Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Felted Purse: By the Numbers

I'm making a felted purse. The body of it is knit in the round. (I'll post the pattern after I finish it.) The thing about felting is that it shrinks a lot vertically but not so much horizontally. This means that if I want my bag to be roughly 13 inches deep, I have to knit 19.5 inches of unfelted stockinette. The math works out to 18,720 stitches total. That's assuming I don't make it deeper. That does not include the two-strand I-Cord straps I have planned or the flap I want to make if I have enough yarn.

And since it's in the round, all the stitches are knit. No sweet purls to break up the monotony. The perk is that I don't have to actually be looking at it constantly to do it. I wonder what the dentist will think tomorrow when I take my mind off the sound of that evil drill by closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and knitting.

I crunched some more numbers. I timed myself the other day and it takes me six minutes to knit one row. This includes shifting stitches along the circular needle, pulling lengths of yarn from the skein, and the slow-during-the-show, faster-during-the-commercials rhythm of knitting while watching a show on the History channel. Not a speed-knitting trial, just a real-life situation.

At six minutes a row for 117 rows (six rows per inch), the total knitting time for JUST THE BODY of the bag, not counting the bottom, straps, or flap, is eleven and a half hours. Add in about two hours for swatching, three hours for the bottom, four hours for the flap (I'm planning some cables for it), two for the straps (I'll be using size 9 dpns and holding two strands of wool together), an hour for felting and shaping, and two hours for pattern planning and writing, and I will have a one-of-a-kind hand-knit fulled purse for 25.5 hours of work.

Yarn cost for 4 skeins of Paton's Classic Merino was $12. They were on sale. Oh, and the size seven bamboo circular needle I used was $8.99.

Knitting is a learned skill. It takes time to learn how, of course, but even more time to truly get a feel for the art. I've just barely scratched the surface. I know enough to make a purse, sure, but that is basically a big box. But even for that, I had to have a little more than the basic knowledge of how to knit to write a pattern that works out well.

But let's say that it's a minumum wage job. At Wisconsin minimun wage, $6.50, the labor cost would be $165.75. Add in yarn and needle cost and the total cost of the purse is (rounded to the nearest dollar) $187.

Of course, I don't knit as fast as a "professional" would or someone who has been knitting for years and years. And designing, knitting, felting, and using this bag will give me hours of thinking, relaxing, anticipation, and satisfaction (in that order). Knitting is a social thing for me, so I don't often knit alone. Knitting with my group slows my speed because it's not just about the knitting, it's about the hanging out and chatting.

So while the monetary worth of this purse is close to two hundred dollars, keeping it for my own and having the knowledge and satifation that I designed it, made it, and am enjoying the fruits of my labor is (prepare for cheesy sentiment):



azteclady said...

Okay, I'm grinning. And it's not the cheesy sentiment, but recognition of the feeling.

That's why I crossstitch, see?

Now, I have a question that actually relates to the post. What is 'felting'? Is it some sort of treatment once the purse is finished? What is its purpose--look, feel, practical use?

Thanks for edumacating me!

Sarah said...

Priceless, love it. You've have now become a credit card commercial :D

azteclady, Have you ever taken a wool sweater and put it in the wash on hot/cold and it shrank so small it would fit the cat, (exaggeration, of course), that is basically what you're doing on purpose to the knitting. It's actually a bit nerve racking because although it erases all you're mistakes, it is irreversible.

Susan said...

And that's exactly why I'm always annoyed at people who say "you should sell that" when they see my work. I only knit for love because no one could afford it. Good luck with your purse.

azteclady said...

AAAhhhh!!! Thank you, Sarah, now I get it.