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Topic: Hhh... I think I'm cured of commissions forever  (Read 1433 times)
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Joined: 20-Sep-2004

Knitter, Writer, Yarner

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« on: June 02, 2008 05:16:11 PM »

So an acquaintance at work has always complimented me on my knitting and seemed very admiring of the things I've made. A few months ago he asked if I would make his wife something for her birthday and he mentioned a few things of mine that I've made that he thought she'd like. He of course offered to pay me for materials and my time.

So I got a little excited about the prospect of knitting for an appreciative audience. I bought a fantastic pattern for a lace scarf (Mimknit's Flutter Scarf - highly recommend) and some beautiful laceweight zephyr in the wife's favorite color. It was a tiny, tiny, tiny gauge, and a very long and repetitive process. The joy was gone after about 12 inches, but I made it to 60. It took me a solid five weeks of dedicated evening knitting. It turned out like a work of art. I was so proud of it. Everyone I showed it to admired it.

When I presented it to the acquaintance, he told me how "nice" it was. He asked how much he owed me, and I smiled and shrugged it off, and downplayed the cost of the materials. I didn't even mention how much time I spent on it. He said, "Okay, thanks! I'll send you a little something."

About a week later, I found a $20 bill folded inside a note on my desk that said "Thanks again!"

$20 barely covered the cost of materials. You couldn't have even bought that same scarf in a department store for $20.

So I feel used and taken advantage of, but I know it's my own fault. I'm just annoyed with myself. Anyone ever have a letdown like that, or am I just incredibly gullible?


I sell ecofriendly luxury yarn, recycled at
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2008 05:23:30 PM »

I have had this happen to me before. People who don't knit have no connotation of what it truly entails. In future I would discuss price before you embark on a project. I would also explain that a scarf is made up of thousands of handmade stitches. People tend to get it then. I am currently doing the Laminaria from Knitty for a friend and he gave me more than enough money for the materials $100 plus a bit extra for my time.

Good luck



My Blog: http://arakneknits.typepad.com

Hand Knit Items for Blythe: http://arakneknits.etsy.com
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2008 11:59:11 AM »

A friend of mine asked if I could knit some small baby toys for her daughter.  Luckily, my commissioner was completely in awe of my skill and probably would have overpaid me if she could have. We discussed material options before I even started the project, and, after some shopping and consideration, I decided on a reasonable $10.00 per toy.  She was quite willing to pay that per toy, plus a bit more at the end just because I'm awesome [she said].

So definitely keep the commissioner involved in the process.  Before you agree to anything, make sure the person understands what the heck they're getting themselves into as far as yarn prices and time investment.  I mean, five weeks of evenings?!  I'd want to rip out my eyes when I were done.

Any road, I wouldn't say that you were gullible, just overly-kind to assume non-knitters understand the realities of hand-knit gifts.  I mean, when I first started knitting, I was flabbergasted at quality yarn prices.  Just remember for next time, if you accept an offer, not to get caught up in the excitement and compliment of being asked to knit for commission and don't be shy about naming a price.

repeat after me:  this world is made of love and peace!
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2008 03:33:26 PM »

one of the dh's coworkers asked me to knit him a sweater.  this is a biiiiig guy, with a biiiiig ol' pot belly (short rows, anyone?).  i think i quoted him $600 plus materials.  that scared him away!  i really really really didn't want to knit that much stockinette!
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2008 11:26:44 AM »

When I presented it to the acquaintance, he told me how "nice" it was. He asked how much he owed me, and I smiled and shrugged it off, and downplayed the cost of the materials. I didn't even mention how much time I spent on it. He said, "Okay, thanks! I'll send you a little something."

You can't really blame the recipient, though - most people have no idea of the cost of materials alone. If you couldn't be upfront enough to say "Well, the materials cost me $X, and it took me a lot of time, so I think $Y would be fair", then you're setting the scene for disappointment. The sad truth is that you're probably lucky that he felt obliged to give you anything - the number of people who expect freebies is astonishing.

I won't knit for other people at all without giving them a ballpark figure first, unless it's going to be a gift. Usually, the cost of materials alone is enough to make them decide against the idea. 

« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2008 09:10:59 AM »

I always quote a price before agreeing to anything, and I usually insist that the commission-er pick out and buy the yarn themselves (I'll go with them but I will not buy the yarn). I usually provide a breakdown of cost, too- $__ for materials (if I buy them- sometimes I have to get needles and stuff too), $__ per hour multiplied by a prospective __ hours of labor, etc. etc. I usually charge minimum wage since usually the person asking is a good friend. I won't knit for anyone who I don't KNOW will really appreciate every bit of work that goes into it, not even if they're paying!

« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2008 12:14:06 PM »

I have a policy of NEVER knitting for pay - people simply cannot afford to pay me for my time even if I charged minimum wage per hour  Cheesy

I only ever knit for other people (as in not family) if I want to give them the gift myself.  That way it is a labour of love and I don't mind how much time I spend doing it or how long it takes me
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2008 08:54:34 PM »

I was knitting socks on my lunch break when my co-worker noted that I should knit  and sell socks instead of working. I laughed and told her that even though the yarn was cheap ($6), my time and labor would drive prices through the roof.

Let's see- men's socks, size 14. Fingering weight yarn on size 1 needles. About 40 hours of work given the double point technique (which I am incredibly slow at) and cable pattern. Not to mention the 5 hours they took to design. At $10 an hour, that's $450 for a pair of socks without the cost of materials. At $7.50 an hour (minimum wage in CA), it's still over $300 for a pair of socks. No one would ever pay that.

I would consider taking commissions if there was a clear contract and the client agreed to pay any and all material costs, with me keeping any needles or other supplies as part of my fee. I would also try to explain the amount of labor that went into a project so they understood the cost. Of course, this would probably turn a LOT of people away. *sigh* that's why I give knitting as gifts!
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