Can you sell a crocheted afghan one square at a time? Let’s find out!
I’ve long argued that crocheters undervalue and underprice their work. Many crocheters use a formula of cost of materials multiplied by three, which is…not great. It has nothing to do with anything except bad advice shared around in Facebook crochet groups.
This pricing structure has caused so much harm to crafters and it’s resulted in a race to the bottom to see who can sell the most items for the lowest price. There are other factors – algorithms that require the constant production of new work and sales to remain visible; customers demanding discounted prices based on “comparable” mass-produced items sold in big box stores and on Amazon; and the stigma of fiber arts being “women’s work” and therefore less valuable. But an even bigger problem is that creatives are afraid to ask for what they’re worth and don’t expect to receive it when they do.
This needs to change.
For all the above reasons, I’ve never bothered to sell my crocheted work and instead have focused my efforts on pattern design, making art, and blogging.
Recently I learned about NFT art, also called cryptoart (read more about this here), and have been experimenting with creating fiber art NFTs. It’s more work than just taking a photograph and listing something on Etsy – in addition to the handmade item, the digital artwork needs to have standalone artistic value because that’s really what you’re selling.
One of the most common thoughts I see expressed in the NFT community is gratitude that artists and designers are finally being fairly (and generously) compensated for their talents and time. My hypothesis is that this model can apply to crafters and makers too, and crocheters now have an opportunity to price their work in a way that more fairly compensates them.
So, as an experiment I’m making the first blanket constructed on the blockchain, crocheted and minted one 6-inch square at a time. When all squares have been completed and at least 80% the NFTs in the blanket collection have been sold, the person who owns the most NFTs (crochet squares) in the collection will receive an NFT of all the squares (stitched together and oriented in the same order they were minted) and the physical blanket.
I’m curious to see if an afghan can be sold this way – square by square, each square being a miniature work of art. And I’m also curious to see if this is a way to sell a crochet afghan for a price that would fairly compensate crocheters for their creativity, skills, and time.
I’m sharing below how I’ve decided to price each square. If nothing else, I hope to use this project to highlight the difference between what most people charge for a crocheted afghan and what the actual cost of an afghan should be when the maker is fairly compensated.
My hourly rates are based on an approximation of my skill level for this type of project. I’m an experienced crocheter, but have less experience crocheting afghans than I do designing and crocheting amigurumi. Physically, afghans are easier to crochet than amigurumi. So for this project I’m comfortable using a lower hourly rate than I would for an amigurumi I designed. I’ve steeply discounted my writing rate since that’s not the primary focus of this project. My photography, editing, and marketing skills are less developed, so the hourly rate for those tasks reflects that.
I place a high value on my time and talents and deserve to be compensated fairly.
|Approximately 20 skeins of yarn at approximately $4 each||$80|
|Blanket/project design – 2 hours at $50 per hour||$100|
|Time to crochet each square and weave in ends – 30 minutes at $50 per hour (90 hours total)||$4500|
|Time to assemble and block blanket – 5 hours at $50 per hour||$250|
|Writing time for blog post and NFT listing – 2 hours at $50 per hour||$100|
|Photography, photo editing, and NFT creation – 15 minutes per square at $25 per hour (45 hours total)||$1125|
|Marketing time – 5 hours at $25 per hour||$125|
|Marketing overhead including blog hosting, social media scheduler, etc. (about 3 months, prorated-ish)||$25|
|2.5% OpenSea transaction fee||$158|
|Total cost of blanket||$6513|
|Total cost of one blanket square||$36 which is equal to 0.02 ETH (based on ETH exchange rate at the time this project was started on 2/22/2021)|
I was happy to see that the price per blanket square was roughly what I thought it should be when I sketched out this project, given that it will take 159 hours to execute. My hourly compensation after factoring everything in is about $41 which is perfect – the sale of one NFT basically pays for an hour of project time. 😉
This hourly rate is less than I’d like but for purposes of this project, it’s fine. I’m new to NFTs and collectors are just getting to know me. I want this project to be sustainable for me and feel like a fair value to collectors. And at any rate, this is more than the pennies (or less) in compensation most crocheters earn when selling handmade items.
This project may be awesome or it may be a huge flop. Either way, it’s going to be a really fun experiment. Worst case scenario, if less than 80% of the NFTs are sold, I may auction the final NFT + blanket as a separate work or find some other way to close out the project. I think there’s a lot of value in first-of-its-kind projects in the early years of an art market that’s not yet fully developed. And I’m optimistic this will be a first-of-many as other crocheters find their way into NFTs.
If you’d like to follow along and see how it’s going, you can check out the collection of afghan squares here on OpenSea or follow me on Twitter where I’ll be sharing updates!
And also, if you’re curious about crocheting + NFTs, I’m working with the Craft & Crypto team to start creating a community to help crafters navigate the NFT scene by providing mentorship, educational content, and assistance with setting up shops and minting fees. Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in learning more!