Probably many knitters find that it is hard to be rational about yarn. Very hard. As I’ve mentioned here before, I try – sometimes unsuccessfully – not to buy anything without having a specific project in mind. This strategy, however, has not been good enough to prevent me from accumulating a good size stash. Firstly, there is yarn left over from previous projects. Secondly, there is yarn from projects that didn’t go so well, or that I (temporarily) lost interest in. Thirdly, there is the yarn I had to buy, because it was discounted, and I had been planning to use it for a specific project anyway, which by the way, I might not be able to tackle until a few years from now…
Despite my efforts, stray yarn balls also manage to make their way to my shelves. To some extant this happens thanks to online shops offering free shipping over a certain value order, and, of course, buying that one extra ball of yarn makes much more sense than paying however much for airmail, right? In addition, as part of a condition other knitters probably recognize, I find yarn balls and yarn skeins to be the prettiest things. I could stare at them for ages. Sometimes I just have to buy them, no matter what.
Sales, of course, are probably one, if not the most important, driver of consumerism. And that is what happened last weekend. More than just your average sale in fact. With my two newbie knitter friends, we found out about a factory yarn sale to be held in a nearby neighbourhood. I didn’t put much thought into what a factory sale might be in the world of wool, we just decided to check it out after our morning swim. As we arrived, it didn’t take long to put two and two together and realize that the sale was in fact done by the local Woolyarns mill/factory I’d known to produce the Zealana luxury yarns.
Once we walked through the door, we found a scene, which slightly reminded me of my second-hand clothes shopping, back when I was at university: women, mostly older than us, expertly scrutinizing everything, with an amazing ability of swiftly making sense of what’s in their hands and deciding what they needed. We, on the contrary, found ourselves completely helpless, surrounded by large cones of mostly unlabeled yarn. Why was it that I expected to find a layout of your usual LYS with balls and skeins neatly arranged on shelves? What weight? What composition? Never mind gauge, yardage…. The aforementioned ladies ,of course, seemed to be able to acquire all this information via a gentle touch and twist of the wool. What everything seemed to be was insanely cheap. Not many colour choices, but what was labeled as 1 kg possum blend* cost 25-35 NZ dollars – normally the price of one or two 50 g yarn balls. Smaller cones of unlabeled yarn were sold for one dollar only. It was hard to be rational. And even harder to know what we wanted.
So, very unrationally, I ended up with a medium size cone of fingering weight (?) violet possum blend, what I suspect to be possum blended with wool and perhaps cotton, and a bigger scone of fingering weight (?) black-gray possum blend(?), a one dollar cone of natural wool (by the looks), two big hanks of felted yarn, which for five dollars each I was more than hesitant to leave behind, and a bag containing ten small balls(!) of what was labeled as possum-cashmere-silk blend. These latter ones I decided to identify as the expensive as gold Zealana Air. Fact is, I have no idea what will become of any of this, which makes me feel incredibly guilty, and, to be fair, excited.
*While for outsiders it might seem odd and or cruel to produce yarn out of possum down, it is common practice in New Zealand, and it serves a good cause. Non-native brushtail possum was introduced here in the 19th century, and due to the lack of natural predators, the population has grown out of control. As a consequence, this furry creature currently poses an actual threat to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna. Furthermore, possum blend yarns are known to be light weight, warm, incredibly soft and less inclined to pill.