Odd Pricing for Hand Dyed Sock Yarns

15 Nov


Having bought hundreds of hand dyed sock yarns in my knitting life, I slowly noticed something odd with the prices of these yarns. All of them are 100-115g skeins in either 100% superwash merino or a mostly merino-nylon blend, yet the price range is quite large. Some are overly expensive (Fiesta Baby Boom $31.95, Prism Saki $31.85) while others are totally cheap in comparison (small indie dyers on Etsy that charge $20/skein). GIven that the base yarn that they use are pretty much the same and the dyes that they use are the same (Jacquard, Dharma or Lanaset), what could account for this price discrepency?


And honestly, I don’t care how beautiful your colors are: if you price your yarns above $25/skein, I simply won’t be buying your yarns. Seeing that you have to account for inflation in the future, you really shouldn’t price your yarns that high. (I have Miss Babs Yummy 2-ply sock yarn with price tags that read, $21, 22, 24, and now $26. Can you imagine she had set her prices at $30 to begin with? No one will pay $36 for a 400yd/100g skein of 100% superwash merino (unless some Hollywood celebrity or someone really famous made it)

I’m pretty sure places like Fiesta intentionally price it high so they can give big discounts. (they have 40-50% sales ALL the time) Other smaller dyers who charge $30/skein for their regular merino yarns comes off to me as……cocky. I mean, it’s one thing to have pride in ones work but to set your prices so high as to ignore market rate seems like hubris.

I’m not a huge fan of Madelinetosh but the one good thing they did was price their yarns relatively low for the yarn lines they sell on their own site. Their 80/10/10 merino-cashmere nylon is $22/skein, which is extremely well priced for that fiber content. (yarn lines sold in yarn shops are priced higher).

Another thing I don’t understand: why price your merino-silk blends the same as your regular merino? This makes no sense to me. I know the the silk blend base costs more money and silk blends conjure a more luxurious image, so why price it the same or nearly the same as your regular merino blend?

Sitting here surrounded by beautiful hand dyed yarns that retail for $24 or less, I really wonder how some of these dyers come up with their crazy prices. Oh well, whatever floats your boat. (Good luck making the big bucks!)

Mini Skein Mania

10 Nov

Whoa, it’s been how long since my last post?!

Sorry about that folks. I’ve been busy amassing a ridiculous amount of sock yarns (fingering weight) to turn into mini skeins.

I know I’ve often poo-pooed at high priced hand dyed yarns but currently, that’s all I’ve been buying. And honestly, it is so much freakin’ fun! (Ah, the shop-a-holic in me is coming out)

First order of business: Yes, it’s costing a lot of money – money that I don’t have. Does this mean I have massive debt? Hells no. I do what I normally do when I need yarn money; sell some yarn! (When you’ve got a crazy stash as large as mine, yarn is my currency)

And in order to fund this shopping extravaganza, I have been selling a ton of yarns I have managed to buy on sales from online vendors. Good thing I bought them on deep discount! With Paypal fees and exorbitant USPS postage, I would’ve lost money if I’d bought it for near retail.

Many items I would have normally never thought to sell, I am destashing. Actually, I’m thinking I’ll put EVERYTHING up for sale and whatever doesn’t sell, I’ll keep and knit with. Well, ok, ALMOST everything (ain’t nobody touching my baby camel-cashmere or bison down skeins)

So far, I’ve managed to collect a good 150 skeins of merino/merino-nylon fingering, 50 skeins of merino-cashmere fingering, 35 Wollmeise Pure Merino skeins, and 20 Bugga skeins (Sanguine Gryphon/Verdant Gryphon/Cephalopod sport weight MCN).

Are you doing quick math in your head? Lemme help you with that: approx. $5000

Go big or go home, right? And some teaser pics for your eyes…

some of the Wollmeise Pure Merino skeins in my collection…

Bugga! so friggin soft….well the 20% cashmere doesn’t hurt….

Misspelling that drives me crazy

13 Sep

Fingering, not fingerLing

Dyeing yarn, not Dying yarn (are you killing the thing?)

If you’ve dropped stitches, you’re losing stitches not loosing stitches.

That is all,

For that kind of money, that thing better wind the yarn by itself….

4 Sep

….is what I had said after seeing the prices for a NKK (Nancy’s Knit Knacks) heavy duty ball winder. $250?!! And that’s not including postage.

So, guess what I did? Yep, I bought an electric winder that self-winds. No more achy shoulders and wrists!

I know there’s a cheap Boye winder that’s available at your big box stores but those things are evil contraptions that do a poor job of winding balls. No wonder they’re so cheap! And that thing can’t wind larger put-ups like this baby I got. (Bought for a cool $142 from E-bay, of course. That site is like a treasure hunt sometimes. I saw this listing and man, I was determined to buy it since something like this doesn’t show up often. And tah-dah! In my hands. Muahahahahaha!)

It’s supposedly vintage/rare because they don’t make these anymore but the one I received looks and feels almost new. This definitely sat in someone’s attic/garage for a long time. Hey, I’m not complaining!

After a bit of a hiccup in the very beginning (the wooden core wasn’t spinning the first time I wound a ball due to not having been used in a long time. By the second ball, it was just fine. Perfect little center pull balls that look like those crochet thread balls. Check out the Youtube video of the winder in action.

As much as I love my Royal winders (both the small and the long discontinued jumbo winder), this is infinitely easier to wind from my cones. I have not tried winding off of a swift yet so we’ll see how that goes.

My new score of the week - an electric ball winder!

My new score of the week – an electric ball winder!

Looks Like I’m Ready for the Apocalypse!

15 Aug

In case, I run out of yarn….ha, like THAT’s ever gonna happen

So I went a little overboard…..

A spinning/weaving shop closed and had consigned its entire stock to DBNY (discontinuedbrandnameyarn.com).

Tons of cashmere, extra fine merino, merino-silks, cashmerinos….you name it, they had it and I bought it. Much of it was Colourmart yarns while there was a healthy does of Jaggerspun, Henry’s Attic, and Japanese cashmere yarns thrown in there as well.

Of course, it was discounted (cheaper than buying from Colourmart) so I kinda went hogwild.

And since I have all these lux fibers to knit with, I am going to destash ALL my workhorse yarns. No sense knitting with stuff that’s not soft. Goodbye Cascade 220, goodbye Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, Good bye KP Palette, goodbye Ultra Alpaca, goodbye Araucania Nature Wool, goodbye Patons Classic Wool, and on and on and on….

Bug Damaged Yarn (eewwwww!)

22 Jul

Quick, hide your babies! By babies, I mean your lovely yarn stash.

I recently got a very large package of coned yarn that had a fair amount of bug damage from an ebay seller that will remain anonymous. Not only did the bugs eat through the entire cone, I found dead casings and even found one squirming bug that I quickly killed with my thumbnail. Ew ew ew ew!


Big gaping holes = lots of short broken strands

Now, there were no mention of bugs or damage in the Ebay listing so I was pretty pissed. 15-17 pounds of yarn and they all got bugs. CRAP!!! Where did this woman store these yarns – in her barn or something?

The Ebay seller was nice enough to refund me the entire amount, minus the $70 in postage (I know, seriously. Has this person never heard of UPS or Parcel post before? Who sends a 20 pound box via Priority Mail across the country?)

For a person like me who has more yarn than most yarn shops, any hint of bugs and I go nuts. What if the bugs get to any of my stash? That’s a real fear and I try my best to keep my yarn room clean and bug-free.

Luckily, due to the box being so heavy and large, I had opened this buggy package out in the garage so the bugs never had a chance to even set foot in the house.

Normally, I would just chuck all of this into the trash but here’s the thing. These were REALLY nice luxury blend yarns….with you guessed it…cashmere. (not to mention the $70 out of pocket postage I paid for all of it) What’s a girl to do?

I’ve bagged them all in a vaccuum bag, threw in a ton of mothballs (die, you mofos, die!!!) and they have been sitting there in my garage for several days now. I’ll take them out one by one, skein any that’s salvedgeable and then boil all the skeins and let dry in the summer sun. That should get rid of the mothball smell as well as kill any remaining remnants. I guess these won’t be going in my regular stash.

Sheesh, you gotta stay vigilant and Ebay is just one big minefield.

Please don’t jump on the hand-dyed bandwagon…

17 Jul

Everyday I see overeager semi-noob dyers jumping onto the hand-dyed yarn selling bandwagon. They see brands like MadelineTosh, Lorna’s Laces, and think, ‘Hey, let me get a piece of that action too!”

What every hand dyer wishes to become...

What every hand dyer wishes to become…

Well, I also see small hand dyers call it quits every single day. Even semi-large ones that have a considerable following have trouble keeping afloat and close up shop.

It’s unfortunate really, but I kinda see this market already at saturation point. I mean, there are so many freakin dyers that it’s almost impossible to differentiate one from another since most are using the same yarn base, the same dyes, similar techniques, and same POS (point-of-sale). Unless something totally unique came along, I doubt one will survive longer than a few years and with barely a profit.

From a business standpoint, one really needs to bring supply costs down. Let’s do a simple breakdown of material costs:

  • Undyed yarn
  • Dyes and acid (acid dyes and citric acid or vinegar)
  • Tools (squeeze bottle, dye stock containers, brushes, pots, gloves, etc)
  • Equipment (skeinwinders, niddynoddys, yardage meters, etc)
  • Utility costs (heat, electricity, water)
  • Label (printing and paper)

That right there already costs a ton, although one can get away with not buying the bigger investment pieces of equipment until later. Now, given that a typical hand dyed sock yarn sell for $24-25/skein and only receive about $12-13 when sold wholesale to LYSs, you’re looking at $2-3 profit. If you consider that the minimum wage is close to $9 these days, how many skeins would you have to sell to make a decent living? 1500-2000 skeins a month? Can one person even dye that much yarn? And will said person be able to sell that many?

So you don’t want to sell wholesale and have the yarn shops take half your money. Well, what about website or Etsy costs if you decide to sell online only? postage? paypal fees? How will you market your yarn? Placing ads on Ravelry? Coupons or sales? Supplying yarn to up and coming knitwear designers? That costs more money.

Applying for a business license in your state and paying business taxes on your sales. More money out of your pocket

I don’t want to be a party pooper but honestly, people jump into this whole dyeing business without a plan and it’s sad really. Yes, your yarns are beautiful but that only gets you so far.

Fake Yarns

13 Jul

the mink yarn that wasn’t….

There’s been a big fuss over Lotus Mimi, a supposedly 100% mink yarn. Now, I say supposedly because no one is certain if it did contain mink in the first place. All we know is that the yarn was sent out for testing at a lab and it came back as a mix of angora, wool, and nylon. ZERO mink.

Well, how about that. Trendsetter, the U.S. distributor of the yarn was quick to pull the plug on this fake yarn and is doing a massive recall on the product. Lotus Yarns of China, which originally sold the yarn is claiming that they were duped by the actual manufacturer of the yarn and had no knowledge of the fiber content switcheroo. Supposedly, Lotus had test results and documents to prove the yarn was indeed mink back in the day when Trendsetter first contacted Lotus to distribute the yarn and the brand in the U.S.

Who knows what the truth is? Somebody is lying and lots of people are pissed and rightly so. $26/50g ball of a mostly wool-nylon blend yarn? And what about the angora content? A lot of folks are allergic to angora so this is really bad form on the part of the Chinese. In the past, I’ve defended Chinese yarns despite China’s poor reputation for knock-offs of everything under the sun because I figured, who would go out of their way to make fake yarn? (I mean, yes there are fake cashmeres on Ebay going for $2/ball but c’mon, unless you’re stupid, you know that’s not real cashmere, right? I hate those people who buy these ridiculously priced yarns and complain that they turned out to be not cashmere but nylon or microfiber. Uh-duh!)

Well, you got me China. You and your minks….which by the way are most likely sable. (and no, not the ‘Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectency’ kind)

Sable is commonly found in Northern parts of Asia with the lowest quality (cheapest) grown in China. The Chinese character most often used to sell “mink” yarns is ‘ diāo‘ which could also mean sable/marten (I’ve never heard of marten so I had to go to wikipedia for some explanations)

Anyway, from Ravelry posts like this that are pointing out the mink yarns don’t look quite right under the microscope as well as speculation that the yarn is a kill fiber (supposedly, the mink are brushed but how one would go about doing that without hurting the animal and not accruing a ridiculously high labor cost is beyond me) I’m going mink free from now on.

What’s even weirder is that Craig Turner of minkyarn.com, a purveyvor of mink and mink blend yarns suddenly announced he was leaving the mink yarn business and going the route of Italian mills……and then suddenly deleting his blog post. Did he find out something we’d rather not know? Who the hell knows? But this “Minkgate” sure is fishy.

As much as I like exotic fibers, I don’t approve of killing animals just to get yarn (with the exception of NZ possums because they’re an ecological problem) and I don’t like having to second guess if what I have is real or fake.

That said, there have been other instances of fake yarn in the past. Let me briefly mention some of them:

Fake Rowan Calmer from Turkey

Is there cashmere in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino?

Fake handdyed yarn (once again, China!)

Liquidation at the Yarnist (aka Artfibers)

8 Jul

So I don’t know if any of you are familiar with Artfibers, the eclectic specialist yarn shop in San Francisco that sold only their own line of yarn.

Well, they closed a few years ago (due to the owners wanting to get out of the business after 20+ years and San Francisco’s real estate prices becoming just ridiculous) and had a closing sale. I thought about ordering some then but hemmed and hawed too long to buy anything.

Flash forward a year. The owners still had a storage locker full of yarn and they had set up a website called The Yarnist to try to sell off some of the remaining inventory. I had the page bookmarked because I saw some yarns that peaked my interest. Namely the following:

nom nom nom

Camuse (65% baby camel / 35% cashmere)

Sortie (100% superfine merino – 15.5 microns! That’s softer than most cashmeres!)

Svalbard (80% superfine merino/20% cashmere)

Yaqui (100% yak down)

100% yak down – yes please!

Majolica (70% Superfine Merino/30% Silk)

ManRay (70% viscose / 30% stainless steel)

These are fiber contents you don’t typically see in most LYSs so at the prices they were selling for, I was more than interested. They also had all these yarns custom spun for them from Italy and Japan (Lineapiu and Hasegawa among some of the mills that spun the yarns) so these were total one-of-a-kinds. How many times have you ever run into superfine merino yarns? I’ve only seen one, yes, one yarn in the entire retail yarn universe.

Well, today they’re liquidating everything. I guess they no longer want to hold onto their storage locker or deal with running a yarn website. It’s all on the chopping block. At a ridiculously low price: $20/lb for up to 49 lbs and $16/lb for 50-199lbs. 200 or more pounds of yarn and you’re looking at $12/lb. These are all on cones so even better for me who hate joining yarn and weaving in ends.

I went batshit crazy….as in, I was about to drop a 200lb order until I looked at my bank account balance that was looking rather paltry. Scratch that plan. The minimum order is 10 lbs so I did what a sane person would do: order just 10 pounds. (just 10 pounds. hahaha, most people would consider that a lifetime supply of yarn, right?)

Got on the phone first thing in the morning (even though I have phone phobia and hate calling people I don’t know…yeah, I don’t even like calling restaurants for reservations or take out.) and made my order. (The owner, Roxanne, is really sweet and was really patient with me.)

Guess who’s got a shipment of baby camel, cashmere, and yak down on my way? Me, me, me!

Now, off to go destash some rustic wools I’ll never be touching again with a ten foot pole. Only luxury fibers for this yarn snob!

eta: totally kicking myself for posting this all over the internet because some of the stuff I wanted is sold out. Me and my big blabber mouth!

Overrated Yarns

26 Jun

So, I had posted my rant about Malabrigo

This time, it’s gonna be about the other cult faves – Wollmeise and Madelinetosh.

Not to sound like a pompous snob, but hey, at this point in my life, I think I’m allowed to judge yarn (move over Clara Parkes! I’ve got a good 13,000 skeins of yarn and 200 cones in my stash. How about you?)

And while my experience with Malabrigo was less than perfection (I have used the Worsted Merino, Chunky, Finito, and Lace versions as well as its 100purewool cousins, so I did get an overall feel for the yarns), the Wollmeise and Madelinetosh experience was actually not too bad.

The yarns I encountered was Wollmeise Dk and Wollmeise Pure; Madelinetosh Tosh Sock, Pashmina Worsted, Tosh Merino DK.

Here are my rather brief reviews:

Wollmeise: substantial feel, solid colorway that looks almost factory dyed, soft and tightly spun base. Overall, a very nice yarn but I can’t quite see why there’s a rabid fan base. I admit that it’s a really high quality yarn but don’t really see why there’s such a high premium. Nonetheless, if you come across a destash/ yard sale that has any of the Wollmeise yarns, don’t hesitate to snatch them up. High quality through and through. No dyes coming off onto your fingers while knitting and no dyes leeching onto lighter colored yarns when washed. Whatever this Claudia (the dyer) is doing, she’s doing a good job.

Madtosh Socks

Madelinetosh: TOTAL HYPE. There, I said it. The dyes aren’t set correctly and some of the yarns pill like crazy (Pashmina series), almost to the point of Malabrigo. At your price point, what’s your excuse? My god, America, are you this dumb to get suckered into buying overpriced yarn? There are SO many indie hand dyers out there deserving your $$$ and this brand ain’t it. You might balk at this statement and wonder how many yarns I have actually used to give such review. How about 20 skeins? Is that enough of a test run? I made a ton of mini skeins to sell off after using a certain yardage for my scrap yarn scarf project. Lo and behold, many of these suckers bled like crazy. I don’t care if your yarn colors are beautiful – set your colors so they don’t bleed onto other yarns. Your prices sure don’t justify this nonsense. Maybe I’m just a cranky knitter who doesn’t like seeing one company monopolize the hand dyeing market.


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