A weird thing is that my dad seems to be becoming increasingly annoyed by the fact that I don’t sell my afghans and I won’t make crocheted baby clothes for people to buy (he found a little shop where I could sell them). I don’t especially like making clothing. So, I’m not at all excited about the idea of making them to make money.
But the afghan thing is a conscious decision. Take the Baby Batman cowl I made. How much would you pay for that? I think somewhere between $30 and $15 bucks. The yarn cost me $10 (though I didn’t use it all, so let’s say it cost me $6). It took me about ten hours to make it–that’s $72.50 if I pay myself minimum wage. So, just to break even, I’d have to charge $78.50. Who would pay that?! It’s not that hard to learn to crochet yourself.
And with an afghan, it’d be even worse, unless I didn’t charge for the labor, which…I mean, that should be what you pay for. Anyone can buy yarn. When you buy an afghan, you’re not buying a pile of yarn. You’re buying an amazing amount of work you don’t want to or can’t do. That is where the value of the afghan is. To take that out, to pretend like the labor isn’t worth anything or isn’t even worth minimum wage is to lie about what it takes to make an afghan. And it devalues my work.
(Here’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about along these lines–if you went to an art gallery to buy a painting the size of a full bed, you wouldn’t think twice about paying thousands of dollars for it. But paying hundreds of dollars for a blanket is ridiculous. No matter how beautiful.)
So, I come at it from another direction. I like making these things. I think they’re beautiful, especially as I’ve improved my skills. It brings me great joy and satisfaction to have an idea and to execute it and to find that it worked how I hoped it would work. I like the repetitive nature of it and how it gives my brain a chance to unwind. I like the ideas that come bubbling up because of that.
And I like getting to a name on my list and contacting them and telling them it’s time–they’re getting an afghan. Do they have any requests?
The giving is pleasurable to me. The refusal to attach a value to it other than “I like you and I wanted to make this for you” is pleasurable to me. It’s not a commodity. It’s a gift.
I can’t figure out what makes my dad so upset about that. I think he thinks people are taking advantage of me, maybe. But I don’t feel taken advantage of.
I feel subversive–deliberately doing something that makes no sense and has no monetary value to me.
And I guess the other reason I don’t at all feel used is that most everyone I’ve made something for–even the people who’ve paid me or who’ve specifically asked for something or who’ve provided the exact yarn they want used–looks unsure when they see what I’ve done, like they can’t quite believe this is a thing that is for them.
There’s no entitlement–like, yes, you made this for me. FOR ME, because I’m so awesome and that’s just what you should do.
There’s a moment of hesitancy. And then delight.