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  • How on earth do you price hand knitting?

    When we made pottery, (which incidentally started as a hobby and then became our full time business for 20 years) we had the same pricing problems as all craftspeople: cost of production versus the price people are prepared to pay. We solved it the way most people do: stuff that could be made quickly in batches was less expensive than one off fantasy castles etc. which sold for three figures. This worked well for us, and even the larger pieces could be 'honed' - as we got used to making them we found ways to make them quicker, thus more profitable (not less expensive!).

    Now we've had to give up the pottery and I have taken up knitting and crochet again, an old love which I'm enjoying beyond belief. Again it started as a hobby but now I'm thinking of having a stall at a small local event (and may I say that even though it's my hobby it will still be declared on my tax return LOL).

    I'm aware from other recent threads that the word 'hobbyist' has almost become a term of insult but my problem is this - how can you possibly charge for the time you spend hand knitting? There's absolutely no way you can 'batch produce', and a (fast) knitting machine defeats the object.

    One item I make is lacy fingerless gloves (wrist warmers) in very fine merino wool on four 2.5mm needles. I'm a quick knitter, but even so one glove takes me about four hours. Even if I rated it at £4 an hour, that would be £16 forone glove. So £32 +cost of wool for a pair?? I think not.

    Also, I knit while watching TV in the evening, or for a couple of hours in the garden in the afternoon (that's what hobbies are surely). I don't look upon it as work, or something for which I must calculate an hourly rate, which would take all the pleasure out of it. I want to sell what I make to fund my hobby and top up my pension without antagonising people who are running a full time business (who presumably will have other outlets as well as craft fairs).

    Believe me I do understand the other side, having been there and got the T shirt. But there is also a gentler side to crafts which we shouldn't judge by cut-and-thrust business values.

    I'd be interested to know how other hand knitters deal with this.
    Last edited by Cuckoos Nest; 28-01-2013, 03:56 AM.
    Kate
    www.cuckoos-nest-fairs.co.uk

  • #2
    Originally posted by Cuckoos Nest View Post
    When we made pottery, (which incidentally started as a hobby and then became our full time business for 20 years) we had the same pricing problems as all craftspeople: cost of production versus the price people are prepared to pay. We solved it the way most people do: stuff that could be made quickly in batches was less expensive than one off fantasy castles etc. which sold for three figures. This worked well for us, and even the larger pieces could be 'honed' - as we got used to making them we found ways to make them quicker, thus more profitable (not less expensive!).

    Now we've had to give up the pottery and I have taken up knitting and crochet again, an old love which I'm enjoying beyond belief. Again it started as a hobby but now I'm thinking of having a stall at a small local event (and may I say that even though it's my hobby it will still be declared on my tax return LOL).

    I'm aware from other recent threads that the word 'hobbyist' has almost become a term of insult but my problem is this - how can you possibly charge for the time you spend hand knitting? There's absolutely no way you can 'batch produce', and a (fast) knitting machine defeats the object.

    One item I make is lacy fingerless gloves (wrist warmers) in very fine merino wool on four 2.5mm needles. I'm a quick knitter, but even so one glove takes me about four hours. Even if I rated it at £4 an hour, that would be £16 forone glove. So £32 +cost of wool for a pair?? I think not.

    Also, I knit while watching TV in the evening, or for a couple of hours in the garden in the afternoon (that's what hobbies are surely). I don't look upon it as work, or something for which I must calculate an hourly rate, which would take all the pleasure out of it. I want to sell what I make to fund my hobby and top up my pension without antagonising people who are running a full time business (who presumably will have other outlets as well as craft fairs).

    Believe me I do understand the other side, having been there and got the T shirt. But there is also a gentler side to crafts which we shouldn't judge by cut-and-thrust business values.

    I'd be interested to know how other hand knitters deal with this.
    Hi Kate.

    I knit as a sideline to my main business (plants) with candles and other crafts coming 2nd. So far I've knitted 5 different, individually designed scarves, in 100% merino wool. The wool per scarf costs around £16 (if I want trade prices I have to buy 15 kg!). I couldn't count how long it takes to knit a scarf because I do a bit here and there but I certainly couldn't sell it for £4 an hour. It's the equivalent of around 5 - 6 balls of wool per scarf. Now I know there's been a lot of debate around here about underpricing and undervaluing our crafts so expecting to be slapped down here but I have priced mine at selling prices of around £27.50 simply because I didn't think I could realistically get any more for them, unless I was able to get them into a high end retailer. I've had them on ebay, etsy and at craft fairs. Customers have admired them (may be politeness) but no one has bought. I think they are simply too expensive. I'm rethinking using Merino Wool and moving over to cheaper Acrylic so I can reduce the price.

    There is definitely a market for high-quality hand-knitted goods where you possibly could sell your gloves for £32 but it's pretty hard to break into.

    Finally, when pricing, remember the 3 Cs: Customers (what they will pay), Costs (yours) and Competition (if someone on the next stall is selling for less than you, you don't stand a chance).

    The odd thing is I price my other craft items more highly but that's because I know I can sell them (they are cheaper items from £3 up) and I do sell them. I also enjoy knitting (like you) so if I don't sell my scarves I'll stop displaying them and use them myself. I do think knitting is a tough one because it's so labour intensive. There is a local artisan whose scarves are priced at £50 but I'm not sure how many she sells. There's also another lady who attends craft fairs who has what I'd call quite old-fashioned knitted clothes for children, priced quite cheaply and she sells next to nothing. I think knitting is a very hard market to break into, mainly because High St shops sell brightly-coloured imports for pocket-money prices.

    Sorry to ramble on at such length. I hope this helps.

    Marion

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    • #3
      I've sold hand knitted lace scarves for £50 plus are craft fairs. You have to make sure you are selling in the correct area. Think who are you aiming your merchandise at if its the pound shop buyers then no you will not sell as they'll have no idea of quality handmade.

      If the craft fair you are planing to attend are more like glorified 'Boot' sales then you'll only get those who are looking for a very cheap bargin. In which case you need to have made very simple items from much cheaper and poorer quality yarns that take no time to produce.

      You need to pick your market and make for that market. It's all about 'Marketing'

      The old saying comes to mind, "casting pearls before swine" and before any one saying anything I'm not saying potential customers are swine.
      So many projects, so little time

      http://folksy.com/shops/eileenscraftstudio

      http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fol...92535377497013

      Comment


      • #4
        HI there,

        Thanks for your comments. It's heartening to know people WILL pay for quality. As you say, maybe I'm in the wrong places.

        I've heard that pricing can encourage almost reverse logic. People will buy a more expensive item because they believe the price means it must be top quality, rather than go for a more affordable one. But I've never had the courage to risk it!

        Marion

        Originally posted by aisles View Post
        I've sold hand knitted lace scarves for £50 plus are craft fairs. You have to make sure you are selling in the correct area. Think who are you aiming your merchandise at if its the pound shop buyers then no you will not sell as they'll have no idea of quality handmade.

        If the craft fair you are planing to attend are more like glorified 'Boot' sales then you'll only get those who are looking for a very cheap bargin. In which case you need to have made very simple items from much cheaper and poorer quality yarns that take no time to produce.

        You need to pick your market and make for that market. It's all about 'Marketing'

        The old saying comes to mind, "casting pearls before swine" and before any one saying anything I'm not saying potential customers are swine.

        Comment


        • #5
          i agree with Aisles. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if, at the fairs where her scarves sold for £50+, she had priced the same items at a tenner or fiver, she wouldn't have sold them.

          HOWEVER your items have to be seen by the right buyers in the right place at the right time ...


          Comment


          • #6
            and Competition (if someone on the next stall is selling for less than you, you don't stand a chance).


            Definitelly not quite the case with me !
            I regularly sell in the same room as people who have similar items and sell them much cheaply then me. (whether it's my handmade fabric creations or chocolates). I price my items as well as I can to be fair to me and to my customers, but I can not afford (and I won't) sell them cheap. I completely get what you are saying about the knitting - I too sew when I'm watching i-player (so is it really work or just relaxation ?).

            I think, your products need to look professional with uptodate choice of colours & designs, you can't just simply inrease the price and think it will sell. But I was more then once next to somebody who was selling bunting and fabric decorations at the craft fair. She, lovely lady by the way, chose to use old curtains and mismatched fabric to make her bunting and was quite busy selling them for £4 (3 metres with about 13 large flags). Meanwile, I had my usual bunting (the same lengh & size as next stall) made with quirky & vintagey fabric. My retailed at £19.50 and I sold about 2 on that day. (plus obviously more stuff, but this is just example). The lady next stal sold about 3, but how long would it take her to make 3 (instead of mine 2) and how does £12 compare to £39 ?!

            Next time when you do fair, just try it - have your best design with the best quality fabric or wool and price it to the level that you know covers everything (or nearly...) and then see what happends - you only need ONE customer... Good luck!
            Last edited by Cocoa & Heart; 28-01-2013, 01:07 PM.
            Passionate about all things handmade...

            Proud owner of WowThankYou - stylish and affordable way of selling your crafts and makes


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Cocoa & Heart View Post
              and Competition (if someone on the next stall is selling for less than you, you don't stand a chance).


              Definitelly not quite the case with me !
              I regularly sell in the same room as people who have similar items and sell them much cheaply then me. (whether it's my handmade fabric creations or chocolates). I price my items as well as I can to be fair to me and to my customers, but I can not afford (and I won't) sell them cheap. I completely get what you are saying about the knitting - I too sew when I'm watching i-player (so is it really work or just relaxation ?).

              I think, your products need to look professional with uptodate choice of colours & designs, you can't just simply inrease the price and think it will sell. But I was more then once next to somebody who was selling bunting and fabric decorations at the craft fair. She, lovely lady by the way, chose to use old curtains and mismatched fabric to make her bunting and was quite busy selling them for £4 (3 metres with about 13 large flags). Meanwile, I had my usual bunting (the same lengh & size as next stall) made with quirky & vintagey fabric. My retailed at £19.50 and I sold about 2 on that day. (plus obviously more stuff, but this is just example). The lady next stal sold about 3, but how long would it take her to make 3 (instead of mine 2) and how does £12 compare to £39 ?!

              Next time when you do fair, just try it - have your best design with the best quality fabric or wool and price it to the level that you know covers everything (or nearly...) and then see what happends - you only need ONE customer... Good luck!
              Thanks so much and apologies for hijacking this thread! If anyone has a spare minute, here's a link to my photos on Facebook. I'd really love any feedback, even if it's "these are poor - you'll never sell!" (I can take it!). Thanks so much, if you do have the time to look and, if not, thanks anyway to everyone who's contributed to this thread. I really did think hand-knitting couldn't be sold at a realistic price.

              https://www.facebook.com/Fife.Garden.../photos_albums

              Marion

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by MarionT View Post
                Thanks so much and apologies for hijacking this thread! If anyone has a spare minute, here's a link to my photos on Facebook. I'd really love any feedback, even if it's "these are poor - you'll never sell!" (I can take it!). Thanks so much, if you do have the time to look and, if not, thanks anyway to everyone who's contributed to this thread. I really did think hand-knitting couldn't be sold at a realistic price.



                Marion
                I think all the advice is good. If you want to sell for more, then your product needs to have an edge and to look better than everyone else's products. I sometimes do top end shows with a lady who designs and machine makes really quirky and gorgeous woollen scarves, wraps, collars etc. The colours are lovely and she embellishes them with large handmade buttons. She also has her own labels and her display is beautiful. Her cheapest product is £50 and her most expensive is about £200. Because she works hard on her image, people (me included, though I could only afford a collar!) are happy to buy her products.
                Carole x
                www.caroleallenjewellery.co.uk

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by mama View Post
                  I think all the advice is good. If you want to sell for more, then your product needs to have an edge and to look better than everyone else's products. I sometimes do top end shows with a lady who designs and machine makes really quirky and gorgeous woollen scarves, wraps, collars etc. The colours are lovely and she embellishes them with large handmade buttons. She also has her own labels and her display is beautiful. Her cheapest product is £50 and her most expensive is about £200. Because she works hard on her image, people (me included, though I could only afford a collar!) are happy to buy her products.
                  Thanks for your reply and the information - very helpful.

                  Marion

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Look at it another way.. if you charged silly money for your knitting and had an order for 50 come in .... would you really want to make that many and make 50p !

                    How about marketing them in a different area.. say the wedding market and not craft fairs?

                    Is the village hall the right place to sell a £50 scarf, probably not (unless it Chelsea !). Top end shows cost more to attend, but attract the visitor with more money to spend too.

                    I love knitting but would never dream of knitting to sell but for me to wear perfect.

                    Your lacy wrist warmers sound great and there are lots of vintage themed wedding places on Facebook, why not try putting your wares onto some of those sites and see what happens. (at a realistic price though)
                    If you dont have a go ................... you will never know

                    https://www.facebook.com/HatPiece

                    www.HatPiece.co.uk

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks for all these thoughts. It all makes sense and I agree with all the remarks regarding aiming for the high end market and pricing accordingly. I have tried making a pair in cheaper 3ply acrylic and they were thick and awful compared with the fine merino (think wellington boots vs strappy sandals).

                      I'll try and get a picture on here at some point. Thanks again!
                      Kate
                      www.cuckoos-nest-fairs.co.uk

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Having read through all these posts which are really helpful. I'm coming to the conclusion that my work isn't in the same class as what's been mentioned here. The knitters here are really skilled and producing beautiful work which deserves a premium price tag. I can see why someone would pay for the full time it takes these knitters to produce something because they really are buying skill and an eye for design. Mine is ok but I think definitely lower down the scale and I'm fine with that. Thanks for all the comments. Good luck with your marketing, Kate.

                        Marion

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          hi

                          Im new here and was just reading through all the comments. It kinda made me sad when I read your last bit about using acrylic..dont do it lol... there are people out there that wil buy high end quality knitted goods but as the other comments say you need to pick and choose where you sell. The lady that said about the image, i totally agree with this too. I once got told people pay for packaging and label more thant he actual product and I think this is true to an extent. If you £40 wrist warmes (sorry i cant remeber how much u actually said) were also gift wrapped and had a label on you could probably even sellt hemf or more that this cost.

                          good luck xxx

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