WHY NOT JUST BUY SOCKS?

Continuing with my previous blog post, hubby’s socks are coming along fine. Here they are so far, looking a bit rough. When I’m done knitting them, a proper blocking will ease them into looking smoother (I hope) . . .

So, the other day, I was talking to a friend who was uneasy about all the work that goes into knitting a pair of plain ol’, white wool, size 13EE socks.

She asked me how much I pay for sock yarn. When I replied that it is not unusual to pay $18 to $20 a skein, she shrieked, “And you still have do to do all the work!? What? Are you nuts? Why not just buy a pair?”

Oh, the pain.

I decided not to tell her that for a men’s size 13EE, I had to buy two skeins.

Sweet hubby Howard, if you are reading this: I’m sorry if you are now lying on the floor in hope of smelling salts.

We don’t have any.

Live with it.

Back to my friend: Her question was not new to me, and for knitters in general, it is far from new. “Why not just buy it” has irked pointy-sticks folks for ages. I was forewarned about it in blogs, conversations and books (Yarn Harlott comes to mind).

Forewarned is forearmed. I wanted to be prepared with an answer.

I had decided the best way to conquer “why not buy cheaper, faster knit stuff” was to explain that knitting is entertainment, which, if you consider the price per hour, makes knitting a bargain.

When the question came this last time, I thought I was ready with an answer . . .

I turned to my friend and said, “Well, how much would you pay for dinner out and a movie? Probably much more than I pay for a skein of sock yarn . . . and how long does your entertainment last? Less than one night? Well, let me tell you, for far less money, I get to entertain myself for . . . for . . . “

Then I stopped. I realized I had no idea how long it takes to knit a pair of socks.

So, I simply said, “. . . for . . . for . . . forever,” which I figured was pretty close to the truth since that’s what knitting a pair of socks feels like.

I vowed to get a better answer.

Off I went to visit Ravelry’s Sock Knitters Anonymous Forum, where I asked fellow sockaholics how many hours it takes them to knit a pair of socks.

The most popular answer seemed to be 20 hours. This might change since the thread is still active. If you are a member of Ravelry, you can find it here.

While I’ve never timed myself, I would guess it takes me around 30 hours, especially since I’m still new to knitting socks. So, let’s figure an average of 25 hours a pair.

With thanks to all my friends on Sock Knitters Anonymous I now have a more definite answer.

Wow! For 20 U.S. dollars, I get 25 hours of fun. That’s 80 cents an hour for pleasure beyond belief, plus it is calorie free, gluten free, etc.

AND I end up with socks that are priceless.

Such a deal.

Your turn: What do you say when someone asks why you don’t buy socks, sweaters, hats, etc. instead of knitting them?

Love to all,
Lee

Copyright 2010, Lee Bernstein, All Rights Reserved

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38 Responses to WHY NOT JUST BUY SOCKS?

  1. Jenn Embry says:

    Love it! The socks are looking great. I haven’t ventured into socks yet, but hope to in the near future. For me my favorite answer (just like for scrapbooking) is that it’s cheaper than therapy. Of course maybe not with how much I spend at times, but it is definitely relaxing and therapeutic. :) I just feel calmer and happier when I have something to do with my hands. That my friend in my opinion is priceless!

  2. Pat says:

    The socks look really good. I failed miserably at the one pair I made. I finished them but they are not wearable.

    • Pat, I know I’ve talked about Nenah Galati’s HOW TO KNIT SOCKS DVDs so much that people are probably ready to choke me, but I promise you: You will learn to knit socks beautifully if you use Nenah’s Sock l DVD. If I can learn from it, anyone can.

  3. She’s clearly never worn a pair of handknit socks. Handknit socks are the height of luxury. It’s like someone (or yourself) has said to you “I love you!” a gazillion times. With that much love your feet are never cold in them.

  4. aprilshowers says:

    I have pondered this question myself . On the flip side you’ve got people who ask you to knit them something and expect to pay far less than your time is worth. So, if it’s entertainment, why are you charging for your time? The only way I have reconciled this is that it is only entertainment if I want to knit it. Otherwise it is a job.

    And I had no idea it took as long as 20 hours to knit a pair of socks – no wonder I never finish as many as I want during Summer of Socks and Socktoberfest!

    • Yes; if someone wanted to hire me to knit a pair of socks, it wouldn’t be entertainment any longer.

      Price: Good grief, can this be right? At $10 an hour plus supplies, we’re looking at approximately $270.00 a pair?

      So, to those of you who might be reading this who have had someone knit a pair of socks for them out of love. . . you own the knitter a huge hug!

      In the meantime, if anyone wants to hire me to knit a pair of socks for them for $270, please let me know.

      Great post, Aprilshowers. Thanks.

  5. Linda B says:

    Anyone that asks that question is (1) not a knitter and/or, (2) does not own hand knit socks. There are so many wonderful things about hand knit socks, they don’t have that horrible seam line across the toe, they are exactly the color you want and the material you want BUT the best part is that they tell the recipiant how much you love them. You spent all that time to make something that anyone else would buy. Your socks look great and I am sure that they are going to be perfect! Keep up the good work.

    • Thank you for your kind words about my sock-in-progress.

      Agreeing with your post: Hand-knit socks are amazing. My pair: Now that it is getting colder . . . and now that we’re refusing to turn on the heat due to heating bills going through the ceiling (heck, I’ll buy yarn instead!), I know so well how wonderful a pair of hand-knit, wool socks can be.

      I wear mine to bed at night. In the past, any sock or slipper I’d wear wouldn’t be so comfortable that I forget I’m wearing something on my feet . . . but my hand-knit socks are like a second skin . . . a very warm second skin!

      I never would have known if I hadn’t learned to knit socks.

  6. Katrin says:

    The more socks I knit, the more storebought socks are starting to annoy me. They’re never quite the right size or length, they twist around and bunch up in my shoes, they’re not warm, they wear out too fast, and I can never seem to find a matching pair when I’m in a hurry.

    I wonder why I buy them at all. I guess their only advantage is that they’re easier to find in solid dark colors than sock yarn. But I think it might be worth it to make myself some nice plain black handknit socks very soon.

  7. Alexandra says:

    Hi! I found your blog while reading your post in Ravelry’s Sock Knitters Anonymous Forum. Thanks for the entertaining article. May I add smth too? Since I started knitting socks for my Hubby he now tries to wear them and not those he used to buy. So home-made socks may also add some joy to your relationship too )) which makes the price of yarn matter less.

    • Joy to relationship: Wow, that makes them priceless.

      While Howard and I were at Stitches East, a couple came to the Knitting Korner Booth and talked about the joy of handmade socks. The hubby said he was addicted to both them AND the way that he felt when he was given a pair.

      Shortly thereafter, Howard asked when he’d get a pair.

      Fun.

  8. Tracey says:

    Because if I bought them then they would be the same as yours – BORING ~yawn~

    Entertainment and they are the best feeling. Also I love to knit but hate having to knit stuff that won’t get worn much here in Australia – socks are perfect. And they are just like a hug for your feet

  9. Sonya says:

    There is something about knitting that is almost primal in its joy, and there is something about knitting socks that just calls to the soul. I have learned to just smile when I get a comment about knitting when I can buy, yes I can buy but there is no real joy in that. Besides if I didn’t buy all the sock yarn in the world someone else would get to fondle it.

    • Great post, Sonya.

      Primal: Yes, there definitely is something primal about the whole thing. I haven’t quite figured our WHY it is primal, and I would love to know.

      You’re right: It touches something deep in our souls–but more than that, it is the history that lives in our souls . . . and it is amazing.

  10. Kathleen says:

    When people ask me this about socks, I smile mysteriously and say, “Once you’ve worn a pair of hand-knit socks, you’ll never go back.” This impresses some people and convinces others I’m nuts. Either way, I don’t get asked for details. Problem solved!

  11. Alana says:

    Comparing store-bought socks and hand-knit socks is like comparing apples and oranges… or a tricycle to a nice car. They just aren’t in the same category. Hand knit socks are so comfortable, snuggly, and well-fitted, not to mention the fact that wool keeps your feet just the right temperature; mmm…

  12. Shirley says:

    I love the way you explain that :-) I can’t knit socks anymore, now that my RA makes it difficult to handle DPNs or other needles that small, but I love to wear them. I’ll have to find a sock knitter in the family. I’m still wearing the two pair that I made in 2008. Gave the rest away…..oh well, they were made with love anyway.
    I do have one pair that I started ages ago, once I get moved maybe I’ll try and finish them one row at a time :-)
    And YES, it’s certainly therapy! Knitting/Crocheting in general.

    • RA: You have my love and sympathy on this one. One row at a time — yes, yes, one row is better than no rows.

      My friend, if you’d like, you are welcome to contact me personally. I have friends with RA who have taken up knitting again. I would be happy to discuss.

  13. Swenskaflicka says:

    I tell them just about the same thing you do! LOL!

    °They are SHOCKED at the amount of money it takes to make a pair

    °They are equally shocked by the time I spend (10 hours/sock, or so)

    °They’re intrigued by me explanation that knitting a sock is as entertaining as going to a movie

    °They seem to apprieciate that my socks wear like iron, are comfortable beyond compare and are so distinctive in their appearance that no one could make socks that look just like mine

    Then I get the question: “How much would you charge to make a pair for me?” they cringe when I give them the price. $600.00 US dollars, minimum. LOL!

    • Swenskaflicka, leave it to you to make me laugh out loud, just as you do on the Knitting is Gluten Free Forum.

      Hey, how about telling them that they can buy you 50 bottles of vodka instead? (I’m still trying to find your brand here . . . no luck yet . . . I think I need to move to California.)

      Anyway, with vodka as payment, you could have double the entertainment!

      Love you!

  14. Verna Brightwell says:

    I haven’t made my first sock yet, but plan to after Christmas. This blog’s given me some ready ammunition for the questions I’ll get. Thanks everyone! (((HUGS)))

  15. Tory Boucher says:

    If you had a couple of glasses of wine, and a fairly interesting movie you could stretch out your average time and get more bang for your bucks.

  16. Adry says:

    My answer is always–Because I can knit really different-looking socks that fit perfectly and look cool with clogs. But, honestly, I’ve never thought about knitting plain socks. Actually, that’s kind of appealing. Sometimes I like something really plain–it’s comforting, somehow. Hmm…just what I need, a new project!

  17. Carol D says:

    When someone says, “You know you can buy socks a lot cheaper in a store.” I hold up the sock I’m knitting (or the hand-knit sock I’m wearing) and say, “You can’t buy *this* in a store.”

  18. Pingback: Sock Enters The Deathly Hallows | KNITTING IS GLUTEN FREE

  19. Martie says:

    I had a co-worker who saw me knitting socks at lunch and said”You know you can buy those at walmart for a buck, right?” I responded “Yes, but this way I can guarantee that someone’s eight year old child isn’t working 12 hr days in a third world country just so I can buy $1 socks.”

  20. Laurel says:

    Hi Lee, I’m Smidgentigre from Ravelry :) I’ve knit 4 pairs of sox for my husband. His feet are ‘only’ 10.5A but he wears knee socks…and he has VERY LONG legs!! My latest pair were made from 2 skeins (1 for each sock) of Plymouth Encore DK. I can’t knit on them ‘full time’ (the monotony kills me!) but these were the quickest: began in late August & finished at the beginning of December. He loves them. Dh loves that the socks fit his foot exactly and are narrow enough. He has also discovered he prefers dk/worsted weight yarn to the thin dress socks he used to wear. I also knit for myself & both my kids–my daughter gets any of my socks that might accidentally felt! LOL! She’s got a nice collection of hand knit socks.

    I don’t knit to save money–I knit because I love it. :) Blessings, Laurel

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