Friday, March 24, 2006

Buying, selling, reading and knitting

Damn eBay. Sometimes it is better for me to not look and hence not be tempted. But I will give away my secret of getting a genuine yarn bargain.

I take the time to look at ads with dodgy photos. I have bought some gorgeous quality wool for the opening bid price because no-one else looked past the blurred photo to read (for example) "12 blues of Patons Totem purple wool, colour AB, dyelot 325". Opening bid $15.00, postage $8.10.

Anyone who gives that level of detail clearly has the genuine product. If they were a rip-off artist they would have a much better photo. And would be selling iPods, not wool.

Patons Totem is generally about $6.00/ball (full price) at Spotlight. So 12 balls would set you back $72.00. If you bought 12 balls at full price which I hardly ever do. So I start discounting the figure to get down to a number where the wool is still a great bargain. Generally I make the assumption that at some stage I could buy the yarn from Spotlight on a 20 percent discount day. This is not 100 percent fair as the discount days are generally more in the range of 10-15 percent but it ensures I don't overpay via eBay. I also factor in a discount of about 10-15 percent to take into account that the colour may not be exactly what I am expecting based on the photo but it will still be usable (I have never met a purple I don't like although I like some far better than others!). And that if I were buying yarn from the store I would be buying a specific number of balls for a project rather than being obliged to take all 12. So generally I discount the full price by a third. At $48 (including postage), this wool would be a good buy. At $24, it would be an absolute bargain. And the opening bid is $15.00 plus $8.10 postage = less than $24.

How could I resist?

I am much more comfortable doing this when I know exactly what brand is being sold because for some reason not all 100 percent 8-ply wools are all equal. I finally worked out this is partially because there are at least 2 completely different standard constructions of yarn (a firmer mercanised-spun yarn that is less likely to fray - such as Patons Totem, and a twisted yarn that is much softer and more natural looking - such as Cleckheaton Country) . But there is also some 'x factor' that somehow makes one 100 percent wool yarn seem cheap and nasty while another one just screams quality.

Nonetheless I took a chance on an unknown 100 percent wool yarn when buying another badly promoted yarn product on eBay.

The seller had a jumper kit from the 1980s that had never been made up, listed for $19.95 plus postage. No-one but me would be tempted by the cliche Australiana circa 1985 jumper pattern which had a giant rosella in full flight over the back, front and shoulder of the garment but surely someone else should have been doing the maths of "16 balls of 100 percent wool, at least half of them in a timeless classic navy blue plus red, yellow, grean and teal that I could make up into anything I wanted... and it's from the 1980s which means the wool won't be one of those cheap and nasty imports that flooded the country post-2000..."

I got it for just over $30, including postage. And while I am seriously contemplating making up the jumper I can hear my late mother reminding me that if one can remember the fashion from the first time around , you are too old to get away with wearing it the second time around.


It's still great wool.

There is a new link on my side-bar to my Etsy shop where you can buy some of the handmade items I have made over the past year. The prices are in US dollars (as it is the nature of the site) but I will do invoices in Australian dollars and discounts for direct bank deposits for locals (although I totally understand any Australian who doesn't know me who would rather use PayPal and have the creditcard guarantee rather than get a few dollars discount). While I would like to think people would buy my stuff, I really don't know if they are willing to pay anything approaching the real value of my time and the materials I use. It only costs me US $0.10 a listing so if I don't sell anything, it's not as though I've really lost anything. I made a deliberate decision to not seriously underprice my work (unlike some people who list on the site) and not to list anything that is badly made or made out of poor quality materials.

Lots of people are at least looking at my items and maybe some of them are even reading this blog because of my Etsy profile. Hi new readers. See I am a real person with a real knitting history.

Elizabeth Zimmermann's 'Knitting Without Tears'. A birthday present from my American in-laws (OK, at my request). Have to love Amazon.

I approached Elizabeth Zimmermann a bit like I approached Noro wool - certain I would be disappointed because of all the hype and then delighted to discover my pre-conceptions were unfounded. I love her informal chatty style and stress-free approach to knitting. She is the goddess of knitting who doesn't take herself or anything about knitting too seriously. I love how she can wax lyrical about her walrus tusk knitting needles (admitting that she put it in to boast) and the next moment describe using an aluminium needle to fix a motor boat, rubber bands to convert DPNs into straight needles and a pencil sharpener to convert a straight needle into a DPN.

And she has a jumper design that forces a perfect size 10 woman to do just as many (or few)calculations as a size 22 short-waisted, big-hipped, small-waist, large-breasted woman to create a jumper that fits.

I'm a convert.


The Dr Who scarf. It is getting very heavy. My husband loves it.

1 comment:

Carrie K said...

I love Elizabeth Zimmerman's books.

Au contraire! If you remember the fashion, then you're the generation entitled to wear it again. IMO, of course. Clever about the wool sight unseen. I wouldn't have thought of that but it's true.

A Dr Who scarf! That is so my next project. For me.

Must. Not. Shop.