This week I’ve been really mulling on the idea of knitting for others. Get a cuppa and mull with me.
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| Show Notes
| Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show (24-27th)
Are you heading to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show this week? Do pop over and see our lovely sponsor, The Knitting Goddess. She will be there will loads of incredible hand-dyed British wool, screen printed bags, notebooks and tags and awesome felt decoration kits. I got snippy and gluey with these last week!
| WIN TICKETS: A Knitter’s Christmas Party in Edinburgh
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| Knitting for others
Several things have occurred lately to have the subject of gift knitting and, particularly, knitting for money weigh on my mind.
In the same week that I had two requests for me to knit items for others, I also learned of one or two people not making a fair wage for the work they were producing that was being sold by a third party. This happens so much. Far more than we want to believe and when it is not the non-knitting contingent who are undervaluing our work, we often undervalue our own work by not giving it merit our work deserves or not making reasonable charges for the labour and material.
Here are the important things I want to get across this week.
- Knitting is a set of skills. You learn these skills on the job and – whether you only ever knit garter scarves, or you can make laceweight onesies (or are somewhere in between)– you are constantly fine honing your skills. You are a skilled craftsperson.
- What you do with sticks and yarn is VALUABLE.
- If you are asked to knit for someone make sure you are happy to knit the requested item and that the people asking of your time are knitworthy
- If you are asked to knit to order then ensure you charge appropriately for materials and something for your time
- If you knit for commissions or make items to sell, do not undersell yourself
You have utterly mad skills. Anyone who asks you to knit items for them does value you as a knitter – they know you have skills that they do not have. But misunderstandings, stereotype and clichés are ingrained and these can totally take away any kind of value they first implied.
I do not neglect to talk about the KnitWorthy in this episode. These are the absolutely incredible people who not only understand the work that goes into making a piece of knitting, but they get it! They get it, they get us. They get the love that goes into the stitches and all the tinking back and fixing of mistakes. They know what knitting means to us and that means something to them too. I have two incredible meaningful knit stories from Nancy Hughes and Elaine Anderson, both knitters who talk about objects either made for them or meant for them.
You can read more about Elaine’s shawl and see pictures on Lilith’s blog.
| What do you think?
I opened up a thread in the KnitBritish ravelry group on the subject of knitting for others and charging for your knitted goods. Here are what some of the folks in there said on the topic.
“Don’t. Get. Me. Started.” ” I don’t do commissions because I don’t feel my skills and time would be valued and I don’t want the pressure!” “I occasionally do commissions. They are usually for fellow craftsmen who value time and effort and skill, and are prepared to pay accordingly…” “The best trick of getting rid of unwanted request for knitting item: “will you be cleaning my house while I knit for you?” “I do think there’s often this “if it’s made by hand it should be cheaper” mentality, or it just isn’t valued…” ” If people keep undervaluing their work then the people who buy it will keep undervaluing what you knit. The only way to break this cycle is believe that you’re worth it and deserve to be paid for your skills and experience for making each beautiful knitted item.”
“when people, being nice, tell me I should sell my knitted things on Etsy, I tell them what i would have to charge..and they are shocked.”
“Don’t. Get. Me. Started.”
” I don’t do commissions because I don’t feel my skills and time would be valued and I don’t want the pressure!”
“I occasionally do commissions. They are usually for fellow craftsmen who value time and effort and skill, and are prepared to pay accordingly…”
“The best trick of getting rid of unwanted request for knitting item: “will you be cleaning my house while I knit for you?”
“I do think there’s often this “if it’s made by hand it should be cheaper” mentality, or it just isn’t valued…”
” If people keep undervaluing their work then the people who buy it will keep undervaluing what you knit. The only way to break this cycle is believe that you’re worth it and deserve to be paid for your skills and experience for making each beautiful knitted item.”
Please do visit the group to see the discussion and add your own voice.
I do not make items to sell anymore because the time and effort is not worth the bother to me when it is so hard to charge a reasonable amount. If I am making an item as requested by a friend I will definitely charge for materials and a little something for my time, but It can be spectacularly difficult to walk the line between charging an appropriate amount and completely underselling your work and your time and skills.
Here are a few links to give you info on how others price items, but please be advised this is not a fine art. If you are asked to sell your items or you want to start selling your own work you really need to do your research.
- Craftsy – Tips for pricing your handmade goods
- Who Pays Knitters – an anon crowdsourced database. Figures for sample knitting forthcoming and if you knit samples you can assist them with this info.
- Craft Fair UK- Craft Pricing Calculator
There are also some excellent blogs and further reading for you here
- Karie Bookish – On Devaluing Hand Knitting
- Knitty – Knitting for Dollars
- Yarn Harlot – Into the Woods
| cut out and keep missive for knitted requests
The next time you are asked to knit for someone and you don’t want to sigh/bite your tongue/etc etc, please feel free to just hand them this handy cut-out-and-keep slip with my love!
Thanks for listening. I’d love you to chat about your own feelings about this too.
I’ll be back next month!
Music: Carefree by Kevin McLeod and Singin’ in The Rain (demo) by David Mumford – Both are on FreeMusicArchive and are both shared under Creative Commons Attribution license.The Knitting Goddess Logo belongs to Joy McMillan. The Wool Tribe Christmas graphic is the property of Edinburgh Yarn Co Ltd. The “Cut out and Keep Missive for Knitted Requests” image and pdf was created by me, you are free to use it and should link back to www.knitbritish.net. Other images copyright to those stated.
Even if you charge ‘basic rate’, £8/hour, for what you knit, it ends up ridiculously expensive.
And most knitters are worthy of so much more than basic rate.
I knit for family and friends who value it. Friends have to supply the yarn. I supply the time – mainly while watching TV of an evening. It stops me chewing my fingernails!
But yes, just because I do it in my ‘spare time’, and your Grandma did it, doesn’t mean you can pay us peanuts.
yes, its that idea that spare time / idle time. Knitting for me is far more than a hobby or pass time. it occupies a different part of my brain, i think. It is part of my fabric now, not an idle time at all, but getting the non-knitter to see that is almost impossible,
I knit a lot for others. But as presents, and I get to choose the pattern. I think I’ve only once knitted by request: my friend commissioned a pair of slippers similar to the ones I’d done for her, and i was happy to oblige. I charged her for the wool and (a little bit) for my time. She clearly appreciated my work, and her mom loved them too.
I’ve recently started to time my knits, just so I can tell people what exactly they’re asking me when demanding I “whipp up” a pair of fingerless mitts for them. The answer is usually “no” anyway, but at least I’ll have numbers to back me up (how much do you think 20 hours of my time is worth?)
I also only knit for family and very special friends – and I do it because I like knitting for them, I enjoy the item I am making – and then I give it away as presents. I recently knit a pair of socks for a friend – I had knit him a pair years ago (when we moved away), and the socks I made were now wearing through, because he wore them so often in winter. So of course I happily obliged to knit another pair – because I know that he’ll value them!
I knit in my spare time, usually in front of the TV or while commuting. I realise that I need knitting to relax.
yes, the knitworthy in our lives are a total and utter pleasure to knit for. Especially when we knit for them in that special time we have when we can craft in our busy days. That is a special pair of socks, indeed!
Ah a new episode!! I’ve poured a cup of tea, have a wip nearby (epistrophy from the ever so talented Kate Davies, hope I’ll do her pattern right) and there is a sleeping cat on the table. Now it’s time to relax and listen 🙂
I knit for family and friends and consider my time knitting with love. The pride I have when my son reveals his socks to friends as made by his Mum is worth more than money.
Thanks for saying ‘fuck off’ on your latest podcast, this is not something I find easy to say, but I’ve been saying it a lot lately and I feel much better for it 😀
Let fly with @f*** off’. I have read recently that a bunch of scientists tested the idea that swearing was good for you. Those who swear have lower blood pressure, etc.,etc…
repression bad, expression good.
Same here Connie.
I never knit to comission as I knit to relax and unwind, whatever takes my fancy – usually small things though like baby clothes, baby blankets, adult and children hats, scarves gloves, Easter and Halloween and Xmas decorations. Then I store them until I find a good “home” for them, or give them away as presents.
For the next three weeks I will be settling in each evening in front of a sappy Hallmark Christmas movie, knitting matching hat, mitts, and boot cuffs for four granddaughters fringed scarves for daughter and DIL, rag wool mitts for son and SIL, hat for husband, and loving every stitch. To be doing it for pay, for someone who has commissioned it, and having had to negotiate a half decent price for my work, I think would take the joy away.
new to your podcast here, and loving it. thank you so much for the good vibes on the value of handmade. its something that bears repeating. i learned years ago who is and who is not knitworthy!
Just catching up with you after the Christmas lovelines/madness and wanted to say that ep 71 was brilliant, it was all so on point and sadly true that we as knitters are very undervalued. Well said Louise! I’m glad somebody gets us ????
Thank you for articulating my feelings about knit-worthiness and valuing what we do so brilliantly.
I have recently found your podcasts and spend a bit of time each morning listening to your older episodes – which I am enjoying very much indeed!