Why Is Yarn So Expensive in a Yarn Store?

When people come in our store, I can always tell the ones who shop in chain/discount stores by the way they pick up a ball of yarn, look at the price, and immediately put it down again in shock. I truly hope they never visit one of the shops in Beverly Hills that only sell fine cashmere or they might actually faint. Our shop sells a variety of fibers, at a variety of prices, but like any yarn shop, and even online retailers, our yarn is still priced above what you pay at Michaels or JoAnn Fabrics. Sometimes people are so rude I just want to tell them to stop being so cheap, but alot of the time, it seems like they simply don’t understand why it costs more than what they’re used to. I hope the following list helps in understanding what you’re paying for, regardless of what your budget is.

  1. The majority of yarn shops (at least all the ones I’m familiar with) carry mostly natural fibers, while the chain stores are generally filled with acrylic and other synthetics. And, if you really want to research it, take a look at the prices in your favorite chain store – the natural fiber yarns they do carry cost more than the synthetics, right? Natural fibers are a little like diamonds – they’re a commodity, and there is not a way to industrialize the process. Animals only grow hair/fur so fast, and when a commodity is in limited supply, the value of it, relatively speaking, goes up.
  2. Animals (or plants) growing the fiber is only the beginning. There is so much more in the process before it arrives at your local yarn shop! The beautiful part of the fiber/handcrafting industry is that it is filled with small business, traditions that have lasted for centuries, and personal touches. However, in business terms, the more steps and handling a product needs before it goes to market, the more costs associated with getting it there. There is a local dyer who sells in our shop, and aside from doing all the dyeing herself, she also rewinds all the skeins. That’s so many more hours of work than producing synthetics in a factory! Another company stopped re-skeining their yarn after the dye process just to cut out an extra step to keep the costs lower for the consumer. However, no matter how much these small businesses try to be efficient and keep costs low, the reality is that it’s impossible for them to sell their products at the same price as a $5 ball of mass-produced synthetic yarn.
  3. It’s cliche, yes, but you do get what you pay for. When it comes to making clothes, socks, and other wearables, it is extremely important to consider fiber content. Until I started crocheting and knitting, I was completely ignorant of fiber qualities, as I suspect many people are. For example, did you know wool will keep you warm even if it gets wet? There’s a reason that Scandinavia has such a time-honored tradition of wool sweaters! Alpaca is even more warm than wool, and also has the property of providing warmth when wet. This article covers all the great reasons wool is a great buy. Bamboo is also environmentally friendly and has antibacterial properties. On the other hand, I don’t hear very many positive things about acrylic other than how well it holds up to abuse. This is not to insult fans of acrylic, and I use it to make blankets because it stands up so well to the washer and dryer (I’ll pass on handwashing a huge blanket!). However, crafters should be aware that there are major differences in fibers, and if you want all the perks the natural fibers have to offer, then that’s what you should invest in.
  4. Sometimes, the problem isn’t price – it is that some people really are just too cheap. Once I became a knitter and crocheter, I started paying attention to what stores were selling. For instance, all the cheap knitwear you can buy at Target, Walmart, etc. is all acrylic. When you move up to  Macy’s or Nordstrom, for example, the price goes up, but you start seeing fiber blends, like 10% wool, 90% acrylic. If you want a sweater made of completely natural fibers, you have to go to a high-end retailer like Saks or Neiman Marcus, where of course, you pay top dollar. The amount of money you have to spend at one of those stores for a good quality sweater makes the cost of the yarn at your local yarn shop look like a steal! People who complain and act rude about the price of yarn that was produced by hand and is pure, top-quality fiber need to rethink their expectations. No one in their right mind would expect to walk into Saks and buy a sweater for the same price they’d pay at Walmart.
  5. And now, a note about customer service. I would be retiring on my own private island if I had a dollar for every time someone came in the shop with their cheap yarn from somewhere else, wanting me to teach them what to do with it. As long as the shop isn’t busy, I’m happy to help someone, even if they didn’t buy their yarn with us. But I do wonder why it is that people don’t go back to where they bought their stuff if they have questions about it. The only conclusion I’ve been able to draw is that they can’t find the help they need at the chain stores.While no one can be expected to be a walking encyclopedia of every single yarn ever in existence, generally, yarn shop employees are very knowledgeable about the yarns they carry. We are VERY supportive and happy to provide top-quality customer service to people who shop with us. However, if you do all your shopping at a chain store, you don’t have the right to expect yarn shop employees to go out of their way to solve your customer service issues. Even a chain store can’t stay in business if people only come in to get free tutoring, and they certainly aren’t going to provide customer service for someone else’s product! If you are truly interested in the fiber arts and want to be educated, you can’t put a price on buying your supplies at a place where you can always go back in and get support when you need it.



77 thoughts on “Why Is Yarn So Expensive in a Yarn Store?

  1. Kit Dunsmore

    I shop both places but I’m more likely to buy at a yarn store than a chain store. The quality and options are better, and I just like natural fiber yarns. I do have a new challenge though: my sister, who love handknit accessories, has developed a severe wool allergy. Looks like I’m going to have to work with acrylic whether I want to or not.

    1. Of course. But I think when people expect to buy top-quality, pure, natural fibers at the same price as Red Heart, then it’s a problem because it’s an impossible expectation that no yarn store can meet. That said, I am not one of those people who is against chain stores and acrylics. They both have their place, and there is some very nice acrylic on the market. I’m sure you’ll be able to still find nice stuff for your sister. 🙂

    2. Work with alpaca! It has no lanolin, and is a completely different species, so the allergy shouldn’t be an issue. And she’ll love you for its softness & warmth!

    3. Marie

      There are so many other natural fiber options – silk, cotton, linen, alpaca, soy, bamboo, cashmere, and more – that you can easily knit with natural fibers and never touch wool. There’s even a book “No Sheep For You” about knitting with non-wool fibers by Amy Singer, who is also allergic to wool. A wool allergy does NOT mean there is only one other choice… there are countless possibilities out there!

    4. Teresa P R

      Is it all wool? I’m allergic to sheep wool because of the lanolin. But alpaca or lama are fine. Don’t give up too quick.

  2. Pingback: How Cashmere Is Made | ELIZABETH KAY BOOTH

  3. Naomi

    I hear you!! And, I love to support local shops. I know the store owners back home. And, one store in particular introduced me to my favorite yarns. I have alway shopped for yarn in yarn shops. But, once I’m familiar with a line of yarn, I’ll buy it online for a lot less. Recently, I have joined crafting groups that do use craft store yarn. Well, while I used to be a a yarn snob. I have learned a lot from these ladies. When I make a project for myself or a loved one. I can splurge and pay $50 a skein. If I’m going to sell a product that would not be feasable. So yes, sometimes I’ll go into a store pick up a skein and put it back down. Recently, I visited a shop near my new home. They had Ella Rea at 30.00 dollars a skein. I had the same yarn at home (mine is not in the newest colorways) that I purchased at 12.00 a skein. Yes, sometimes I go for the fine yarn and the huge discounts. I need to pay bills as well.

    1. It is good you understand why all yarn is not priced the same. I certainly do understand why everyone doesn’t knit with skeins priced at $50, and neither do I! But there is a good reason certain yarns are that much. So I hope my post helped people understand the differences. 🙂

  4. Susie Wheelis

    I agree with most of what you say, howver in my area, the LYS, now have sesions where they will “help” you if you are having problems for $10/hr. And if you are a handspinner, you are not welcome in their knitting groups because you are not purchasing yarns from them. I have sought out knitting community in our local library, and with like minded friends at coffee shops and local breweries. It’s just too much pressure to knit where I’m not welcome.

    1. Yes, I know some stores are less welcoming than ours was, which is unfortunate. But unfortunately, the stores are also struggling to even stay open, for the reasons I listed, which is also unfortunate. Spinners used to come to our shop, but we didn’t offer much, and I do think that is a part of the market that should receive more attention. I admire what you guys do. 🙂

  5. I think chain stores are getting that and are widening their inventory to accommodate the customers who would like a higher quality and or natural yarn. So there is some competition out there.
    I feel however, that those who usually shop at low end chain stores for their needle supplies and dont buy from local yarn store business are still potential customers. They may even agree to visit an event in your shop.Just as there a quite a few diamond jewelers. There are also many places to buy luxury yarns. What im trying to say is people need a reason to step into a yarn shop instead of stopping a a local one stop shopping superstore. Reasons which you beautifully provided. You are very right with your observations.I think your message could use alittle more seasoning though.

    I think you know your business very well so im not telling you or anybody what to do. I just want to state somethings that are important to me as a fellow crafter and consumer of yarn.
    To be honest with you. I have felt so intimidated from a certain air of snobbery that I’ve encountered in a particular yarn shop. I know, all yarn shops are not like this. I don’t have very much money and I came into the shop with the attitude of “maybe one day I’ll save and get something nice from here”. I knew I was going to make a pair of socks and I was looking for the perfect color and texture of yarn to get if I would come back so I did pickup the yarn and put it down. The shop owner eventually came over and I started talking to her about the sock yarns which were yummy by the way. As soon as she came to the conclusion that I had lack of funds and she wasn’t going to make a Purchase that day. She began to swiftly hurry me out of her store. No wonder there wasnt any customers in there. The moral of the story is the old adage ” PEOPLE MAY NOT REMEMBER WHAT YOU SAY OR WHAT YOU DO, BUT A PERSON WILL SURELY REMEMBER HOW THEY’VE BEEN TREATED.

    Nowadays I do have enough money to go and purchase a skein or two from this shop. Would I go back there? Hmmmmmm! Maybe or maybe not even though the shop owner told me about a group that they had every week that I would have loved to be a part of. A person cant take maybe to the bank and cash it can they? This shop was in a different neighborhood that is totally out of the way for me. Just happened to be in the neighborhood. Do I want to go that far to feel uncomfortably unwelcomed to spend my money?
    Hmmmmmmmm. Didnt they just open up a new super store close by I could get something close to what I wanted and get a gallon of milk plus use less gas.
    Even if person A. does not by something in a shop that that person A. Still has something special. person A. Has a voice. He or she can tell person B. about something that they liked in a store. Person B. may like or be looking for that product and go to check it out for themselves.

    1. I certainly was not advocating bad customer service. Actually, I was saying the opposite – that a good yarn store should provide good service. Our store was very friendly and as I mentioned, I was happy to help people with their chain store yarn as long as we weren’t busy. And my boss was pretty easygoing about people sitting there knitting, regardless of what yarn they were using. I realize this is not always the case, and the yarn store “snobs” are doing themselves a huge disservice. However, I do think it goes both ways – people who don’t support the store should be respectful, as all the yarn stores are struggling, and they can’t stay open if people don’t support them.

      1. Great article!
        I’ve gone through the chain store phase – when I first started knitting and crocheting seriously, and I didn’t have enough money or didn’t know any better about yarn and wool, and the chain stores were great. I look back at those days as my ‘practice’ and ‘experimental’ days, and yes, I still use acrylic for those blankets/afghans that my boys want to roll around in on the carpet a cold winter day (I have to use up that stash, after all). I realized in time that I had to switch to the natural fibers if I wanted my finished items to look like those on the models and the photos, and now I’m accumulating a stash again, but this time of natural fibers 😉
        Although I’m still on a budget, I have bought higher end yarns but online. I would love to support LYS’s; however, when I mention that I crochet, I see eyes glaze over, and a ‘Let me know if you need me’ as they turn away from me and walk on. Yes, this can also be part of the ‘knit snobbery’, but it is a turn-off for me as well.
        May I reblog your article?

        1. Christy Zachary

          My sister and I owned a “Higher End” Yarn Store for 10 years. We had customers of all kinds. Our sales staff both Knit and Crocheted and we were always getting those surprised looks when the customers said they were Crocheters and we were thrilled and had a special area for yarns just for them with samples we had done up along with the “FREE” patterns for our designs with the purchase of our yarns. We increased our business by 35% because we had knowledgeable sales staff that could help them!
          I hope the stores around would hire both knitters and crocheters for their staff! It was a fun 10 years!

          1. Our shop was good to crocheters too. But then, alot of us who worked there, including myself, crochet and knit. I’m honestly shocked at how many crocheters say they’ve been treated badly. I don’t understand where that attitude comes from. I appreciate both crafts and consider them equal…

  6. Lisa

    For me, it all depends on the project. A lot of us are on budgets, and as much as I would love to knit a blanket out of cashmere, I just can’t afford it, but when I am making a sweater or another smaller project, especially when it is a gift, I use natural fibers, and try to support my local small businesses as much as I can.

  7. I raise sheep and work in a wool mill. One time I figured out how many times HUMAN hands touch the wool before it ever is finally a complete project. So many times that I have forgotten exactly, but I like to tell people that these natural fibers are touched by more loving, human hands than machines. Those hands give it life. You can’t buy that in a skein of acrylic anywhere on earth!

    1. I think all yarn has its place – but yes, I think people need to be educated and understand the process. If they want a product with all those personal touches, it’s going to cost alot more than a synthetic that is mass-produced in huge quantity for pennies. 🙂

  8. CJG

    Ahem, in defense of Nordstrom, it’s quality is equal to Saks and Neiman Marcus. From a former Nordstom employee who did comparison shopping at all these stores now turned indie yarn dyer who believes in quality. Great essay!

  9. Kevin Kennedy

    Now I’m thinking of a cousin who’s a spinner, for a hobby. For many years, she’s been part of a 4 person team that competes in a Sheep to Shawl contest at the State Fair. They start with baskets of clean wool and all necessary tools including a loom already strung with warp threads. They all start carding wool until there’s enough for at least a couple to spin, eventually , one starts weaving, as the others finish carding & spinning. from carding to finished shawl takes at least five hours. Add in time to wash the wool, dying it if you want color, and getting that loom strung, I can see why wool costs more than acrylic. Thereare prizes for the contest, and the shawls are auctioned off for a a fundraiser.

    1. I used to know a girl who loved to knit but was allergic to wool. A lot of the good yarn stores only sold wool and wool blends. So she bought the acrylic stuff at the general hobby and craft stores.

  10. Reblogged this on yarn in a barn… and commented:
    I can’t help it. I have read this blog over the weekend and I immediately shared it on Facebook. I just read it again and it resonates in my heart! Being a yarn store owner, specialising in natural fibres, this blog says everything I have felt for so long. Well written indeed. I just had to reblog it!

    1. Thank you so much! I’m really happy it helped! I think people don’t realize the differences in where yarn comes from, or the processes that the finer yarns go through. When people came in the shop and I told them about our yarns, they often seemed surprised. So I think half our job in the yarn store business is educating people about what they’re buying. 🙂

  11. Barbara Hart

    I shop at both places. And yes when Im in my LYS I do look at the price. But in all honesty if I like the yarn enough I don’t care how much it costs.

  12. Thank you for this. I do consider myself to be a bit of a yarn snob 😉 I understand the difference in the quality of yarns I’m purchasing from my LYS and I feel that the amount of time I put into knitting a garment deserves a good quality yarn. I do consider the recipient of gifts I’m knitting and the purpose. I certainly wouldn’t knit a tea cozy out of cashmere and I try to use a superwash wool with baby/childrens garments for ease of care for the parents. But for something I’m making that I intend will last generations a good quality yarn is worth it to me.
    My LYS are all very welcoming and helpful, one in particular will help find yarn in the price range people are limited to, we’re not all millionaires 🙂

  13. Mandy

    This is a great article and I adore finding new yarn stores when I travel. I do also shop at chain stores and online. As a mainly crocheter, I can’t tell you how many lys, don’t even give lip service to crocheters. One store near me bills themselves as a candy store for knitters, weavers, felters and spinners, but apparently not crocheters. Another new store that opened recently near me carries every knitting notion possible, but not one crochet hook, and than they wonder why crocheters don’t come to open knit nights. I know not all yarn stores are knit only, but more often than not, they are. I get a better selection of crochet hooks, patterns, etc at AC Moore, than any of the yarn stores around here. And trust me, just because I crochet, doesn’t mean I don’t like to buy nice yarn.

  14. People think I’m cheap because I wait for sales and hate to spend to much on things. I often feel most items are way overpriced. Then I confuse them because I’m willing to spend 25 – 30 dollars on 4 oz of roving or batts to spin into yarn myself, or I’ll spend the equal amount on already spun yarn from a dyer using natural fibers. I happen to understand what goes into making real yarn rather than machine, mass production of acrylic yarn. So I understand the value of it. Most people really don’t have a clue. Same as ordering a tin of good tea for 10$ or more rather than always buying the 2.50$ tea from the grocery store. You have to pay more for higher end tea. It is all about what people really care about and really value.

  15. Theresa

    When I am making something for myself or my family, I buy the better quality yarns at a yarn shop. But if I am making it to sell, I will usually purchase the yarn at AC Moore or Michael’s using coupons. I have one ‘friend’ who was shocked when I priced out an item using RHSS. This same person only shops in the high end department stores.

  16. I do not shop at either of my local yarns stores. I started with one when I first learned to knit. The person working there was so very nice and helpful. She explained that there were all kinds of yarn and they carried a variety of price points. They had sample projects and she placed them in them in my hands. When I needed help with a stitch she pulled yarn from behind the counter to teach me, so that I was working with a yarn they sold (though I bought my yarn there as well). She allowed me to ooh and ahh and dream. In fact, I could not sleep until I had returned to purchase that special skein. I returned every week to buy more yarn and share my progress. They have a large work space where people gather to knit. I thought these would be my people. Not so. The last time I visited, I received a miserable cold reception from the owner – who I had talked with on every other occasion. She asked what I wanted. Well, yarn, communion, a polite reception. I had been knitting for the local hospital NICU. I left my donation on the spindle and have not returned.

    I did, however, have the most magnificent love fest at Imagiknit in San Francisco. I travel there often. Local is relative.

    (As for the other LYS, they do not speak until spoken to, and then in single word responses.)

    1. Jacki

      Could it be she was having a bad day herself? If you had many positive experiences prior to that one, I’d really have to wonder if there was something up with her and she had no choice but to be at work. Sometimes you have to cut some people some slack.. or maybe say, “Gee, everything ok? Seems like you’re not yourself today.” I know you aren’t there to take care of her needs, but still… seems like she earned some compassion from you.

  17. Cora

    In my city (Edmonton, AB) we have two LYSs in the city. To get to others we have to drive out of the city. We also have Michaels and (limited yarn) WalMart. One has irregular hours and the other is in the west end. Thankfully both are great store and have no issues with you using other stores yarns when coming in for knitting group or other classes. Often, because of this policy, I’ve often picked up a skein or two that I’ve fallen in love with.

    Good customer service is the key!

  18. Leah Willis

    I understand and agree with just about everything you posted. Just one minor(?) thing. The shopper may not just be “cheap”. Perhaps their yarn budget can’t stretch to afford quality yarns. It would be like going to a jewelry store and seeing the price of diamonds and gold when all you can really afford is costume jewelry. Education is the key of course and maybe they’d consider saving up for quality for a special occasion.

  19. Michelle

    Not everyone is cheap, we may enjoy creating beautiful hand made items, but our budgets may not allow for some of the finer fibers out there.

  20. I will admit that I am one of those who will come in and look, touch….maybe even drool, over the lovely natural fiber (and expensive) yarns. Yes, I know and understand the process, and appreciate the WHY of the cost. But, I have never been able to AFFORD those yarns so I WILL be coming in and picking up and putting back down. And yes, it IS because of the cost. Doesn’t mean I don’t know/understand WHY, but rather that I DO understand and APPRECIATE the quality. All my yarn purchases MUST be from the chain/discount stores, usually acrylic (some of the newer acrylics are extremely soft and plooshy) or I would not be able to knit or crochet at all….and I cant imagine my life without hooks or needles in my hands. So….if it truly upsets the shop owners for me to come in and have a little short fantasy/dream/maybe someday…..so be it. I’m sorry if my lack of purchases offends…its NOT my intention and I would be willing to bet that there are MANY and MANY more just like me.

    1. I don’t think being cheap is the same as being on a budget. I am on a budget, as are most people, but being cheap is a different thing. I was referring to the people who seem to expect all the finer stuff to cost the same as Red Heart and are rude to yarn shop employees. To me, the term being cheap refers to people with bad attitude and unrealistic expectations. But as a customer myself, I certainly do understand being on a budget, shopping at all kinds of stores, and picking yarn according to what is appropriate for a project. I hope that helps clarify. 🙂

      1. What about the rude lys employees when they figure out that you may just be window shopping, trying to figure out how long it would take you to afford some of the more expensive yarns for that special project you have in mind with out taking food off of the table to afford. Sometime you just have to do what you have to do, but it should keep me from window shopping, maybe finding that special yarn on clearance which I wouldn’t know about if I wasn’t in there looking

  21. Heather

    I am glad I came across this article. I have not started learning yet but the desire to make something is real. I will have to start from the beginning and was wondering what our local store Yarniverse would be like versus Micheals. I figured they would more. Thanks for the info!

  22. Diana

    I live in a city that has several LYS and big chain yarn stores Michael’s etc. I find that the lys is more expensive and I understand why, but I also place a big emphasis on customer service, and honestly I have been treated rudely every time I walk into the LYS. That person who put down that skein could have been directed to something similar and maybe you would have made a lifelong customer. These days there are options and sometimes the vendor should take that extra step , we are not all cheapskates all the time.

  23. I shop at both. My kids are rough and tough on things, so I am sure not going to make them a hat out of the $25 skein of MadelineTosh. If they lose the $5 Red Heart Super Saver hat I made them… oh well. Now, I am more careful with my own belongings and I sure do enjoy my MadelineTosh Holi Festival hat. I’m also enjoying indie dyers, choosing one each week to order from through etsy.com. I shop at my LYSs and I expect good service no matter what I buy or when I go, just like I expect good service at Joann’s or Michael’s. If I don’t get it, I post on their Facebook page about my experience. I also shop with my 3 year old child. I keep her near me, but I just can’t afford a babysitter to go to the yarn store while my 5 and 9 year olds are at school. My child was so well behaved that one LYS owner gave her a sheep zipper pull. Another LYS has a little area with toys and books and a kids table. She can play and keep out of trouble while I browse. If my child isn’t welcome, then you can bet I don’t go back.

  24. Anna P.

    I stopped shopping in my LYS simply because of the attitude of the owner. Price had nothing to do with it As someone above said, if I like a yarn the price is not a factor. But after several visits to the store, and attending a number of classes I walked away because the owner proved for the last time that the dollar was much more important than keeping a good customer.

  25. Reblogged this on Colouring With Yarn and commented:
    A great article … It certainly helps explain or clear up the differences in prices. I realized after a while that I had to switch to natural fibers if I wanted my projects to end up looking like it did in the photos. Wool purchases are still a budget challenge, of course, but just as I did when I first started accumulating a stash, it’s building up slowly.

    I would love to support LYS’s .. really, I would. However, I still encounter the glazed eyes when I mention that I’m looking for wool to crochet a shawl or wrap, and a hurried ‘Let me know if you need help’ as they turn away. Yes, it’s a little of the ‘knit snobbery’, and sometimes I laugh because, seriously? Just because I crochet doesn’t mean that I can’t use wool or higher-end yarn!
    Anyways … let’s not ramble on about this pet peeve … Maybe another time …

    1. Mandy

      I honestly don’t understand the whole knit snobbery thing, but oh it is so real. I find it’s a much nicer experience buying yarn at craft shows from the spinners and dyers, I rarely get that glazed look. 🙂
      If LYS owners were smart, they would cater to crocheters since crochet typically uses more yarn per project than knit.

      1. ooohhh good point! As I said, I mostly buy online and at the last two Vogue Live conventions, where you can play with all those yummy yarns with gorgeous colours – that’s where I bust my budget 😉

  26. If your on a fixed income like am and many others are, you stay away from yarn shops. I get my yarns from Joann fabrics, Michaels and Wal-Mart, because I crochet for my self and for fun and I don’t need fancy dancy yarns, because I do it for fun and relaxation!

  27. I also do small batch processing in my shop. I invite folks back to see what I am doing. I show them the dirty wool, the washing process, the carding, picking, spinning and dying area. Suddenly, the light goes on. and understanding dawns. They don’t always leave with a skein of wool, but they have a thorough understanding of the reason it costs so much.

  28. I love this! I think this is a common theme in our culture, but fiber-folk seem to get a big portion of the flack over cost. I buy yarn nearly exclusively from indie dyers, festivals, and yarn shops. I think a big thing some forget is that a lot of indie yarn is one or few of a kind. You mention how expensive a garment from high end store is, imagine if there were only 10 of the garment made! Talk about jacking up the price! Anyway, long love small businesses and local yarn stores!

  29. Marie

    My cousin had a yarn shop. How she kept it going for so long in this small area of acrylic knitter/crocheters, I don’t know, but she had silk, bamboo, linen, wool. One of them would make her own yarn, and that stuff sold for BIG prices, because she had to clean the wool or alpaca fiber, comb and card it, hand-dye it with natural dyes, then spin it. I failed at spinning…wheel or drop spindle, I could not get the hang of it, but I LOVED carding, and I’m make all sorts of weird colour/fiber blends…I’d comb silk shreds into alpaca, make ‘autumn’ colour blends, which she hated, until she’d spun it and it sold out! I loved using that big drum carder….

  30. Susan Bartlett

    There is something so special about being able to feel the yarn you will purchase. I will often go into a store just to look, then think about what I might make and return later to purchase. If we want our local shops to survive, we have to support them by investing our dollars locally. Personally I find it unfair to seek advice in a local shop then give your business to online shops. How sad things would be if online stores truly replace our LYS.

  31. Cathy

    I loved your article – I can totally relate. I have one friend who only buys super cheap. She has literally 100’s of items made and tries to sell them at local craft fairs. They just sit. I have tried to gently show her the beautiful items made with real fibers and she just won’t get it. When I think of all the hours she has put in to making those 100’s and they won’t sell, it breaks my heart. I have even taken her to the LYS’s, she doesn’t buy, not even for herself. Sometimes just a few extra dollars makes a keepsake.

  32. Pingback: Follow-Up: What You Can Expect From Your Yarn Shop | ELIZABETH KAY BOOTH

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  34. Amy

    I mostly buy from Joann Fabrics, because they have an Amigo. I am handicapped, and cannot manage to walk all about a shop. The local yarn stores are all over packed and very hard to maneuver through. I know that there are better yarns out there, and sometimes buy them from an internet. I wish that I could get up the strength to make it to knitting nights, but usually I am just too tired from having tried to make it through a long day.

    1. That is very unfortunate your experience with yarn shops is that they’re packed. I haven’t run into that myself, although some of the ones around LA are extremely small. I would hope that since you’re handicapped, the employees would be considerate and give you assistance instead of expecting you to walk around and maneuver.

  35. Michelle McCrillis

    I’ve read both sides of this and I hear what everyone is saying. Having been on both ends, from the days when I would save pennies all year to go to the outlet shops at Bernat, Unger, and American Thread for seconds and store returns, to splurging on bison wool yarns and patting the quiviut at sheep and wool festivals. I have to say that I resent the term “yarn snob” being associated with knitters and crocheters who prefer natural fibers, because I’ve encountered just as many folks who can’t live without their Red Heart or Loops and Threads as just as good or superior to Madelintosh or Regia. I’ve worked with yarns from one end of the spectrum to the other, and while Red Heart will last forever (let’s remember that acrylic is petroleum) and non-superwash has to be hand washed, I’ll work with natural yarns from an LYS as long as I can afford them (and then we’ll get into the stash when I retire of yarns I’ve loved, bought on sale and stored). Have I been in LYS where I’ve been looked down on for my scruffy sneakers and jeans with a sweatshirt on? Yes, and I don’t go back. Have I looked for help at A C Moore and not found it? Yup. Attitude helps and so does customer service, and knowledgeable staff. You aren’t going to find that in the box stores, unless you live in New England where even if you don’t work there you answer questions, and sometimes not even in the LYS. That said, do I buy yarn at a box store, yes, once in a while, usually because (since my LYS closed) I don’t always have the time to drive 40 miles one way for yarn, but it isn’t often and it generally isn’t acrylic. And, yes, I’ve spent time in them answering overheard questions of confused knitters and crocheters.

  36. dc

    Yarn shops. None in my area, so Michaels, JoAnne’s and Wal-mart it is. I’ve bought a few skeins off the web, but wasn’t really thrilled despite paying a good bit more money for them. So someday when I have money…road trip!

  37. norma

    I find your blog some what snobbish, I love wool, and I haunt thrift stores and am amazed at the good stuff I buy for a few dollars. Yes I would love 30, or more dollar a skein wool. But it would mean no food for the table for for a good two weeks, so acrylic is what I buy and that at spinrite outlet, and lens Mills store. you should see what I imagine when I loviingly stroke a prized ball of pure handspun dyed wool.
    Years ago I began a tiny shop which I stocked with spinrite product a broomcloset really, how ever a personal tradgedy forced me to close and never was able to affor to reopen. The area we live isn is depressed part of Ontario.to pay more than 5 dollars fora 100 gram ball is hard for the people here. I still have people who call asking if I would teach crochet, knitting, tatting and I give away lessons at the library for free. A little free will is often a good publicity opportunity.tfor publiciy for your shop.. and good will. I do once in a while walk in a nice shop buy some fine cobweby yarn when on close out or discontinued to make a special shawl for someone I love.
    Just remember we do not all be ignorant of fine wools but poor.

  38. Great article! Gives me a perspective. From my past experiences, the best yarn is always found at a yarn shop. We have a couple in Oregon that are yarn fantasy places and I would go bankrupt if I went crazy with all the yarn I want to buy from them!

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