Q&A: How Do I Make Online Yarn Shopping Easier?

It's always a bit of a leap of faith to buy things online. Whether it's yarn or shoes or a refrigerator, your purchase could end up being perfect... or not... once you actually get it  home. On the other hand, wow it is easy! And, these days, it's a key social distancing tool, as well.

Luckily, there are lots of hints and tools you can use to help guide your decisions. Especially right now when almost no one has the luxury of a local yarn store to physically go to, we hope our digital yarn store and our team of dedicated employees can be here to help!

Below is a list of our favorite online yarn shopping tips and tricks, using our website as our example.

Where to start?

  • Many web sites offer multiple ways to start your search for products. On our site you can look for yarn by weight, by manufacturer, by color, by fiber, even by texture! Start with what is most important for your needs and go from there.
  • From that list, use filters to further refine your search. For example, if you want needles, you can start by looking at all needles and hooks, then filter to see just circular needles or just wood needles using the drop down menus on the left side.
  • From there, you can usually sort the results by price or by title.
  • If you want more guidance, many sites will have blog posts or collections offering advice. For example, we have blog posts on why fiber content matters, why gauge matters, how to block, and what yarn weights mean.
  • Kits! Kits are a great way to some speed shopping, or to get ideas on what items or colors go together. Even if you don't want to make that exact project, kits can still be a fun a jumping off point for brainstorming.
  • Ask for help! Most shops will be happy to send you a quick photo of the *exact* skeins in stock or answer a question about what colors look best together irl. We do it all the time, and it's a fun way to stay in touch with our customers. :)

Ravelry!

  • Have you discovered the Projects tab on Ravelry yet? It is where anyone who has made a project can upload their own pictures. Total. Game. Changer.
    • Use Ravelry to help you:
      • Search within the Projects tab to see if anyone has used a specific yarn you have your eye on.
      • See examples of color combos already worked up!
      • Preview, sometimes, what a garment looks like on someone with a similar body type.
      • Explore yarn substitutions. Want to know what it would look like with a yarn substitution, say, mohair held double? For a popular pattern, there's probably a picture!
    • There is a whole area just for Yarn. And that has a Projects tab, too! That means you get to see what the yarn looks like when worked up in any number of ways. Cables... Lace... Colorwork... The possibilities are endless.
    Specific Yarn Company and Indie Dyer Sites and Social Media
    • Manufacturer sites like Malabrigo and Brooklyn Tweed can be extremely helpful! They often have more samples of projects made and patterns if you are at that stage of looking for your next piece. 
    • Many even offer pictures of swatches on their social media sites so you can see exactly what some of the more wild speckles and variegated yarns will look like. 

    Final Takeaway

    Ultimately, buying online probably does take some extra flexibility. Everyone's eyeballs and monitors are different, so if you have an **exact** shade of copper green in mind, it might be worth making the pilgrimage to a brick and mortar store. (When that's safe - for now stay home!)

    On the other hand, if you're ok with a little variation or are familiar with the brand you're buying, online shopping is easy and, right now, it's definitely the safest route to yarny goodness.

    Plus, lots of small local independent businesses (that's us!) have web stores so you can support small businesses and their employees (that's also us!) with your purchase. <3

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