Sunday, August 31, 2014

Knitting unravelled

It occurs to me with all of the store made vs. handmade selections a person can make that for people that do not do crafts, they may not understand the differences.  

Machine knit items: Most items in a store are machine knit.  Generally, the materials used are a much thinner thread.  Using a thinner thread promotes the following conditions, excessive balling, inability to maintain original shape and early wearing of the threads.  

These items that are manufactured at huge rates and contain a large amount of imperfections due to the speed at which they are manufactured.  What makes machine knitting so average is that there will be thousands to millions of people who wear the exact same thing.  Generally the patterns are not creative but what can easily be programed to a machine.  Things you hardly see are cables that are nice and plump (generally machine knit cables are flat and bland), lacing, or highly varied patterns. What you will see a lot is stripes, checks, boring patterns that just repeat. 

Hand knit items: 

Hand knitting has many factors.  

First the yarn selection:  Knitters have wide varieties of colors, textures, and weight yarns to choose from. Once a knitter gets comfortable with a type of yarn, there are usually reasons.  I can only speak for myself in saying that I fall in love with the textures, softness and gauge of a particular yarn.  Not to say I don't switch it up occasionally for different projects but there is a default for most knitters.  

Second is pattern: there are literally thousands of patterns and styles of knits.  There are knitters that will stick to the same pattern, and there are knitters that will try everything and then there are designers.  Designers are people who will create their own stitches or take various stitches and meld them in unique ways. 

Third is the size of the needles:  You will see knitting in very tiny stitches and then you will see very large stitches and everything in between.  Generally, a knitter will have a favorite size needle or range of needles they work with.  

So all this adds up to time and money, right?  The smaller the weight yarn and the smaller the needle size and the more complex the pattern equals the most time.  Most who pick up a sweater or blanket or wrap have no idea on the time it really takes.  

For my knitting I use a worsted weight yarn (relatively thin), I use about a 6-7 size needle for most projects.  I generally will do cabling or lace which requires concentration on the pattern and focus on the number of rows and each stitch.  

Generally time involved hours and how long that maps to with average daily availability: 
Hats:  8-10 hours to knit (2-3 days)
Scarves (long length):  20-30 hours to knit (1-2 weeks)
Infinity scarves:  18-25 hours to knit (1-2 weeks)
Blankets (baby):  40+ hours to knit (3-4 weeks)
Wraps:  40+ hours to knit (4-5 weeks)
Baby shoes:  8-12 hours (4-5 days)
Baby dresses:  12-20 hours (1-2 weeks)

When you look at an item that is handmade you cannot just go by price.  There is no way to actually earn an hourly rate to put it into normal selling terms.  A machine knit item probably takes under 30 mins to process, even blankets.  A hand knit item as shown above does not.  I generally sell a wrap for 45-65 depending on dimensions.  I would be the only item I work on at that time.  Just to give an appreciation of the time and effort.  

Thought it would be interesting to put it out I don't think people outside of crafting land would know.