Q for You: What’s the yarn you can’t resist?

Q for You: What's your yarn-buying weakness?

I have a weakness. A very clearly defined one. No matter how much I get bothered about the quantity of yarn in my house, no matter how many oaths I make about not buying yarn without a clear purpose and intent to cast on, no matter how close I am to throwing my entire stash in a few garbage bags and dropping them off at the center for creative reuse, when I’m faced with a certain type of yarn, I cannot stop myself from buying a sweater’s worth. What type is that, you ask? Small-batch, minimally processed, undyed medium grey yarn. Pictured above are the Sawkill Farm yarn I bought at Rhinebeck in October, Fancy Tiger’s all-Colorado Junegrass from their 10th anniversary celebration (which I didn’t get to go to — but I did get to buy the yarn online!), and Ysolda Teague’s Blend No.1, which I bought after petting it and her utterly perfect Polwarth* sweater in D.C.** They are not the same. The Sawkill is the most unusual blend of breeds; it’s sheepy and airy and farmy. The Junegrass is also farmy and delicious but also squishy and soft. (Sheep soft, not marshmallow soft.) And the Blend No.1 is sport weight, for pete’s sake! They’re as different as night and day.

If you factor in the salt-and-pepper Linen Quill that Purl Soho sent me and the darker grey Hole & Sons I bought from their second (and apparently last) batch, I have five grey sweaters in waiting. And I also genuinely believe I can come up with five sweaters as different from each other as these yarns are, and that there’s no such thing as too many grey sweaters. But clearly if I meet any more small-batch grey yarn in the near future (“but I’ll never have another shot at it!”) I need to remind myself there will always be another one and I have many at home.

So that’s my confession, and also my Q for You: What’s your yarn-buying weakness?


*Seriously, y’all, that is the perfect sweater. The details are incredible.
**There are no shopping links for the four small-batch yarns discussed here because none of them are available for purchase. See what I mean?!?! I had to!


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53 thoughts on “Q for You: What’s the yarn you can’t resist?

  1. Of course you had to…. I also have a weakness for small batch, as local as I can have it, yarn…..

  2. It’s because gray goes with everything! From a woman, with, uhhhh, a number of gray cardigans.

  3. I am weak, so weak, all the time. Handspun kills me. A saturated skein of subtle color shifts will always win. The rare and thoughtful yarn really makes me crazy, especially if I’ve had a conversation with the maker. I buy yarn all the time, just to rescue it—noble, I know!

    Loving all those grays. Gray yarn is another worrisome category . . .

  4. I’ve knit Polwarth with Ysolda’s yarn. You’re absolutely right, it is perfect. Imagine missing out?!

  5. Wait till you start getting gray hair. The obsession will get worse. Working on a gray pullover right now and just picked up some BT Plains in a pale gray for a shawl or scarf. I do love dark blue as well, though. Crazy, I know. I think my next sweater is going to be a pink of sorts. Really crazy. ;-)

  6. I have more yarn than I’ll use in a lifetime and more patterns than I’ll ever use in 5 lifetimes. No exaggeration. This creative endeavor taps into all of my “aholicisms.” Fiberaholic. Patternaholic. Magazineaholic. Creative-magazines-printed-on-beautiful-paper-aholic. (I simultaneously groaned with fear and squealed with delight at the publishing of Knitwit and Making.) Having said that, I’m definitely with many here when it comes to soft, natural, local, and grey or black. Though I have been known to succumb to light pearly pink.

    • I am right there with you on the “creative-magazines-printed-on-beautiful-paper-aholic.” I love Making and Knitwit, and don’t forget Pompom and Amirisu…

  7. I am a sucker for wholesome, farmy yarns also. But I can’t wear grey, at all, so I indulge in the off whites, which are a slightly better color for me. I discovered YOTH yarns a while back and fell in love; Big Sister is probably my fave. I think its the touch of cashmere in the yarn. but any of her yarns will do. My favorite colorway is Concord Grape though.
    Of the more traditionally processed yarns, Ella Rae Fine Merino in any weight I can get my hands on.

  8. My kryptonite is all things lilac, mauve, purple, lavender, eggplant, plum, amethyst, etc., especially heathery shades in woolly yarn (hello BT). It’s the number one colour makes my heart leap. Greys come a very close second though. To me, grey says elegance and comfort in one breath. BTW, cannot wait to see what you’ll make with these three gorgeous greys.

  9. Absolutely up front, “can’t resist” is handdyed fingering yarn. But I buy one skein at a time because of my thing being hats. Next in line is the Purl Soho Quill. Oh my, I bought some at Karen’s recommendation and I fell hard. Its that touch of linen in a fingering yarn and do I ever love to knit with it – and love the outcome. Though color is my first snag, I can jump to natural fingering in a heartbeat. Those skeins above – wow oh wow! Be still my heart…

  10. In addition to grey (Midwest Coopworth, Junegrass, Imperial . . .), I would add brassy, greeny gold as a color that is hard to resist. I would point out, Karen, your obsession is none too uncommon here and stands as proof that your FOMO purchases are justified, eh?

  11. I, also, am a fan of the wholesome, farmy yarns on the market. I can’t wear grey (at all), so the taupe and off whites are my colors. I discovered YOTH yarns a while back and fell in love with the Concord Grape colorway in any of the lines, but Big Sister is my favorite. I think it is the touch of cashmere in the yarn. Wholesome, yet just a touch decadent. Perfect.

    Of the more processed yarns, hands down it is Ella Rae Fine Merino. Pure heaven to touch (fondle?) and knit up. This is my husband’s favorite too. Whoever does the dyeing for this line of Ella Rae knows how to speak directly to my heart. Heaven in one hundred grams.

  12. I ordered 3 skeins of Blend no. 1 for a shawl. After I received it, I wished I ordered a sweater’s worth. It is the most sensual yarn I have ever worked with. I hope they do another batch. John Arbon Textiles who created it have something sort of similar that I would like to get.
    No more Hole and Sons yarn? What?!? I’ve been waiting for it. I didn’t hear about that yarn until after they sold out.
    It looks like I have a weakness for small batch, undyed or naturally dyed yarn. And grey is my favorite color.

  13. Deep, forest greens and rich, emerald greens and bright, spring greens and soft, muted olive greens and cheerful, vibrant kelly greens…

    If the yarn is green, it calls to me like a Siren song…

  14. I spin and my addiction is any chocolate brown fleece. whether it’s soft and fluffy or one of the sturdier wool breeds doesn’t matter nearly as much as the colour. I’m currently starting to knit a cabled sweater from hand spun brown Corriedale, and I’m processing a dark brown Finn fleece to spin singles for a top down sweater.

  15. I’ve checked my stash recently and I seem to have a weakness for Brooklyn tweed (mostly Loft), and lately Malabrigo sock and arroyo. I do try to vary the colors, or at least I think i do, but if you look at my stash is mostly purples and wine red (and the occasional blue)

  16. thankfully a lack of large income and sticking to a strict budget has curbed said impulses. but previously, it would be squishy single ply yarns, evenly though i KNOW they pill badly.

  17. I love interesting blends and color- especially blues. Having said that, I have a new color love evolving- silvery, bright grays and dark golds. I’m knitting a stole with a phydeaux designs yarn- a blend of linen, alpaca and silk- which is a gorgeous silver and gold colorway. It’s heavenly.

  18. My yarn weakness is Voolenvine and other small dyers, but I think Kristin’s yarns are my favorites. No mater how many I have sitting in my stash unused, I still need more. And one day I will buy a sweaters quantity, I just need to decided on the color. Sigh, she has an update tomorrow night and I am broke. This makes me sad. But glad too. Like I really need more yarn.

  19. Ditto Karen. Gray was my favorite color (along with black and red) since childhood. I also love the small batch, “sheepy” yarns. I am pondering what to knit from my Ysolda’s Blend #1. Very interested in the Sawkill farm yarn – got to get my hands on some. Thinking vest or shawl. Looking forward to seeing what you knit up with these beautiful yarns.

  20. I have been very good recently, as I have been tossing my stash before going to any fiber events (and I recently cleaned out a store’s stock of yarn in sweater quantities).

    Previously, I have been a sucker for sock yarn in colors that appeal to me at the time…especially that with enough silk to make the color glow (even though I wasn’t knitting many socks or shawls…and most of the colors didn’t really go with anything in my wardrobe!!!)

    And I am curious as to how “five gray sweaters” fit into your planned wardrobe?

    • Interestingly, while I used to joke about having the world’s largest collection of grey sweaters, I somehow currently have zero. (I have my darkest charcoal Bellows shawl-collar, and oh, my medium grey vest.) So there’s need and room for a pullover, a turtleneck, and a basic cardigan from these three. The marled Purl yarn and the charcoal Hole & Sons are a different story — will gradually figure out what makes sense. And I also might (probably will) take YEARS to convert these piles of yarn into sweaters, so there’s the matter of rotation.

  21. Anything Kate Davies does. I got up in the wee hours like I was a schoolgirl buying concert tickets to get in on her seven skeins club the moment it went on sale. Had to explain to dh the night before why I would be traipsing down to the ‘puter in the middle of the night like that, and still make it sound like the perfectly ratinal and sane thing to do. And not a week after I told a friend I was putting myself on a stash diet, I got Kate’s kit for her Miss Rachel sweater and gauntlets, because, Kate.
    Anything homespun/undyed/sheepy/local or fair trade helping some small cooperative (eg Rocking Yak) etc. I completely and totally understand 5 grey sweaters – still sleeping fleecefully in their skein cocoons as part of the larger yarn nursery ;-) Mine are dreaming of being the Arvingen, Il Grande Favorito, His and Hers (by Sarah Hatton), East Creek, something from Heidi Kirrmaier (still trying to narrow down which of hers), Sylvan Jumper, Sparrow (from Harrisville, as soon as I do the maths to make it adult sized), Cairan raglan, Great Falls tunic, and the Shape Shifter coat/jacket. Also Nancy’s Vest, the Linnea Tunic, and the Cider House Rules Vest.
    And don’t mention the kits from Christel Seyfarth. Seriously, dude, WHEN am I going to do those? And yet, I still look at them in the yarn closet and swoon ;-)

  22. Another sucker for small batch, farmy yarns here, in natural colors and naturally dyed (or natural-looking) colors. Autumn tones, indigo blues, golden yellows, forest greens…

  23. YES to all of this, gray and sheepy yarn is also my weakness. Have you thought of venturing towards the charcoal gray (gasp!) territory as well? :)

  24. I am right there with you. I didn’t even realize I had such a problem with buying SQs of gray sweater yarn until I was recently showing some yarn purchases to a knitting friend, and her reply was “wow, so you really like gray.” And if it’s been minimally processed … be still my heart! I have a sweater’s worth of Blend No. 1 and Junegrass just waiting to be knit into go to fall sweaters!

  25. easily my biggest weakness is darkest brown undyed wool. hebridean, zwartbles, icelandic, shetland. faroese…whichever. huge part of my stash is made up of it. closely followed by undyed light grey. then undyed rich brown like shetland moorit…..oh and then the cool mid brown of ryeland……

  26. What a great question! My weakness is 1) purple or green 2) lightweight (lace or fingering) 3) very soft and 4) ideally blended with silk.

  27. Anything with silk or cashmere, and when the blend features both, well how can I resist ? The latest in this category was Merletto from Julie Asselin, totally decadent. I agree with you, these greys are totally different. And grey sweaters are just the perfect basic layering piece, every wardrobe needs one, or two, or more….

  28. My weakness is anything that gives back – like yarns from Peru and Uruguay that give back to women and their families. It doesn’t hurt that the yarns are most of then alpaca and exquisite!

  29. My stash is an Ode to Brown. Ravelry shows 61 stashed yarns in that color. Next highest is green at 39. Brownie and Girl Scout colors, yes, but also–I’m just now seeing–the colors in nature.

  30. This year I seriously cleaned the yarn stash and I seriouly organized my closet. In the closet: 5 gray sweaters, six black. In the yarn closet? : every color but those. My yarn is sending me a message. Since I am in a serious stash reduction mode now(I will be 70 soon and would prefer that my yarn not outlive me!) I am knitting lots of color now (yes, dark and gloomy colors, but color none the less) and enjoying it a lot.
    And to the point of the Q: life is too short to have a favorite yarn, but in the category of undyed, minimally processed yarns, Bare Naked Wool is the definite winner…and, most significantly: ordinary people can buy it in sufficient quatities to make a,sweater. I have no patience for yarn that only special people can buy.

  31. I like Koigu fingering weight yarn. It has a texture and feel like no other. I am especially partial to the solid colors.

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