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Friday, January 10, 2014

Is DIY worth it?: Knit Hats

With the economy still trying to bounce back to normal, many families are feeling the pinch of a tight budget. Because of this, Do-It-Yourself kits and How-To guides have had a rise in popularity. But with companies able to mass-produce items at a cheap cost, are we really saving ourselves any money? Or are we just stretching ourselves thin?

Last year, I set out to see if I could make a cute knitted hat for my daughter at a cheaper cost than I could get it in a store.

Because I only know how to crochet, I was faced with two choices: Buy a book on how-to knit along with some knitting needles, or buy a knitting loom kit. Because I thought learning to knit on a loom might be easier (and therefore cost me less time to make the hat), I bought the loom. I ended up purchasing the Boye Round Loom Set because it is great for making round items like socks & hats.

The prices for this loom range anywhere from $12 to $32 (not including tax). For this experiment, we will use the average price of around $20.

Next I had to get a type of yarn that I thought would work nicely and be soft enough that I would want it on my baby's head. I ended up getting Bernat Pipsqueak Yarn. Not only was it soft and fuzzy, but it came in a lot of baby colors that would match just about anything I wanted. The yarn can be regularly purchased at Jo-Ann Fabric for about $3.99.

At this point, I had $24 invested in my project to get a cute hat for my baby. The loom itself was easy enough to use, but it still took me three hours to make a hat. My time is worth about $15 per hour, so I added another $45 dollars onto the hat price.

So hypothetically, making a single hat cost me about $73.00. This isn't a great deal when you consider all the hats I could have purchased. When I Googled "soft fuzzy knit baby hat", it came back with shopping results for hats that were similar to mine, but in the $10 to $30 dollar range. Even if I hadn't counted my time spent as part of the cost of the hat, it still ends up costing $24. For the sake of my own cheapness, I will count it as $24, because that is what I spent on materials.

Of course, I did have materials left - that's one of the benefits of DIY. From the yarn that was left, I decided I could easily make another ten hats. Does the average person need eleven hats that are exactly the same? No. Did I make them anyways? Absolutely! Leftover materials are great for making gifts for family and friends, and as long as you have free time here and there (and are willing to learn to knit), you won't need to worry about buying a baby gift again for a while. (Three people I know of are having babies quite soon actually, and yes, they are all getting surprise-baby-hat gifts.) So, if I say that I got eleven hats out of my $24, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to swallow the cost. That comes out to a mere $2.20 a hat.

All in all I spent three hours and 24 dollars making this little hat for my little darling. Not very cost-effective unless I plan to make them by the dozen. But I can't argue with the fact that she does look downright adorable in it. And how do you put a price on that?

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post, and as always, my opinions are purely my own.