Saturday, March 1, 2008

So you aren't ready to do craft shows...what else is there?

My area of Texas is inundated with folks who crochet themselves, so I bombed when I tried to sell my finished pieces, but don’t let my disastrous results at craft shows or other sales events deter you from even trying to make your crochet- at least pay for itself.

I’ve heard crocheters all over the US have great success in selling things at craft shows. Keep in mind that their Success, could be less money than I made in my Disasters. Here are a few other ways folks are making money with crochet.

You will get those folks who claim the ‘quality machine made crocheted things in stores’ are much cheaper than what you are asking for your products.
You can explain, that the mechanics of crochet are impossible to recreate with a machine; every piece of cheap crochet you find in a store was crocheted by hand, by ‘slave labor’ in a third world county.

Unfortunately, there are a gazillion variables that can determine your chances of making money with crochet: your locale, the demand & appreciation for hand made goods, the time you can devote to your work, your abilities, your cash flow management as an entrepreneur, your ability to work under a deadline, etc.

These are my experiences, or what folks have told me they do, and I include the negatives I considered when making my decision on how to be profitable with crochet.

Special Orders....

I did crochet a few special order pieces for folks, but have since stopped. When folks pay even a little extra for something that is specially designed for them, they expect nothing less than perfection... even if their idea of perfection is impossible to attain.

When customers asked about my doing a special order blanket, they would choke when I wanted $200 for a large piece, not including the yarn. They could buy the same thing at Wal Mart for $30. (not really, but that was their attempts to shame me into lowering my prices).

I would then offer to teach them to crochet so that they could spend 60+ hours crocheting their piece and only pay $50 bucks for the yarn. At this time the tension would be so high, that they would leave muttering that they would get their grandma to do it and she wouldn't charge them at all, not even for the yarn!

My thoughts were: if you would do that to your grandma, then I don't want to do business with you...

I’ve had folks write to me from all over the country saying they are pleased with their special order business, and I’ve had just as many folks tell me they refuse to do special orders any more.

Those that do special orders, these are the limits the place on their services:

  1. They do only certain projects: like baby blankets or other smaller pieces.
  2. They have a product list and offer to stitch in different colors or different types of yarn/thread.
  3. They place a reasonable delivery date for the special order: 2 weeks or more for blankets.
  4. They set their price, and terms ahead of time, and do no negotiate. I want $XX to stitch this baby blanket; you buy the yarn; I keep the leftovers.
  5. They DO NOT stitch anything and everything folks ask of them.

The one time I did a big special order, I lost money on the deal. I spent hours working with Boucle yarn, mailed the piece to her, it wasn't exactly like she wanted, so she mailed it back and I had to carefully frog half the piece in Boucle yarn and then re-stitch it. Did I mention that I frogged Boucle yarn? yeah, it was that nasty. :-P

I have crocheted a few other special orders, that weren’t as painful as this, but with none of them did I make enough money to cover the amount of time I spent.

This is the one important aspect of Special Order crochet: you get no choice on what you are crocheting- even if the yarn and design are not working together, you still have to finish the piece. (boucle yarn comes to mind.)

Some folks have told me they are pleased with their 'special order' crochet sales, but that they had to limit the types of projects they do or they would be overwhelmed with projects.

Which made me think: If they are turning customers away, they were undervaluing their labor in their pricing. Yet, if they go up on their prices, they would loose many of their customers.

Also, many of the ladies who do Special Order crochet were retired with social security checks, so their crochet was supplemental income. It paid for their hobby.

I have never heard the Special Order Crocheters say what happens to pieces that they work up and then the customers turned down. My 2 dozen shawls comes to mind, that I'm sure I made some battered women and their daughters quite happy, but I made no money on the deal.

Tomorrow’s Post: Parties & Portfolios

© Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved. For more crochet fun, visit
For a complete list of my Copyright Permissions, please click the link below and then click your browsers Back Button to return here.

Friday, February 29, 2008

CP- Pattern Notation and written instructions


If you don't mind or have a few minutes, would you click on the Comments section and tell me what is the single most important thing to you , when looking at and reading the pattern instructions. What element helps you to determine: Oh, I just gotta make this pattern; or I'll never try this pattern.

The polls are designed to let you -the average crocheter- give a Designer your thoughts on what is great about current pattern instructions and what makes you so angry you could scream.

I'll be posting the results in two weeks.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Part 8: Bells, Whistles and Signage

Both my Husband and my friend Beverly preach Signage Signage Signage. In their retail training, they were taught to put a sign on everything; signs will draw folks to a product.

The key to signing your booth is simplicity. I always had fun with fancy fonts and graphics and it usually was a waste of supplies. I have learned to keep things very simple: Name of Product and Price. In Big Bold Lettering. Black lettering.... and a few colored graphics or borders around the lettering... can't help it; I love color. And those signs must be at eye level... my mistake was trying to put the signs at My eye level... I'm 6'1"... I tower over most of my customers, so I've learned to keep my signs at their eye level. Eye level is Buy level.

I also have chosen to Price Point my products instead of trying to tag each individual item. Hot pads are one price, wash cloths are one price, coaster sets are one price.... everything on this table is one price.

This became my number one labor saver. Some items sell better at different times of the year, so I could mark them a little higher. The customers at some shows prefered multiple piece gift sets with a different pricing structure. It things got dusty at an outdoor show, it was no major chore to drop them in a washer, since I didn't have to remove tags.

Price Pointing your product- instead of tagging every individual piece- allows you more freedom in providing what a clientele wants at any given venue. And you don't have to spend the money on purchasing little tags... that can make your merchandise look shop worn, when those tags get dirty.

I’ve had great success with Assortable or Multiple selling. Buy 1 for $5, 2 for $8, 3 for $9, 5 for $10. This puts money in the cash drawer, and draws people into the booth to look.

Every Crafter has told me to have some cheap little item, to ‘pay the booth rent.’ I have put that inexpensive item in the front of the booth to act as a Bell and Whistle. The sign with a small price can draw folks into a booth just as easily as the colorful blankets/afghans that line the walls.

Bells and Whistles (something my husband preaches) are those unique aspects to your booth that will draw people in from the aisle. You can’t sell merchandise unless folks come into the door of your ‘store.’

  • Signs are an excellent way to draw folks into your booth.
  • The Multiples Discounts/Assortable Pricing have been a big success with me, but your Signs-detailing these discounts- must be easy to see from the Aisle.
  • Offering a Free Gift with $XX purchase is another trick.
  • Having a ‘clearance’ section in the back corner of the booth will also draw folks in.
  • I have tied bunches of helium balloons to the corners of my booth to make it stand out... but the only people who saw them were kids who wanted to buy them.
  • Shiny- sparkling things will draw folks in, so I used ‘remnant’ squares of sparkly fabric as table skirts.
  • Again, the only people who were drawn to the sparkly fabric were kids... who would drag mom into the booth.
  • I have used portable stereos with ‘soothing’ music (which is why so many stores used to pipe in Muzak: studies showed that people spent more when they were relaxed.) But most craft shows are now banning portable stereos- if everyone has music playing, it becomes noise.

I don’t pay extra for electricity and lighting, since it never paid off for me....not even with my jewelry.

My most successful Bells and Whistles were Assortable Discount Signs, my room dividers with colorful crocheted blankets & the tall bakers' racks with my pattern books on them.

When you are visiting craft shows and other sales venues; look at the booths that are getting the most attention, and also look at those booths that no one seems to even notice. What is catching attention? What is it about the 'invisible' crafter that no one wants to visit their booth? Sometimes you learn more of what 'not' to do, and that information is just as valuable.

Tomorrow’s Post... ARNie’s experience has convinced me not to do craft shows... what else is there?

© Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved. For more crochet fun, visit
For a complete list of my Copyright Permissions, please click the link below and then click your browsers Back Button to return here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Part 7: The Nuts and Bolts of Booth Design

I have two people in my life that are ‘Retail Lifers’ and both have had extensive training on product presentation and how to ‘sell’ anything.

My husband believes that a craft show booth should have the front of the booth lined with tables, so that the products are ‘front and center’ and I sit behind the tables talking to customers... He prefers a Trade Show setup.

This is drastically limits the space you have for displaying products, but certainly allows plenty of room for you and any backstock.... just remember to leave a hole/door for you to leave the booth for restroom breaks, etc.

My Good Friend, Beverly, prefers to line the outer edges of the booth with product and allow the customer to step into the booth to shop without being jostled by the traffic in the aisle. She prefers a Country Peddler Craft Show set up.

Beverly is always telling me that folks will want to touch and closely examine all of my finished crochet items. They can’t really do that if they are being jostled by other shoppers, while they stand in the aisle.

However, you must invest in a double wide booth, if you are going to allow folks to step into your booth. Nothing kills sales quicker than claustrophobia- yours or the customers.

Either one of these- in general- is perfectly sound marketing... depending on your product.

My husband’s training has taught him that the color Red catches folks’ eyes the quickest and will sell products faster. Which explains the cover of my book, despite all other needlework publishers choosing to use pastel colors on the covers of their books.

However, it’s been my experience that lots of color will draw folks into the booth... if they are neatly displayed in rows and columns. Having lots of color that is scattered around, just makes a booth too busy to look at and see anything.

Nothing screams ‘amateur’ like a card table without a floor length skirt.
  • Amateur screams ‘shoddy construction and low quality products.’
  • Always, Always, Always, cover your tables with skirts that reach to the floor.
  • This also allows you to hide your travel trunks/boxes and back stock, ice chests for your lunch and snacks, thermoses, or travel mugs.
  • I prefer to use Black Cloth to skirt my tables, since this is a technique Artists use on paintings. Dark colors in the ‘background’ make all the lighter colors really stand out and catch attention. I have about 24 yards of fabric I bought at a thrift store. I have left the fabric in this long length, and I use packing tape to 'affix' it to my tables. I then put another cloth on top to hide the tape. This allows me to change the configuration of my tables from year to year.
  • Remember, you are selling Merchandise, not fixtures, so make the fixtures as invisible as possible.

The best display piece I’ve seen (and used myself) for displaying blankets is a free standing Room Divider. (Actually, my fixtures were designed to be towel holders in a bathroom- a Hobby Lobby find).

These can easily be used as your Booth Boundaries, instead of having to invest in special apparatus that supports a curtain, or a collapsible tent. Keeping your Costs down helps keep your profits up.

Also, by using display fixtures to create your booth boundaries, you cut down on what must be stored and carried to sales events. KISS... Keep It Simple to Store!

Room Dividers are easy to carry, set up and fold up; they collapse into an flat space, so they don’t take up a lot of storage space; they keep colorful blankets in nice neat rows/columns to make their colors easier to see... and they can be very inexpensive- compared to other traditional display fixtures.

Watch the hobby store adds for 40% off coupons and clearance sales of their furniture/ room dividers. You can also use gardening Trellises for this purpose; just connect two or three matching trellises together with strap ties or links of chain. You can get these on clearance at the end of your growing season at national home supply stores.

OH, not every room divider will work. It must have horizontal rungs that extend across the width of the piece, to make it easier to hang blankets. I have seen woven wicker room dividers, that with a lot of work to remover the wicker, would reveal the horizontal rungs for blanket display.

Now, room dividers with numerous compartments or grid-work can be ideal for scarves and towel toppers.

If grid work trellises/room dividers are all you can find, you can use clothes pins or bull dog/pinch clips (office supplies) to hang smaller blankets on them; that technique is not as professional looking, but will work in a pinch.

For space management and effective shopping, use tables that are only 18-24 inches wide. Trust me, trying to put more merchandise out on wider tables, does not sell it better. Folks can’t reach things across a wider table, and they just can’t ‘see’ everything on a 3 foot wide table.

This also frees up space inside your booth.

Every square inch has display potential. You’ve paid for that space, USE IT. This is why so many crafters are going with the ‘wire grid’ system for their walls: it allows them to display merchandise all the way up the walls.

However, so many cafters are using this system, that your booth could melt right into the booths surrounding it. You always want your booth to be unique, so it will entice folks in. Also, that grid system requires support mechanisms that require tools and do you really want that much work in just setting up display fixtures?

I have used collapsible Baker’s Racks in my booth to utilize that ‘upward’ display space. Again, they can certainly act like a boundary or wall for my booth, especially when I use clothes pins or pinch clips to attach a colorful blanket to the back of it. They are easy to fold up and store, or, set up and use them to house the craft show inventory at home.

Best of all, they have a value of their own, if your situation changes and you don’t need them, you can sell them and recoup your costs. Only professional Crafters will want to buy a grid-wall system, or a collapsible tent.

OH, I don’t recommend using a collapsible tent for indoor craft shows. The lighting is bad enough without having a canvass ‘roof’ blocking out that light. Don’t think that adding ‘lights’ under that tent will help either; they trap a lot of heat, and when combined with body heat from lots of customers... you are setting up a situation where folks will not take time to shop.

Where to put your ‘office or cashier area’ , ie, where you sit...that is your choice, and I’ve seen it two different ways that seem to work the best for my area.

Some vendors- who buy double or triple booths- will line the boundaries with display fixtures and put themselves in the middle of the both-front and center- at a table. That allows shoppers to walk in behind the vendors as they shop the walls.
The drawbacks to this set are: it can get very tight behind that table when you and customers are trying to squeeze into only 4-5 feet of space. With you sitting at the front of your booth facing out, and your product behind you, you cannot watch for shoplifters, and you cannot see if customers are needing assistance. You make more sales if you can easily and quickly offer to show a customer something you have in back stock.

The other method that works well in my area is to put you and your office- either in a back corner or down one side of the booth- always behind a table. This allows you ‘personal space’ that customers can’t get to- especially your cash box or register. Since you are facing the product and customers, it will help deter shoplifters and will allow you to easily address your customers.

I have put that table at the back of a single booth, to allow my customers to step out of the aisle to shop. I couldn't afford a double booth at this show, and putting the table and the office at the back of the booth was the best option. However, there wasn't much space for us vendors and the back stock, and the table had to be moved every time my partner or I had to leave.

Tomorrow’s Post: Bells, Whistles and Signage

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Part 6: Nooks, Crannies & Niches

Finding that Niche of Profit

When I first started attending craft shows, I tried to carry a little bit of everything I did: jewelry and crochet from small to large, cheap to pricey. I thought that might be the best way to see what would sell and a general price range...and my success was dismal; I almost always covered my booth rent, but rarely made more than the expenses of the entire weekend.

So I began to study all of the ‘professional’ craft show vendors; first of all, they attended a craft show every single weekend.

I discovered that they all had one thing in common: they had one thing or one category of things they sold.

The leather worker didn’t sell gold and silver jewelry; he sold hand tooled leather pieces.

The man who hand worked exotic woods, didn’t sell hand stitched dish rags; he sold hand crafted wooden bowls, pens, and such.

The couple that worked together: he sold his photographic art, she sold her knitted wash cloths and slippers- not blankets or baby sweaters... just wash cloths and slippers. The photographic art took up most of their double booth, and she had a table with all her knitted products.

From my experience, you must find a niche and do nothing but that niche to be profitable with crochet at craft shows or other sales venues.

I know of a family that does nothing by crocheted towel toppers, and wash rags. That’s it. But they have hundreds of sets of these on hand at all times. They have more variety of towel designs than most retail stores in our area.

They took their little niche, and they fill every nook and cranny of their double booth with a variety of that 'niche product.'

And they make enough money at it, that they have been doing it for years.

The key is: to have numerous copies of that one thing... in every color of the rainbow and every color for every style of stitch you do.

Inevitably, if you make a washrag in a shell stitch with blue yarn, someone would claim to want a dozen in yellow... if you had them right now. You will always have someone wanting a pink baby blanket in the same stitch of this green one- but they don't like the stitch of the pink blanket you do have... or they'll want this baby sweater in a different color and a larger/smaller size.

OH, and never commit to fulfilling these requests unless they are willing to put half the money down that day... or it is something that you normally carry and will sell another day. Rarely do these kinds of customers return to buy that item you rushed to finish over night.

Unfortunately, in my part of Texas, only a few crochet things sell very well: baby stuff and kitchen stuff and -later in the year- Christmas decorations. These are generally smaller items that can be sold at a smaller price and still make a profit.

In today's market, customers are accustommed to variety, and as merchants, we must supply that variety, or we won't sell what we do have. Whatever your research tells you is the niche of crochet for your area, you must have a large selection for folks to choose from. At least, this is what the most successful crocheters in my part of Texas are doing.

I finally realized that I simply could not handle the high level of repetitive stitching to sell finished crochet items, so I chose to do what I’m best at: writing books on crochet and designing for patterns. My book sales have been successful: I sold through the first printing of the book in 18 months, and I’m partially through the second printing that had 5 times the number of units from the first printing.

Now that I’m adding more pattern booklets, my sales for those are increasing... but these are all online sales. I sell enough online, that I don’t take the risk for doing a lot of craft shows in my area... yet. (I do have plans to start doing more sales events in the future, but my health/allergies tend to limit what I can do out of town.)

Finally, when you are writing up your pros and cons of trying to sell your finished crochet pieces, there are some basic things to consider:

  • Do you have a monthly sales event where you can develop a return customer base? Constant exposure is critical to developing a profitable crochet business. If they don’t want it now, they know they can buy it from you when they do need it.
  • Can you devote every weekend or at least twice a month to doing sales events?If not, you probably won’t be successful, and you should consider other ways of selling finished crochet pieces.
  • Can you afford to pay for the gas, lodging, and food to travel out of town to shows? Is the booth rent and other expenses (food & lodging) cheap enough that you can afford to loose that money? No matter how well the organizer advertises, there are no guarantees you will sell your crochet.
  • Is your family financially sound enough to cover potential losses for the first few years, until your business develops a steady clientele?

Tomorrow’s post: The Nuts and Bolts of Booth Design

© Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved. For more crochet fun, visit
For a complete list of my Copyright Permissions, please click the link below and then click your browsers Back Button to return here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Why I Sneeze...

I had a migraine yesterday, which told me that the weather was changing.

This afternoon, I began to sneeze my head off, and when I looked outside... the color of the sunlight was gray... and I knew we had a dirt storm blowing in.

This shot was taken at 5:30 pm CST, Feb 25, 2008.

The red tint of the sky is good ol' west Texas dirt.

The bright thing in the middle is the Sun.

No, there are no clouds.

Part 5: Why is that kitten sleeping in a Muffin Hat?

Answer.... because I had dozens of them and didn’t know what to do with them. No, not really, but a good title catches the attention.

Don’t make my biggest mistake: crochet a lot of things ahead of time, that you cannot give away as gifts.

I had wanted to take advantage of our active historical re-enacting community and a local Renaissance Faire, so I made dozens of crocheted shawls, & sewed muffin hats from satin and plaid flannel.

While I was busy crocheting all these shawls and sewing all those muffin hats, the Renaissance faire in our area had an embezzler keeping their books and they went bankrupt. I never got an opportunity to sell my crocheted shawls and muffin hats to their targeted audience. I didn't have enough merchandise to try for a larger RenFaire in a big city, and couldn't afford to travel 5-600 miles round trip every weekend for 2 months.

In my college days, I was marketing director for a Science Fiction/Fantasy Convention, and I remembered that the convention had a huge SCA attendance, as well as D&D gamers in costume.

I decided to take my products to the SF convention and sell them to the Fantasy and SCA people. However, I failed to ask about that SCA element before I paid my rent... only to find out that this convention had been taken over my combat video gamers when their local Convention went under.

The SF Convention organizers didn’t bother to ask the SCA to participate at the convention, and they weren't interested in D&D-so they didn't schedule the customers who would have bought my hats and shawls...didn’t come.

I tried to sell my shawls at another Old West Rendezvous and to online sutlers, but the Civil War and Frontier re-enactors didn't want my shawls in man made fibers, nor the muffin hats.

After storing these for several years, I gave the muffin hats to our local Cancer Society for chemo caps, and the shawls to our battered women's shelter... only to have shawls and ponchos become all the rage 6 months later.

Trying to keep up with trends is a very difficult thing for a small business owner. You can drive yourself crazy trying to ride the waves of the Fads, that are usually gone, before the average crocheter can catch up. You can also create serious financial hardships, if you spend serious money on supplies for finished items you can’t sell.

I got extremely lucky (depending on who you ask) when my local Hobby Lobby had a management turn over and they marked half of the yarn department 75-90% off. I bought $300 worth of brand new yarn, for $75.

I made all those shawls, from that yarn; plus towel toppers and hot pad/coaster sets, and gazillion other little things. I could afford to give those shawls away, because I had very little expense in them.

Do your research before you invest too much time and money in crocheting your items to sell at various venues in your area. At the very least, crochet those things that you can use as gifts for family and friends.

Tomorrow’s Post: Nooks, Crannies & Niches

© Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved. For more crochet fun, visit
For a complete list of my Copyright Permissions, please click the link below and then click your browsers Back Button to return here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Crochet Partners: Yardage vs. Ounces

Howdy, folks, excuse me for a minute while I post a response to some dialog going on at Crochet Partners Yahoo group.

The original post complained vehemently that designers should be considerate enough to post 'yardage' requirements for their designs instead of generalized ounces. Others chimed in with similar complaints: why not use the number of skeins- instead of ounces; why do designers use the most expensive yarns for their cutest designs; why use yarns that aren't 'excessively' available and affordable.... yada yada yada... we've all heard these complaints a million times.

Rather than create more tension at CP, I'm posting my thoughts here....

A. Don't blame the Designer; their hands are chained. (okay so I couldn't resist that pun. ;-)
  • You can trust me on this one: all Crochet Designers would much rather use yardage requirements than ounces-simply because that is more accurate, but if a yarn is sold in ounces, then that is how we must 'measure' the usage.
  • The common crocheter will not understand how to compute yardage into ounces, and ounces into yardage.
  • I've worked with Jan Q. Public, and you can never underestimate the stupidity of Jan Q. Public. When selling merchandise to the public, you must cater to the least intelligent, because they can't do it for themselves.
  • (just ask the lawn mower company who had to pay millions in damages to a family who tried to trim their bushes by turning the lawn mower on its side. Now the lawn mower company must include instructions that 'the lawn mower' cannot be turned on its side to trim hedges and bushes.)
  • Trying to use a formula that computes ounces into yardage, is not the best, either. If a yarn is measured in ounces, a skein can be off by a few grams, and still be within accepted weights, but the yardage is way short. I cannot tell you how many times I've run out of yarn on a project, because not all skeins have the same yardage-when they are measured by the ounce.
  • Designers can't use the 'skein count' for patterns, because the yarn manufacturers are changing the size of skeins so often. You look at older patterns that use a skein count, and if you are lucky, they will tell you how much the skein weighs. 5 skeins of yarn, can have a radically different amount of yarn from just a few years ago, and in a few more years.
  • Since most designs are- in some way or another- supported by a yarn company, then designers must use the types of yarns that yarn companies want to promote.
  • If you are designer trying to make a living, you must design what a publisher will buy.
  • If you are a publisher, you must publish designs that will cater to your largest advertisers: yarn companies.
  • Designers don't always get a choice in what yarn is used in their designs after they sell it to a publisher- whether that is a periodical publication that must depend on yarn company ads to survive, or a yarn company using the design for a marketing tool.
  • Make no mistake, most patterns are designed to sell yarn, not the other way around.

B. There are numerous reasons why the industry -as a whole- treats Crocheters like Foster Kids; and folks, the problem is largely based on how we shop. We have no one, but ourselves to blame.

  • More and more, I'm seeing crochet designs using minimal instructions, much like Knitting instructions or some publishers are using more graphs.
  • This is much easier for the designer to write; the publisher to print; and greatly reduces the final cost of a design because less labor and supply costs went into that pattern.
  • This would make Crocheters appear to be 'lazy,' since most crocheters want pattern instructions that explain stitch by stitch, row by row, what to do... like spoon feeding information to school children.
  • Knitters don't use row by row, stitch by stitch instructions... the designer and publisher expect the knitter to be (dare I say this...) smart enough to be able to figure out what to do on their own.
  • We just finished a conversation at Crochet Partners about who does and doesn't like 'symbol' crochet notations... and from my imperfect memory, it seemed like most folks don't like symbol notations.
  • Crocheters want pattern notations that are more expensive to produce, but then they purchase the least expensive thing they can find.

I did a survey two years ago, asking Crocheters various questions on their spending habits and what they prefer to crochet. The results validated most of what I suspected:

  • The Majority of Crocheters prefer to use inexpensive yarns, simple classic designs-if they crochet clothing- and stitch utilitarian projects more than anything else.
  • They don't keep their finished projects, they give them as gifts to family and friends or to charity groups.
  • They crochet more items in a year than knitters, and because crochet uses much more yarn than knitting, crocheters feel they must use inexpensive yarns/threads.

You probably won't believe, this, but my sister and I had this conversation this morning: If Crochet uses more yarn than knitting, and crocheters finish more projects than knitters, then why won't yarn companies cater to us Crocheters? Why won't they supply what we want? My sister doesn't crochet, and she had the answer:

Because Knitters spend more money than we crocheters do.

I offer my humblest apologies to those who don't fit into this next statement:

If you don't like the way things are, whining about it won't help. You must actually DO something, to make a difference.

If you prefer yardage measurements, then buy only those yarns that provide that information on the label; and yes, you will need to pay more for that yarn.

If you want top quality patterns that use yardage measurements, instead of generalized ounces, then you will need to pay more for them.

If you are angry that this cute design uses a yarn that you can't afford, and why don't they make that cute design in a cheap yarn... then you will need to learn how to design your own things, or how to translate other patterns with your yarn of choice.

If you want someone to tell you stitch by stitch how to create this cute/hip/trendy design, then you will need to pay more for it.

As a whole, we crocheters need to stop relying on designers to spoon feed us stitch by stitch instructions, and learn how to 'figure some things out on our own.'

Understand, folks, that I am one of you. I buy Red Heart, because it was cheap and with my allergies I couldn't work with animal fibers. I buy yarn at thrift stores, and yes, two days ago I bought an 8 oz skein of unmarked yarn-probably Red Heart- for 50 cents. I learned this from my grandmother, who never bought 'new' yarn- she crocheted the scraps that friends would give her or what she could find at garage sales.

I rarely buy new patterns, because they are the same pattern on the clearance table as they are hot off the press. The single most important reason I don't buy new patterns is because most patterns don't fit a woman who is 6'1" and a plus size. For me, I will spend more on Red Heart to crochet a sweater than what I could purchase a completed sweater at Wal Mart... yes, even I have said those dreaded words.

I am finally learning that Crochet is an Art and my work deserves better quality supplies.

Until we all believe that we are Artists who deserve top quality supplies and be willing to pay top dollar for those supplies, we must accept our place as Foster Kids in the needlework industry.

The simple truth is:

  • if we want the industry to treat Crochet and Crocheters with the same level of respect as they do Knitters;
  • if we want the industry to invest in our hobby as much as they do knitting,
  • then we will need to spend more money.

Money talks, and if you don't like the status quo, buy the things that knitters buy... or learn to design your self with the yarns you can afford.

Oh, the article I wrote from that survey can be found here: it is a lengthy article... 4pages long.

Sorry, folks, I offer my humblest apologies, but I fought a migraine all day, and I really got cranky at all the whining. Get real. You cannot expect Champagne Quality for the price of tap water. I've been one of the cheapest crocheters on the planet, but I accepted that fact and learned how to cope. Now, I'm learning how to cope in a different way: if you are going to put that much work into something, then it is worth quality supplies.

© Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved. For more crochet fun, visit
For a complete list of my Copyright Permissions, please click the link below and then click your browsers Back Button to return here.

Part 4- You get what you pay for- right?

In this series of blog posts, I’m offering my experience on trying to sell finished pieces at craft shows, so you can learn from my mistakes.

Don’t base your decision on whether to do a craft show/flea market/ art show, etc...based solely on the cost of the Rent. I’ve done some really cheap events, that had great turn out, and lots of folks buying merchandise.

Although I’ve never done a really expensive show, I have attended them as a customer and crochet vendors were only selling enough to cover expenses.

Don’t forget to include the other expenses for a weekend show like lodging, food, gas to-and-from the event. An inexpensive show that forces you to ‘live out of a hotel room’ for a weekend, makes the cheap booth rent no so cheap.

Is the booth rent cheap enough that you can afford to loose that money?

Expensive booth rent isn't always a sign of a good show. A lack of advertising can completely kill a show, and expensive booth rents usually mean lots of advertising.

As I mentioned in "You be the Judge', lots of advertising for the event cannot guarantee a good turn out, nor can it guarantee that actual buyers will show up (instead of Look Lous), nor will it guarantee that they will buy your crochet instead of the tacky bird house made from milk jugs.

You need to be prepared to loose that money should that be the weekend customers decide to spend their money elsewhere or spend their money on other things besides your crochet.

We have a 'juried' craft show in my hometown that gets tons of paid advertising and local media coverage, because the craft show is part of the winter Rendezvous hosted at our local Frontier Fort. All entry fees into the compound support the restoration efforts of the fort. The Rendezvous is the first weekend of December, the height of holiday buying season.

This is a huge weekend affair with historical re-enactors in costume and chuck wagon cook-offs, and cannon's shooting and buffalo soldiers, all of the Forts on the Texas Forts Trail bring living historians in military costume and they all do flag raising drills and horse maneuvers.

This craft show has everything going for it: entertainment for the kids- while mom shops, lots of vendors with lots of products, it’s at the height of holiday giving season...but too much activity can distract shoppers from actually buying things.

I usually visit this show, simply because there are so many other activities going on. I've heard folks say they sold out on the first day of this show, and yet, I've been there (more times than not) when you could fire off a 21-gun salute and not hit a single customer.

Even though the organizers claim that 30,000 people come to the event, $450 for an 8x10 foot booth, is not worth the risk for me, especially when the building is not climate controlled and does not have indoor plumbing... remember this is in an Old Frontier Fort.

I actually participated in this show as a ‘sutler’ in the historical re-enactor section ($75 rent & you must supply your own tent). A friend brought her tent that we set up by ourselves. The weather was beautiful on Saturday, and the customer traffic was the best I had seen in 10 years.

Sunday, we had the worst winter storm in 5 years hit, which killed all potential sales that day.... the day when most folks with money like to shop.

My friend made about $300 with her historically accurate jewelry, that she sold mostly to re-enactors. I barely covered my costs for the weekend selling my crochet books to customers. For the amount of work I had put into that show... I considered it a dismal failure.

Even if you have done your year of market research, it is still a gamble; and you must be prepared to loose that money. Only you know what your financial situation is and whether a high priced booth rent is worth the gamble.

Tomorrow’s Post: Why is that kitten sleeping in a Muffin Hat?

© Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved. For more crochet fun, visit
For a complete list of my Copyright Permissions, please click the link below and then click your browsers Back Button to return here.