Wednesday, August 15, 2007

~Yarn Snobbery~

When I first started knitting, I didn't know the first thing about yarn content. I vaguely knew that there were varying degrees of quality in yarn, but I had no idea how much I could fall in love with cotton and wool and bamboo!

However, as I began visiting yarn shops (and was aghast at the outrageous prices they were charging), I knew that I would never plunk down cash for expensive yarn!

But then I started reading blogs. Knitting blogs. This changed my perspective a lot. If you're going to spend hours and hours making something, shouldn't you make it with quality fibers? After all, if I were going to sew a garment or something for my home, I wouldn't use the dollar table to do so (Well, I have, and the results have been disastrous!). No, I use good quality fabric. Why shouldn't I use good quality yarn?

As I go blog-hopping about, reading about other people’s knitting and crocheting projects, I see all the gorgeous, luxurious yarns they use. They rarely talk about how expensive the yarn is. Sweaters and afghans and projects are all made with silk, cashmere, angora, wool, etc. “Oh, yes, I happened to have 50 skeins of cashmere in my stash, so I thought this would be the perfect project for it...” You know, stuff like that.

I'm here to say that nice yarn is expensive. Wonderful, luxurious yarn is break-the-bank expensive!

My yarn that I'm using for my afghan is not luxurious. It is, however, good quality! It is big enough now that I can throw it over me when it is cool in the house, and I just love how it feels! So warm and nice feeling. I'm glad that I made it out of yarn that feels nice against my skin! However, if I would have known how much yarn it would actually take to complete my afghan, I would have considered a different yarn.

So now I need to reconsider my yarn snobbishness. Is the price of great yarn worth it? Or should I settle for good yarn? I don’t know. I think I will be so much happier with the end product, than if I had made it with Red Heart Super Saver yarn. True, there are plenty of yarns that fall somewhere in the middle of these two examples. But I DO know that if anyone even thinks of throwing my finished afghan in the dryer, I will most likely die!

My afghan is not finished yet...it keeps eating up yarn! I *think* I have enough yarn now in order to finish it. We shall see!

13 comments:

Mrs. U said...

Oh boy!! I surely understand this!! I have, as of late, discovered the feel of better quality yarns and I AM HOOKED (tee hee!!).

I still am working on teaching myself to knit. My fingers do NOT want to hold two needles- I suppose that will take time and practice. :) Crocheting is much more comfortable to me right now, so I use better yarns for that and cheaper yarn while I practice knitting. :)

What is the BEST yarn you've used so far??

His,
Mrs. U

Amy ~ (Life's Small Treasures) said...

Your afghan is absolutely beautiful! You did a great job.

I have never tried knitting or crocheting but I would one of these days love to learn. The things you can make~ Off to get a few books on this subject...

~Amy

Mrs. H. said...

The first yarn I ever used was cotton, and I really enjoyed the feel of it in my hands. Knitting is where I became aware of how tactile-sensitive I am. I'm one of those people who washes her hands a dozen times while cooking dinner, and rinses all the dishes before washing them, because I can't stand to have *stuff* in my dishwater. My 2nd son is the same way about clothing tags and blankets, only the softest for him.

Anyway, when I was teaching my oldest daughter to knit, she chose a super chunky acrylic to begin her project. I hated touching it! I just didn't like the feel of the scratchy fibers on my hands.

Right now I am working on a blanket buddy for a friend who's about to have a baby. I'm using Velvetspun by Lion Brand. It's an acrylic, but it's cut in a way that it chenilles, just like those super soft (and expensive) baby blankets on the market today.

I have some Debbie Bliss cotton yarn in my stash waiting to be made into hats for my kiddos for fall and winter, and I keep my eBay account watching several of her other, more luxurious yarns most of the time, and I intend to snap them up if they hit my price range. Yarn that makes you feel good when you knit with it is definitely worth the price.

Mrs.B said...

Your afghan looks great!--WOW!!

I don't knit or crochet but for certain things I would use really nice yarn. I mean I have an afghan that was crochet for me as a child by my great grandmother! It's not in great shape because I've dried it (didn't know any better) but we still use it.

My point is if it's something you think you will have for a lifetime I'd go with the best I could.

Just my .02 from someone who doesn't know how to make anything like what you're talking about! LOL (o;

Blessings,
~Mrs.B

Heather said...

I totally agree with you that using a quality yarn is much more satisfying in the end than using a cheap one. I despise acrylic. I am going to make an afghan this fall/winter, and I have decided to take the plunge this time and use a good quality yarn. I was inspired by Jane (http://yarnstorm.blogs.com/knitblog/crochet/index.html) It is going to be my most expensive project to date, I am sure, but purchase the yarn in two batches: first color, then the ivory. I have chosen to crochet is with Cascade 220 superwash, so that it can be laundered when necessary. One of my LYS is wonderful about special orders. They will let me sit down with a color card and choose colors to my heart's content, then special order exactly what I want. I love this because I can choose more/different colors than what they carry in the shop.

I will say that www.knitpicks.com is a great site for purchasing yarn without breaking the bank. So far my sister and I have been happy with the quality of yarns we received from them.

Susan said...

I don't know a single thing about knitting, and I crochet just a little, but I do know that just feeling the different yarns shows a difference. Granted, I've never felt really expensive yarn! I would say that if it's something you're going to use for a long time, use the expensive stuff and enjoy it!

Susanne said...

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A Note From Theresa said...

But I DO know that if anyone even thinks of throwing my finished afghan in the dryer, I will most likely die!
-------------------------------
Thats funny :-) but I know you mean it, it is a very beautiful afghan. Once again I say, well done.

Julieann said...

Hi Tammy--I came over to say hi, and to see what you have been up too---Your afghan is beautiful. Congratulations on the award too--you deserve it!

Julieann

Trixie said...

Hello Tammy,

Firstly I would like to say that while I don't fully understand how on EARTH you can like Kashi cookies, I will not let that come between me and reading your great blog:)

Secondly-- I don't knit or crochet, but I do sew and with sewing (and most other things) the old adage of "you get what you pay for" is true. I try to use the hightest quality fabrics and the best suited weave of material for the job. Whenever I do not follow this rule, the project turns out to be a waste of time as it does not hold up well.

I image yarn is the same way. If the cost really bothers you, try looking at as you are able to afford a few small luxuries because you knit them yourself instead of purchasing them in the store.

P.S. I love seeing photos of all your great projects. Keep posting!

Trixie

Mishel said...

My mother-in-law made the most beautiful crochet, knitted and needlepoint projects. She always bought the *best* yarn, canvas,linen, ect...(for whatever she was making)that she could afford (well actually, I'm sure she bought some things even when she *really* couldn't afford them--LOL). And I will tell you, now that she is gone, her children and grandchildren are *blessed* with these very special reminders of her. Because of the quality of the materials she used, these items will last as long as they are taken care of. : )

Heather said...

Tammy - here is my two cents! My mum is a wonderful thrift shopper and also a beautiful knitter. It breaks her heart to see lovely handknit - often never worn - children's fair isle and argyle sweaters at her resale shop! Often they are priced at $2-4 and my children love them.

BUT - what I have noticed is that they are all made from cheaper yarn - they don't really feel nice (I put soft cotton turtlenecks under them for the kids or they would wear them) and after a few washings - even though I hand wash, block and press with a press cloth, they look bally and ragged.

The only time I have seen handknits that were made from top quality yards in the resale shop was when they were worn frazzed and ready for the rag bag - obviously well worn and sadly discarded, since they really should not have passed the item on, but were probably thinking 'maybe someone else will love my old favorite as much as I once did'.

So, is good quality yard worth it - I think so! You'll love it, use it and one day pass it down. It won't end up at Goodwill!

Also from my somewhat limited yarn purchase experience, my advice is to buy in person as much as possible. Make a trip to the closest yarn store (I know they are becoming more plentiful in the U.S. these days - yeah!) and smile broadly at the sales person. Ask for the best buy in yarn today - there are often amazing markdowns hidden in out of the way spots. Then go searching for a pattern that suits that yarn and makes your heart sing.

We always try to support local small businesses in this way because owners have such a hard time competing with the bigger stores, and they enrich a community inmany unique ways!

Melissa said...

I'm also in the process of making an afghan, so I feel your "pain" about prices. I think you have to find a good middle ground with yarn. Obviously making an afghan out of cashmere is a bit much, but making a smaller project with it is alright. You can also find some nice yarn blends. If you're making a big project and want to use a nicer yarn, I suggest buying in bulk. The price can drop quite dramatically. Here's one of my favorite websites: www.discountyarnsale.com

Either way you go about it, it's going to be a more expensive project. I'm currently making my afghan as a wedding present for my cousin. I've currently spent about $170 on it (unfortunately I couldn't buy bulk because the colors varied too much). The yarn I chose was more of a middle ground yarn, about $7.50 per skein. Has it been worth it? Definitely.