The Value of the Handmade (And Those Who Appreciate It)

I’ve had the same conversation with a couple different people in the last few days about appreciating the value of handmade items, spurred by my older sister’s discovery of Etsy.  She’d heard of it, and knew about my own shop, but had never actually gone to the website.  (Blasphemous, right?  When she told me this, I felt like exclaiming, “You’re no sister of mine!!”) 

"There’s so many cool things there!" she said.  "I had no idea what kind of stuff would be on the website."

Ah, yes - another person to discover the joys of Etsy and experience the hours wasted while scrolling through all of the beautiful handcrafted items some extremely talented people are capable of creating.

However, the problem with some people, I think, is that they just don’t appreciate how much work and effort and time goes into making just one item!  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been somewhere knitting with people I know around me, when one of them has come up to me.  This is usually the kind of conversation that follows:

Them: Are you knitting?
Me: Yeah.
Them: I didn’t know you knew how to knit!
Me: Yep!
Them: Can you make me a scarf?

Then comes that invariable awkward silence while I consider what to say next.  This is usually how it goes:

Me: Um, I guess. I do sell them sometimes.
Them: Oh…
Me: *silence*
Them: Like, how much does that cost?

When I first started knitting, I usually could only make really basic scarves and hadn’t yet discovered the wonder of anything other than acrylic yarn, so this was usually how it would go:

Me: Fifteen dollars?
Them: Oh, I guess I could do that.
or
Me: Fifteen dollars.
Them: Oh, nevermind then.

I mean, come on!  You can hardly buy a scarf in a store for $15, and you expect me to make one to your specifications for less than that?  I remember I one time made a scarf for a friend for $12 because I was afraid she would get angry with me if I asked for any more than that.  But now that I know I’m capable of much nicer knits that take up much more time and will be knit with much better materials, I feel completely justified in charging more for my items.

But most people don’t think that way.  Instead, they think that because I know them, I’ll cut them a break and make something for them for the heck of it.  Unfortunately, there is a cost to knitting, and it’s the time and money put into it that makes the finished product worth what I charge.  I’d like to be able to knit things for anyone who asks but, simply put, I just can’t.

But Etsy is filled with people who do appreciate the value, and who are willing to pay for it.  I adore that website.  There are so many talented people in this world, and it creates a place where they can come together and (justifiably) make a profit on what they’re capable of producing.  I will admit that there are some times when I think to myself, Why is this person charging $85 for something I could make for $10? - but that’s their prerogative to do so!  And if there are people willing to pay it, all the more power to them!

Maybe it’s just because I’m someone who knows the value of what it takes to make something, but I appreciate the cost of items on Etsy.  I may not be able to afford some of them, but I appreciate them in the way that I understand the reasons their creators have for charging what they charge.  I scan through the knitted items on Etsy and think, Oh, I’d love to buy this, even if it’s something that I could easily make myself.  Admittedly, at this point in my life, I most likely wouldn’t buy it, because I really don’t have the income now to do so, but I look forward to the time when I can - when I can buy something which I could produce myself simply for the sake of supporting someone who made it with their own two hands.  And I hope that someone could do the same for me.