Saturday, November 22, 2008

Suddenly I'm an artisan

On three separate occasions in the last two weeks, I've received requests for knitted items. Up until now, I've knit for myself or for gifts. But I suppose there's a moment when (a) it becomes widely known among one's circle that one knits, and (b) one's knitted items are admired as rivaling professional quality.

First, a colleague organizing a craft fair as a fundraiser for our church's preschool asked me if I wanted a booth to sell my handmade goods. The distance between my actual work (piecemeal and slow) and the perception that I might have a stockpile of stuff I could use as inventory for a small storefront really threw me for a loop.

Recently as I was walking Archer into the speech therapy building for his usual Tuesday appointment, the mother of a tweener who often comments on my knitting came running out of her van. She asked me if I could knit her daughter some fingerless mitts like the Endpaper Mitts I was wearing, and offered to pay me.

Just yesterday, a student approached me at the end of a co-curricular event and told me the story of a lost scarf a friend had brought her from Peru. She had put colored hash marks representing the scarf's colors and striping pattern on a sheet of paper. "I don't know anything about yarn, but could you possibly make me one like the one I lost?" she asked. "I'll be happy to pay you."

I promised to do my best for all three petitioners. For the craft fair, I said I'd try to make something to donate, knowing I couldn't stock a booth in a year, much less three weeks. I can whip out a pair of fingerless mitts quickly for the mother, although not colorwork ones in sock yarn like the ones she admired. And I'm willing to take on the challenge of recreating the lost scarf if the student can provide a picture of her wearing it, to give me an idea about the yarn weight, stitch pattern, and fringe style.

Of course I wouldn't want to be paid; I'm not that good, and knitting isn't my business, and these are acquaintances. I'd only do it if I thought I was doing them a favor. It would be nice to get a favor or gift in return, but I wouldn't make it an exchange.

It seems I've crossed the threshold of semi-pro knitting. Will the requests come regularly from now on, or is this some kind of holiday madness? And as nice as it is to have one's handiwork admired, I'd hate to spend more than a small fraction of my knitting time filling requests, as it were. In the unlikely event that this isn't a fluke, I'd have to learn some polite way to decline. "No, I don't take commissions," perhaps?

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