NOT JUST A KNITTERReally, this whole blog should be called 'NOT just a knitter' because that's not the only thing I do by a long chalk. Don't you also get irritated when you are pigeon-holed by just one aspect of your life, which actually may be quite a small thing to you?
I'm fascinated by the complexity of human beings, how we can be both shy and assertive in different circumstances, and our beliefs and feelings are mixed so that an otherwise left-wing champion of social equality can nevertheless when the chips are down send their children to private school (guilty as charged...)
To many people in my town I am 'the lady who does the children's knits', but to others I'm a local journalist, to many I'm 'Matthew's wife' and for a lot of years I was 'Owen's mum'.
I hold my hand up here and confess that being known as a knitter does kind of fill me with horror. It may be quite cool in your 20s and 30s at the moment, but beyond that it has an unfortunate association with pom-pom slippers and People's Friend magazine. I've never been a girly girl, so it's a bit out of character for me to do something which is still very largely a female activity.
Then why do it? I've wondered that a lot myself and have come up with two reasons: firstly I'm a bit restless and can't sit watching TV or listening to music without doing something with my hands. Secondly, I come from a fairly creative family and can't draw or sing in tune like some of the others (though I am belatedly having piano lessons). I do enjoy making something attractive and useful from what essentially amounts to a couple of sticks and a bit of string. I've also long had a bit of an urge to run a business so, like my niece who has turned her hand to making truly fantastic cakes - puff for Kathy here - I decided to exploit what few skills I have and see if other people liked what I made.
Guess what? They did! After selling online first, I fared better by selling my stuff face-to-face where people can feel and see the goods. Although I'm not a bad knitter, my chief skill is in choosing yarns, colours and designs so I look for outlets which can best show this off.
Craft fairs are a bit hit and miss. You can never tell what other stalls are going to be there, and it's quite difficult to gauge the likely clientele. I have to charge a realistic price for my goods which are made with high-quality materials, so to be in the same room as someone offering cheap and cheerful knitted items can be tricky. I ought to do more to emphasise my unique selling points but I'm not one to grab customers - I rely on the goods rather than me to attract attention.
Independent shops are good because you don't have to give up loads of time to babysit the products. However, the commission retailers charge varies a lot and you have to take the risk of 'locking in' your goods to a shop which may not be doing a good job to promote them. You cannot, for example, offer the same item online while it is in a shop, as you run the risk of selling it twice!
I'm now in the process of reviewing things so watch this space...
PS I also run a couple of websites including one for knitters: www.justknitting.co.uk