Monday, July 20, 2015

Winner + Take Five: Under-appreciated Knitting Projects with Megan-Anne Llama from Lattes & Llamas

Before we launch into today's Take 5 guest blog post, I want to announce the winner of this month's giveaway: congratulations are in order for SaraMCrafts, whose comment was randomly selected to win the Adventures in Mochimochi Land prize pack! I'll get in touch with you on Ravelry to arrange for the delivery of your prize. Thanks to everyone who entered this giveaway! 

Jac & Megan-Anne of the Lattes & Llamas blog.
Today's Take 5 Guest Post is something I'm pretty sure everyone can relate to: Megan-Anne Llama from the Lattes & Llamas blog shares the top 5 times her FO project was massively under-appreciated. And she's got some doozies for you - I had to pick my jaw up off the floor multiple times while reading these stories!

It's a bit like Festivus with the airing of the grievances (but perhaps minus the feats of strength?), and I encourage you to share your own tales of woe in the comments so that we can all sympathize. This is a safe place, we all know your pain, and I promise you'll feel better once you get it off your chest! 

I feel like I should have thicker skin, but the prospect of putting together this list really brought out my feels. I think every artist, and especially fiber artists, feel like their work is unappreciated at one time or another. Have you ever had someone ask why you made that sweater/blanket/etc when you could have bought one for $20 at Target? It’s soul crushing. So to all the knitters that have had their woolen blankets felted in warm water by their recipients, and all the spinners that have had someone wonder why their yarn is so pricey when you can get a pound of yarn at Joann’s for half that cost, and for all the folks that have made sweaters that were never worn, I dedicate this rant list to you. Also, sorry not sorry to my mom and husband for telling these stories. You both deserve it! ;)

Under-Appreciated FO #1:
Without question, the first project that comes to my mind is a lace shawl I made for my mom about a decade ago. It was my first large scale lace project, and I made it as a Christmas present for her. At the time I was about 20 years old, living in Burlington, Vermont, and I had NO money. It wasn’t luxury yarn the way I think of it now, but at the time, dropping >$60 on yarn was a huge investment. It took me months to finish it, and even though it was far from perfect, I was incredibly proud of it. I gave it to my mom on Christmas morning and she seemed really excited by it, so mission accomplished. My mom and I live on opposite coasts and we only see each other every other year or so. Anyhow, flash forward a few years, I went out to San Francisco to visit her. I get into her apartment and one of the first things I see is that shawl on an end table like some kind of ridiculous worsted weight table cloth. It had SEVERAL coffee rings and a lamp on it. I demanded to know what that shawl was doing as a tablecloth and she tells me, “I like it this way.” As far as I know, it’s still a tablecloth to this day. I figure one day I’ll pass it on to my grandkids as an antique heirloom end-table covering and insist they put plastic over it to protect the “artistic stain pattern.”

Under-Appreciated FO #2:
Do you guys remember the alchemy feature on Etsy? I freaking loved alchemy. When I was just starting out as a designer, it was an amazing way to connect with prospective clients. I made some super cool stuff from alchemy orders:
...this TMNT sweater…
...and these Link and Midna baby costumes…
...and this Ramona Flowers-inspired pullover.

The client that I made the purple sweater for originally ordered it at a super low price for a sweater, but I was a new designer, so I took the bid. And then once I had committed, she tells me that she needs it done and delivered in 3 weeks for a costume party. Current me would have either doubled the price or backed out right there, but of course I told her I could do it. And I did do it. Based on nothing but a wobbly MS paint sketch of a purple sweater with a blue and pink stripe on it that she gave me along with her measurements. I busted ass and turned that thing out in 2 weeks. I mailed it off and didn’t hear from her until another 2 weeks later. She writes me to say she hates it, it looks nothing like her sketch, and she wants her money back. So I told her to return it to me unworn and I’ll return her money. She responded that she did wear it to the party and she doesn’t want to return it, but does want a refund.

Under-Appreciated FO #3:
My number 3 isn’t actually so much a finished object, but all the Geek-A-Long squares I haven’t made. Every single week Jac and I get emails and Rav PMs wanting to know “Why [insert fandom/character here] isn’t on the blanket?!” 99.9% of GAL community are amazing, supportive, and just generally wonderful people. Every day I’m grateful that they are willing to show up and support Child’s Play with me. I can’t even tell you how much I love them and what it means to me to have been able to bring such an awesome group of people together. But man, that .1% can feel like a way bigger group than it is when they’re doing battle with my self-esteem. Having people care enough about your work to criticize it is the problem an artist wants to have, but all the same, it’s tough to swallow when folks post hurtful comments about my baby… I mean, blanket. Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for the response to the GAL across the board, both good and bad. The positive feedback has been incredibly positive, and I generally feel unworthy of it. The negative feedback makes me feel like it’s middle school all over again. Ultimately, I think that’s why I got into dyeing this year. Jac and I released our very own line of sock yarn, Vacation Yarn, and not once has someone looked at it and said to me, “Well if I were doing it, I would have made the orange darker.” The GAL is going to be in my life for a really long time - we already have next year’s mostly designed! But, I choose to believe that over time, the compliments will feel less surreal and the criticisms won’t sting as much.

Under-Appreciated FO #4:
Number 4 is one of my absolute favorite craft show stories. When Lattes & Llamas first got started, it was Knerdy Knits, and we sold FOs, not patterns. So craft shows and Etsy were pretty much our bread and butter. Especially around the Winter Holidays, we would do a craft show every weekend, and we usually did the same circuit of shows each year. Anyhow, this was our 2nd or 3rd year at a show we really liked and our table was right next to this really intense jewelry maker’s table. We were setting up and intense jewelry lady is setting up, and she comes over to our table and starts trying on everything. Not a big deal, but then she puts on this really nice blue shawl that we had, which was made out of silk yarn. It was one of those pieces that was meant to be an eye catcher more than anything else. It wasn’t priced to sell, but I’d have been happy to part with it for the right price.
So she puts on the blue shawl AND WALKS AWAY. She goes back to her table like that’s a normal thing to do. I went over and told her I need the shawl back, and without a trace of irony in her voice says “It speaks to me.” Um. Well, ok I guess. I told her the price and after an awkward moment, she begrudgingly took it off. But over the next 8 hours, she must have come over to our table a dozen times trying to convince me to gift the shawl to her. She offered to trade me a necklace made out of fake Swarovski’s for it. When that didn’t work, she offered to read my zodiac or some such thing in exchange. At the end of the day, when we all packed up, I come back in the room after taking the tables out to my car and found her rooting through the product bins, trying to find the shawl! She looked like a kid with her hand caught in the cookie jar and tried to pass it off as if she just wanted to try one more time to do the necklace swap. Look, I’m not a mathematician. But offering me a necklace priced at $20 in trade for a $200 shawl seems like someone skipped arithmetic day a school. It kills me that other people, especially other artists, don’t appreciate how long it takes to make something like that.

Under-Appreciated FO #5:
My last rant about under-appreciated knits is a sweater vest that I made for my husband. At the time we weren’t even engaged yet, and looking back on it, I’m not sure why I married him after this. ;) We were both going through an intense love of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog, and I made him a Captain Hammer sweater vest. I’m not sure where it is these days, but when I gave it to him he said it was really cool. And then he slipped it over the back of the chair at his computer desk where it remained until we moved. He NEVER EVEN TRIED IT ON. It was basically my mom’s shawl all over again. “But honey, I hate to wear sweaters. I love the way it looks though!” Whatever, Kevin. You know what, though? It’s fine. Last year he asked me for a sweater, and I got to have a great big belly laugh and remind him of the sweater vest.

Wow. That was actually really cathartic! I don’t think I realized how much pent up finished-object-feelings (FOF?) I had.

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