Saturday, December 27, 2008

Disappointments All Around

Sadly, I have no pics for this post. Disappointment #1? lol

Disappointment #2: The acreage we have been pursuing is going to be taken off the market. The owners also have an adjacent property with an old old farmhouse on it that resides on 1.5 acres of the total plot they own. Over Christmas apparently the pipes on this farmhouse froze and it was bad enough that they've now decided to rip down the home. They plan to take both houses off the market, tear down the old farmhouse, then sell both properties as one. However, it won't be the simple difference between a home on 12.5 acres versus a home on 14 acres. Oh no. It will be 14 acres with a home AND a . So the home we were looking at for under $150k will shoot up over $200k. At least, that's our realtor's best guess. This suddenly puts it out of reach. Bummer, huh?

Disappointment #3 and what this blog post is really about....

YARN!

Yep, I'm actually going to gripe a bit about yarn, local yarn stores, and big box craft stores.

A few years ago I became a yarn snob. I got a taste of good yarn and I couldn't go back. I just couldn't do it. So I found frugal ways to afford good yarn, like recycling sweaters...which is how JL Yarnworks got it start (selling recycled yarn on ebay). JL Yarnworks grew and grew and now it keeps me in some pretty nice yarn. I may not get everything I want, but I really can't complain.

Shortly before Christmas, in a moment of what-the-heck-can-I-make-my-friend-while-sick-and-loopy-but-still-make-it-nice-itis, I ran into my local yarn store. I scoured the yarns I could use for a drop-stitch scarf...something fast, yet pretty, and not too difficult. They had several new yarns since the last time I'd ventured in, so I poked around and looked at everything.

Why the heck is there sooo much acrylic invading my local yarn store? It's bad enough to see something at Michaels or Hobby Lobby that touts itself as being cashmere or alpaca or mohair and realize it's 50-95% acrylic. But I don't expect to deal with that same kind of rubbish at my LYS!

Now, don't get me wrong. I know that acrylic has its place. I really do. I have a large stash of Caron Simply Soft for amigurumi. I realize that it's a nice sturdy washable base that can be blended into other fibers. Wool-Ease and yarns like it are great for certain projects and especially for knitters who are on a budget and still want a taste of the good life. But these are big box brands. I like many big box brands actually. Despite my larger knitting budget of late, I'm still a frugal knitter at heart. That's not what I'm getting after at all.

When I visit my LYS, I have certain expectations. One is that my snobbery will be rewarded with all kinds of delectible delights of the fiberly kind. Sure, they'll be expensive, and possibly out of my budget, but I can still hold them and pet them and tell them that someday they will be mine.

But to go into my LYS and pick up a $15 skein of yarn....$15!!!....and find that it's more than half synthetic? And not really mixed with anything grand? What?!?! If a LYS wants to offer a little bit of everything to suit all palates and pocketbooks, I am ALL for that. In fact, the original dream behind JL Yarnworks was to open an Average Joe yarn store. A catch-all yarn store for those fed up with big box stores, but not ready to hand over their yearly salaries to the super snobby LYSs. But it has to be priced accordingly, right? Give a newer knitter (or someone with a huge project) a nice wool/acrylic or cotton/acrylic blend at a good price. I have no problems with that. Plymouth Encore? Good example of that. It just seems like now my LYS is trying to pass off this type of fiber as snobbery and snobbish prices, and the fiber really isn't that great.

While at the same time, the big box stores seem to be getting MORE wool and mohair and all that. Now, first a disclaimer. I *did* buy some Trendsetter Dune for my friend's project. And it wasn't cheap. But it was perfect for my project and the colors were perfect for my friend. Plus, I was in a hurry with Christmas and all. But let me use that as an example.

Trendsetter Dune ($15 for 50g and 90 yards)
41% Mohair
30% Acrylic
12% Rayon
11% Nylon
6% Metal

And let's compare it to a couple big box alternatives:

Moda Dea Gleam ($9 for 50 grams and 76 yards)
42% Nylon
35% Kid Mohair
18% Acrylic
5% Polyester

Lion Brand Moonlight Mohair ($9 for 50g and 82 yards)
28% Mohair
9% Cotton
6% Metallic
57% Acrylic

Are we seeing any similarities here? What makes one of these yarns a snobby yarn worth $15 and the other two crap big box store yarn for $9 ($5.40 if you use one of the frequent 40% off coupons often available)?

I don't have any answers. These are just the things I've been pondering lately. And just something for us all to think about in general. Personally, I think I'm going to stick with the big box brands when they are A) comparable in quality, B) priced much better, and C) when the LYS version doesn't support an individual artisan or small local cottage industry.

1 comment:

Fab Fibers said...

Wow, that's a post to give me something to think about. I too buy from my LYS. I've spent LOTS of money on the finer yarns and stayed away from the less expensive ones. But don't you think that even if they have basically the same mixture of fibers, the more expensive yarn is still the best? I'm gonna have to try the other yarns again and see if I can feel a difference... Something about the way better yarns knit and drape and look, just seems better. (But, I've been using up my stash and staying away from buying anymore yarns till I have room, except for the one time I went into my local yarn store...I was flabbergasted at the cost! I just picked out the two skeins I wanted and paid for them, I bought a couple of patterns too...freaked out when I got home and looked at the receipt!) The last thing I want to say is that I really dislike having to watch my spending, it was sooo much more fun to pick up stuff and not have to worry about looking at the price! Happy New Year!