"afghan" = bedspread

A few days ago, I mentioned an afghan that became a bedspread as part of my comment on Quinton's excellent post about how to say "No" when asked to knit something.

Nehkhasi said he'd like to read about it...so, my friend, this is for you:

Some years ago, I was demonstrating spinning at a local venue and we had a young woman stop by, asking if any of us would be interested in making a gift for her mother. An afghan.

I agreed to the project and quoted a price based on the size and materials of the afghan I normally knit at that time. [Which, to be fair, was a bit larger than what most patterns call for.]

Then the problems began:
1) She balked at paying me for the materials, which were at cost, when documented with the reciept. Especially after...
2) I had to buy more yarn to begin reknitting the project because...
3) The size I thought she wanted wasn't as big as the afghan I knit up "...to fit my Mom's bed".

So, after a couple of restarts - and several phone calls about why the afghan wasn't finished - I finally got the blessed thing finished and large enough for what she wanted...

A bedspread that fit a Queen-sized bed. Not the simple afghan that I figured for use on the couch or a single-sized bed.

So...I learned valuable lessons:
1) Know exactly what the person wants before you agree to anything.
Especially before you quote a price.
2) Let them know that materials are expected to be a separate payment, with provisions to pay for more if required to finish the job, as that cost doesn't come out of the final fee.
3) To that end, if at all possible, have them approve the final color choices - and yarn used - so you don't get stuck with a batch of yarn that you'd normally avoid, or a finished piece that was rejected because the person decided it wasn't suitable after all.
In fact, make that part of the negotiations...If they reject the yarn and/or project after approving it; they've still bought it. With any replacement yarn/piece being a separate commissioned item, billed accordingly.
4) Make it clear that handcrafted items take time to create and a reasonable effort will be made to finish the project in a timely manner. However, deadlines for the finished product - at their end - have to be reasonable as well. Delays can happen. Plus, it saves wear and tear on the knitter's hands and body by preventing marathon knitting sessions.

Or, as Quinton so wisely said - and I've come to do as a matter of habit - politely explain that you do not accept commissions.


AKQGuy's picture

Could it be that a non-knitters vocabulary doesn't match with a knitters regarding the term "afghan" I agree that I tend to think of afghans as throws. How do the rest of the guys on here weigh in? What comes to mind when you hear the term "afghan"?

And thanks for the lovely comments on my post Joe.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

You're very welcome, Q. I had to post - then edit - so I could save the piece before the public computer I was using shut down. So you may want to revisit this. Still...I couldn't begin to put it as well as you did.

And you are so right about non-knitters vocabulary not matching our...that's why I would now make certain that I knew exactly what size, etc. they were expecting before I agreed to any commissioned work.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

SAPBrown's picture

When I hear afghan, I think throw also. On a single bed an afghan would lay on top of the mattress, once it drapes over the sides it becomes a bedspread.

This is just my opinion,
and therefore can be completely wrong

smalltownknitguy's picture

I concur with you all. An afghan is for napping on the couch. Bedspread is a decorative cover and much larger.
I was once asked to knit a couch cover and I very honestly told the person it would be extremely expensive. They backed away quietly.

phew's picture

I am currently knitting an afghan (my first attempt) and it is taking me forever. However, to the question - for me an afghan is something you throw on top of yourself on a cold morning or evening while sitting in your most comfortable chair either reading, knitting, watching a movie from the '40's or more likely sleeping. If I want a bedspread that's what I'll ask for! John

Tallguy's picture

Yes, we need to be sure that you get all the details worked out BEFORE you accept a commission. Get it in writing! And don't start work on it without a sizable deposit as well.

I think, Joe, that we all have had to learn these lessons the hard way for ourselves. We all think we will work through any difficulty YOU had -- those issues would never come up for me! (famous last words)

Just say no.

TinkerJones's picture

I've seen afghans of different shapes and sizes, but the first one I think of is definitely lap sized not bed sized. Let's not get into the fact that people have different sized laps.

Potter's picture

Did I miss the photo of the afghan? I'd love to have seen it.

Joe-in Wyoming, this is a most excellent post about doing custom work for other people. Thank you for sharing your valuable knowledge! I've recently ran across a similar thing. Someone changed their custom order and requested a color glaze that I do not have in stock, and their color request requires the glaze to "play well" with another glaze.

Glaze colors (for stoneware pottery) are not like paints. I have the colors I have because I've spent time mixing and testing and using those glazes to know that they go well together. It can take me years to find good colors.

IF I can make the requested color, I'll have to test it to see if I can get the color combination the person wants. Additionally, it takes time to make enough items to fill a kiln in order to run a glaze color test. So the testing process is very long.

Don't get me wrong. Unlike most people, I LOVE custom orders. They give me clues to what might sell to the general public. I also always seem to learn something new from the process of making custom orders. But, I sure hope that this person is patient!

I haven't gotten a reply on my email, so I have no idea how to proceed with their order.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Thanks for the input. There aren't any photos of the afghan because it was quite a few years ago and I didn't have a camera. Now, I have a camera but don't know how to download photos, especially since I use public computers for all my internet. [Personal choice.]
Having dabbled with throwing stoneware, I know where you are coming from. Glazes are gorgeous mediums to work with but developing them does, indeed, take a lot of work. Here's hoping the people who approach you appreciate that and are patient.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

daveballarat's picture

Jo at the rate I knit, wow ... ummm ... I know why I don't get asked and so I don't have to say no. Actually that's not true I've had a woman at work for the past 3 years asking me to knit her a cardigan and I say 'no' every time.
It is just I've got 'no' go at the moment really stuck... must get myself to pick up those needles ... before the retreat ...ahhhhh.

I look forward to catching up with you and all the other guys. Well I only know you but am sure the other guys are great company. Joe has it been 3 years since we first emailed ? See you soon


Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I'm thinking it may even be closer to 4 years since we first met on-line and began emailing back and forth. [If not longer.]
As it is...I'm truly trying not to count down the minutes until we get to meet in person. [Days, maybe, but not minutes...yet. LOL]
As for knitting...you can find time to work on a project at the retreat, so I would encourage you not to stress over it too much.
Take care and see you soon - Joe

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Nehkhasi's picture

Thank You Joe for posting this. So glad I finally got back to the site before I missed it. So much good information in this writing. I love showing what I've done, but I always dread that horrible question that's bound to follow from at least one person ( Will you do that for me?) LOL :-) . This does give one a great way to go about making sure that all things are communicated and understood if deciding to go ahead with making a project and is a deterrent for any one not truly willing to invest financially for the time, effort and creativity involved. I appreciate you. :-)