As you probably know, I like making things. Some of them turn out lovely, some not so much (remember the Ugly Sock? I hope she’s having a happy life…) I do tend to post pictures of the lovely ones, and sometimes people will encouragingly suggest I could sell the Lovely Things.
This is an appealing idea, both financially and egotistically (gosh, look at me! earning money through my own creative endeavours!) But I find a great big problem when it comes to setting a fair and realistic price for what I’ve made.
I like to work with good materials. I make no apologies for this. If I’m going to spend time knitting/ crocheting/ sewing something, I want to enjoy the experience, and value the end product. This doesn’t mean luxury, extravagance or top prices (I love a sale, bargain buy or good quality basic), but I’m not going to compromise with the materials I use. I almost always prefer wool, preferably British and organic to reduce the environmental impact. I’d rather not make something if I can’t afford to use the yarn or fabric it needs for the result I want.
(Cost of materials for rainbow spotty cushion: rainbow colours, approximately £5; cream, approximately £6; cushion pad, ripped from a £2.49 Argos sale cushion, does anyone know a cheaper source? Total= £13.49)
I know other people have this problem too with selling handmade Lovely Things, and end up undervaluing their time terribly. There’s an argument that we’d make these things anyway: as a hobby, an enjoyable way to keep our hands busy. There’s some validity to this, but how can we expect people who don’t make Lovely Things to understand the time that goes into making them? This is how we’ve come to live in a culture of cheap throwaway clothing, produced in factories under dubious conditions (and yes, I have three children and a limited budget, I buy Primark pyjamas too…) Maybe we should price our Lovely Things instead in hours of our time, and see what monetary offers we receive?
(I estimate the rainbow spotty cushion took around 12 hours to knit and assemble. Admittedly, several of these hours I was doing something else simultaneously: reading, thinking, sitting in the car. Labour cost at minimum wage: £72.96)
What are the possible solutions? Compromise on materials; negotiate a lower price for supplies (through squeezing someone else’s margins?); learn to knit at warp speed; accept that pennies per hour is a fine rate of pay; find a niche market of wealthy customers. I’m only really liking that last one, myself…
*Things this post is not: advertising, a guilt-trip, a pity party. I would love discussion and constructive feedback.