What’s In The Yarn Price?


Understanding the Yarn Costs

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.


About Mikey, The Crochet Crowd

I am Mikey, owner of The Crochet Crowd Blog. I'm a 'hooker' at heart with the passion to crochet. I am from Ontario Canada and teach how to crochet online through YouTube Video Tutorials. From a simple idea and being at the right place and time in my life back in 2008, the concept of The Crochet Crowd was developed. I'm here to hook and share. Come follow my crochet journey and share yours with comments here and you are most welcome to share your creativity within our Facebook page.
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23 Responses to What’s In The Yarn Price?

  1. Eresin says:

    I do tend to buy cheap yarn as I still class myself as a beginner. If I know I’m going to be making a really nice project as a gift like a hat then I will buy nicer yarn because there is nothing worse than an itchy hat. But for all the silly things I make and practice runs I certain use my £1 yarn 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on Knotwork Sanctuary and commented:
    Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  3. Judy says:

    I adore the natural fiber yarns, but like most I live on a very strict yarn budget. When my Dad passed in 2012 I became my mom’s full time caregiver (without pay) which really put a crimp in the budget. I began researching spinning my own, I found a fiber store and started spinning on a drop spindle. My husband and one of my sons then gave me a class on a sinning wheel and I was hooked. My husband found a way to buy my wheel and I’ve been spinning ever since. I still buy some value yarns and some that are a little higher end for my projects. It’s worth splurging on when you can, and I gave myself the ability to make some beautiful art yarns at a price I can afford. Spinning is time consuming and can be expensive even for raw fibers.

  4. Amy says:

    Thanks, Mikey I buy yarn on sale. I did just buy a $10USD skein of fisherman wool to as I want to try my hand at felting. I can’t wear wool either but I found a few accessories projects. I use up any small amounts of yarn on amigurumi projects. Waste not…..

    • Victoria says:

      Most people who can’t wear wool can wear Alpaca and it can be felted. I can’t wear any of the felted wool hats I made, but I can wear the Alpaca one.

  5. Meg says:

    Thank you for this post, Mikey. As a handspinner I know the basics of how yarn is made but I knew there had to be a lot more to the process for commercial yarns, just because of the sheer volume. It’s funny – as I was reading your post I was thinking how cool it would be to see how commercial yarn is made and I was making a mental note to check YouTube for that when voilá! – there were the videos at the end. It’s like you read my mind. 🙂

  6. A really informative and thought provoking post. Thanks Mikey

  7. Diamond says:

    I can’t use any wool or wool blend yarns because i am allergic to it. I break out in rashes and hives. I am pretty much relegated to using acrylics and cottons. I have completed a scarf and hat set with Red Heart “Changes” yarn. It is 12% wool, I had to wear gloves while making it, and no way could I ever wear it. It is a beautiful yarn, I took some pictures, but won’t be able to post until after Christmas or she will see it. I usually rescue all the acrylic yarn I can from the thrift stores. I just got 6 unused balls, (5 red, and 1 light grey) for $4.00, and a huge (and I mean HUGE!) bag of stuffing for $.75. I am going to make my grand-kids some stuffed toys from cotton for Christmas. I wish I could use some nicer yarns.

    • Victoria says:

      Try Alpaca yarn. It is not wool but works up just like wool. You can even felt with Alpaca. Unfortunately it can be expensive but makes beautiful items that are soft and the yarn is heaven to work with. Hope this helps

      • Diamond says:

        Thank you Victoria, I will have to try some. I am always leery of any natural fibers…sad I know, I love all the wool and gorgeous items made by others, but the rash and itching is unbearable. Thanks for the tip.

  8. Traci Leckrone says:

    thank you for sharing your knowledge. I learned a lot reading this

  9. bipolaryarns says:

    Now I want to go to a yarn store. I haven’t been in ages.
    Lately I’ve been rescuing yarn from charity stores.

  10. Lisa Lee says:

    I’m with Linda! Some larger projects take me so long that discontinued yarn is a concern. Also, you need to match dye lots. You sound an awful lot like me, Mikey. I’m cheap. It’s the only way I can afford my addiction. However, I recently saw some fantastic yarn at a shop, for $40.00 a skein. WAY over my head. And then I thought, “I deserve a nice scarf.” And I bought it. Just one skein, for me, and it will be special!

  11. Linda Dashiell says:

    With my luck, if I went the route Daniel suggested, when I went back to the store to purchase more, they will have discontinued the color. That has happened more times than I can remember. So for me, I HAVE to buy all the yarn I will need for whatever project I’m working on.

  12. Teri K. says:

    I was fortunate enough to grow up on a farm. I remember my grandfather, uncles and my dad shearing the sheep. That was a tough job in itself. Then the younger girls, myself included, got the fun job of washing, drying and carding the wool. A job, which depending on the weather and the size of the sheep, could take 2-3 days to get it to the point that it could be spun into wool. Then sitting and patiently hand twisting the fibres so grandma, the aunties or mom could spin it.
    Do I begrudge the price that a skein costs? Not so much.

  13. Patty Pittala says:

    You got me started on Red Heart Boutique Treasure!- and I so love it! It was exactly what I was looking for at the time and now I’m doing many more projects with it.
    Yarn that keeps my projects unique and that I smile while working with- that’s what I buy for any reasonable price.

  14. Darlene Lehman says:

    Thank you for the info!

  15. Victoria says:

    Thank you. I no longer buy cheap yarn for sweaters or accessories because I don’t want to spend all that time to then have the item look bad after a time because the yarn pills or sags. I do use the cheaper yarns if I’m making a blanket that will be washed often, or if I’m making toys. Unfortunately I’ve become a yarn snob and I don’t like the feel of the cheaper yarns compared to a nice Merino Wool, Alpaca or soft cotton. Yes, they are more expensive. I only buy what’s needed for a specific project instead of building up my “stash”

  16. I have to admit to being one of those budget crocheters but I don’t think it’s because of my thrifty nature but rather what my work is used for. I have three young children who use my afghans and other projects which means that the more expensive yarns would be treated the same way. I imagine that once I don’t have little fingers burrowing holes in my pieces, I will definately buy the higher end yarns. (I still sneak a few skeins of the “fancy” stuff for my pieces that will be kept away from kids! =) )

  17. Monica Hampshire says:

    Thank you for this. It was very helpful.

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