Sometimes. But mostly, not.
I had a little adventure into yarn production some years ago. I purchased the fleece, had it spun as a worsted-spun 4-ply, and wound into undyed hanks.
As I recall, the fleece, a rare-breed Galway (my Unique Selling Point (USP)) was £11 a kilo. I bought 10kg – £110.
I drove it to a spinning mill – around £200 by ferry plus 500miles petrol. Total in the region of £600 – lucky it was a multipurpose trip…
The mill charged £56 per returned kilo. I got 60-ish 100g hanks back, so about £336.
The resulting yarn was shipped to me at a cost of about £60.
>> 110+(600/2)+336+60=806 (travel costs halved because it was a multipurpose trip)
>> 806/60= 13.43333333
So, just to break even, I’d have to sell each hank for £13.50. And that’s without a ballband, gauge testing, packaging and posting, Etsy listing and selling fees, etc. A 50% markup would bring it to just over £20. And you’ll find, as you look around, that £20 is an average price for a hank of good-quality 4-ply yarn with enough yardage to make a pair of socks.
But that’s a profit of only £405 – half as much as I’d need to repeat the process the following year.
A non-profit business, just bringing attention to the lovely Galway, would need to charge £30 per undyed 100g skein – and that leaves nothing to plough back into a breeding programme, fodder, housing, veterinary bills, or my time and expenses! Salary? Don’t make me laugh…
I could, of course, have shipped the fleece instead of delivering it, at about £100 for the 10kg. I could have gone for a less expensive woollen treatment, costing a mere £52 per returned kilo – and if you think that’s still expensive, you should watch this:
I could even have used any old fleece at half the price, instead of rare-breed Galway – but that would have eliminated my USP. I’d have to find some other way of adding value, such as hand-dyeing. Sadly, while I can do and enjoy dyeing… I’m not really ‘valuable’ as a dyer. I have no unique vision that allows me to create exquisite colourways that are Art in the skein, like my neighbour EweMomma does:
I’d produce plain solid colours like wot i dun ere:
The way you need to look at fibrecrafts is as a hobby, like golf, wine-tasting, or astronomy. A decent golf club can set you back £100 – and you’ll need more than one, plus balls, tees, club fees and funny trousers. Wine tastings can be as little as £30 – for a couple of hours, and you don’t even get to drink the wine! Astronomy costs – are astronomical. But a decent yarn is lovely and squishy in the hank, provides hours of knitting pleasure, and an end product that – with a little care – will last 1,000 years…