A couple of weeks ago I read this post by Franklin (author of the Panopticon blog) and I've been mulling it over. I think it's a great resource for deciding if someone is knit-worthy, but I decided I wanted something that explained to non-knitters how special a hand-knitted gift is. Granted, if you have to explain this to someone chances are they aren't knit-worthy to begin with, but I'm all about educating the muggles.
In reality I suppose this is more of an explanation to non-knitters why they might not be seen as knit-worthy by their knitter.
- First, and contrary to popular belief, knitting is expensive. Yarn (good yarn anyway, the kind I like to knit with, not the kind you get at big chain craft stores) is an investment. Did you know that the yarn for a pair of hand knit socks can cost $15 - $20? Possibly more if it's something really yummy (alpaca, cashmere, etc.) or hand-dyed. There's a reason the industrial revolution was so successful. The last sweater I knit my husband cost me $60 in yarn alone. And the yarn was on sale.
- I've done it in the past and I won't ever do it again; I do not sell my knitting. Non-knitters can experience sticker shock when they find out how much yarn can cost. And even if I only charged minimum wage the cost of labor would be beyond the affordability of most people. When I knit I do it freely. If there's something a friend or loved one specifically wants I may ask them to purchase the yarn, but I do not charge for my time. Consequently, I ask that people do not ask for a timeline when the item will be completed. When my time is given freely I don't respond well to deadlines. I have sold my skills to other knitters before, which I consider a different situation. They understand the time investment are willing to fairly compensate me.
- There are several factors involved when I determine the 'knit-worthiness' of an individual. Have you admired my knitting before? Complimented me on it? Taken an interest in the amount of time and skill involved? As a rule of thumb I tend to find other knitters knit-worthy by default. Those of the artistic persuasion generally get the benefit of the doubt as well. If I do deem you worthy then it is generally a smaller, less time consuming gift to start with. I've made lots of hats for friends. If they appreciate and wear said hats then I am likely willing to knit for them again in the future. (Example: A friend requested a Jayne Cobb hat. I made it out of inexpensive yarn and he loved it. He wore it when he gave a presentation in a science fiction class we both took. A year or so later he had a special request for another hat and I was more than happy to make it for him.) I've made baby sweaters for the children of friends in the past, but I've become more selective about who gets them now. Mostly because my friends are breeding too quickly for me to keep up.
- If you've asked me to knit something for you and I've politely declined or just smiled, dismissed your inquiry and changed the subject, please don't take it personally. Try to understand how hard it is for me to say "no". There could be a host of reasons why. I could be very busy, possibly have multiple other projects going. You might be asking for something major (like a blanket or sweater) and I've tried to explain that it's a huge invest of time but you don't understand that. (Did you know it takes me two weeks on average to knit a pair of socks? Hats usually take a weekend. Sweaters? MONTHS.) Or, I might not think you knit worthy. Here's a list of some reasons why:
* You don't care for your clothing well. Guys are the worst about this. If you wear clothing that is torn, stained, or looks like you picked it up off your floor when you got dressed...I probably won't knit for you. Most of the time I knit with 100% wool, which requires extra care when washing. If I find out something I knit was felted I'm pretty heartbroken about it. This would normally be a one strike and you're done kind of rule, however my mother is the worst offender when it comes to accidentally felting things. And I knows she loves them, and I know she feels bad about it. So I only knit things for her with superwash (machine washable wool) now.
* You've turned your nose up at other handmade gifts in the past. Either mine or I've witnessed you do it to someone else.
* I've knit you something in the past and have never seen you wear it.
* You've ever mocked or teased me about my knitting. ("Little old ladies do that",etc.) Even if it's not meant to be offensive it makes me feel that you don't value what I do. And I do value my time. A lot.
Other knitters can feel free to add their own reasons in the comments. I think I've managed a good starting point at least. :)
And I should hopefully have knitting content soon! I finished my Thistle Shawl and I'm hoping to post photos soon and a mini tutorial on steeking.