Friday, December 14, 2007

The Budget

Or more precisely, the Knitting Budget.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Obviously, because I want to justify past and future yarn purchase. Before you dismiss this post as entirely subjective however, (because you can be sure that it ends with yarn, for me) let me outline briefly a few points.

(Editor: Yeah. Briefly. Like anyone believes that.)

Over the past while, (for sound financial and stash busting reasons), I have reined in the yarn budget. This is partly due to a hedonistic yarn spree in the past that a) left a legacy of unfortunate novelty yarns and b) has put a severe strain on the Stash Accommodation.

Let’s just say that the normal means of Stash Disguise have been exhausted: in rarely used saucepans; under and between beds, cupboards and furniture; and camouflaged as innocent clothing, towels, bedding etc. Add to that the fact that the house dates from 1860, when inbuilt furniture was a distant dream and that the rooms don’t fit your average wardrobe, and lo and behold you have The Great Yarn Purchase Restrictions of 2007.

Anyway, given that an average sweater might cost 50 to 60 euro to knit, you might think that it’s hard to justify paying that against the cost of a chain store sweater (20-30 euro) or from a slightly better high street store (40–50 euro).

Think again.

I recently pursued 2 young children around did an informal survey in a new local shopping centre, which has a pretty good range of shops, from chain store, to high street names, to fancy-nancy boutiques, and I realised that my entire Yarn Budget thinking had been mistaken. Thank Goodness.

Sure, the chain store offered lots of useful, inexpensive and attractive sweaters, and there are plenty of them in my wardrobe. (That’s a metaphorical wardrobe I should add, what I actually mean is they're hanging from a broom handle nailed up in the roof space). But even in the chain stores, and definitely in the high street stores, there were lots of pieces far more expensive than I expected (of good quality admittedly), while in the boutiques the range went from 120 euro up to unlimited amounts (up into space and out of budget range entirely).

My point being that the fashion forward high street stores offer a similar product to what I could produce with my own needles and ingenuity, for roughly the same price as the yarn. I realise that there’s all the blood, sweat and tears, oh yes, definitely tears joy of knitting the thing, but mostly a knitter would say that’s a bonus, not a disadvantage.

So while knitting for myself can no longer offer a less expensive alternative to cheap clothing (which it would have done in the 80’s perhaps) it stands up very well against the middle and higher offerings of fashion.

Added to that the following:

  • A small supermarket shop leaves me approximately 120 euros the poorer, a large one over 250 euros

  • A trip to the cinema would easily set you back 20 euro for 2 people, with ticket and popcorn prices

  • The last novel that I bought cost me 18 euro

  • A recent restaurant excursion in Dublin cost 160 euro for 2 people. Admittedly it was a pretty fancy restaurant, but still.

So, take the cost of entertainment, factor in the cost of a ready made garment, and I have come to agree with the Yarn Harlot (she’ll be so relieved).

'...costs $40 - which is still a little dear for a baby thing, but I count yarn in my entertainment budget. I knit for fun, like some people golf, so if I get a baby gift out of it, that's a bonus.'

(for the full post go here and scroll down to entry May 27th)

Given that yarn purchase should come from your entertainment budget, not your clothing budget, it’s now easier to justify 11/12 balls of a lovely yarn for perhaps months of knitting pleasure and a (hopefully lovely and wearable) garment at the end of it.


I've just bought myself this to celebrate. I've wanted it for a long time.

Of course, given the cost of living, there’s less yarn budget available to play with, but that’s another story. At least I can read about it.


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