It worked for a while. I started to sell a lot more. I also went to a couple of craft fairs and sold a few things. I rented a booth space in a shop downtown and again sold more things. But doing all of the marketing is a lot of work and it cut into my knitting time. And when Luke was born, that also cut into my knitting time (not that I am upset about that). For a while I had always still had at least one project that I was working on that was for me and not something to sell. I made that Ashfield cardigan, for example (and I'm looking forward to wearing it this fall and winter!). But for the past few months, that hasn't been happening. I've been focused almost solely on knitting stuff to sell.
I'm sure you've noticed that it has been a while since my last blog post. That's because I really haven't been knitting anything much that I've been truly excited about in the past few months. I did start a gorgeous shawl project (for me!) but that has been put aside as other knitting has taken its place. I haven't been updating my Ravelry page because I don't want to post the upteenth baby hat. I haven't been keeping up very much with new patterns or yarns that have been coming out. I've just been trying to churn out things that I can sell.
But let's face it. Am I selling items. Yes. Slowly, but I do have some sales. Am I making much money? No, not at all. I make a little more than what the yarn costs but I definitely don't make a very good hourly wage (I would say it would be measured as much less than $1 per hour). And I'm losing my desire to knit. It's getting a bit boring doing some quick easy items so I can get more listed to sell. What happened to wanting to always challenge myself and pick projects that taught me something new? When was the last time that I truly did that?
Today I decided to organize my yarn stash. I haven't been keeping up with Ravelry as much as I used to, so I wanted to check my stash against what I had listed in my stash on Ravelry. As I did so, I got to touch all of the yarn that has been sitting around in my closet waiting patiently for me but getting ignored over and over. There is some rather amazing yarn in that closet.
|Some of the fingering weight yarn in my stash|
I think this past year made me think that I could turn knitting into a job. I want to stay home with Luke. How can I do that while also bringing in some income? So I tried, but it hasn't worked out. In the past month, I've gone back into doing some editing and have gotten several freelance jobs. That has been bringing in money. That has allowed me to keep staying home with Luke. More than ever, I need knitting as a break and a way to relieve stress. Instead, knitting has become stressful.
I do have two craft fairs coming up in November. I do want to knit some more hats and monsters for those craft fairs. So for the next month, I will still focus on knitting items to sell. But after that, I'm reclaiming knitting for myself. I'm going to get back to my queue on Ravelry and knit the things that got me excited when I first saw them. I'm going to dig into my stash and pull out that skein of JulieSpins that has been sitting around neglected for far too long. And I will still make things to sell or rather sell things I make (don't worry about that, Linda!), but I'm not going to let selling be my focus. Knitting needs to be my focus. Knitting for fun. Knitting to expand my skills. Knitting as a hobby. Hobby not job. Editing is my job. Teaching is my job. Knitting is my hobby. I need to remember that.