I am head over heels. I fell under the spell of handmade socks. After my first pair I am now knitting my third and this time I am trying a pattern. Also I bought some new sock yarn already. It cost € 9,90 and it wasn’t the most expensive one in the yarn shop. And this is where I came across an issue I can’t stop thinking about.
While searching for patterns I realized that hand knit socks are sold between an average of about 10 – 20 Euro. Being aware of yarn prices, I made three simple and naive calculations – without any profit margin. In doing so I assumed an average knitting time of 8 hours. Skilled knitters might take less time, I need double the time at the moment, that is 16 hours.
- HOBBYKNITTER A
€ 4.- yarn (from the discount store)
€ 12.- working hours (8h x hourly rate of pay of € 1.50)
€ 16.- manufacturing costs
- HOBBYKNITTER B
€ 10.- yarn (brand quality)
€ 40.- working hours (8h x hourly rate of pay of € 5.-)
€ 50.- manufacturing costs
- TRADE KNITTER
€ 8.- yarn (brand quality with bulk discount)
€ 0.40 wrapping (paper banderole)
€ 80.- working hours (8h x hourly rate of pay of € 10.-)
€ 88.40 manufacturing costs
Afterwards I asked around among my friends how much they would pay for one pair of handmade socks at most. They said: 25 Euro. But only if it’s an extraordinary good product in terms of material, size, design and workwomanship.
Well, what does that mean?
Every handicraftsman charges more than enough and the price is paid. Can it possibly have something to do with the fact that socalled needlework, that is sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidering, spinning, weaving, etc., is traditional women’s work? And that it is assumed that first and foremost it is retirees and housewives who knit and who love what they do so much that they do it for free anyway, because otherwise they wouldn’t know what to do with their time? Or that low and no income women are just glad and thankful to earn at least a little bit of money?
I think, hopefully, we are all clear on the fact, that an hourly rate of pay of € 1,50 is sheer mockery and even 5,- Euro per hour isn’t more than an expense allowance.
I understand knitters who say, it’s my hobby and I just want to cover my yarn costs, so I will be able to continue knitting. However we have to be clear on the fact, that this is dumping. That means, knitters, who can’t sell cheap, because they have to care for themselves financially and/or they want to use high-quality, ecological and fair trade yarn, are squeezed out of the market. And it means degrading needlework and women’s work in general.
I would be interested in what you think of this?
Photos: © Rubinskaja
Note: English is my second language. Please excuse possible mistakes. I appreciate corrections. I really do!