This morning I wrapped my two cushions. They're for two of my colleagues, both expecting babies - and on the same day, to boot. There's something very nerve-wracking about gifting an item you've made yourself: What if they don't like them? What if they generally don't like handmade stuff? What if they think crochet is tacky or kitschy or some other derogative adjective that ends in -y? It feels quite personal somehow and I find it quite unsettling. My gifts are generally given under tables or left in bags in the corner with a mumbled instruction that the recipient should look inside, there's just something small in there - just a token, just a gesture. Nothing fancy.
While some people will look at and appreciate the time and effort put into a handmade gift, others will always regard the handmade item as ... cheap (you didn't even bother to buy a gift!) or - curl your lip as you say this - homemade. The sad thing is that the latter type are often the ones who'd be willing to fork out a fortune on the same kind of object ... if it had the right label.
As a result, I try to wrap my work as nicely as I can, label it appropriately and present it well - figuring that if I show my work respect, others will see its value as well. And it seems to work: my preggy colleagues were very happy (or very good actors: let's not rule it out) and other bystanders were also impressed. Lots of oohing and aahing. I was even told that my work was so nice, I should do it professionally! Make cushions and blankets and all kinds of colourful stuff!
I smiled and said gently, "Well, that would be really, really lovely but ... if I did, I'd probably only earn about 50 cents an hour."
"Really? How long does it take you to make something like that?"
Honestly? I don't know. "About seven or eight hours in total?" I ventured.
"And then there's the cost of the yarn, the fleece, and the cushion itself," I added. "So I'd probably have to charge about €100 per cushion to make minimum wage." Nervous laugh.
All eyes turned to view my cushions with new respect. I bet no one had ever been in the company of such expensive home furnishings before. (Ha ha - take that, Jasper Conran! Your smelly cushions only cost a paltry €30!)
The weird thing about the whole escapade was that I had a bit of separation angst when I was wrapping my cushions. One part of me didn't want to give them away, I had a bit of an inner sulk ("They're my cushions! Mine! I made them, they belong to me! Mine!" Foot stamp). I have to watch that - otherwise I'll end up like one of those messies: living in a house with stacks and stacks of crochet cushions, burrowing tunnels to the door.