In this post I wanted to share a question that was sent to me by Trina, who is about to do her very first knitting for profit contract work. Here is her original email and my reply:
I just wanted to ask your advice – my aunty wants me to knit a cardigan for her baby daughter – she's already got the pattern and the yarn – and wants to pay me for my time. Where do I start thinking about how much to charge her? Would it work on a per-hour basis, or just a 'finger in the air' full amount?"
This is a great great question – and one of the trickiest to answer because every situation is different. In my Knitting For Profit book I go through the essentials for people who want to "contract knit" professionally, and many of these apply to you even though it is a family member you are knitting for. In my answer I am assuming you haven't been paid for your knitting before.
The main thing to remember is that you want to still be friends when the project is finished and paid for! This means the less surprises the better. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Do you know how long the project will take? can you estimate reasonable accurately? Have you ever knitted that pattern before? And are you sure that your aunt has bought enough yarn? Is the yarn appropriate for the pattern, and is it all of the same dye lot? What sort of time frame does she have and can you get it done fairly easily in that time frame?
Ideally, you'll know the answer to these and be able to recognise if there are any issues on the horizon. Deciding what to charge depends on the answer to these questions, and also remember that many people underestimate the time and effort that goes into knitting a garment (especially family if they aren't knitters themselves!)
It will probably come down to you giving a price that you feel is fair for your time and effort, and seeing whether your aunt is happy to pay that price. Being something for a family member means you're probably not in it for a huge profit. Contract knitters tend to charge between $5-10 an hour depending on the project, but that's assuming professional speed (so what may take you 10 hours to knit may take them significantly less time and thus have a lower total dollar cost).
If you decide to contract knit for a living, there are many different types of project you may do. Yarn stores and manufacturers need knitters to use their yarns to knit up patterns and swatches, and many designers need knitters to test their patterns. There are also high-end designers who need the skills of top knitters to help them create uniques and original works.
Whichever path you choose, the main message here is that if you knit something for someone and are being paid for it, you should ideally have a written agreement with the answers to the questions I mentioned above. This saves having unpleasant surprises and means that you will enjoy your work, and your customers will keep coming back for more.
Many thanks to Trina for letting me share her question with you all, you can visit her blog and say hello at www.ballatrina.blogspot.com.
If you have a question you would like answered, just write a reply below or message me on the contact page – I'd love to hear from you!