Friday, October 27, 2006

The Value of Knitting

I was waiting for my boys to get their hair cut, knitting on a green sock, when I struck up a conversation with the lady sitting next to me. She admired my knitting and I told her of the comfort to be had in a pair of hand knit socks. Then I showed her my mittens:

I knit these Latvian mittens last year and wore them through the whole winter. They look pretty tired now, but still, I love these mittens and I'm very proud of them. The nice lady told me I should should sell my things at a craft show. Hmph. I've heard that before.

"How much would you pay for these?" I asked her, pointing to my mittens.

"Ten dollars." she replied.

"I wouldn't sell them to you at that price," I stated.

"How much would you sell them for?" she asked.

"Seventy dollars."

"Well, then, you have a very valuable pair of mittens." said the nice lady, who was most certainly putting a polite face on it.

"Yes, I do!" I replied, and I belive they would be cheap at that price.


  1. Too low. I'd pay that much for the class on how to make them. *L*

    I think people who don't knit are unable to understand the time and care we put into the things we knit. Just like they do not always see the value of our time or how long it took us to become the knitters we are.

  2. Love those mittens!

    $10? Yikes! $70 is much better. This is why I only knit gifts.

  3. Funny, if your mittens were displayed at Walmart, they'd go for $10. If they were displayed at a chic boutique they'd likely fetch $100. Attitude is everything! And proper placement helps too LOL! They're gorgeous.

  4. There is an appreciation of time that is hard to translate to a monetary value. I have had many a similar conversation with co-workers regarding my hand knit sweaters.

  5. It always amazes me when clueless people think they are being nice by suggesting a person under sell their time and talent.

    Those mittens are awesome. :D

  6. Loving those mittens, beautiful! That woman would've been singing a much different song..given the pattern, yarn, and needles (at their proper prices) and told to 'have at it'. Oh, and make them this lovely. $10.00 indeed! Most muggles are simply clueless, bless them, eh?

  7. "Muggle" has become part of my vocabulary here in South Louisiana and boy-howdy, this woman you met is a muggle's muggle.

    Clearly she has no appreciation of the value of the yarn alone -- much less your time.

    The mittens, by the way, are smashing. Just magnificent.

    This is curious because just the other night my husband and I picked up his new eyeglasses and there was a coffeehouse next door so we decided to have a cup before going home to make dinner.

    We got our coffee and found a pair of comfy chairs. The chairs-with-tables were packed with college students. So much the better. They got hard stay-awake chairs and a nice flat writing surface, and we got cushy chairs for our tired, middle-aged behinds.

    A girl at the adjacent table kept glancing at my socks and finally leaned over to compliment me on them (sandal socks in Noro Kureyon). She made all her friends look, asked me when I learned to knit, said she wished she knew how, etc. etc. Then she asked me if I would make her a pair if she paid me. Never able to resist a joke, I said, "Are you putting yourself through school or are your parents rich?" I then explained that the yarn alone was $18, that it was good wool, and that I only knit for pleasure but if I did choose to knit for pay, I would charge a comparable rate to any other skilled labor -- say a carpenter, plumber, or mechanic -- so I would work for no less than $25 an hour and that it takes me about four hours to knit each sock. I said this all very pleasantly of course.

    The entire table was silenced. At that point I reached in my knitting bag -- where I always have a bunch of cards from the LYS where a friend of mine teaches knitting -- and I said, "but you could learn to knit, and make them yourself for the cost of the yarn -- remember, you're spending four bucks for that double espresso, so the yarn's not that expensive."

    To my surprise, the girl smiled and took the card and said, "I'd LOVE to learn! I had no idea it took so much time-- you make it look so easy."

    To which I said, "it is, after awhile. And you will find it relaxing and enjoyable when you have a spare moment."

    When I sat down my husband looked at me with a very amused expression and said, "My God. You are a knitting evangelist."

  8. $10? Please! People who don't knit or craft (I'll say that because I don't think someone who weaves, or does needlepoint, or woodworking etc, would make such a statement, just don't understand the costs of materials, and time.

  9. Anonymous3:04 pm

    Don't you just love it when people say how 'lucky' you are to be so 'talented'? Don't get me started. Only another artisan has a 'clue' of the amount of work that goes in the beautiful projects shown on your website. My rule about giving away my handiwork. 1. Only to another artisan. 2. Only for love.

    I am working on the fibre fish mitts by the way. Just happened to drop into London Yarns, co-incidently, the day you dropped your patterns off there. Funny, really, I only stop in there once or twice a year, but it happened to be a yucky, rainy day and I needed my spirits lifted. I'll send you a pic when I'm done.

  10. Yep, that's why I don't do craft fairs any more. Today's purchasers are far too used to bulk-produced, standardised stuff in very poor materials. Like one of the other said just now - if they were in a chic Parisian boutique, they could sell at something like their real value. Only solution? Set yourself up as impossibly, unattainably expensive. The Prada handbag approach.

    Celtic Memory Yarns
    (You want my yarns? Forget it. You couldn't afford them in a million years...) See?

  11. I know what you mean about selling your handmade items - people think because things are handmade they should only pay for the materials - what about the person who made it? I used to make jointed teddy bears and sell them at craft fairs. I am too old and too wise for that nonsense now, so I make things for my own self or to give to good friends and family!

  12. Dez, great story! I'm a knitting missionary too. :-)

    Anonymous, I'd love to see your fish mittens! Maybe I'll have a gallery one day.

    For all the rest, thanks for the support. I was indignant last night, but not really surprised. I think if I ever tried to sell my mittens, I'd take them to one of the art galleries in town. I could get the right price there, because it would be the right market.

    The other thing I do, is a custom order. In the past, I have been commissioned to create a sweater for someone. I work with them on yarn, pattern and colors to create a piece that is in tune with who they are. I love to do this kind of work. I still don't think I get paid what I'm worth, but I've always priced myself quite high when I've done something like this.

  13. Those mittens are gorgeous and not "tired" at all.

    ITA about the muggles. People have no conception of what yarn costs or the time involved to knit it up. It's so annoying.

  14. Ha Ha Shes a joker. I've seen hand-knit mittens in the store and they go for a lot more than that. Your mittens are lovely and not tired at all. She was probably trying to get a nice pair of mittens for nothing.

  15. $70? No way. More like $170 or $270. But really, you can't put a price on them, they are that stunning and fabulous. They are truly priceless, IMHO. $10 might cover the yarn. But only if it were crap yarn, and I'm guessing you used nice yarn. The expertise and the hours of labor put in by the knitter is worth 100 times that insulting amount, I think.

    Boy, that non-knitter's "you should sell them" comment is sure annoying, isn't it?

    Kudos on a beautiful pair of mittens. Please tell me you have sewn into each one of them a "please return to Laurie at 555-1212" label, because it would be a tragedy to lose one.

  16. You're right Mary, there's no crap yarn in those mittens. I used Koigu semi-solids. It's still lovely and soft.

    But the mittens do look tired to me. The white is dingy and won't come clean in eucalan. I'm thinking of throwing them into the washing machine. And the plams are wearing down. The yarn isn't as cushy there.

    The lovely thing is, I can make myself another pair in a snap and I even have two pairs, simpler than these, stashed away for Christmas.

    It's the old give a man a fish, vs teach a man to fish....

  17. People always say that to my socks - they see me knitting them all the time and they tell me I should sell them. Little do they understand the time and love that goes into handknitting. It's really like a self-loving, the process of knitting is to me.

    Your mittens look lovely, btw. Worth more than 70$ for sure.

  18. So true! Love those people that say "Wow, you must really save alot of money knitting your children sweaters!" HA HA That is the funniest thing...........they have NO CLUE! Love the mittens!

  19. Man! Do I get a kick out of the mittens of pointy goodness! I've got the book on Estonian mittens, but I'll be damned if I can't figure out the cool arrow stitching on the cuff (*grrr*).

    Excellent job!

  20. I love this thread! And Dez, I'm there with you - a knitting missionary!

    On Thanksgiving I gave my sil a pair of fingerless mittens and her daughter said "I want a pair" to which I kindly replied "I'll be happy to teach you to knit". She's 25, living with her parents along with her two children and not working (extenuating circumstances) and has plenty of time to learn . . . will she? I doubt it. Will I make them for her? I doubt it.

  21. Anonymous11:49 am

    Can you make me a pair of those? Yes, I can.
    Will I make you a pair of those? No.
    It's all in the