Inspired by the Shieldmaidens, NPCs that you can hire by doing a mini-quest, I came with this idea, hiring blacksmiths with mini-quests.
This blacksmith is a whole new NPC. It spawns sometimes around the houses and forges of the blacksmithies of Dale, Gondor, Rohan and the Angle. Think of this NPC as an apprentice honing his craft by working under the guidance of a full time blacksmith. To hire this NPC you'll need to complete a mini-quest and he'll follow you around, repair your equipment for some money (or ingots perhaps) and you can also buy ingots from it.
Now the mini-quest. I'm not sure what it could be, maybe you'll have to prove that you're a great blacksmith yourself, by showing him some items? Like collecting 20 Dalish Chestplates and giving them to him, or perhaps by crafting a mithril item, that would certainly convince him. If all else fails, maybe just coins then? I don't know.
In time, if this gets added, new blacksmiths like this one could be added to the Elvish and Dwarfish factions, but with some differences, their mini-quests are harder but they can repair Elvish and Dwarfish equipment respectively, while the Human blacksmithis can only repair Mannish equipment.