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Part 3: The Reaction

August 27, 2013

Today we will talk about part 3 of the Knitting on Commission topic, exploring the responses to commissioned knitting .

To be a knitter takes a reasonable amount of skill, that is to say it is something you can learn. If you are to learn to knit and continue to practice, gaining new skills; such as knitting in the round, decreasing or  even learning to read charts. It stands to reason you are going to improve and be able to produce wonderful pieces of hand knitted-ness (that’s a technical term of course. :)) Granted there are people who show a real knack for it and they may end up producing higher quality items faster, or they may pick up skills a bit easier, but for the most part it is something that most everyone can take on with reasonable amounts of success.

So that being said, the next question is why doesn’t everyone knit? Aside from the logical implications, in terms of a potential shortage of wool, it would be a pretty cool if everyone were to knit. If everyone were able to manipulate string with sticks and create wonderful items of their very own, they could know of the time and effort that goes into a piece of knitting. If everyone knit there may not be any need for commissioned projects, but if there were to be any, it may provide a more level playing field for requests. Consider it, if everyone knew how many hours went into a pair of socks, or a hat, might they be more willing to pay for it? Lots of people seem willing to pay gobs of money for other things that are handmade. Art, as in paintings or sculptures comes to mind, also people are willing to pay large sums for hand crafted furniture. Most people argue that it is the quality of the item that they are paying for (sometimes it’s just a name recognition factor.) Which makes sense, most of us seem willing to spend a little more on something that is going to last, instead of having to buy an inferior model and then replace it in a shorter time frame.

This point is not lost on many knitters. Which brings us to the responses that seem to come up when commissioned knitting is discussed.

1. The negotiator- this is the person that is usually willing to work with the requester for the items. Often it may be for less than minimum wage for a given item, but the knitter may try to work with the person over all.

2. The Educator- this the knitter that usually refuses to do the work, but makes a concerted effort to educate the requester on the costs of materials and the realities of the time it takes to complete and item. Most times this person is polite, but firm. They may be persuaded to knit for a price, provided it is determined to be fair.

3. The accepter- this is the knitter that will take on the project. Usually knowing it is for something akin to slave wages, but for them it is less about the actual money and more about being able to knit and make money. These are usually the knitters that argue accepting a job because they would be knitting anyway.

4. The refuser- this is the knitter that straight up will not knit for money. They may be generous otherwise, gifting the hand knits, but they realize for whatever reason that commissioned knitting is not for them. They also tend to be polite, and may end up falling into the educator role to help explain why not.

5. The disgruntled- this is usually the knitter that comes out guns blazing and responds to any and all requests with an emphatic no. They can be polite, but usually tend to be curt, bordering on rude to the requester. Their reasons for refusing to take commissioned knitting tends to stem from a lack of a fair wage, they see knitting as skilled labor and as such should be afforded skilled wages. They tend to be more vocal on the issue and may alienate others who disagree.

Now I know there are other responses, but for the most part these are the main ones I see most often. How about you, do you feel like you fall into a particular category? Any responses I missed?



From → Fiber Arts, Knitting

  1. I’m definitely The Educator. No surprise as my day job is teaching!

  2. I will VERY occasionally take on a commissioned knit, but almost always for an exchange of favors rather than money, so I think I’d fall into the first category. If someone has a skill that I don’t, and I need their help, I will occasionally barter with customized knitted goodness. I have never been offered a price that I would consider fair for my knitting time, so I won’t knit for money. It takes the fun out of it for me, knowing that I am making 50 cents an hour to do something, even if I would be knitting it anyway.

  3. Pat(ricia) permalink

    I believe I’m a #2: The Educator.
    I’d rather politely (usually) explain about the materials, costs, time involved and refuse someone on these grounds. If they don’t understand, it’s their problem not mine. Unless they become belligerent and overly persistent, my hackles aren’t raised. But if they become nuisances … watch out … #5 might put in an appearance. Mostly though, people just figure I’m crazy for refusing to accept the commission or job. I suspect they figure some money is better than none.

  4. I don’t fall into a particular category, I think. I have knit for friends and family, often with great enthusiasm. But I ASK, before I make something for someone. In my opinion, that saves you a lot of work (and disappointment!), because you don’t have to fret that the recipient doesn’t like what you put so much work into.

    I already started asking if anyone would like to recieve something knit for Christmas – so far. No one said definitely yes. More knitting time for meeeee …. :mrgreen:

  5. doctordana permalink

    I am a 4. To knit for money would turn it from joy into work. Blech! That said, I have considered selling my knitting, but that’s more because I love to knit hats, and everyone I know only has one head. (and at least one of my hats…)

  6. shellssells permalink

    I am sometimes a 1, sometimes a 4. When I am a 1, I am generally negotiating for something of equal quality and need/beauty which the requester can create. For instance, I have a lot of lovely woodworking in my home due to knitting trades, as well as some beautiful pottery. If it is a project I don’t mind, and want to take on, I will often find a way to make it work that feels equitable to me.

    However, when I am feeling selfish, am too busy, or enjoying other hobbies, I am absolutely a 4.

Care to share? Let me know what you think in the comments section.

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