Lately I’ve been taking my knitting along to work with me. You know me and my fidgety fingers: if there’s spare time to be had, I’m using it.
I’ve sold some of my knitting in the past to coworkers and friends-of-friends. I knit for free for family, of course, but even then, depending on the project, I’ve been known not to get around to it for a really. Long. Time. I’m working on this blanket for my husband…at this point he’s wanted a blanket for three years.
One of my coworkers asked if I’d ever auctioned off any of my knitting. Oh no, I thought, here it comes.
“…because my nephew’s hockey team is looking for items to auction off…one lady’s mittens sold for sixty dollars!”
I never really know what to say in these situations. I’m not great at saying no. So what came out was something like, “No, I don’t knit unless it benefits me. Sorry,” which, while true, came out wrong and totally makes me sound like a bitch. Here’s what I meant:
I won’t knit for you for free because:
1. Knitting takes time. This is listed first for a reason. My time is valuable to me. I like to spend it in ways I enjoy, which, when it comes to (free) knitting, means at my own leisure and on projects of my choosing. Believe it or not, even someone speedy like The Yarn Harlot can take 16 hours or more to knit a single pair of socks. I can do a lot of other things in 16 hours.
2. Knitting costs money. True, I have the needles already. But if I’m making your project for free, I’ll need to supply yarn. I’ll either need to give up some of my stash, which cost me money, or go purchase new yarn, which will cost me money. Either way, I’d be paying to do you a favour. Not happening.
3. No one works for free. Do you know how much money those mittens would “cost”, in real-life terms, if I charged by the hour? Do you realize that I’d have to give up other things in my life to make the time to knit for you? Would you come over and make me 16 free dinners? Or wash 16 loads of my laundry for me? Why not?
4. It’s my hobby, and therefore it needs to benefit me. When I knit for myself, this is a no-brainer. I get to use the end product: wear the sweater, use the gloves to keep warm, revel in the luxury of perfectly-fitted socks. When I knit for family, in ways that’s even better: I take time to pick just the right project, and colour, and yarn. I sit and smile to myself, imagining the recipient enjoying whatever it is that I’m making. It makes me no money, but it’s incredibly rewarding. If I donate my knitting to a charity — which someday I’d like to — I’ll still feel the warmth of knowing I’ve kept a preemie’s head warm, or gotten a handmade bear to a child with cancer, or whatever.
When I’ve knit for paying customers, that glowing feeling is replaced with cold, hard cash. Still beneficial.
If I give you something to auction for a league sport, neither of these things happens. You could just as easily sell chocolate bars.
5. I plain don’t feel like it right now, which means forcing myself would make it feel like work, and we’ve established I don’t work for free.
This isn’t the first time this has come up since I taught myself to knit. It’s kind of strange, if you think about it: asking someone (oftentimes a mere acquaintance) to give up hours and hours of their time and some of their money, as if it’s something you’re entitled to. Sure, I enjoy my knitting, but I bet there’s lots of mechanics who enjoy their work, and I don’t see them giving away free engine overhauls.