Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Knitting, The Bitching

This post has two parts. I'm summarising now so that those only interested in skimming can skip whatever part you prefer. There's the knitting - which is, well, knitting. And there's the bitching. Consider it like a one-sided stitch-n-bitch.

The Knitting
I frogged what I had of Justify today. Originally I didn't know if I liked it, so I put it aside completely and totally for a few days to let it sit. And the more I thought about it the less I liked it. It might have been okay for me, in the end, and even then it might not have been. But it certainly wouldn't have been good enough to gift away, which is what I had originally hoped to do with it. So I ripped it, ripped it good.

And I decided on a new technique - same idea, different application - for Justify, and I started again. I like the look of the new technique better. Basically it uses the same colours and even in similar combinations but in much, much smaller doses per time. Leading to either a million and one ends to weave or a helluva lot of Russian joins. So far I've done both. I'm hoping that if I deal with the ends in fits and spurts, it won't be quite so tedius. And I'll avoid the massive yarn-hairball that may otherwise result.

The bad news is that I only have about six inches done.
The old:

The new:
New Justify

The Bitching:
I've been thinking a lot lately about value, women's work, knitting, and making a living. Or hell, at least surviving. This probably isn't terribly surprising considering the fact that I like to think that I run a business. It started from a very interesting discussion on the Knittyboard, which I didn't participate in but just read. Most experienced knitters have heard it before - you can't make money out of knitting. Not the act itself, at the very least.

It was pointed out in the discussion that you can, you just need a market that appreciates quality materials and hand made products for you to get anywhere close to a realistic wage for knitting. And I'm well aware there are people out there. However, I'm convinced that they're not Kiwis.

At the same time as I read and reflected on this discussion, in my main forum The Nappy Network there's a bit of a price war going on. One person has her mother knit soakers in Australia, ships them over here, and retails them for $15 a pop. Another knits like crazy (I'm assuming, based on output) and puts soakers up on TradeMe for $17 - $20 a pop. And still another sells here and there and mostly through word of mouth for around $17 a pop, including for larges.

Now, I'm a yarn buyer as much as I'm a knitter. (My husband would argue that I buy more than I knit, but I'm working on that.) And all of these items are pure wool. Most are NZ or Australian wool. This stuff ain't cheap. The cost of materials alone is likely somewhere between $8 and $10. Here I consider myself a reasonably quick knitter, but it takes me around 6 - 8 hours to churn out a soaker, longer for a huge one or one with colourwork. So these people are working, in many cases, for less than $1 per hour. And frankly it pisses me off. Not just from a competitors standpoint, that refuses to sell myself so cheaply. But also from a women's standpoint, which seems to me the bigger issue. Women devalue their own work, and similarly the work of other women, so much, that this is what is has come down to. After all, it's "only knitting". It's "nothing". It's "a hobby". It's "spare time". Who are we kidding? All of us put vast amounts of ourselves into our knitting. To have it sold to the lowest bidder, and thank-you-ever-so-kindly for "helping me out."

I guess it's no wonder that there's still a pay gap between genders. It's what we ask for.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Stash Diving

Stash diving is great fun. As is pulling out loads of scrap wool and partial balls.

I started knitting Justify partially for just that reason. I have a bunch of partial balls I don't know what the heck to do with. Some of them are large enough to make tiny hats.... and some aren't. I figured I probably have enough now that the colours are at least partially complimentary.

I'm starting to question the wisdom in that, though. As I've been knitting, my opinion keeps changing on the item. One minute it's cool, eclectic, hippy even. Patchwork-esque. The next minute it's a horrible blob that matches nothing and any sane person wouldn't wear in public.

I originally started knitting it for a one-skein-item swap. Granted, it's more than one skein's worth of wool, but we have free reign to use scraps. I figured this way would ensure that I gave above-and-beyond in the swap without technically breaking the rules or the spirit of the swap. Now I'm thinking that it's just as likely the receipient will be repulsed by the item - so if I do keep it, in a knitted-up, non-frogged state.... it'll likely be for me.

Great, I know my own tastes.

But I still don't know if I would wear the thing.

I'm hoping that using entirely one colourway for the edging will help it out - give it a cohesiveness that it's currently lacking. Because right now it's looking rather hobo-chic, and I'm not sure that's in fashion at the moment.

So, without further disclaimers, I present the work-in-progress that is Justify


It didn't occur to me before now... but perhaps the name of the pattern comes from trying to Justify why anyone would actually knit such a thing!