I was delighted to be asked by a friend to create something special for her father’s upcoming 60th birthday. My customer knew she’d like to give her father a custom handwoven scarf, and she knew he liked his scarves to be a little shorter and thinner than my more standard dimensions. And, she knew her father liked soft and luxurious fibres. But she wasn’t sure what the scarf should look like.
This is definitely not unusual! In fact, it’s vary rare for a customer to come to me and ask for exactly what they want, because they’re just not quite sure. That’s nothing at all to worry about. We’ll work together to create something that fits your vision, no matter how detailed or otherwise it started out.
Learning about the recipient
I wanted to know more about my customer’s father. I already knew we were planning a scarf of a certain dimension, and that it needed to be very soft. We’d established that he had no allergies or sensitivities that might dictate what material the scarf needed to be made from. But what else? What colours did he often wear? What climate did he live in? Did he often wear scarves, or only when he felt cold? Was he a man who liked to be “in fashion”, did he prefer a more classic look, or was he a practical man who preferred form to function? I like to ask a lot of questions at this stage of creating a custom piece.
Teasing out the ideas
My customer and I worked together to form some ideas. She wanted her father to have a piece he could talk about, something that was obviously not “off the rack”, and a bit different to the more usual scarf. And, we’d established that he preferred a more classic style, and that he wore scarves often as an accent to his outfit. That meant that the scarf would need to be lightweight, so that he could wear it even when the weather was not especially cold.
So now I knew the dimensions, the basic look (classic, understated, yet a conversation piece), and I had a good idea of what fibres to work with. The next step was to look through pictures of previous Metafour Studio work with my customer, to see if any designs were similar to what she envisaged for her father.
Looking for inspiration
There were two previous Metafour Studio scarves that my customer was drawn to. She thought that Winter Lace was a good match for the elements she wanted, although the dimensions were not right for her father. She also liked the bold contrast in Poetry in Black and White, but was concerned that her own personal preferences might be influencing her a little there.
Creating the vision
I was confident that using the spot lace technique in Winter Lace would be a good outcome for her, producing a light, soft scarf in luxurious silk and wool with a texture that is not available in store-bought pieces. It had the classic look in black and white, but was just subtly unusual enough to invite comment. So, I wove Coffeehouse for my customer.
I had a little time before her deadline, so I wove a second option that answered her interest in the bolder contrasting shades. The design was less classic and more unusual, but would certainly be a piece that could not possibly have been store-bought.
The result was Cityscape, using ethically produced White Gum Wool that provides a talking point of its own as well as being some of the softest Merino yarn I have ever worked with.
The moment of truth
It’s always a bit nerve-wracking, sending off the email with pictures of the finished work. I hope I’ve asked enough questions and understood my customer’s needs well enough, and I hope that what I’ve woven for them will bring delight and be “just the thing”.
This time around, my customer was so pleased with the designs that she surprised me by deciding to purchase both options! Another family member had recently had a major life event and she wanted a gift for him as well. She chose the classic Coffeehouse for her father, and the bolder Cityscape for her second gift. She reported that both giftees were very pleased with their custom-woven scarves.