Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Life of a Knitted Object ~ Part 1

I have had this conversation with a lot of people. Friends, family, customers, and other Etsians. There is an interesting, fine line in the pricing of an original, handmade object. 

I recently had a conversation with someone who I will call "A". This person asked how much I would charge for a plain one color toddler hat. I quoted "A" $35.00.  "A" then proceeded to tell me that she could get a hat like that from someone else's Etsy store for $15.00. That's half price! I can certainly relate to shopping around for the best bang for your buck so I thought I would share how I determine my prices, and why it's the smarter choice.

hand knit newborn cable hat in sky blue
 I will use this hat that is currently for sale in my Etsy store as an example. It is listed at $30.00. (note this is a newborn hat and not a toddler hat which = less yarn & less time to make which is why it is cheaper).
  1. First thing I think about in the cost of my work is the materials put into it. I NEVER buy yarn from Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Yarn is not like GreatValue aspirin ~ same thing for less money. Commercial yarn that you buy from these places are mainly made from acrylic. While acrylic is a man made fiber and will probably last a long time, it's itchy, uncomfortable, and well... cheap. In most cases it is also manufactured in a mill with poor quality control. All the yarn I buy is quality, luxury, name brand fibers that will both last a long time and will be something you can take pride in having. Cost for this yarn is approx: $4.00. So that's $11.o0 profit, not too bad for a small hat right? WRONG!
  2. Next thing to take into consideration is the TIME put into making it. A small hat with cables can take anywhere from 4-5 hours depending on the size yarn and the intricacy of the cable. Lets say that it only took 4 hours. $11.00 divided by 4 hours = $2.75/hour. Last time I checked, no one in the United States or in their right mind at least works for $2.75 even if they LOVE what they are doing. It just doesn't make sense, there is no successful business that runs on that kind of profit!  At this point you can see that either your less expensive purchase has low quality yarn, OR the person who makes it doesn't value their work or time, which can probably in itself tell you what quality of work you can expect
  3. Also I have to take into consideration the the fees assicoated with listing an item on Etsy. As well as the price for advertising (search ads, renewals, etc.) On top of that I also have to think about the time it takes to photograph, edit, and load these listings on Etsy too. 
  4. Last thing I incoporate into pricing is the intricacy of the pattern. Simple patterns get no upcharge but complicated ones like the one below that contains a series of short rows, inserting elastic linings and re-inforced plastic bill, unique increases and decreases get an extra fee. These things are skills that are intricate and not necessarially owned by casual knitters.                                                                  

After those things are taken into account, selling that hat would basically put me in the red. I didn't go to business school, but everyone knows that a business simply can't be run in that manner and I take enough pride in my work to not be OK with basically paying someone else to buy it from me. Although there's always exceptions, this is the reality of pricing a hand made product. Just goes to show you that you truly do get what you pay for when it comes to hand made.

To better elaborate how time consuming and involved a knitting project can be (depending on the project), part 2 of this segment will walk you through the details and pieces involved in making my current project: a knitted tie. A lot more goes into a project than I think some people realize, and I hope this will really open up some eyes on  time and love is invloved in my work!


  1. Excellent points. I am not much of a knitter, but being a quilter, I know how much time and cost goes into what some consider a "blanket."

  2. Good points - I had a similar post on my blog about how I price my polymer clay items...

    Joining you from the Etsy Blog Team. Join us on our blog:

  3. Thanks! I think this point is easily trensferable to other hand made products. I believe it is Important to share why things are priced the way they are when it comes to hand made. People who purchase usually don't make themselves and totally unaware of how much work & money is invested in that type of thing. :)

    Thanks for finding me Katie! I will check you out for sure.

  4. Great post! I struggle with pricing.

  5. I can absolutely relate to this post, and thank you for sharing! It is very hard to price items that give us enough for our time yet still please customers. And I must agree, acrylic yarn is the worst!


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