I had a conversation with a friend about it getting harder and harder for people to charge what their work is worth in the world. A Facebook friend actually posted a writer's article in the New York Times about being frustrated with how many times they are asked to give away their work for free this week.
And yet, my friend told me that she was dismayed to find more people posting work on Etsy that's under $2 with as little as $2 for shipping. Let's say that your average dishcloth takes about 50 yards of yarn. Using the typical pricing for a commercial crocheter, 10 cents per yard is $5.00 per item [Note: this was the last figure I heard kicked around, it may even be lower now.]. Add in 50 cents for US shipping and you're at $5.50 per item. Several of the entries I noticed said they ship USPS priority mail for all items, which means you're at $10.50 per item. At $2 (plus $2 shipping), you're underpricing your costs by as much as $6.50.
"But...but I do this for fun! It's a hobby! I do it for yarn money!"
Here's the thing. People have a tendency to remember those prices that they see. Every sock knitter I think I've ever met has said someone will go up to them and say "You know you can get those for $1.67 a pair a Walmart, right?" So when someone does something like a set of dishcloths and charges $27.00 for them (likely the "true" cost of making and selling them), there's outrage! Oh my gosh! $27.00! I could get those for $2 at Walmart.
'Tis true. The Walmart effect is huge. But when people start to say "this seller on Etsy says they're only $4.00!" that's when the effect starts to put a real chill on the market. People can no longer sell at the true cost of things, only what people will give them, and the market goes into a downhill slope.
If you search for the word cheap on Pinterest, an alarming number of items show up that are crochet or knit. Cheap gifts. Cheap clothes. Cheap, Cheap, Cheap.
Cheap cowls. Cheap hats. Cheap crafts. Cheap skill. Cheap People. Cheap Life.
So what am I grateful for today? People are fighting back.
There are more artists today using fiber as a medium than there have ever been before. People are elevating the craft from the household item to a dizzying array of mediums, methods, and techniques. People are pushing boundaries...and they're being respected.
Do yourself a favor and hit up the last link. If you're in the Chicago area, go to the show November 8-10. See how much people actually RESPECT knitters and crocheters and fiberers. Buy Gwen's book and see the wonder that is art in our chosen craft.
[Side note: Really, go to this show. I wrote this post 11/6/13 at 8:00 pm.]