For the needle art-er (part 1)


Felt food Easter cookies
Felt food Easter cookies (Photo credit: ivers)

Needle art actually covers a wide variety of crafts.  Dictionary.com wasn’t able to define the term for me 😦 but I did manage to find a lose definition on wikipedia: “Needlework is a broad term for the handicrafts of decorative sewing and textile arts. Anything that uses a needle for construction can be called needlework.  The definition may expand to include related textile crafts such as a crochet hook or tatting shuttles.”  This covers quite a range of crafts: crochet, knitting, cross stitch, weaving, smocking, embroidery, felting and others that I’m sure I am leaving out.

Since there are SO MANY needle works of art out there, I am going to be splitting this up into two different posts.  Today I am focusing on crochet, knitting, and felting.  While these are each quite different from each other, there are a bit of overlaps in these three.  Crochet involves one curved hook and is worked in a loopy fashion.  Knitting has two straight needles with casting on and casting off.  While either one of these can be used for felting (using a specific kind of yarn which is felted AFTER it is created in whichever method), there is also needle felting that is the art of shaping felt.

Stockinette stitch knitting (detail of Image:5...
Stockinette stitch knitting (detail of Image:556165_5691fcfdcb.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many who crochet also knit and vise versa, and several have also tried felting of some sort.  I must admit that I have not ever taken the time to learn knitting and I have always wanted to try felting but just haven’t had the resources available.  My husband often tells me in a joking manner, “just go knit, woman”, and I just have to respond, “but I don’t know how”.

So, off we go into the brainstorming section of this post.  Almost anything that involved textiles or fabrics can be crochetedknitted, or felted.

  • Clothing – skirts, shirts, dresses, pants, shawls, head coverings, socks, slippers
  • Accessories – purses, jewelry, hats, scarfs
  • Special occasions – wedding, baptism, birthday
  • Applique patches
  • Blankets
  • Interior decoration – armchair covers, coasters, tapestries, curtains
  • Scrubbies – wash cloths, dish rags, face wipes
  • Stuffed toys – balls, plushies, amigurumi, soft blocks
  • Materials – patterns, stitch markers, special ergonomic handled needles or hooks, hand-dyed yarns, hand spun yarns

I think that one of the best ways to market these crafts is to realize that this is not just a “granny” craft.  A lot of people, men included, now crochet, knit, and felt.  Appeal to the hand-made aspect of this craft, that each and every stitch is carefully planned and placed.  A lot of time is going to go into the creation of just one product so let your customers know.

Each product is going to have tiny flaws that the customer may not ever notice, that’s just the nature of the craft.  Use these flaws to your advantage, it’s ok to market them as OOAK (one of a kind), because they ARE hand-made.  These little mistakes (that a professional might not even be able to notice) are going to give each item a unique character.

Again, advertise the use of recycled or organic yarn (like wool or cotton).  If you use synthetic, you can also advertise that it is hypoallergenic (a lot of people may be allergic to the organic stuff).  It might even be a good idea to have both kinds available for customer choices.  Is the fiber dye non toxic, machine washable, need any special care?

Yarn Palette
Yarn Palette (Photo credit: Dvortygirl)

Don’t forget to market to your target audience.  If you sell children’s toys then your market is not the children it’s the adults who are going to be purchasing for the children.  What sort of qualities does your product possess that is going to enhance development or be safer than store-bought toys?  For special events products, try to focus on the quality of the product that you supply.  People are willing to pay a lot more for quality over quantity, especially for momentous occasions like weddings, birthdays, etc.

I know that a lot of people prefer to make these specific crafts as made-to-order instead of ready-to-ship, but either one can be a marketing ploy.  For made-to-order, let your customers know that you make exactly what THEY want exactly HOW they want it.  For ready-to-ship why not offer free shipping?  Lots of people are willing to pay a little more for a product if they can get free shipping on it!

Blog topics – since I am covering 3 different crafts in this post, I am going to have 15 blog topics instead of the normal 10

  1. How did you chose your niche?
  2. Do you know how to do these other crafts – i.e. if you knit, do you also know how to crochet?
  3. When did you first learn your craft, who taught you or did you teach yourself?
  4. What sort of experience do you have in your craft?  How long have you been felting?
  5. Favorite textile to work with.  Be as specific or as vague as you like, include brand names or discuss chunky yarn vs thread.
  6. Organic versus synthetic
  7. If you felt, discuss your process.  Do you knit a garment first and then felt it?  What are the measurements of the garment before felting versus after felting?  Do you hand-felt or use a machine?
  8. crochet-web
    crochet-web (Photo credit: Bob Richmond)

    Include a pattern or tutorial for beginners.  Better yet, throw in a video!

  9. Photograph your work-space, or explain your method for organizing your materials and stash.
  10. How much time do you generally put into one product?  From researching the idea, to finding the pattern, to actually putting the product together.
  11. What’s your opinion on free patterns?  Do you prefer to make up your own pattern or purchase someone else’s?
  12. Is there a method that you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t been able to yet?  Tunusian crochet, or using a circular knitting needle.
  13. What sort of material do you stuff into the plushies?
  14. If you have ever bought a sweater or scarf specifically for the yarn it was made out of, go ahead and blog about how you took it apart and what you created from it.
  15. What about crocheting just a sheet of fabric and then cutting and sewing it into a garment?

These are all three some pretty versatile crafts.  There are lots of options that you can take with any one of them.  Personally, I like to crochet hats and photo props, but I’m also working on writing up some patterns to go on sale too!  For extra versatility, why not learn one of the others and throw that into your creation lines as well?  If you have a blog about ANY needle craft, leave a comment with your page link, I sure would love to come check you out!

To check out my other “For the Crafter” posts in the series, just click a link below

INTRODUCTION

For the Bookworm (Part 1)

For the Bookworm (Part 2)

For the Cook

For the Seamstress

For the Painter

For the Photographer

For the Needle-arter (Part 1)

For the Needle-arter (Part 2)

Go and see what’s for sale right now in my shop! (Hint: Click the picture)

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http://www.familybugs.net

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And don’t forget to *LEAVE A COMMENT* share this post, and follow this blog for more great tips, advice, suggestions, and personal examples in the world of selling hand-made crafts (but especially crochet!).

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10 thoughts on “For the needle art-er (part 1)

    1. Jacoba, I just checked out your blog and some of your work and just WOW!!! Your textiles are INCREDIBLE! I couldn’t really tell what was going on until I saw a close-up of some of the details.

      I would love to talk to you in more detail about what could have happened the last time you were on etsy, and maybe we can work out a marketing plan. If you could just shoot me an email at familybugs@gmail.com that would be great 🙂

  1. Hi Sarah,
    Although I am not into needle crafts myself I admire those who are skilled at it. I love looking at the pictures you take of your work and it might even inspire me to give it a go at some point. I can’t even mend a hole in my socks at the moment though so it will take some time!

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