Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How much?

Yesterday I told you all about the local craft fair I went to this weekend.  I have a short story to tell that happened early in the day.

My grandparents like to sit by the band through the fair.  I was sitting with my grandmother and showing off my freshly finished shawl knit out of my handspun.  Oh, and I spent the whole summer designing this shawl.*  She loved it and was so impressed.  She's awesome like that (though crazy in many other ways).

Not too long after, another old lady comes over to talk to her and Grandma jumps at the opportunity to show off my shawl.  The lady must be crazy because she told me I should make and sell them at the fair.  Here's how our conversation went:

Me:  I'd never get what it's worth though.
Her:  So what?  At least get your materials cost back!
Me:  ::sitting there dumbfounded::

Really?  I should sell this shawl that I just spent the whole summer spinning the yarn on a drop spindle, designing, working math, swatching and then finally knitting and blocking for the $16 I spent on the fiber?  Seriously?

Obviously I wouldn't be spinning the yarn for everything I make.  And I could pad the price a bit for profit.  But by how much?  How much would someone actually spend on a shawl or handknit socks?

Sure, I can make what I spent on materials back.  But that would never remotely cover the time I spent making that piece.  How much do I, as an artisan, deserve to be paid for my work?  Hourly, I think at least $15 an hour, probably more.  But stop for a moment and think about how many hours it takes to knit a shawl or socks or even a hat.  A hat knit at a bulky size takes at least 2 hours or so.  I knit a shop sample at Village Knitter- fingerless gloves, super easy pattern- and even that took me my entire day.  So should I spend my entire day knitting a pair of gloves only to sell them for $15-$20?  I don't think that's worth it.

While at the craft fair, I ran into a friend from my knitting group and I told her about this too.  She felt that our generation is seeing a trend of moving back to handmade and handcrafted goods while our grandparents (and maybe even parents) generation who came out of the Great Depression have a different mindset.  I can see her point- we are the creators of websites like Etsy and probably do most of the shopping on those sites.  Whereas my Mom will go to the dollar store and think she's found gold.**

I'm cheap.  I admit it.  But I'm willing to spend my money on quality and handmade.  When I know to who my money will be going to (as opposed to sweat shops and bootleggers in other countries), I'm much more willing to spend.

How about a cute baby picture to lighten the mood?

She's such a cutie :o)

*I'm not sharing it here yet because I'm hoping to submit to Knitty first.  It needs lots of writing, editing and test knitting before I can submit it for the Spring issue so that'll be a while.

**Don't get me wrong.  I love Dollar Tree.  Great place to find classroom supplies!  To buy a scarf, not so much.


  1. I'd thought about selling my knitted goods but, like you, knew I'd never get what they're worth.

  2. Oh no. Nonononono. There is no way I would ever knit items and try to sell them. I do some sample knitting, but I am compensated what I consider a fair amount for my time and my *skilled* labor. It takes a certain amount of skill to be able to whip out a magazine-worthy sweater in fingering weight yarn in two weeks. That's why I only give away the things I knit: no one would be able to afford them, and only those people who deserve the items get them. :)



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