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not another yarn blog (spinning, weaving, and natural dyeing)

 
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The last two blankets were a joy to weave.  I think I'm getting quite good at these although apparently they are 'harry potter' colours.  That's okay.  Harry Potter is cool.





It made two very large blankets, big enough for a twin size bed each.  Perfect for the guest room, if a bit warm for our winters.
 
r ranson
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This is what blocking yarn looks like.



After I spin the yarn on my spinning wheel, I wash it again and wind it onto this contraption.  It helps to calm the yarn down and also gives me one last chance to evaluate it.

The dark yarn is a very thin (about the equivalent of 16/2), tightly spun mixture of alpaca and wool (both from my farm).  The white is a Corriedale I spun up on an Ashford E-spinner I borrowed to play with.  It's a bit thicker and loftier than my regular yarn, but I'm happy with it.

I've been spinning a lot lately with the hope of reopening my etsy shop in a few months.  So I'm stocking up on handspun yarn, but I also hope to sell other things from the farm.  I have to look up the law to see if smoked peppers are allowed.  I think they might be.  

I also have to think of pricing.  With etsy, if I price too low, I don't sell anything.  Price too high, and the same.  There's a lot to consider.  
 
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OOoooo, these are all so lovely! I especially love the blue-toned one. The red and gold one is also gorgeous--red's just not one of my colors :D
 
r ranson
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An adventure in purple

Eventually, I want to settle into a 'style' of weaving.  Probably with organic yarn and natural colours.  Lots of handspun goodness.  

The thing is, those materials take a lot of investment and I'm not confident in my weaving skills yet.  But I did have the opportunity to buy a huge swack of weaving yarn from an estate sale.  A couple of thousand dollars worth of yarn for everything I had in my wallet ($19.85 and a button).  I brought home a vanload of bright cotton yarn in colours I've never worked with before.  This is a great opportunity for me to weave outside my comfort zone, trying new techniques and colour combinations that I wouldn't try otherwise.  The theory is that I can spend this year making different styles of towels, then (with luck) sell them.  

Here's my first experiment: an adventure in purple.



For this warp, I took several purples and blues that go well together and then looked at the opposite side of the colour wheel to see what contrasting colour might work.  Yellow seemed to be the one so I found a yellow with a similar hue and it produced an interesting effect.  Since I'm already weaving beyond my comfort zone, I decided to toss in some different textured yarn as well.  

I wound the warp with a 4/4 cross (weaving term for I had 4 yarns together in my hand while I was measuring the warp) and as each colour ran out, I replaced it with the next one in my pile.  This should make 6 towels approximately 20" by 30".

I don't know if I like this or not.  At some moments, I'm in love with it.  At other moments, I think 'what a waste of yarn, no one wants a towel like this for their kitchen'.  

But it's also fascinating to see how the colours change with different weft choices.




Since I don't know if I love it or hate it, I thought I would post it here to see if anyone else had strong feelings about this cloth.  Shall I make more like this only in different colours or move on to something else a bit less... improvised?  


 
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I like the purples you have in this - it reminds me of all the different shades in lilac flowers (at least in how the photo shows up on my computer/monitor). Looking at it, I wonder if a bold accent of the reddish magenta tone, or one of the darker colors, might make it "pop."

Also, I love blues and greens with purple, so I like the blue or blue-ish color in the left part of the picture with all the purples. The yellow is okay, and I really see how/why you tried it, though I wonder if it would turn "like" into "love" (for me, anyway) if the yellow(s?) were a soft green instead. Just a thought.

Your work is so inspirational, R!!
 
Nicole Alderman
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Personally, I don't find red mixes with purple terribly well, though I think it blends well in your weaving. I probably wouldn't use it as a big block of color, however. I'd stick to the purples and maybe blues for the big blocks (I don't much care for the magenta block of color, though I think that's because I don't like pink....). I personally like the way you faded into the yellow. It looks nice and golden. I wouldn't make a big, solid block of yellow, however--that might be a bit much. The whole weaving looks lovely, and like Jocelyn said, very reminicent of a flower garden. I LOVE purple, so naturally I really like your creation!

And, I really admire your work. I think I'd be so lost in weaving. I have a hard time visualizing things in my head, and I think I'd spend so much time un raveling it and redoing any weaving I attempted.

Perhaps it's me, but I tend to stick to 1-2 colors when making things. The more colors added, the harder it is to find other things in a house to match it too. Like, if a towel is just light and dark purples, it can go in a bathroom that's yellow, or green, or blue or white or purple. But, if there's lots of hues in something, one of the colors might clash with something else. But, I think this is my own personal preference, because I often find "painted" yarn that has random colors mixed in. Like, there was a lovely purple, blue, and pink yarn that also faded to brown. Brown??? Why'd they chose brown? I ended up cutting out that color and knitting with the rest of the yarn.

I also see this in flannels. Like, I'd love a flannel shirt that's shades of purple. Instead, they put random bright red strands in it. Why??? I'm assuming that these shirts get made this way because people like the extra colors woven in, and I'm in the minority for just liking shades of something.

Anyway, when I'm looking for painted yarn to knit into a hat or scarf, I look for one that sticks to  shades of one color (like your lovely blue towel) or 2-3 colors all next to one another on the color wheel, that way it's easier for people to match it to their clothes. So: orange/yellow/green, purple/lavender/pink, yellow/orange/red/brown, green/blue/purple.

Weaving has got to be harder than knitting, though. With knitting, the colors never cross each other--so it's all purple and then pink and then lavender, for example. For me, that's a lot easier to manage. Trying to think of how those colors will work when they'll be crossing each other, and you can't change the vertical (waft?) threads once you've started? I think my brain would explode!

Anyway, I'm totally rambling. Long story short: I like it! I'd totally put it in my bathroom. Your making that towel for my bathroom, right? ;).
100_6634.JPG
They put BROWN in this year. Why??? I cut it out!
They put BROWN in this year. Why??? I cut it out!
100_6971.JPG
I don't think they needed black in that lovely brown/orange/red yarn--it worked okay, but I think it would have been better without it. Loved the fall colored orange/green/brown. That blue scarf was the softest wool...
I don't think they needed black in that lovely brown/orange/red yarn--it worked okay, but I think it would have been better without it. Loved the fall colored orange/green/brown. That blue scarf was the softest wool...
100_6972.JPG
[Thumbnail for 100_6972.JPG]
 
r ranson
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Right now I'm thinking of pricing my work.

Mostly I sell to the local shop, but I'm thinking of opening my etsy shop back up and am wondering what to price my product at.  Here are some of my current thoughts.



This is my handspun yarn.  It's either wool or alpaca/wool.  Mostly from my farm but some of it is commercially prepared fibre.

I spun this yarn with the idea that it could be used for weaving (warp or weft) or knitting socks (by hand or machine).  Each skein is the same length, 400yards and about 100grams.  One skein does about 1 pair of socks.  

The big advantage to this yarn is that I can make large amounts of the same yarn which is excellent for people working on large projects - most handspun yarn is not like this.  These are also larger skeins that most people seem to sell on etsy.

The material costs are about $5 per skein or 1/2 hour work per skein.

Each skein takes about 2 hours spinning and another half hour finishing.  I'm working on getting this down to 2 hours total time per skein.

If I work 2.5 hours at my day job, (after tax and expenses like travel and lunch and suchandsuchandsuch) I get $25.

So I generally wholesale this yarn for $30 each skein.  And the shop sells them retail at about $50 - $55  The yarn sells out fast, but the shopkeep is a good salesman.  I'm guessing I should price my yarn the same.


Some of these skeins are dyed with natural dye.  This adds another two hours or more labour to the product (harvesting the plants and preparing the dye baths plus finishing the yarn after).  With experience and changing my equipment, I could probably get this down to half an hour per skein, but I'm not sure I like dyeing so I don't know if I'll bother.

But I do like that many of these colours (except blue) were produced by harvesting invasive species.  So maybe I'll focus on that in future dyeing.


I don't know what my question is here.  Just putting my thoughts in writing.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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R, your work is so beautiful, and your thoughts make a lot of sense to me, except I wish for you a MUCH healthier hourly rate!

Here are my thoughts in response, though I am by no means a textile person myself. Just a consumer and a businessperson who works with many "solopreneurs."

First thought:  this IS a high value product, for the reasons you mention about this being a longer handspun skein than most, and because it's:
  • sustainably, regeneratively grown fiber
  • natural, organic product - even if not certified, this still counts a lot in many ways
  • fair trade - no sweat shop unless your price it too low ;-)
  • less toxic dyes - whether natural or not? - and using invasive species is surely a plus!!

  • All of which, in my book, means you can charge higher than most handspun yarn.

    I like your ideas for figuring out how to increase your efficiency and thereby your hourly rate.

    Then, I was curious about the Canadian exchange rate and how the pricing you mentioned might translate to the U.S. dollar because it was hard for me to track otherwise.

    In fact, I was so curious about how your pricing compares that I did a few quick searches, and found a lot OUT OF STOCK, or 'not available' responses, plus the shorter skeins, or not 100% wool skeins, and on and on. Though admittedly, I don't usually search for this kind of thing, so I'm probably not the best to try to help in this space. I just think that even my n00b searches illustrate that your product is unique and therefore valuable.

    Two other illustrations of my attempts to gradually convert both Paul and my wardrobes to more sustainable fibers and dyes, include my samarai socks post, and the natural clothing thread. Gee, I created that natural clothing thread 5 years ago, and while there might be more mainstream sources of organic clothing than there used to be (mostly organic cotton or organic bamboo in my experience), it's still so difficult to find what I want for either Paul or myself that I have given up in some ways.

    All of which is to say that in my humble opinion, we need more yarn like yours.

     
    Nicole Alderman
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    I think if you can sell it at $50, you should totally do so!

    Personally, I've never spent more than $15 for a skein of yarn, and I only do that if I'm making something for a gift, like baby hats or scarves. (Added bonus to splurging on the "expensive" yarns for baby hats is that I always have some left over for my own uses, bwahahahaha!)

    It might be nice to sell some--perhaps less-than-perfect--yarn at a lower price so that it's more affordable for those who can't spend $50 on a skein. But, those people could probably get most of the same benefits of wool by buying Cascade, though I'm sure your yarn is superior in many, many ways. And, those that can afford to buy your marvelous, local, organic yarn can do so, and can support you.

    This is one of those times that I hate being poor--I cannot financially support those I want to, and that makes me sad. I have to console myself that I can help with my time, like I do here on permies. That's something, right?
     
    r ranson
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    It's like a battle:  Pricing what is fair to the creator but is also affordable to the consumer.  

    I think my yarn skills are pretty good so I feel that I would like to earn at least as much for this as I would working a wage job.  I also noticed that if I price my yarn too low, it won't sell.  If I price it higher than I would be willing to pay for the same product, then it sells much better.  It's weird that way.

    But I also feel a bit bad about it, so I offer free spinning lessons to a lot of people - some even take me up on it.  



    Looking around locally and on etsy, there are some handspun yarns for under $20 a skein.  The average seems to be between $20 and $70 per skein.  I haven't found one over 200 yards long yet, most are about 150 yards.

    That's the biggest frustration I had before I learned to spin.  All that lovely yarn out there and not enough of it for a project.  Small batches of unique yarn.

    So I focused on that.  Making large batches of the same yarn, usually 1 kilo per batch.  I also wanted handspun yarn that was durable.  Some yarn that might make good clothing, or at the very least socks.  I spun a bunch, tested it by weaving with it and having other people weave with it and give me feedback until I could spin a yarn that would be okay as both warp and weft.  Or at least, no worse than commercial weaving yarn.  I've also run some of this yarn through the sock knitting machine and it made a firm but durable sock.  I like it very much.


    Here's a couple of writ-ups on how to price handspun yarn
    https://abbysyarns.com/2007/02/how-do-you-usually-price-handspun-yarn/
    http://www.thisyarn.com/blog/pricing

    The second one is a 50-yard skein of yarn and she comes up with the price of $40.  By that reasoning, I should be charging $320 per skein.  But she's also making a very different style of yarn than I do.  


    That's the biggest problem when I look at pricing - I spin the yarn that I want to use and that gives me the most joy to spin.  Other people who sell yarn for a living spin a very different style.  

    I guess what I'm also saying is that I don't know if anyone else wants the kind of yarn I want.
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Nicole Alderman wrote:
    Personally, I've never spent more than $15 for a skein of yarn, and I only do that if I'm making something for a gift, like baby hats or scarves. (Added bonus to splurging on the "expensive" yarns for baby hats is that I always have some left over for my own uses, bwahahahaha!)


    Was the $15 for a maybe 220 yard skein? (Google told me 220 yards might be average though a skein is by weight...) So would you pay double for twice as much albeit a thinner, stronger yarn?

    Just getting a feel for the pricing thing.

    r ranson wrote:It's like a battle:  Pricing what is fair to the creator but is also affordable to the consumer.


    r ranson wrote:Here's a couple of writ-ups on how to price handspun yarn
    https://abbysyarns.com/2007/02/how-do-you-usually-price-handspun-yarn/
    http://www.thisyarn.com/blog/pricing

    The second one is a 50-yard skein of yarn and she comes up with the price of $40.  But she's also making a very different style of yarn than I do.  


    I think the second one, in trying to price in the middle of what the market will bear, is really wise.

    I just need to say that when folks say "I can't afford that" that's relative and subjective. Just yesterday, I heard a story about how this person A was "running out of money." Person A was telling this to businessperson B, in order to finagle a discount on B's services. Later, businessperson B heard that person A's version of "running out of money" meant they had slightly less to put aside for their children to go Harvard. Another example I've used repeatedly is someone who insisted to me that they could not afford to buy organic food though they vacationed in Cabo every year. And I've seen the reverse - people who really, truly are living hand-to-mouth, who found the capacity to pay for private Waldorf education for their kids, or who insisted on only supporting fair trade, organic practices. It's really a spectrum that we all can't help but have judgments about, and that varies widely in what could be considered "affordable."

    Which is to say that I recommend sidestepping the affordability question, if you can. It's not your place to fix the entire effing world. If you have a quality product that is worth some coin - good for you! It could be how Paul views the Tesla Roadster - a high-end, quality product that proved an all-electric car was not only possible, but could be preferable; and (perhaps arguably) drove the market into creating more affordable all-electric cars.

    r ranson wrote:I guess what I'm also saying is that I don't know if anyone else wants the kind of yarn I want.


    Gosh, I will say that I know very little about this. And yet....you sold me on having 400 yards of the same batch for socks so that the socks could be the same color.

    Also, I have fat feet. (Maybe most Americans do because of how many of us have weight issues.) I prefer thinner socks and would probably not buy or wear bulky homespun yarn, hand-knitted socks because I would never be able to get my shoes over them. Thinner socks are quite difficult to find in 100% wool. I bought some for Paul that were mostly wool, though with significant polyester and nylon (Paul does not have fat feet, just excessively large feet) and they make his feet sweat. Durn. He can't tolerate anything but (close to) 100% cotton or 100% wool socks.

    This has turned in to probably too much about socks, because I have socks on the brain these days, though I imagine there could be similar issues for woven cloth or turning this yarn in to other things or other types of clothing. People want all natural. More and more people are chemically sensitive. To me, this just seems like it would sell well at the higher end prices.

     
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    I had some wandering thoughts in this area...

    Marketing is always the most difficult part of craft production especially in the fiber arts.  When I was weaving full time it was not the area that I wanted to spend much time but was so necessary.  

    I kept track of my total hours and worked from that and materials costs.  I always included time dressing the loom, winding warp and bobbins, etc. and If I was doing hand spun, the time spent preparing fleece, etc was counted.  When I started selling my work, there were a few area weavers who were selling placemats for $2 each...by the time I had a line of items, I was selling placemats for $10 each wholesale...$20 retail out of the store and everyone else raised their prices.  I think it's good to check out the market and what is available for what price but in the end, make sure you are getting a wage that's actually making you an income, as many who sell 'craft' items are not in it in order to make a living wage...or are in a country where they are being paid a very small amount to do the work.  

    I also found that I wasn't selling to my peers...my customers appreciated hand woven things and the novelty of my lifestyle but were not 'me'...especially when it came to handwoven jackets and ruanas and scarves.

    I think the most important thing in selling hand crafted work is to tell your story ...on a tag, a sign or in person.  

    Steve used to put the number of hours he spent on a coopered bucket tag rather than the price...it made for some interesting conversations and gave folks another way to look at his work.

    I love your weavings and yarns...and I'm excited that you're getting ready to market them!

     
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    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
    Was the $15 for a maybe 220 yard skein? (Google told me 220 yards might be average though a skein is by weight...) So would you pay double for twice as much albeit a thinner, stronger yarn?

    Just getting a feel for the pricing thing.



    I had to look it up, since I always lose the little paper wrapper that comes with the skein of yarn. It looks like Cascade Heritage Silk/Wool blend is 437 yds and 100 grams.
    (http://www.cascadeyarns.com/cascade-HeritageSilk.htm). That's yarn for size 1-3 knitting needles. I usually have it wound into a ball that I can pull from the outside and inside at the same time to make a thicker hat/booties/mittens that takes a bit less time. I honestly love thicker yarn because it doesn't take nearly as long to knit with it. I still remember spending at least 24 hours of actual knitting time knitting a scarf for a friend. It took so long because it was thin yarn. It was a lovely scarf, but MAN, it took a long time to knit. If I paid myself local minimum wage for it, it would have cost about $240! (I can't imagine anyone paying that for a scarf, which is why I've never tried to sell my knitting.)

    I honestly have a $20-30 gift limit when buying presents for birthdays/Christmas/baby showers. So, I would never spend more than that amount on a skein of yarn. And, I only spend that much when buying yarn for gifts--If there's any yarn left over, I use it for my kid's mittens/hats/etc.

    I could perceive buying yarn like that if I were to use it to make something I sold (I've never sold anything!) and people would pay $15-20 dollars for a pair of organic, epic baby booties or mittens, or $60-80 for a set of hat/mittens/booties out of epic yarn.

    Judith Browning wrote: I also found that I wasn't selling to my peers...my customers appreciated hand woven things and the novelty of my lifestyle but were not 'me'...especially when it came to handwoven jackets and ruanas and scarves.

    I think the most important thing in selling hand crafted work is to tell your story ...on a tag, a sign or in person.  



    I think this is a really valid point. There are people out there that will pay top dollar for fair trade, organic wool (or wool products) from sheep that lived happy lives. These are not the people I know, who are often frugal/scraping by/homesteading to save money. But, those people are out there! There are people who make a lot of money and have the ability to support causes they believe in with their wallet--and I think that's awesome!

    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
    I think the second one, in trying to price in the middle of what the market will bear, is really wise.

    I just need to say that when folks say "I can't afford that" that's relative and subjective. Just yesterday, I heard a story about how this person A was "running out of money." Person A was telling this to businessperson B, in order to finagle a discount on B's services. Later, businessperson B heard that person A's version of "running out of money" meant they had slightly less to put aside for their children to go Harvard. Another example I've used repeatedly is someone who insisted to me that they could not afford to buy organic food though they vacationed in Cabo every year. And I've seen the reverse - people who really, truly are living hand-to-mouth, who found the capacity to pay for private Waldorf education for their kids, or who insisted on only supporting fair trade, organic practices. It's really a spectrum that we all can't help but have judgments about, and that varies widely in what could be considered "affordable."  



    Very true! And, it's really hard not to pass judgment. I've known people who came begging me for money...who recently wasted all their money on weed they didn't need, or buying game systems or who pay for cable. And, since they no longer have money, they ask for it so their baby can have diapers. But, poverty and management of money is a really complicated issue. A lot of people are never taught to save money. A lot of people are so depressed about their money and feel so powerless, so they spend it on things to make themselves happy, rather than on needs, because when you don't have enough money for your needs, it's easy to figure it doesn't matter and spend money on a want--because you won't have enough money any way!

    And, the issue is also compounded by spouses. Sometimes, a person has a spouse that wants to spend money on a classic muscle car to fix up (with time and tools he doesn't have), when there's barely enough money to get quality food that fits their strict dietary requirements, and there's thousands of dollars in medical bills due to a chronic illness (which also makes said spouse depressed and want to spend money on wants, not needs). You've tightened the purse stings as far as you can to pay for an grow the food he needs, and to be able to pay the medical bills, and have to keep telling the spouse, no, you cannot use what little money we have to buy a gas-guzzling, non-operational car. Aaaaaanyway, I don't know anyone's spouse like that--just a hypothetical situation, ya know?

    Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
    Which is to say that I recommend sidestepping the affordability question, if you can. It's not your place to fix the entire effing world.



    Yes! We make the world a better place in the ways we can. R needs funds to continue doing her awesome permaculture stuff--and there's people who will pay for it. That's awesome! People who can't pay for, can use other things that are almost as nice, and do their own part to make the world a better place. We all do what we can!
     
    r ranson
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    I totally get where you're coming from.  

    I'm not in the category of people who will spend $50+ on a skein of yarn.

    Actually, that's the exact price of the yarn I wanted to buy in 2004.  It was a commercial spun yarn and dearly wanted a sweater from it.  I needed 10 skeins of yarn for the sweater which would have been $500 or more.  Alternatively, for less than a couple of hundred dollars, I could buy a spinning wheel, take a lesson and buy the materials I needed to make the yarn.  That's where it all began - because I was too pissed off at the expense of the yarn I wanted to buy.  Although, I never did make that sweater in the end.   ah well.


    I don't know if I'm competing with commercially manufactured yarn.  For a start, they do what they do well and they do it best in large quantities.  Some of the yarn companies transport the raw materials great distances (from farm to a cleaning facility, to a spinning mill, to dye place) before it gets packaged and labelled ready to knit with.  Others are more local, keeping the fibre source and the spinning in the same country.  Some yarn manufacturers even take special care to prevent water pollution and other environmental damage - some, not most.  

    What we do get from this is an affordable yarn that is easy to acquire.  


    Then there are different kinds of yarn.  Some are thick, some are thin, some are textured, some smooth... different materials, different... well the possible differences are infinite.  Different crafting styles and products require different kinds of yarn.    If everyone made the same kind of thing, we would only need one kind of yarn.  Thankfully there is a yarn out there for everyone.



    Looking at commercial yarn that is comparable to my handspun, my handspun is (currently) coming in about two to three times higher than the mass production stuff.  

    But I'm not sure if that's what I'm competing with?  


    I often wonder, if that yarn that got me started on this path came from locally sourced materials and made in my own hometown, would I have been willing to save up the money to buy it?  I think yes because that's something I value.  


     
    Nicole Alderman
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    r ranson wrote:
    Looking at commercial yarn that is comparable to my handspun, my handspun is (currently) coming in about two to three times higher than the mass production stuff.  

    But I'm not sure if that's what I'm competing with?  


    I often wonder, if that yarn that got me started on this path came from locally sourced materials and made in my own hometown, would I have been willing to save up the money to buy it?  I think yes because that's something I value.  



    I don't think you are competing with them at all. Your post actually sent me down memory lane. Back in high school (some time around 2002?), just after I learned to knit, I really wanted to make myself a matching cream scarf and hat. I looked at Michaels and JoAnne Fabrics and could not find a single cream yarn. I put "cream yarn" on my Christmas list, and got a skein of polyester bumpy yarn (Bernat Soft Bouchel). It smelled! And, it wasn't even a natural looking cream color. I still have that skein. I just went and sniffed it. It still has the weird smell....a good 15+ years later! At the time, I could not understand why it was so hard to find a cream wool yarn--isn't that the natural color? Shouldn't it be easy to find some? Apparently not! I even went to a local fancy yarn store (the kind that teaches knitting lessons), a few year later, and they didn't even have cream wool yarn! (They might have had a few skeins, but if I recall, they were really loosely spun. It would get like 1/2 inch thick and fluffy, and then really skinny. I could only imagine any scarf knit with that would look really funny, and the fluffy areas would be prone to breaking)

    Fast forward a few years, and I wanted to make a nice scarf and hat for my husband's sister, as well as my coworkers. I wanted something handspun and beautiful. I wanted to support local spinners. I went to a different local yarn shop. I looked for wool yarn--almost all of it was Cascade! I recall being extremely confused as to why this little niche yarn shop didn't have a wide selection of handspun, local wool yarn: there was just machine wool. It was not the look I wanted. I wanted a yarn with a bit of texture, that looked natural, that would get slightly thinner and thicker so you could tell it was handspun. I wanted a yarn that would make a simple scarf look lovely (preferably one that was "painted"). I just couldn't find any! I would go to these yarn stores looking for amazing yarn that would make a lovely scarf, that would be in colors that my friends liked, and I just couldn't find any!

    Thankfully, selection seems to be improving, at least in my area. I can find cream/natural yarn now. I see more wool and natural fibers, like organic cotton. I see handspun-looking yarn is kind of a trend. And, when I went to a yarn shop to find a lovely wool yarn for a scarf for my brother's wife, I actually found a hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn that faded from light blue to dark blue. I bought it! And then, I went back and bought lovely cream yarn from them, too, to make another scarf for her a year or two later.

    I think yarns like Cascade are nice for uniform things, like when I felt pouches or knit baby hats. They're probably nice for knitting things like sweaters or things you add patterns to. But, for a gift, handspun yarn is what I want. I want the yarn to be showcased. I want the yarn to surprise me with subtle changes in texture &/or color through the piece--it makes knitting a delight. If I'm going to spend 12+ hours kitting a scarf or shawl or hat, I want it to be beautiful and quality. When I spent 24 hours knitting the green scarf for my friend, I knit it out of Cascade, because that was the only emerald green yarn I could find. I know it would have looked even more lovely if it had been handspun wool, but I couldn't find any. I love Cascade for felting, as it's uniform and it has a lovely color selection. But, for a scarf or shawl or hat, especially one that's a gift (I have a hard time spending money on myself), handspun is what I love.

    I don't have a picture of the green scarf, but I do have a picture of the blue scarf. It was a joy to work with such soft yarn and watch subtle changes in color and texture make designs on my simple pattern.
    Blue-wool-scarf.jpg
    [Thumbnail for Blue-wool-scarf.jpg]
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    For some reason, when I go to edit my last post, it's giving me a big white screen, so instead of editing, I'll just add this picture here.

    Here's the cream scarf I made for my sister-in-law. It's the scarf I always wanted, but couldn't make because at the time there was no such yarn that I could find! Like the blue one, it's knit in a very simple (easy!) pattern, but the quality of the yarn makes it beautiful. If this scarf were made with machine yarn or *shudder* polyester yarn, it would not be as lovely nor as soft.

    In fact, if you look at the other pictures I posted earlier in this thread, none of the other scarves/hats were made with handspun yarn...and they don't look nearly as nice as this one...and they're all the same pattern!
    cream-wool-scarf.jpg
    [Thumbnail for cream-wool-scarf.jpg]
     
    pollinator
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    Judith Browning wrote:I had some wandering thoughts in this area...

    Marketing is always the most difficult part of craft production especially in the fiber arts.  When I was weaving full time it was not the area that I wanted to spend much time but was so necessary.  

    Steve used to put the number of hours he spent on a coopered bucket tag rather than the price...it made for some interesting conversations and gave folks another way to look at his work.



    i knew one sculptor who did this with all of her work. it helped probably that she made gigantic sculptures, maybe...but she never priced her work. only kept track of her exact materials cost and hours, and then asked her buyer to pay her the same wage they received for that amount of hours.

    thats an interesting way to go but a bit too complicated for me...to keep track like that.

    marketing and pricing art and crafts is extremely difficult. i used to under price my work a lot, its like i was so happy just to sell anything...but this obviously was a mistake. in person when i sell at fairs i still do a kind of sliding scale...sometimes.

    what i have found though is that art is very personal, crafts are very personal, if something speaks to someone and they want it, they will pay any price you ask as long as they have it. so i remind myself of that to to try to get the most i think i can in a given context.

    people who haggle or criticize or take issue with the price, well best just to tune all that out. for one they likely have no idea of the huge time investment, the difficulty of marketing yourself as an artist, and would bitch about it no matter what the price. they arent your customers, they probably wouldnt buy it even if it was ridiculously low, so it doesnt matter what they think. some people are just weird like that.

    the people who want something because it speaks to them, because they have that connection to it, they will generally pay any price you say...so its best to hold out for that person, especially with more elaborate pieces with a big time investment. and its good to have things like that around to just show off. have some things that are cheap, and a few more expensive pieces to show off. it's almost good to take your time to sell those higher pieces...so you have them around to help sell the less expensive pieces.

    but yeah trying to price art and crafts is crazy hard.
     
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    Every time I think of earning a living from making the art or craft products I'm capable of ... I start feeling very 'itchy' by the idea of 'pricing'!
    I can think of all I have to calculate (time, materials, tools, rent, etc.). Then I think: I have to make some products first, to have something to show the potential customers. And then I have to advertise, otherwise nobody knows about my products. And I have to count the costs of the advertisements too ...
    So my products must have a really high price, because of all those costs, and the value I added too ...
    That's what makes me feel itchy. I don't want to ask such a high price! I just want to make things I like making. I don't want to make a shelf full of the same products, I am not a machine, I like making something different every time. And when I am doing what I like to do, I don't mind the costs and the time spent. If someone wants to have my product, that's nice! If that person wants to pay some money for it, that's okay, I'll take the money. But I do not like to think of the amount of money and I don't want to ask for it!

    So ... I rather have a dull job to earn the needed money (or a social payment, or even better: an unconditional basic income, leaving me much more time) and do it as my 'hobby'. And then I can give my products to people I like (as gifts) ...

    This hobby happens to help me feel rich, because I can make my own clothing and household textiles, in my own style, using natural materials. And because I spend my time on it I am not looking for the kind of amusement costing money without producing anything. Together with 'cooking from scratch' this hobby makes it possible for me to live with a low income and still have my savings. I can even afford to buy materials and food in the locally produced organic quality I like (though not all, because they don't exist all in that quality)!

    I don't think everyone understands this. It's my choice. Maybe here in this thread on Permies some will understand it.
     
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    Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Every time I think of earning a living from making the art or craft products I'm capable of ... I start feeling very 'itchy' by the idea of 'pricing'!
    I can think of all I have to calculate (time, materials, tools, rent, etc.). Then I think: I have to make some products first, to have something to show the potential customers. And then I have to advertise, otherwise nobody knows about my products. And I have to count the costs of the advertisements too ...
    So my products must have a really high price, because of all those costs, and the value I added too ...
    That's what makes me feel itchy. I don't want to ask such a high price! I just want to make things I like making. I don't want to make a shelf full of the same products, I am not a machine, I like making something different every time. And when I am doing what I like to do, I don't mind the costs and the time spent. If someone wants to have my product, that's nice! If that person wants to pay some money for it, that's okay, I'll take the money. But I do not like to think of the amount of money and I don't want to ask for it!

    So ... I rather have a dull job to earn the needed money (or a social payment, or even better: an unconditional basic income, leaving me much more time) and do it as my 'hobby'. And then I can give my products to people I like (as gifts) ...

    This hobby happens to help me feel rich, because I can make my own clothing and household textiles, in my own style, using natural materials. And because I spend my time on it I am not looking for the kind of amusement costing money without producing anything. Together with 'cooking from scratch' this hobby makes it possible for me to live with a low income and still have my savings. I can even afford to buy materials and food in the locally produced organic quality I like (though not all, because they don't exist all in that quality)!

    I don't think everyone understands this. It's my choice. Maybe here in this thread on Permies some will understand it.



    Well said!
    When I was marketing my work I was excited to begin a business and loved to weave.  After thirty years I felt more and more restricted by sales...the sometimes contradiction between creative hand made work and the need to 'mass produce' for markets.  I started feeling like a machine churning out things that were not special to me.  I sometimes thought this is the factory job I always resisted.  It can ruin any pleasure one has for their craft.

    I think though, for many of us that sacrifice is worth it in order to have a home based business.

    I can't express how much I am enjoying the freedom that I have now to create something without a thought to selling it...no customer sitting on my shoulder as I work, no figuring hours or material costs, etc.  
     
    r ranson
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    For myself, I look at the mass production clothing we wear on our backs and worry about the damage they do to the world.  The price we pay in the shop comes at a much higher expense than we know.  The details are beyond the scope of this thread, but I suspect that changing what we wear would have far more beneficial effect on the environment than any other single action we could take.  

    I also think about history.  Until the Industrial Revolution, textiles were extremely expensive.  The amount of skill and time needed to produce a single shirt was epic by today's standards.  
    More importantly, everyone had access to the materials and skills to make their own clothing as well.

    I like the idea of charging a rate that reflects how much time and skill it takes to make this item, but I don't feel it's fair for me to charge 'the going rate' for my work.  Other textile artists in my area charge between $25 to $150 an hour.  I don't think of myself as an artist.  I feel I'm an artisan - I have a skill anyone can acquire with practice.  I don't have that special vision or knack that artists have.

    I feel that my skill is a skill that anyone can acquire... but it takes effort.  It takes practice.  



    I'll charge the actual value of what I make, but I do trades.  I volunteer my time here and on other sites to encourage and coach people to make their own.  I also teach classes on how to make this.  

    It's a way of achieving a balance.  I know what it's like to not be able to afford a beautiful product that I want so I try to offer a solution that doesn't cost much or any money.  

    When I do a public demonstration on how to make yarn or other textiles, there are always enthusiasts that offer to pay me Walmart prices for my finished product.  Sometimes a $4 offer for something that took 10 hours to make may seem like an insult.  But to me, it's a sign that this person is interested in what I make; they just don't know what it takes to make it.  I use this enthusiasm and briefly walk them through the steps involved, getting them to try out some of them.  It takes a couple of minutes and at the end of it, I offer them free lessons so they can make their own.  Not one has taken me up on it.  But people seem interested in paying for lessons, so I started doing things that way.  But I still offer free lessons if someone has trouble paying.

    I think it's very interesting that people won't accept free lessons but the same people will pay for them.  It's also interesting that if I price my yarn at $20, it takes years to sell.  The last batch of yarn I took to the shop and they sold for $55 sold 12 skeins in 3 days.  



    Looking at the things I plan to sell in my shop, I think every item could be produced by anyone, just about anywhere, for no other investment but their own time.  Materials we can grow ourselves and there are always free fleeces available for those interested.  

    It's a bit like that thread about paying for permaculture stuff.  Everything about permaculture is already free.  It's all there, one needs only observe and interact.  And yet, we are willing to pay someone else to do this for us.  The price of a book, the price of a video, rocket mass heater plans.  
     
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