Yarn Frugality

Hi folks, This is the last polemical knitting piece that I have backlogged. I've actually been writing a lot about knitting in the form of patterns and project reviews, and I think that the Tuesday's are for Knitting posts will address some of these concerns. I'm sorry for not posting this more promptly this morning, I might have slept in a bit more, and had to run out in a rush. I have two more classes as an undergraduate, and I'm seriously contemplating cutting one of them (we're watching a movie, that I haven't seen, but have a copy of,) I have a little more work, but yeah, I'm done. Scary. I'll be in touch, and there'll be more content later in the week. --cheers, ty

I have a confession to make: I'm a frugal person. Ok, maybe you knew that and maybe it wasn't such a surprise. For this reason, I sometimes find it hard to justify spending money on yarn. Well, the fact that I'm a (perpetual) student with an uncertain employment future doesn't help this, but I think the frugality serves me well and contributes to this problem. It's really easy for me, and I suspect others as well (but as always ignore me at whim), to say "if I can get it for cheeper, why spend money on nice yarn." But as most of us learn pretty quick: all yarn is not created equally, and I'm here to argue for a slight relaxation of frugality concerning yarn buying habits. I'm not saying, go forth and stash everything you like, or that you should only knit with quivet, but that it's possible to to knit with high quality yarns without breaking the bank, and that college students (like me) can still knit with good yarn. This is in part an argument with myself, so I hope you find it interesting.

My first principal is to avoid stashing. This doesn't mean that I only have enough yarn for my current project and the next one, but I'm pretty close. I have the yarn for the projects I'm currently working on, the yarn for the next sweater, I have some lace weight left over from the last lace kick, assorted leftovers from past projects, and that's about it; and frankly I think I have too much yarn, and am knitting through what I have as much as possible.

Secondly, if you're worried about money, knit with finer yarns. Generally yarns are sold by weigh not yardage, so 1000 yards of super bulky costs considerably more than a like yardage of sport or fingering weight. This means that finer yarns are cheeper in relation to the amount of time they take to knit. As an added benefit finer yarns also tend to be more flattering to everyone's peoples bodies, and though it takes longer (a good thing) you're less likely to look like you're wearing a or wrapped in a duvet cover.

The third principal that I use is to avoid as much variation in yarn types as possible. While it's nice to knit different kinds of things, having a few quality, basic kinds of yarns that are good in a number of different situations is really key. This makes it easy to use leftovers, reliably order online, and plan projects without having yarn. Also, this makes it easy to avoid swatching, because you already know how you knit with your basic yarns. It doesn't matter what yarns you choose, but look for high quality (no pilling, washing/wearing well, no knots, colorfast) a good color selection, usability (don't go for a yarn that comes in hanks if don't have a swift and hate winding yarns), and something that's widely available. This isn't to say that one must knit exclusively from the same kind of yarn, but to have for instance sport, fingering, and worsted weight yarns that you keep returning to project after project. In your case it might be sock yarn, worsted weight and aran-weight yarn, the kinds of yarn aren't crucial.

In aid of this, It's possible to recognize that there are only a couple of mills that make "blank yarns" for art yarn dyers. By my eye, I think that Henry's Attic, and Louet supply about 60% of the yarn for hand dyers, and there are only a few others. If you're sensitive to these similarities, the variety of yarns you use can grow without adding new "types." Look at yardage/weight/content relationships to find the connections.

Now if you stash yarn as a collecting hobby aside from your knitting hobby thats a whole new issue beyond my scope (not bad, of course, if that's what you're aiming for), but with luck, the working cue-stash can be kept under control,[^socks] and in this sort of situation you and I only have to buy yarn every few months. I also tend to think of knitting as part of an entertainment budget. I spend sixty or eighty dollars on yarn that can provide knitting enjoyment for months. Of course, the door can swing the other way too, as I've often said (and heard) "its fun, and it doesn't matter what I knit with," so it might be helpful to also engender a heathy enjoyment of quality garments. But also, I'd challenge the notion that enjoyment should turn a blind eye towards quality: it's more fun to knit with nice yarns, and nicer yarns produce nicer finished objects which make me want to knit more: its a good cycle.

You can, and should, knit with nice materials, and it's my hope that between what I suggest here, and some good smart shopping you'll be able to knit with the best yarn you can, you'll be glad you did!

Ok, enough of a missive for today. I hope it's helpful. We'll move to more interesting and less polemical things in the future, I promise.

cheers, tycho

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