I spent about an hour writing this up before lunch...and LJ ate it. Grrrrrrrrrr.
Anyway, so you've picked up a new, fun hobby - say, knitting, but your Learn-to-Knit kit only included 2 pairs of needles. You want to branch out - socks, say, or fine lace - but your size 8s and 6s aren't suited for that. What to do? Needles get expensive...especially once you start collecting them.
Simple. Hit Ebay. But, don't look for 1 pair at a time..no, you need to add to your search box terms like "sets" or "lot" or "estate". "Vintage" is also good. I just got 25 pairs of straights and about 6 sets of DPNs (Double Point Needles, good for socks and mittens and hats) for $16, including shipping. This is the fastest, cheapest way to build your collection.
Need yarns? I don't recommend Ebay for that, unless you *know* what you want and have current prices right there. Try Smiley's yarns (google it - I can't find my link) - they don't have the higher-end yarns, but the prices are excellent. Elann has higher-quality yarns, but you have to jump on them immediately, because they sell out *fast*. Webs is a personal favorite of mine for weaving yarns - great prices, good selection..but the website is a bit confusing.
Want to take up spinning or weaving, but can't afford new? Try the Housecleaning Pages - lots of gently used items at very good prices. Or, try the Fiber Equipment Barter Page. (Spinning need not be expensive - Babe's Fiber Starter spinning wheel retails at a litlle over $100; it's ugly (PVC) but it's cheap and it *works*.) You can check Ebay, too...but unless you *know* what you're looking at, and can tell if the item is in working order, you'd be better off shopping elsewhere.
Want a sock machine? *g* There are no new ones currently be offered..so. You can do Ebay, again, but...these old machines are quite cranky (pun not intended) and I wouldn't recommend newbie's attempting to restore one. For links to restorers, go to my CSM page. Seriously - it's better to learn on one that you *know* works, not one that you constantly wonder if it's you or the machine.
Need fiber? I'm not the best one to recommend places, here, because I prefer to buy from smaller vendors. I've had wonderful service from Claudia at Countrywool and Rose at Red Barn Farm. Ask other spinners - everyone has their favorite suppliers and will be happy to share. (Unless they're greedy, that is...*eg*)
Retail type shops: I like the Woolery - prices aren't the *best*, but the service is good. Woodland Woolworks is pretty good - they carry some things I haven't seen elsewhere. Ditto with Yarn Barn in Kansas, and Patternworks
Books: Amazon is good, Ebay seller Book-Marz is better. (You might have to search for their correct ID...I know it's bookmarz, but with the "-"? Without?) The books I've gotten from them have come out at least $1 cheaper (even with shipping). They are *slow*, though.
Dyes? Dharma trading (again, google it. I'm too lazy today) hands down. They carry everything you could possibly dream up for the dyer, and they are the nicest people.
I think that's it...I need to get back to working up my next yarn order...