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I love second hand stores.  Buying new stuff is important for things like undies, shoes and white shirts (butter stains are a pain).  For pretty much everything else, second hand stuff ROCKS!   There are some real treasures out there (like Principles of Knitting that goes for $100 on eBay, but I paid $1.99) and all you have to do is look. 

Second hand stores can be overwhelming.  Here are some strategies:

  1. Find a store that sorts thier merchandise well and that has lots of turnover.  My favourite is Value Village, a store that affiliates itself with a chartity – here in my hometown it is the Canadian Diabetes Association Clothesline.   They get a massive amount of stuff and they SORT it by item, colour, and size.  
  2. Know what you’re looking for before you go.  Educate yourself on the stuff you’re likely be drawn to.  I’d have walked past Principles of Knitting if I didn’t know what it was. 
  3. Know what is in your closet already – I saw a study that people unconciously repeat purchases.  I’m an unwitting example – this spring I counted 12 red sweaters and 14 pairs of tan pants.  Clearly, I’m in a (bad fashion) rut.  And I spent too much and just ended up donating them back to the store – some with tags!   Not a good budget or storage move.
  4. Know what is in your knitting stash.  Some stores have a yarn section.  Impossible to resist, right? 
    • Pay attention to mystery yarn (I prefer wool, so I open the bag and break the yarn to see if it breaks easily or if it is too scratchy.  If it doesn’t break, there is a lot of acrylic in there and I’m not interested.  Once you’re home, you can (carefully!) do a fibre burn test to get a bit more information before starting your project.)  
    • There is often a lot of yarn in small quantities.   Good for small projects but not so good for larger ones. 
    • Give it a sniff – is it musty or smokey? 
    • If you can find yarn with a ball band, you’re golden.  Buy it if you like it.  Yesterday I picked up two balls of On Your Toes Bamboo Sock yarn.  I had already admired the yarn at Yarn Forward, but couldn’t afford it.  I got the bag for $3.99.  I expect it will turn into something for Christmas. 
  5. Know what is in your knitting tool kit too!  As far as tools go, it helps to have a needle gauge and a knowledge of what you have.  I’ve got 5 – 6 sets of 4.5 mm needles because I couldn’t remember if I needed them.  I think that’s enough.
  6. Think about your purchases before you hand over your money.  Yes, that slightly scratchy yarn is pretty in the store and there are four bags of it.  It is not a bargain unless you actually plan to use it.  $5 here and there isn’t a big deal, but it is a waste if you aren’t going to use it.

I’ve found some of my best possessions in second hand stores.  My Clapotis shawl was a from a VV find… mohair, wool, acrylic blend in the softest, prettiest light blue.  I wear it often and I love it.  I also spent $3 on the yarn.  It is a good thing.

Shop on my friends.  See you at the Village.

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