Last week I promised to write about my opinion on charity knitting. It seems like such a miserly topic to write on this close to christmas. And yet, tis the season for giving knit items. I’ve been extremely lucky giving knit gifts that they have always been very appreciated for the time and love that goes into them. Sometimes people request items, but with the understanding that I will get to it when I get to it.
What makes a hand-knit item different from a store bought or machine knit item is the time and love that went into the making. Someone sitting there making stitch into stitch just for you. So what if I don’t know the person receiving the knit item? In can still put all the well wishes and care into it that I do for people I know. Freely given they are priceless. The thought of someone walking around with a hat, or a pair of mittens I made gives me the warm fuzzies. Warm fuzzies are the best!
And then comes charity knitting, the kind where you, or I knit things to be sold on a christmas market or charity fair for the cause. I knit and someone else puts a price on my work. Usually the price is rather low, say 15 € for a pair of hand-knit socks. Now 15 € for a pair of socks might seem rather a steep price, unless you consider that someone spent between 10 and 20 hours knitting them.
Another effect is at play here too, once something has been given a monetary value, we lose sight of the other value it might have. The value of someone knitting my socks for 15 hours and then giving them away is supplanted by the hard value of whatever 15 € mean to me. No warm fuzzies here.
Then there is math. A pair of socks costs between 6 and 10 € in materials.
Part of me wants to look at the question why knitting is devalued so much that low prices are the norm and everyone nods when someone says ” but who would pay that much”. Another part sighs and says that it’s because knitting is women’s work, it’s a hobby, not something to be taken seriously as work. I’ll leave it at that and let you make up your own mind on this.
And so this is my charity knitting policy: I like to knit for people, so any drive where my items are collected and redistributed directly, I want to participate. If the items are distributed through a sales channel, I do not want to participate.