Pull up a chair, knit friends, because today I’m going to share some of my best secrets with you on how I am able to acquire some great yarn on a graduate student’s paltry budget. The majority of my best yarn scores come from my three favorite old stand-bys: Webs Closeout section, Elann, and Ebay. Since I think many of you are already aware of these sites (especially the saltier bargain hounds among you who have been knitting and stashing as long as I have), I thought I’d mention a few places that may be new to you in this list of five favorite places I look for yarn bargains.
1. The local thrift store
You can find very inexpensive yarns at thrift stores in two ways. First, many thrift stores accept yarn as donations. They tend to bag it up and sell it in lots of like colors or fibers for a dollar or two a bag. You never know what you might find in these bags! My mom is the queen of the thrift store yarn scores and she has brought me such goodies as a bag of undyed virgin wool and a big lot of a discontinued Berroco tweed. A second way you can get yarn is by scouring the sweater racks for sweaters you can unravel to recycle yarn. Again, these will only cost you a couple of bucks. Check out this great Craft Stylish post on how to recycle the yarn from a thrift store sweater.
2. DBNY (Discontinued Name Brand Yarn) online shop
As the name implies, this website closes out designer yarns that have been discontinued for one reason or another at stunning prices. There are some single skeins and some full bag deals. You can also find spinning fibers sometimes. The prices on Cherry Tree Hill handpainted yarns are especially breathtaking. Sign up for the email newsletter and they’ll warn you when great specials are on.
Those of you who have been reading Wool Durham for awhile may remember my past feature on these websites that work a bit like Woot.com, but for yarn. The Dizzy Sheep features one discounted yarn per day, with shipping costs of just $1. On some holiday weekends, Dizzy also has a “Spin-off”, where yarns are available for a big discount until they sell out. I’ve scored some awesome deals this way on Malabrigo and Dream in Color yarns. Jimmy Bean’s Wool Watcher similarly features a deep discount on one yarn at a time that changes throughout the day. You never know what will be on offer there (and it is kind of an addictive distraction to keep checking—ask me how I know…).
If you really want to stretch a yarn budget and don’t care much about brand names, you can get some incredible value luxury yarns (read: cashmere and silk) online at Colourmart. Many of these yarns were not originally intended for handknitters, so they come on cones and are listed in terms of NM numbers (which is a ratio of meters per gram). The site has a great help section that can help you learn about this system so you know what you’re ordering. Colourmart is heaven for lace knitters. Not into lace? Don’t be afraid to double or triple strand these yarns. The price is right.
5. Smiley’s Yarns, online and Queens, NY
Planning a visit to New York City? This yarn store is worth the subway fare to Queens (it is very near the Woodhaven stop). The focus here tends to be on acrylics and you can always find Red Heart, Caron, Bernat, and Patons in every shape, quantity and color at screaming deals. Before you yarn snobs overlook it though, they also close out high quality wools from Europe and Canada, including Rowan and Filatura di Crosa. The brick and mortar store has many smaller lots that don’t make it to their website, but if you aren’t in New York, you can still score some bargains from home. There is a $50 minimum for mail orders, so you might want to split an order with a friend unless you are building a stash from scratch ($50 at Smiley’s goes a loooooong way: many yarns are $1 a ball).
Got other favorite bargain haunts to share? Please post to the comments! Have fun shopping everyone!