Spinning for Feral Beginners

Monday, April 20, 2009

Observations of a fibre dyer painter person

I was trying to explain to someone the other day what I did for a living and they just didn't understand. "So you own a wool shop," they said. No, I design and make yarns and fibres for people to use in their own creations. And I design and make my own pieces to sell and wear. The second part makes sense to them -- "Oh, you make clothes." 

Well, yes and no. I realised that the hat(s) on my head kept switching. I could almost see it over their heads like a cartoon bubble. 

But even then, my response was, "well, sort of."  When I responded that I make artpieces, sometimes vests, sometimes bags, sometimes just objects out of recycled fibres , they said, "why would anyone want to do that?" Well, actually, lots of people do it. And when my grandmother's mother did it, it wasn't called recycling. 

Clearly, this person needed to back away from my place at the Port Markets, right? No sale there.

It was a long Sunday after V left (that's Vellan, spinner, smartypants, gamester, and all around ace company person).

All this querying got me thinking. I don't see myself as a yarn peddler. After all, there are a lot of places to get knitting and spinning stuff around. I guess I think of what I do as  trying to get people to see their own knitting, spinning, crocheting, etc... in new ways. I'm also aware that I'm more used to seeing hand-dyed yarns than most of the knitters I meet here in Port Adelaide. One woman told me she was shocked by all the colour from my stall the first time she visited. I'm used to it.

I guess that's why most yarn shops, with the exception of a rare few, just don't do it for me. 

Quote from Sunday -- woman looks at a hank of hand-painted, pure Aussie 5ply, 100gms and sees the price. She looks at her husband and says, with disdain, "$22 for a ball of wool!" When I advise that it is hand-painted wool grown on a farm in Victoria and spun specially in small lots, she says, "ridiculous," throws the hank down, and huffs off.  This happened twice on the same day -- 2 diff market visitors of course. The first version -- they weren't so huffy.

Clearly, she wanted that wool, or she wouldn't have been so angry. I guess my years in the psychoanalysis reading study group at UMC pays off every now and then. Or perhaps, given the endless discussion of the Crisis, it seems disgusting to ask someone to pay that much for 100gms of knitting wool.

The flip side of this is the fab woman who came by with her first half of her new scarf -- knitted in Little John, some lovely Aussie 8ply pure wool -- def not superwash -- and she'd run out of the first hank already. Whooosh -- out goes another hank. I am grateful she brought her knitting by to show me, as her scarf looks gorgeous -- the orange pleasantly zigs and zags up the scarf in a sea of blues and greens. She advised she was going to make it for one of her children, but she's changed her mind. It's def. hers. Too right! OK, do -- does anyone need an expensive scarf? I dunno. I know she's enjoying watching the colours change as she knits happily along. And she will remember that happiness when she wears it. Can't buy that at David Jones.

Showing me that scarf made me so jealous -- I now want one too. Oh wait? I can paint more! I actually sometimes forget that. And there is definitely a disconnect between when I paint something and when I see the yarn knitted by someone besides me. I forget I've painted it and think, gee, that's nice! DOH!

Two years ago, at the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show, I walked into the exhibit area where the knitting entries are -- and there I was, staring at a shawl on the wall. "Huh, that looks familiar." I stood there for a few minutes, seriously, until it dawned on me that it was my Versailles Shawl design from Yarn Mag. I had the strangest feeling. It meant a lot to me that someone would knit that design and enter their shawl into the contest that year. So thanks to the knitter near Melbourne who did that. 

I have to remember the good stuff on days when the negative goes over the top.  Yeah, sometimes I just want to say, "right, so you like wearing cheap acrylic then do you?" But I don't. Some days I think -- it's be easier to buy a traditional shop and sell yarn  -- but that isn't what I do. That would mean no time to do what it is I actually do.

m, still SIOz -- tired, having just finished a very large lot of banana palm silk painting




peahen said...

You have some good answers, and I admire your patience. I couldn't do it now. Years in front of the public ground me down. It'll be a rich person who turns the tables and works out a way to use some reverse psychology to convince that lady that she has to have that special yarn at any cost.

Mel said...

Hi Peahen: thanks!. You know, your comments add food for thought. Why doesn't that woman think she deserves that yarn? It's kinda sad. I mean, sometimes I talk to people gently about why they would or wouldn't buy it -- in the spirit of understanding -- but she stormed off.
No one NEEDS hand-painted yarn, but I'd argue they need things in their lives that are beautiful and useful at the same time. Yeah, the yarn from the chain stores costs less (not always) but you don't feel as fab wearing it. At least I don't.