May 15, 2007

Yarn Shopping: Online or In-Store? Let's Discuss...

I was so impressed with the turnout for our last round table discussion that I thought I'd pose another question this week. Call me nosey, but I love hearing from you guys instead of just rambling on and on about what I haven't finished knitting yet :)

Another topic that has come up among my knit buddies is the option they choose most often when shopping for yarn, needles, and notions. At one time I was convinced that knitting and crochet are completely tactile hobbies; that in order to know if you'll enjoy knitting with a fiber, and if it's right for the project at hand, you've to to "be there" with it. Now that I'm more exposed to the online yarn peddlers, I often feel that I can get plenty of information about a yarn and how suitable it is just by doing a little research at my computer. Fantastic distraction from productive work, let me tell you.

Sites like
Yarndex and the Knitters Review give a wealth of information about a yarn: it's fiber content, suggested needle sizes, gauge, and colors. On the Review site, you even get...well, reviews from those who have actually tried it out. Buying online also makes it fairly easy to comparison shop. With all the options available, you could have shopping carts ready and waiting all over cyberspace until you've found the deal that's worth snatching up. That would be tough to do in real life, even if you lived in a place littered with local stores (and if you do, please send directions ASAP).

But what about kicking the tires? I've heard from some stitchers that it's just not the same if they can't see the colors "live" and slip the skein through their fingers to get the real feel of it. Heck, in some of the friendlier yarn shops, you can sit right down and do a gauge swatch before any money changes hands. There's also the human factor - talking face to face with a shop owner about what you'd like to make and if a substitution will work well. Should you get 6 skeins or 7? Does this particular shade of green on you say "spring!" or "hangover!"?

Where do you shop most of the time? Are you always just a mouse click away from a UPS delivery? Or do you prefer the touchy feely part of yarn hoarding collecting? What things help to determine the decision when you are ready to buy?

Are You a PayPal Junkie or Local Shop Regular?

Let's discuss!

ETA: It's never too late to join the discussion! Thanks to all of you who have chimed in already. Speak up whenever you choose, and encourage others to do so as well. There is much to be gained by examining the perspective of another person, and you're welcome to do that here any time. :)