I’ve always enjoyed trading with other makers as a way to get my knitting out in the world and bring other crafters’ work into my life. So when an opportunity to negotiate a crafty trade surfaced this fall, my ears (and knitting fingers) perked up. A woman I know through work asked how much I would charge for knitting her a hat. When I found out Cheryl runs her own CSA (community supported agriculture) of fermented goods, we started talking barters instead of monetary exchange.
I met up with Cheryl monthly to pick up my CSA, and the hat came along in various forms throughout its construction. During the first pickup in October, I brought the freshly purchased yarn to make sure she liked the colors. I also brought one of my finished hats to test out the sizing.
In November, I was on the bind-off row of the hat and we tried it on for fit – success! And during the December CSA pickup, I gave Cheryl the finished hat.
The bulk of knitting happened over two weeks, including an epic knitting session at an epic day-long brunch. I had forgotten how much I enjoy carting my knitting around with me to social events. That was a big part of my routine back in North Carolina, and for whatever reason I hadn’t worked that into my Brooklyn social scene. With most of the hat completed in November, I predictably procrastinated over choosing buttons, knitting the button flaps, and finishing the final details until right before my self-imposed deadline.
The ferments I received in exchange included: apple-ginger chutney, teff cookies, fermented hot sauce, juniper berry sauerkraut, pumpkin kombucha, 1-year aged miso, clove kombucha, and rosemary cashew cheese. SO TASTY, and things I never would have made myself. Yay for food exploration and supporting a healthy gut by eating more probiotic-rich food.
Finding dark wood buttons proved to be quite the challenge when I tried to stick around my work neighborhood. The fabric stores in SoHo and the Lower East Side had wood-look buttons, but not actual wood. One day after work I trekked to Tender Buttons in the Upper East Side – what a treasure of a shop! Apothecary drawers hiding button delights, floor to ceiling boxes (labeled and organized) showcasing a gorgeous variety of buttons, precious buttons curated and displayed behind glass… I’m glad I had a specific project in mind or I could have easily spent hours and too hefty a chunk of my paycheck there.
Here’s a photo of Cheryl wearing the hat. She seems pleased and tells me she’s received lots of compliments on it. Cheers to a fun, tasty trade!
Have you ever performed crafty alchemy? I’d love to hear your stories of bartering between makers.