Inefficient Fundraising Through Knitting

Follow these 5 easy steps and you can be an inefficient fundraiser just like me!

Step 1: Get terribly injured in a bike crash. Spend two years recovering. Discover an amazing, progressive, affordable, worker owned acupuncture clinic that will treat you for $20 a session. Go there twice a month for a year. Tell them all about your pain and your fears and your dreams and the qualities of your poop. Take the horrible smelling herbs they give you, even though you don’t really believe in them, and slowly begin to get better. When they ask you if you want to knit some scarves for them to sell as a winter fundraiser, say yes, even though you don’t really like knitting and you’re not that good at it.

Step 2: Beginning knitting. Organize knitting parties for other acupuncture patients and crafty friends. Teach people how to knit, even though you’re not super solid on the principles. Spend a lot of time watching YouTube knitting tutorials. Realize that of the ten people you have taught to knit, only one will keep at it after they have left your house.

Step 3: Solicit donated yarn. This yarn will be scratchy and overwhelmingly yellow and orange. No one will use it to make scarves. Your stash of donated yarn will get larger and larger with each knitting party, until you are lugging it around like a giant, unwieldy albatross, overflowing with scratchy yarn. Find balls of yarn everywhere—in the back seat of your car, under your couch, trailing behind you as you walk.

Step 4: Buy more yarn that is pretty and soft, because you don’t want to donate an ugly scarf. Also buy some knitting needles and stitch markers because, you know, you have to spend money to make money. Buy snacks for your knitting parties and eat them all yourself if no one shows up. Realize that you could have just donated the money that you’re spending, and try not to think about it.

Step 5: Sell some scarves! Struggle with how much to price them, since if you calculated their price as materials plus labor, they would cost a million dollars. Settle on $30, because that is decent but not more than a reasonable person would spend on a slightly irregular scarf. Check to see if anyone has bought any each time you come in for a visit. Keep knitting scarves even though they haven’t because now that you’ve started, you’re not sure how to stop. Know that even if you don’t raise much money, you’ve used your compulsive crafting as a force for good, and spread the word about an incredible community resource.


When Rachel Wallis is the Communications and Events Manager at Crossroads Fund in Chicago. If you would like to buy some scarves and support a rad health care collective, you can do so here!


9 Comments / Post A Comment

Trilby (#191)

Hm… this sounds like it might be really specific to you, Rachel.

Struggle with how much to price them, since if you calculated their price as materials plus labor, they would cost a million dollars. Settle on $30, because that is decent but not more than a reasonable person would spend on a slightly irregular scarf.

Thiiiss is why I don’t knit for money. I buy nice yarn. I knit fast and well but I still can’t price an item such that it is both affordable and worth my time. Plus, knitting for money is way less enjoyable that just knitting for yourself/gifts if you feel like it.

@Punk-assBookJockey I did once teach knitting for money though, at a small yarn shop, and that was definitely much better but still not great, moneywise.

amirite (#2,677)

@Punk-assBookJockey Samsies, except I knits slowly, so I wouldn’t get a very good return if I wanted to sell my knitting. I have thought about selling knitting patterns though, and have been playing with creating my own designs and writing up the patterns for them. It’s still a lot of work, but it’s a lot more appealing to me than selling finished objects.

themegnapkin (#444)

@amirite I have designed and sold a few knitting patterns (I was published in Knitty!), and at one point seriously considered trying to do it full time, but decided against it – the market for knitting patterns is saturated, and includes a glut of high quality free patterns. Even the “famous” knitting pattern designers typically have to have a 2nd or 3rd job to make ends meet. So, ymmv, but I would continue to design knitting patterns because I enjoy it and an extra $5 here and there is nice, but never because I expected to make any significant money from it.
Gosh, I sound awful and pessimistic, but I don’t want to discourage you – I really LOVE knitting and knitters, and support designers when I can!

@themegnapkin I agree with this entriely. I have a friend who has designs that were published in interweave and a lot of other publications as well, and she still does a lot of other stuff as well (including running an etsy shop of jewelry and other accessories), and is really only able to do this stuff full time because her husband supports her financially. But if you put a pattern up for sale directly and people buy it, great! Getting money for something you enjoy is pretty cool.

amirite (#2,677)

@themegnapkin So cool that you were published in Knitty!

Thanks for sharing your perspective: it’s consistent with what I’ve heard from other designers. Don’t worry, I don’t look at this as my ticket away from my desk job, just something that would be much more interesting, challenging and fulfilling than selling knitting objects. I would be happy to just make a little bit of extra money to supplement my yarn costs.

nutmeg (#1,383)

This becomes a lot easier if you quit drinking and realize you have to do something with your hands at AA meetings other than tear styrofoam cups into little pieces

@nutmeg Haha, were you one of those talking about this over on the hairpin too? I need to do something to not fidget!

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