Skeins for under a buck!

Online Guide:
Where to Find
Inexpensive Yarns

Note: This article was published in 2000 and many of the stores and sources listed are no longer in business.

There's nothing quite as satisfying as knitting with good yarn. Unfortunately, there's also nothing quite as dissatisfying as not being able to knit with good yarn because of budgetary restrictions.

The increase in online yarn stores is good news for knitters on a restricted budget. No longer must you forage through the one sale basket at your local yarn shop or let WalMart's stock dictate your creative endeavors.

What follows is a list of several online yarn sources I've found that offer unusually good prices on a broad selection standard yarns, or low prices on unusually good yarns. It is by no means intended to be comprehensive, since there are hundreds of online yarn sources out there.

If you hae a favorite that isn't listed here, or want to find out more, be sure to check our online shop recommendation section in the forums.

In This Article
  Everyday low prices
  Canadian Sources
  UK Sources
  Worth the Drive
Sites Offering Everyday Low Prices
(Listed alphabetically)  - The youngest of the pack, this elegantly styled online store carries all the biggies—including Katia, Mountain Colors, Noro, Mondial, Bernat, Caron, Debbie Bliss, ArtYarns, TLC, Skacel, to name a few.

Most yarns are sold in bags rather than individually, but the number of skeins per bag varies from yarn to yarn. Discounts tend to fall in the 20% range, but this, too, varies from yarn to yarn.

Do check the shipping policies before you order. Some yarns require special ordering (including Noro, Debbie Bliss, and Knitting Fever) and can take several months to ship.

Elann  - Despite increased competition, this venerable low-priced online retailer remains at the top of her game. You'll find interesting, unusual yarns at excellent prices. All fibers are represented here, both natural and synthetic. If you look through the Oddballs and Closeouts sections, you'll easily be able to reproduce a designer sweater for under $30!

An easy-to-track customer loyalty program means even greater discounts every time your order totals reach a certain amount. I consider the Elann online shopping experience to be the best practice in the industry.

(As an aside, Elann is based in Canada but ships from both the U.S. and Canada depending on the order destination.)

Got Yarn  - All the top names are here. Some, such as Colinette, aren't discounted. With yarns that are discounted, in many cases you must buy in quantities of five or 10 skeins. For most purposes, this doesn't pose any problem.

Knit Picks  - The company totally revolutionized the way it did business in December 2004 when it kicked out all the other yarns from its inventory and went totally, completely, 100% Knit Picks brand yarns (read our overview). Prices are astounding—think pure wool for less than $2 a ball.

Most of the core line comes from Peru, although you'll find some Italian-spun yarns in there too. Fibers are mostly natural, featuring succulent alpacas, silks, cashmeres, and merinos, all for a fraction of what others charge.

Most books are also discounted below Amazon prices, and the company offers free shipping on orders over $40.

One Fine Day Yarns  - The motto here is, "Because every day is a new ball of yarn." You'll find significantly discontinued and specialty-priced products as well as regular lines, with a focus on natural fiber yarns (wool, cotton, silk, alpaca). The site currently stocks the likes of GGH, Karabella, Katia, Cascade, Muench, Ornaghi Filati, Elsebeth Lavold, Blue Heron, Crystal Palace, Plymouth, and Noro.

Especially good prices can be found in the sale bin.

Smiley's Yarns  - Feeding acrylics, cottons, and wools to Americans since 1935, this New York institution offers online ordering in its Internet Yarn Sale section. Brands include Bernat, Patons, Lion Brand, and Red Heart, and prices can be 75% below retail.

Canadian Sources
Beehive Wool  - Based in Canada, this online retailer has excellent prices on Patons, Sandnesgarn, SR Kertzer, and OnLine yarns. It tends to favor acrylics and novelties.

Be sure to check out their sister site, for even deeper discounts.

Ram Wools  - Also based in Canada, this online retailer is also known for its gorgeous catalogs (now published online six times a year) featuring original Ram Wools designs. But the company also carries a full selection of yarns from such names as Rowan, RYC, Debbie Bliss, Fleece Artist, Garnstudio, Mission Falls, Louisa Harding, Nashua, and Noro.

Order yarn by the bag for deeper discounts, and be sure to check out their new outlet mall, with discounts of 20% to more than 45% over retail. (The yarns are usually closeouts.)

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UK Sources
Colourway  - Some yarns can be far less expensive if you buy them in their "native" country—especially Rowan and Jaeger. Even with international shipping costs, you tend to pay less if you buy them from the U.K. My favorite source for British yarns, Colourway carries a deep and broad inventory of all the classics from Rowan, Jaeger, and Scottish Tweed (formerly Harris Yarns). They also stock the gorgeous Rowan fabrics and patchwork books.

Be sure to join their mailing list so you can get emails about their seasonal sales and factory closeouts.

Cucumberpatch  - Offering similarly good prices on Rowan as well as Debbie Bliss, Cucumberpatch also has the elusive and desirable Hanne Falkenberg kits at equally good prices.

Prices are listed in Pounds Sterling, but with a simple dropdown menu you can see the price in many other currencies.

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Worth the Drive
Webs  - If you're in the Western Massachusetts region, book a hotel room in Northampton and dedicate at least a day to this enormous yarn warehouse. You'll find both brand names (Plymouth, Reynolds, Queensland, On-Line, Noro, Malabrigo, Katia, Karabella, and the likes) and the Webs' line of yarns—including the wonderful Valley Yarns launched in 2005.

For those who can't make the trip, Webs also offers online ordering.

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eBay  - You'll find some surprisingly good deals here. The key is to know the market value for what you're bidding on and not get swept up in the fervor of the auction.

I've seen a few unscrupulous sellers offer "rare" items (mostly with knitting needles) that are pretty commonplace, but I've otherwise had good yarn-buying experiences on eBay. Just in case, here are some general tips for eBay yarn buying.

First and foremost with any eBay buying, be sure to check out the seller's feedback profile before you bid. If you see one or two negative comments, don't give up on the seller immediately.

First, see how recent the feedback was and compare it to the number of positive ratings (one negative out of 400, for example, is far different than one out of six). Read it and see if the seller added any comments back. And then check the user rating of the person who gave the negative feedback.

All these things can give you a better perspective on all people involved. If the negative feedback-giver's record is squeaky clean, you can most likely trust that the feedback is genuine. If their own record is filled with criticisms, you know that this person may have more vendor issues than most.

If the eBay seller has no feedback or record of previous auctions, the general rule is to be extra careful.

If you're sensitive to cigarette smoke, you may want to stick with vendors who advertise yarns from smoke-free homes.

Also be sure to check out the seller's shipping policy and costs before you bid. Some sellers build in extra shipping costs to make up for any discount on the auction itself. And others bill you for USPS Priority Mail-level rates but ship via surface mail.

And finally, if you're really eager for a specific yarn, after you set up an eBay account you can set up a search for that yarn. Whenever it appears for auction, eBay will automatically send you an email notification.

eBay Yarn Shortcuts
General Yarn Section
Mixed Lots
Handspun and Handpainted
Other Yarn

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