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October 1st, 2007 at 01:50 am

Cheap Can Cost The yarn User Dear

How Cheap Can Cost The Yarn User Dear

It seems like nearly every day the “topic” of yarn substitution comes up on some e-group or another dedicated to using yarn.

Until recently, we in the US could often find great deals internationally if we were of a mindset to be a bit patient. It is sort of interesting to see how the mindset of willing to wait that mail order “requires” and particularly international mail order can clash with the “I Want It NOW” behavior of most netizens. But what do we lose when we choose customer service and price over customer service?

Each time I see this question and many others, I cannot help but think how fortunate I am to have been exposed to the expertise and assistance that can be found in an independent yarn shop where the staff has the experience and knowledge to have educated me in a way that ASCII text and even YouTube simple cannot.

Why not you ask? Because when it comes to yarn substitution, gauge is an integral part of the equation.

Although I have been fortunate to live in places where there are such shops, ones where the staff is knowledgeable and helpful, not everyone shares that advantage.

There is one shop where I often go that the owner knows her customers well, and those she does not, she makes a point of trying to. The advantage to the yarn user is that by having this type of relationship the yarn user can save a heap of heartache by taking advantage of the unique support offered by an experienced independent shop’s staff.

How so? Simple, because they get to know you and what you like.

When a new yarn, similar to the type and weight you enjoy comes in, they can show it to you.

When they have seen several of your projects over time, they have a “feel” for how you work, loose, tight or “on gauge” – so when you hit a problem, they can spot it – and help you get past it.

They can suggest patterns that are appropriate to your skill level and help you steer clear of those that may, because they are not really edited or teched properly cause you trouble. More often than knot, they will also know about errata and can help you avoid that pitfall as well.

I have often read complaints from those who are upset if they visit an independent retailer and find them unwilling to offer ‘free’ help for yarns purchased elsewhere – whether the shop carries the yarn or not.
But if you think about it, it is not really all that unreasonable.

After all IF you buy a sewing machine, say on line, but then you need to learn how to use its features, you cannot really expect the local independent sewing machine store to give you free lessons on the machine functions – the reason the machine was cheaper on line is because they know they will not have to provide much in the way of support and in the case of factory warranty, it is a lot more likely you are going to go to that local shop than ship it back to them.

So yes, the same yarn might be on that retailer’s shelf, but is it really fair to expect them to pay for your support when they have no profit from that sale? Perhaps if you often buy from them, but if you are just using their shop as the local public yarn library and denying them any profit, maybe not.

We so often seem to confuse customer service with customer support. But the truth is, many of us need more from our yarn retailer than just fast shipping and lower prices. We need product SUPPORT and that means help making good choice in yarn substitution.

Next time you are trying to make a decision that really only means saving a few cents, consider supporting the either your local yarn shop either by visiting their store, or their on-line shop – you may find the level of support well worth a few extra pennies.

But what about those who do not have the advantage of a local shop with an experienced staff?

Tomorrow or the next day

  • 1

    It’s one of the things I love about the LYS I visit. While I don’t go often, I made the point when I do go to talk to the owner, always buy something, and there is a lot of exchanging of knowledge. She has admitted to me that she doesn’t know a lot about crochet, but is amazed by the work that I bring in. So whenever a new yarn comes in and I’m there, she will show it to me, tell me about what it does with knitted stitches, and then asks me about how I would utilize it in a crochet application. I think this is great.

    I think what a lot of people need to understand is that like any independent establishment, if we don’t support it financially it won’t last. Our crochet group meets at a local community coffee house. They often have a hard time making ends meet and I have reminded the group that we need to buy at least 1 drink while we are there. They allow us to sit and take up valuable space in their sofa area for 2 hours once a month and for the 6-8 people we have there, it’s only right to support them by each of us buying a drink (which ranges from $3-7 depending on what you get). The same with LYS’s. If we’re not there supporting them by buying something when we’re there, then they’re going to go away. And the same people who gripe about the LYS being too expensive or too knit-focused or whatever will be the ones to complain that there isn’t an LYS near them.

    Sorry for the rambling. I hope I made sense (I’m nursing a migraine, probably not the best time to be posting). :)

    fibersbytracie on October 4th, 2007
  • 2

    Hi Tracie

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, they definitely made sense to me.

    It is great that your LYS owner may not understand Crochet but sure seems to understand customer support.

    Sounds like just the type of shop I like to visit


    wheat on October 4th, 2007
  • 3

    I visited a small shop in VA and bought some yarn that one of the local shops in the Baltimore area told me, when I wanted more of it, “they stopped making that”;) What they should have said “we’re not carrying that product anymore”. Nope, it wasn’t the last skeins of the bargain bin, either.
    The shop in VA was very, very nice. Not a lot in the way of crochet patterns, but chock full of yarn. The owner admitted she knew nothing about crochet, only knitting. I didn’t have any crocheting with me at the time. But she was very helpful, even pointing out the “bargain bin”. I bought 6 skeins of the yarn that wasn’t being made anymore;)

    blazelaflame on October 4th, 2007


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