“Can You Make One For Me?”

 

elderlywomanknittingI was asked this question by a woman who came up to my table in my Milanesefavorite coffee spot as I sat quietly sipping a latte and knitting.  (No, that’s not me in the black & white picture!  The color picture, however, shows my latte and the beginning of the Milanese Lace Shawl, one of Linda Marveng‘s sumptuous designs, I was knitting in a San Francisco cafe.)  How do you respond to such questions?!

I’ve been asked this question by so many strangers over the years.  The conversations generally went something like this:

Me:  “Yes.”
Person:  “How much?”
Me:  “For what?”
Person:  “Umm, you know, a sweater.”
Me:  “What kind of yarn?”
Person:  “You know, regular yarn.”
Me:  “Cotton or Wool?”
Person:  “I’d really like a cashmere sweater.”  (Wouldn’t we all.)
Me:  “Size?”
Person:  “Medium.”
Me:  “Medium woman or medium man?  Tall or short?  Thin or stout?”
Person:  “Umm, just regular medium.”
Me:  “A pullover, cardigan, or vest?  A v-, turtle-, boat-or round-neck; drop, raglan, saddle or set-in shoulders …”

Okay – you get the idea of the path of the conversation.  When I’d finally narrow it down to something where I could quote a ball park figure, the horrified response was generally along the line of, “What?!  I could go to Wal-Mart and get a sweater for under $20!”  (What’s stopping you?!)

So now when I get asked, “Can you make one for me,” my response is always “No, but I am happy to refer you too good local yarn stores that offer knitting lessons.”

The conversation generally ends there.

How do you respond?  🙂

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About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Crocheting, Knitting, Miscellany and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to “Can You Make One For Me?”

  1. I have a hunch most serious knitters have had to memorize a few such responses ready to use! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. adivinglife says:

    The response was perfect😊

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  3. Good for you (and very understandable!).

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  4. ShannonGrimm says:

    I’ve been asked so many times to make King Size blankets, and when I quote them a price, they gasp and say never mind. I no longer even offer the ability to ask me that question. I have to posted everywhere that I will not make anything bigger than a lapghan. Sorry, not sorry. lol

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  5. I love this thread! It makes me think of the cafe a few knitters and I used to go to. The counter staff were always asking us to make them something, mostly sweaters. I should have said, “Sure, but I expect free tea and biscuits for the next year, and I’m never going to tip you again.” It’s nice that people appreciate the handicraft, but a shame so many people don’t have a clue about the amount of work involved. We ended up switching our venue to a bar where the bartender never speaks to us beyond taking drink or food orders. Perfect!

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  6. I have said that I only knit for close family and friends and yet still get asked “but how much would it cost?” Argh!

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  7. I think there are so many great responses people have shared!

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  8. Another wonderful reply!

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  9. May pbe we should trade with, for instance, furniture makers. 🙂

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  10. I think people are more accustomed to understanding they have to pay more for tailors … ?

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  11. coricutecore says:

    This is brilliant! I’ve often been asked by friends/relatives (and I don’t mean my good friends or close relatives) who see something I’ve made and instantly ask if I can make them one… I’m always hesitant to tell this person (who most definitely isn’t a stranger) the true reason why I don’t want to make them something – we’re not close enough for it to be worth the time or the money. But I REALLY like your idea of suggesting a place to get knitting lessons. I’d likely be willing to even teach them myself and share the pattern. No hard feelings there!

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  12. rosemary says:

    Good for you – I have yet to progress in knitting to the stage that anyone would ask me to knit for them.

    But I do get asked a lot about sewing something. To be honest I’m happy to sew for people (friends and colleagues – never strangers). I often say I’ll make you the dress if you buy the fabric/pattern/zipper etc plus pay for my next project.

    That way I can get around having to equate money and time to something I love do; it gets me a new project for free; and I can blog/sew about someone else for a little while. But its only for people I like, and I’m still amazed when people respond to the costs with such hesitation/reluctance/scorn – ie like your enquirer they can get it cheaply from some crappy store.

    I do like your response to people though!

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  13. vairarenbeth says:

    The request usually dies when I say “Sure, just buy enough yarn for your size – I can recommend a yarn shop for you to go to”.

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  14. Leonor says:

    Can I steal your answer? I’ve been asked a few times (not too many, fortunately) and I’ve always tried to be nice, but people just don’t understand the hours and the work involved…

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  15. salpal1 says:

    I agree – and likely the people who buy their clothes at Wal-Mart and the like don’t understand how a quality fiber garment is an investment, not just a thing to wear because it is cute or trendy. Everyone else is NOT going to have one. It’s all a matter of education and personal style and awareness. 🙂

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  16. salpal1 says:

    Jeesh! That is outrageous! Do they not understand who their clients are?

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  17. salpal1 says:

    lol – I should! And will go check out that link. As my sister said, our target market is the professional people who live near her Portland Maine home and shop at the farmers market – they have disposable income and understand the value of locally sourced, hand made items. We just need them to all get together in one place so we can go there as well with our wares.

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  18. Yes, I agree but it usually stops trying to explain why the cost is “high” 🙂

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  19. Rebecca says:

    I decided a long time ago not to knit for money. I will knit gifts to give away and i will knit for an in-kind exchange with another maker but i will never do it for money. No one would pay a fair price for the labour and skill involved. The value we place on handwork is unfortunately determined by the mass produced product. We compete with that or we do not enter the market. You point out very clearly the complexity of the hand knit garment.

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  20. fabrickated says:

    I don’t knit, but I do sew and people say the same thing. I don’t think they are actually asking for me to make them something – it’s more a approach, an interest in what I do. I use the question to share how nice it is to make your own things. I will show people how to make things for themselves if they are genuinely interested.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Just found this … http://blogs.wsj.com/bankruptcy/2014/12/22/proposed-bankruptcy-fixes-would-try-to-make-bankruptcy-cheaper/ … definitely DO NOT apologize for your price! (And maybe knitters need to target corporate bankruptcy attorneys as potential customers. 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Even then the number of hours is probably a best guestimate dependent on stitch, style, etc. The actual finished cost could be much higher! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. That’s a great response! (I think we live in a society that is more interested in wearing cheap, “throw-away” clothes and have scant appreciation for durability and timelessness.)

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  24. Nor should you … five years ago corporate bankruptcy attorneys in a major national (with offices internationally) in San Francisco charged over $1,000 hour …. so knitters have NOTHING to apologize for (though I think the bankruptcy attorneys do!).

    Liked by 1 person

  25. It’s probably mind boggling for people who don’t understand the artistry and precision in knitting in addition to the cost of high quality fibers (and the reason for using them!).

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Oh we always know … which is why it’s it so much fun when, attending fiber-centric events, walking around and staring at people’s handmade garments!

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  27. People won’t pay for knitting lessons?! It gives you a sense of the devaluation of all things stereotypically considered “women’s” hobbies! Years ago working part-time at a yarn store, a customer pulled out her check to pay for some gorgeous yarn (I introduced her to it b/c she was a good knitter with a good pattern and the acrylic she first chose just wouldn’t cut it!). As she paused about to sign her name to the check, she paused and said, “How will I explain this amount for a hobby to my husband.” I asked, “Does your husband fish, play golf, or hunt?” She responded, “Why yes!” I then asked, “How much does he spend on his hobbies.” With that she said “You’re right!” and signed the check with a triumphant flourish! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I’ve had some very aggressive “prospective customers” … their attitude used to surprise me. I’m not as nice as you I guess. 🙂 Now I just flat say “no” to everything!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Allison says:

    Oh my goodness–how bold! People most often ask _if_ I sell my work, which is an easy no. If I’m feeling feisty, I detail how much the yarn alone cost for whatever I’m making, and the number of hours it will take me to finish my project, plus a lesson on pattern copyright for the really pesky questioners!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. People always think that I am being a super snob when I say no. I am always willing to teach anyone but in my area they wont pay my price.

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  31. rthepotter says:

    That’s the trouble with anything you handmake – unless you can convince the customer that it is ART they are never going to want to pay for the time. Kind of difficult with socks and pullovers though knitters know!

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  32. salpal1 says:

    PS I will NEVER apologize for my price. However, I will explain it because I want an educated consumer.

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  33. salpal1 says:

    It is so hard to answer this one. I always say “absolutely!” then talk about the price per hour, and that I have veto power over the yarn choice. Last year when I was knitting socks in public all the time, I did get this question regularly. When I said my yarn of choice is no cheaper than $20 a skein but more likely $30 with shipping, that it takes me roughly 8-10 hours of knitting PER SOCK, and that I think I am worth a minimum of $10 an hour, the jaw drop was fun to watch. $200-230 for a pair of socks? Well, yes, but they are custom fit and wonderfully soft, warm and unique. 🙂 Never sold a pair.

    Now that I have opened an Etsy shop because I can’t stop knitting hats, I just refer them there and let them see the prices for themselves. Of course, there are no socks there, because I refuse to knit them for free, and no one will pay what they are worth in my time.

    For people I know and like, I will occasionally knit them something “for free” if they pay for yarn. Again, I get veto power over the yarn.

    As for the Wal-Mart remark, I usually respond with “Not like the one I would knit you, you can’t.”

    But a Wal-Mart shopper is not my customer, typically.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. One of the reasons I stopped quoting prices is b/c people generally gasped at the amount! But then after I was approached by a (well-dressed) woman in San Francisco at a coffee shop who wanted to BUY the Marveng Milanese shawl (which was in progress), Thor suggested I quote her a BIG price tag because maybe she wouldn’t have flinched. (I just didn’t want to SELL my precious Milanese shawl!)

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Thank you, though I admire others’ creative responses! 🙂 The minute the person mentions Wal-Mart as a good place to buy sweaters … well, I wouldn’t want to knit the yarn they’d pick out anyway! >

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Weedwacking! Brilliant! 🙂 >

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  37. thetinfoilhatsociety says:

    Oh man, now THAT would be totally worth it! Getting someone else to clean my house or weedwhack my yard? Definitely worth the price of a ‘XX’.

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  38. I agree: Knitting is my yoga too! I don’t like to take commissions because then it commidifies it! >

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  39. meganb1977 says:

    “You can’t afford me.” With a smirk.

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  40. What a great response! (I particularly like the suggestion of trading housecleaning hour by hour!) >

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  41. streepie says:

    Somewhere, I found a great answer for this – it will take me XX hours to knit this. Would you be willing to spend these XX hours to clean my house?

    Alternatively, you could ask people to cook your dinners (including buying the ingredients), do you laundry, or your ironing.

    Liked by 5 people

  42. KerryCan says:

    I don’t knit but I can just imagine how tedious this sort of conversation must be! Especially that last part about Walmart. I think you’ve come up with the perfect rejoinder.

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  43. Ha, I had to laugh when I read this. I often knit in public and get the same question. For a while I knitted socks on commission but really it took the fun out of knitting almost (oh horror) I did teach knitting and still do occasionally as a personal favor, that is a lot of fun. But for anything else, it is indeed a firm but polite: ” No, this knitting is my yoga not my work!” Love the Milanese shawl btw. Have a great Sunday, Johanna

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  44. “Sure! My rate is $25 an hour and a pair of socks takes me a week, a shawl takes 3-4 months. That doesn’t include the cost of the yarn, and I don’t knit with anything less than €30 a ball.” They usually dont have that kind of cash on them …

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  45. I usually quote an estimate of the number of hours followed by the minimum wage (£6.50 here in the UK). We don’t get as far as yarn costs or styles of sweater!

    Liked by 1 person

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