When I first started knitting, I would never think of putting a ball of yarn in my basket if it cost more than $5. Red Heart, I Love This Yarn (Hobby Lobby) and Loops and Thread’s Impeccable (Michaels) was all I used. Most of the time I didn’t even buy them unless there was a sale. I even bought old sweaters or blankets at the thrift store or goodwill just to rip them out and re-use the yarn. I know – that was a little extreme I’m not suggesting you do that.
But I do suggest to all my new students that they start with these three yarns for two reasons:
1) They are not a big investment. Before you decide if you will love knitting (you will) stick to the $5/skein yarn instead of the $30/skein stuff.
2) It is so much easier to learn on plain yarn than fuzzy, ribbon, mohair, or any other novelty yarn. Please just don’t do it.
If you ask me to make you a large blanket I will still turn to Michaels for Impeccable yarn. Priced at $3.49 for 4.5 ounces, it has a nice color selection, it isn’t too rough for a baby blanket, and once in a while there is a sale that makes it ridiculously cheap.
Michaels’s customer service has impressed me as well. My Sister-in-law once offered to shop for me while I was in Korea. I sent her the colors and she filled up her cart. The cashier commented that she must have a big project. When she explained that it was actually for me stationed overseas with my Soldier, the cashier offered to take 20% off as a Military Discount. I suppose that would’ve been a pretty elaborate story for 20% off if it hadn’t been true but the cashier had no proof of that. She didn’t need to make that offer. That’s the kind of service that keeps customers coming back. And the yarn is great too.
Hobby Lobby’s brand, “I love this yarn/cotton” is a very nice budget yarn as well. You will pay $3.66 for a 7oz skein. It will work very well for first projects. It has a nice feel and is easy to work with both on the needles and on the budget.
Red Heart Super Saver is a great “learning yarn” I wouldn’t choose it for that gorgeous sweater I saw on Pinterest. But I would use it to practice a new technique, cast-on, or pattern. Some say it can be scratchy. It can. For a baby blanket or other item that might be cuddled with or held up to a chubby cheek, I would pick the other two. But for most other items (mitts, dog sweater, hat, novelty items) a trip through the wash and Red Heart is almost as cozy as the others. Plus paying just $4.29 for a 7oz skein gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside too.
Remember – you will not want to show off your first projects. You really won’t. You’re just learning and making plenty of mistakes. Your stitches won’t be consistent and you shouldn’t be focused on making them consistent yet. Just knit. Just crochet. All of that perfection comes with time. I’m not saying you shouldn’t pull back your crochet or tink (un-knit) your knitting to fix mistakes and learn to do it right. If you are going to take the time to learn this craft you should strive to do it right. But if you focus on perfection you will drive yourself mad. When starting out – just focus on learning and developing. Use the cheap yarn and enjoy the process. Make a few mistakes. Finish a piece and master a new technique and then laugh at the hideous neon-green yarn you picked. I did. Then throw it out (it cost all of $5) and start again with a nicer yarn the next time. Your taste in yarn will grow along with your confidence in your abilities. Until then – remember everyone has those first projects they aren’t proud of. EVERYONE. And if you are going to chuck it later. I would much rather it be Red Heart at $5/skein than Wollmeise at 44 Euros!!
My first blanket mid-way through the stitch-together process. Lovely huh?
And what’s on my needles 5 years later.