The price of hand knit socks

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.

Socks made by RubinskajaSocks made by Rubinskaja

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.

    € 4.- yarn (from the discount store)
    € 12.- working hours (8h x hourly rate of pay of € 1.50)
    € 16.- manufacturing costs
    € 10.- yarn (brand quality)
    € 40.- working hours (8h x hourly rate of pay of € 5.-)
    € 50.- manufacturing costs
    € 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.

Socks made by Rubinskaja

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!


4 Kommentare zu „The price of hand knit socks

  1. Pricing handmade goods or art is terrifically difficult…price it high enough to reflect the work/time and it’s too much; but you don’t feel good about it, if you „give it away.“ Try to find a market that recognizes good handmade items — are you on Maybe that site would work for you. Good Luck! Judy

    1. Hello Judy,

      No, I am not on Etsy yet. I guess I am not quite ready for showcasing and selling. But you know, even on Etsy you can find those supercheap handmade socks …

      best wishes to you, too

  2. I think that you are doing very well with English! I am having this dilemma, as well. I think that so-called „women’s work“ has been undervalued for a long time now. I just had someone request that make him a couple of pairs of entrelac socks for his girlfriend. I asked how much he would pay for such a service, and he said he would pay the cost of materials, + whatever my hourly wage is, but that he didn’t want to pay $50 for a pair of socks. I think that some people just don’t understand the amount of time and effort that this kind of work requires.

    1. Thanks for your nice comment, blairknits! 🙂

      I think it’s difficult in general to understand the amount of time and effort a certain kind of work requires as long as you didn’t try it yourself or at least watched someone doing it. I admit, it happens to me with other stuff, too…

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