The last few days I’ve been entertaining this fantasy where I have a little online shop of knitted hats and earwarmers and cowls and such. I love knitting; I always have but this winter my knitting habit kicked into high gear and I have been knitting all the freakin’ time. It’s been a fantastic stress reliever and creative outlet, and I’ve been warm and cozy this winter to boot. I love knitting for myself (and, indeed, the majority of my knits are for me) but I can only wear so many knits, and so I also knit things for others, too.
Several of my friends have clued into this and have requested custom hats and earwarmers. I’m very grateful that they ask me to make such items for them; I’m even more grateful that they understand the value of my skills and time and have always been willing to pay me for it. Every custom order I’ve fulfilled has been met with much delight and satisfaction, and there are few better feelings than being able to make something for someone that they clearly love and are excited about. My friends have also encouraged me to open up my own shop, suggesting it’d be a good (and fun!) side gig for me to have.
So I’ve been thinking about it. I have a million patterns I am working my way through, and for a girl who lives in a city that seems to have cut winter short this year, I’m only getting so much mileage out of my knitwear. This especially goes for hats, which I find some of the most satisfying things to knit. Wouldn’t it be nice to make money from something that I am spending my free time on (and to recoup some of the costs incurred)?
Yes, it would. Of course it would be. But I also worry that monetizing a hobby can suck the joy out of it; I’ve done that before with this blog and it took some time for me to find my way back to it after I realized that I had unwittingly extinguished everything about blogging that I once enjoyed.
And realistically, it takes a lot more than just good craftsmanship than to have a successful online store of handmade items. There’s marketing and promotion and branding and all this other work that, when done right, makes SUCH a difference in any successful business. But those all require time, and I’m not sure that it’s time I have on top of my full time job and other hobbies. That’s not even including the admin stuff, like bookkeeping and taxes…
In all likelihood, my dream little shop of hats and other knitwear is not going to materialize, or at least not anytime soon. Maybe I’ll find some middle ground and put up a page for custom orders, one that people can check out if they see a friend who is wearing a hat with a “musicalpoem” tag on it. Till then, though, I will stick to my custom orders through word of mouth, and take pride in every single item I make — whether it’s for myself or for others.