The High Cost of Yarn?

sweetpea cashmere


A recent comment on the Yarn About Yarn Facebook page got me thinking about how much is too much to spend on yarn and whether it is ever justified to spend up big.

Here are my thoughts:

Quality costs money. Yes, the old “you get what you pay for”. Not always true & you can find some great cheaper yarns. However, if you’ve ever experienced knitting/crocheting with a high quality yarn you will appreciate that there is a difference. I’m a firm believer in using the best that you can afford. This goes for tools of the trade also. You will get better results & have a better experience along the way. (just my opinion by the way).

False economy: it takes me a long time to knit a cardigan. I want the end result to be something that I will want to wear, I want it to look good, I want it to last more than one season. Sure I can go to the local *mart & buy a $10 jumper (& I have) but I know it won’t be looking good for long, it will stretch or shrink, perhaps pill or fade, be too hot or too cold (the perils of acrylic).

I don’t spend a lot on holidays/magazines/movies/clothes/etc. I don’t spend money on cigarettes & lots of alcohol. A $20 pack of smokes may last someone a day, whereas a $20 skein of yarn can last me weeks.

I look at other hobbies and the costs can be so much higher than the cost of a quality yarn. For instance, the actual tools like sewing machines, woodworking equipment, kilns, looms etc can cost 100s (if not 1000s) then there is the cost of materials: fabric, timber, glass, metal etc. Hey, knitting & crochet is starting to look cheap by comparison.

If a yarn I want/like/need/must have is very expensive then I will look at the cost per metre. Some skeins are huge and the actual cost is not as much as it first appears. Also lots of yardage means lot of knitting time.

Reserve your most expensive yarn purchases for special occasions/gifts. That $72/skein Cashmere & Silk yarn embellished with glass beads & sequins may seem an extravagant purchase but when it becomes an heirloom shawl that you handcrafted for your daughter’s wedding it is worth every cent.

Choose your project/yarn combo wisely. There is no way I would use a $50/skein of yarn on a project that takes 10 skeins. These yarns are best for a project that involves just one or 2 skeins….a beautiful shawl, a cute hat, a gorgeous scarf for a best friends birthday. Also think about the end use of your project: a scarf (choose something that feels nice on your neck), mittens/gloves (choose a hard wearing yarn, perhaps not the best time for that loosely spun angora).

Look beyond the price tag and see what you are actually buying. $28 a ball seems a lot at first. Then I see that it is 100% cashmere from Italy. Cashmere is soft & warm. This would make a great cowl or scarf …… super soft on my skin and a fabulous handmade item for myself (or as a gift) for under $30 (or possibly the cost of 2 balls).

But what if you just can’t afford to spend that much on yarn? What are your options:

Don’t spend money on anything that is not essential to clothing, feeding & sheltering you & your family.

Buy a cheaper product. Yes, I am a firm believer in using the best you can afford and if that is $2/ball then buy that. My post on substituting yarns may help.

Save. Put aside a dollar or two when you can until you can afford to buy that yarn you desire & then savour every stitch. (buy lace-weight …. it takes longer to knit through a skein of lace-weight than through a skein of bulky yarn)

Put specific yarns on your birthday/Christmas wish list. (or if you think your family will balk at paying that much for yarn then ask for a Gift Certificate to your favourite yarn store)

Look at what you can sell to raise some money. Yarns in your stash that you no longer love? Clothes in the wardrobe that you’ve never worn or no longer fit? Household items? Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

These are just my thoughts on the subject. What do you think?