As I have been working on my latest for now top secret knitting project (top secret to ensure the recipient doesn’t find out about it before it is given to them) I have been contemplating things a lot. I know selling knit and crochet items is tricky at best. People who don’t craft have no clue of the cost of supplies alone, let alone have any clue the length of time that goes into making something. Or the frustration that is sometimes part of the process – making mistakes and not realizing it till several inches more work has been done so you have to undo and redo things, or you find errors in the pattern that take a while to figure out what is correct etc. The top secret project I am working on now, for example, is going to be a gift and I was/am determined to make it. But if I were to attempt to sell it, the cost of yarn alone was $140. Yes. Just the cost. I have been working on it for a couple weeks now and am only about 1/8 through all the work that needs done on it before it is completed. It is going to take me quite a while to finish it, even devoting as much time as possible to it. I’ve made mistakes with it and found at least one error in the pattern already. If I were selling this item there is no way I would sell it for less than $250. And for what it is…. Nobody would be willing to pay that. But given the time and effort going into it and the $140 cost of yarn, if I wanted to make a half decent profit on it I would have to charge a lot.
As another example, I have another gift project to buy yarn for and get working on soon: a baby blanket. The yarn alone for this blanket is going to cost me around $50-$60. Again this is a gift so something I am simply doing out of the kindness of my heart for a friend but if I were to sell it, I would have to charge at least $100 to make my money back and get some small compensation for the time and effort that are going to go into it. Folks just don’t want to pay what hand crafted items are worth, because they don’t understand what it is worth. They don’t understand the cost of yarn or just how much yarn goes into even smaller projects, and they especially do not understand the time, knowledge, skill, and effort a crafter has to put into making something.
Even with all this considered, however, I have been thinking about perhaps trying to sell some of my finished pieces. Knitting and crocheting seem to dominate my days lately and while I love them one person can only make use of so many shawls, hats, and scarves before they simply have too many. And, I need to find some way to get some decent income happening. I have things that need dealt with, I need to make some big changes in my life. To do that, I need income. Right now my problem remains lack of transportation and living in an area where a job outside the home simply is not possible without transportation. I am trying to change the lack of transportation thing but unfortunately I have to rely on someone else to help me change that, and the person I have to rely on does not want me to have my own transportation and has made it very difficult for me. I need SOMETHING. I would like to follow in my sister’s footsteps and sell hand dyed yarn, but I can’t afford to stock up on blanks to dye. Having helped her with some accounting basics when she got started I know the kind of money it takes to order blanks, and other necessary supplies, and I just can’t do that right now.
So. I have a lot of yarn on hand. I enjoy working with it. Maybe, just maybe, I could manage to sell a few finished pieces here and there. I would need to sit down and spend some time doing a lot of math and calculations to determine my pricing system, try to come up with something that works for me. The standard pricing formula does not necessarily work well when it comes to hand crafted items (material + labor = cost, cost * 2 = wholesale, wholesale *2 = retail) and my above examples of material prices alone show why. But I am sure I can come up with a formula that I like. Pieces will still be expensive – there is no way around that when material cost is unavoidably high.
I can already say that if I do decide to try this venture out, I would absolutely NOT do any commissioned items. My hands and wrists protest too much knitting or crocheting in any given stretch of time so trying to beat a deadline would not be good for me. Especially given that non-crafters have no clue on the time aspect of things. I have had people ask me to make various gift items for them in the past that I have turned down because they would ask me for fairly large, involved items that they needed in one or two weeks, when the item would take me a month or longer to complete.
I don’t know. Just “thinking out loud” a little here, really. I don’t know if I am going to give this a shot or not. I need to do something. Just not sure if this is it/worth it or not. If I could just find a legit from home job that would give me a decent, steady income… Such an opportunity is extremely difficult to find though so for now I have to figure something else out. I spend much of my time knitting or crocheting anyway so it makes sense to try to make some money off that, right?