Sunday, January 18, 2009


Before Christmas I was approached by a woman who wanted me to weave her a blanket. "I've looked for a purple blanket that I liked for years and haven't found one. Would you be interested in making me one?"
Commissions and I have a shady past. I haven't done a lot but with the exception of one dyeing commission, I have always had a problem with something going wrong. Sometimes my fault, but not always. Stupid calculation error when I estimated and then took the estimation as "fact". My fault indeed.
So I was hesitant to agree. But a commission is a guaranteed sale and so thinking "Guaranteed sale" I worked out a quote and presented it. She agreed and so I went ahead.
The way that I normally work out my prices is to take the total time to make the warp, dye the warp (if necessary), and warp the loom and divide the total hours by the number of projects on the loom. So if it takes me two hours to make the warp, three hours to dye the warp, and three hours to warp the loom and there are four scarves in the warp, then I average it out to 2 hours per scarf before weaving, finishing, and washing.
In this case I did the same thing. I decided that I would put on two blankets and weave the weft differently. Only that I never would have been putting on a blanket in the first place if not for the commission. There was NO possibility of selling a second blanket. I also didn't take into account the hour and a half that it took me to make the skeins into balls so that I could use the yarn. So I should have priced the blanket as a "one off". Alas, I did not.
My Bad.
And my lesson learned. So I think that from now on commission work will have a premium price that will take into account any glitches that may arise.
All was not lost though. I had decided early on that the second blanket would make a wonderful Christmas gift for my brother and his partner.
And I was right.


Julia said...

That' a beauty. It must be difficult for you to part with it. You may have under estimated your time but I hope that you had pleasure weaving it, so... you can justify a discount for your pleasure. In any case I hope that your costumer loves it.

ICQB said...

What a wonderful blanket. The art of weaving and all things fiber is like a mystical, magical craft that only the wise hold the secrets to.

Christine said...

Gorgeous! (I write this with one eye on the TV as people fill the Inauguration Stand in DC.)

Leigh said...

I'm reluctant to do commissions for similar reasons. The blanket is lovely though, beautiful colors.

Janet said...

Pricing is such a tricky thing, isn't it? I finally just set a price per inch for my wool and cotton blankets so now that headache is removed from all the custom orders I get for blankets, at least. I still have to worry that the customer won't be happy with the end result and be pressured to get something done by a particular time but at least I never have to agonize over how to price them or worry that I'm being unfair to either the customer or myself. Has made a big difference in my willingness to take custom orders.

Valerie said...

It is a beautiful blanket. Funny how we have to learn the same lessons over and over again.