I am just too cheap!

Is expensive yarn really worth it? I don't know.... I just can't avoid the super saver huge skeins. I guess I just like cheap things.


stch's picture

In response to your inquiry: each knitter has their personal preferences to the types of yarn they use and the amount of money they're willing to pay.
Personally, I prefer the blended yarns, such as Lion Brand's Wool Ease for most of my projects or if I use a 100% wool Patons Classic Wool or Lion Brand's Fisherman Wool. But, this is not to say that I haven't used Red Heart's Super Saver or Caron's Simply Soft. Most often the choice of yarn is determined by the function of the piece and the person for whom it is intended (ease of care, or possible alergies), and on some of the larger projects being frugal has been a budget saver. Sometimes, though, it has been fun to splurge a bit to indulge in and explore yarns beyond those that I most often use to knit or crochet.

YugiDean's picture

I agree with stch.

My own personal taste has changed. When I started, I was pretty much using nothing but nice cheapy stuff from Joann. As I discovered and shopped at some LYS's, though, I've stopped visiting Joann and Hobby Lobby. The main reason is that I can never find as large of a yarn selection at any of those chain stores, so it's nice to have a much wider variety. Another reason is that it's nice to support locally owned businesses, so I enjoy doing that as well. Also, even though I'm spending more for yarn, the quality is substantially higher, and I'm really not paying that much more. A skein of Lion Brand or Patons can run from $4-6 depending on which one you get, and at my LYS, I generally spend only about a dollar or two above that for generally the same yardage...excluding those super saver or one-pound skeins, of course! I'm probably a bit more willing to sacrifice money for higher-end yarn than most, but it's a lot like my other hobby: playing piano. My cheap-ass Roland keyboard that I've had for ten years is wonderful and it definitely gets the job done, but I'd much rather play a Kurzweil or Steinway!!! LOL

"Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread." --Richard Wright


tranny_saurus's picture

I third the comments below. When I started knitting, I was using a bunch of old yarn I'd gotten for free. I stumbled through the first few items, but it wasn't that bad. But then I tried some nicer yarn, mostly wools, and it was really a world of difference. A lot of the problems I was having with the free/cheap yarn disappeared with better quality yarn. That said, I still raid the old stash, especially for things like afghans. And I'll use woolease for baby items, since it is so easily washable.

Like the others said, it really depends on what you are knitting. If you are making an afghan or toys or something that won't be next to skin, then there is much more flexibility.

The best advice is to go to your LYS and just feel some yarns. If you find one that you like, buy just a skein or two for a small project--I found fingerless mitts to be a simple and quick project that didn't use much. See how it goes. There are expensive yarns that are also not very good to work with, so make sure it is something that you like.

Maybe you'll change your mind about the super saver yarn, and maybe you won't. Nothing wrong with the cheap stuff if it works for you.

Have fun!

MMario's picture

That's part of the reason I've gone to the thinner lace yarns - though I still use larger needles. I get much more yardage in a skien....

KnitPicks and other online stores help reduce the "ouch" factor as well. And as others have mentioned - you really do have to consider that yarn purchases count as part of the entertainment budget.

BTW - there are some expensive yarns - which carry a big "snob factor" that I find to be less satisfactory then good ol' acrylic 'Pound o'Love' bargain basement yarn. And I have been amazed at some yarns that I have seen raved about; that when I got a chance to touch just didn't cut it. So sometimes it isn't the price tag.

It's also a *lot* more irritating to pay $16 a ball for a "Name" yarn and find 4 knots/breaks in it; then to find the same number in the $2.99 skein with the same weight and yardage.

MMario - ambiguity is cultivated, it doesn't happen in a vacuum!

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

MWK - Houston's picture

I use the super savor yarns for crocheting - mostly for afghans. For knitting I like to splurge and get the finer wools. Knitpicks has some great prices and a great variety.


Marknits's picture

There's a swedish saying- "A thing doesn't have to cost a lot of money to be expensive." and I also hold the converse to be true, just because a thing costs more money doesn't make it expensive. As long as you get the value you want at a price you can afford, then you aren't cheap, just frugal. I admit to being a fibre snob ( you can tell because I spell it with an 're' instead of an 'er') because I love the feel of wool and wool blends in my hands as I knit. I'm knitting a charity afghan for a friend right now out of synthetic yarns that she spent more money on per skein than I have ever spent for real wool and it still feels plast-icky in my hands. But I definitely look for bargains because (for some unknown reason) I don't have enough money, prestige or good looks to be any kind of snob, fibre or otherwise.

I would recommend finding one extravagance you can do without, maybe that daily cappacino, or brown bag it instead of buying lunch or what ever YOUR extravagance is, until you have enough saved up to buy a skein or two of good wool sock yarn or mitten yarn or what ever small item YOU would enjoy- DO NOT give this one away, this is your indulgence. Walk into your LYS and tell them how you feel and tell them you want a good yarn at an economical price because you want to find out if these yarns really are worth the money. If they are worth their salt, they will steer you towards a very good yarn at an economical price... maybe something on sale because it's the last skein a discontinued color.

(IF they try to steer you towards their $59.99 per oz. skeins of extra-virgin wool spun under a extra-full moon by extra-virgin maidens in the extra-high himalayas- in that case run out the nearest exit and find another LYS because they aren't going to provide any complimentary lubricants or reach-arounds with that purchase either)

Then knit yourself an extravagance. Then decide for yourself if the yarn is expensive or if it just costs more money than the acrylic you usually use.

If it takes you 10 hours to knit it then it's at least a $100.00 item you are holding, depending on your level of skill or the complexity of the item then it's a $200.00 or more item. What percentage of the Item's value was the cost of the yarn? If the question is really about how much the yarn costs, wouldn't it be cheaper to buy the item already made at walmart? Heck, I can buy gloves and hats at the dollar stores for less than a skein of Red Heart or Woolease.

Just my 2 cents worth

Parrot's picture

I answered part of this question several posts back . . one day last week. The essence of that post was to support your LYS, that if you develop a good relationship with the shop owner, you get so much more than just yarn for the money you are paying.

In a more general way, this is how I feel about the more expensive, natural fibers vs. the cheapy acrylic and blends available in places like Wally World, Michael's Joanns, etc. When I first started knitting, I was attracted to the lower priced yarns, and thought that paying up to $30+ for high quality, natural, handpainted fibers, was absurd. I didn't enjoy the knitting process very much due to the lack of tactile satisfaction. Then, I was introduced to the finer natural fibers and had a much better fiber experience. My first set of needles was a pair of metal cheapies. Soon after, I bought a pair of nicer bamboo needles and liked them better. It didn't take long to realize that like any other craft or profession, higher quality tools and supplies can make a big difference in the enjoyment and end result of a project. Just like in my woodworking, I only use high quality wood stock and high quality tools . . they both cost a lot more, but it's worth it. I realized, too, that since I do high quality woodworking, I could make high end needles, which have been sold for up to $100 per pair (the majority are in the $22 range, and many $40-60.) I have many repeat orders due to the enjoyment of using a nice set of needles. Likewise, a wonderful, high quality, natural fibers feels so good in the hands. Plus, a higher quality fiber piece will last for many years. Just visit your local thrift shop and see the hundreds of acryllic sweaters that look worn, pilled, or out of shape. Then look for the nice, natural fiber sweaters . . . cashmere, wools, alpaca, silk, etc . . you won't find many of those, and if you do, they are generally in pretty good shape. People rarely throw out their good stuff. When you make gifts for people . . scarves, hats, sweaters, etc . . don't be surprised if they end up in a yard sale or in a charity thrift shop in the near future. But, they will appreciate, and keep for a very long time, the goods you make with high quality fibers. People often criticize others for making scarves as gifts. But, believe, me, when a friend or family members receives a nicey crafted cashmere, or wool/silk scarf, they will appreciate it very much, wear it proudly, and will keep it for life. Sure, I have spent $80-100 or more for yarn to make a scarf, but my special friends are worth it.

Some things need to be made with acrylic, such as baby clothes, blankies, etc. They need to be able to be washed. But, there is also quality differences in acrylic. Shop around, buy some things and experiment . . and better yet, shop at a good LYS where the owner can give you a lot of advice.

Good Luck . .


Parrot's picture

When you shop for fibers, be ready to take advantage of special sales. Many times I find a yarn that I want but the cost doesn't fit in to my budget at the time. I know what I want to knit for new projects, so I keep that in mind when I fiber shop. If I come up on a wonderful deal, I buy the stash. I have a large stash now of some very nice, high quality yarns. The original cost was pretty high, but when I came across it in my LYS on a special clearance sale, I snatched it up. Every so often, the yarn shop needs to turn over inventory to make room for new arrivals . . especially between seasons .. or end up with orphans that end up in a sale bin. Orphans = one, two or three skeins left. Recently, my LYS pulled out recently discontinued yarns and put them in a 50% off bin. She didn't want to sell yarns that she knew she couldn't get more in the same color lots or fibers. I found several skeins that were perfect for my use, and got them for 50% off regular price. So, you can enjoy the finer fibers and not pay high prices!

tomanyt's picture

I think cheaper yarns are worth it. I do try to stick with "natural" materials (wool is my favorite to knit with), but if you make something for a kid it definitely needs to be made of a fiber that can be washed and dried. I guess it really depends on you and who you are making your item for.

Blankie's picture

In the end what people see is the finished product and people will place value on the material, even more so than the technique. Unless they are a knitter themselves, you will have to tell them how much time was spent making it, whereas the fiber is apparent.

I can tailor double knit polyester to within an inch of its french seams, but no one bothers with the details if they don't want to touch it to start with.

Good quality natural fibers can be found at great prices. I co-hab my studio with an LYS, and as a course of business, she has to stock a wide range of prices to suit all different kinds of tastes, projects and pocket books. Like most yarn shop owners she wants to build a relationship that will have you coming back again and again, so will definitely steer you to something that will make your project success and a joy to own or give. Besides, those places are loads more fun than an anonymous box.

Bonus: seems than any man who walks into a yarn shop to actually make a project gets a WHOLE lot more attention than the average shopper!

Asbjörn's picture

Knitpicks Wool of the Andes is $1.99US per skein, that's cheaper than any acrylic I have seen at Wal-Mart and the like. Elann and Sarah's yarns also offer good fibers at great prices but as far as cost per yard, Knit Picks can't be beat. Good fibers don't have to be expensive. I for one would never pay $50 a skein for anything unless the yardage was a major factor in the price. But $50 for a piddly 75 yards of something? Not unless I wake up rich and bored.
Like Yugi, I too started out with yarn that I now wouldn't touch with a ten foot knitting needle. I figured, I was fooling around, experimenting, making sample swatches etc.. why waste the good stuff? But for items that require a great deal of time or are intricate "heirloom" type pieces I would go with the best I can afford at the time. I guess part of it would also be the "know your audience" theory, (for example, as much as I love my dogs, I wouldn't knit them something with pure cashmere).


YugiDean's picture

LOL Exactly. I was picking out yarn for a dog bed I'm knitting for my puppy, and I found some great yarn that was a fabulous color for her, but it was $7/skein and I'd have had to purchase four skeins. On the other side of the aisle was some REALLY CRAPPY acrylic bouclé. For that one, I'd only need two skeins at about $4 a piece. Needless to say, I got the crappy boucle

"Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread." --Richard Wright


potterdc's picture

I actually tried to knit for years buying the cheap stuff; it wasn't until a friend's mom marched me down to the LYS and made me buy some Lopi Icelandic wool (not expensive, but certainly more than what I was used to paying) that I managed to knit up my first sweater. Somehow, I couldn't find my way with the acrylic yarn. Since that time, I have knit up some acrylic sweaters (mostly to wear in my studio).

But mostly - I learned to spin so I could afford all the wool yarn I want.

Jonathan in DC

Think less, enjoy it more.

Think less, enjoy it more.

gardenguy42's picture

I'm knitting an afghan to nap under in Caron's "Simply Soft" because I want it to be machine washable and dry-able. It's a casual project.

For sweaters, hats, mittens, scarves, etc. I prefer 100% wool simply to reflect the time I am putting into the project, the stitch definition I get with pure wool, the wonderful feel and "give" as I knit, the flame-retardant qualities, the long-lasting nature, and the amazing results you can get from blocking wool properly.

Acrylics and blends just don't feel as good in my hands and the lack of stretch annoys me while I'm knitting intricate patterns. I don't like cotton, linen, or silk (unless blended with a fine Merino wool) for the same reason. But I don't have an aversion to using the acrylics and blends for my charity knitting; they request it in most cases for the ease of care.

I just ordered several skeins of fingering weight 100% wool "Pallette" yarn from Knit Picks for $1.79 per 231 yards to make an EZ Baby Surprise jacket, hat, and booties for a pregnant friend. Very good deal in my book and I wasn't restricted to gag-inducing pastel colors. I bought bright yellow, bright green, apricot, and nutmeg.

If you buy the "Clearance" colors from most any LYS or online yarn store (last season's leftovers) you can really save a lot of money. I bought a ton of superwash Italian wool (Zara Plus) last year from Jimmy Bean's for nearly 50% off to make teddy bears for the Mother Bear project and it is the most amazing stuff I've ever knit with; I couldn't afford it full price on the best of days, however. I also bought several skeins of sock wool, lace-weight wool, etc. in last seasons colors at a huge savings, often 50% or more.

I also like Lion Brand Wool and Fisherman's Wool, as well as Paton's Classic Wool. I can often get them at a good discount at my local Michael's store. The only problem I have is the very limited color choice.

As Meg Swansen always says: "Knitter's Choice!"

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi