Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Economics and Knitting

I received a comment on the post about my Magenta Snuggy sweater, about how much did it cost to make it. That's not exactly an easy question to answer. This post might seem rather jumbled, LOL, but it's just one of those topics that one thing leads to another.
Many people turn to knitting because they think it will be a cheap way to make sweaters, hats, etc. And, it can be. But anyone who has been seduced by a cashmere sweater or a silk scarf and decides to knit their own, can tell you that it's not always economic to DIY.

In the fall, just after moving back to Whitby, I had a dental emergency. Luckily, my old dentist was happy to see me. I took a new sock to start, using some brown Sweet Sheep sock yarn that I had gotten at the K-W Knitters Fair, for only $10 (or less). The first question out of the staffs' mouths was "Why knit socks?". Because handknit/wool socks are wonderful, and if I were to buy them (HK in hand dyed wool), they cost $60 easily. They thought it was absurd to pay $60 for a pair of socks. I made it clear that I would never do that, and my yarn cost are never more than $15 for a pair of socks, but I try to get the best deals. They still thought it was crazy to knit socks. Now, my striped, felted, machine knit purse made out of scraps of wool (many of which I had gotten as donations for an art exhibit project), was cool and 'worth it'. The dentist rarely wore socks anyway. However, I think he carried a purse even less.

I have made mention before that I'm a very frugal shopper, but also that I have a weakness for rescuing orphaned and abandoned yarn. Rarely do I pay full price for yarn. One project I did recently that I actually could quote a price on, is the thrummed mittens from Fleece Artist. Apparently I payed $24.95 plus tax?! I did have enough of the thrums for another pair of mittens, though. You could easily pay $25 for a pair of thrummed mittens at a craft show, but they wouldn't be made with Fleece Artist. Because I made them for a special gift, I can't really put an absolute cost on them. All I know is that I wouldn't pay $25 for cheaply made/materials thrummed mittens because I know I could do it cheaper (with my own inexpensive (vs. cheap) materials).

But factor in time. Most of my knitting time is during my 45 minute soap watching time and during any evening TV watching, as well as driving time and appointment waiting times, etc. Other than my self-imposed mid-day break, I RARELY sit down with the sole intent of knitting. Now, machine knitting is different because I can't watch TV at the same time, or do it in the truck.

Now, back to material costs. Oy. This is such a toughy. How much did that sweater cost? I don't know where/when I got the yarn. Or even what yarn it was. However, $25 should be able to get you some similar cotton yarn, but anything larger than me would probably need more. Ravelry has a feature where you can input the yarn costs for projects, but I so rarely know it!

Oh, there is one I can give a cost breakdown for:

I bought the yarn, Yeoman Panama, at full price from A quick email to Pat let me know that it's $37.95 (wow, I'm surprised that I spent that much, but it is a great yarn!). Since it's online, there's also the shipping factor, oh, and the cost of the KnitWords magazine subscription. I've gotten a lot of use out of that issue, so let's call that part $4.00 (although, up to $12 would be acceptable for such a complex pattern). Oh, and the 35cents for the buttons. This one took me a year to make as I didn't realize I had bitten off way more than I could knit at the time. I had yarn left over, but not enough to make something on it's own. So, what did it cost to make? How much would I pay for something like it in a store? Well....Despite how much I love what I made, I wouldn't buy something like it!

I just bought some silk/alpaca yarn at $16 US (plus shipping). The Canadian dollar was pretty much at par that day, so it was worth it--but I wouldn't have payed full price--I think it was on sale for 1/2 price. I should be able to get a sweater out of it, using the standard gauge machine.

But to buy worsted weight, good quality wool at full price to make a sweater? No way. I just can't spend $120 to make a Noro sweater, or even $60 to make one with Patons Classic Wool. I did buy bags of Classic Wool at the factory outlet tent sale, but not in my most favourite, first choice colours. Cost vs Love. I would rather make a sweater out of a not-totally-loved colour of Classic Wool then in a colour of Red Heart or Bernat Satin that I do love and that would cost about the same. But that's because I knit primarily because I love the action of making something with time that would otherwise be wasted. The wearable object (or blanket, etc) at the end is the bonus, to me. I love learning new techniques, altering patterns, etc. I'm at the point now where I don't have to choose the cheapest yarn out there just to get my fix. I have learned where to get better yarns at good prices. And this means that when I must buy a yarn like Panama, or the mitten kit, I can really value it and appreciate it and not feel bad about spending the money.

So, if you are a process knitter, then cost perhaps isn't much of a factor. You could knit with twine. But if you are a product knitter, then you'll want to spend more, or at least learn how to spend less. If you knit a lot, you might want to be frugal. If you knit only a few special items a year, then higher costs might not bother you.

Would it be helpful or interesting for me to include more about yarn costs when I post projects?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks! Great post!! What a beautiful dress!! I love your purse too!! I collect a lot of purses and something like that I get at and it cost an easy $60 plus.

I am new to this subject and usually when I think of someone knitting I don't see how I would find anything appealing for me. But your dress is so beautiful and your daughter's dress is as well!!

I am 27 years old btw. I do have style but love unique pieces. Ur dress is so elegant and sexy especially in that color. The closest I could get to finding a dress like that is at :)