Posted on August 27, 2004 at 1:22 am

Welcome to Friday.
I finished the giraffe, so until I sneak it over the boy’s head, the only picture of it will be in my photo album.

But in non-illustrated news: I had an interesting meeting this week with a guy who does web sites.
I promise you, I’m not getting all lofty thinking I’m going to make big bucks or anything, but I have some patterns that I can’t imagine to whom I could send, so I thought I’d set them up here for a few dollars a pop, maybe break even on the blog expenses, you follow?
I mean, it’s not like I’m digging into the upholstery for loose change to pay the bill or anything, but I might be able to get my husband to stop smiling his “Isn’t she cute?” smile whenever I ask if I can use the computer for an hour.
I mean, nothing stops a man cold in his Henry Higgins tracks faster than a sharp “Oh yeah. I made four dolllars this month with the blog!”
By the same token, nothing would be more humiliating than having not one taker for a fuzzy wuzzy teddy bear pattern (you didn’t push your lower lip out far enough when you read that last bit), so I don’t want to put a lot of money into this experiment.

I haven’t the faintest idea how to coordinate the magical PDF/paypal equation that brought Rogue into my life. So a friend gave me the name of a former colleague of his who now designs websites. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, I said. “You might be able to knit him a sweater” the friend says.
Hey, that sounds like a reasonable exchange. Sweater = cool website.
So I met the guy at his office. Nice guy. Very tall with a lot of clean bouncy hair.
Right away I thought that he would look great in a navy Gansey.

He showed me some of his work, kind of classically modernist: material, shape, a celebration of the play of forms, beautiful really. He’s been to what used to be called Burma. Plays blues harmonica. Scuba dives. Moving to Shanghai with important girlfriend. Gets $65 an hour for making websites.
He doesn’t . . . wear . . . sweaters.
Cashmere meant nothing to him.
I would have to sell a lot of patterns to break that even.

And talk about humiliating. geez. I’ll take that patient little smile from my husband any day over the expression on this perfectly nice guy when I told him I would put a sweater on the negotiation table. I never was very good at business, which is why I left corporate America behind for academia, so it is my fault that I wandered into this without any concept of what such things might cost, or without asking this question before I wasted this fellow’s valuable time. But I was going to make him a sweater. I thought that I was being generous.

Granted, it’s hard to work a barter with someone who holds no value for the service you’re offering. But I couldn’t help thinking about the commodity value of the thing I was offering. Is my knitting worth $65 an hour?
Is even Debbie Bliss’s knitting worth that?
If Kaffe Fasset’s knitting is worth that, how much would an Old Tile cardigan knit by the man himself actually cost?
I’ve never worked as a contract knitter. I’ve never knit samples for a shop. I’ve never taught a “class”. I’ve never received something in exchange for a thing I knit, like say, a vat of ratatouille or riding lessons. I’ve never been paid for my knitting at all. So I have no concept of what a sweater is worth. In an economy where knit items at the Gap cost less than the yarn I would buy to make them, is there any value left in this skill of ours? Are we as knitters trapped in the same sort of hothouse of self adulation as “The Short Story”, which a Wednesday New York Times article designated as an arcane little craft that is practiced by a few and largely unread except by other writers of short fiction and by the people who hire them to instruct yet more people in this delusional little matrix?

(hey, who says I can’t crank out lung-emptying sentences like Henry James?)

Which is to say, if knitting is so “hot”, why isn’t it valuable? I don’t pretend to be storming the barricades or decrying Chinese sweat shops here, but why couldn’t a sweater be worth a web site design?
I’ve lost my appetite, I think, for a new website, so this is purely hypothetical. I am not offering anyone a sweater in exchange for PDF decryption. I’m just wallowing in how foolish I feel right now.
Anyway, it’s late. I’m taking my fuzzy wuzzy teddy bear pattern to bed.