Monday, September 21, 2009

Spend Your Money Where It Counts...on Yarn! Part 2

Ok, so in Lesson 1: You don't need every knitting gadget known to man, I discussed just one way to make the most of your knitting budget. Though there are tons of ways to cut down on unnecessary purchases, we'll go into those on a later post. Let's move on to

Lesson 2: Shop in person. Research online. Buy the best.

When it comes to buying yarn, high price doesn't always mean good quality nor does low price always mean poor quality. As you shop for your yarn, there are multiple resources available at your fingertips to make sure you are choosing the best quality yarn and getting it at the best price. Just a note before you begin reading: Whenever possible, always support your local yarn store first. Without supporting them financially, they would not be able to be there for us when we get stuck in a sticky knitting situation and provide priceless instruction. With that in mind, before you just go and buy, consider the following three steps:

Step 1: Shop in person. Go to your LYS (local yarn shop for our newbies out there!) and feel. Take yarn that appeals to your eye and check if it appeals to your skin, your fingers. Tug it, twist it, ask if you could knit a few stitches with it (it never hurts to ask). You're looking for a) strength of fibers - no splitting, breaking of strands, etc; b) physical appeal - does it make your hands sweat? does it move easily across your fingers? does it itch or scratch? does it make you sneeze?; and c) overall quality - does the color begin to stain your fingers? does it shed when it shouldn't? compare yarn of similar characteristics and their brands - do you notice a difference in quality.

Step 2: Research online. Compare prices and look at reviews of the yarns in question. You may find that what looks good in the wrapper doesn't hold up after one time through the washer or maybe it's a bear to knit with causing you to give up. We don't want wasted $$! After you've narrowed down your options. Take home the info and research the different yarns online. There are vast numbers of websites that offer great quality yarns at discount prices Here are some favorite sites among my friends at Ravelry: Elann, Webs, KnitPicks, LittleKnits, PoppyYarns (UK), FabulousYarn, the list could go on, I'm sure!

Speaking of Ravelry, it's an absolutely amazing resource that you have to check out. You can research project patterns, yarns, patterns knitted with certain yarns, ask questions on projects, connect with other knitters locally and not so local, it is an endless source of all things knitting. Set up a profile and won't be disappointed!

Step 3: Buy the best. I don't just mean best price. Whether the best is at your LYS or online is different for every project. Remember, support your LYS first, even if it means sometimes giving up a small discount of a few bucks. But let's look at a little hypothetical: You have two yarns and many people say Yarn A is good but Yarn B is great. Yarn A costs $3/ball and Yarn B is $5/ball. If you purchase solely based on price, you may only pay $18 for enough yarn to knit a sweater but if that yarn pills like there's no tomorrow you won't ever wear it. Now, that would be a waste. However, if you spent $30 and bought better quality yarn (Yarn B), and your sweater lasts you three years, that's money well spent! It's worth paying a few more bucks to get yarn that's good quality, well manufactured and will withstand whatever life throws at it.

Come back for Lesson 3: Knitting gadgets from the junk drawer


  1. I'm glad you mentioned how important it is to support your LYS. I try very hard to purchase all my yarn at my LYS or at Stitches. I only buy online if I have to.

    If we don't do this, at some point there simply won't BE LYS anymore.

  2. By the way, I also like If my LYS doesn't carry what I want, I'll buy there.