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A Tale of Two Needles, and More Thoughtful Purchasing

Let me tell you a little story about the needles below. These are both 60 inch circular needles, and it probably doesn’t take much more than a glance at the photo to tell that there’s a huge difference in the two. The pair on the left was purchased in 2010, when I was making a Girasole for my grandparents. I found someone on Etsy who was selling 60 inch circular needles in sizes US 4-13, and the entire bunch was only a couple more bucks than one pair, so I bought them all. The pair on the right, I just purchased a couple of weeks ago to replace those on the left, because they are such poor quality, that they were hardly usable. Why am I telling you all this?
For a few reasons. I’ll start off by saying that I’ve always prided myself on being “cheap”. Getting the most for my money – hey, I’m the kid of teachers. It’s how I was raised. However, as I’m getting older, and I’m starting to take a good look at the things I’m purchasing, I’m starting to re-think that mindset. First off, had I just purchased the single pair of needles I needed, I would have spent less, and when it came time for me to use those 60 inch needles again, I would have saved myself a lot of frustration and anger. Instead, I spent my money on things that were poor quality – but, hey, I got like 10 pairs of needles instead of just one! – and ended up wasting money, because I will never use any of those needles because they are so bad. Second, I’ve really started thinking about quality over quantity. It’s so easy to justify purchasing a bunch of yarn (or anything, really. This definitely applies to all aspects of my life!) when it’s really cheap. But is it worth it? Do I need it? Usually the answer is no. Lately, I’ve started thinking more about buying quality things that may be more expensive, yet will last me a lot longer. Now, I completely recognize that my yarn budget will probably never allow me to knit all my sweaters out of Brooklyn Tweed yarn, but I’ve come to the conclusion that instead of buying cheap yarn (because look how much you can get for the money!), I’d rather buy nicer, more quality wool that may be a little more expensive, and just buy less. It’s time for me to start putting my money where my heart is, and start buying more thoughtfully, instead of more spontaneously. 
These thoughts have been floating in my head for a while, but it wasn’t until I started listening to Ashley’s new podcast, Woolful, that I really started focusing on those thoughts. If you enjoy podcasts, I definitely recommend giving Woolful a listen. And, bonus, I’ve been participating in several of her “Man on the Street” segments, where I call in and answer a fun fiber related question that she’s asked, so in a few episodes you’ll be able to hear my voice! (Side note: isn’t it fun to hear the voice of someone that you know through the Internet for the first time? You imagine it in your head when you read blogs, but it’s always neat to hear it in real life. It may surprise some of you that I do not have a Southern accent, despite being raised in the South!)
Anyway, in last week’s episode, she interviewed Karen Templer of Fringe Association, and Felicia Semple of The Craft Sessions, and for some reason that one really motivated me to get my act together. I’d discovered Felicia through Instagram a week or two prior, and loved her idea of “stash-less”, so the fact that she was on the podcast almost seemed like the universe’s way of telling me to take action. 
I realize that this will be a slow process for me, since I’ve been in the “get more for your money” mindset for so long, but I’m looking forward to applying this new, more thoughtful way of spending to all aspects of my life. One thing I wanted to do this year was to get more involved in my local fiber community, and I feel like these two goals can really compliment each other.
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5 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Needles, and More Thoughtful Purchasing

  1. I absolutely relate to this! As a grad student money is always an issue. When I started crocheting you could find me at JoAnn's/michaels all the time, buying cheap acrylic. Then I started knitting, about a year ago, and found all of you fabulous instagram friends and learned about LYS and soft merino wool. I had the same issue with cheap bamboo needles off the internet. 10 for 12$! Absolute garbage. I still can't afford much but I'd rather spend the little money I have in good tools and materials. It's worth waiting for and best for the wallet!

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  2. I love this: “Put my money where my heart is…” When I was wedding planning, I came across a nugget that really spoke to me: “Vote with your dollars” or in other words, what you spend your money on has meaning and some power. If you support the kinds of businesses you believe in, that really matters, even if your purchase is a little more costly than it could be.

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  3. I think you've set some great goals! Personally, I am a walking contradiction when it comes to this topic. I LOVE quality products. I try to buy the best tools I can afford. And, I carry this into other areas of my life, footwear, for instance, because I think it matters and makes a difference in performance. It saves me time, money (in the long run), and leaves me feeling more satisfied. I'd rather buy once and have it last than have to replace things constantly. However, I'm a total stasher. I do knit and sew from my stash on a very regular basis, but when I come across a bargain, I swoop in and scoop it up. I just can't resist.

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  4. I am definitely in this mind set. That was the reason behind my wardrobe overhaul. I had so many sweaters knit in lesser quality of yarns and they just weren't fitting the bill.
    I am set on USING my nicer yarns this year instead of keeping them unused in the stash.

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  5. This is a fantastic post, as you no doubt know. I love that you discuss your reasoning behind both mindsets – saving money! yay! as well as buying less quantity but higher quality. I'm in an extremely similar place right now – I have way too many things and am trying to rid myself of them so that when I do have the need or desire to purchase a new thing, I can, knowing full-well what I'm putting my vote toward (I consider paying for things like voting, money is hard to come by sometimes!)

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