This post stems from a post that I read on Ravelry the other day.  Instead of posting in the forum, I decided to expound on the idea of guilt and knitting.

In the thread, the original poster brought up the idea that she felt guilty by going to a stitch and b!tch/sit ‘n knit/knit night/knit n natter/knitting group/whateveryoucallit and *gasp* knit with yarn, needles and a pattern that she didn’t buy there and therefore felt guilty about it.

My first thought was FPS*.  I’ve been to knitting groups in yarn stores in the past and in no way have I ever felt guilty about not using their yarn, needles, patterns or anything else from that particular store.  This is not to say that I hadn’t bought yarn/needles/patterns/et al from the stores in the past, I just wasn’t using any of it at that exact moment.  This goes right along with the fact that I didn’t donate to the “Friends of the Library” every time I went to the knitting group at the library, make an offering to the church I didnt attend weekly for holding a SNB, buy weekly from school children fund-raising when a knit night met in the school library or give any money to the National or City Parks for all the hours that I have knit around campsites or in parks, not to mention not buying from my friends Etsy store when I would sit and knit with her!  I bring this up because one of the replies to the original post said that she only uses yarn that she bought at that store is she goes to knitting group there.  Another person said that she “ALWAYS” buys something when she goes into the LYS for knitting group.  If knitting somewhere means that I have to financially support them every time I knit in their presence to the tune of project yarn, I could and can only afford to knit alone.

A poster to the thread mentioned feeling guilt about telling other knitters in her LYS knit group that she had bought the yarn she was using at another local store.  The owner heard her and cheerly chimed in that it was wonderful yarn but the supplier needed a minimum order of $3k, an impossibility for her store and then went off to help another person.  The poster asked the thread readers if she needed to apologise to the owner for her faux pas.  Variety is the spice of life and really, if there was a store that carried all the yarn/needles/patterns/et al that I ever wanted, I still think that I would *still* shop elsewhere if only for specials or sales and to support as many people as possible.  I fully admit to loving lots of different stores and if there was an owner that would get upset with me for shopping elsewhere and using things they don’t carry or for prices they can’t beat, I wouldn’t want to give them any more of my money.

Supporting LYS’s are important, please dont get me wrong.  Sadly, right now, the closest LYS to me is 900 air miles away.  I support as many yarn purveyors as possible, including the ones that I sat and knit in and those that I’ve never met.  I’ll still tell friends and visitors to my blog about the fantastic service/selection/deals/everything about the places I’ve shopped, both brick web-based.  I gave advertisement to a store when I tell people I was going to the sit n knit at X yarn shop just as often as I tell friends that I bought Y from so’n’so online.  However if the price to sit and knit in a store with friends is to buy and use only their products in their presence AND give them word of mouth and blogging advertisement, well, I’d rather spend my money elsewhere and knit alone, thankingyouverymuch.

Thankfully and sadly at the same time, being out here in rural Alaska makes the decision about where I will sit and knit is made for me.  I don’t have to balance what LYS I will visit as everyone is out of town yet local within the internet!  I was quite devastated to learn that there are no other knitters in town but with podcasts, I have lots of knitting groups and knitters to visit with.  As local friends won’t appreciate my telling them about the stores I buy yarn and fiber from, I will tell you, my lovely readers!  In no particular order, here are the stores that I buy from, love the service of and generally drool over. They are both yarn and spinning fiber with the majority of my fiber coming from Etsy shops with a side of TLE.

Knit Picks : They get more money from me than I would care to admit but really, I love them so, so much.  The affordable yarn in so many weights, fibers and colours, the amazingness that is their Independent Designer Program, the helpful podcast that the owner, Kelly, puts out, brilliant, creative patterns.  So much to love, all in one place, Knit Picks is perfection in a online yarn shop.

The Loopy Ewe : Sheri is my sock yarn dealer, first and forever.  I will admit to bouts of unfaithfulness but by and large, my sock yarn comes from Sheri.  Since August 2nd, 2006 (she opened 8/1/06), I have made 3-4 orders per year, usually about 3 months apart and I will own to spending over $1300 there.  Before you yell Mum, it hasn’t ALL been sock yarn (all 3 pairs of your socks yarn came from her though).  My biggest order was all roving and it was only my first order, my first ‘real’ skeins of sock yarn, that was over $100.  The only other order that went that high included a sweaters worth of yarn.  There is something very special about buying from Sheri.  Maybe it is a “First Love” -like connection, maybe its the beautiful photos, maybe it has everything to do with the most brilliant dyers that Sheri stocks and the Frequent Shopper Benefits that she also tracks but really, I love Sheri and I hope that everyone who knits socks will buy at least one skein from her.  She is like Lays though…I betcha can’t buy just one.  Shameless Plug: Follow the links, create a new account and give me the credit cause you all know that I need more sock yarn 🙂

*FPS = For Petes Sake; a phrase which has wormed its way into my vocabulary completely because of my reading of Sheris blog.  Her original post about FPS can be found HERE.

Most recently (OK, it was 12/26/09), I bought sock yarn from Little Knits.  I’d never purchased from the Littles before because of their $25 minimum order policy.  Not that I have problems spending more than $25 dollars, it’s just, well, look at their sock yarn prices!  Most of their sock yarn is between 17 and 77% off which means lots of yarn to make it to $25.  In reality, I had only wanted to buy a few needles in the past so never really explored their sock yarn.  I bought 2 skeins of yarn that are normally $9 for $2.45!  $18 for the pair became $4.90!  The Yarn Harlot made mention in one of her books about the entertainment value of yarn and sock knitting and I never really believed her reasoning until this order.  While she may be able to routinely find sock yarn on sale for the cheap, I was never that skilled until now.  Sock yarn that is hard-wearing and creates socks that stand up for the past 3 years of wearing at least once a week, being tossed into the wash with everything from undies to jeans and still looks perfect and still have no spots darned is to be revered and bought in bulk when on sale.  I did so and will show you pictures tomorrow 🙂 Its not the most beautiful use of colour nor does it inspire me to handpaint yarn myself but this yarn is like a good pair of jeans.  It goes with everything, is a perfect fit no matter how many times you wash and wear them and make your butt look good.  Ok, maybe not the last one but you get the idea.  Coming from a woman who always wears jeans, trust me, this yarn, even at fingering weight, is my standard.  I cant wait to show you!!!

Etsy : Ok, there are a lot of Etsy sellers that I love.

#1) Northern Lights Fiber Co > Holy Cats, I just LOVE K’s dye jobs on both the fibers and the yarns, her service is wonderful…everything is great!  I’ve bought from her a few times, both on Etsy and in person and she even comments on the blog 🙂  What more could you ask for in a fibery friend?

#2) Wooly Treasures > Normally I am not one for spinning from batts but there was something that really spoke to me about hers and I wasn’t disappointed at all.  Beautiful colours, amazingly blended batts, very cool fibers…an all around great spinning experience.

#3) Exclusively Linda Lee > While she doesn’t have the shop up now because of a house move, I highly recommend that you look at her sold items and think about ordering from her in the future.  I bought her “Mary’s Monet” colourway in SW Merino and Cashmere…can you blame me?  I want one of everything but especially something in her Royale colourway like this one.  Oh Baby!

#4) Wee Ones > Not yarn or fiber but completely related to my knitting, Wee Ones made the stitch markers that I just can knit without.  She made me a personal set of Sisu sitch markers which includes a Brown Bear, a Beaver, a Moose, Sisu playing and Sisu giving “paw”.  They were my “celebration and reminders of Anchorage” stitch markers that I bought and had sent to Nelson Lagoon.  Perfect in every way and always used when I need a stitch marker.  BrightonWoman has some too…

#5 Green Eyed Monsters > I havent received this fiber yet (because I sent it to my Mum) but she says its stunning!  Shipping was fast between MI and the UK and I just wait wait to get my hot little hands on it.  Not like I don’t have enough roving, but this is Wool and Nylon, the perfect stuff to spin into hard(er) wearing sock yarn.  Before I make my attempt though I will try to spin sock yarn out of another one of my rovings.  I’ve got a few.

A few other fibery sellers I have on my list are LimeGreenJelly for intensity of colour, TheThylacine for dyeing on oatmeal and grey fibres, Inspiration Fibers for her colour blending kits (check her sold items for more examples) and  FatCat Knits for her, as I see them, true to name colourways.

On a side note, I have to say I am quite taken with Meenas Magickal Apothecary and Poison Apple Potions.  Meenas scent descriptions beggar belief, alight the senses and stir the perfume-y girl within me and there is something about Gwyllion that is calling out to me.  Samples will be purchased from both in the future!

There is only one Etsy seller that I didnt mention on here and thats because it was, quite regrettably, a bad experience.  I made a special order, the product looked to be knit and then re-skeined without being washed (noticed by my former partner who doesn’t knit), the seller was upset at my neutral feedback despite the fact that I said I would buy from her again and then, to top everything off, the socks I made completely washed out their colour in the first washing, despite the cold water.  I never told the seller what happened because it was easier to wash my hands (and socks) of her.

When I lived in Anchorage, I could be found at the Far North Yarn Co or the Yarn Branch of the Quilt Tree.  Both stores were wonderful and offered great service.  Honestly, I was there only for the experience of fondling the skeins.  I bought most of my yarn online from on of my online dealers because of better prices but every now and then I would buy from them…enough so that I have spent enough to redeem frequent shopper benefits from both stores.  No, they don’t have a $250 cap like Sheri but nearly so.  Between the sock yarn (yes, I bought sock yarn from them too) and 2 sweaters worth and a few odd skeins of pretty here and there, I’d say I did them well.  I even brought in other customers as I converted people to the knitter side (its like the “Dark Side” but we have cookies and needles 🙂 )

Tomorrows post will include shopping without guilt and pictures of my most recent acquisition.