Dec
06
2010

  No $90 Baby Hat

These knitting books are obviously written by women not only obsessed with knitting, but obsessive about their yarn. I've heard about people with thousands of dollars worth of yarn in their stash, but I just don't get it.

I do appreciate that there really is a vast range of quality in yarn, and that different yarns are suitable for different knitting projects, just like different fabrics are best suited for different sewing projects.

But usually sewing patterns will give you a whole list of different fabrics that will work for the pattern. And not only are you free to choose which type of fabric you use (which also allows you to choose your price point for the project), you can from there refine your selection to fit your budget. For example, if you decide to make a cotton dress, you can pay anywhere from $5/yard to $25/yard (or probably more if you have access to a swanky fabric shop) depending on the quality of the cloth, the length of the cotton fibers used to make it, etc. And if you wanted to make the dress from silk or wool or another fiber, your prices would be higher, but there would still be a significant range within each material type.

But these knitting patterns (at least the books that I have) are fairly useless in presenting you with options. They list one type of yarn per pattern, and suggest you use that type of yarn if you want the pattern to work. Well, if the yarn they recommended was readily available, I wouldn't really have a beef with this. But there has been only ONE instance where I've been able to get the correct yarn in my local yarn shop (Debbie Bliss Baby yarn), and even when I showed the shopkeeper the pattern in the book and requested a substitute, they kind of shrugged and said nothing really is equivalent, you just have to guess. I've been unimpressed with the help at the local yarn shops (I've been to two different ones, with similar results), so I've been trying to just figure out what to do on my own.

This evening, T picked out a photo of a striped stocking cap he thought I should make for W. I'm on a roll making hats (I've finished two in two days now), so I said sure, why not? But then I looked at the yarn required for the pattern. It's some yarn made by a cooperative in Uruguay. I'll have to order it online. And it's $15 per skein. The price is not all that unusual for "nice" yarn, so that's not the major problem. It's that this pattern requires SIX skeins of this stuff. That's $90 of yarn to knit one @#$ baby cap. I don't think so. Now, if I were in the business of knitting caps, I could probably knit five identically striped hats with all that yarn. But I have no need for that many hats, and I don't have a ton of projects that are well-suited to using up less than a full skein of yarn (although several projects that use of the majority of a single skein, but if I'm started from a depleted skein I'd hate to take the chance that I'd get almost done then run out of yarn). So the bottom line for me is that I'd have to spend $90 to make this hat, and then have a bunch of not-very-useful leftover yarn. And I'm not going to do that.

So I need to find a substitute yarn on my own that will be closer to $30 total for a baby hat (around $5 per color). Still expensive, as baby hats go, but closer to what hand-knit hats would cost in a store if I were to buy one. Better yet, find a yarn that is a suitable weight that is self-striping so that I'll only need to buy ONE skein of yarn. That would be awesome.

I probably wouldn't be so cheap about the yarn if T still had a big income coming in. But he doesn't, and he's perfectly content to remain unworking with the frugality that goes along with that; currently, he's committed to fixing the ball joints on our truck because it failed inspection last week, and would be $800 to fix in the shop. Instead, T ordered the parts and tools online and will fix it himself for a wee fraction of that cost. So I will do my part and find the best yarns we can afford that fit the needs of the pattern. I just get frustrated sometimes since I lack the experience to do this quickly and easily, and it can involve a bit of hit-or-miss experimentation.