By Carlyn M.
Do you want to know how yarn stashes happen? Well I’ll tell you how mine happened. It happened because I wasn’t prepared when I walked into that store. I didn’t do my homework. I went in wanting the yarn to talk to me. Which is fun . . . but not efficient.
This past summer, I traveled back to one of my all time favorite LYS (little yarn stores) in Austin, Tx and I came prepared, or so I thought. But let me tell you, I did far better this time around. If I had gone unprepared I would have bought probably $100 worth of one skein beauties that would have have just ended up in my stash waiting to be used.
So I wanted to share what info will be helpful to have in going on your next yarn store trip.
First, have a project in mind. Get on ravelry, get magazines, Instagram, Pinterest, collect whatever you need to make that choice. Don’t settle either. By this I mean, don’t rush the process. On my honeymoon, way long ago, I randomly saw a yarn store and told my new hubby to stop. I went in, walked around, found pretty yarn. That yarn is still in my stash . . . waiting to be used . . . years later.
Secondly, measure yourself if it is a garment. Make sure you measure correctly and account for ease if you want it. (Most patterns will tell you they account for ease and how much) Here is a helpful post about sizing and ease.
Once you have your size, find out how much yarn you need and lean on the side of caution; get more yarn than you need. I often travel yarn shop so if I lose at yarn chicken, I lose big. (hard to get more if necessary, not to mention dye lot challenges) I went searching within the projects of the pattern on ravelry. Found people who made my size and averaged their yardage. (Be mindful of your gauge. I tend to knit loosely so I am generally going to go through more yarn. Which means I need to lean on getting more than others.)
Thirdly, for me is price point. My husband and I are budget conscious and like to plan ahead. So I encourage you to do the same. Again, Ravelry is a big tool in this so use it.
Now this is where the question of does the chicken or the egg come first, but more like yarn size or needle size?
In my opinion, buy the yarn you want. There are so many companies out there. Unless you are really picky with needles, you can find needles anywhere, including your stash drawer. Naturally though don’t stray too far from the suggested weight. (Don’t buy cobweb size for a project calling for bulky).
Now picking the yarn, there are a couple of factors in this choice you need to pay attention to.
First is what size yarn you need. Yarn sizes come in many different forms and there is not a uniform way each yarn creators categorizes their weight. Either by a number, a name classification, a suggested needle (knit and crochet) size or by WPI (wraps per inch). Here is a chart for you to use. I think WPI is a new idea but it is subjective. (depends on how tight a person wraps the yarn) See this Article.
Color is another factor. The amount of beautiful yarn out there astounds me every single day. The sky is the limit. First, do you want a variegated option or a solid option? What does the pattern lean towards wanting (look at other people’s FO (finished objects) and see what you like and what you don’t like)? Varigated yarns are tricky to see how they knit up. Many stores are aware of this and might have a sample ready to see. Again, also go on ravelry, see what other’s knitted up like and see if you liked it. Then you have to see if they have enough. This is one frustrating part I experienced. Don’t hesitate to ask if they have more somewhere else, they just might and they just might not.
Price, again, use Ravelry or google before going to the store.
Before going to the store, I used Ravelry’s yarn ideas and picked a couple I felt the store might have. I did not pay attention to price, colorways, and found myself disappointed that they didn’t have enough yardage for the desired project or I priced myself out of my allotted budget. But having these suggested yarns did help me compare yarns within the size range that the project desired.
Don’t be shy in asking for help.
I am an introvert so I naturally shy away from talking to people, but people at stores love to help. They are full of information that you may not be aware of like: will this pill, will it break easily, how will this knit up. These people are around this yarn and may have even worked it, use that knowledge to your advantage. Ask.
Lastly, have a few projects prepared for any trip.
On this trip I picked 3 sweater patterns I wanted to tackle and was able to settle on one that fit the criteria for that said trip.
Truth time. I have finished that project and naturally I made it too big. Contemplating about remaking it. (One unperfected human being, learning from her own mistakes and sharing)
And that’s it or at least for me. What about you? Do you prepare for a trip to the yarn store? What info do you find helpful to have on hand? I would love to hear from you!
Special shout out to The Yarn Store at Nob Hill for letting me take photos for this post.