I keep seeing fantastic posts on twitter and Instagram of people showing their handmade wardrobes off for #MeMadeMay. It is so wonderful to see another social media spotlight emphasising – and EMPOWERING – makers to create their own clothing.
We all have different needs when it comes to creating items for ourselves and with that comes other issues, such as materials and cost. I write this coming to the table with a whole heap of privilege but also I began knitting when I had roughly £1 per day to live on. My first yarn was Paton’s fab, which cost 99p – at that time, that was a large part of my weekly budget. This is why I strive to show you a good range for wool for a good range of prices.
A couple of months ago I had a comment from someone who had stumbled on one of my posts featuring British wool yarns. They had perhaps misread my post as they seemed to think I was advocating spending £100 on wool for a sweater. Ever since I started KnitBritish I have had people tell me that they think British wool is too expensive and I’ve tried to show that there is an affordable UK wool for each pocket.
“Affordable” is a word that doesn’t mean the same as it did five, 10 or 15 years or even 20 years ago. I think the boundaries of what is deemed affordable have shifted – some people have more income for their craft and a great many others do not. (This particular post featured wool from £3-£8). If you have £100 to spend on sweater quantities of yarn I can hook you up, but I’d rather try to break that myth about British wool being too expensive.
I have written on this topic before, but that comment has made me think, what is the real the cost of making to the knitter? And also, what is the kind of quality we are looking for, for less money? The commenter seemed to be looking for great wool yarn quality but for little cost and that is rarely going to happen.
A sweater pattern + enough suitable yarn for your project + all the hours and effort you will spend knitting = a long lasting, quality handmade item made just for you (or whoever you are knitting for).
What price would you put this at? I am really interested to know.
For me, it is the long lasting part that is most important (ensuring there is enough yarn too!) I want a yarn that is going to look great and an item that will keep on looking great, I probably think about cost after I think about what I want the wool to do. Not that I knit with wild abandon – far from it – I still look for a wool that can do those things without hurting the pocket too much.
It does annoy me that some people think yarn should be dirt cheap and don’t think about the cost involved with getting that ball of yarn from sheep to shop – the price the farmer gets for the fleece offset against their costs of shearing would be enough to make you weep! These are probably the same people who quibble over the price difference between a spud that’s come from Cyprus and one that came from down the road – for a few pennies more wouldn’t you like to support your local suppliers and get a product with a little conscience? Also what gives when you choose the cheapest produce is often quality!
I’m not going to go full on rant mode here and a lot of that is another post for another day, but while we are all here let’s do a few sums.
Using the (awesome) StashBot app (£3.99), by Hannah Fettig, let’s imagine we are going to knit an average length sweater, to fit someone with a 107cm/42 inch chest. We will be using a DK yarn.
We’re going to need around 1240 meters of yarn and, because it is KnitBritish, I am looking at British wool companies. These are all yarns that I happened to have used too.
I haven’t spent a great deal of time on this and obviously there are far more yarns out there – I’m not going to go into wool choices, swatches, fibre contents, etc, etc. This is merely a snapshot of what is available for our hypothetical DK sweater – from man-made fibre to pure wool – and the total cost of the sweater.
*Prices are based on my searching today and can, of course, change.
Marriner DK with British wool
75% Acrylic, 25% wool
500g/1415m – £7.50
75% Wool, 25% Nylon
600g/1380m – £28.50
New Lanark DK
550g/1320m – £38.50
50g / 112m £3.99
600g/1344m – £47.88
50g / 110m £4.00
600g/1320m – £48.00
425g/1275m – £49.00
600g/1260m – £51.00
70% Exmoor Blueface
550g/1309m – £59.40
You don’t need to spend £70-100 on yarn for a sweater – there is a lot of choice out there and while there are different price ranges I think it is fair to say that for this sweater we are looking at around £40 plus on average yarn spend. Again, this is based on a me-sized-type-person who need a few more rows knitted all around than what is deemed “the average sized person” (ANOTHER post for another day!) in other words these aren’t the minimum quantities and costs for the smallest sizes.
In that list there are yarn companies that you expect to see cheaper commercially produced yarns from – does it surprise you that you can make sweater in Jamiesons of Shetland for less than you can in a yarn from King Cole?
I included the Marriner there as an example of one of the cheapest yarns, rather than on it’s merits as a adult garment yarn (having used it myself and found it wanting) but would you choose it on it’s value for money over it’s value as a suitable yarn?
Lots of questions and lots of perhaps-es and I’m not saying that the answers would be right or wrong, but I would be interested to know what you think. I know that knitters and makers are a vastly different lot. At one end of the spectrum we have some of us who just knit for hobbies, have never heard of Ravelry and don’t pick up a WIP from one month (or year) to the next or worry about the wool they use. At the other end we have knitters who knit with a big K – wool and knitting are a lifestyle and we have the stashes to prove it.
Personally, I think those costs up there are more than acceptable – you simply couldn’t pay less for a sweater in a shop with the same wool content, amount of hours, effort of making and attention to detail…and you certainly can’t put a price on the satisfaction of having made it yourself.
If you are knitting in British wool you may even have the advantage of knowing the breed/s you are knitting with and could even be helping to keep that breed going by spending the money on the yarn for your sweater. It’s a privilege to look at my handmade wardrobe and know the breeds and something of the provenance of that yarn and that is a cost that you can’t really add up!
| Important Information
The prices here were correct at time of writing post in 2015
For me the cost of a project is justified by how much time I spend on it. On average it takes me a month of hard knitting to make a sweater or cardigan for myself. So dividing my spend by how many hours knitting pleasure I’ve had will result in a cost per hour far less than anything else I would want to do. Add into that the enjoyment of using a yarn I like the feel of and the longevity of the finished garment.
Because of this it means I don’t buy cardigan quantities very often. I can’t afford it. But boy do I enjoy it when I do ^_^
Or you could raise your own sheep, sell the wool products you cannot use and have an unlimited supply of wool for sweaters, etc. This is what I do and love.
Good idea thankyou x
I so, SO agree with what you say about wool producing costs and buying British. I just got back from 9 weeks in New Zealand – where the yarn stores / customers strongly support home produced yarns. And they value them appropriately because they understand what goes into getting from animal to store. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for and knitters should value the balance between quality and price. Just buy fewer things but of better quality I say!
While I am fortunate to be able to buy what I need and much of what I want, I still consider price. I think that the issue for many people is that one can purchase a ready made sweater for the same money that a decent sweaters worth of yarn costs. And one still has to knit the sweater. In my childhood knitting a sewing would save one money. That is no longer the case; they are looked upon as hobbies, not as necessity. That said, when one knits a garment it isn’t fair to compare it to something off the rack. What we knit is a closer equivalent to a custom made garment. And having it made of a quality yarn that will hold its shape and color is well worth it to me.
Great post. You don’t have to spend a fortune to knit a sweater, however when I am choosing yarn for a large project I’d rather buy the best quality that I can afford rather than buying a budget yarn and never wearing the finished product because it’s itchy, scratchy and doesn’t hold its shape. I value a jumper I knitted that cost me £60 in wool so much more than a store-bought cardigan for the same price. I also know knitters on a tight budget who value high-quality yarn and would rather spend £15 on one ball to knit a shawl than buy cheaper wool for a larger garment.
I also feel that I am putting my time into a garment and that it’s my hobby, so want to work with good quality yarns. I tend to try to stick around £60 maximum – easier with 4ply or DK. I guess that creeps up if I am smitten!
I completely agree with all you say. I used to knit completely with acrylic, and it is fine for some projects. But then I had a couple of “negative experiences”
1. Cold hands – my acrylic gloves didn’t provide enough warmth. They’ve pilled really badly too.
2. Spent hours knitting a really complex lace shawl which wouldn’t block and rolls up really badly.
3. Other people’s projects looked better than mine and it was due to the yarn, not the standard of the knitting.
I’m using my acrylic for toys, some blankets etc and I am gradually replacing with British wool. I’d rather have a bit less but get better results, and have items which keep recipients warm and stay looking good for longer. I agree that quality is not actually overpriced at all.
Wish I had some of that Excelana!! Being on this side of the Pond doesn’t keep me from purchasing British Wool. I recently finished a Foula cardigan (ordered directly from Justyna) and have a decent stash (a lot!!) of Jamieson and Smith various weights, plus raw black Wensleydale locks and a Shetland fleece from Scotland. All of this was not purchased at the same time, needless to say. I save up and then get something when I can. This morning I tried to get some Hole and Sons wool and I think he sold out in 3 minutes!! So I do try to support, in my own small way, the British wool movement. I do purchase from my Local Yarn Shops here in Chicago. Perhaps if the owner of Yarn Shops would let customers buy some yarn and put the rest on lay-a-way to be purchased as needed (up to 3 months) the cost of a sweater in quality wool wouldn’t be so expensive all at once. I’ve never done this but the owner was happy with yarn sales and the knitters knit faster to get more yarn. Perhaps it’s just a marketing thing but it works.
Susan Crawford does worldwide postage so you can have Excelana! 😉 http://www.susancrawfordshop.com/PBCPPlayer.asp?ID=1284560
Thanks— I’ll check that out!
if I wanted inexpensive, I’d buy something knitted by a machine. I enjoy knitting. If I imagine it’s going to take me 60 hours to knit a sweater…… What would 60 hours of entertainment cost? 20 books at $10 each ( I read hellish fast), or 20 high end restaurant meals at $30 each, or a weekend at the beach in a nice hotel ( call it 1000)…..
Knitting’s a good deal. And portable and convenient and then you have a sweater too.
Loved the post Louise really surprised by your research!
This is such an interesting question. I don’t think my handknit sweaters are more economical than buying a sweater from the store, but as people have suggested, they serve different needs. It’s the making that’s important to me. My mother-in-law used to have to knit to have clothes at all and is fairly baffled at why I find it so appealing, when you can just go to the store and know what the finished object looks like! and whether it fits you! Efficiency-wise, me making sweaters is not really the way to go.
I’m certainly concerned with cost, so I try to be thrifty with my yarn purchases, but also only to buy stuff I know is good quality and I will use. (The downside is this makes me a terrible sucker for a sale.) Looking back at yarn purchases, I would say I probably spend $70-90 USD per sweater for yarn (about £45-60), for decent yarn, for a L/XL. (Decent = natural fibers, though I use a lot of plant fibers and am in the US so not looking only at British materials).
That is actually more than I would usually pay for a store-bought sweater, where I try to stick to under $60 (usually quite a bit less). But frankly, my store-bought sweaters are more utilitarian objects, made of lesser quality materials, and I don’t expect them to last as long. And they don’t give me hours of knitting pleasure!
All that said, I think it’s true that for most people knitting is a luxury. But I agree with you that it doesn’t have to be a costly one.
I tend to stick to a maximum of £50 for a jumper, although I only need to knit a size 10, so that works quite well. That’s about the maximum I’d pay in a shop too. I’m surrounded by people who knit with a lot cheaper yarn though, and who would probably be horrified if they knew how much some of my yarn cost. I tend to view it more like having a weekly veg box though – probably a bit more expensive than the supermarket (although I’m not convinced about that), but what you get is better.
I am glad so many above commented on how they determine value not just for the finished product but also for the whole process and enjoyment of making the finished item (which is very different than just buying something in a shop).
I know so many knitters who have people ask if they make things for sale. Most say no because no one is going to pay what a handknitted garment “costs” in wool and hours of work. (I’m sure farmers and people who sell their fibre products can also feel that many undervalue or completely ignore the incredible work and passion they put into their products.) We live in an off-the-rack culture which has little understanding of the real costs of human time and materials. And I do think that skilled labour and craftsmanship are unknown concepts to many people in our culture. There is that attempt to equate a handmade garment with something one could buy in a shop which shows how far removed we are from where our belongings really come from, the people who make them, and the processes that are necessary.
I don’t know many knitters who don’t have to think about price somewhat. There are beautiful yarns that I know I’ll never be able to afford in any quantity so those become small accessories to treasure. I also have my “work horse” yarns that I know will stand up to repeated wear and still look great and don’t cost me too much money. I am so grateful for those yarns and that knowledge has come mainly from experience. (I once tried to crochet a massive cardi from bulky alpaca. It cost me a fair amount, was far too heavy, pilled badly and I never wear it. I am planning to pull it apart and use the yarn in other, more appropriate, things.)
I am becoming more confident in making my own clothes, making something that actually fits my body (which clothes off the rack never really do) but I have the added complication of a 54″ bust. Any jumper I want to make is going to “cost” me many more yards than a smaller size but there’s not much I can do about that other than sigh at the reality of my shape. This is also different than store-bought things which cost the same for the various sizes. This sometimes makes me bitter 😉
I sometimes share that bitterness, when I see how much less it would cost for someone to knit a size S compared to my XL! But like you said, not much that can be done about it.
Sick to death of disposable fashion made by slave labor in some third world sweatshop. A handmade sweater made with wool raised and spun locally is not only morally superior but higher quality and lasts forever. Even without the hours of pleasure derived from construction it’s well worth the price.
Couldn’t have said it better! I’ve had a long and hard look at my wardrobe ever since I picked up knitting again and it was overflowing with crappy clothes that I rarely wore. I cleaned it out and am now being so much more conscientious about what I choose to buy, where it comes from and how it was made. Buy less and buy better is my new mantra which also goes for wool (or at least I keep telling myself, still need to work on the buying less). But I get so much satisfaction from knitting something with local, good quality wool and supporting local yarn businesses than I ever did from getting something from a chain.
This has been a great post Louise. I would echo those who say to buy the best wool you can afford for your projects and look out for sales at wool festivals and various discontinued but still great yarns that go on sale at retailers online and physical. You can still save money but knit with really good wool.
I’m bigger than the average “me-size” and have a fairly unconventional style (ie unlike Evans, I like bright colours and shapes other than square) so after years of knitting with cheap acrylic, I taught myself to spin a couple of years ago. Now I can make interesting yarns, in the quantities I need, for less than buying commercial “nice” yarns.
I sell my left-overs and experiments. I was concerned about my prices, thinking along the same lines as this post: how much would it cost to make a larger item with they yarns I sell. But having looked at some commercial 30g balls priced around £7 each recently, I’m keeping everything as it is! I do include the time it takes to wash, card, dye and spin the yarns in the price.
For my size, a jumper costs around £70 in materials. If I’m making for myself, I don’t include time spent. If someone else wasks me to knit something for them, I usually give them 2 or 3 options (acrylic yarn, natural fibre commercial yarn, handspun yarn) plus time, and then let them decide the amount they want to spend.
I think of it like this:
The many many hours of enjoyment I get from knitting and then the satisfaction of seeing the end result , more than justifies what I spend on yarn. Even better, going to yarn festivals meeting the independent suppliers who can tell me where the yarn has come from. Sometimes even what the dye is made from.
I have just made a small keepsake blanket for my grown up daughter. The yarn , from Eden Cottage Yarns came to over £100. My daughter has seen me spend time making it and I know she will keep it long after I’m gone.
The yarn is absolutely beautiful, I’ve loved using it. I would say it was worth every penny!
Thank you for your forthright article. The points you raise are valid and answered bravely and honestly. We live in a society where the consumer seems to believe the more they get for their money, the better. Shops like Poundland, Primark create a market based on exploitation and false economy. As consumers we have a responsibility to consider the provenance of our purchases and shop responsibly as well as ethically.
Thank’s for this very thoughtful article Louise.
When I began knitting again 20 months ago I remember being shocked at the cost of enough wool to knit a garment (well it was Rowan I was looking at). Now that I’ve done more reading and gained more experience I have to come to realise why.
Once my time comes to knit a garment I know I am going to spend a lot on it – a lot of time that is. It will be a huge commitment of my available time. So if I am spending that time then I want a quality experience during the knitting time and a quality product at the end of it.
And as knitting is a hobby I don’t want the planet to bear the cost. So the sustainability of wool is a clear winner for me. Add to that I believe, on the whole, that British farming is one of the best in the world for the ethical treatment of animals then British wool wins hands down (I’d also like to believe that the mill workers have a similar quality of working life but hey I’m from industrial Lancashire and I’m still not convinced conditions have changed all that much from my mother’s and grandmothers’ days in the mills).
So I guess what I am trying to say is that monetary cost is not the only cost that I will take into consideration when buying wool for my first jumper.
I could go on about this same topic at huge length as its a huge issue with me for various reasons.
I’m just finishing my Keith Moon jumper that cost a grand total of £27 (sorry it is Icelandic wool 🙂 ) and I’ve been spending the afternoon deciding on my next project that’s another sweater using Old Maiden Aunt yarn and EasyKnits yarn as well as deciding what I’m going to use some handspun for so my knitting can be diverse in what I use.
Price is a factor for me in that I don’t have much money so I’m really strict now on spending on yarn and make sure it’s project specific for my knitting and work.
I make sure I get the best yarn I can for any project as its got to feel nice to use as I’ll be working with it for a while, and then it’s got to be nice to wear for the final result.
The other side of pricing for me is what people expect to pay for handmade item and that’s a whole other discussion that I could go on about at massive length
I bet you got it from a UK yarn shop though! 🙂 I can find a way to make it count here at KB!
Yes, I could write 5 other blog posts related to this topic right now. there are so many factors
It was bought in the UK 🙂
The other way I look at it is a form of therapy. Knitting and weaving make me happy and through it I have made a lot of fantastic friends and have had the pleasure of meeting so many creative people too. If I didn’t have this outlet I hate to think where I would be and would have needed to pay for therapy instead.
I find it difficult to put a price on my handmade items. Some think my prices are too low, others find it quite expensive.
To knit a jumper takes roughly 100 hours, a pair of socks about 10, and for a nice Shetland Lace shawl, I don’t even start to count the hours.
And about the yarn prices: for the past couple of years I have seen a shift in the market here in The Netherlands, people are getting more interested in the provenance of the yarns, as well as animal welfare and sustainability.
I have re-introduced the Jamieson & Smith Shetland yarns here, and – no kidding – people were literally jumping for joy that it was available again. No complaints about prices being high, just really pleased people eager to start some Fair-Isle projects.
You get what you pay for, and quality pays for itself as my grandmother would say.
The joy one gets from selecting the yarn, buying the yarn, making something really nice and the expression on the face of the receiver, that is priceless!
I have always learned to go for the best quality I can afford to get the best results.
Fortunately more and more people feel that way!
So I will keep on promoting British wool here, because I think that it is simply great!
I’m a sweater/cardi knitter rather than sock/accessory and it can get expensive. My approach is that it’s a hobby, so I get pleasure as well as a unique, well fitting garment. I tend to knit 4ply or lace weight to reduce costs, two skeins of lace weight will knot me a garment and cost around £35 for top quality indie dyer yarn. 4ply, I’m expecting to pay £45, but I’ve knit a worsted cardi in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter which cost me over £100.
My main problem now is that I have soooooo many cardis and sweaters that it’s hard to justify doing any more!
I agree with Louise and all of the above reply’s. I knit with my hand spun and ho ho, a 10 lb fleece can get pricey too but I just grin, pay up and run with it knowing I’ll get a lot out of it. BUT, it is the process that I LOVE and keeps me sane…relatively speaking 🙂
Nothing better than a great woolly fleece that you have washed and completely processed yourself!
I think that the knitting landscape has been changed a great deal in the past ten or fifteen years by the popularity of “indie” yarns, and the emphasis on accessory knitting (shawls, socks, cowls, etc.) as well as the current hunger for uber soft yarns. I think that has shifted knitting ever more toward the hobbyist mode, and has made higher priced yarn more salable. Because, if you only need 100gms – who cares how much it costs!
I try to avoid buying sweater amounts of yarn in 50gm balls. If more British wool was available on the cone I would knit with more British wool. Too often, sadly, the durable (and yes, scratchier) yarn on the cone that comes from British mills is not grown in Britain. When this changes (or my income does) then I will buy British yarn more often. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!
Thank you for a very thought provoking article. It reminds me of the conversations I’ve often had with my knitting students. I wear an array of my hand knits sweaters to class. There are always several new students who hold firmly to the ‘cheap acrylic’ yarns for every project. They always ask when I’d made each article I wear and are very shocked to find some to be, 15 or 18 yrs old. (They’d thought they were new knits)
I enjoyed sharing a story of going to a wool shop and groping the owners stunning sweater.(couldn’t help myself, it was sooo pretty). She looked lovely in it and told me ‘the history of the sweater’. Made for son # 1 to wear to college, donated by him to son #2 to wear to Uni; then donated to son #3 to wear in college. Son #3 then donated it back to Mom,saying he wouldn’t really wear the sweater now, as he thought it was out of fashion. She wore it and it was as soft a butter, not pilled and looked so lovely on her!
Spending money on wool gifts, I vary the amount spent (not an extreme amount usually), and tend to use super wash wool,so the item doesn’t get shrunk in the wash. I only knit gifts for people who love and will wear/use wool items.
When knitting for myself I don’t put a limit. It depends on the item I’m knitting, how much I spend. I have Alice Starmore, Kaffe Fasset, Sasha Kagan and Kim Hargreaves items in the closet–don’t ask how much was spent on them–not a budget friendly amount–but they are still as stunning today, as they were when I made them many moons ago and I still glean much satisfaction touching and wearing them. I have spent as little as $16CDN and upwards of $80CDN on a shawl. If an item is very special and it is a unique piece, I don’t feel a price can be put on it.
I have a Salon in my home and when doing a permanent on a client, I have brought a wheel into the shop and spun while the chemicals do their work. I remember the shock of one client saying…you mean you fill that thing up, then fill another one up then ply them together; then you wash it, dry it and THEN you get to knit with it! Holy Cow! That’s a lot of work!!!! No wonder hand made stuff costs so much…that’s really a lot of work!!! I never knew that, WOW! I then said and don’t forget the farmer had to grow/shear the wool and get it to market; then I washed and carded it before the spinning started.
For me it is all about the sheer joy of making something with my hands that brings me happiness and keeps me sane. I have a friend who has rediscovered knitting and says—aaahhh, soooo that’s why you knit so much! You can knit through life and stay calm! 😉
I would second that NancyMac, knitting certainly keeps me calm with two bickering children!
Great article! Another factor relevant here is that many many hand knit items are sold way below their actual value. If a jumper took 60 hours to knit the selling price for it should be £1078. That is 60 x £6.50 (minimum wage ish) = £440 plus £50 yarn = £490. If selling through a store or gallery then store/gallery owner multiplies this by 2.2 to get retail price, (tax 20%) which gives £1078. Compared to the yarn cost of £50 you are actually getting a garment worth more than £1,000. A grand thing indeed! x
Thanks so much for this! So useful.
I knit a lot in 4-ply and laceweight. More knitting pleasure, and you need even less wool. A recent hat in Icelandic Einband was 27g. I haven’t done the calculations, but I suspect the wool costs would be lower. I love Jamieson’s wool, too. Examples here.. http://carysdavies.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/christmas-knitting/
So exciting when the pack with its Lerwick stamp comes!
To reduce costs, I often buy, unravel, re-knit charity shop jumpers. 1980’s ‘picture’ jumpers, or stripeys, are great re-knitted as Fair Isle. I’ve just started a bit of dyeing, too – I like the hand-dyed look I get (!). Using the oven, it’s pretty easy.
I work in a yarn shop, and am asked often if we can arrange to have garments knitted. I look these people squarely in the eye, and explain that we can’t get knitters because they aren’t prepared to pay minimum wage. That Knitter would be better off working at Lidl.
Based on this, my last garment cost over £400 not including yarn. £100 is probably my upper limit for materials.
[…] Conflating an individual’s staged sweetness with the targeted marketing efforts of product companies is a little unhelpful and not useful. How can we compare someone’s knitting blog or Instagram feed to Goop? If someone is selling sweatshop products and trying to pass them off as hand-made it certainly should be called out. Though I also feel that if someone is promoting sweatshop craft supplies to help westerners to sate their need for self-expression, well that sucks too. I digress… Knit British writes about this better than I can. […]
Complainers about price should also remember there’s a difference between YARN and WOOL. Wool is 100% nature, yarn contains acrylic. You get what you pay for.
I am not quite sure I agree with that. wool is spun into yarn. fibre is spun into yarn. Plastic is spun into yarn.
There is nothing more heartbreaking than one of the first sweaters you have knitted seeing get worse every time you wear it because you didn’t chose the right wool or rather chose a decent quality.
When my Aunt Rita daughter me to knit 50+ years ago, she told me to buy the best yarn I could possibly afford because I would be putting my precious time and effort into the project. What I can afford has changed over the years but when times were lean, I tended to knit fewer items rather than cut back on quality.
[…] you’re lucky if you can buy a finger of Fudge with change from a tenner. Have a read of this post from Louise Scollay, aka KnitBritish, for more on this subject. But I […]
I value my time enough that I want to spend it with good quality materials. So I factor in hours of knitting pleasure when I consider how much I’m wiling to spend on yarn. Knitting lace equals many hours of knitting per dollar spent, even on luxury yarn. Yarn that feels good in my hands might be especially important if I’m in need of a mindless, de-stressing project. I probably wouldn’t lay out the big bucks for bulky weight alpaca yarn for something I could knit in just a couple hours–unless it was a really special present for someone.
I don’t have an infinite amount of money to spend on knitting, so I watch sales and often choose yarn for big projects by what’s on sale at my favorite online yarn store. On the other hand, going to a sheep and wool show with a knitting friend is a special outing, a whole day of entertainment and a chance to connect with the people who make the yarn–so splurging on a few impulse purchases is part of the fun.
This was such an interesting article to read. I am on a fairly tight budget, but I tend to knit with British wool – it helps that baa ram ewe is my local wool shop. For me the fibre content is the most important thing to consider – I will only really work with yarn that is at least 75% natural fibre, because I think it is nicer to wear. I tend to stretch the cost of my yarns by using every last yard. I am currently making a colourwork jumper in WYS Aran yarn, which cost me about £35 for a size 10. I know that I will have some leftover yarn in some colours, that I will use to make accessories. By the time I have finished every last scrap the cost for the original jumper will have fallen considerably.
I also like to look for yarns in charity shops. I recently found a 500g cone of Shetland wool in one for £3. This means that I all I need to do is buy a couple of balls of Jamieson and smith and I can make myself a colourwork cardigan in pure shetland wool for around £10. Sometimes you just need to put the shopping time in to find these things!
As always Louise, you totally inspire me with your passion!
I completely agree with what you say. I am on a budget with my knits, but it is also my hobby so knowing I don’t go out I stretch my budget to its maximum. I always consider what I am making and research the yarn first. For my daughter as she is young and growing my major concern is that it is durable and machine washable then the amount of wear she will get from it, so I spend less on her hand knits than a adult knit. For adult knits I will spend a little more money.
You are totally right in what you say, I would pay a little more for a British product, I have become more aware of British products since your blog and of course as you know, since my best friend set up her new business 😉
Yes! Friends with British Wool shops, who can’t get excited about that?!!
Thanks to everyone who commented here and I am thrilled that many weigh up the satisfaction of knitting into the equation too!
Also really important to have the comments about the cost of knitting items for sale (there were more on twitter too). This would deserve a whole other blog post as not only does it raise similar questions, but much larger and important questions about payment… fair payment for the time, work, materials and standards that go into creating a hand-knit item for sale.
I will be revisiting this again soon!
Great post – I think, unfortunately, we currently have an obsession with ‘cheap’ in the UK (and elsewhere) and celebrate cheapness, because we’ve forgotten what is involved in producing a product – and what it costs to the producers. I think it’s important that people understand how yarn is produced – and then they can make an informed decision about how much they are willing to spend on it – understanding the impact on quality and how/where it is produced.
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