I didn't have to work this weekend and also have very little scheduled to do, so for the past two days I've been doing little other than knitting socks. The socks are great, but honestly I've been a little bored. Boredom isn't common for me; I was an only child with working parents and therefore learned early on to entertain myself. Part of it was that my husband was out of town, and he usually keeps me entertained. It's not that I fall apart or anything when he's not around - of course, I miss him, but I'm not upset - but I tend to revert to my natural reclusive state when left to my own devices.
Anyway, socks. I finished the A4A pair I had on the needles when I wrote last week, and I knit myself a wool-acrylic blend pair from yarn leftovers. Most significantly, I finished my Pink Zebra jacket this week, all except for the button.
I went by Fine Points yarn store yesterday afternoon to help my mother-in-law pick out yarn for a jacket I'm making her. Fine Points is a lovely LYS (Local Yarn Store) and a real fixture of the Larchmere neighborhood. I've taught several knitting and crochet classes there in the past. But here's the funny thing: I always have to psych myself up to go there, because it gets me down. Or to any LYS, for that matter. This is a fairly new thing - I used to love going to yarn stores to admire all the beautiful designer yarns. But over the past couple of years, as I've been more serious about my shop and have been knitting with simpler yarns, going to an LYS tends to make me depressed. The reason is the cost.
I'm not criticizing independent stores for having higher prices than chain stores; they have to if they want to stay in business, and on the whole I don't mind paying an extra dollar or so if it's to support a local store and it saves me having to wait for an online order. But when you're on a limited income and like to make large things like sweaters, the extra couple of dollars per ball of yarn quickly makes a project prohibitively expensive. Even if you do order online, designer yarn is designer yarn, and it's going to cost more than what you get at a chain craft store. Again, I'm not saying they should be cheaper, because I know they often contain fine materials and require a lot of time to make. And it seems like, for most knitters, it's fine. Most of the knitters I know or know of are women in their 40s and up and are fairly wealthy, so they can buy a $15 ball of beautiful, one-of-a-kind handpainted yarn. But for me, looking at a shelf of luxury yarns feels a bit like looking at a case of fine jewelry: I can appreciate the beauty, but I can't afford any of it, so I just get depressed.
Which is why I typically stick to sturdy, simple yarns from places like JoAnn Fabrics and Hobby Lobby. You can find some affordable and good-quality wools there. I'd be more inclined to buy "nicer" yarns if I could sell what I make from them, but from my experience a hat made from plain worsted wool is much more likely to sell than one made from a fancy wool/mohair blend. Leftover designer wool that I bought when I was a new knitter tends to wind up in my A4A pieces.
Yesterday, as a gift, my husband's grandmother bought me a lovely skein of a silk/mohair blend - something I would never allow myself to buy nowadays - along with a pattern for an airy shawl/cowl/scarf to make from it. It's soft and decadent and only marginally useful. And I'm going to love knitting and wearing it.