I find this question fascinating and I often struggle with the best way to answer it. Mostly because this isn’t something I pay a lot of attention to while I’m knitting and crocheting. Sometimes, if I have a particular deadline, I note the amount of time that a project may take me or how many nights I stay up too late working on it…but for selfish projects, I have no idea. It’s compounded by the fact that I’m usually working on multiple things at once, so even if I note the day I start and the day I finish the project, that doesn’t necessarily represent an accurate length of time.
I’m pondering this question today because I am thinking about why it matters to other people. It is probably the question I get most often after someone complements me on something I am wearing or when someone sees me knitting/crocheting in public.
I realize that people are just curious, and I’m not trying to be snarky, but I find it fascinating. It seems likely that non-knitters or new knitters are considering a value-cost relationship. For example, I’ve never done car repair, so I might be curious to know how many hours it takes to change the brakes on a car. And given that I generally pay someone else to do that work, it could be interesting to compare the time that a professional charges me against the time a novice takes to do the work. Whether someone works on their own car could either be a way to save money or a choice to do the work because they find it enjoyable. Car maintenance is something they like to do so it is a form of “entertainment”. Whereas for me, I am not interested in car repair, so I would only do it if it was a way for me to save money when finances were very tight.
Similarly, I run into two types of muggles*. The first, are people who would like to knit or crochet but who don’t currently do it. They’ve tried and had trouble or it is on their list of things to learn. I think when these muggles ask me about time, they are trying to judge the “pay off” of learning. Whether they can make presents more cheaply than buying them and that sort of thing. For these questions, I try to focus on the ways I integrate the making into my life – “Between sitting on the sidelines at soccer and time spent watching TV, I can crochet this in about a week.”
The second type of muggles are people who have no desire to pursue crafty hobbies. They have no interest in learning and I totally respect that. But I suppose I feel like these muggles are trying to find a cost benefit to my choices in order to understand why I would do such a thing. As though the only reason to bother knitting socks for myself is because it is cheaper than buying a 6-pack of athletic socks from Walmart. I’ve had otherwise very intelligent people make this comparison to me while I am knitting a pair of socks, after I tell them I can make a pair in a couple of weeks.
I suppose the point that I’m trying to make is that it doesn’t actually matter to me how long it takes me to knit a pair of socks or crochet a baby blanket, etc. If it is something that I want to make, because I enjoy making it and I want the finished object made to my specifications, then it is mostly irrelevant to me how many hours the project will take. A person who enjoys working on their car isn’t going to count the minutes it takes them to change their brakes. A golfer isn’t going to try to increase her average speed per round. An outdoorsmen is going to fish or hunt the same amount of time regardless of what he catches.
There are times that it is nice to do things quickly (getting a hole in one or crocheting a whole hat in a few hours), but the overarching goals of hobbies (at least for me) is to enjoy the process. And to have something to do at soccer games and while watching TV. 😉
*This is a term that has been co-opted by knitters/crocheters to describe non-knitters and non-crocheters…or even just non-craftual people. As far as I know, this nickname was first used for this effect by the Yarn Harlot.