Friday, April 04, 2008

Obsess much? Moi?

So, before Wednesday, what the heck was I doing for about the last three weeks while the blog languished without a single entry?

The answer, in brief: The Schedule has been screwed once again.

The answer, in the-total-opposite-of-brief (it's my usual long and wordy blather, but please at least skim this, because I ask for opinions at the end):

For several years, I've been feeling some serious guilt about not giving enough back to the world. It's been hard for DH and me to contribute, with serious constraints on both time and money. On the other hand, we have a roof over our heads, food on our plates, clothes on our backs, and very reasonable levels of liberty, justice and security in our lives, unlike the majority of people around the globe. (Hence the guilt.) So I was starting to look at knitting for charity instead (in between the various projects for the kids and gifts for friends & family), say, for something like the Dulaan project.

Another thing I've been thinking for some time now is that I should knit a hat for one of the kids in our neighbourhood. Kulin is a really nice young man who goes to the same school as my older daughter, and he's been her 'bus buddy' all year for school. And in addition to helping his dad shovel his driveway all winter, he's been cheerfully assisting other neighbours, on his own initiative. (And it's been a super-snowy winter, too; the GTA either broke or came really close to breaking the snowfall record set in 1939.)

Unfortunately, he's also spent the winter going around with his coat wide open (when he wore a coat at all), sneakers, no scarf, and three times he's been out in the middle of winter in shorts. (Ah, teenagers...with their nonchalance about the elements and irrational desire for frostbite...) But perhaps most distressing of all...he doesn't wear a hat. Except for one day in December when he apparently wanted to, but couldn't find one, so he used a Santa hat that was kicking around the house.

Well. To me, a knitter - who wanted to give him a token of our gratitude anyway - this just doesn't jibe. The boy needs a hat. Of course, I don't think for a moment that he will actually wear the hat, but nevertheless, he should have one.

(By the way, if by any bizarre chance you know Kulin and are reading this, pleeeze don't tell him this story, since he has no idea, I haven't actually given him the hat yet. :)

And then my niece's mom kindly dug out from storage the double knitting baby blanket I made, and measured it for me so I would have finished dimensions and thus be able to write up the pattern. Which I did. Oh, and also, I'd been ogling the Marble yarn at my LYS for months. The colourways and smooth transition of the colour variegation are very cool, and the yarn looked very wool-like, even though it's 100% acrylic.

So all of these things were kind of swirling through my head. And then my older daughter's winter hat disappeared. This sucked, because the lost hat was fleece, nice and warm, with earflaps that velcroed together snugly under her chin. Fresh from writing up a double knitting pattern, I figured the best way to solve this problem was to make her a double knitted hat as a replacement. She chose colours and a pattern (thin horizontal stripes), and away I went.

Even when we found the lost hat, I kept going with knitting the new one, because I was so re-jazzed about the double knitting technique. But the stripes were pretty boring, so I started fantasizing about doing peeries or something. And hey, I thought, if I use the Marble yarn, I could really make it look like fair isle, even though it's really double knitting. And hey, I thought some more, since I'm working this thing top-down, I can make it for any size head I want, from new babies to massive, brain-swollen adults. I could make one for the neighbour's kid! I could make some for Dulaan children! I could make one for my baby daughter!

I could...hey. I could even sell the pattern for charity.

But which charity? The answer came instantly. Why, the Yarn Harlot's Knitters Without Borders/Tricoteuses Sans Frontières (KWB/TSF) initiative, of course! Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières is one of DH's and my favourite charities when we have the room in our budget to give, and the link to knitting makes it the perfect choice.

And then my thought process put on an extra burst of inspiration and I realised what the name of the hat pattern should be:

Kulin's Warm Brain/Tête Sans Froid (KWB/TSF) Hat.

(With thanks to my husband for coming up with 'tête' as the 'T' in the French acronym...I was fruitlessly scouring my brain and our French/English dictionary for some kind of 'T' word that would be descriptive of our neighbour's kid. Fortunately, DH was there to point out the obvious.)

And so.

I am totally on a knitting jag with this hat pattern. I've done one for the nice young man who was the inspiration for the thing, one for my younger daughter, am working on a store sample (June at Knitters Attic has agreed to sell the patterns in-store), and have bought more yarn for more of the hats, which I will be making in some of the smaller sizes, and giving to Dulaan. I am in the process of finalizing the pattern. Once that's done, I'll sell it through Ravelry. All profits will be donated to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières.

(Alas, in browsing Ravelry to try and figure out what would be reasonable for me to charge for this pattern, I discovered that I was not the first person to think of this great idea, so now I feel a little copycattish of this pattern [scroll down to 'Giving Pixie']. However, the two hat patterns are rather different, so I don't feel like I'm taking contributions away from Little Turtle Knits.)

But I'm still rather stumped as to what to charge. I'd originally hoped to price it really cheaply (like ninety-nine cents kind of thing), so that everybody and their dog would say, "Oh hell, I can swing that," and click the 'Buy' button like crazy. Unfortunately, what with the fees I need to pay PayPal, plus another little bit to Ravelry, this would give me an administrative overhead of almost 65%, which is awful. I can't ask people to buy this thing 'for charity' if the charity only gets 35 cents of their dollar. Now, at $1.99, the overhead drops dramatically to about 36%, but that's still not great. At $2.99, it's a little over 25%. At $3.99, it's less than 22%, and at $4.99, about 19%.

So...thoughts? I'm thinking of going with $2.99, but if I'm completely out to lunch and should be charging something different (either more or less), I'd like to hear about it first before I actually put a price on it. I really want to hit a perfect balance between "So cheap that even people who don't normally purchase patterns online will click 'Buy' before they even know what they're doing" and "Charging enough to make a lot of money for a good cause".

If it helps, here are some samples:

adult size

toddler size

toddler size, melt-your-heart, you-know-you-wanna-buy-the-pattern shot

Pleeeeeeeze help me out here?

(Regular blogging to resume shortly.)


Georgiana said...

Are you nuts? Don't shortchange yourself, or the charity... I'd go for $4.99. The few times I've seen patterns for less than this, they've been considerably less appealing than this lovely little hat!

Em said...

I think that there is a big tendency for non-pro designers to seriously undercharge for patterns, so even at $5 you're probably coming in a little under the standard pattern pricing! I wouldn't go below $4 -- it's a great pattern (you'll get killer sales just with that adorable photo of DD2!) and a great cause.

Anonymous said...

Hi there:

I am a good friend of Gillian's, as I know you are. Besides pointing out your blog to me because it's so great, I am also the Director of Fundraising for MSF Canada. Thank you sincerely for doing this! Please email me anytime re: MSF or your charity project for our medical relief.


Anonymous said...

*points above to Rebecca's comment* All true! :) And I love the hat patterns!


Carrie K said...

The hat is really cute! Wait. Teenage boy? Handsome. Warm. Practical. Not "cute". Argh. :)

And yes, don't shortchange yourself. At least break even on your costs. It's the sad factor about charities nowadays! Overhead. $5 US seems reasonable to me.