The new year is here and it is a time for making New Year's resolutions and, for many, taking up a new hobby, craft or challenge. It is, unfortunately, also the time for newspapers to publish article that get me a little bit cross, with their lack or research and sweeping generalisations. The Irish Times Magazine last Saturday 'Web spins a compelling yarn' is not the worst I've come across, they have done some research, and have some useful links and nothing too patronising. But, despite this, the first sentence did get me a little annoyed;
'Thanks in part to the downturn knitting has seen a steady renewed interest in the past few years'.
First, 'the past few years', now what does that mean? I would say maybe two to three, perhaps five at a stretch. But the Stitch'n'Bitch Handbook, which could be seen as the start of the mass re-vitalisation of knitting was first published in 2003, which is nearly a decade ago, and Stroller's first group was held in 1999 - and that is really not 'the past few years' in my book.
However, my really problem is the 'in part to the downturn'! Now, I've NEVER met a knitting who took up knitting to save money. And, if you are reading this and thinking knitting can save you money, I would recommend putting down the needles and walking quickly away.
With some of the cheaper yarns, it is possible to get the material to knit a jumper for about €20-€30. My The Killing jumper is one example, the wool for this was about €25, but this is an exception not the rule. Jumpers can cost €60, €70, €80 and upwards. And this doesn't include your work hours, which admittedly most knitters wouldn't really consider including, because they enjoy knitting. Compare this with Penny's where you can probably pick up a jumper for under €10 (I can't guarantee this as I've not been into Penny's for years.)
Now, you can argue that I am not comparing like with like. And you would be right. If you are looking to get a 'couture' jumper, made in you choice of colours and fiber, to your choice of design and your size, then it is almost certainly cheaper to knit it. Also in last Saturday's Irish Times Magazine, was this Yohji Yamamoto wool dress, priced at a hefty €2,780. Now, yes, you could get the wool for this for less than that, lets estimate a generous €200, and if you rate your hours at the minimum wage level of €9 you have over 280 hours to knit it, more than enough I would say.
So yes, you can save money with knitting if you would normally buy hand knit couture, but if you just want a cheap jumper, knitting is not the way. And I've not even addressed the stash issue, as any knitter know the stash is a drain on both money and space, but in a lovely way :)
I don't want to put new knitter off with this, knitting is a joy, I love it. It is a great hobby, you can meet lovely new people through knitting groups and you can produce fantastic garments for yourself. And, with the range of yarns now available, most knitters can find the yarn they want within their own price bracket. I've just set up a new knitting group with some of the girls I work with, who either want to learn to knit, or take it up again. And, not one of them has said to me they are wanting to take up knitting as a way to save money!
Writing this post has made me think about why I knit? Mainly, because I enjoy it. I enjoy the process of knitting, and I am at the stage now, where if I am watching TV without knitting, I feel like I'm wasting my time. I also enjoy the outcome. I like wearing things I've made myself and it is nice when someone complements you on something, and you can say nonchalantly 'Oh, this? I made it myself'. I also like knitting for people who appreciate the result, especially the foxy whiskered gentleman.
But what about you, I'd really like to know, why do you knit? or why are you thinking about taking up knitting?