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.