my parents had 6 girls, and every christmas morning we woke up to brand new christmas dresses, sewn by my mom. we also unwrapped handmaid dolls, enjoyed home-baked goodies, and delighted in all of the things that my mom had created out of raw materials. she’s a wonder, truly.
on the other side of my genetics, my daddy took an insecure and depressed teenager under his wing, and brought me to work with him as a contractor on weekends and during the summers. i learned how to dig basements, mix concrete, build decks, frame walls, build trusses, and mud drywall (among other things). my memories of those days with my daddy and the things that we built with our hands, are treasured.
my grandfather taught me how to knit when i was 17. i started out with a sock, then couldn’t bring myself to knit another one. so i moved onto hats, and kind of parked myself there for a while, because they were quick enough and offered enough variety to feed my creative monster. eventually, i stumbled across this pattern, and the toy-maker inside woke up and took over.
i had made a few toys in my woodshop before i had kids, but y’know…. not so easy to use a jig saw during nap time. pretty easy to lay down a few rows of knitting though, so i did! then i learned how to crochet and sew because i wanted the finished products of the patterns that i kept finding all over the internet.
i used to take photos of the toys that i made. it was fun to pose them and set up backdrops and lighting and was basically, just another way to be creative with my creations. as i started to post those pictures on my website (and later facebook), people started reacting.
so here’s where the retirement comes in: i couldn’t keep up with the orders. at first it was great, because it meant that i could buy more materials to make more things! but the list of custom orders grew and grew, and the wait time for those orders grew and grew. the time i had to be creative and spontaneous, shrank and disappeared.
if you know me well, you know that i’m crazy. i spontaneously throw things in the car and go south for a week (without a map, or cell data). i cut my hair impulsively. i buy cats within an hour of seeing a mouse in my kitchen. i’m a free spirit, and i can’t even stand the constraints of knitting a second sock. so you can imagine how the joy was sucked out of my hobby when each photo that i posted, led to me making several of the same item. totally threw off my groove when i wanted to act on new ideas.
besides that, i couldn’t bring myself to charge very much money for them. i started with “just pay me whatever.”, worked my way up to asking for the cost of materials, and then towards the end when it started to feel more like a job, i was finally able to ask for a teeny tiny profit. i think that when i did the math, i was making something like 30 cents an hour. also, the items were flying from my hands and out the door before i could even snap a cell phone photo of them.
my hobby had stopped being a creative outlet, and had become a job. i was always happy with the finished product, and flattered that my work was in demand. i just couldn’t deal with the way that my creativity was stifled with deadlines, demand, and no end in sight.
one of my sisters mocked me and said that i would “always be a toy-maker”, because it’s just who i am. i totally agree! i can’t resist the urge to be creative, and toys are totally my niche. i was raised as a DIYer in absolutely every area of life. i know that eventually i will make toys again, but i also know that when i do, i will take the time to enjoy it. when i get back to selling things again, it will be things that i’ve made and stockpiled because i wanted to, not because i had a deadline to meet.
thanks to everyone who encouraged, complimented, and ordered from me over the last few years– i don’t want to end off with complaints! i truly valued each opportunity to stretch my skills and to create custom toys and hats for you! seeing pictures of your little ones holding their new toys or wearing the clothing that i’d made for them, totally rocked! when i eventually start making toys again, i really hope to see more of those photos!