Thoughts on the Kool-Aid Afghan Yarn

You can either think of it as dumping Kool-aid on wool or you can think of it as using powders to manipulate which light wavelengths reflect back to your viewer's eyes.

You can either think of it as dumping Kool-aid on wool or you can think of it as using powders to manipulate which light wavelengths reflect back to your viewer’s eyes.

The wool I found at Haus of Yarn is perfect. It’s very natural feeling and looking. It has a kind of homey vibe. It just seems like the kind of yarn someone would hand-dye in a very half-assed way. But they only had five skeins! But they will order me more. So, my goal for this weekend is to get the yarn dyed (check) and then work up some squares so that I know how many more skeins I need so that they can get them for me. I dyed four and left one natural because I want to do a border on each square, so that it doesn’t look exactly like the one I did for B. I’m only now trying to decide if I want all the same sized colored parts or different. See, each row of a typical granny square has three rounds. So, I could do some squares where the colored part is only the first round and the rest are white, some squares where the first two rounds were colored and the last is white and some where all squares are colored.

I’m leaning away from that, though, because I’m trying to strike a balance between the business of the variegation and my desire to not make the whole afghan seem too busy. I want it to be cheeky, not tacky. So, in order to pull that off, if it’s possible to pull that off with bright, fruity colors, I think the trick is to give a person’s eye a place to rest–the white space. And to give the eye some uniformity. You might encounter a lot of variation, but it will be in a regular, predictable pattern.

Ha ha ha. I probably worry too much about the aesthetics of something no one else experiences as an aesthetic object. But man, I really love to sit around an imagine how an afghan is going to look and then I love to see how it actually turns out. It brings me such pleasure every time I piece one together on my bed and am like, wow, damn, I really love this.

My dad asks me all the time about selling my shit, but it’s so ridiculous. I mean, for an afghan I make with just yarn you can get at Walmart, my materials expenses run me $50 and then, if I even paid myself minimum wage, it probably takes me sixty hours to put one together. And something like this–wool is a lot more expensive and the labor costs expand once dying is included. And the idea of charging people hundreds of dollars for afghans that I make? It just seems ludicrous.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. If some rich person came along and asked me to do them up a Kool-aid dyed afghan, I’d sit down and actually figure out what it was costing me and go ahead and charge them the $500 and think nothing of it. But I guess what weighs heavily on my mind is that our culture kind of values handmade things–especially handmade things that are made by women–as being some kind of frugal alternative to real things. You can have a real shirt, or your mom can sew you one. You can have a real blanket or I can crochet you one.

But those are only more inexpensive choices because our work is not taken into account.

And I guess my feeling is that I’d rather do this as a gift to people I care about and feel like we all got value out of it–me, because I got to see if I had predicted in my head a good form for the afghan to take, and the person who gets it, because they got a gift–than I would want to do it as something that needs to pay for itself, because I just don’t believe you can actually get paid what it’s worth. Even on Etsy, I don’t see an afghan for more than $200.

And, like I said, looking at the yarn they’re using, their materials costs are probably less than $50, so, if you never account for labor, $200 is a nice amount.

But it does make me feel, overall, like, if you’re not getting something out of it yourself, it’s not worth it.

5 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Kool-Aid Afghan Yarn

  1. I’ve gone through those calculations myself, and here’s another perspective: if you have a hobby that you love doing, but you’re running out of room for keeping the results yourself and have no one left to give it to (who doesn’t already have one), selling it for less than the cost of your time is simply a way for someone else (anonymous purchaser) to both subsidize your hobby supplies and take away your surplus results — you still get the fun of doing, but it costs you less to do it. At least, that was my rationalization. :)

  2. Yes! I run into the same thing all the time as a knitter! People say “You could totally sell that! I’m sure lots of people would buy one!” And I’m like, no they they wouldn’t. Not for the price I’d have to charge, anyway.

    My best example is the advent calendar I made my mom for Christmas. Three hand-knitted banners, and 24 unique ornaments. My family told me, as usual, that I could sell them, even for as much as $100! Then I had to explain that materials alone probably cost me $60, and I probably spent 100 hours making it. So yeah, $100 seems like a lot to pay for an Advent calendar, but it doesn’t even come close to making me a profit. I always tell people I make things with love for people who will value them appropriately, and without those two things it isn’t worth it.

  3. I’ve been wondering about the all-colored squares in the afghan-they would sort of have a white border borrowed from the squares around them. So they might not look too busy, just an occasional splash of ‘here’s a large bit of color’.

    But I can’t visualize what it might look like at all. I’m always delighted by the finished pictures of your afghans.

  4. Schazjmd, I definitely have thought about that, too. If I’d be doing it anyway, because I enjoy it, then selling off the surplus does make sense. But as a way to make a living? Probably not worth it.

    Rheather, I might try it on a baby blanket. If those are busy, it’s not the end of the world. But I’m chickening out on this one and just doing squares that look the same.

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