When I started The Crochet Crowd back in 2008. My most expensive yarn ball purchase would be around $3.99 – $4.99. It was either Super Value by Bernat or Super Saver by Red Heart. If I was really living on the edge, my projects might have been variegated but I did notice there was less yarn on the ball but for the same price.
Daniel is more high end in his tastes than I am. Daniel is a caviar kind of person and well let’s just say I like champagne on a beer budget. If I can get things cheap, I’m there!
Daniel had noticed I just crocheted an afghan in about 60 hours. I used the typical economy yarn. He pulled out his trusty calculator and said to me. You’ve just spent 60 hours on working on an afghan. The cost of your afghan is about $35 in the economy level yarn. He said, you know if you would have budgeted yourself to not buy all of your yarn up front but try to buy as you go, you could have afforded the afghan and used this other really nice yarn. The cost difference would be from $35 to $50 for the same afghan but in a different yarn. Gosh darnit, his yarn choice was superior verses my choice and what was finished. He says you are going to spend the time to put crochet it, the same hours exist, why not invest in a different yarn to give your afghan a bit of a kick.
Daniel took me to Lens Mill Store in Waterloo Ontario. It was really the first yarn store outside of Walmart and Zellers that I had been going to. I thought I had died and gone to yarn heaven. Some of the prices of the nicer yarn wasn’t far off for what I was paying for an afghan. It just feels when you need to buy 7 – 10 balls of yarn for an afghan that it’s when you see your piggy bank start to decline. For me, I’m going to spend my money on yarn anyway… if the yarn is on special, I will most likely buy all my yarn up front. If not, I typically spoon feed myself the yarn so it’s affordable within my budget.
I had completely fell in love with James C Brett Marble Chunky. It’s still made today and is extremely popular. It’s popular due to colour transitions that are exceptionally slow, the yarn is the size of a mini 10 pin bowling ball and there’s a lot in the ball! I had paid $11.99 many years ago for this, today you might find this for around $13.99.
Sounding kinda of ridiculous now, I treated my two balls like they were gold! I didn’t waste an inch! I loved the yarn so much but am I willing to pay this much for yarn? Over the next year I would do research on and off to understand the costs of yarn. When you go to fibre festivals or any stores where this yarn is typically sold, we automatically jump to the conclusion that we are being ripped off. That bugs me to no end.
With yarn, we have to think about our projects. Am I going to buy natural animal fibres to scrub my dishes? No… Am I going to spend $30 per skein for an afghan that might need 15 skeins, most likely not. However, would you spend $30 for a skein that will give you enough yarn to make a gorgeous scarf. You might.
The most expensive afghan I ever produced was about $150. I used value yarn but the afghan was a bit of a yarn pig. If I had used natural blends or anything beyond the value yarn, the afghan pricing would have been beyond my reach. I make what I can afford and adjust my spending to match my project.
Two major factors are involved in yarn prices on the shelf:
- You get what you pay for.
- Yarn is packaged to meet a consumer spending budget.
One thing that typically bothers me is when I see someone at the yarn aisle complaining to their friend that the yarn in their right hand, which is acrylic, and the yarn in their left hand is a natural fibre blend should be equal in price. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. The weight or yardage of the yarn may be the same, but the process to get it manufactured is different due to the components of what makes up the yarn.
You will see that variegated yarns are typically smaller in size balls and weight. But then you will notice the price of the variegated yarn is the same price as the regular solid colours of the same brand. Why is that? It comes down to manufacturing processes, retailers and consumer spending budgets.
Variegated yarns are more of a lengthy process to get the yarn to be different colours within one strand. Due to the processes being more substantial to get the look, the costs of manufacturing increases. The retailers don’t want different prices for the same brand. It confuses customers and honestly speaking, if the variegated yarn colours were $2 more than the regular solid colours of the same brand, consumers might not understand that there is more to the yarn. They might feel the yarn is overpriced. Little is known about the manufacturing of yarn and the processes to get it to the store shelf. I believe this is one of the major causes, even for me at times, that discriminates what is cheap verses expensive.
Over the past few years. I am completely head over heels for slowly transitioning yarn. My most favourite yarn for this right now is the Red Heart Boutique Treasure Yarn. The price of the ball is about $7 CDN. There’s not as much yardage on the ball as you would see in a value yarn, nor is the price comparable… but my point is… the yarn is also not made the exact same way so it cannot be compared to value yarn either.
Next time your crocheting something, look at the yarn ball and think… “How was it made?”. If you were to sheer a sheep, put it through the process and then have to spin up 3 separate fibre strings, then respin the 3 fibre strands together, what is the ball worth then? You will realize you probably will spend more time preparing the yarn for a project than typically making the project. Even for acrylics yarn, if you were to drill a pipe line into the ocean to extract the oil that makes up acrylic yarns, then put it through the process to make the fibres as seen in the Red Heart Video below, you may realize that the costs of the products you use are really inexpensive when you look at the grand picture of what it takes to get the yarn on the shelf. Just something to think about.