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For the Love of Wool, Take 2 - Random babblings of a fiber-obsessed nutcase — LiveJournal

About For the Love of Wool, Take 2

Previous Entry For the Love of Wool, Take 2 Jan. 7th, 2010 @ 09:28 am Next Entry
Since I'm on a roll here, I'll do another knitting post. Might as well do it while my mind is there, right? :lol:

We've already discussed the actual value of using good yarn. I wanted to touch on *my* personal shopping...because I asked a "loaded" question a while back (remember the "should I spend $$$ on Expensive yarn and get less, or spend it on cheap yarn and get more?" post?) - I *knew* the knitters in the audience would tell me to buy the "good" stuff, and save the cheaper stuff for later. :grin: And, that's exactly what I did. And I feel a bit guilty about it.....so you get to 'listen' to my angst and thought processes. :lol:

I don't normally splurge on anything. Everything "out of the ordinary" that I buy - sock yarn, knitting/weaving/spinning stuffs, clothing - I research and think about before plunking down the funds. And try to spend as little as possible. This stems from life with my first husband - I had the same job; he had a decent job. However - he spent money like it grew on trees. There was one time I remember that I had $25 to buy 2 weeks worth of groceries - for 4 people. (I did it...we ate horribly, but we had FOOD.) (He had bought yet another damn firearm. Our agreement was "If you spend $100.01+ on something NOT Necessary, the spouse gets the SAME AMOUNT IN CASH to spend as they wish". I had hoped this would curtail the spontaneous spending...HA! I did, however, score some very nice equipment (eventually!) with this deal......but still. :sigh:)

Nowadays, things are better. I do have some "disposable" income - not a lot, no - we're not rich, by any means, but I have enough that spending $50/month on stuff like yarn doesn't affect the budget. (And before anything gets started, here - I DO give to charity. I don't put my hobbies in front of other people's needs - I just don't talk about it a lot. It's no one's business but mine and the charity in question. So.....anyway.) (Oh - and our household is pretty much run on my salary - Sweet Geek is paying all the expenses for his aunt....so...even though I'm married now, I'm still running a one-income household. Yes, it's complicated. It works for us, though, so...:shrug: And "rich" is all about perspective, isn't it? While I, living near Dallas - home of Big Oil and Bigger Hair, think our funds are in the Not Rich category, someone in..say.....somewhere closer to Mexico might think we're rolling in the dough. So....we have enough, but not so much that there's excess, if that makes sense. And I don't know why I feel like I need to explain away our finances.... Anyway....)

The "sock yarn incident" was a very rare thing - and I *did* waffle on spending $150 on yarn. Sweet Geek made it plain, though - either I bought what *I* wanted, or he'd go to one of my bookmarks and buy what *he* wanted (since he doesn't knit, and doesn't know sock yarn from Red Heart....yeah. I went shopping. :lol:) After the majority of commenters told me to go ahead and splurge (like I said, it's what I wanted to do, anyway - I just needed affirmation), I did. And I still bought most of it On Sale. :lol:

My reasoning was: I buy a LOT of lower-cost sock yarns. eBay is a biggie for me - JL Yarns has 20 skeins for $65 all the time. (That's $6.50/pair!) The Salvia is comparable to Lorna's Laces - the colors are...odd, but it seems like the yarn base is the same. The yardage and gauge are the same, anyway. I also shop KnitPicks a lot. I'd never tried some of the yarn designer's favorites - Koigu, Noro, Cherry Tree Hill, Malabrigo, to name a few - and I was curious as to how it compared to the.....economy brands. (The Lorna's Laces yarns I've knit with have either been gifted to me or eBay scores, just FYI). Let me tell you, I'm GLAD I took this opportunity to try some of these!

The Noro Silk Garden? I won't be buying again. The yarn DID soften up after a wash...but it still feels a bit...plastic-y. I think that's the silk - I don't think they de-gummed it properly. The PF Alyeska (the cashmere blend) - Oh. My. I can't WAIT for our goats to start shedding! FANTASTIC stuff! The Malabrigo feels yummy - I need to knit it up soon; ditto the Cherry Tree Hill. I don't know how they'll wear, yet....but that's the purpose of this experiment, right?

Would I spend the $$$ on them again? Not the Noro.....and most of these I'll try to get discounted. (Well, the PF Alyeska I'll pay full-price for...but at $30/pair, it'll be a while. I need to buy a few things for the house, first! Plus we have the goats...and Merino wool can be bought relatively cheaply so I can just blend my own - for less* than the $30) I'll still buy the Salvia and KnitPicks yarns - the price is good (even if the colors are weird)...and I feel more comfortable spending that amount.

*Less than if you don't do a full cost calculation - which I do later on. Have fun! :lol:

I can FULLY understand someone not wanting to plunk down the "big" bucks for good yarn - I do. It's why I shop KnitPicks (I'm really not affiliated, ya'll, and they don't pay me to mention them. It's just - they have good yarn, for cheap. Smiley's Yarns is another cheap place - but they carry a lot of synthetics, which I don't use.) - Wool of the Andes (Worsted Weight, 100% wool) runs $1.99 - $2.19/ball. That's CHEAP - and it's pretty good stuff! It's what the never-ending cardigan is being knit out of - and, let me tell you, the knit-in-progress has been abused, and it doesn't show it At All (except for the one hole I discovered the other night. Yes, I'm angsting on it. Yes, it'll be repaired this weekend). I'm impressed!

I hit eBay yesterday to see what was out there. A lot of sweater kits...anywhere from $19.99 (for synthetic yarns) to $108 (pure wool.....but I thought the pattern was UGLY. :grin:). Looks like my $46 KnitPicks sweater is an even better buy - I think I paid $8 for the pattern. (And...I don't normally buy patterns. I have enough books to start my own library, and there are tons of free ones on the 'net. I just fell in love with this one.)

An aside: I have enough sock yarn to keep my family in socks for.....quite a while (not gonna actually *admit* how much I have stashed. It's...insulation. :nods:). When that runs out....I have fleeces. And roving. LOTS. And cashmere goats in my back yard. My family will be well-dressed after the crash.....in wool, yes - oh, wait! I have about 40 pounds of raw cotton in the garage, too (it was free!) and a charka to spin it on. Yeah - we'll be the only ones in new clothes for miles around. :grin:

And here's another thought (it's been bugging me -this whole "you can't MAKE for less than you can buy" thought).....if we are going to be buying cheap yarn because we can't make a blanket as cheap as we can buy a fleece one at Wally-world...then we need to apply the SAME criteria to other things, as well. Like, say - Bread. :rubs hands:

I can buy a loaf of bread at the local grocery for $1.19/loaf. (Wallyworld for $0.78. Local is closer, so...). I prefer home-made. Let's see....Flour. I buy it in 5-lb bags (King Arthur ONLY....there are cheaper flours out there, but KA is by far the BEST.) for $4.29/bag. I use 3 cups in my challa receipe....let's do some math here....5 pounds = 80 oz/$4.29 = $0.05/oz. Approximately. 3 cups = 24 oz x $0.05 = $1.20. Ooops...I'm alreay OVER the cost of store-bought bread...and I've only measured out the flour. I still need 3 T sugar, 2 T butter, 2 t salt, 1.5 C water, and 1.5 t yeast (I think...this is working off of memory, here).....huh. Well, it doesn't matter - FRESH, home-made bread blows store-bought bread out of the water, and there's no harmful chemicals/preservatives in it, to boot! (And, I didn't even run numbers on running the bread machine (or calculated the cost of the machine per use.....OR the same for a stand-mixer and oven. If we're going to do this, we have to do it correctly - so I'd have to figure in the cost of gas to run to the store, too....but that's over-kill for this, wouldn't you agree? And my time....for the bread machine, it's 90 seconds. That's how long it takes me to measure out all the ingredients, dump them in the pan, and hit "start". I go off and do other things for 3.5 hours, when "voila!" I have bread. So....my time doesn't even enter INTO this calculation.)

"No fair!" you say. "Cooking at home is tons cheaper than buying out, so...so...." (I've heard - and argued about - this before. It's actually NOT true!) Right. Let's do a little math here - I can buy a Red Baron frozen pizza, which will feed the 4 of us, for $3.50. Cheaper than buying from Pizza Hut (they have an "Any size, Any topping for $10" going on right now)...but. Ground meat = $2.19/pound. Cheese = $1.99/pound. Tomato sauce = $0.79/can. Black Olives = $0.79/can. Mushrooms = $1.19/can. I can't calculate the pizza dough - our receipe uses 3 cups of flour (see the bread, above!), plus 1 T olive oil, 1 T sugar (well, honey - but I'm allergic), 1 T water, and...1.5 T yeast. There's NO WAY I can match $3.50/pizza! Yes, mine TASTES better...it also takes almost 2 hours from start to dinner. Red Baron takes 20 minutes. Again - there's no addition for my time, OR for the cost of electricity (and, again - to be fair about it, we'd HAVE to calculate both, FOR both. I think I proved my point without that, though.)

And dining out - you can get a cheeseburger from Burger King for $1.99 right now. The local burger joint has a cheeseburger and fries deal for $5. *I* can't compete with that - not when you add up the meat, buns (even store bought!), cheese, toppings, FRIES.....when you start really LOOKING at the actual cost of things, you'll be surprised at what you find out (I was....it really is cheaper for me to haul my kids to McDonalds (NEVER. EVER.) or BK for every meal than it is for me to cook at home. Frightening, isn't it?) No, the food isn't good for you...but if you want to say that you can't spend the bucks for quality *hobby* supplies because you can buy the finished object cheaper at a big box store...well, you really need to apply that to *everything* you buy, or you aren't being realistic. Or fair. (And don't go into the "I raise most of my food at home, so it's TONS cheaper." thing. Really? Start with the cost of the seed/animal/feed, and add it up. You'd be surprised....don't forget to calculate your time, AND the water (for plants, as well!). That $0.99/pound produce is starting to look better, isn't it? Or the chicken breasts at 6 lbs/$4.00 (which is what our local grocery has going right now....my pullets were $5/EACH. That's *1* breast...for $5. As a baby. I don't want to calculate what I've spent on feed for my chickens...let alone the coop/water/feeders/waterers/nesting materials.....I'd go nuts. Remember my first egg? The one that calculated out to something like $1k? Yeah...)

My point (and I did have one...somewhere. SomeWhen...:lol:) is that you CAN'T try to compare stuff you make yourself with mass-produced crap. You *CAN'T* make for cheaper than you can buy. So..that being the case, shouldn't you WANT to spend a little extra for qualilty materials (...or ingredients...:lol:) to make your things even better? *I* do...which is why I don't use synthetics any more than I have to, and why I buy sock yarn instead of finished socks. (And why I have a garage full of (protected!) fleeces waiting for me to get back in the spinning mood. It's MUCH cheaper to just buy the damn yarn....$2/150 yards is miniscule by the time to calculate the cost of the fleece (say....$20 for a 5 lb fleece, which is CHEAP stuff!), the water/soap/electricity/TIME to properly scour it, the time spent picking/carding/DYEING it (if you want brightly colored fluff instead of sheepie-colored fluff...don't forget to add in the cost of the dyestuffs!), THEN the time spent actually, y'know, TURNING it into yarn (don't forget to ...y'know what, never mind. If I had to break down the cost-per-use of my wheels, I'd go NUTS. I have....4 wheels in the house. (A 5th is on walk-about). Each one is used for a specific purpose.....and I really don't care how much they cost. It doesn't matter - I'm already WAY over the $2/150 yards, anyway!). *I* can't MAKE yarn (even from free fleeces! Or my own goats!! I now know why Cashmere is SO DAMN expensive....:sigh: and :lol:, because my goats offer me entertainment as well as fiber and dairy (soon!)) as cheap as I can buy it....so why bother?

I bother because a) I can b)I know exactly what's IN my yarn - no harsh chemicals were used to scour it, no harsh dyestuffs were used to color it, no harsh oils were spritzed on it to spin it.....and c) I (generally) know exactly where it came from, and how the contributing animal was cared for. It's not a cost-thing for me - if it was, I'd never use anything but Red Heart, and I'd be the poorer for it.

I think that's all...boss is in, so I have to wind this up.
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spin a yarn
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Date:January 7th, 2010 05:24 pm (UTC)
So in essence, you're saying that making it yourself is not cheaper than buying it, but what you get from DIY is (a) better quality or something that's not otherwise obtainable (b) the sense of satisfaction and appeasement of the creative urge and (c) a useful skill set for TEOTWAWKI.

Which is exactly why you should buy decent quality ingredients, whether its bread flour or sock yarn. Doesn't mean you shouldn't shop around and get the best price possible, in fact that's exactly what you should be doing.

I bought 2 skeins of Cherry Tree Hill Possum Sock from DBNY. I decided not to use it for socks because it's hand wash only. I'm using it for a scarf/shawl thing called Herbivore and it's coming up beautifully.
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Date:January 7th, 2010 05:27 pm (UTC)
Yes - that is EXACTLY what I am saying. If you are going to say that buying quality yarn is out because you can buy a finished (CRAP) object cheaper, then you should apply the same thing to EVERYTHING.

Ergo....buy wool. :lol:
Date:January 8th, 2010 12:12 am (UTC)
just to let you know, you inspired me to go to the Fanciwerks yarn shop 30 miles away and buy some wool yarn. Is it quality? how do I know? They have bunches of yarn - I saw the Cherry hill brand there..but it was over $10 a skein - I think more like $18...out of my price range really. If it is over $10 a skein...I just can't justify that when I still dont know what I am doing.
And since I am crocheting, I don't know what I am doing there either, I have no pattern...but I am wondering if you could answer a simple (?) question...if I crochet the socks BIG can I felt them and make them smaller? Is there some kind of guideline for how much something will shrink when felted? Do felted socks still carry the same good properties of regular wool socks?
Okay I have distracted you from your work long enough! Thanks ~ alidansma
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Date:January 8th, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
Hmm....I don't know if crochet will felt. My gut says yes....but sacrifice a bit of yarn, do a swatch, and try it.

Here's a bunch of crochet socks patterns (FREE!)


Now, again - I don't crochet, so I don't know how easy/hard it'll be. (For me, crochet is confusing - in knitting, all the stitches are neatly held on the needles - the left one is holding the ones that need to be worked, the right one has the ones already worked. Crochet...they just hang out. I can't tell which ones I need to work! :grin:

Yarn: Quality. That's a tough one, it really is! Some of it is personal - some people LOVE Noro sock yarns; I, personally, HATE it. It was full of short bits that poked out of the yarn proper, it felt like plastic...:ugh:

Basically, check to see how it's spun - are there lots of ends poking out of the yarn? Is it smooth, or lumpy-bumpy (and sometimes lumpy-bumpy costs more than smooth...go figure!)? Does it feel nice to you, or scratchy?

For socks (since you asked about them :grin:) I look for smooth, evenly-spun yarn, no lumps, no bits hanging out. I feel it - I like squishy socks, so I want the yarn to be soft. Then I look at color - does it appeal to me? THEN I look at price.....$18 isn't bad for Cherry Tree Hill - you can get "dealer's choice" from Simplysockyarn.com for $16.95 (they choose the colorway - you get what they feel like sending you). I haven't yet knit any up..but it feels nice, the colors are saturated and lovely....I'll try to knit a pair up in the next week or so and see how it does. For knitted socks you need about 300 yards for a pair of medium ladies (I know it works for my size 9s, so...:grin:) - crochet, I'm not sure. Lorna's Laces runs about $10.75/skein - and you need *2* for a pair of socks.

If you're not picky about colors or the patterns it makes on the finished socks, eBay is a good place to shop. JL Yarn's "Salvia" is a decent sock yarn - the colors are WEIRD, though (I feel like I have to warn people....I like bright socks; these guys are hit-and-miss), but $65/20 skeins is a GOOD price for sock yarn! (That's 10 pairs, with a bit left over out of each skein. Enough for a lacy cuff, I think) You can also score some "good" yarn for cheap, if you're not picky. (Noro for $13/ball, which made a pair. That's the Fugly socks I posted a week or so ago....again, *I* don't like Noro - but the price was good, and I was curious.)

KnitPicks.com has Palette yarns for $1.99/ball (or less). You'll need 2 for a pair...but still - $4/pair of socks. I don't know how it'd wear as socks (I'd use a size 1...I knit my hat on size 4s, for comparison)...and it's a wee bit itchy (but I haven't washed my hat, which could make a BIG difference). They have "actual" sock yarns for....$4.99/ball, I think - and I *think* it'd take 2 for a pair (brain-dead this AM). Their yarns are nice, though - terrific for the price!

JoAnn's carries Paton's Kroy Sock yarn (colors are.....different :lol:) and....don't remember the designer, but it's Serenity sock yarn. Prices are about $4.99 - $5.99/ball, but they're on sale right now (10% off) - they each take 2 balls/pair. Not bad yarns, prices aren't bad...the socks are a bit thin (knit them on the machine), but seem to be holding up to the kids' abuses really well.

Now, if want to talk "other" yarn (sweater/hat/blanket) let me know - I'm happy to blather on all day long. :grin:
Date:January 11th, 2010 02:20 pm (UTC)

In agreement

I grind my teeth when people tell me it's cheaper to eat home, too. In some cases, yes, but when you tell me homemade cocoa is cheaper than on-sale generic... um, no. Sorry.

Popcorn in jars - buy one, get one free today at Marketplace! I'm sooooo there!!

- aNNa
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Date:January 11th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)

Re: In agreement

Yup! I haven't run the numbers on my homemade laundry detergent....I'm guessing that I am actually spending *more* at one time, but less per load. I...really don't wanna know, though, because the homemade stuff is better on Himself's skin than the All Free-and-Clear I was buying. :sigh:

Popcorn at B1G1? Lucky! I scored 3 lbs of chicken breasts at buy 1, get 1 for $0.01. So...$10 for 6 lbs. Not too bad, chicken at $1.66/lb!
(spin a yarn)
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