(Fiber) Shopping On A Budget

I know, I know … why am I finally talking about Rhinebeck and Stitches East in November when they both happened last month?  No I’m not nuts!  Well … not today anyway. LOLOL!  Yes, I think what I have to say about my current shopping style is applicable even after these have past because we all know what’s coming up — yep, holiday sales!  More specifically, Black Friday yarn sales!

Let me just say, this is not a post to slam the Black Friday shoppers, but I do believe it’s a crying shame to see every year, stores opening increasingly early on Thanksgiving day and shoppers forgoing time spent with loved ones to brave wind, rain, sleet or snow, literally fighting each other just for big box store deals.  😦     Let’s not forget the workers who have to leave their own families in order to accommodate patrons’ shopping demands and corporate greed. I know the situation is not as black and white as my thoughts are but I think you know what I mean.  However, let me not digress …

Rhinebeck Loot

Shopping this year for me at both Rhinebeck and Stitches East had even more of a motivator for me to be thrifty.  The Friday before I left for Stitches East was my last day at a job I had worked at for 11 years;  Rhinebeck was the weekend after SE.  If they didn’t involve an already paid for trip out of town and classes that I couldn’t get a refund for plus already bought Amtrak tickets I would have not gone to either.  But honestly, I’m glad I did.  Getting away was a relief after my job ended.   My employment situation and limited funds were the primary motivators for me attending these already planned for events and being successful shopping wise.  Here’s how I did it.  I had to remember:

  • that an increased stash doesn’t mean increased time.  I was honest about how much time I have to dedicate to yarn crafting.  Although I might plan to do more with new yarn, it’s a waste of finances if I just buy it then let it sit there indefinitely.  There are times when that can be done but while I’m working with a budget, plus assessing my current stash, doing so wasn’t such a good idea.   All I do is add without actually decreasing the volume if my knitting speed is so much less than my acquisition speed.  Trust me … this I know already!  The same is true for all those “lemme just get this in case I need it later” or “lemme pick this up.  It’s on sale and I always planned to learn, use, do x,y,z” purchases  …. you get the drift.
  • not to underestimate my existing stash. My existing stash is large and it is beautiful.  Maybe not as beautiful as some, but it’s mine and I love it (except for that gasoline smelling ole skool Red Heart but that’s for another post …  😀  )  There’s always yarn that’s newer, prettier, more hip, more popular.  While it’s fine to try stuff from vendors you don’t know sometimes or maybe they might be a vendor everyone loves, ignoring the pretties in your own stash gets one’s purse down to pennies when it doesn’t need to be.  Same for other purchases — newer, brighter, shinier, or more popular doesn’t mean better.
  • need vs want.  Because I had to work specifically with the $$$ I had on me, I had no choice but to listen to my inner voice.  I had to stick to my list, check it twice then really assess what was a need and what was a want.  Again, this applies to any type of shopping we need to do.  Do I want a new DSLR camera?  Heck yeah!!!  Do I need a new camera?  I could say yes, but without a job, even with my current camera on the fritz, a new camera with additional lenses at a total $600 price tag suddenly doesn’t look so thrifty.  I can upgrade later.  Right now, it’s all a matter of sound economics.
  • not to feel bad when I told my inner grabby hands child to shut it! Have you ever looked at someone’s stash in Ravelry then have a case of the greens?  Did you look at those Rhinebeck instagram pictures and wonder why you weren’t able to purchase from x, y, or z vendor?  Or purchase the volume some people did?  Think of it this way — you have a plan, you have a list, you have a certain amount of money you can spend — stick to it!  There’s no room for buyers’ remorse at the festivals because you typically can’t return any of the items bought after the event is over!  Even if you can exchange, there’s NO REFUND!!!!   I had to remind myself that those vendors would always be there and if they aren’t, there’ll always be another vendor whose yarn is irresistible.  I don’t have to say anymore, we know how this works with other purchases — don’t we now?    Hmmmmm … 😛
  • TO LEAVE MY CARD AT HOME!!!  Yes, I dared to utter those scandalous, sacrilegious words!  Please … don’t slay me.  I needed to pull out the big guns to make sure I survived shopping on a budget.  The first year I went to Rhinebeck (2012)  I went ape bat crazy with the choices!  I mean it was overload!  I bought yarn I had no clue what I was going to do with (some still not used) and I felt free to use the ATM to take out even more money when I ran out.  Nutter!!!!  Not you … I mean me.  LOLOL!    Once I assessed the damage, I realised that I couldn’t continue to shop festivals like that.  My friend Sudana didn’t believe I could do it and I can’t say I blame her.  The first year after I learned to knit, all I did was shop with the intention to craft and little to none happened while my stash got bigger — see point number 1.  LOLOL!  What I started doing after that first Rhinebeck experience is to literally start saving my pennies.


I put all my loose change in my piggy bank (yes, I still have one) and whatever’s in there from the day after Rhinebeck to the next year’s event, that’s all I’m taking with me.  This year, I ended up with $165 in loose change, plus one of the teams at my old job gave me money to buy a Bosworth spindle as a going away present.  And that’s all I spent.  I got everything in the picture above plus three bottles of wine.  Yes!  I’m not kidding.  That stash includes a gift for a friend, 6 bags of practice fiber, 2 skeins of yarn for me, a Bosworth midi spindle, 5 greeting cards, a sweater quantity of yarn and because I lucked out big time on the sweater quantity cost, I was able to pick up a yarn bowl and a quilting book.  I didn’t go brand name and I didn’t go big, but I got what I needed with $17.00 to spare.  It’s amazing how easy every other rule was to follow because I didn’t have the card to fall back on if I over spent.

This my friends is how I survived two fiber fairs on a budget and got what I needed at both.

Let me know if this helps any of you next Friday when those Black Friday yarn sale emails hit your inbox at 12 midnight.  😀

14 thoughts on “(Fiber) Shopping On A Budget

  1. QuaintrelleNoire December 9, 2014 / 2:34 pm

    From that enabling friend who not only didn’t believe you couldn’t do it, but encouraged you not to *hangs head in shame*

    Sometimes I feel a little guilty going big sometimes at places like Rhinebeck but that’s also the only time I do any yarn shopping at all. One day I’d like to get my stash down to the point where I had no yarn left prior to yarn shopping. On the other hand, as a knitter to have zero stash would probably be considered a failure, LOL!!

  2. Creatively Motivated November 30, 2014 / 10:47 am

    Excellent post! I must look back to this when it is time for the next yarn purchase/festival. Smart shopping for hobbies is just as important as smart shopping for all of our other necessities and wants, but we tend to throw those rules out of the window when it comes to our precious fiber. Ya know, I didn’t even think of Black Friday as an event to purchase yarn. But I really don’t need any more added to the stash. I’ve been thinking more and more about the concept of stashing or stockpiling (and over-consumption and frivilous spending). It was once a good thing ( “Look at all dis amazing yarn, y’all *drool*”), but now I’m seeing it as limiting, a bit of a burden, and a guilt trip when I have thoughts of buying a different one to suit my needs.

    • Nicky November 30, 2014 / 10:57 am

      ” a guilt trip when I have thoughts of buying a different one to suit my needs”

      And that part of your comment is right where I’m at now. I’d say the majority of my stash was accumulated the first 2 years after I learned the basic knitting stitches. I wasn’t cranking stuff out, just buying yarn I liked the look of. Fast forward 2 more years, I’ve started to actually knit, be concerned about the fiber I use and of course the fiber I have stockpiled. On the one hand, now that I’m not working, it’s good to be able to go find something without having to buy, but I want to make sweaters, and breathable blankets and those call for fiber and volume I don’t have. And I feel guilty not being able to use what I have already.

      I’ve gone back and forth about stash knitting exclusively, but I really want to revisit it again. No pressure, just some disciplined crafting.

  3. Preeti November 19, 2014 / 6:06 pm

    Fantastic post! I’m with you regarding so many points you’ve made especially in this age of over-the-top consumerism. I don’t think I will ever run out of yarn and it’s a shame that I never wear many things that I spend hours knitting (sweaters, I’m looking at you!!). I wish I had half the determination you showed going to TWO fiber festivals and staying on budget. Bravo girl!!!!

  4. Rae November 19, 2014 / 11:01 am

    This is an amazing and inspirational guide to smart purchasing!! The idea to take cash only is such a good one.

    My mom and I used to be Black Friday shoppers, and it was honestly an enjoyable thing for us to do together and we rarely encountered anyone being nasty. But with all the madness creeping into Thanksgiving itself, it’s really sucked the fun out of it and we pretty much skip the whole thing now. So that particular retail strategy has backfired in my family, but it still seems to be very popular, and only getting worse 😦

    PS: love your new theme!!

    • Nicky November 19, 2014 / 5:02 pm

      Thanks Rae! I’ve heard of the cash only scenario quite a lot and using that strategy this year and last year proved very successful in curbing overspending and the “gimmies”. 😀

      As for Black Friday, one year, my aunt, me and my cousin went to see what the hype was about. We didn’t shop that much, we just walked around enjoying the decorations and the like in the mall. We called it quits when while we were waiting to pay for our DVD players, two people started fighting over claim to the last sale toaster. Yikes! We were outta there and never went back. It’s hysterical now but it was great bonding time for us, so I get how special it used to be for you and your mom. I don’t know why something that could have been such a great holiday experience has turned into an extreme sporting event.

      • Rae November 20, 2014 / 10:21 am

        Yiiiiikes! Yeah, if we had ever seen someone fighting over a toaster, we would have made a hasty retreat. That’s just bonkers!

        • Nicky November 21, 2014 / 10:27 am

          About three years ago, a security guard got crushed to death by shoppers upon opening the gates for them to get in. That’s just crazy to me! There’s nothing in that store that was worth unintentionally killing for.

  5. Variegated Stacks November 19, 2014 / 9:18 am

    Well well…I need to start hanging out with you more. Excellent post specifically about setting limits on spending. And the age old question we hate to ask ourselves… is it a need vs. want. Great way to use self-control. Lastly, great job utilizing the piggy-bank.

    • Nicky November 19, 2014 / 5:04 pm

      Thank you so much m’lady! 😀 Looking at my finances differently has really changed my spending habits. I still go ape bat crazy for electronics, books and tea, but even that’s changing. LOLOL!

      • Variegated Stacks November 19, 2014 / 6:27 pm

        The Public library has saved my life. I can get both e-books and hard copies. The only thing I struggle with is late fees.

        • Nicky November 21, 2014 / 10:28 am

          I love the library and made my monthly trip there yesterday. As much as I love it though, there are times when a bookstore purchase calls my name like a drug.

  6. savethestationery November 19, 2014 / 5:59 am

    This is an excellent post and a wonderful guide to surviving such festivals. I too finally learned to stop buying craft supplies before I had a use for them but I lament over the money I wasted before coming to haft concept. Now I look at it as a lesson.

    I am very proud of and inspired by you.

    • Nicky November 19, 2014 / 5:07 pm

      It is a lesson. I’m not going to claim to be a martyr of spending, there are things I like and would get because I like them and can afford them. However, reining back has definitely got me focusing in another way — looking forward to the future like buying a house or saving a year’s expenses; things like that have become more important to me especially given my current situation. As for what’s past, leave those things in the past. Now you just focus on being more fiscally responsible which I know you’re committed to already.

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