I haven’t posted for a day or two because I have ACTUALLY been busy. Tuesday I taught almost all of my students in one afternoon/evening, because yesterday I sat my friend Jen Wardle’s art show. Which I will be doing tomorrow, and for part of next week.
Sitting an art show means sitting in the gallery to make sure no one steals the art or pees on the floor. There’s really nothing else to do, which is why I brought my knitting.
Being an entrepreneurial type, I’m always trying to think of new ways to make a bit of extra cash. So why not, you ask, knit up a few sweaters and sell them?
Let me explain.
The sweater I am knitting right now is a really cute vintage pattern. It uses quite a small gauge (i.e., number of stitches per inch) – 6 stitches and 6 rows to a square inch. In this pattern, both the front and the back halves of the sweater begin with 100 stitches. Because the gauge is so tight, it takes around 4.5 minutes to knit one row. Since there are 6 rows to an inch, that means one inch of knitting takes 27 minutes, assuming you work at top speed with no pauses or mistakes.
Follow me so far? 1 row = 4.5 minutes. 6 rows = 1 inch. Therefore 1 inch = 27 minutes.
Each half of this sweater – it’s a longish one that goes down over the hips – is around 20 inches long. That means, assuming I keep up this pace in the complicated bits, just making one half of the sweater – not counting the sleeves – will take 540 minutes, or 9 hours.
Or: Front or back = 20 inches. 20 inches = 540 minutes. 9 hours.
So just to make the body of the sweater (not counting sleeves, they’re separate) means 18 hours of work. Assuming – again – that you work at top speed with no breaks or mistakes. Practically it will probably come out to more like 22 hours.
The sleeves will be a lot quicker, probably 3 hours each. 2 sleeves=6 hours.
22+6 = 28.
Add two hours for finishing, sewing the seams, weaving in the loose yarns, blocking the sweater (this makes sure it retains its shape), you’re looking at at least 30 hours of labour for a single sweater.
If I were to sell this sweater, what would I have to charge?
Assuming I get paid minimum wage – $9.50/hr in Ontario – the labour alone would cost $285. Add in the cost of the materials, and the general small-business running costs (maintaining a website, promotion, renting booths at craft shows), you’re looking at $350-$400 per sweater.
Now ask yourself, under what circumstances would you pay $400 for a sweater?
It would have to be so incredibly value-added and well-made that it’ll last for years and look amazing. It would have to be high-fashion but durable, look perfect, stand up to frequent washings and all the abuse people put their clothes through. It would have to be a work of art.
Yeah. I’m good, but I’m not THAT good.
The market value of any sweater I knit would, I estimate, top out at around $80. So unless I can magically learn how to knit 5 times faster without sacrificing the quality, or move to a country where the cost of living is five times lower, I will never be able to earn money from knitting.
Though I might be able to work it for dog sweaters. But only for little dogs: