Yes, let’s. If there is ever one topic more heated in fiber crafting, I do not know it. Commissions, the idea of taking commissions, or working on commissions gets a lot of opinions and can make even the calmest yarn-mover get twisted in knots.
First, by definition: commissions is used for anyone crafty-inclined who makes something for someone else and gets paid for it. In a way it’s similar to going to a store and paying for a service, but really the term is used mostly when we think of crafts or hobbies. Usually the format goes – you tell me what you want, I tell you how much it would cost to make, we agree on when things are paid for, I make the thing, you get the thing, I get the money.
Simple enough, right? So why is it such a hot topic for fiber-friends? Let’s consider the world we live in – the consumer/capitalism world. A lot of people are used to paying X dollars for Y item. We’re so used to it that the idea of paying more for it will sometimes stop us from buying the thing all together. Sure, there are circumstances we might pay more, but the factors have to be just right. Example: Think of how much you would pay for a hat to wear in the winter. $5? $10? Depends on where you buy it from, the features you’re looking for in a hat, etc. Would you pay $20 for a winter hat? Maybe if it was supporting a good cause, had a team logo for a team you follow … there are circumstances but they may be far and few between for you. Now would you pay $50 for that same hat? What about $100? The truth of the matter is when you factor in the cost of yarn, the cost of my labour, and accounting for my experience in knitting … I could easily imagine a tab of $100 or more for a knitted hat. How likely are people to pay for it? How often would you use a hat you paid so much for? The reality of commissions are two-fold – most people will likely not pay what my knitting is worth, or I have to undersell my knitting for people to want to use my service.
So there in lies the debate for fiber-crafters. People not charging enough, people charging too little and getting all the work, or recipients not valuing the finished product enough (not using it enough, not caring for it the right way, or worse – losing it or giving it away). The debate is heated, and I understand all points of it. I don’t want to undervalue my time and skill. At this point I’ve been knitting for over 7 years. While my friends will say that I am a quick and expert knitter, things still take time. Sure, I can knit a hat in a few hours … but that is a few hours of non-stop knitting. That’s just a hat. What about scarves? Shawls? Socks? I love everything about knitting but it’s not a quick hobby. Finished objects can take weeks depending on how much time I have each day to put into it. Finding the right yarn is a big factor – who is getting the knitted item, how easy-care does it need to be, and there can be costs involved for ordering yarn if it’s not easily accessible.
The other side, of course, is wanting to actually get the work. Knowing that people will likely never pay the full amount of what something is worth (shawls, blankets, socks … they can run hundreds of dollars), so trying to find that balance between getting fair compensation but putting yourself out there. I’ve got a lot of fiber friends around, who also play with string. It’s hard to make things for people who already have a ton of stuff themselves. Or people in my life who don’t need/want/won’t appreciate knitted things means my pool for gifting knitting is small. I’ve made so many things for myself that making more seems almost foolish, like a waste of yarn. I love the process of knitting more than anything, and I know I don’t wear my finished objects as much as I could/should. So making for someone who will use it has high appeal for me.
And therein lies the rub. The balance. What can I do?
My preference is to trade/barter for knitting more than being outright paid. Most time these people can appreciate my time/skill a bit more, and an exchange of services means I get something I need in exchange for making something they want.
I make mostly for people who appreciate the skill of knitting – so someone who knits themselves but maybe isn’t up to my speed/skill. Someone who appreciates the geeky/nerdiness of knitting and is looking for that special touch.
I like making for people who also craft themselves. Even if it’s completely different (like woodworking), they understand the time/skill required and knows what it’s like to be undersold.
So knowing all of this, why do I still want to do this? Why am I here, putting myself out there, asking to be your go-to knitter when you need something? Because I love the process of making. I love geeking out hard when I’m making for someone else. It gives me pride to make something personal for someone else. Because this could give me a chance to make something for someone that I wouldn’t make for myself (you want that Doctor Who scarf? Hit me up, we’ll make it happen!) But mostly because I want to cover the world in yarn. I want to make the world a softer squishier place with fiber crafts, and I like knitting pieces of love for people. Few things make me happier than hearing about things I’ve made being used and loved.
So if you’ve ever wanted something handknit, and you think we could reach a bargain we’re both comfortable with – send me a message. My needles are waiting.