Knitting for free – and why it sucks

My Nana has been after me to make her a scarf for a while now. And by “a while” what I really mean is ever since I started knitting. I love my Nana. Really, I do. But the friends and family discount is fairly played.

I spent basically the whole first year I was knitting making scarves (and hats, once I learned how) for my friends and family members. I did this either completely free of charge or only charging for the supplies. I did this for a few reasons: 1. My skill level was such that I didn’t feel comfortable charging for items, 2. I didn’t want to end up with a lot of practice scarves and hats and not know what to do with them all, 3. My needle inventory grew very quickly since other people were buying them.

My future mother-in-law wearing a headband that I made for her, free of charge.
My future mother-in-law wearing a headband that I made for her, free of charge.

Once I started getting better, I wanted to make things to actually sell. By this time I had spent a lot of my own money buying yarn (admit it, what knitter isn’t a yarn hoarder?) and I wanted a return on my investment. And I wanted to start knitting items that I wanted to make, not items that my mom constantly sent me on Pinterest.

I’m not a very fast knitter, it takes a long time for me to make a single item. Trying to build up an inventory of items to sell is very hard when people are constantly asking for me to make them things. It usually ends up with me bogged down with requests, and feeling too burnt out to work on anything at all. And so I lose all interest in knitting for a while.

Socks for my Nana. Free of charge, of course.
Socks for my Nana. Free of charge, of course.

But knitting is an extremely enjoyable and rewarding hobby for me. I hate that feeling of guilt I get when I’m browsing Ravelry or looking at yarn and someone inevitably says “Where’s the scarf you were going to make for me?”

One of my first hats - and one of the first items I was ever able to sell!
One of my first hats – and one of the first items I was ever able to sell!

A hobby shouldn’t make you feel guilty. I really want to encourage new knitters to do the opposite of what I did. Don’t let friends and family make you feel like you should be making them things for free. Make what you want for who you want, when you want. Keep knitting enjoyable. Give handmade items for Christmas and birthdays instead of on demand. And for the love of your sanity, charge for your items. You’ll thank yourself in the future.

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