How to Buy Luxury Yarn Online
Silk. Bamboo. Cashmere. Angora. Mohair. Llama. All of these, among many others, are considered luxury fibers. Most manmade fibers are designed to feel like a natural fiber of some kind. This usually makes manmade fibers cheaper to make and sell. As a knitter, I love natural fibers. The normally breath better, absorb moisture, or keep you warmer that manmade fibers. You know what I don’t love? Luxury fiber prices!
Don’t get me wrong. I do not begrudge these hard working fiber creators their profit. It is a product I’m willing to buy. It is hard, expensive work taking care of the animals or plants that produce the fibers I love to knit with. That being said, anywhere I can get my luxury fiber fix for cheap is something I’m going to look into.
Before ordering yarn online, I would try visiting your local yarn store (Google it, you probably have one near you). By local yarn store, or LYS, I don’t mean Hobby Lobby or Michaels. I mean a small locally owned craft store. They often have a huge amount of natural yarn and natural blends. Go there, and look around. Touch the yarns, so you know what they feel like. Buy some if you find some you like; I love supporting small businesses.
If you don’t have a LYS to visit, or if you find a yarn online that intrigues you that you cannot find in a store, I recommend looking for reviews of that yarn, either on the yarn producer’s site or in an online crafting community like Ravelry.com. On Ravelry.com, you can find the yarn, and see projects in which that yarn was used, and see reviews for most yarns. When you can at least see the sorts of projects people used the yarn for, it can shape your expectation for what you will receive if you purchase it. If you cannot find that specific yarn anywhere (meaning it could be from a very small producer), then look for yarns with a similar make up. For example, I found a yarn on Numei.com that is cotton/bamboo blend that I cannot find reviews for. I went on Ravelry and looked at yarns with similar fiber profiles to get an idea for how this yarn might knit up.
A lot of discontinued yarn sites will have yarn from producers you have never heard of. If this is your first time looking outside places like large chain stores for your yarn, this isn't a huge surprise. So look up these yarn producers. Just because you haven't heard of them, doesn't mean that they aren't putting a quality product out there. Be wary of any off label yarn. It might look nice, but I have heard of people getting balls or hanks full of knots, and yarn that snags on EVERYTHING. Do your research if you aren't confident in the producer.
With this new knowledge, you have a better chance at choosing yarn that will meet your hopes for a project’s final appearance. The sites I have found that have the best prices for yarn are discontinued yarn sites. These sites by leftover yarn from stores, and in some cases, from individuals who need to destash their personal collections. The benefits of shopping on these sites are the extremely low prices. The main detractor I have come across so far with this sort of sourcing is limited quantities. You find a yarn normally out of your price range that you would love to have, and it would be ideal for a blanket, for example. The site you found this dream yarn on only has 3 balls. Definitely not enough for a blanket. If you need or particularly want a certain fiber or type of yarn though, sometimes you have to bite the bullet and pay full price.