Stupid Questions or Learning?

We’re well into 2019 and a new show season but we artisans and craftspeople are reviewing our 2018 shows. It’ll be tax time soon so we have to crunch and record the numbers, decide which shows to continue with and apply or reapply, and which shows to move on from.

On the other side of this coin is the humour that cropped up in the Fall when an artisan started a closed Facebook post saying she was gearing up for the ‘stupid questions’ asked at shows. That started a storm of comments and conversations and various reactions:

🤣 😱 🙄 🤬 🤪
…we laughed…we cried…we were incredulous and we shared our own stories…so far there have been 85 ‘comments’!
I’ve had to direct folk to read the hang tags I spent sooo much time on my computer making to find out if the garment they are looking at is wool or cotton…or I could just stand in my booth and go ‘woo – cotton – cotton – wool – wool -‘ and so on. What makes this so funny to me is that when I am asked if it’s wool or cotton and what the price is I actually have to go to the tag myself and read it!
Then there was the time I was asked what I did for a living and when I told the person ‘knitting, I make knit garments’ or something to that effect, I couldn’t say anymore as she was laughing so hard. Later I showed her my studio and she didn’t laugh. 
Stemming from that last incident I have been asked if I do this for a hobby, I explain it was a hobby that I turned into a business. Now that I build my own websites I have my resumé on mine and he header says ‘since 1982’ so that might give folk an idea of where I’m coming from.
One thing was getting asked where I get my materials, I used to say that I have to buy them from the mills and suppliers and would never reveal my sources. However, over the years the mills have shut down, discontinued my favourite colours, messed with my yarns even!  A case in point. I did a lot of ‘BubbleNeck’ scarves…. and I used a very fine Merino wool. After tying little balls into the knit I’d put it in my top loader (I think that’s how I killed my top loader washing machine…a topic for another day) with extra hot water and ‘fulled’ the knit, shrinking it and firming it.
Getting ready for a Christmas show in Chicago I was merrily knitting and fulling new stock when one cone of black ran out and I had to start a new cone…the shades were indistinguishable. When I took this puppy out of the washing machine only 2/3 of it had fulled…the rest was just as it had come off my knitting machine!!!!!!!!! It turns out that the company had decided to make this wonderful yarn SUPERWASH!!!!!! No notice, no warning and NO LABELLING!!!! Unfortunately I had to BUY  another cone…they didn’t compensate me for their error….oh well….
I still buy from them as their wool is great but I don’t mind sharing my sources with those who ask as, if they also buy from them, the companies will (hopefully) stay alive … for me! So…no longer a stupid or annoying question.
Some of the FB comments were customers asking the material of the artisan’s work…again and again, piece by piece. If someone tells you all the work is leather and they NEVER use pleather…why would you keep asking ‘how about this one…looks like pleather’.

Then there’s copying…we have to deal with other artisans…maybe newbies, maybe someone who has taken classes from us, then they go forth and multiply…but it looks just like your work. Hmmm…but then it’s when a visitor to your booth wants to take a photo so they can make one at home, or use the picture of your work to send to someone rather than buying it from you to give.
I guess I’ve been doing this long enough that little surprises me anymore and I don’t mind sharing what I do and how I do it…especially my machine knitting as this is hard to come by, some workshops have faded away, we older artisans are no longer doing machine knitting or even around anymore! So…watch out for my classes:  http://barnett-knits.com/event/polymer-clay-winter-workshop/

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