Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Review and a Quandary

This is an unusual post for us.  I have a decision to make and I'm having a lot of trouble making it. Why do I always have to see both sides of a situation. Anyway I'm asking for your advice in helping me make up my mind. But more about that in a minute.

First Norma Jean wants to thank all of you who sent her good wishes when she had her sick tummy.
Once the silly girl stopped eating grass she stopped vomiting. And once the vomiting stopped, her tummy started feeling better. By Monday morning she was feeling so good that she tried stealing Bailey's breakfast. That's when I knew she was Ok again.

Also on Sunday Lola sprained her leg. I don't know what she did exactly, but she came in the house limping and unwilling to put weight on that leg. I checked for cuts, swellings or pain, torn nails and anything stuck under the pads. When I didn't find any of those, I gave her some Rimadyl for a couple days. This morning she had totally forgotten about the sore leg and was running laps in the yard with Tess. Lola knows you would have all wished her well, too, if her lazy Mom had bothered to write about her sore leg.

Last week my friend Sue recommended a book, actually a series of books to me. She said they were light, fun reads and I immediately borrowed the first from the library. The author is Spencer Quinn and the books are Dog On It; Thereby Hangs A Tail; To Fetch A Thief; and The Dog Who Knew Too Much. They are all Chet and Bernie Mysteries.

Ordinarily I'm not a fan of mysteries, but these are amusing books about a somewhat inept pair of detectives. Chet is a dog and Bernie is his PI master. Chet is actually the better detective, but has a rather short memory. Although he has some great ideas, he's easily distracted by the scent or even the thought of bacon. Sounds a lot like my Morgan.

I'm only on the first of this series, but it's a fun read written from the dogs point of view and I'm sure I'l read the others. If you're looking for some light vacation type reading, try the Chet and Bernie mysteries.

Now for my quandary. Last week I posted pictures of my hand knit dog sweaters. Over the weekend I was contacted by an online site that handles dog accessories. They expressed interest in selling my sweaters. At first I was excited and started thinking of ideas for new sweaters, but as the week has gone on, I've had some doubts.

I don't want to devote all my time to making dog sweaters. I'm also enough of a control freak to want to decide how they will be marketed. I also want to decide what to make and when. Let me give you an example.

I used to sew most of my own clothes. Occasionally some of the women I worked with asked if I would make something for them. I usually agreed.  At first it was fun, I was doing something I enjoyed and I was making a little extra cash, but pretty soon my 'customers' were getting more and more demanding. They'd bring pictures from magazines or describe an outfit in great detail and I was supposed to produce exactly what they had in mind.

The final straw was when a co-worker asked if I'd make her daughter's prom dress. Stupidly, I agreed. The girl, her mother and I went shopping for a pattern and fabric. She chose a pattern that I didn't like, but I agreed to make it. Then the pair chose the most awful fabric I'd ever seen. It was hideous by itself, but in the style of dress they wanted, I knew it would look awful. I tried to steer them toward other fabric, but they were in love with the hideous stuff.

Reluctantly, I made the dress. I hated every minute I spent working on it and the finished dress looked terrible. When I showed them the finished dress, they were ecstatic. It was exactly what they wanted and the girl wore it to the prom.

Well, you're saying, the customers were happy, so what's the problem? Maybe I'm being silly, but I hated that dress and was ashamed to admit I made it. It was not something I'd ever choose or make on my own. I stopped sewing for several months because I didn't enjoy sewing anymore.

Now, I can envision the online company coming back to me and saying "we want six of these orange and kelly green sweaters in extra large size." I wouldn't be able to force myself to make them.  It would turn me off knitting as the prom dress did sewing. I like the freedom of making what I like and feeling the pleasure of creating something I feel proud of.

So, readers and friends, I value your input. Should I say no to the online store and either open my own Etsy shop or peddle my sweaters locally, or should I go along with a site that has wider circulation?  Your advice is needed and welcomed.


Jan said...

The question is whether you want to be a factory taking orders or your own boutique doing what is fun for you.

I had the same quandary with my Victorian Christmas stockings and I went with Etsy and had fun.

scotsmad said...

If it's a chore, don't do it. Sounds like Jan (comment above) has a good solution.

Glad the dogs are improving and nothing was serious.

Have read 'Dog on it' and 'Thereby Hangs a Tail'....good fun. Can also add Neil S Plakey's 'The Kingdom of Dog' and 'In Dog we Trust'. All available on Kindle.

XXXOOO Daisy, Kendra & Bella

STELLA and RORY from Down Under said...

Hi Sue, thanks for visiting us. You certainly are talented with your sewing and knitting. I'm pretty hopeless but can occasionaly sew on a button ha ha. Its thrilling to be asked to make orders for a business but if you will get stressed or not enjoy it, is it worth it. Your dogs look wonderful, very hairy and large. I look forward to reading more about your family of dogs. Take care. No worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

Maggie and Mitch said...

We think you should do what makes you the happiest. Life is too short to be stressed!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

SissySees said...

Um... skip the chore part and know that you have plenty of doggy bloggy friends who will help you spread the word, all on your own terms!!

I'm not sure what it means, but Gretchen just popped over, looked very concerned, licked me in the face, and is now watching me type. She seems content just to have me share that, so there you go. ???

Lisa Pogue said...

I think you should go with Etsy!! you can advertise and do what you want to do. No demands other than what you put on yourself! We dog lovers will stand by you know matter what you choose to do, just have fun!!

Ruca said...

Being an artist, I can understand your hesitation. The advice above is spot on. You shouldn't compomise. Keep creating what you love.

Anny said...

Just do Etsy... its exclusive and you can do what you love and knit stuffs you like. No pressure and no stress.

Glad Norma Jean and Lola is all good :) hugs to the girls.

The books looks pretty interesting. I wonder if we'll find it here.

gMarie said...

I learned this the hard way and you've already learned the lesson. The answer is - don't turn your hobby into a job you don't control. It's honestly as simple as that. It will suck the joy out of any knitting. Just say no. If you want to see your sweaters - do it on your own, don't let someone else dictate what you do.

Tell them politely you are flattered but uninterested. Good luck on this decision - I hope you do what is right for you. g

Miss Kodee said...

Maybe look into an Etsy shop - put up the sweaters you want to knit and do a few custom orders as time allows.

You have had your share of health problems so its time for everyone to get on the mend! Hope things are better now.

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

So good to hear that Norma Jean is better - good TLC from Mom.

We have heard of those books too, and the Momster says she might enjoy them if she only could figure out how to make time. How do you do it all?

We loved your sweaters. We agree with others - go for what makes you happiest. You are a crafter who truly loves her work, it would be a shame to lose that joy because of what someone else demands.

Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

Marjie said...

I'm slow to the party, but I'm another vote for only doing what makes you happy. If you don't need the money, then there's no point in letting others dictate your life for you. In other words, "What Jan said."

Jed and Abby in MerryLand said...

Well, it's unanimous! Don't turn a beloved hobby into a chore; you'll come to hate it. For years, mama used to make doll clothes for the daughters of friends and relatives and it was a great pleasure for her. People told her she should start going to craft shows and sell online and stuff, but mama figured that would take one of her favorite creative activities and turn it into as much of a job as practicing law. Ultimately, once basic needs are met, money mostly buys you the luxury of control over your own life, and you already have that.

Jed & Abby

Stella said...

ETSY! Independent - choose your styles, your colors, prices, whatever you want and let the company find somebody who likes to take orders or has a knitting machine!

Sorry to have missed this, but here is my opinion.


Mango said...

I think you already knew what the right decision was when you posted, and it looks like your readers agree. Doing something because you love it is a very different proposition from doing something for a business. Unless you want to be making sweaters that you don't agree with stylistically, keep it as a hobby.

BTW - have read all the Chet the Dog mysteries. There are wonderful.

Mango Momma

Catalina said...

I wish you would do an Etsy shop! I love your work - more the dolls than the sweaters :)
I LOVE Etsy. I buy waaaaay too much on there. There are so many neat ideas. Usually if I have an idea for something I can find someone on Etsy that makes it. It's amazing!

My most recent Etsy 'quest':
I have been trying to find someone on Etsy that would knit a pink and white border collie hat for me. I want to give it to Tibby's agility teacher. So many people knit the kind of hat I want (with floppy ears), but they only do baby sized hats. :(