The Journey to Opening an Etsy Shop

Gimli, Son of Gloin (one part of the 9-piece “Fellowship” set from Lord of the Rings)

Like most creative types, I frequently feel an invisible itch in my fingers that urges me to make something: a hat, a scarf, a journal entry, a toy, a drawing. When the urge strikes, it feels like it will never be satisfied until I create something that fits my vision. And like most creative types, I’ve been like this my entire life. As a kid, I loved to draw and paint pictures of the things around me or in my head: horses, cats, castles, unicorns. My mom often enrolled me in arts and crafts classes during the summers, and it seemed like every Christmas/Easter/birthday, I got craft kits or art supplies. While I ended up getting a BFA and studied primarily printmaking and photography in college, I have grown more fond of the fiber arts in recent years because of their versatility to create more utilitarian objects, and my primary craft is crochet. Don’t get me wrong, I generally love art– I also have a Master’s in Art History and work with art every day between my two jobs– but a painting can’t keep you warm (though, arguably, the money a person can make from its sale might), and I want anything I create to be physically used. 

Scarves by my late grandma (donated December 2012)

My grandma first taught how to crochet when I was 12. She was a knitter who loved to make scarves and baby booties, but she also knew how to do some basic crochet stitches, as evidenced by a few gloriously ’70s-looking afghans. I don’t know what specifically drove me to crochet, but my first swatch got progressively narrower as I worked my way up because I kept dropping stitches. Being an impatient perfectionist, I quickly lost interest in my new hobby for several years until it became trendy during my senior year of high school to knit scarves. I learned how to knit, but something about constantly being bound to two needles felt restrictive, and I was impatient with how long it took to complete even a foot of fabric with the short stitches. I remembered that I had once learned how to crochet, which allows one to produce blessedly longer stitches, so I retaught myself how to do it. Even though I continued to drop stitches or make them too loose or too tight, I did not give up this time (though I also didn’t practice very much either). It took about 2 years for me to eventually make a scarf that didn’t have a single dropped stitch, and another 3 years after that to make a hat that actually fit.

2012 was a pivotal year for me: it was the year in which I took my comps, and it was also the year my grandma died, leaving me a ton of yarn and other craft supplies. To maintain feelings of fulfillment and productiveness when I wasn’t studying, I crocheted hats using my grandma’s yarn with the intent to eventually donate them to her favorite non-profit. I learned new stitches, joined Ravelry to find new sources of inspiration, and got used to regularly feeling a hook and yarn in my fingers. During the first half of 2013, crocheting and working out (another habit that took forever to stick) became my escapes from my thesis. It’s amazing how avoiding doing the things you need to do can make you more productive in other areas.

Piet Mondrian-inspired scarf

Around the start of 2014, I had several moments where people commented on how much they liked a couple of my handmade things. A particularly memorable moment happened when one random woman in a bead shop asked how much the necklace to which I was attaching a lobster claw clasp was going for. I’d had a couple moments over the previous few years where I contemplated trying to sell my wares, but it wasn’t until the woman in the bead shop that I actually seriously considered it. About a week later, I secured a shop space on Etsy. I decided that I wanted to make things that intrigue or entertain me, and my primary sources of intrigue and entertainment are art, culture, movies, video games, and, well, cats. However, between planning a wedding (I got married last September and wore the necklace the woman in the bead shop inquired about about), finishing one last graduate class for a professional certificate, work, and the sheer amount of time that it takes to crochet things (especially because Etsy recommends having at least 8 pieces in your shop before opening it to the public), the shop is still in the process of opening.

I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to finally open my shop this year– indeed, I believe that New Year’s resolutions are too easy to give up on because they are decisions made for the sake of a single day, and one must commit to wanting to improve or change their current situation on a regular basis– but the start of the new year did prompt me to remember that this is something that I really want to do. I don’t expect to make a lot of money at it, I just want to make cool stuff that I otherwise would not make.


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