Day 29: The Great Crafting Question… How much??

One of the things I’m asked most often when I craft things is how much would it be to have something made. There was a point in time when I used to do customized items for people, but getting people to commit to colors or be happy with the image in their head is near impossible. It’s difficult to find the perfect color, the perfect pattern, or the perfect design. I remember once talking to my tattoo artist who said that people imagine in their head things that are near impossible to create as a tattoo. The same can be said about crochet and knitting. There are a lot of things that CAN be made, but there are also things that cannot be made, at least not well.

I enjoy making things for people and often am motivated when I have a gift to make for someone with a deadline. I am a perfectionist. I understand that the details are what often make the dolls and amigurumis so cute. That’s when I push myself the most. I enjoy sharing the things that I make. And there is a part of me that really wants to make things to be enjoyed by others. I asked the question once on twitter what people would be willing to pay, the absolute most, with no understanding of how much time it took and what the materials cost. The range was between $35-50.

The purpose of this post is to explain why what most people are willing to spend isn’t enough to justify the time it takes for me to make them. I’m ignoring the cost of items I already own, like crochet hooks and knitting needles. Though these items don’t often “go bad” exactly, some wear out and stop being comfortable and need to be replaced.

     The Head (Total Time: 4-6 hours).
The head is the biggest part of this particular amigurumi and this picture is one I took with fabric samples. The crochet of the head is 1044 total stitches stopping just a bit passed the midway point to attach the eyes. It’s the midway point where I iron the fabric to some interfacing to keep the edges from fraying during stitching.


Depending on the design I’m going for, I need to create a template (often on a sticky note) for the eye patch. The stitching on the edges are done by hand and time-consuming. Any details I add require more time.


     Head Extras (Total Time: 3 hours).
Ears, hair, hats, bows or other things added to the head can be done now or at the end. A lot of the time ears are added now to avoid having to deal with them later, but it can be done at any point in construction. The crochet is always the fastest part of the process, so constructing the 2 years for this rabbit took about 45 minutes. There is more template creating, fabric, and interfacing. Each ear took about 45 minutes to hand sew the edging details on.


Complete the rest of the face by adding the rest of the details and then set the head aside.


     The Body (Total Time: 1 hour).
The body is one of the easier parts of this particular pattern because there isn’t much to it. Sewing the body to the head and making sure to stuff appropriately is almost more time-consuming that making it.

Feet (Total Time: 2 hours). 
The soles of the feet are created and just as you’re turning, I do the measuring, fabric, and interfacing bit again. Then sew the fabric to the bottoms of the feet and attach the feet to body.

Hands (Total Time: 1 hour). 
This bunny in particular took a little longer on the hands, because I was adding thumbs and that took a little bit of experimenting. I didn’t include the several times I took them apart and started again, but only counted the time it took to make the arms.


     Tail (Total Time: 30 minutes).
If there’s a tail, even the tiniest of tails (like the puppy tail) requires some time and maneuvering. Oddly enough, the smaller the tail, the more difficult it is to crochet. Then placement and attachment. The bunny tail took a little bit longer, but less time than the pattern called for because I made it much smaller. The giant tail looked silly to me and I preferred a smaller one.

Construction (Total Time: 3-5 hours). 
Putting all the remaining pieces together sucks. This part is my least favorite part. I hate putting all the pieces together because you can end up with something that looks lop-sided or crooked. This part requires so much time because I’m pinning, looking, pinning, looking, moving, pinning… etc.


Total amount of time spent on the bunny: ~16.5 hours, and I was rounding down or taking the mean of the estimated time.

The more I make the easier it is to make them. The foot pad template was already made, so I didn’t have to make it a second time, but not having made the bunny before the eye and ear templates needed to be made. The second bunny should go slightly faster eliminating the time needed for this.

At $35 for the completed doll, my hourly rate would be $2.12. At $50 for the completed doll is $3.03/hour. At $80 for the doll? $4.85/hour. $100 for the doll  = $6.06/hour. Mind you, I didn’t account for the cost of yarn or the fabric. The expectation is that the fabric I didn’t use can be used in another project. Thread, embroidery thread, yarn, beads, and doll eyes are all items I’ve purchased in bulk in the past. Obviously at some point I’ll need to buy these again, but I already have them so I didn’t adjust for the cost of these items, but I would guess about $10-15 was spent on materials.

When folks ask me if I sell the dolls that I make, the answer is often “no”. If I were to add customization into the mix, finding the right yarn or fabric for someone adds more time to the process that no one is willing to spend. I consider it often, but realize that most people are likely unwilling to spend the money for my time and expertise. I love making the dolls, but hate undervaluing my talent just so things can be more affordable.

Day 19: The Real Struggle

Trigger Warning: Language and content; online harassment

I spend such a large part of my day, no, life, dealing with people. I interact with people on a regular basis, requesting that they give me copies of all of their most personal information and assessing for whether they’re lying to me and how deep the lie potentially can go. I study human behavior for school at night. When I’m able I offer help and an ear on twitter, doing what I can to pay attention for those people who are speaking out into the void just hoping someone is paying attention… especially on those days when they might feel the most alone. I learn about how relationships affect us. I learn how families work. How relationships work, not just intimate life-partner ones, but all of them including acquaintances and stranger-relationships (just think your closest friends were once strangers).

As much as I learn about people and behaviors and motivations that cause behaviors, there is always one underlying constant… no two people are alike and no matter how consistently people tend to act, another (flawed) human cannot reasonably anticipate behaviors for all other people. I, like you, will make mistakes.

I bring this up because I was chatting with a new friend via text last night. There was mention of me being a celebrity of sorts and I tend to shy away from that in all ways. I watch my friends, the ones who are more popular and more well-known than me, deal with the gamut of Stuff from the internet masses that I refuse to believe I’m in any way a part of that. But I guess, in certain circles, the argument can be made in favor of my having some level of celebrity-dom (in spite of my insistence that it’s NOT the case). I’ve actually had many discussions with Terran about this specific topic.

The talks with Terran were always about how once a person has reached a certain level of popularity, their human-ness is almost non-existent. The Celebrity almost becomes an object, often with their feelings and experiences dismissed and erased. They’re no longer a person who is allowed to BE flawed and make mistakes. Every word is scrutinized. Every gesture is questioned. Everything about their existence is called into question. This happens for all celebrities, but there’s an added “bonus” for women, especially those on the internet.

There was a time, years ago, when I got hundreds of visitors to my blog in a day. I wrote so often. I got lots of comments. People seemed to enjoy what I was writing, even if it was controversial or dripping in feminism. Then I took a hiatus from the internet, which turned into years away. I became an unknown again and it was nice… quiet. When I created my twitter account it was to separate “life” from “WoW”. What happened was that I found myself interacting with people in the WoW community so much more. They became friends. We bough each other gifts. Sent each other cards. Exchanged numbers and texted. My personal celebrity-dom is minor in comparison to others. I’m pretty much not that known, really, in the grand scheme of things. I don’t write often enough, I don’t stream, I don’t make content, I don’t “contribute” to the community, as some folks would easily and quickly point out. What I brought to the table was something vastly different, I think, and that got me attention, wanted or not.

I look at Anita Sarkeesian and I often sit and think to myself “In another life, I could have chosen the path she chose… would I be able to handle that?” So back to my text conversation from last night… I said that I could be a bit overwhelming, personality-wise. They said that they loved how comfortable I was being my own person and that I had opinions and wasn’t afraid to speak my mind. There are very admirable things about a person, even if you take them out of context of referring to me. So then I mentioned that even on a much smaller scale, I’ve had the target on my back.

I don’t begin to compare any online harassment I’ve received to that of well-known women in the gaming universe. Some will say any harassment is too much harassment. At what point, though, do you just give up, give in, be silent? For some, like Anita, you don’t. For others, like me, you just sort of fade away. I rarely rant anymore. Long strings of tweets have almost stopped. I’ve been accused of dog-piling on unsuspecting misogynists or mansplainers once they’ve crossed from “devil’s advocate” into “asshole.” I’ve been called a bitch. I’ve been called a bully. I’ve been told to get in the kitchen, because what woman on the internet hasn’t heard this one before. I’ve been told to get fucked by my father. I’ve been told the solution to my problem is to get laid. I’ve been called fat. I’ve been called ugly. I’ve been mocked for writing about WoW or games at all. I’ve been mocked for writing about anything else too. I’ve been told to kill myself. I’ve been told I’m too ugly to be liked or be fucked. I’ve been told I wasn’t fuckable with someone else’s dick. I’ve been told the solution to my problem is that I needed to be raped. I had one guy think he was doing me a favor by sharing my name, address, and phone number but blocking out some of the letters and numbers and acting surprised when I requested he delete the tweet. I’ve had people talk about where I live flippantly, like it was public knowledge.

My point is that there isn’t really any safe space on the internet to BE a woman. I’m far from the only person to experience these things and it will happen again. The problem is that I know it’s inevitable that I will experience this again, so long as I am a Woman with an Opinion. So will most women who exist on the internet in any capacity.

The balancing act by existing in an internet space means having to make those kinds of decisions. Do I censor myself, sharing less and less, to avoid scrutiny? Can I be a flawed human being or is that only reserved for people with 500 followers or less? Did my capacity to learn from mistakes disappear once I became “popular” on the internet (even just saying this bothers the shit out of me because I don’t feel it or believe it or think it about myself)? If I call out shitty behavior am I just a bitch? A crazy bitch? A psycho? Do expressing feelings of frustration, annoyance, and talking about moments of intolerance make me such a horrible person that mocking and personal threats and name calling are okay? Where’s the line and who defines it?

I generally remember that for the most part (bots notwithstanding), there are people on the other side of the twitter handle. And if today is not the day in which I can handle their sadness, depression, anxiety, frustration, annoyance, or negativity, then I push on. The thing I try NOT to do is shame them for the things going on in their lives and how they feel. I try to keep myself in check and don’t extend offers to listen unless I have an abundance of spoons to shoulder the burden of someone else’s Stuff. Don’t get me wrong, there are those who are the same for me as I am for them. They listen. They are my friends. And if I needed them, they would be there for me. And there are others who don’t see or recognize how their actions and behaviors affect others.

I guess this is another one of those posts where I’m not really sure what my point is… or where I was going (or not enough coffee).

I guess, as my last post said, if “… we work from a place that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

Day 18: Brain Dump, Vulnerability, and Writing

The truth is writing every day is a challenge (duh) and I knew I wasn’t going to succeed at doing it every day. Life kind of sucks that way, and I’m just realistic about the expectations I set for myself. There’s a small warning on this post because it’s mostly going to be a brain dump of a lot of things that I’ve been thinking about for the last few weeks. Some of it will be coherent, most of it probably won’t be. If you stick around to read, awesome! If you don’t, I totally understand.

I miss my cute cupcake theme on this site, but enjoy the fact that the page loads significantly faster now. It was annoying me that it was taking SO long to load. Pointless really, when what you want is for people to read your words. I need to figure out something art-y to add to the top.

I’ve been in a weird place, mentally speaking, for a few weeks. I don’t believe it’s for lack of spoons, but it might be. I’ve been a stress-ball of nuts for probably more like a few months, truth be told. I keep a lot inside. I have started to distance myself from a lot of people. Almost everyone. I’ve distanced myself from twitter and what I tweet about. I’ve barricaded myself behind a wall of avoidance. It’s generally safer there. You don’t get criticized there. You’re actions don’t get looked upon with a fine toothed comb. You’re not judged. No one is commenting on what you’re doing behind your back, or to your face. No one is judging your life choices. No one is pretending to like you. But that’s mostly because no one is even there.

Every few months I rewatch Brené Brown‘s TED Talks on youtube or the TED website. (watch the first one here and the second one here). I watch them to remind myself about the man (or woman) in the arena. She reminds me that vulnerability is where creativity and innovation is born. All innovation comes from people who have gone into the arena, in spite of the critics, and failed again and again.

“It is not the critic who counts. It is not the man who sits and points out how the doer of deeds could have done things better and how he falls and stumbles. The credit goes to the man in the arena whose face is marred with dust and blood and sweat. But when he’s in the arena, at best he wins, and at worst he loses, but when he fails, when he loses, he does so daring greatly.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Most days what she says resonates on a very surface level. It’s like rereading a good book again and feeling yourself washed over with familiarity. She’s not telling me stuff I don’t already know, not just because I’ve watched the videos so often, but because I learn about it in school, at work, and in most of what I do.

There’s also a huge distinction between guilt and shame. Guilt is saying “I did something wrong” and shame is saying “I am something wrong.” We recognize these voices in the way we talk to ourselves in our heads. Most especially when we tell ourselves that we’re not skinny enough, not smart enough, not talented enough, not educated enough. We tell ourselves we’re not enough and that’s really the point, right? To stop doing that. The media tells this to us so regularly that most people don’t even realize they’re doing it. Or we make a joke about it, but deep down there’s a part of us that believes it and is expecting the rest of the world to believe it too. Mostly if we joke first, we beat everyone else to the punchline.

Life is sort of funny, the way things play out. Friendships are born and lost. Loves are kindled and fizzle. How are we putting ourselves out there? Who are we reaching out to?

It’s more than just the inevitable existential life crisis moments that we all have now and again. When we sit and wonder if going back to school at 32 is the best life choice. Or if now is the best time to drop the Good Paying Job to pursue something you love more passionately.

Vulnerability is accepting when we’re wrong too. I’m usually really good about this point. Realizing that it’s not always about me. Apologizing. Trying to find workable solutions. Accepting challenges and working through them. But I, like everyone else, often fail at this too. Sometimes inappropriate things come out of my mouth. Sometimes those things are hurtful, even when I don’t mean it. Sometimes my perception of interactions is clouded by being sick, being frustrated with work, being pissed off, being tired, not having enough coffee, or just not in the right headspace. Vulnerability is being able to look at those times and say “Oh shit, I fucked up. I’m sorry” to the person we hurt. And often this includes some rapport with the person.

My best friend often sees me at my worst. I know it’s because she knows it’s almost never about her or anything she did and I know she’s gonna love me anyway. We have years of friendship under our belt. She knows that sometimes my short responses back to her have nothing to do with the fact that she texted me at absolutely the WORST TIME EVER, but more about something entirely unrelated. She knows when to back off and let me have some space until I can a) apologize to her for snapping at her, and b) vent about whatever it was going on. Some people never find that friend or partner in life. Other people have multiple people they can go to and be stupid, silly, idiotic, dumb, moronic… vulnerable, and have them be loved anyway.

And I know it’s seductive to stand outside the arena, because I think I did it my whole life, and think to myself, I’m going to go in there and kick some ass when I’m bulletproof and when I’m perfect. And that is seductive. But the truth is that never happens.

– Brené Brown

Most of us know intimately the pain of being vulnerable and being made to feel like shit over us. The wall of avoidance I often hide behind is usually the reaction to this pain.

I often have to remind myself that I make mistakes too. I spend a lot of hours thinking about the mistakes that I make. At work, in my personal life, and every other area of my life too. I dwell a lot. I muse and wonder about many different things. What could I have said different? What could I have done different? Would a different outcome be more favorable in the long run? The dwelling can often make my wall of avoidance thicker. Because it’s hard to dust yourself off and go back into that arena after you’ve fucked up. Or made a mistake. Or hurt someone. Or been hurt.

There’s no real point to all of this, not really. I don’t really have a point. It’s just stuff I’ve done a lot of thinking about, for the people in my life that I’m closest to, and for myself. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, if this will make me feel any better, but at least I sat down and did the writing. I put the words out there instead of scaring myself out of them. I wish I were a better story-teller, like Brené Brown. But I’m never going to get better if I don’t do the writing.

This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

– Brené Brown