Sticker Shock & Being New

Okay, being new to knitting, as I have used acrylic yarns for crochet often, I was dragged to a 'yarn' store yesterday (7/5). I figured 'okay, it's not going to cost a lot to pick up a few skeins of different yarn.


Compared to what I was used to getting, I about DIED. I don't care WHAT kind of animal it came from, things shouldn't cost that much (or at least, if/since it does, I can now see why custom made socks cost a small fortune).

Of course my partner wanted me to get him a 12 oz (?) skein of yarn for $40. Of course I had to say no. Instead he opted for the $12.25 x2 instead. Yeah, I'm still in somewhat of a 'sticker shock' phase, but I have to admit that I do like the variety over just doing the plain and simple stuff.

At least now if I crochet with this stuff, I'll have a better feeling afghan.

At least with the knitting now, I also got some insight as to the self striping pattern stuff and prefer to knit that over the crochet variety, which just looks blocky and all over the place (okay, and some of it ugly as sin too).

I know I am not ready to even remotely knit an afghan (attention span of a goldfish, which I hear is better than a gnat, LOL), but I'm going to be working on my first scarf soon, so look for that.

Anyway, just thought I would post for now and let you all know what is going on. The partner has been 'patient' with my inability to learn the difference between purl and knit, but says I can knit really well. :)


Welcome. Yes there is sticker shock but once you learn to really knit and want to make something nice the price will not be such a big scare. Also, knitting seems to use less yarn then crochet (or so it seems to me). Anyway, have fun with it. Spend when you want to and Red Heart when you don't. Nice to have you. I am new also.

Banjo Lee Jones

lol Sticker Shock happens to all of us ... to help stretch my budget, I use the Caron brand "Simply Soft" yarns for my toy type items and for afghans/blankets that will get lots and lots of use...Lion Brand wool and wool-ease yarns are great budget stretchers for hats, mittens and scarves that will get lots of wear and tear (translates to: winter clothes for children and some adults)

acrylic yarns aren't good for outer wear, imo, because if they get wet they let your body heat out

wools and animal fibers will keep your body heat in if they get wet (snow does melt on hats, mittens, sweaters, jackets and scarves)

sorry, didn't mean to ramble or preach

potterdc's picture

Hi Marcus, welcome!

When I was learning to knit, I was a college student and the mother of the friend who was teaching me insisted that I get good wool yarn. I had tried for years to get the knack of knitting, using inexpensive acrylic yarn (why spend good money when I was just learning?), but could just never get it. MaryAnne insisted on the good stuff though, and so I went and bought wool. I was astounded at the difference it made. I've been knitting ever since.

Here are some hints to help the pocket book:
1) Look for the bargain basket in the yarn store. In my yarn store, it's always 40% off. While I can't usually pick up enough for a sweater, I can certainly find some great luxury yarns for hats, scarves, and socks.
2) There are a lot of $11 - $18 (and more!) a skein yarns out there, but look in the back corner or on the lower shelves and you might find some good wool for a lot less - $6 or so a skein.
3) Take a look at They sell directly from the mills so there's no middle person and it's good quality.

On the other hand, if you find some yarn you like, save up, splurge, and enjoy! Some of that stuff is FUN FUN FUN to knit with!

Welcome to the site!

Jonathan in DC
Think less, enjoy it more.

Think less, enjoy it more.

garyhrx's picture

Yes Sticker shock hurts at first but the difference in quality is well worth it. Realize as has been said above that you don't need top quality yarn for every project. I grab yard sale yarn to use for technique swatches and experimenting with new pattterns. The nice thing about that is that it is a real treat when you get the good stuff to work with. As regards knitting an afghan, I just bought The Secret KLife of a Knitter by the Yarn Harlot and she has a very interesting story about a Wedding afghan. Read that before you start!

HuskerChub's picture

One thing that many people also forget about is value for money. Every good LYS and any that plans on being in business very long will always be willing to help with pattern selection, pattern interpretation, maybe a quick "this is how to do that stitch pattern" etc. The LYS owner and workers usually care as much or more about the art than about making money...thus many LYS's do not stay in business, they are not run like a business! Try going to Hobby Lobby and asking someone to show you how to 'pick up and knit' 78 sts around the neckline. Ain't gonna happen. I know there are shop owners out there who will not help you if your yarn is purchased elsewhere...if that's the case, a kind offer of paying $5 for some help or making a purchase for a next project usually is enough to soften them up. As far a Knit Picks goes...bad bad bad for the LYS...if you have one use it or you will loose it. There is NO WAY we can compete when KP is selling yarn for less than we can buy it wholesale...and they're not going to help you either!

That all said, there is nothing like knitting with quality yarn, and yes there are quality yarns at affordable prices, for Alpaca, Misti Alpaca can't be beat. Wools: Brown Sheep Lambs' Pride and Cascade 220 both come to mind as good bang for the buck. Once you start talking about hand dyed yarn, novelty yarns , exotic fibers the prices go up very quickly for obvious reasons.

Welcome to a whole new'll like it I PROMISE!

teejtc's picture

FWIW, I don't think the sticker shock ever completely goes away.

Maybe it does eventually, but I haven't seen it yet.

The help for me is twofold: first, I try to buy locally when I can (which makes me feel better about spending more) and on the internet when I simply can't justify local prices. Secondly, I look at the price of the yarn vrs the time I'll spend knitting it. If I'm spending $90 on yarn but know that it'll take me 80 hours or more to finish the project I'm happy with that. I once heard someone say you should buy your clothes according the cost per hour (i.e. if you wear shoes 40 hours a week it's reasonable to pay more for them than if you only wear them an hour a week); I think the same is true with hobbies.

Grace and peace,

kevyoga1970's picture

I recommend getting acquainted with Cascade 220. You get 220 yards of great wool for about $7.00. Almost every LYS carries it. There are a bajillion colorways, so if you don't see something you like right away ask to see the sample card. The "heathers" colorways are very nice. Cascade Eco is a great bargain, too.

Once you get your hands on good, affordable wool, you get a feel for what wool is worth the high ticket price. I don't buy a lot of super expensive wool. About 80% of my projects are done in Cascade, but I do buy pricier yarns for smaller projects--especially if they are gifts.

Parrot's picture

I know what you mean about the initial sticker shock. But, after I started using "the good stuff", I don't ever use the acrylic Wally World, Michael's, etc fibers. Using the finer yarns is much more pleasureable, and I know after spending many hours on a project, the end project will be much more appreciated and kept. The finer fibers hold up much better, don't pill, wear out, etc. In the greater scheme of things, the higher priced, finer yarns are a better value. Don't like paying the much higher prices for handpainted yarns? . . then take the next step and learn to handpaint them yourself. It's another whole dimension to enjoying the fiber arts. Many of the better yarns in my LYS range 7-12 dollars, but I have paid more than 30. for some. And, since I have developed a good relationship with the LYS, I am often clued in on when yarns will go on sale. In the near future, for example, all the Brown Sheep yarns are going to be marked down 40% to make room for new yarns soon arriving. I will be sure to add to my stash. Once you get past the sticker shock, the LYS opens up a whole new world for you.


Ahh yes...

I am a bit of a yarn whore. Well, rather a yarn slut. Also, being that I learned to knit when I was in college (and still operate on an actor's budget), cost-effectiveness is KEY! Here's what I suggest:

Try a variety. Knit with Red Heart (cheap acrylic), Sugar and Cream (cheap cotton), and other stuff to get a feel for them. Just in the same way that different fibers are used for different stuff, you'll start to get a personal feel for what you like. Ultimately, that's what it's all about. I really like using acrylics (especially the soft stuff from JoAnn's or Hobby Lobby), because they come in a huge variety of colors, are very affordable, and they're just pretty. And let's face it -- no matter how you breed it, a sheep is just not going to be shiny. I know a lot of folks disagree with acrylics, but everything has its place!

Try knitting with high-quality stuff, too. After I had been knitting for quite some time, I went into a "yarn" store and touched a little slice of heaven known as Malabrigo. Oh GOD. Soooooo gooooood..... Malabrigo is an affordable yarn for the sheer pleasure it brings... about $11-17 for a ball or two, depending on where you get it from. And I've used plenty of local yarns, too -- I love going local! It's better for the environment, the local economy, and it brings a sense of pride to the piece that might not normally be there.

Above all, though -- get creative! What do you do when the economy sucks and you can't afford to feed your passion? Thrift stores! I've gotten yarn from second-hand stores straight from the skein... but here's my favorite treasure -- SWEATERS. Disassemble XXL sweaters to get SKEINS and SKEINS of perfectly usable yarn for CHEAP! Plus, it's recycling, so that's another good deed for the planet! Speaking of which... plastic bags, t-shirts, and strips of fabric can all be reduced to strips of "yarn" and then knitted with! Great for rugs, curtains, bags, and other bulky things.

Basically -- the right tool for the right job. Don't be afraid to spend a bunch more on yarn from time to time, because at worst, you can always re-use it. Once you expose yourself to a variety of materials, you'll better be able to choose your weapon the next time you cast on!

Hope that helped...


LOTS of cool tutorials online about recycling yarn and transforming t-shirts and the such!

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss

teejtc's picture

Coty wrote: "I am a bit of a yarn whore. Well, rather a yarn slut."

So I find myself wondering... what's the technical difference bt a yarn whore and a yarn slut?


If I'm a yarn whore does that mean that I actually MAKE money out of the "yarn whore-ding"?! :-)

Grace and Peace,

Well, I would imagine that being a yarn whore means that you would would gladly accept whatever kind of yarn came your way (he he...), whereas being a yarn slut meant that you would actively seek out all kinds of yarn, no matter how skanky. Hmmm.... when money enters the picture... that's a whole other idea!

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss

A Wensleydale Longwool sheep has a nice sheen, and it is very soft and gorgeous to work with.

My own cheap-ass tactic is to go into consignment or thrift stores, find a reasonably priced sweater, made of something nice, take it home, and rip it apart and ball it back up. It's rare that you'll get the same product as a $40 skein, but it usually ends up being not half bad. Plus, if you can't figure out anything to do with it after the fact, take an evening to whip up a few hats and take them to the goodwill, that way your three or four dollar investment won't be wasted.

ksmarguy's picture

YUP To everyone.....

I started with acrylic from wal-mart with crochet and the BF thought I was nuts that the afghan I made cost 20 bucks.

4 months later I spent 90 getting alpaca for a sweater

a month after that I spent 30 on 2 skeins of Manos...

I still occasionally buy some other yarns. I made a scarf out of Carron simply soft because I loved the colors and how they made the scarf look like chain mail. I am afraid that I have become a bit of a yarn snob because on so many of the better yarns I can tell a difference in my knitting, but that does not exclude any yarns (for the most part). I think it depends on what you are knitting, what you are doing with it when it is done, and how much you love the product. For my sweater I bought 2-3 skeins at a time. I checked with the Yarn Shop Goddess here in Hays and she helped me select one that they had plenty of the dye lot that I started with, and promised that she would watch and if they were running low, she would hold some back so that I could make sure to have the same dye lot. So, I was able to purchase it in smaller chunks and it worked out great.

So knit away, if you love it, buy it when you can. I just quit smoking so the money I am saving there is all going into my knitting fund to buy more yarn and needles :) Pay yourself...if you mow the yard, put 5 bucks in a box. When you do dishes, put in a dollar, save up that way, too :D

joshslade's picture

I still have serious sticker shock, but only when it comes from my own pocket. :P Although, for the first time when I was raiding my mom's yarn stash this weekend I actually left the amazingly beautiful tweed on the shelf and selected a much more affordable wool she bought on sale (she leaves the stickers on the skeins for guilt reasons I am sure).

But like others have said, you can still find great wools or wool blends for relatively affordable prices (everyone will admit that wool cannot be cheaper than acrylic...because, well, sheep have to eat)

Tallguy's picture

Admittedly, I am a yarn snob. But I've been around for a long time, so have some experience in this field. I can't agree more with potterdc who says: "MaryAnne insisted on the good stuff though, and so I went and bought wool. I was astounded at the difference it made. I've been knitting ever since." Anyone that has gone through this will understand that statement; the rest of you are still to learn.

I've always insisted that beginners use the very best quality (not expensive) yarns they can afford to start with. You cannot compare the techniques used with acrylic or cotton or silk or wool. They are all different -- you will have to learn different ways to handle each. Don't delude yourself into thinking you are learning to knit with cheap acrylic -- it has little to do with knitting with wool.

You don't have to spend a mortgage payment for a skein of wool. You can find bargains in some LYS, or you can look for quality yarns in thrift shops or garage sales. With experience, you will find that bag of silk that was sold for $3 because the sales clerks didn't know what it was. Keep looking -- you will find what you need.

I have to disagree with MarkFifersMyHero who says: "no matter how you breed it, a sheep is just not going to be shiny." Not true. There are some breeds of sheep that are very shiny, others are soft, some are very strong, but each has its own special qualities. That's why we prefer to use one for certain items, and other breeds for other things.

Again, as in all things, the best answer I can give you is: It Depends. It all depends on what you are making, and what purpose you have in mind. When I spend a lot of time, putting my skill and design into a special garment, I will want it to last a long time and to continue to look good. If you are making a quick dog sweater for one season... then use something cheap. If I am making an heirloom, then I will spin my own yarn, out of quality breeds, and knit it with care. I don't consider the cost in that case.

Quality materials produce quality work. (IMHO, of course)

Well, yes... [about shiny sheep]... they can be very shiny, especially when working with soy/silk/wool hybrids... I was just talking about the crazy glittery-shiny stuff -- I would, however, be VERY interested in seeing some "shiny" wool! I admit that I'm not nearly as exposed to fibers as I would like to be!

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss