Sunday, December 26, 2010

the economy of hand-knit socks

just a quick post to show off the christmas knitting i've been doing the last few weeks but, for obvious reasons, couldn't post (in case the intended recipients saw them in advance!). i also knit a sweater for my love but haven't sewn the buttons on yet, so as soon as i do that, i'll post pics of it as well!!

christmas was nice...stressful at times, but nice. i have no energy as of late and getting through the days without falling asleep can be challenging. i've also been battling really bad back pain and sleep problems due to being 32 weeks pregnant...having a toddler to entertain and a house to build is not always conducive to peaceful living. but i'm learning lessons of patience and the importance of pacing myself in spite of the pressure to go-go-go. i have only a couple of shifts left at work (12 hour shifts i might add, which do NOT help the back pain unfortunately), followed by some scheduled vacation days and then...thank goodness...MAT LEAVE! i have no stamina for the long shifts anymore, so i'm really looking forward to the time off (even though i don't work very often).

i did find some time to knit presents though, which is what i prefer to do every year. everybody i know has the capacity to buy what they need, just about whenever they need it, and so buying presents is often a struggle. i like to put thought into gifts but the frenzy to buy stuff (for the sake of buying stuff) for people irritates me. on the flip side, i find it overwhelming to RECEIVE gifts that i don't really need as well because i have little room to fit most things but feel pressure to keep them for fear of hurting the feelings of those who gave the stuff to me. 

there seems to be this whole notion that lots of money spent on a gift = lots of love from the giver to the receiver. they say time=money so i look at knitted gifts as also being gifts of love. so although a single knitted gift may seem like a small contribution, the time taken to knit it makes it special. 

i can even quantify it for you. my sister's socks for example (seen below) took, i dunno, say 8 hours to knit, including weaving in ends (there were lots of ends) and blocking. if i worked at my formal place-of-work for 8 hours, and spent the money made in 8 hours on something from a store, brand-new, (likely made overseas using lots of fossil fuel to get to canada) i would have had a couple hundred bucks to spend on her. however the work put into the socks was informal and unpaid, and to some people, not as valuable as the work i put in at my formal job.

of further note: the wool i puschased to make the socks was made in canada, which means that the gift has a smaller footprint than something made overseas. i got to work on my craft, plus my sister has custom made, SUPER-warm, one-of-a-kind socks in colours she likes. win win on all sides. pretty rad, right?

unfortunately, hand crafted stuff is not always regarded as equal in value to bought stuff. in a capitalist system, it is hoped that one will buy the $200 gadget from the store (think of all the hands that get paid in the process...from the asian factory where it's made to the individual workers employed at the factory; then consider the large corporation whose name is on the item, the advertising companies promoting the item, oil and shipping companies who ensure the goods get to canada, and the big box store from which the item was bought, and the employees whose wage depends on their ability to sell the item. OH and we cannot forget the governments who collect the taxes from all these various steps necessary to get the item into the buyer's possession). 

now turn to the hand-knit item. fewer hands get paid when something is hand-made. the hours i put into the craft were not taxable hours, nor did they contribute to CPP, EI, etc etc. plus the socks boast no brand name which on-lookers can lust over. they're just plain, but incredibly durable socks, likely to last a long time if taken care of. no bells and whistles, but they're lovely just the same!

hmm...what was going to be a quick post has quickly turned into an essay! not my intention but here it is...

anyway, hope you enjoy the photos and hope your holiday was great :)

socks for my sis

dischcloths for the mums in my life
wool cabled hat for my other sis


  1. Ooooh, the knitting is all lovely! I'm starting a 2011 project of sock-knitting - a pair a month, and tucking them all away for next Christmas. I suppose it will be the Season of Socks?

    Love your thoughts on the value of handmade!

  2. i would rather have your knitted goodies than anything bought anyday