Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Knit & Crochet Uber Resource List

In the great hierarchy of knitting, I consider myself to be fairly low in the caste. Maybe not an untouchable, but I am a pretty green knitter. I am an even greener crocheter. However, as with any hobby or topic that interests me, I have thrown myself into them, finding out as much as I can about knitting and crocheting.

The internet is a wonderful thing. It truly is. Especially nowadays. I recall being employed in a university library's computer lab back in 1995. The internet, while available, was just NOT the veritable Mecca of information and commerce that it is today.

So over the past 2 years, I've been doing a lot of knit and crochet researching, yarn buying, pattern finding, question asking, etc. And I'm passing on to you what I think the best bits are.

Shopping:
Ah yes, everyone has to feed their little demon known as the infamous "yarn stash." If you can stand to wait a few days for a package to arrive and not run yourself to Joann, Michaels, or AC Moore in desperation to feed your habit (which I will refer to as JMAC from now on), then here are some of the best places I've found to buy yarn and accessories:

Knitting Warehouse
I love this place. They offer the cheapest prices on a lot of the commercially available yarn brands (way cheaper than JMAC), and even a couple of the more frou-frou yarn brands. They have a wide array of needles, hooks and other accessories too. They have flat rate shipping, which is reasonable, too. I've ordered a lot of stuff from here.

Knit Picks
If you lean more towards---ahem---yarn snobbishness, then you will appreciate this webstore. You get all the snobby goodness of 100% wool, silk and wool blends, cottons, alpaca, nary an acrylic in sight, etc., but at insanely reasonable prices. I mean CRAZY cheap. For example:
Wool of the Andes: 100% wool, worsted weight, 110 yards, about 5794873270 colors and it's $1.99 a skein. ONE DOLLAR NINETY-NINE CENTS. Oh, and free shipping over $40. Knit Picks also has some free patterns and they tell you the estimated cost to do a project using the recommended yarn. I found this webstore as a link from one of my all-time favorite websites, which is now defunct: You Knit What?

Nu Mei Yarns
Sort of like KnitPicks, NuMei offers great quality yarn at very good prices. Also, they manufacture all their own yarn. So, you can get cool, novelty yarns that are comparable to the major yarn companies or the stuff you can get at JMAC, but higher quality and a lot cheaper. And when they have a sale, or clear out some of their yarn, you can get a super-good deal.

Elann
Ok Elann is pretty unique in that you can get some hoity-toity yarn really cheap. The catch is that sometimes you might have to buy that luxurious silk/cashmere blend from the following stunning array of colors: "litterbox clump," "parakeet poop," "satan's magenta frappe," and "white on rice." Also, the models they use are a tad on the scary-beyond-human-reason side. Oh, and if you can tell me the difference between the last three yarn colors listed here, you win. What do you win? I don't know...um...how about a cat? I've got a couple to spare. Take my Titus, please. But they do offer free patterns too (although some are a bit dated-looking or just plain old bizarre) and good prices.

Purlsoho.com
Sometimes, presentation is everything. And I don't know of any webstore that presents its products more lovingly and beautifully than Purlsoho.com. Here's an example of what I mean: Terra yarn. Nice, right? Kind of makes you breathe out with a little sweet sigh. They are pricey, but they do have some decent sales. And the yarns they offer are very high-quality. Overall, the furthest point in the universe away from the JMAC experience.

Yarn By The Bag and Discount Yarn Sale
These sites are great resources if you plan on buying a large quantity of a specific yarn. They only sell yarn in grouped packages---not quite bulk, but they sell yarns in "5 skeins per bag" or "10 skeins per bag." So they can give you better pricing this way. Which is great if you are knitting a blanket or sweater.

Jimmy Beans Wool
Lots of unique yarns all in one place. Interesting accessories, funky patterns and some cool ideas. $4 shipping and free over $75, a nice plus. They have an extensive sale section, which is probably the only stuff I can afford.

Yarnzilla
Super cool webstore. Offers an "online punchard," which is like the cards you get at coffee or sandwich shops. You spend a certain amount and your card gets automatically "punched." You get a discount based on your level of purchases. Once you spend $250, you get 20% off everything on the site, even the stuff on sale! They have some really unique yarns from some companies I've never heard of. Pricing is good and they also have $5 flat-rate shipping.


Information
How many times have you found yourself just dumbfounded by some knitting or crochet project? For me, more times than I care to recall. I have a bunch of books at home, but sometimes it's great to be able to get the super-quick low-down after just a couple of keystrokes. Here are some informational resources that have helped me:

I've used all kinds of knitting needles: bamboo, plastic, metal, rosewood, resin, casein, etc. And by far, the best needles I've ever used are Bryspun, especially the circular needles. The joint connection between the needle and the cable is great; it's seamless. The cable is nice and wide too, so you don't get that twisting, tangling thing going on. Yarnzilla has a wide selection of these needles.

Want to know the nitty-gritty on yarn? Visit Yarndex, the penultimate web resource for yarn information. The Yarndex has an encyclopedic array of current (and not-so-current) yarns out there on the market and explains them in detail with full pictures and everything. Sweet.

When I was an even greener knitter, I visited About.com's knitting stitch glossary all the time. I still go here when I need some guidance. Great place to start when you want to try some new stitch and you just aren't sure what you like, or what the heck a "purl barred scallop" stitch looks like.

Ok who doesn't like FREE patterns? I am constantly on the hunt for free patterns. Sometimes you just want to see a pattern so you can do some tweaking and make it your own. Or maybe you need a quickie pattern for a project that you need to give as a gift. I ran into this problem regarding a baby blanket. I wanted a super-fast and easy baby blanket pattern to be done in time for a baby shower I got invited to. There are a bunch of patterns for baby blankets in some books that I own, but most of them involve the words "finger weight" and "lace." Sorry, I don't have 8 months to knit a blanket; the baby shower is in 3 weeks. Enter the internet, in all its glory! Here are just a few sites with free patterns:

http://www.lionbrand.com
http://www.knitty.com
http://knitting.about.com/blpattern.htm
http://www.straw.com/cpy/free_patterns.html
http://www.knittingpatterncentral.com/index.php
http://www.berroco.com/pattern_library.html
http://www.chicknits.com/free.shtml
http://secure.elann.com/freepatterns.asp
http://www.woolworks.org/
http://www.knitting-and.com/knitting/allpatterns.htm
http://www.craftown.com/knit.htm
http://www.garnstudio.com/lang/en/kategori_oversikt.php

Whew, I'm spent....

3 comments:

Marsha Brofka-Berends said...

What a great list! Have you thought about putting these links on the sidebar of your blog?

Oh--I love KnitPicks, too. Wool of the Andes is amazing stuff. Lots of colors, good wool, and super-cheap prices. Whoo-hoo!

Katie J said...

Thanks for the info! Lotsa cool stuff! I am very interested in putting an order into knitpicks, but man my stash is huge!

Gina said...

Hmmm...put the links on the sidebar of the blog....

Well, if I can find time to figure out how to do it, I just might!