Calling all knitters - help, I have a question!

I’m lining up Christmas gifts, including for someone who knits. Some cool yarn seems a nice idea, but dayyum … is it as expensive as it seems?

I bought her some yarn once before, intending to get enough for her to make a sweater. However, although one skein wasn’t very expensive, when I did the math after looking on line to see “how much yarn is needed for an average sweater,” it would have cost at least $120! (I ended up getting her half that much; she made herself an adorable tank top with it).

Is that really how much yarn costs? Or did I somehow find very expensive yarn (it was from the on-line company Webs). If a typical sweater costs $120 in yarn alone, plus all the time to make the damn thing, I can’t understand how people manage to find the resources to make a lot of sweaters.

Anyway, if I want to get her a knitting-related Christmas present, do I have any options besides being cheap and buying her only a small amount of yarn, or blowing the budget on enough yarn for a sweater?

Thanks in advance for any insights.

Hello! Newer poster/longtime lurker(and constant knitter)here. Great question. The economics of knitting can be infuriating if you’re not familiar with it. IMHO, yarn has increased in value since it’s a great pandemic/lockdown pastime. Really the cost depends a lot on what kind of yarn, how much you need and what’s the project? (This doesn’t include project labor hours of course.) If you’re making something out of cashmere luxury yarn, for example, even a hat could be pricey. That said, if you want to purchase a knitter a decent knitting related holiday present, a gift card or certificate works well- that way they can purchase a big chunk of the project or yarn or materials needed for a project they’d like to make. You get to decide what to budget. It may not cover the cost of the whole thing. Often the seller will have project kits as well. There’s enough yarn with a pattern schematic for the item and what it should/could turn out like. Here’s an example:
Again, these aren’t super- cheap items, but what you get for yarn quality can be drool-worthy for a knitter. : ) Happy shopping!

Yes, yes it is.

Well, kind of - it’s not a cheap hobby. Acrylic yarn is (usually) pretty cheap, but it also doesn’t knit as well and doesn’t wear as well. Basic wool, bamboo, and cotton in basic colors is more expensive. Fancier yarns are much more. If it is hand-dyed (like that kit that Yogeekgirl linked to) or imported (icelandic wool is dirt cheap in Iceland and about three times the price here.), the price goes up. When I used to knit a lot, I would hunt for yarn on sale or closeout, because it made otherwise unaffordable knits reasonable.

Questions - what does she knit? If she knits socks or lace shawls, you can get her enough really nice yarn for a pair of socks or shawl for about what I’d spend for Christmas gifts for a friend.

I don’t knit, I needlepoint so do have knowledge of fibers. Good yarn is expensive, no matter how its used. I am currently doing a 12x14 inch piece and the materials were over $200.00. The feeling of quality fibers and the ease of working really does make the entire hobby more fun.

Now that we have discussed fibers, lets discuss tools. Quality tools make a huge difference as well. Again, not cheap and the selection is endless.

Before the world ended, entire stores were dedicated to just quality fibers and tools. I could easily spend hours touching things, feeling the silks, running the cashmere between my fingers just for the tactile sensation. I really miss that.

As I recall, you are in Hawaii, right? I lived there for 6 years in the middle 70’s and my hobby stuff was so expensive there that I would have my mother shop and ship to save money. Of course, that was a long time ago and I’m sure that things have changed.

Speaking of my mother, she’s a stitcher as well, so her Christmas present is a gift card from our favorite fiber store. It’s very possible that will be my present from her as well :slight_smile:

I always suggest gift cards for hobbyists. We try to not tell anyone how picky we are about doing our thing OUR way, but most people don’t know enough about someone’s specific hobby to buy the “right” thing.

Thanks guys! Now that you’ve given me a better sense of the costs, I’ll wait and give her yarn for her birthday again, when I’m only buying something for her. Covid-19 permitting, the Christmas gifts will be opened together in a group of about 6 people, all giving gifts to each other, but nothing that costs much money (think mugs, soap, specialty lip balm, etc.). A $100-plus gift would stand out oddly.

@JaneDoe42 - you are right, things are much pricier here if you buy them on island (I’m on Hawai’i, so the shipping cost includes not only the trip to Oahu but onward to Hilo). Amazon Prime is a lifesaver, or at least a money-saver. And things have gotten worse with the pandemic; I haven’t noticed huge price increases but things run out more easily. I’ve been looking for buttermilk powder for weeks; I used to be able to find it at Safeway, but no luck in any of the stores I’ve checked. Back to Amazon!

Oh, gosh, you should have told us about the occasion. She needs a thing to show off and exclaim over, not a gift card. Hmmmmm. She needs a nice tote bag to carry her knitting around. Or something to help her keep her projects separate. Its not good to put quality fibers in plastic, I always appreciate getting cute natural fiber totes.

Even better would be for you to get a cute pillowcase and make a tote bag for her yourself

Also, if your knitter has a Ravelry account, you can find out an awful lot about what she likes and wants by looking at her projects.

Yes, a handmade sweater with good-quality yarn will often run into three figures for materials cost alone. Modern mass-production has enabled most of us to forget that that’s just what custom clothing (and the materials for making it) costs, if the producers are being paid a decent wage for it.

Modern mass-produced clothing manufacture is unprecedentedly cheap because it relies on massive automation, standardization, and economies of scale (good, or at least neutral in principle), as well as environmentally destructive industrial agriculture and transport, low-quality materials/workmanship and quasi-slave labor (bad). As a result, most people nowadays have a very distorted view of what’s appropriate for clothing prices.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the future with the trend of “customized mass-production” clothing now being pioneered by a few companies like eShakti. However, this is a very off-topic digression from your original question of what to get a knitter!

Thanks - much useful advice here for beyond the Christmas event!

Be careful; if you browse around on Ravelry much you might find yourself taking up knitting…it’s habit forming.

By the way I think a knitting bag is a great idea. Check out Etsy for some cute ones and support a crafter at the same time. I have bought some from Sharon at Southern Sewn on Etsy and they are very well made.