Knitting On Minimum Wage

September 25th, 2014

I often hear it said in the crafting world that crafters should get payed for the materials they use, in my case yarn and needles, and I guess some sort of percentage for other knitting items we may want or need….and then they should ask for at least the minimum wage for the hours of craft (knitting) on the item…so how does that work out for us?

I personally think the idea is great, I would love to earn (and pay) the minimum wage and charge for the hours put into each item, by the time the books are done and all the other paperwork that goes along side items I knit, and not to mention the time writing some of my patterns, it really does mount up to a lot of hours!

Here is were I think the problems come in, every knitter knits at a different speed, so how can we tell how long it actually took!?

One person can under cut another by a lot if they can knit fast! though if they get it done quick shouldn’t they deserve extra for that?

I decided I would price up one item of mine, it is just for hours I put into the item, not for the yarn or any additions, purely how long I spent knitting it. I used “The National Minimum Wage rate per hour” for my age…well I was very shocked! one lace work shawl, very lovely and very pretty, would cost in hours…quite a lot OVER £300!! (nearly £400) 😮

Can I really justify someone paying me this amount!? I don’t think I can.

Would I feel bad for the person buying this? ermm yes,

Is it believable? I am not sure a non-knitter or even a knitter would think it is a good judgement on hours put in (even though this is timed!)

Would it cost a lot more than other similar items on the market!? defiantly!

Would I pay that much for an item, even if I absolutely loved it? of coarse not, that could feed my family for more than a month! but then if I had the money to spare I probably would….

I am not really sure were I am going with this, but I do know in an ideal world we would pay for the hours and the materials put in to a project, but in the real world no one would buy it, or at least very few would.

But one thing is for sure I get enjoyment from making items for people, I love feeling the yarns and working with them, everything about knitting I love, so for me it is not all about money it is providing people with items that they want knitted so they can enjoy some of that love for yarn I have.

I work by knitting, I am not sure there is much out there that is suitable for me to do, I love my work and although I would love a world of fair trade and everyone to be paid at least the minimum wage, I settle for less because after all at least by knitting I can work! and I can feel that I am doing something with my life rather than letting my EDS stand in my way as it does with many other things!

I also know that this may not last and every day can knit is a bonus, and I am very thankful I can still knit fast!

I guess it is up to the consumer to make up their own minds on this….would you pay for the hours put in?

by Juniper Askew

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9 comments on “Knitting On Minimum Wage”

  1. Deb commented on 26th September 20144:19 pm

    This is an interesting post. I have a photography business and a few years ago I started to actually time the number of hours I put into a wedding including retouching, editing, meetings (things that if you were employed by someone else you would be paid for). Then I took into account the costs (prints, albums, folders, etc.); I didn't include overhead (heat, rent, office supplies,etc.) Turns out I was making about $3.00 Canadian an hour while high school students in their first low pay job are making $11-$12 an hour. I stopped shooting large weddings, and only took on very tiny ones where there was a good margin. I have noticed the same thing happening with knitting. Now I mostly work on knitting to sell when I wouldn't be doing anything else. A lot is done in the car. Knitting this way I feel I am being paid for sitting in the car and traveling. It is really hard to educate consumers as well. Not all yarn is created equal, and some patterns are far more technical than others. Then there are the "under cutters", the ones that are selling without even covering the price of their materials, that just hurts everyone and devalues handcrafted items and handcrafters everywhere.

    1. juniperaskew commented on 26th September 20145:07 pm

      i have very much seen this happening in photography seeing people have to justify the cost time and time again even though the cost is fair, it is not just knitting, crochet,felting that is affected and not just crafters and artists, it is affecting more and more people.... you really do need to love what you do when it comes to these types of jobs!...profit is a whole other thing! making a profit will take some doing, even if i was to sell at craft fairs there are lots of costs to cover! and as you said there is hidden cost such as heat, rent and even time taken talking to clients which can sometimes be hours! i have made the choice to sell items inline with what others sell, never undercutting because that would make life hard for others hitting their sales, it really doesn't do anyone any good, we need to support each other rather than go against one another but also trying to be realistic as to what people will is hard, i don't think i ever expect to hit the minimum wage, and i am actually ok with that, but i really enjoy what i do... but then as you have pointed out it seems unfair when others are earning more and unskilled workers are payed minimum! it is such a complicated topic and one that can never be solved, but with all the debate about fair pay and equal pay around it surprises me how many people slip though the net when it comes to being payed fairly.... after all these people are trying to work that has to be a good thing :D...

      1. Deb commented on 26th September 20145:33 pm

        Great conversation. Even just getting the topic out there is a step forward. I know I have been working on getting my work into areas with a higher cost of living as I can make more from them there than at home. I can make 25% more by dealing with shops that are 200 miles away. I am not sure where you are located but it is something to consider.

        1. juniperaskew commented on 26th September 20146:11 pm

          i have to admit i was a little nervous about posting this blog post you never know what type of debate it might start and we don't often talk about it (as a society) when we do talk about wage it is usually how much a company is paying employees, for me i will grab every opportunity that comes my way, i love knitting items to sell and taking requests, & custom knits and i most certainly would like to do more film knit, or tv but then wouldn't everyone!? i really want to keep knitting for charity's along side that as well as picking up knitting as an art form more :D i like the idea of selling in shops but i worry other ideas of mine may not get for filled, i will most likely be selling (trying to) most of my items weather it will be something shops will like? i can look into that once i have some knits for them to see, thank you for suggesting it, something we an all think about :)

          1. Deb commented on 26th September 201411:36 pm

            I do up a little presentation booklet and send a sample to shops. Sometimes you make a deal and sometimes you don't. I find shops are low stress which works well with how busy I am with our children.

          2. juniperaskew commented on 27th September 20142:05 pm

            sounds like a great idea, i am glad it is working out well....thank you for the advice :)

  2. Sheena commented on 26th September 20149:18 pm

    The solution is to charge by the yardage/meterage rather than by number of hours devoted to the project. This way, knitters fast and slow could theoretically make the same amount of money for same/similar projects. I've heard that $0.10 - $0.30/yard is the going rate, depending on your level of skill and the challenge presented by the pattern. This, of course, is on top of the cost of materials. I mostly just say "no" when people offer to pay for my knitting, though. Even at a modest $0.10/yard, people still don't like the price. We as a society have become too used to fast fashion and its bargain basement prices, it seems.

    1. juniperaskew commented on 26th September 201410:22 pm

      humm, i see your point, it would be nice if we could all come to some sort of fair arrangement, i guess that is why we have minimum wage, i have also heard the theory of doing it by charging materials then adding 20% which really is pennies for some items, with another shawl i have sold both these theories would cause a problem because i would be servery undercutting, should we all lower it?having said this for the shawl in my blog post your theory really would work well it would make it just over £100 (though from research this is also undercutting) a lot less than the minimum wage but affordable, i guess some items it works for and some it doesn't....

  3. chesterbunnynuts commented on 28th September 20145:55 pm

    It's such a difficult topic - I found it so hard to judge (and still do!) - I have heard many opinions is good on this - there are so many options but for most crafts I find costs + 50-100% is about right. I make more on my smaller items in real terms, but of course you have to sell a lot of them to make your stall back...

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