Sunday, November 15, 2009

Barter for Garter

Recently, a relatively new friend-- someone whom I like very much, but haven't really had time to develop a strong emotional bond with-- asked me, "So what does it take to get a pair of handknit socks?" I actually don't knit for very many other people. My gift knitting is pretty much limited to my husband, some (but not all!) of my family of origin, my in-laws, and my band. Very rarely, I'll knit for an extremely close friend. The list of people for whom I will knit for free looks suspiciously like the list of people for whom I would donate a kidney.

I was thinking, though, that there is one way I would knit to order: in exchange for an equal amount of the recipient's time. If you're willing to labor at something you're good at for me, I'll do it for you. A pair of fine-gauge socks take about thirty hours, so start thinking. Here are a few ideas:

  • Like hanging out with cats? Take care of mine for a week, and I'll knit you a hat. There are seven of them (cats, not hats). If you'll come twice a day to supervise the one on a restricted diet and let the crazy outdoor-lover in and out, there's a matching scarf in it for you. House-sit and they'll be cashmere or silk.

  • Like landscape gardening? I've got at least a lace shawl's worth of that for you to do.

  • Like cabinet-making? There may be an entire intricately-cabled Aran pullover in your future. If you are an experienced kitchen or bath remodeler, we can talk fair isle.
  • Of course, if I simply don't like the pattern or the yarn you want knitted, all bets are off. So if you want a black acrylic cabled sweater, I don't care if we share DNA, exchange vows, or play rock 'n roll, you're still out of luck.

    14 comments:

    'Zann said...

    Great post! I don't knit for anyone else but me. Which sounds weird considering that I sell some of the things I make, and sometimes give them away. But during the process it's for me.

    If I were to commit to making something for someone else, it would quickly turn into a chore with a deadline. So I just don't do it.

    sweetea said...

    I love this post. Such a good idea. I am always quick to say "Of course I can knit that for you!" without realizing that I haven't done a very good job explaining how much work that will entail.

    I would love to knit someone a lovely sweater in exchange for cabinets. I would do it in a heartbeat.

    EmPrint said...

    Love your bartering ideas. For the first time, I'm donating a pair of my fancy hand knit socks to an auction fund raiser. Hope someone likes them well enough to bid. Better yet, a bidding war would be nice!

    MLJ1954 said...

    Saw the socks on knitty. Totally awesome . . . of course, I've never finished a pair of socks for anyone . . . ever.

    H said...

    I think I am so filled with lust for your amazing (and far-beyond-me) Skew socks (they made me want to cry), that I read this post and immediately started trying to think of something you would want. I realize that was probably not the point (and your actual point is a good one). That said, if my (custom dyed)yarn and/or glass are for you...I'll be very honored to stand in line for socks.

    Tess said...

    first of all, Skew is awesome! and I consider myself a very selfish knitter, I did not even make anything for my infant son until he was 6 months old. I have a list of things I would like to make other people, but the list of things for myself is thrice as long. so, in short, ditto. love your blog!

    KnittyLynn said...

    Great idea! I'd love to drop that on some of the folks who keep asking for various things. Sometimes they just don't understand what you really put into your handknits.

    Love skew. Amazing~

    Rachel said...

    I think that is the prettiest design I've ever seen.

    SongBird said...

    I've knitted for years and years, and in response to the inevitable (ridiculous) requests for cabled sweaters/hand knit socks/re-designed sweater/dress/anthropologie item... I just explain that the standard cabled sweater takes at the minimum 80 hours, and my time bills out at at least 20 dollars per hour. Not counting cost of yarn, needles and pattern, and my price goes up with pattern complexity.

    No one's taken me up on it, so far. My partner's mother, who does knit endless cabled sweaters for her friends and family, is stunned at the time I put into lace shawls, but it's easily the same amount of time and love she puts into her work.

    We're so used to dismissing our time and effort - it's great to see more of us standing up for ourselves. I wouldn't mind a barter relationship for some things. I could use shelves in the bedroom. *grin*

    SongBird

    Kathy said...

    I love the hour-for-hour trade. In addition to cabinetry and catsitting, I'd add massage and facials. One good sweater I'd be relaxed and moistured for a year!

    fuzzyjay said...

    Someone once offered me cookies to knit him a hat... I don't think he thought that one through. I like your analogy about donating a kidney... I've ganked that and posted it to my blog (with attribution, of course!)

    Sarah said...

    I love this post so much. It has given me some ideas and a fresh perspective.

    Beverly said...

    I love the idea of bartering, too, and have designed business cards in exchange for voice lessons, for example. But I also love to knit for the people I love, because it gives me an opportunity to think about them with every stitch. Since most of these people live far away from me, it's like a way to keep them close.

    Beverly said...

    I love the idea of bartering, too, and have designed business cards in exchange for voice lessons, for example. But I also love to knit for the people I love, because it gives me an opportunity to think about them with every stitch. Since most of these people live far away from me, it's like a way to keep them close.