I found out this morning (from a totally out-of-state-blogging-friend (thanks Suze)) that my local yarn shop is closing. This fills me with a certain, je-ne-say-I-don't-know-what. Mostly regret, I think. And why? Because I've never even been there.
I know, I know. I'm a horrible person. A ridiculous excuse for craftiness. A lazy, lazy individual. A total cheapskate. An idiot in a big box store. Yes. Yes. and I suppose, Yes.
But, thinking about it has led me down a dark path that I felt the need to share (mostly because I was 7 the last time I wrote a What's in my Crochet Bag).
I live in a very small town. A town with no stores. Seriously, we have a gas station, yo. And there's a butcher down the road, but they mostly specialize in wild game and since I don't spend my mornings in the cold, wet, rainy woods with a shotgun or a compound bow, I've only ever bought ice from them.
Those of us blessed enough to live in TinyTown, population 240 (not making that number up, by the way, just the name of the town) drive to Bigger Town to get everything from groceries to clothes to rubbermaid wear. Bigger Town has a Super Wal-Mart. Which used to have a fabric and craft section, but doesn't anymore. Now they have six skeins of yarn and some "silk" flowers. Oh, and scrapbooking supplies, because those freakin' scrappers never get shafted for some reason. So, you can't even buy a spool of thread without driving to the Small City or the State Capitol. (And, really, Wal-Mart sucks, but let's face facts, there were other big box retailers who got rid of their craft sections waaay earlier and many who never even had any. Also, I think the last time Bigger Town had an actual fabric store it was called "Dry Goods" and carried mostly calico, when it wasn't being raided by Native Americans and soldiers.)
But, there are speciality shops. And I have watched many come and go through the years (when I knew they existed at all. Honestly I didn't know this particular shop sold yarn until Suze mentioned it on her blog) and it's tough to get there.
For one thing, when you work 8-5 and a shop is open 10-6, you're cutting it pretty close, what with kid pick-ups and all. But let's face it. They probably had Saturday hours and it's not like I haven't had a day off in six years or anything, it hasn't even been that long since the endless stretch of maternity leave ended.
No, the real problem isn't the hours I work at that job, but the paycheck I leave it with. I'll admit, I'm broke more than I'm not. I think most crafters came to their craft under the (extremely misguided) perception that you could "make that for cheaper." And sometimes it's true. I've made my share of $30 skirts for $9. And I've certainly saved a small fortune by repairing what many of my friends would have thrown in the trash. But the problem with crafting is the better you get at it the more you spend.
See, the better you get, the more you understand that good raw materials are half the battle. You can stuff a quilt with cheap batting, but next year it'll be a thin double-sided blanket with no body to it. And, yes, Virginia, there is a difference between $4/yard velvet and $40/yard velvet. And what you need for most projects is firmly in the middle. I recently became enraged that you couldn't buy a bathrobe for a kid that wasn't made of polar fleece and they were $20, so I spent $40 buying the materials for a robe FOR A FIVE YEAR OLD.
So, since Brynna was born, I've gotten a lot better at crochet. This is mostly because when she was born, my craft du jour was beading and it only takes once or twice of trying to get your crystal beads away from your crawling baby and jerking the jeweler's epoxy out of her mouth before you realize this will not work. So, I returned to crochet (which has always been the center of my stress relief and the craft I always go back to) and I started working with a vengeance. I downloaded patterns and I bought more hooks and I collected ideas and I started working on projects other than afghans. And, now I'm pretty good.
Which means that I have hand-spun tastes and at least Lion Brand skill and a Red Hart budget. Hey ladies who are expecting a craft by the end of the year, do you know why you haven't gotten one yet? Because I don't have any yarn that isn't already spoken for (except for this hideous hot pink that Brynna picked out and scraps). I have time, I have patterns, but I don't have cash for nice yarn and I don't want to make you gifts from SuperSaver. But, I'm running out year, so prepare for the scratchy.
Honestly, I've put $30 into a sweater, only to realize that I only have half as much yarn as I need. I could have bought a similar sweater for $30. I know that I'm not saving money by doing it myself. That's not even why I try anymore. I crochet now because I love to. Because it calms my soul. And because (despite the fact that the man with whom I have chosen to spend my life hates all things crocheted) I feel proud of my work when I am done. I feel proud of my accomplishment. Of the finished product. I love it when people say, "Oooh. I love your scarf." and I can say "Oh, I made that."
And I don't do little projects. Oh, sure, sometimes I make hats. And once I made a cozy. But, mostly, when I crochet, I crochet. I make sweaters and blankets and baby dresses. And a few scarves, but even those usually take at least a whole skein of yarn. I just don't have the money for the stuff I love.
And I'm sure I could go into the cutesy little local yarn shop and pick up something for a couple of bucks. But I wouldn't. I would drop $50 just walking in the door. Because my love affair with yarn is obscene. And then I'd have to diaper the baby with paper towells and we'd be eating peanut butter crackers for supper.
I'm going to make a valiant effort to go there before they shut their doors forever. And I know that's too little, too late. I want to buy the good stuff. I want to support small, local businesses. I want to build up my community into something better than a collection of big box stores. But, financially, I can't make that choice. Because, for me, it's the choice of giving up the thing that I love.
Ever since I found out there's yarn in that there store front, I have driven past wistfully promising myself that someday... Someday I will go in there and buy yarn. Someday I will buy the yarn I want. Someday I'll be able to put a few more dollars into supporting places that I believe in. Someday I'll have the money, the freedom, the time, the ability.
I hope someday comes soon. Before my choices are completely gone.