Whether made by hand or with a knitting machine, creating beautiful knitted garments is a skilled craft. Therefore, when it comes to setting a garment price for your customers, never undervalue yourself or your skills.

How to charge for knitted items is a much discussed topic amongst dedicated knitters and there seems to be no hard and fast rules that can be applied.

Certainly, it’s not adequate to use ‘shop’ prices as a guideline, since this knitwear is usually mass-produced. Garments which are knitted specifically to a customer’s measurements or requirements are “tailor-made” and therefore far more exclusive than the mass-produced equivalent found in high street stores.

Probably the fairest way to cost a garment is with a calculation based on time and materials:

1. Decide on your hourly rate. This should be a fair rate for your skill. In the UK, by law, the minimum wage rate is approximately £5 (say $10 USD). Your hourly rate should never be lower than the legal minimum.

2. Time the amount of work that goes into the creation of a garment. Time spent on knitting and time taken for ‘making up’ should be kept separate. Often, the making up time can be reduced by using alternative methods of construction (using a linker instead of hand sewing, for example).

3. The cost of the yarn. If you buy a batch of yarn and only use 75% of it, you still need to include the whole 100% of the cost. You may be able to use the remaining 25% of the yarn at a later date or you may not, but at least your cost has been covered at the outset.

4. Oh, those little extras! The cost of trimmings, fastenings, linings – that very exclusive label you sew into the back of the neck – all must be included in your calculations. Add a small sum for contingencies, too. There can always be an unexpected expense – that’s Murphy’s Law!

5. What about incidental costs? These can include telephone calls to the customer, the cost of delivering a garment (petrol or postage!), packing materials and labels.

6. Total up and add more! When you’ve arrived at a total for your time and materials, now is the moment to add a percentage to that figure. This percentage is to reflect your administration costs – time spent on keeping the books, heating, lighting, ‘wear and tear’ on your knitting machine (if you use one) and promotional costs.

What’s that? Do I hear you say that the final figure is a little on the high side? So be it!

If the garment is well made and fits (and remember, it is exclusive), then you are entitled to charge correctly for your services.

However, if you really think your price is too high, the only cost that can sensibly be reduced is your labour rate. If you disregard the other costs, you’ll soon be knitting at a loss.

Copyright 2006 Linda Black

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Based in the UK, Linda Black has written several design books for machine knitters and is a self-confessed knitting addict. Her web site for both hand and machine knitters can be found at http://www.getknitting.com
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