Today in the Crochet Partners forum someone wondered what would be a good amount of yarn to buy if one sees it for a good price but one doesn't have a project in mind. What a great question! Below is my reply, with some additional thoughts.
(Pictured: a delicious 10-ball box of Coats Opera #5 thread)
If I can, I'll buy the number of skeins it takes to make a full mill "bag", if I can get the yarn in its original bag. Yarn companies ship most yarns divided neatly into clear bags. Many of the yarns sold in local yarn shops (LYS) come in 10-skein bags. Some yarns carried in craft chains might be shipped in 3-skein bags or 6-skein bags. I've found that if I buy a 10-skein bag at a yarn shop or online, there are lots of benefits:
- If I change my mind down the road about using the yarn, it's very easy to sell a full 10-skein bag (in its original bag) on the internet, even long after it has been discontinued. Occasionally a LYS will take it back for store credit.
- An intact bag of 10 makes a great gift for a yarn lover!
(10-ball bag of Rowan Linen Drape at left; click pic to see the official label on the bag)
- It's easy to figure out in your head the total yards you have: 10 x yards in each ball = a good amount for a sweater (note that depending on the design, there might only be enough yarn for mid-length sleeves.) So, say each ball has 125 yards, you know that a 10-ball bag gives you 1250 yards total. Ten skeins gives me enough to experiment with some and still have enough to make a summer top, shrug, wrap, hat and scarf, tote, throw pillows, multiple gifts, or a matching set of something.
- It comes home in its own storage bag! 10-ball bags stack on each other well and slide under beds perfectly. The balls stay new-looking because they don't tumble around; instead they're packed neatly like sardines in their mill bags. I'm making two sweaters right now, both with stash yarns that I bought in 10-ball bags about 5 years ago. The yarn is so fresh it's like I bought it yesterday!
- The dye lot is automatically the same for each ball.
- It helps the LYS because they're not left with stray skeins of a dye lot. By the way, if you want to special order a yarn from a LYS, ordering 10 balls of it makes it very easy for the shop.
- Given these benefits, if you find 10-ball bags of a discontinued yarn, the closeout price is a true bargain. Consider my latest acquisition: Artful Yarns Fable, $55 for the bag. That's $5.50 per ball of a premium pima cotton & silk blend, all one dye lot, pristine condition; 184yards ea. = 1840 yds total!
Many of these benefits might also be true for the 3-ball and 6-ball bags at chain stores.
The Caron Pizazz at right came in 3-ball bags.