reflections

How much for handmade?

How much for a hand knit Jumper?

I had a visitor to the shop ask me a question. He had been to visit the Auburn Wool corner and had asked them to knit him a jumper. The quote was $300. He was staggered by the cost and came in to see if I would knit him one for less. By the time he left he was well aware of the bargain price he’d been quoted.

I explained that the fleece to spin his jumper would cost about $20. The time that is taken to process the fleece and to spin the yarn for his jumper, about 1kg, would be roughly 20 hours. Then to knit the jumper would take about 40 hours, for a fast knitter. That’s 60 plus hours of work to knit his jumper. Minimum wage in Australia is $19.49. 60 hours by $19.49 is $1169.40 plus the cost of the fleece. That cost does not include the cost of the equipment the maker has had to purchase to make the item, or the years of training to get to the level of craftsmanship to allow the maker to do all of these processes.

But the maker enjoys what they do…

The visitor was a little shocked! He responded with, she enjoys what she does, why do I have to pay for her time? I enjoyed teaching but I still got paid! Many people enjoy their jobs but still expect to be paid for doing them. The next response was, she can be doing other things while she makes my jumper. Maybe, but there are also many other things she could be doing, if she wasn’t knitting the jumper!

I only ever knit jumpers for the man I sleep with or those I have birthed! And even they must be suitably grateful.

Why expect to pay less for something that is better quality?

Handmade is often expected to be cheaper than commercially made items. I read a comment on a local Facebook group. The commenter was complaining that the homemade biscuits at the Sevenhill Market were more expensive than the ones she could buy at the supermarket. I had to bite! I pointed out the biscuits were probably made with much nicer ingredients than the supermarket versions and would taste a lot better! The commenter retorted that I must be made of money! I retorted back I have seven kids and know how to budget. After that I left the group. Some do not see value in any other way but cost alone.

Valuing our time

I had someone else ask me to spin some alpaca for them. I said no, I do not spin for others. She replied, “But you could be making money while you sit in your shop”. There are many other things I can be doing that will earn me more than the small amount of money she would have expected to pay me.

Would you do my dishes?

People have complained that my hand knit hats are too expensive at $30.  I would try to explain it takes around 6 hours plus materials to make a hat. Now I see it as a reflection of the values of the person making the comment. The under valuing of handmade is frustrating. I’ve been tempted a few times to ask if the commenter would we happy to wash my dishes for 6 hours in exchange for one of my hats, plus pay for the materials.

Would you like to be paid a dollar an hour?

It brings up a question of ethics. Would you be happy to pay someone so little? And would you be content to be paid the same rate?

Why I make

Why pay $20 for a jumper at the shop when you can buy the wool for $100 and make it yourself?

The process of making has many benefits for mental health and satisfaction of saying, I made it myself! Many of us make for the joy of making not to save money. I love making and I’m happy to sell my hats for $30, a fraction of their true value. Because I like making them. I would not be working for the monetary value alone. Working on things others want me to do, is a totally different thing. If the choice of what I make is not mine, it’s just not as satisfying for me. Which is why I do not knit jumpers or spin for others. I occasionally will knit a hat or baby item for others. I enjoy making them and they do not take me days to do. And will make a little more than the cost of the yarn to make them.

If someone gives you a handmade gift this Christmas season, know they aren’t being cheap!

2 thoughts on “How much for handmade?”

  1. Well said tracy, its one of the reasons I stopped spinning for others. I will do things for folk I know, but otherwise….even shearing pet sheep, people have complained of the cost, and I’m cheap there too!

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  2. I’ve heard many of these comments before, Tracey, and I have become hardened against those who can only put a dollar value on something. When I demonstrate spinning and knitting at various shows, and even while knitting in public places, I have to bite my tongue when such people ask if I’d knit or spin them something.. for nothing but the price of materials usually.
    BikeBoy (DH) and I bemoan the dependence of most of the country on the economic aspects of all things without seeing the costs behind such decisions. My wish for Christmas is that some of them wake up to the facts of what they are doing and place a value other than the almighty dollar on things.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family 🎄😊

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