Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Cost of Knitting (emotional and otherwise)


Someone once calculated the actual price of a pair of handknitted socks if you take production time into account. I am a relatively slow knitter so it would cost me more. In fact every time I contemplate a garter stitch scarf on 10mm needles I am probably doubling the gross national product. Certainly at the speed I knit if you were to take into account time taken to make something it would not be worth it, but as I don’t sell my knitting and would only be playing with my hair, or twiddling my thumbs together and annoying people if I wasn’t doing it, I don’t worry. I do worry about the cost of yarn, though.

When I first started knitting I had a vague idea that you could easily knit a jumper with two balls of wool. Then I bought a Rowan knitting magazine (this was pre-Ravelry, pre-Knitty, goodness me), and this disabused me of that assumption. So then I thought that if you needed 12 or so balls – 12! gosh! – they must cost something like 50p each. As otherwise you might as well go and buy your jumper from Primark, and why would anyone bother knitting one (don’t tell me off, I have come a long way). So you can imagine that my first trip to buy yarn was quite a shock. It would have been more of a shock if I was capable of multiplication without a calculator, luckily I am not, and this shielded me from the worst.

This problem I had was not helped when early on in my knitting career I paid the shockingly enormous sum of £36 to buy some Big Wool (you know where this is going) and knitted a jumper out of it that made me look exactly like a gorilla. A nerdy kind of gorilla who none of the other gorillas fancy. £36! I thought, and look, I look ridiculous. If I had bought that in a shop I could at least have tried it on first and discovered that the shoulder seams come somewhere near my elbows and then gone and spent the £36 on something else. Possibly lager.

I am aware that other people may be different to me, i.e. they may have natural knitting talent. However, the crucial thing I did not realise when I started knitting, was that it takes skill to make something decent and wearable that is not a garter-stitch scarf, and skill comes with practice. So now when I knit things I am reasonably confident they will (ultimately, with some fiddling) end up looking as if they are meant to be worn by a Person and not a Troll, but I still don’t like spending a lot of money on the yarn. Call me a cheapskate if you like, I have been called much worse. So, I am experimenting with knitting with laceweight yarn, and I am going to make Citron. Because, drum roll, you only need one skein. Only one skein! And, look how nice it looks when it is knitted!

However, unfortunately, as you may remember, I had my moment of irritation in the Yarn Shop That Only Carries Natural Fibres, and I put down the laceweight I was holding and I left in mute and utterly ineffectual protest. Never mind, I thought, I will be able to buy some on the internet. And it was here, readers, that I entered the scary world of Proper Yarn. Because laceweight is bought by people who produce things I find completely terrifying. It is bought by Proper Knitters. And as such, you cannot look on a website and expect it to be in stock. You cannot do this, you na├»ve person. You have to plan ahead. You have to note the date in your diary when yarn will be put on the website, and then you must pounce, credit card held aloft. Now, I am sure the yarn you have to buy like this is absolutely lovely, and well worth the trouble. However, I do not feel I have this kind of time to devote to yarn buying. And I am unemployed. So I bought some laceweight from Violet Green, who had lots in stock. And do you know what? I ordered it at about 4:30pm yesterday – and it came this morning! See pic at top of page!

This is clearly special yarn. This is yarn that defies the laws of time, space and the Cambridge postal service. I don’t know if a tardis was involved, but I would not be surprised. And not only was the customer service great, but the yarn is lovely. I am very pleased. I am also having flashbacks to once when I made a (garter stitch, natch) scarf out of Kidsilk Haze for my Aunty Kath and I hated the Kidsilk Haze with a burning passion, but this new thin yarn is at least not hairy, so perhaps we will be alright. I will keep you updated.

3 comments:

stephcuddles said...

Hope your citron turns out well :) your gorilla jumper sounds like fun, you have a pictures somewhere :P
When I last ordered yarn it took less than a day to reach me, from Scotland. Then again I do live near Manchester so it isn't too far away :) it's the sign of a good seller person thing :D

Amanda said...

Have you found www.kempswoolshop.co.uk? No affiliation - just a really satisfied customer. Their special offers are amazingly cheap and their service is exemplary.
I don't knit myself but have been known to crochet the odd shapeless item that usually gets felted to death with the embellisher (Big Wool is great for felting btw!) Your post did make me laugh.

Susie said...

Sadly there are no pictures of the gorilla jumper, I wish I'd taken some! I think I gave it to the Salvation Army Shop, I didn't even keep the wool to reknit, oh the mistakes of the neophyte :-(. Amanda, yes I have, I love Kemps Wool Shop, I agree, their service is fantastic! (and thanks I'm glad you liked my post :-)).