You know a knitter, don’t you. She’s a friend, a sibling, an aunt, a colleague, or someone you saw in a waiting room. She’s knitting something interesting, isn’t she, might be socks? Those colours are pretty awesome, I bet she could knit you some pretty sweet socks! Maybe not those colours though, but something similar. You’d obviously pay her for her time, and for the wool or whatever they’re made of, so they’d cost more than normal socks, but they’d be custom fit! That’s got to be worth $20, can’t be much more, right? You want to pay her more than minimum wage for her time, obviously, that’s only fair for all the skill she’s putting into them.
So let’s start with minimum wage: in New York as of December 2014 minimum wage was set at $8 per hour. A knitter familiar with socks can get a pair done in around 8 hours, that’s $64 already. If you want some of that nice yarn she was working with when you spotted her, it’s not likely to be much less than $15, and could be a literal fuckton more, if you accidentally pick a mentally unstable knitter and she knits you a pair of $1000 socks.
However, it’s not about the time and the money you’re offering her, there are a lot of reasons she’s thought up a lot of really plausible excuses for why she can’t knit for you. She thinks very highly of you, she may even love you, if you’re a reasonable human being, but she will not knit for you because you don’t know what you’re asking:
So I’ve told you that if she’s well-versed in sock knitting, that pair of socks will take her around 8 hours. I’ve just finished a cardigan for a friend (I know, I know, I’m not as good at saying no as your knitter, ask me to knit you something to give me practice saying ‘no’) and it took me about 60 hours. I knit a full sized blanket for a friend’s new baby and it took me about 120 hours. Now if knitting were my full time job, I could knit for 8 hours a day and get that blanket done in 3 working weeks, no problem! Except that knitting isn’t my full time job. I don’t even have a full time job, and yet I still struggle to find time for lunch each day because husband and children. Sometimes I manage to meet friends for coffee, sometimes I end up in a waiting room, and sometimes I can knit in the evenings, I try to knit for a couple of hours a day. I could get your socks done in about 4 days, assuming I didn’t have any other time-sensitive projects on the go.
How much do you like talking about your measurements? Not at all? Congratulations, you’re normal! But that’s not going to work for your knitter, she’ll need to know, and she needs the REAL measurements. Yes, even for socks. And if you’re not sure she’s going to have to measure you herself, and even if you’re okay with that, she might not be.
You’re putting her in a position where she has to do math, and nobody likes math. Nobody. You might think you do, but you really don’t. There is a LOT of math in knitting, it can even be used to create 3 dimensional models of complex mathematical theories. Most knitters reach a point at which their skills advance to a point where they are doing themselves a disservice to continue tying themselves and their yarn in knots trying to escape from the math. Even if you have a good idea of what you want her to knit, she needs to take your measurements and convert the chosen pattern into something that will fit them. She needs to knit gauge swatches to check how many stitches per inch she’s working with for that particular yarn and needle combo, then use that info to find out how to make this pattern fit you. And that’s ignoring the math she needs to do to figure out exactly how much yarn to buy to complete whatever it is you want her to make, and find a reasonably priced place to buy it.
Please don’t be a dick and say that you really don’t mind the colour. You can get literally any colour and combination of colours of yarn itself, before you even start thinking about the designs that a knitter can put in the piece. Even if you have a good idea of colour and pattern, she needs to find a yarn which has the best characteristics for the chosen item. For socks it’s not that big a deal, since sock yarn is generally suited to purpose, but what about a long, draped cardigan? She can’t knit that with any old yarn, it needs to be something which drapes softly, rather than sticks out stiffly, and is likely to be very expensive. Not to mention difficult to look after, which brings me to…
You can’t look after it
You truly can’t. You think you can, you think you just need to put it on the ‘wool’ setting in the washing machine and you’re good to go, you might even think she’s being overly precious, after all, there’s a ‘delicates’ setting on the tumbledryer. But you’d be wrong, depending again on what you’re asking her to knit, that thing could be ruined forever, and she will be polite to your face when you tell her you did that thing she told you not to do, but she will go on one of the dark secret places of the internet where knitters congregate to discuss people like you, and she will tell them and they will appropriately react as though a loved one died. Washed it by hand and hung it to dry naturally? WRONG. That sunshine will bleach it faster than you can blink and do you really want weird clothes-pin marks on it?! You need to gently press it with a towel to remove the excess water, then carefully pin it out to the right shape and size, and leave it to dry carefully. Sound hard? Go buy cheap clothes! You can’t be high maintenance and expect easy clothes.
You’re asking her to stalk you when she really doesn’t want to.
How well do you know your knitter? Do you remember me telling you how long your knitter might be spending on various pieces? Let’s assume you wanted socks (may the yarn gods forgive you if you asked for a sweater) and she’s pretty practiced, so she can knock out a pair of socks in 8 hours. That is 8 hours that she is thinking about nothing but you. She’s thinking about everything you have ever said to her, she’s thinking about the shape of your face, the shape of your feet, wracking her brain to remember what shoes you wear most often, wondering if they rub or if they are comfortable. She’s remembering what colours you like to wear, the colours you choose for your house, she’s doubting herself and going through every. single. photo. you have ever uploaded or been tagged in on Facebook and Instagram, desperately searching for that Pinterest account that you haven’t got connected to Facebook because you don’t really like sharing pictures of cool stuff you found quite that regularly. She’s looking for clues to back up the myriad design decisions she had to make while preparing to knit that single thing which you will wear once or twice, then put aside because you aren’t really sure how to wash it…
You utter bastard.