My love/hate relationship with craft fairs

Last weekend I went to a local craft fair called I Heart Rummage. I wanted to see Leah‘s booth, and just check it out in general.

I came away with two things: one of Leah’s Spiderfelt soap sweaters and a bag by Erica of Population One (both links are Etsy shops).

I hadn’t been to a craft fair in so long that I was immediately reminded about why I both love and hate them.

I love them because they are chock full of inspiration! I love admiring handmade things and marvelling over the creative things people can do. I’ve done enough crafting to have at least an inkling of how much effort something took, how hard something was to do or how long it took to do it, so when I find something I like, that might come in handy, something that I know would be hard or take too much time for me to make myself, some fabric I’ve never seen before, etc., I am much more inclined to buy it at a craft fair than, say, Target.

However, I’m also crafty enough to be really stingy at craft fairs. And this is the hate part. I often see things I like, but I also know I can make some of these things myself. For example, unless it’s a crazy print I’ve never seen and don’t think I could get, I will probably never buy a tote bag. I like my own tote bags just fine. I love felt boxes, but I have to admit I’d like to give it a go myself first before buying one. (And should that go badly, I will totally go buy one.)

Then there are the items that I LOVE but seem overpriced. For example, there were these absolutely adorable felted animals, especially this sheep, that I couldn’t stop mooning over. However it was severely out of my price range. See, I want to make some felted people and animals for an upcoming project, and I haven’t had a lot of luck with them so far. When I saw this sheep I instantly thought, OH! I can cheat and just buy at least one of them. After all it is hand made, if not by me. The price tag of this adorable sheep, however, was about 4 times as much as I had budgeted for the entire project! Egads. No sheep for me. Must try harder.

I feel bad about my miserly inclinations. I know how long it takes to make things. I know how hard it is to sell them. I know how discouraging it is to sit at a craft fair all day and sell only one or two things, or even nothing at all. I’ve been there. I wish I could support everyone. I hate just smiling at someone and moving on. But I have my own crafty goals too, and I’m selfish. I have to admit I’d often rather buy supplies than finished items. There’s a blog I read where every Friday she details what she’s purchased on Etsy that week, and this constantly amazes me. She just seems so much more generous than I, to be constantly supporting her fellow crafters. Maybe it’s a case of knowing how hard something is and really admiring someone’s work — case in point, she buys handspun yarn when she’s a spinner herself. Maybe she’s just really generous and giving. I can only assume she really likes that type of stuff! Either way, it makes me wish I wanted to be more generous.

On the other hand, I have bought several things off Etsy and I love them. For example, I may like my tote bags, but I suck at zippers or anything complicated. I bought two pleated and zippered wristlets from Etsy, one of which I use on a daily basis. I love that so many crafters are willing to work with you so you get exactly what you want.

Anyway! Back to my purchases. The sweater soap is amazing. I was very curious how it would work because I’ve been in a bit of a quandry about showering lately. We mostly uses bar soaps these days, but I’ve been missing the exfoliating action I used to get from the scrubbies, and the scrubbies just don’t work so well with regular soap. So I was curious how this would work. See, there’s soap inside the wool, and the wool gets all foamy as you use it, and supposedly shrinks as the soap gets used up. Bonus, there’s no extra soap shards left at the end that are impossible to use. Yay! It’s great at exfoliating too, so I’m a total convert. This was initially for the Boo to play with in the bath, but I’m going to use it way more than he is!

The bag caught my eye immediately. First because it’s a very interesting shape (love the flap and the button!) and I thought it would be handy as a knitting bag. The flap could keep the yarn in while I knit away. Second, I love the fabrics. I love the combo. I just love the bag! It definitely stood out to me and at the end after I perused everything else — I always run through a show before buying, unless I have to have something right that second! — I bought it. It actually isn’t that great as a knitting bag — a bit too long and narrow. But it works well enough for socks and I still like it a lot. Will probably be delegated to accessories should I ever find a better sock knitting bag šŸ™‚

So will I go again? Eh… I dunno. Maybe closer to Christmas if I’m at a loss for some gifts. But really, my pocketbook has been thankful I’m not that much a shopper any more, and it probably should stay that way.

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One Response to My love/hate relationship with craft fairs

  1. Leah Adams says:

    I loved this post (besides the fact that you mentioned me in it twice). So well said. I love the blog written by the lady who shows everything she buys on Etsy. I just wrote an etsy post and remembered when I got to bed that I intended to include her and you in that post. Tomorrow. Knock me in the head if I forget after tomorrow. Well, well said. While I’m at it, I need to add you to my blogroll in the witty writers category.

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