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I recently received a question from a reader about the possibility of making money knitting.  She said that she wants to make money, but she can’t find anyone who who will fairly compensate her for her time and skill.  I think this is a wider concern and wanted to share some of my thoughts on the subject with all of you as well:

I think this is a universal problem. I have known weavers for years, and they have never achieved making minimum wage from their work. I don’t sell many finished objects because of this. I basically make things I want to make and sell those or let them sit there and look pretty.

I figure it fleshes out my Etsy listings and helps sell my patterns. When I used to work in a craft gift shop I found that you need big expensive things to sell the small things (for more of a discussion on this see this post). A lot of the things on Etsy that sell well are things like wrist warmers, which are very small and inexpensive.

It seems to me that many people who produce handmade or local made clothing try to simplify construction to keep costs down — no linings, no finished hems etc. That brings me to other items that seem to sell well — bulky, loosely knit or crocheted items that don’t take much time.

If you really want to pursue knitting as a professional activity I would suggest starting to find some clients to do some sample knitting for designers or publishers — I think they pay a bit better, though they do demand excellent results. You could also see about knitting for high end boutiques or something like that, but I think you will likely need to design your own patterns. I think some people do well that way. I think people can make livings as designers, but that depends on another set of skills.

Depending on your geographic location and many factors you could look into producing knitwear for movie costumes etc., but you might need to design your own patterns then too.  I also believe that people can be well paid for producing knitwear for couture and other high end design houses, but that too depends a great deal on geography (New York as opposed to Los Angeles) and the ability to translate design sketches into finished garments.

I heard or read somewhere that Lily Chin made money (a living?) during college crocheting snoods for the ballet market.  If I recall correctly, she made basically every snood being sold in the United States at the time.   If I am wrong, I will be disappointed, because I love that story.  I wish I had thought of making snoods (or something else) in class when I was in university — it’s brilliant.  Then maybe I could be the world’s fastest crocheter (probably not, but I can dream).

I don’t know that any of these options pay particularly well, but they are options you can explore, if any of these options work, I would very happy to have you let me know.

Yesterday I sent off my very first crochet pattern submission.  It feels like such a plunge.  It is also my first submission in hard copy — it had a swatch attached and everything. If any of you have any understanding of how you are supposed to attach your name and contact information to a swatch without pasting or stapling it, I would be most grateful to be enlightened.

I am so proud of myself to have my application put together and mailed on time.  I consider every submission to be a great personal triumph against the demons of self doubt and procrastination.

It doesn’t matter at this point if my design gets accepted or not, I have won in the battle against myself.

All the same, if you have a chance, put down your knitting or crochet or whatever you have in your busy hands, and cross your fingers a moment for me, because I am pleased as punch with my design and the thought of getting it published in the unnamed venue.

I have been thinking about the premise of Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell and his assertion that for people to really achieve success, they (usually) need to practice for 10,000 hours before they are really good at something. The idea that one needs to practice something for so long to master it has an element of appeal to me. I goes against the idea I feel is prevalent in society (whoever society is) that one can learn something very quickly.

People are not immediately good at sports they have never heard of whatever the Harry Potter series would have you believe.

I listened to an interview with Malcolm Gladwell, and I was thinking about this. I don’t think I have spent that amount of time on much — reading, walking, and eating maybe. I claim to be very good at reading, moderately good at walking (which I like a lot), and enthusiastic about eating, though I am not sure how one becomes good at it.

The point of all this blather is that I think I may approach the 10,000 hour mark with knitting. I remember staring at the pattern for my first sweater for hours, trying to figure it out. I also remember trecking out to the yarn store swatch in hand to ask if it really mattered that I was about two stitches to four inches out in my gauge (for any of you who ever have this questions — yes, it really does).

Now I can pick up yarn and envision it in my head the things it could be, processing the way I want it to turn out. Yet I still wonder at the virtuosity of some designers: Norah Gaughan, Teva Durham, or Debbie New to name a few.

Hmm, more practice required.

January 2020
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