What Kind of Maker are You?
Since joining Instagram almost two years ago, this thought has been brought more and more into my mind as I consider my tiny business and what kind of maker I want to be. I want to share my personal thoughts with you here and hope you can find yourself somewhere and celebrate the maker journey you are on.
JUST FOR FUN
This is how it making started for me. I shared a little bit about this in my first blog post, but I first picked up a crochet hook 7 months after my daughter was born. I had recently found myself without cable TV in efforts to save money and needed something to do with my evenings. To be honest, my old friend from high school - April @othcrochetnook - was a friend on Facebook. We hadn't talked in years, but she kept posting all of these amazing creations she was doing with a hook and yarn. I thought, "Hey, what if I could make those things?" I would love a hat like that, or maybe a cowl. I started to then make hats and scarves for my family. I made so many things, making so many mistakes, but being blown away by what came from just a few simple tools and some wide open evenings without the TV on. I still very much love making things just for fun - and just for me! Do you like making things? Do you enjoy seeing the finished product and wearing what you've made? This is SUCH a great place to be as a maker. More recently, I've enjoyed making garments and clothing instead of buying them at stores. It's an amazing feeling to finish an item that you can use, wear, and enjoy for many years.
MAKER USING PATTERNS
I started making by following patterns. I ONLY followed patterns for a VERY long time. I still make primarily using patterns. Does this make me any less of a maker? Absolutely not! So many talented and amazing designers have created patterns for this reason - for you to enjoy and make, make, make! I don't know about you, but there are more patterns I want to make then I actually have time for. My pattern stash is MASSIVE. My journey of making things 'just for fun' exploded when I came across so many amazing patterns and designers. Making from patterns has probably been the main source of my growth and development of skills. Trying more challenging patterns has taken my good finished items to pretty great finished items. If you only become a maker using patterns you are STILL a maker. Because it is YOU taking that yarn and hook/or needles and crafting a beautiful handmade item. The designer gave you the tools, instructions and inspiration to lead you to making ALL the things. I see you makers from patterns - because I am one, too, and I LOVE seeing all the finished items you create. You are talented. I think I will forever be in this category, because I want to make ALL the things - even 5 years later.
Perhaps you've found yourself becoming a designer. You can create things without a pattern, not by seeing a design and re-creating it, but by taking an original idea and bringing it to life. While I have begun to dabble in designing, I find this making a real challenge. I rely on someone telling me stitch counts, and when to decrease, and when to change my yarn. I find it hard to take an idea in my head and to know exactly how to work the measurements to make it work. I have written TWO patterns so far - and have only published one and it was NOT the easiest thing I've ever done. I don't actually see myself fitting into this category as a maker more than one who uses a pattern. To be a designer - it is not just about writing a pattern. It's about having a sense for fashion, an eye for detail, and having a mathematical and articulate skill set to write your ideas on down for other people to understand. But listen, if you make things without the intention of creating and selling a pattern, you are AMAZING. You don't NEED to publish/sell your ideas to validate the talent you have. You are creating an original piece because you enjoy the process and you should celebrate that! I am forever envious of someone who tells me they've made something without a pattern. It is amazing that someone can decide that this is what they want to make - and they take the yarn and hook and end up with a finished piece they envisioned. Such talent. Taking that finished piece and turning it into a written pattern - might just be a whole other category.
MAKING FOR BUSINESS
When I would make things for fun, I would get asked all the time if I would accept payment to make the same thing for someone else. This is how it all began. Since I absolutely loved making things this was a natural progression for me. But it's not everyone's goal or end game. For me, my life circumstances changed and I found myself unable to work full time because I was needed at home to care for my family. Having the passion for crochet it seemed like an amazing opportunity to make a little money to help support the costs of having a 5 member family with only one full time income. Making things full time isn't realistic for my current situation so this little source of income is all I'm pursuing at this time. However, having a small business has been a great source of joy for me. If you are a customer reading this, you should know I absolutely love what I do, and I strive for excellence in all that I make. Just ask my husband, who has watched me take apart, or start from scratch when something I've done isn't perfect. If I wouldn't wear it, I won't sell it. And I'm pretty particular about quality and a tiny bit of a perfectionist. Do you want to sell your items? Then take a chance and put yourself out there. I got my start locally and through recommendations of friends who have bought from me before. Is selling your items not your thing? Then don't feel like it should be. If it is taking the joy out of the craft, it's not meant to be. For me, seeing one of my handmade items on someone else brings such excitement. To know that they love it and wear it and want it is ALMOST payment enough. Almost - yarn and time aren't free. Ha! Part of making for business often means you are making the SAME product over, and over, and OVER again. And while sometimes I don't feel like making a certain item, I still LOVE making. Right now, making the same hat on repeat is still enjoyable. The minute it tarnishes my love for the craft, I might need to reconsider. But you should know, I combat those repetitive making projects by taking breaks to work on a personal project, or I make while watching a show or listening to a book or sermon. Since I likely don't need to focus too hard on the pattern because I've made it many times before, I can multi-task by listening to something while I work.
So - tell me. Do you see yourself in one or more of these categories? Do you ever have thoughts of feeling like you should try selling your items? If you sold your items, does that make your skills and love for making stronger? Do you think that if you start designing and writing patterns that you have arrived a true maker status? I ask these questions of you, because I've asked them of myself many times. The comparison game is real. It's very easy to see another maker, who falls into a different category as you, and think - should I be doing what they're doing? So I stop, and I ask myself, do I love what I'm making? Do I love the reason I am making this item? Is the time its taking to me to make/design/sell exciting and enjoyable for me? If you can answer yes, then you're good! If you are doing it just to fit a mold or to feel like you have arrived as a maker, then you might be left disappointed and maybe even lose that love you had once for making. There is room in this maker world for all types. I hope that if you've come across me on Instagram that you feel welcomed, encouraged, and celebrated for the talent you have. Remember, not just ANYONE can do what you do. Think back to when you started making. Why did you start? Are you just as excited about making whatever you are making now as you were then? Then live it up, in whatever type of maker you are! If you can take a hook(or needles) and yarn and make something out of nothing - you are TALENTED and SKILLED and you should thrilled about that! Don't lose focus because of the other types of makers you could be - you should be the maker that brings you the most enjoyment.
Leave me a comment below sharing your making experience. What kind of maker are you? Is there another category that you fall in to that I haven't mentioned? Let me know!