Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Fiscal responsibility vs. Local support

Let's start this off with the thing that knitters know and non-knitters (usually) don't know: yarn is darn expensive. There aren't many knitters out there who are making garments because they are thrifty and a good deal (if I got into recycling old sweaters I could be superthrifty but I don't think I have the patience for all that un-ravelling). Even with yarn that is bought on sale a sweater for an adult rarely costs under $50 and many cost a hell of a lot more than that. Most of the time I can justify this to myself via the rather pompous declaration that I'm creating "wearable art" and we all know that art isn't cheap...right?

My current dilemma revolves around the split I'm feeling between exercising fiscal restraint and responsibility by purchasing yarn at deeply lowered prices via the internet and the need to buy locally and thus keep my local yarn stores in business. There are some yarns at both Elann and at Knitpics that are such a darn good deal. But it was not long ago that Ann Arbor was a total VOID when it came to yarn stores. I used to buy my yarn on an annual basis when I went to Canada where even smallish towns seem to have yarn stores. In the past few years Ann Arbor acquired a number of good yarn stores; my favorite is Flying Sheep, partly because the owner is so darn nice, but I also like what they stock. But buying retail (for just about anything, not just yarn) kills me.

The sweater I am contemplating knitting is this Ribbi Cardigan pattern from ChicKnits. In the Peruvian Highland Wool from Elann it would cost me $29.95 (plus shipping)! If I made it with cotton blend Java (or another normal priced yarn) it would cost me $97.50--Oy!

Can anyone help me strike a balance? How about if I buy all my needles and the odd ball of special yarn at the local yarn store and the other stuff on-line? What would you do?


Julie said...

Hi Kate! We have actually met in person. It was last year at Waterworks Park, and I was with my sister Eva, who told me about your blog. I knew your sister in high school, too.

I'm also a knitter, and I have the same dilemma. I buy needles and patterns at Flying Sheep or Knit Around, and then either order on line or get cheap stuff like Lion Brand.

I also enjoyed reading about your book group. I'm in a similar one. The best theme snack we ever did was after reading Stepford Wives. Ha, ha, can you imagine?

I enjoyed your blog, and I'll certainly come visit again soon.

Kate said...

Hey Julie--nice to hear from you! I like your blog too. It's nice to hear of another voracious reader who likes good kid fiction too. I can't wait 'till my kids are old enough to read some of my favorites (which will give me an excuse to read them again!)

Susan W said...

Hey kate - I don't knit enough to comment but I do bead (make jewelry). I have the same problem between supporting local bead shops in chicago and buying on line (SO much cheaper).

I buy bulk beads online and then go to the local store for specialty beads and some of the "findings" like the clasps and earring parts. I feel better trying to support them while not losing all of my money!