Knitting for Profit: Turn Your Knitting Into Cash

It didn't make her rich, but knitting for profit enabled one Maine woman to take in a little extra income from a craft she already enjoyed.

| September/October 1973

  • 023-081-01-Product-in-knitt
    An accounts book and flexible tape measure are among the supporting tools of your trade.
  • 023-081-01-Yarn-used-for-knitting
    Needles and yarn are your two primary tools if and when you decide to try knitting for profit.

  • 023-081-01-Product-in-knitt
  • 023-081-01-Yarn-used-for-knitting

If you're a good knitter and want to make some extra cash, how about turning out sweaters for sale? I've earned almost $200 during a single winter, knitting for profit in my spare time ... not a lot, but enough—when combined with income from a variety of other sources (none related to the old 9-to-5 and all with the idea of adding to as opposed to despoiling this small planet)—to help us build a joyful life here.

We live in Maine, a great tourist area, and I've found that out-of-state visitors provide a healthy market for my creations. Up the road from our home is an old summer resort which is patronized for the most part by elderly, prosperous people from metropolitan areas to the south. With the permission of the owners I placed a simple, concise advertisement on the resort's bulletin board, stating that I custom-knit sweaters and telling how to reach our house.

I had decided the prices in advance, on the basis of the average amount of materials I'd need and the figures from the mail-order catalogs that handle this kind of item. My rates—$30.00 for a woman's sweater and $35.00 for a man's—included yarn, buttons or zipper and the cost of insured mailing to the purchaser. Although most people offered to pay in advance, I preferred to take about $10.00 down and the rest after the customer had received the garment and was happy with it. One or two were slow to settle the bill, but in general the arrangement worked out fine.

The sweaters I was making at the time were the fisherman's type with lots of fancy and cable stitches. They were made of natural wool with the lanolin left in (great for winter-rough hands) and were closed with leather buttons.

I was then buying yarn from Bartlettyarns, Inc., of Harmony, Maine. The company offered a fisherman's wool for $1.15 plus postage per four-ounce skein. My other investments were pattern books (which I already had because I'd been making sweaters for family and friends), needles of assorted sizes, notebook, receipt book, tape measure, and plastic bags to prewrap the sweaters before packing them. I also had a "Hand Knit by Patricia Earnest" label made up to give my work a custom look.

I had knitted two sample garments ahead of time—a man's and a woman's—and also a couple of mini-skirts which were more for youngsters than for the age group which actually showed up. My craft aroused quite a bit of interest, and I took orders for 11 sweaters that first year. I stipulated that I'd be doing the work during the winter months because I really don't like knitting in warm weather when hands get sticky and there's so much else to do. Since one of the customers was a woman who was staying at the resort all summer, however, I did rush her garment so that she'd have a chance to wear it there where other guests could see it.

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