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Why I say no

Written on February 14, 2010 at 9:52 pm
Filed under: Reflections

I was recently asked by someone that I know to make them something. Actually, this person pointed to a hat that was in the window of a store (it was a knitted hat) and asked me if I could make something like that, but for less than what the store was asking for. I politely told this person no and when pressed, I gave the following reasons why:

  • The hat was knitted – I’m far more competent with crochet than knitting and therefore would be spending far longer on a knitted hat that I would ever want to (for someone else other than myself or a gift of my choice).
  • The yarn was, after inspection, was really nice – this person wanted an exact replica. The yarn was nice, a blend of wool, merino, alpaca and yak.
  • The hat had colour-work. I barely do colour work for my own stuff (lol). Not because I don’t know how, it’s that I hate weaving in ends (although lately I’ve killing two birds with one stone and just working over the ends – if I can)
  • The hat was nothing like I’d seen before – I probably would have had to make up the pattern myself. Did I mention that I’m more competent with crochet than knit? This applies to winging my own patterns.
  • The store was selling the hat for $30. Cost of yarn alone would probably be upwards of the same price at retail cost, if I wanted the exact colours and fibre content.
  • As the yarn would cost about $30 (estimate), and I’d be spending at least 5-6 hours alone on this one hat at $15/hour, the hat would suddenly cost around $105-$120.

Of course, this completely turned this person off from getting me to make the hat. “At that price, I might as well buy it!” Well good, buy it. It’d be far easier than for me to a) track down the yarn and b) figure out how to make it. This same person told me that there were hats (knitted and crocheted) for far lower prices on sites like etsy and Artfire. I mentioned that people were clearly underselling themselves.

I don’t understand how someone can knit a set of 3 dish towels (with really nice, intricate cables) and price it at $12. I don’t understand how someone can crochet a scarf that is 9 feet long and set the price at $25. I don’t understand how someone can make a beautiful pair of earrings that clearly have detailed wire work and gorgeous beads and then price it at $5 of all things.

Handcrafted and handmade are words that are not synonymous with cheap or low quality. Handcrafted and handmade means that there was a real person making something, not a machine. It means that someone put their time, their effort, their talent and their skill into something.

11 Responses to “Why I say no”

  1. Shirley Turner says:

    I agree completely. I always have people who want me to make something for practically nothing. It is not a gift; it isn’t someone I consider a friend or family. Yet….they have the audacity to ask me to work for them for nothing. The problem is that big corporations get third world people, usually women, to do exactly this. People in this country aren’t stupid–they’re manipulative and greedy. I have a neighbor who is exactly this way. Everyone who gets to know her eventually walks away from her. So….she finds new people to prey upon. You did yourself a favor….you’re friend will not buy the hat, because she is cheap (or frugal, whichever you prefer); she won’t make it herself, because it is a lot of work; and she will never bother you again with a similar question.

  2. Lauren - Cakewalk says:

    Once my sewing gets better and I start selling my dresses, they are probably going to be $15-20. That beading takes A LOT of work, not to mention extra supplies. I’m sure some people will be turned off by the price from an “unestablished” blythe designer but they can get over it! :P

  3. iris says:

    What if the craftperson has already made a hat-as-a-gift for everyone they know? And now, they just want an activity to keep their hands busy? This would explain underselling things. Or maybe, knowing that someone gets joy from your creations is it’s own sort of reward?

    If it’s a hobby you enjoy for the pure joy of it, then why not sell your product for materials-cost? (I don’t do this, but it doesn’t seem that terrible to me).

    • Michelle says:

      Because even if it is a hobby, it’s not *fair* to yourself or your time to only charge a small amount. When someone offers me money for a knitted or crocheted item (that I haven’t already made…), I consider that to be a business proposition and when the amount that they quote doesn’t even cover all the yarn (let alone my time!), I wouldn’t even consider saying yes.

      If it’s made as a gift, of course you’re not going to sell it (that defeats the purpose) but a someone who crafts, I do get a lot “requests” for items, to which I start doing a breakdown for them (i.e. cost of yarn, approximate number of hours * cost of labour).

      And besides, if you only sell something for the cost of materials, you’re only making back the money you spent – not the time you spent making something. If it takes you 100 hours to make an afghan and $100 in materials, you would have ‘earned’ $100 (for materials) and absolutely nothing for this 100-hour commissioned afghan. That hardly seems fair, now does it? You won’t have extra money to buy *extra* yarn, let alone the expenses of needing to pay for your lighting, food, etc. during the time you were knitting.

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