Why my Etsy shop is “on Vacation”
I’ve loved to knit for as long as I can remember.
I think my grandmother taught me the basics when I was about four, and she, my Mum and an aunt encouraged and helped me progress. I was never a big fan of the clichéd baby-clothes-and-stuffed-toys type of knitting, although I’ve done my share of that, but rather I preferred large, expressive, or abstract pieces that told a story. By the time I was in my 20s I had added crochet to my repertoire and then a little macramé. The idea of gradually working continuous pieces of yarn, string or thread into complex, three-dimensional forms that can actually be useful has always intrigued me and feels somehow magical.
When my children were small (and my time and energy was squeezed) I did try to make clothes for them; memorably, there were the two jumpers with designs drawn by the kids themselves, that took so long to make that they we’re grown out of practically before they were finished. And I did occasionally take on bigger projects; the tweedy, Aran, cable sweater for my 6’2” brother that took so long and sapped so much of my soul that I ended up refusing to finish the sleeves and gave it to him as a waistcoat! In general, though, I put away my hooks and needles and didn’t really miss them.
As the kids got older and I found I was able to turn some of my creative energies away from them and towards other passions, I began to rediscover and nurture my woolly tendencies again. I mainly made blankets, bowls and bags, but, as a perinatal practitioner, I grew to understood the value of a whimsically colourful knitted boob to break down anxieties around breastfeeding, or a piece of mustard-yellow crochet in a doll’s nappy to get expectant parents laughing about baby poo. Other practitioners started to notice and I made a few pieces for friends and colleagues.
And so a business idea was seeded and The Crafty Lucy (TCL) was born. I still wanted to sell blankets bowls and bags but, as a birth educator with a background in anatomy and physiology, it was inevitable that I would specialise in anatomical models for birth folk. I started by designing a uterus that could be used with a model pelvis to demonstrate how contractions work and illustrate the role of the uterine ligaments.
I opened an Etsy shop, designed more models, and started taking orders. Very quickly I found that I was selling to birth folk around the world. The orders were backing up, the stress levels were rising and I was spending ALL my “free” time knitting and crocheting. It got to the point that I would dread opening the Etsy app and seeing another sale. I felt so ungrateful for my success and kept soldiering on, frequently knitting through the night to make the deadlines. Eventually, after only eight months I decided that I had had enough. I put the Etsy shop into “vacation mode” (yes, that’s a thing) and worked hard to clear my existing orders. After another six weeks I had cleared the backlog and the sense of freedom and relief was extraordinary. My stock of unsold bags and bowls were donated, gifted, or utilised at home once Covid-19 caused all upcoming craft fairs to cancel, and I immediately embarked on an ambitions crochet project just for ME. With no customers waiting in the wings full of expectation I had rediscovered my love for the craft.
And so, with a steady stream of tentative enquiries to my still-closed Etsy shop about when I’m going to start selling again, I’ve reached a decision. I am going to write up my patterns and sell them instead. I did tentatively put my toe into these particular waters a while ago but wasn’t quite brave enough to go through with it. I’ve now decided that I honestly don’t want to take commissions for my models any more but I certainly don’t want to stop sharing them with the world, and I really don’t mind other people using and adapting my ideas (as long as they credit me!), so I’m going to create…. The Crafty Lucy pattern book… Watch this space.