Make Fiber Your Business
As spinners, we each sit somewhere along the length of an unending learning curve. There is always more to do or try, more spinning fibers with which to experiment, more spinning techniques to master. We do not spin because there is an end point to our journey, but because the journey itself is pleasurable. As we travel we come to know our own strengths and weaknesses, to improve, to learn, and to refine. This, to me, is the joy of spinning. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.”
I love to look back through my finished spinning projects and note the progression of my skills over time. The hat on which I perfected knitting a doubled brim, or the yarn on which I finally got the hang of how to spin with a long draw. Perhaps it’s natural that, as we grow in our skills, the lure of another well-known quote tempts us: “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Making items for yourself leads to planning projects for handspun gifts, which in turn becomes curiosity about whether you might be able to make a bit of money from all this handspun yarn. In the days of Etsy, Ravelry, farmers markets, and guild sales, it’s easier than ever to turn a fiber hobby into a fiber career.
Making a living, or even supplementing your living, with a hobby may seem like a pipe dream. But I know people who have done it, and you probably do too. I have a high school classmate who went on to found a very successful letterpress paper studio; another friend started making bow ties in her spare time a few years ago and recently quit her day job to sew full time. Within the fiber world in particular, we are fortunate to have a large community of talented indie fiber producers, spinners, dyers, and pattern designers. They all had to start somewhere.
For most, the journey probably began with a lot of preparation and planning. The path to turning a hobby into a business mirrors the path of spinning itself. Plan, refine, experiment, learn, and refine some more. Take advantage of the resources available from sources and people you trust. Continue to practice and hone your business craft as you would your fiber craft. Gnaw your bone, and the rest will follow.