If someone had told me that I could end up selling handmade products online, I wouldn’t have believed that person. Yet here I am in my home in Larchmont, selling a variety of hand-crocheted items on Etsy — and enjoying it.
Crochet is a craft that my grandmother taught me when I was a child. I was left-handed and couldn’t knit. I loved crafts because of my love for Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott and LM Montgomery (i.e. “Little House on the Prairie”, “Little Women”, “Anne of Green Gables” ). I wasn’t particularly good at it, but I loved the braiding and the texture of the yarn. It was a skill I would practice occasionally over the years.
Fast forward to summer 2020. Pandemics were on the rise, and I was looking for something both creative and productive to do while “sheltering in place”. My usual creative activity was writing fiction and poetry, but while cleaning up crafts and sewing supplies, I rediscovered my old hooks.
Get started with fiber art
At first, I crocheted with the feeling of playing with fibers, texture and colors. (Many skeins of yarn are dyed in a variety of colors, called colorways.) Soon I was immersed in learning about natural fibers — like cotton, linen, silk, and merino wool — to create projects such as infinity scarves, blankets, baskets and simple handbags.
I set myself tasks to create new items and learn new stitches. I also added touches such as custom labels, buttons and beads.
By the holiday season of 2020, I had made enough items to donate two bags of crochet items to Alexandria House, as well as gifts for family and friends.
I had friends who kept asking me if I would sell my crafts. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that. I enjoyed my crochet as a meditative practice and a way to work with texture and color. Not only had I worked in retail in the past, but my father owned and operated a handbag repair shop in San Francisco. I had worked for him and I had seen with my own eyes what it was like.
Create an Etsy shop
Eventually I realized that I needed to fund my fiber art practice. So I decided to open an Etsy shop.
Etsy.com is a marketplace for unique, handmade, and vintage goods and materials. I knew that in such a market, I could make my own rules, make my items and sell what I wanted to sell.
Creating an Etsy shop is simple. There is a template for establishing a store name and banner, in my case “Raebob’s Crafty Goods”. After uploading photos (they don’t have to be fancy) and filling out the description, the seller sets a price and decides on shipping. There are fees for listing items and when items are sold. There’s also help with shipping labels, calculating domestic and international shipping costs, sales tax, setting handling charges, and even tax forms. My Etsy shop was easy to set up and easy to use.
Ultimately, though, it’s the old-fashioned, mindful crochet craft that I appreciate. To see my items for sale, visit http://etsy.com/shop/Raebobs-CraftyGoods.