where do you guys look for quality yarns?
I go to local yarn shops myself. There must be some in San Diego?
I'm agreeing with Frank. The LYS is the best place. I have found some great yarn on Ebay as well. Waiting on a package from ebay right now.
LYSs are the best, absolutely. But once you've found a yarn you really like, don't rule out trading or buying from other knitters on Ravelry. It's particularly helpful if you need that one last skein of yarn and the LYS doesn't have it and can't order it.
My LYS doesn't have absolutely everything I need, but they can almost always find me something that will work. I don't have to wait for shipping, or pay shipping charges, and I'm supporting a business that is part of my community. I get a friendly greeting and a warm pleasant atmosphere that no internet store or big box can match.
"All knitting is just one stitch at a time."Tallguy
I would agree to support your local yarn stores first and foremost...but I'll have to admit that I am guilty of shopping online... especially at the Loopy Ewe, eat sleep knit, and webs (mostly to satiate my recent madelinetosh obsession!).
I've also bought quite a few hanks of yarn from other Ravelers on the ISO and Destash boards. You can find some pretty good deals if you look around.
I choose to buy from people. For some reason or other, the other options are not quite satisfying.
For example, my local yarn stores all remember my given name on sight, not by my credit card number or user name. When I have a problem or issue with the purchase, I usually get exactly what I want out of the transaction. The people at my local yarn stores also know what I buy and often order merchandise with me and other customers in mind. They also look for the items I have mentioned, and keep suppliers on the hot seat if I complain or compliment a competitor. I get pattern suggestions, equipment and tools ideas, all edited to my exact likes and dislikes. Amazon uses a shotgun...I prefer the surgical precision of a good wool monger.
When I go to the LYS, there are often lots of folk I have met, or I have been impressed and awed by their work, or I am given my fifteen minutes of fame by others acknowledging my efforts.
Anyway you cut it, a far superior experience. If price is the issue, then I truly understand. Buy cheaply, and don't be concerned about where it comes from. But...I can't put a price tag on my experience and the impact it has had on my work.
If I have a little extra money, I buy yarn, fiber books, and knitting supplies. I get food with what's left over.
Every person I encounter teaches me more about myself. Without whom not.