Posted on 38 Comments

Confessions of a Recovering Cheapskate


I’ve been in the mood to knit myself a shawl.  Those chilly September mornings and evenings seem perfect for such a thing.  So, I wandered into my favorite yarn shop yesterday and came home with two skeins of this pretty Malabrigo wool.

Well as anyone who has been knitting for some time knows, two skeins is not going to cut it for a shawl.  I have not been knitting for a long time, and I suffer from a severe case of “this should be enough” optimism.

Shawl in progress

Being such a chunky yarn, the first skein knit up very quickly, giving me about ten inches on the yellow knifty knitter.  Ten inches.  I don’t know anybody who could wear a 20-inch shawl, so it’s clear I’m going to need more of this yarn.  At least two more skeins.  That would put the cost of my shawl at somewhere around $50.

This leaves me two choices:

  1. Keep knitting, finish the shawl, and accept that sometimes you have to pay more than Target prices for life’s little luxuries.
  2. Rip it out and make a couple of hats instead

Shawl in progress

I have to admit I’m leaning towards #2. But then, you’re talking to someone who rarely spends more than $10 on a shirt, or $20 on a skirt/pants.  I have trouble with $50 accessories no matter how nice the materials, or how handmade the product.  It’s a personal problem.

*sigh* Imagine the trouble it gives me when I’m trying to appropriately price my work!

Anybody else have the issues, or is it just me?



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Posted on 38 Comments

38 thoughts on “Confessions of a Recovering Cheapskate

  1. Either I’ve been knitting too long, or else it’s just the fact that we’re DINKs (Double Income, No Kids), but I’m pretty used to spending $100+ on the yarn for a single sweater. I don’t knit because it’s cheap, but for something to do and because I like having garments you can’t buy in stores.

    Of course, knitting *can* be cheap if you’re okay with using acrylics and such. I’m not as much of a yarn snob as some knitters are, but I do love really nice, soft, comfy sweaters, which is why the yarn for the one I’m working on now (7 balls of of this wonderful bamboo) was over $150.

    This is also why I never bothered to try and sell my work; aside from quality materials costing a lot to begin with, imagine having to price something you spent 60-90 hours making (not that I ever actually counted my hours). In order to be adequately compensated for my time and effort, I’d have to charge way too much for the average person to want to pay.

    1. Personally, I’m feeling ever so slightly snobby – I don’t ever buy acrylics, and most of the other stuff I buy isn’t your run-of-the-mill stuff from Michael’s. Usually, anyway. I’ll buy the inexpensive wool for kids’ sock puppets, for instance.

      I totally see where you are coming from, and if I was still in a double-income situation, I’d find the splurge to be a lot easier!

      In a lot of ways I’m out of touch with what things really cost. I suppose that is what happens when you fill your closet with cheap, “disposable” clothes like I do…

  2. Hi Lisa,

    It’s a beautiful wool and would make a gorgeous shawl Of, course it would make a nice beanie too. Not much help from me I’m afraid. But I think you’re worth a $50 shawl if you really love it. I’m wearing the necklace I got from you and it was a splurge – but I smile everytime I see my reflection in the mirror when I’m wearing it :-).

    .-= See Libby’s latest blog post: A Day in my Life – 16th September =-.

    1. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the necklace! I think we all need these little splurges from time to time. I just need to decide if I’m really going to wear it $50-worth!

  3. can you make it a lace/openwork shawl? you can have plenty of warmth even with the openwork/holes in the shawl (like really PLENTY b/c I knit a lacy one out of chunky yarn and oh my is it WARM!!! sometimes way toooo warm) and it knits up faster with way less yarn. and looks pretty stunning too. ANd do not be fooled that lace is hard to knit, esp with chunky yarns, it is all the same stitches, just in different arrangements. but i am a knitter w/a short attn span, very little money,and a love for very nice yarn so therefor i have become a lover of lace/openwork!! and also, do not discount blocking which will make the shawl bigger as well (not 20 inches into 50 or anything but you know, still bigger by a third or so) and make the shawl look more beautiful!! that yarn is GORGEOUS!
    .-= See jody’s latest blog post: Football Season Is Here!! =-.

    1. I think that is an *excellent* idea, and in fact I looked through all of my loom-knitting books for an example of an openwork shawl before I began. Unfortunately, I didn’t find one, but you’ve inspired me to look around some more. Maybe Ravelry, or someplace else online. Thanks for the push!

      1. this one is beautiful and is written with a much smaller gauge yarn and needles than yours so you could up your needles (loom pegs) considerably, follow the same stitch pattern and get a good sized shawl out of what you have plus maybe one more skein perhaps??

        there is also a free (yay!!) one on ravelry that looked pretty cool too that was similar to this one. i just searched “loom knit shawl” in patterns
        .-= See jody’s latest blog post: Football Season Is Here!! =-.

        1. GMTA! I found the same ones a little while ago 🙂 Definitely going to give one of those a try – most likely the free one!

    2. Lisa, Try a different stitch, like the mock crochet stitch. You’ll find your yarn really lasts, plus it’s pretty:
      .-= See Kim’s latest blog post: A flower loom tutorial =-.

  4. here’s the thing– i just think that the cost of the yarn includes the enjoyment/entertainment of making something. movie= $10 or about $5 an hour. Ball of yarn= $12 or about $3 an hour (if you get 4 hours of entertainment from it). also, you don’t really neeeeed the hats but you have a clear use for the shawl. i’d just go for the $ if you think it will turn into something you love.
    .-= See linda p’s latest blog post: A Reminder for Feed Readers =-.

    1. Now that’s a perspective I hadn’t considered… and I like it! If I made the hats, I’d be selling them. The shawl would be just for me, and I really do enjoy the process of curling up in front of the tv and making something new. Maybe that is worth the extra $$ !

      1. Trust me, it’s worth it. If you end up not loving it, you can always pull it out later and make 4 hats instead. 🙂
        .-= See linda p’s latest blog post: A Reminder for Feed Readers =-.

        1. Well, duh, I don’t know why I didn’t think of that!

  5. oh lisa, definitely make the shawl. that yarn is gorgeous. you deserve it. i’m sure you have plenty of hats.
    .-= See gerri’s latest blog post: just a quick note =-.

    1. Oh, twist my arm! 😀 Isn’t it a beautiful color? I love the copper flecks.

  6. Oh, yeah. Those issues and I have a long acquaintance.

    There’s certainly nothing wrong with splurging on yourself every now and then. On the other hand, there’s no point in doing it if you’re going to somehow regret it every time you look at the shawl… It’s a real struggle!

    (The yarn really is beautiful, by the way! And I like that openwork suggestion, jody!)
    .-= See Michael’s latest blog post: Clay Goodies for Chocoholics =-.

    1. I generally try to save my splurging for things that I know I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of. This has the potential to be one of those things that seems cool at the time, but in practice never gets used! It makes me pause, you know?

      I agree, though – the openwork idea is perfect, and as soon as I’m done here, I’m going in search of some appropriate instructions.

  7. Make the shawl, it will be unique, no-one else in the world will have a shawl in that beautiful colour, so just go for it and enjoy the experience of knitting it.
    .-= See Ann’s latest blog post: A Little Friend Came To Stay =-.

    1. I think that’s just what I am going to do 😀 Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. Oh, I so hear you on the ‘frugal knitter’ genes. But… I also say go for it. My very favorite knit piece ever is the Lady Eleanor shawl I knit using 9 skeins of Noro Silk Garden. Big time luxurious, but completely worth every penny.

    1. Ooh, that does sound luxurious! And you get a lot of use out of it then? I love the idea of a shawl, I just hope it’s something I really will use enough to make it worthwhile.

  9. I wear it about as often as is humanly possible, and still get tons of compliments on it. So worth the pennies I spent on the yarn, not to mention the hours of knitting time logged.

    1. Good to know. I’m sold 🙂

  10. i don’t know about pricing, but I am lovin’ that yarn. Gorgeous!!!
    .-= See frivolitea’s latest blog post: Artist Trading Card Fun to Come =-.

    1. It’s a great color, isn’t it?

  11. Hi Lisa.
    I’m not a knitter, but I wear a shawl almost everyday. (Even in the summer–my lab is cold!) I can’t say for sure that you’ll get a lot of use out of yours, but you could always send it to me if you don’t–those colors are gorgeous!


    p.s.–lovely to see you yesterday. I hope you had fun.

    1. Good to know! I’m feeling more and more encouraged that I’ll actually use this thing once I finish.

      Nice to see you yesterday, too – I really have to make the drive to Philly more often.

  12. Personally I think you should make the shawl for yourself 😉

    One thing I read somewhere – wish I could remember where – was that most of us crafty folks are not looking to sell to ourselves. You are looking to sell to people who do not craft(or not YOUR craft) and who have perhaps more disposable income than you. So the thought that YOU wouldn’t pay x $ for the item is a bit misleading as YOU aren’t your target market.

    And I have pieces that I sell that were works of love – they’ll never sell for what they should cost but that’s OK, as long as their little bread and butter siblings do.
    .-= See Elaine’s latest blog post: Old Habits =-.

    1. Ok, that is probably the smartest thing I’ve read, in terms of pricing your work. Who cares if I’m too cheap/poor to buy my own work – plenty of people aren’t.

      Thanks for sharing that. I may have to post it on my fridge.

  13. Wouldn’t it look nice with that green skirt you made with the boy’s pictures on it? Or is my color sense off due to the computer? 😉

    In other words, how many outfits will it match? The more outfits it matches, the more likely you are to wear it. The more you wear it, the less the price per use.

    Love the colors!

    1. Good point. I purposely chose a color that will coordinate with half of my wardrobe, so it will be quite versatile!

  14. Oh Lisa, what gorgeous yarn you have there. I love Malibrigo yarn, it’s scrumptious. I would go for it! Get more yarn to finish your shawl. You are worth it! Looking forward to seeing your finished product or products, as they may be. 🙂
    .-= See Karen’s latest blog post: Saturday Morning Tea =-.

    1. Thanks, Karen. And I ordered more yesterday 🙂

  15. I totally have that problem. I find if I buy the yarn and then don’t use it for what I intended right away, but let it sit for awhile, I tend to forget how much I spent. Then I can make something guilt free!
    .-= See Tracy’s latest blog post: Socks Rock =-.

    1. Haha, I love playing headgames with myself like that.

  16. I am curious how you are using the knifty knitter to make a shall. I have only used it for hats…do you have a book or are you creating your own little ways to use the nifty thing?


    1. I’m making it sideways, and not using all of the pegs on the loom, so the circle doesn’t close. In other words, I knit a flat panel by first knitting counter-clockwise, and then turning around at the last peg to knit clockwise (and then turning again at the first peg and going counter-clockwise).

      Does that make sense?

      I have a bunch of good loom books, but in this particular case, I’m not using any of them.

  17. […] have to thank you all for the feedback on my partially-completed shawl.  I was on the fence about splurging for the materials to finish the project, and your comments […]

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