Ever wondered how to buy yarn online? To be honest, I don’t do it that often because I really love going to yarn stores. I shop at several local yarn stores in Melbourne like Morris & Sons, Maker Maker, Yarn and Co and Unwind but I also shop at Lincraft and Spotlight (the Aussie versions of Michael’s and Joanne’s) depending on what I’m after. I also spend quite a bit of time in Sew and Tell in Berry around the holidays.
I shop online if…
1. I can get a good bargain on a familiar brand of yarn
2. I need a specific yarn for a specific project and I can’t find it at a local store
3. I need a wide range of colours in a particular yarn. For example I make a lot of blankets out of Lion Brand Woolease and I’m yet to find a bricks and mortar store in Australia that stocks every colour available
4. I’m buying Bendigo Woollen Mills yarn (which is often!) because I live a quite a few hours from Bendigo so it just makes sense
Online yarn stores can be a contentious issue amongst bricks and mortar store owners which I completely understand. Shopping in a bricks and mortar store is always my first choice and I’m yet to walk into a yarn store where the person behind the counter isn’t a veritable encyclopaedia of yarn knowledge. Bricks and mortar yarn store owners are magical creatures and they’re full of brilliant advice. You can’t get that from a computer screen. There’s also a beautiful calm vibe in yarn stores that’s very special, which again, you can’t get from a computer screen. I also love chatting to other yarn crafters. The store owners and employees are almost always making something and it’s so pleasant to stop and chat for a while. I also find, particularly in Australia, our local yarn stores have this wonderful culture where they allow people to come in and knit or crochet for a while and have a cup of tea. Is it like that in the US and the UK? I’d love to know.
Having said all that, online yarn stores are fantastic for people who live in rural areas and can’t regularly access a bricks and mortar store. They’re also great for people like me who live in Australia. We’re often the last country to get the fancy new yarn everyone is talking about in the US and the UK (I still haven’t seen Shawl in Ball in an Aussie shop yet) but with online shopping I can get what I need without having to wait for the stores to stock it. Many moons ago I used to be a special needs teacher and online stores have been a blessing for people with disabilities who are unable to shop in physical stores or don’t have the transport or carers to help them.
There are also some incredibly beautiful, independent online yarn stores that deserve your support as much as your local yarn store. On that note, if you need some tips for how to buy yarn online keep on reading…
1. Read reviews
Buying yarn ‘blind’ is always very risky. You can’t feel it, the colour may not be represented correctly and even though the weight and size of the yarn is usually listed it’s very easy to make assumptions about how much yarn you’re actually purchasing (I’ve made this mistake several times myself). Before you buy yarn online, search for reviews of the yarn. In my experience, Amazon is the best place to get reviews. Here’s a sample of Lionbrand Shawl in Ball reviews I found.
This is a positive review of said yarn but it has an overall rating of 4 stars out of 5 which is good enough for me. Always check Amazon reviews before purchasing anything online. You don’t even need to purchase from Amazon, you can check the reviews and then buy it from an independent online or bricks and mortar store if you prefer.
2. Ask around
There are heaps of crochet (and knit!) Facebook groups where you can ask these questions. I’m a part of a few crochet groups (including the Crochet Coach members group which I LOVE – click here to join)
3. Choose your old faithfuls
I’m deeply in love with Bella Baby Tootgarook cotton yarn (I use it to make my eco bags!) and I’ve only ever seen it at Spotlight. I live in a metro area so my nearest Spotlight is about a 40 minute drive away. If I know exactly what I need, I just order it online. My only issue with ordering online from a bigger craft store is that they don’t offer dye lot guarantees. Bendigo Woollen Mills have never sent me different dye lots but Spotlight have. I kept the receipt and was able to return it but it was a bit of a pain. Just a warning of one of the drawbacks of ordering online.
4. Don’t be seduced by price
I once ordered a merino blend bulk bag of yarn and when it arrived, it felt awful. I ended up returning it but it serves me right for buying $2 per ball yarn I’d never touched before. Merino is usually a lot more expensive than that so I wasn’t overly surprised to find it wasn’t very good quality. Some inexpensive yarns are amazing but with others, you really get what you pay for. Buying cheap yarn online works better if you know what you’re buying.
5. Check the shipping before you hit purchase
Shipping in and to Australia is really expensive so even though yarn might be technically cheaper in an online store, by the time it’s shipped you may end up paying more than you would if you bought it in a bricks and mortar store.
6. Know what you’re looking for
Browsing online doesn’t really work. You can’t feel the yarn, or see the colours for what they really are. You can’t pick up one brand of yarn and try to find a complimentary shade in another brand. Online shopping works best when you know exactly what you want and how much you need.
7. Google coupons and check your email
Before you hit check out, Google to see if there are any discounts or coupons available. I always like to check my email inbox in case a store as sent me a voucher recently. It’s always worth a quick search to see if you can save yourself a few dollars.
8. Check the refund policy and decide if the risk is worth it
I have very rarely returned a yarn order but the few times I did, the postage wasn’t very expensive so it wasn’t a huge loss. If I have to spend $7 returning a yarn purchase, I look at that as $7 I didn’t spend on petrol, parking, a coffee and whole lot of cute things at the counter I didn’t need to buy when I visited a bricks and mortar yarn store. If the return shipping is $30… I’d rather head to my local yarn store.
9. Order a colour shade card
Many yarn stores and brands have colour swatch cards you can order. Bendigo Woollen Mills have them and are happy to send them out if you request them. That way if you’re a fan of a particular yarn of theirs (I’m addicted their cotton 4 and 8ply!) you can just check the shade cards and easily order online without having to make the trek to the physical store. Shade cards are also great for bricks and mortar shopping. I know what Unwind Cafe stocks Bendigo Woollen Mills yarn so I can just call them to make sure they have the colour I’m after before I get in the car and drive out there.
Best Online Yarn Stores
Technically they’re the same store but each is geared towards it’s own craft which personally, I love. I’m a big supporter of local yarn stores but most of them cater about 80% towards knitters with a small shelf of crochet books and hooks. At least online I can go to Love Crochet and everything is catered to me!
These guys sell lots of lovely lux yarns including some harder to get yarns that I haven’t been able to find in bricks and mortar stores in Australia.
This is US based store but they have an Australian sub-site that shows all amounts in local currency which is super handy. They also have free shipping on all orders over $100. They’ve also got a wide variety of yarn from basic to lux.
This is a relatively new find for me but they have an excellent crochet hook section. Always a plus for a hooker!
This shop is geared more towards knitters than crocheters but they have some lovely yarn on offer and us crocheters sure know what to do with yarn!
This store is smaller than the big players so it’s perfect if you’re keen to support independents. This store also has a vegan section full of hemp and linen. They even sell recycled yarn made out of newspapers.
This is an Australian store that sells mainly cotton, linen and lux fibres. A good place to shop if you want to support local – if you’re Australian of course!
This store is brand new to me and I’ve never ordered from there but they sell lux packs of yarn really cheaply. I’m talking 8 balls of Merino for $40. Bargain. I’m pretty sure the sales page is a re-direct to Amazon so I’m assuming international shipping won’t be an issue.
This is technically a bricks and mortar store and also a fabulous destination – if you get the chance to go to Bendigo, do it, it’s marvellous. However for all of us unable to make it to Bendigo regularly their online store is fantastic, particularly if you already know what you want to buy. I can also vouch for the fact that all their yarn is gorgeous. I’ve never met a ball of Bendigo I didn’t like.
This is another Australian site that is very well stocked and well worth a look if you’re wanting to support Australian stores.
There’s another store I’ve heard of that I haven’t tired called Ice Yarns and they’re based in Turkey. I’ve been wanting to try their yarns for ages but the shipping is a bit prohibitive especially if I have to return it if it’s not appropriate for what I’m after.
I also go through phases of yarns that I like. I don’t have any weddings coming up and that’s when I order heaps of Lionbrand online so at the moment I’m doing more bricks and mortar shopping.
A few yarns I’m loving right now…
This is a 4ply cotton and I’m obsessed with the natural colour. I made a dress with it earlier in the year and I’ve been slamming through balls of it making these eco bags. It’s just smooth, durable and very cost effective. I’ve halfway through a top design in this yarn so stay tuned!
Possibly my favourite yarn of all time, it’s just perfect for clothing. I used it to make a dress earlier this year and in the photo below I’m using the navy colour to make a vintage inspired dress. Pattern coming soon!
This is another recent obsession. I was super interested in trying the Sheepjes Whirl yarn but I couldn’t find it in Australia and then Lincraft released their Illusion yarn which is pretty similar. The dress I’m wearing (not making!) in the photo above is made from Illusion and I love it. It’s a cotton acrylic blend so it has excellent drape and structural integrity. It’s not super soft, but I like that. It’s very textural.
I’m making a summer shawl out of the red mix at the moment and I’m loving it! Although current status of this project is: lost. I have literally no idea where it is. I’m sure it’s kicking around somewhere, I’ll keep you updated on it’s whereabouts!
So tell me… where do you shop for yarn?
P.S There’s a FREE 7 day trial available for Crochet Coach at the moment. Click here to avoid missing out!
P.P.S Don’t forget to sign up to the Crochet Coach email list to get hooky little updates in your inbox.
P.P.P.S Let’s be Instagram friends! You can find me @crochetcoach.