The Bargain Yarn Impulse

As I ogled notions and hanks at Stitches In Time, I spied nine skeins of Cascade Luna in a vivid shade on super-reduction-sale. I asked myself:

Should I make hay while the sun shines?
Strike while the iron’s hot?
Is the time ripe for a big ol’ bag of bargain yarn?

"Oxide Green"

Pacing the back of the store, my bargain yarn impulse kept shouting “Buy it now and find a pattern later! This deal won’t last!!!” But I hesitated.  My rational lobe (a petite, gently-used brain nugget) reminded me of the ELEVEN skeins of high-loft, feltable wool in the cat-barf colorway I purchased last year.

my great shame

Usually, my bargain yarn impulse kicks in at yard sales and close-out bins. It’s not that crazy: I simply love a good deal as much as everyone else.  Affordable materials makes my primary entertainment dirt cheap. Simply consider  the amount of money invested in yarn and the amount of  time you spend enjoying that money – however long it takes to knit and block – you wind up with a pastime that even the Frugal Zealot herself would approve. However, every now and then, I get overambitious and invest in yarn or fabric that could never live up to my rose-colored expectations. Worse yet, I go over budget while thinking it’s a small price when compared to the incalculable intrinsic value of knitting one’s own garments.

The cat-barf yarn is an excellent example. The colors are wonderful on the ball: smokey black, soft grey, orange and gold. I thought it would make an awesome sweater, so I bought enough to make myself a pullover. Of course, once you knit it up, you get an awful, variegated melange. A melange which I could probably find a way around (stripes, colorwork, alternating balls) if not for the problem of the loft. The yarn is dense, unspun, single ply wool; a muggy day will felt this yarn. No drape, no swing. I should have swatched, or read some reviews because I have no idea what to do with it now.

dog bed? floor rug? picnic mat?

Before snatching up another bag of regret, I dug through my yarn drawer to see if I already had some Luna knocking about. Sure enough, I had one lonely ball of the stuff which I swatched, measured and washed. Turns out, Cascade Luna begins as a wiggly knit texture, with soft stitch definition.

Before . . .

After washing and drying it shrinks a bit, resembling  knitted chenille. The stitches blend together in a soft, nubbly fabric. If I wanted to knit a bathrobe, slippers, or pajama top I would definitely buy the Cascade Luna; it makes such a cozy, casual finished fabric. Nice, but not the look I want for my first sweater. Swatching took me about an hour and prompted me to start that load of  laundry I had been avoiding (delicates). I might actually start swatching for fun!

I know it’s a stretch for me to give up hoarding cheap yarn – I get such a rush when I make something for less than five bucks. Instead, I resolve (in front of the whole internet) to do a little research from now on. Considering my budget, it only makes sense to stash multiple skeins of the same yarn if the finished product will make a positive impact on my wardrobe. As a rubenesque diva, I need to steer clear of lumpy fabrics like boucle, velour, terry cloth or chenille. In which case what I’m really looking for is a tidy, wool or alpaca blend, with maybe a touch of acrylic for easy washing, in green, red, soft pink or deep purple.


2 thoughts on “The Bargain Yarn Impulse

  1. I know the feeling of excitement when you spy a bargain (to you) of some item that you have no idea what you are going to do with it, but it calls to you. I have a closet of those things. I still can not get rid of them as soon, very soon, that will be the exact color, drape or amount I need to finish the pattern (also bought at the thrift store)I am thinking of sewing. Love GMM

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