Whether you’re an avid knitter or you’ve never picked up a set of needles before, you can be knitting your way to profit in no time at all.
We’ve got the needles and wool approach to making money from something that you can enjoy doing and that you can even get on with while watching the telly!
An adult can learn the basics with about ten minutes of knitting help (or five from Aneeta Patel) – how to cast on, the knit stitch, the purl stitch, and casting off. With these basic skills you have the potential to knit a thousand things – and sell them for a profit!
Knitting is generally either treated as a new fad or the lost art – but in fact, lots of people know how to knit. What they don’t know is how to make a profit from it.
There are a range of easy items you can produce through knitting. The easiest, and the one everyone begins with when they learn to knit, is the scarf. Scarves can range from the big thick woollen garments worn during winter to the stylish thin acrylic scarves that are worn as fashion accessories.
The second easiest has to be the bag. Bags can be a couple of rectangles stitched together at the end with a button added to them. They can be big or small and even oddly-shaped if it looks fashionable. Blankets can also be made out of squares or rectangles sewn together.
The creative part is choosing which wool and needles to use. Thick wool and thick needles can produce a chunky scarf, while thin wool and thick needles can produce a really loose ‘holey’ effect.
Alternatively, thick wool on thin needles will produce a very thick pattern and thin wool on thin needles is better for things like dish cloths and tea cosies.
How do you do it?
We’re not going to teach you how to knit, because there are lots of fab sites out there that can make a much better job of it than us. It really is a great hobby – you can do it on your own or with a friend, learn from someone or take a class. These days YouTube even has many How To Knit segments within its range of online videos.
Just bear in mind that are many different ways to knit – including the Continental way of knitting and the British way – so don’t be put off.
Here, we’re going to show you some of the different ways that you can make money from your knitting skills!
What can you make?
If you want to get your hands on different knitting patterns, you can find them for free all over the internet (just drop the owner a line to ensure it is okay you use the pattern to profit from).
Alternatively, visit your local library for endless books of knitting patterns and instructions on new types of stitches.
Putting a price on your pieces
You need to cut the cost of your materials as much as possible, so any mark-up can go straight into your pocket.
Even if you’re just beginning, you don’t have to spend a fortune on the tools and materials you’ll need. There are many ways to cut your costs:
- Many knitting magazines offer freebies and you can often increase your stash of needles, markers and other bits – as well as getting a magazine full of helpful hints and tips.
- Rather than buying wool full price, get it for less from charity shops like Age Concern and Oxfam. Don’t get the cheap acrylic stuff, but if they’re selling wholesale bundles of nice wool, go for that.
- The other thing these shops are good for is knitted garments. Buy a few second-hand jumpers, take them home and unwind them. As you do this, wind up the wool into a shank, which is a figure eight around your child’s/spouse’s hands or two chair legs. Voila! You’ll have a huge ball of wool that cost you what retailers charge for one small ball.
- When you’re starting out, John Lewis has a good retail selection of wool and other bits. And never hesitate to look around when you’re travelling – there are some lovely small craft shops hidden in pokey towns where you can root out the most amazing finds.
First of all, decide what hourly rate you believe your time is worth to produce your items. Then think about how many items you can make in a week and how long this will take you.
For example, four hours in front of the TV, seven days a week is 28 hours. At an hourly rate of £10, your weekly cost of production is £280.
Then look at your material costs – how much it would cost to make one item, and how many you could make in a week. If you’ve followed the suggestions above, the cost should not be very high at all.
For example, if you can knit five scarfs in a week – out of three £5 jumpers worth of wool – that would be a material cost of £3 each. Once you increase production to ten jumpers a week, your total material cost would be £30 a week.
Add this number to your production costs (a total of £310) and then divide this number by how many items you can make in a week. For example, if you can make ten jumpers, then your total production cost per jumper would be £31.
Compare this price to that charged in craft markets for similar goods. If you’re charging much less than others, you could consider increasing your price.
However, if you’re charging over the odds, think again – perhaps you could increase the amount of time you spend making your crafts, or find other ways to cut the cost of materials?
Once you’re more established, you could consider going a little more upmarket, with Country Markets that are run by the Women’s Institute. They’ll let you sell your goods (for just 5p to join) and they’ll take around 10% commission on sales to cover the costs of the market.
You’ll probably know the good markets in your area, but if you don’t, the National Market Traders Federation website has a very comprehensive list.
Don’t overlook the joy of internet selling. If you get some good items together and put clear pictures online, people will be keen to buy from you.
You could also set yourself up with your own Etsy store. Setting it up is free and you are able to personalise and customise your store, too! The best part is that their commission fee is only 3.5% – a lot lower than eBay’s 7.5%.
Don’t forget the other online auction sites as well, like CQout, eBid, Tazbar, Preloved and Auctionair.You could also try an online car boot sale like iBootSale where you can currently get a FREE 90 day, 25 item pitch.
Knitting is a great skill to have, and many people are envious of those who can sit click-clacking away and produce a beautiful creation.
Rather than knitting your friend/relative/boss a jumper that will take you forever, why not offer to teach them how to knit so they can do it themselves?
You need to have a certain level of understanding when you’re teaching others to knit. For example, if they make a mistake you need to know how to pick up where they went wrong, sort the problem out and guide them in the right direction.
You can offer to teach people on a one-to-one basis or in a class, at your house or somewhere nice like a cafe or bookshop. Read here about London knitter and teacher Aneeta Patel, who enjoys the enthusiasm that both new and experienced knitters bring to her classes.
Top tip: begin students with larger needles and brightly coloured wool, so they can see where each stitch goes.
If you have a website for your knitting business, for the items you sell or for the classes you give, you could also sell books of knitting patterns and ideas.
Find out where you can buy wholesale books on knitting, and then re-sell them at a marked-up price.
You could also put announcements in the newsletters or web pages of your local guild or knitting circle. Advertise in any online knitting groups you belong to, and make sure you have the web address of your new shop in your email signature.
You can take books along wherever you set up your stalls as well, at car boot sales or markets. And if you don’t fancy selling books, you could always write down any designs you create yourself and sell them on your website or blog.