It May Not Be a Living You Like
Recently, someone I know started telling me how I should and could sell my hand knitting. I did my usual explanation of how the math doesn't work. People wouldn't be willing to pay what it would cost me in materials, let alone the time.
She kept telling me that it may not be a living I'd like, but I could make a living doing hand knitting.
As an example, she kept looking at my fair isle sweater. This is a complicated sweater done on size three needles at 8 st/inch. I estimate it takes me about 30 minutes per row, assuming I make no mistakes. Doing a bit more math, I came up with a total time estimate of about 80 hours to complete a sweater. I think that is a conservative estimate. The actual number is probably much higher than that.
I'm guessing the materials for this particular sweater cost me maybe $60. If I'd bought the yarn in the United States, it would probably cost at least double that. In order to not completely subsidize someone else's sweater wearing, I would have to sell the sweater for at least $60 to recover just the cost of materials. Say I value my time at $5/hour. That means this sweater cost me $400. Add the cost of the materials and I get a price of $460.
What is someone willing to pay for this? I could probably sell the sweater for $50. I might even be able to sell it for $150 in the right boutique.
If I could manage to knit four sweaters/month (assuming 80 hour weeks and 80 hours/sweater), that would be four sweaters per month for a monthly income of $600. Try living on $600/month anywhere in the United States.
This woman kept at me, telling me that I was just being greedy. "It may not be a living you like" but she claimed I could still make a living hand knitting sweaters. Believe me, if I thought there were a way to make a living from knitting, I would do it.
This conversation bothered me because it drove me to once again do the math to see if there was anything I'd missed. She was so certain I could support myself with hand knitting, I wondered if I'd missed anything. Well, this woman has something in common with George Bush: they both think they are right and they refuse to look at the facts.
Once again, I realized that I was talking with someone who put a very low value on hand created objects. I think this is what bothered me the most. I enjoy my knitting. I will continue to knit for myself and for friends. I will not try to knit for money. The math doesn't work. There isn't a market that is willing to pay even a fraction of what I value hand knitting.
I'll keep my day job.