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How much should I charge?

If I have read that question once, I have read it a thousand times. There are always crafters looking for guidelines to price their knitted and crocheted items. The most common answer is always: ‘material x3’. Right? Not right.

Let’s first look at the reason the ‘material x3’ isn’t correct through a little hypothetical scenario. Two friends each want a shawl and are looking for a quotation. They both chose the same pattern. One friend chose Electric Carnation, costing R390 for a ball of 150g. The other chose Elle Raw Cotton, at R90 for 250g. With the ‘material x3’ method, the first lady will pay R1170 for her shawl; the second lady will however only pay R270 and have some left over yarn to spare. The work on the two shawls, is exactly the same as the same pattern will be used. Can you see the problem with this method?

There are a few other factors that should actually be taken into account. Do you like the pattern you have to work from? If you don’t, you should charge more. Do you like the yarn you have to work with? If not, you should actually charge more for the added effort. But these things are difficult to quantify and put a price to it. What about the size of the project? Should that play a role as well? It’s debatable – should you charge less or more for a big project? Both arguments have valid points. At the end of the day we have to agree, there is no easy way to do this. But…. if you are making a living through knitting or crochet, maybe you should consider my method. This is what I do. I am not saying it is the be-all and end-all, but it definitely makes more sense than ‘material x3’.

I drafted a little table with a price PER METER OF YARN I work up. To me it is the only logical way to look at this. To work up a meter of lace weight yarn, will be a lot more work than to work up a meter of bulky yarn, so the fee per meter depends on the yarn weight. To accommodate bigger projects, I choose to charge less for bigger projects, than for smaller ones. And finally, I charge 10% more for a project that involves any fluffy yarn such as mohair. Here is my little sliding scale.

WPI Yarn Weight 0-250g 251-500g 501-1000g 1001-2000 >2000
20-40 Lace / 2-ply  R2.60  R2.40  R2.20  R2.00  R1.80
20-30 Superfin / 3-Ply / Light Fingering / Sock / Baby  R2.40  R2.20  R2.00  R1.80  R1.60
14-24 Superfine / 4-ply / Fingering / Sock / Baby  R2.20  R2.00  R1.80  R1.60  R1.40
12-18 Fine / Sport  R2.00  R1.80  R1.60  R1.40  R1.20
11-15 Double Knit / 8-ply / Light Worsted  R1.80  R1.60  R1.40  R1.20  R1.00
9-12 Aran / 10-ply / Worsted  R1.60  R1.40  R1.20  R1.00  R0.80
5-8 Chunky / Bulky  R1.40  R1.20  R1.00  R0.80  R0.60

Unfortunately, in South Africa, we have a church bazaar mentality. People think hand-made is cheap and crafters that sell hand-made items, are doing so because they are bored and have nothing better to do. To turn that around, is going to take a long time, and a lot of effort. I am not sure we are going to succeed. Why? It’s quite simple. There are too many crafters that do not value themselves, and their time, high enough. What a sad scenario.

I hope this helps you. Final word of advice? If somebody doesn’t want to pay your price, let the person go. Don’t drop your price. Don’t sell yourself cheap. Don’t allow other people to take advantage of your amazing skills.

3 thoughts on “How much should I charge?

  1. I couldn’t agree more about the Church Bazaar mentality. Handmade should mean more valuable, not as cheap as possible. Consider the time, effort, knowledge, education, research, skill and love that goes into the successful production of something handmade.
    I have made a firm commitment to myself, in my position as artisan, not to give my work away below market value anymore. Although I still do not charge for my time, I look at a piece and decide what I think it is worth in terms of market value, taking into account that I use natural yarns, and most of what I make is totally unique. If a prospective client complains about the cost, then they haven’t thought carefully enough about the origins of what is essentially a humble piece of art. People will happily pay R30 000 of R 40 000 for a painting by a recognised artist, and although I don’t consider what I make a ” Piece of Fine Art”, my pieces are still unique, made by hand, and I like to think, incredibly special.
    My plea to our prospective clients is to change the culture of ” it’s homemade it should be cheap” to ” It’s handmade – how much more special can you get”.

    1. Exactly. Well said. How much more special can you get? Absolutely!

  2. Dis wat ek nog altyd sê. Vat ‘n billike prys vir die jaarn. Ek het al ‘n shawl verkoop waarvan die jaarn R1100 gekos het! En ek stem volkome saam met Glynis! Ek dink nie mense besef hoe lank dit neem om iets te brei of te hekel nie. En die cheap akriel produkte skep ‘n wanbeeld.

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