I’ve been knitting for about 9-ish years now, and people are always telling me that I should sell my knitting, or they ask me why I don’t. Here are my answers:
Prepare yourselves for some explanations, clarifications, and a little ranting (non-knitters take special note).
Back in the day (and this still holds mostly true), I wanted to learn to knit for several reasons:
- I like making things.
- I like making things for myself.
- I like yarn and fabric.
- Because I was (and still am) a stay-at-home-mom, and babies, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, paying bills, making and taking people to doctor and dentist appts., etc. are never ever ever ever complete. I needed something that could be finished…and stay finished.
- I like to make things for people I love…as gifts…usually on a whim.
- I like making things for my little family: i.e. Ben and the kids.
- I like being in charge. With knitting I get to make all the decisions…even the decision to let someone else make a decision (like color preferences and what not).
Those are, mostly, the reasons I learned to knit. And although I will, in instances of my choosing, knit things by request or sell things I’ve knitted, I prefer to knit just for fun. Throwing money into the mix makes knitting work instead of fun. And quite frankly, work wise, it’s usually not worth it.
Over the years, (while working around Ben’s office schedule, overtime, traveling for work, and commuting) I have given knitting lessons, made and sold earrings, done demos at a craft store, babysitted, and fixed up old furniture to sell. I even had a little ‘odds and ends’ job for a bit where I would finish projects other people started but couldn’t finish or repair dropped stitches and snags in people’s store bought sweaters. Out of all those jobs I can tell you that, hands down, knitting by request was the most amount of work for the least amount of profit…if there was any. (There are exceptions to this, like selling things on Etsy,…but I’m speaking generally).
When most people (that I know) request a knitted item or suggest I make something, they have no real sense of the cost involved– namely, materials and labor. For example, I was recently offered $20.00 (U.S.) for the Lavender Baby Shawl. I understand the urge to offer $20. You can find lots of lovely blankets at lots of lovely stores for $20 or less. It seems pretty reasonable. I am, however, not retired, a machine, or a big retail chain. I am just one person, with a special skill set, who fits in knitting around her life.
So, just for fun, let’s do a breakdown of what it cost me to make the shawl and then compare it to $20.00:
- Cost of yarn: $25.00
- Labor: at least 30 hrs. x $2/hr (see how that is way less than minimum wage…by a lot).
That puts the (low) cost of this blanket at $85. That’s a $65 difference, and in my world, that’s a lot. (That price is not including the cost or time that usually goes into traveling and locating the yarn that the person requests, the tools involved for the job, or in this case, the fact that it is one of a kind item because I designed it as I went along.) I think, also, many people don’t realize that knitting can get very expensive. Knitting a nice pair of socks, for example, can cost anywhere from $6 to $30 just for the yarn alone.
And that, my dears, is why I don’t sell a lot of knitted things. I give them as gifts instead. Giving gifts warms my heart. And it turns the hours I spent making something into an act of love.
It is also why I get to choose when and what I knit. ;)