Monday, June 17, 2013
Ninja Shopping: Yarn Edition
In my world, this would be heaven. Just...sigh. Yeah, I love yarn. It's a weird obsession but I can assure you there are millions of women just like me (and men, yo!) that share this affinity for bits of colorful string. If you've don't believe me, feel free to take a gander on one of the web's biggest social media websites, Ravelry. It's insane and huge and full of yarnies, male and female.
So, I love yarn, but I also love saving money. If you saw my yarn stash (a picture? Get real! The CIA is watching me now and any suspicious activity is recorded. They would put surveillance on me faster than and foreigner buying chemicals off eBay...) You'd wonder how on earth I could afford such a gluttonous amount of yarn and still have food in the house. Although it may mean less yarn for me, I feel it's time to share a few secrets with my fellow fiber fiends ;) You too can have a copious amount of yarn in your house for mere pennies ;)
1. Never ever ever pay full price for yarn, unless it's a yarn that never goes on sale, ever. The only place I'll budge on this is Knit Picks. They already have lovely prices and offer free shipping after $50, but I do have to tell you....wait until SOMETHING is on sale to get the items that aren't. They routinely clearance out discontinued yarns and colors, making it well worth your while to wait a bit. I recently scored some mega clearance cotton/linen yarn because the color was being discontinued. I think it was $1.20ish per skein when it's usually $3 or so. Also, they have huge sales right around Cyber Monday, so if you love Knit Picks, this is the time to hit it!
2. Persue destashes. I used to pass over destash posts that listed the really hoity toity yarns in the title. I figured I couldn't afford anything they were selling (or rather, I wouldn't choose to afford it. I don't get the $23 sock yarn thing. Yes, they are gorgeous, but seriously..I just can't pay that much for something I'll wear on my feet. Just won't do it) but I digress. The point is sometimes in these higher end destashes you'll find some of the basic acrylics and cottons and what have you listed "just pay shipping." See when someone gets bitten by the "good yarn bug" those craft store basics are just an annoying reminder of how much better their yarn tastes have become. They don't care about making anything from these yarns, they just want them to go to a good home. I've scored a LOT of good basic yarn this way...yarn I'm not too fancy to use ;) Like...Vanna's Choice for $2 a skein, shipped to me. Now, that's not a huge savings over buying at the craft store with a coupon, but even with a coupon I have to drive 30+ minutes, plus I can only get one at the 40% off. The savings really add up! If you love a particular yarn, always check the destashes for it. My favorite yarn is listed right now for a bit more than I want to pay, but I just snagged 5 skeins of it for $12.00. It retailed for $10 per skein. I made out!!
3. Know where to shop for the best deals. I have two websites I'd like you to get really familiar with. The first is Little Knits Just last week they were clearancing some really, really nice yarn for $11.00 per bag. Dudes, that is wayyyy cheaper than even box store yarns and it was seriously nice stuff. They frequently have sales where buying by the bag saves you up to 80% of the retail costs. It's just wowish. The second website is www.discontinuedbrandnameyarn.com Now, the first time I looked at this website, I wasn't impressed. They didn't have anything that interested me. But I still looked. It's yarn porn right. I was SHOCKED when I started looking through the worsted weights and found Bernant Cotton Tots and Lion Brand Cotton ease for $1.25 per skein! They are a business that deals with both estate sales and stores closing so the inventory is always changing. They also run specials where the bargain yarns are further clearanced by up to 60%. Wrap your head around yarn that's already 75% off retail and then marked 60% off the marked down price. Cha=ching. Super nice yarn for mere pennies. (Really, less than a buck sometimes!! Not kidding!)
3. Buy in bulk. There's another website worth keeping your eye on BUT you have to buy at least $50 AND the shipping is $12.95 regardless of your order. Smileys Now before you freak out and think "That's ridiculous" keep your mind open. Once I ordered hundreds of skeins of yarn, coop style (I ordered, had it delivered to me and then sent the yarn out to the new owners) and we all got a great deal. Since the yarn is so low to begin with, getting to $50 of merchandise means getting a LOT of yarn. They don't always have the best stuff, but they also do yarn closeouts and sometimes there is something you just cannot pass up. I was super pissed when I realized this place had, at one point, my beloved Jaeger Roma for 1.99 per ball in all the colors. I would have gladly ordered $50 worth of this yarn had I known it was there....(By the way, if you're epileptic or might be, this site might cause you harm. It's the worst website design I've ever seen!!)
4. Keep an eye on the Ravelry group "Yarn Sales." This is where I found out Joann's was having a mega clearance sale, with 50% off the clearance prices, making the yarn I scored .88 per skein (plus an extra 15% off that with my teacher discount card) I also happened to see a post when a yarn company was selling a yarn for $1.38 per skein on special, with free shipping after $30. That yarn is now $4ish dollars, so it was a really good deal and I LOVED the yarn. I don't get too excited about yarn sales until we're in the $1-2 range regardless of the original retail price. I just feel like anything that cost a bunch in the first place...well..it's not something I'm comfortable with. Yes, I like to knit, but I like to eat too!!
5. Thrift shopping/sweater harvesting. There's an entire group that goes into the basics of harvesting high end sweaters for yarn. I have an impressive stash of cashmere yarn from unraveling. When you think about getting a sweater's worth of yarn for $4ish dollars, it can blow your mind. You have to know what to look for, so if this is an option you'd like to pursue, spending some time researching the dos and don'ts. You'd be really surprised at what loveliness you can find cast off in the thrift stores! I haven't bought a LOT of yarn from the thrift store, but a couple skeins have come home with me ;)
6. And speaking of thrift stores...how about Shop Goodwill I used to look at the yarn and think "Pfft...whatever..it's all crap.." but I recently stumbled across an auction that had a couple knitting needles that caught my eye (more on that later) It was a full bag of neutral colored yarns in a brand new knitting bag with knitting needles. I put that lot in my watch list and looked at the locations other auctions. You see, with Shop Goodwill, the shipping prices will seem outrageous to you. That lot I was watching had a shipping cost of $14, making it a crappy deal in the end. However...what most people don't know is that the shipping price stays the same if you win more than one auction. Sooooo...I bid on two. In the end, I paid $28.00. Only $28.00 which included the shipping. I got MANY, MANY balls of Lily Cream and Sugar (which I use for washcloths), several skeins of acrylic in white and cream, 2 brand new knitting bags, a set of size 13 straight needles (brand new in the package), a set of size 3 DPNS (brand new in package), 7 skeins of Red Heart Super Saver with the Hobby Lobby tags on them (not my fav yarn, but as I'm making toys I'm finding it's actually the perfect yarn for the job) and....those knitting needles. Addi Turbos. Dudes, if you know knitting needles, you realize I just got everything else in that box for free because those are pricey little suckers. When I bought mine in the local yarn shop they were $17 a pair. And I got TWO, brand new, all that other stuff, and it all shipped to me for less than the cost of the new knitting needles. Yarn shopping ninja at your service!!
7. Obscure places. Tuesday Morning has yarn. Did you know that? It's all high end, discontinued. I don't get too excited about it because again, it's more than I like paying, however when they put those magical orange or pink stickers on them, then it's in my range. Just got two skeins of Louisa Harding Kashmir for 2.29 a ball. That's a GOOD price. I've recently been enlightened about Big Lots (see that post a couple pages back) and it's really good stuff for $1 a ball. Apparently, from what I can gather, Christmas Tree Shoppes also sells the Gala mixed fiber and some Dollar Stores also carry this type of yarn. Back when Peaches and Cream went out of business (so sad) Dollar Trees across America were the place to find the remaining stock. People were going crazy buying it all up!!
8. Etsy. Search "destash yarn." You're going to find some real stinkers trying to sell cheap yarn they got from Smileys or Big Lots. Those people suck and I hate them. However, some people really are destashing and you can find some amazing deals if you are willing to wade through the crap. I have purchased a bunch of nice stuff for $15 or so per lot!
9. Free is always good. One time, on Craigslist, a lady was clearing out all her yarn. She had SEVERAL BAGS listed and I inquired about ONE, as I didn't want to be a pig about free yarn. Well, she was insistent I just take it all, that way she wasn't sitting around waiting on a bunch of people to come get multiple bags. I gave a lot away, but some stuff, even though it wasn't to my liking, I kept and traded with people who would like it (On Karma Yarn Swaps, a group on Rav) Put feelers out on Craigslist and Freecycle or like groups if you're in need of yarn..
10. There are many, many other websites that run amazing specials (www.yarn.com or Webs has a deal of the day and they are always a good deal) but I specifically focused on places I have actually used myself. Keeping an eye on the sales group will give you a good feel for where to check daily. Little Knits for example, they threw that $11 a bag yarn up out of the blue and I was just checking on the site and happened to notice it. It went FAST. (In case you were wondering WHAT yarn was $11 a bag, it was all Nashua. Snowbird, Grand Opera, Champlain and Granite...nice stuff!!)
And those are my ninja yarn shopping tips for yarnies on a budget. My yarn stash is significant...and yet I have seven children, animals, a house that we're remodeling and we haven't eaten Ramen for dinner like ever ;) A nice stash can be built up if you are patient, diligent and if your significant other doesn't oppose you on it ;)