Remember when most people saved themselves for marriage? Because the gift of intimacy with their nether regions was so special, it should only be given in the context of true love and forever-and-everness? (I know some people still do, but it's a waning choice since birth control became readily available).
So here we are (most of us), freely offering up our private bits to anyone with a wink and a smile and a good set of teeth, yet We Won't Use the Good Yarn, not until we find the perfect project for it.
I was reminded of this when a friend shared a cartoon by Julia Mills that demonstrated how stashes were categorized. There were bins of sock yarn, a UFO graveyard, regrettable novelty yarns, etc., and of course "really nice yarns I'm afraid to use." Earlier this week someone posted on Ravelry that they have enough special yarn for a sweater but are agonizing over what to choose, and meanwhile, the hours roll by. I wanted to jump in and scream "just pick one, or it'll be 2027 and the labels will be gone and you still won't have knit with it!"
Why do we do this? It's not as though fine artists pick up a tube of Winsor & Newton acrylic Cadmium Yellow Light (#113) and say to themselves, "this yellow is so beautiful, I must save it for ... for ... for when the Duchess of Cornwall herself requires a portrait. It will perfectly delineate her golden hair." Nope. They'll use it for a banana without even blinking. When chefs inspect the clams for their seafood chowder, they never say "my, these clams are so fine, screw the chowder, I'm going to save these clams until I can think of a dish worthy of their greatness," nope, the chowder's on the menu, and they use the clams.
I'm not immune. In additional to several balls that I can't decide what to do with, I have one—oh, it's so lovely—that I haven't even begun to contemplate. I'm more likely to use it for home decor than to actually turn it into something else. It's gorgeous, it sits in its own special box:
It's a much-bigger-than-it-looks-in-the-photo ball of Noro's Tsubame, a silk/wood/polyamide (whatever that means) blend.
During the Zombie apocalypse, this will be the last ball I knit. I really do think it's literally too nice to use. It didn't come in its own special box, I found the box for it. If only I had a pedestal ...
I think bibliophiles also do this, at least once they turn into book collectors. They might have a reading copy of a particular book, but also have a pristine first edition in mylar protective cover, signed by author, that lives in the glass bookcase and is never touched. Again, I know whereof I speak, although my precious first editions are mixed in with touchable volumes—in my household, I'm the only one who goes near, so I don't have to worry about others.
So are we not merely knitters (and crocheters) who enjoy our craft and will someday knit with that special ball, hank, or skein ... are we perhaps Yarn Collectors?
With this in mind, I wandered over to ebay.com to see what yarns were going for these days. Maybe some discontinued pink Rowan acrylic/cashmere blend (with the label signed by Stephen Sheard himself) was going for hundreds of dollars. But I couldn't find evidence of collectibe yarn. Although, I did find these:
Yes, it's 24 pounds of acrylic, and it can be yours for only $620.07 CAD, plust $1,523.56 for shipping. That's only $89 a pound. Apparently assorted mill yarns (according to yarncanada.ca) are "odd lots/mill ends from the faculty. They are heavily discounted as they are yarns that ... could have been a bit off shade, or may have a knot." Yarn Canada sells for $8.99 a pound, which is a much better deal. It makes me wonder if the original price on ebay simply has a decimal out of place ... but of course the shipping price suggests they're just trying to rip people off.
Or how about this:
Crazy handspun yarn ... well, you'd have to be crazy to spend $761.78 CAD on this, even though the shipping is a reasonable $45.77. And again I wonder, decimal slip? Because $59.50 US seems okay.
Eventually I found this one:
Sure, it's only $3.99, but that's that because I literally wrote to the seller and told them they'd obviously put the decimals in the wrong spot as they'd been asking $399 US ... and they wrote back with "oops," and they changed it. Although you'd still have to be pretty desperate to pay $24.32 CAD for shipping. Or maybe you live in the North, or something like that. I'm urban, I can't imagine. So decimal slippage: it's a thing.
Therefore no evidence exists that Yarn Collecting is the lucrative hobby of the future. Most expensive stamp? $9.48 million US. Most expensive painting? Salvator Mundi by da Vinci, $450.3 US. Most expensive book? The Codex Leicester (also by da Vinci!) for $30.8 million US back in 1994, and not beaten yet. But the most expensive yarn is a bunch of mill ends that possibly have a typo in the price field.
The moral? (My mom likes it when things have a moral or at least a theme, whereas I mostly read for pleasure). Use your yarn! Knit the nicest ones first! When you run out of nice yarn, get more nice yarn! All your projects should be out of yarn too lovely to knit with. And it can be a hat, or a panel in a blanket, or a cowl, or mug cosy, and every time you use the hat, blanket, cowl, or cosy, you'll be thinking how lovely the yarn is, and what's wrong with that?
Just don't make me use my Noro Tsuname. My blog, my rules!