Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Knitter Yarn as a Gift

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a 1000 times… “You’re impossible to shop for!”

To which I reply, “No I’m not! I’m a knitter, I love all things knitting. I’m easy to shop for,” and then, in an extra quiet voice I add, “except, don’t buy me yarn.”

Yes, I really tell my family that they shouldn’t buy me yarn. I realize that may sound ungrateful and bratty of me, and I fully admit to being a yarn snob. But seriously, when you stop to think about it, yarn really isn’t the best gift for a knitter.

Let me tell you why.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Knitter Yarn

1) First of all, projects take a specific amount of yarn.

Non-knitter gift givers often try to imagine what you’re going to make with the yarn they give you. They may think a single skein of super bulky yarn is enough for you to make a trendy super-sized knit blanket. Or that, obviously, they should give you three skeins of that lace weight yarn with 900 yards a skein because it’s so fine you probably need a lot to knit a shawl. If they’ve never knit a project they won’t realize you’ll probably only need one skein of lace weight to make a shawl and you’ll need a half dozen of those basketball size skeins!

It would be a lot to expect someone who isn’t familiar with patterns and yarn requirements to download a pattern, read the requirements, and then order the exact yarn and quantity called for so you can knit a specific project.

2) Wool is a lot softer than people think it is.

In my experience, a lot of yarn that’s gifted is either novelty (such as eyelash or ribbon) or it’s acrylic. This can be totally great for the right project, but I think most of the time it’s given because non-knitters don’t understand the properties of fibers. They give novelty yarns because they look cool, or they give acrylic because it’s soft. Their only experience with wool is a scratchy department store sweater they just pull out when temps drop below zero.

Buy a knitter yarn? I don't think so.

As a knitter, I have no doubt you love quality wool just as much as I do. It’s soft, warm, and durable. To help combat the “wool is too itchy” myth, I make people feel the wool I knit with (whether it’s from the sweater I’m wearing or the project I’m knitting) as often as possible so they can feel just how wonderful it is.

3) Color selection is really personal.

This reasoning really doesn’t need an explanation, does it? Everyone has very personal love/hate relationships with colors. I rarely ever wear orange, but guess what color is my sister’s favorite and she’s gifted me several times. Add to this the extra layer that non-knitters seem to find very heavily variegated yarns appealing. Maybe they think knitter would find a shaded solid boring. Who knows? What they don’t know is that it takes the right skein-to-project match to make those wildly colorful skeins really work.

Forget about buying a knitter yarn.

With something as individual as a color that will be wearable, it really should be left up to the knitter.

4) Lastly, most yarn stashes are already overflowing with yarn.

I know that this post may sound like I’m looking a gift-yarn-horse in the mouth, but I do really appreciate every single skein of yarn I’ve ever been given. While I might not love the fiber or the color, what I truly love is the intention behind that skein. Someone I love thought of me and wanted me to enjoy my craft. Even though I’ll probably never knit with them, I’ve kept every skein, which means I’ve got a lot of yarn in my stash (especially when you count the skeins I add myself!) And truth be told, even experienced knitters make bad stash choices. I don’t think gift givers want to have their skeins lost in a bottomless stash!

If you want a knitter to sincerely love a skein, give him or her a gift card. While it may seem thoughtless, it’s not! It lets the knitter pick out just the yarn they need in a fiber and color they love for a project they want to knit right this minute. They’ll stitch away with thanks, thinking the whole time of the giver who made their new project possible.

—Kerry Bogert
Editorial Director, Books

Buy a knitter yarn? Let them pick it out themselves.


  1. Anonymous at 9:09 am July 30, 2018

    Preachin’ to the choir, sister! LOL.

  2. Anonymous at 9:10 am July 30, 2018

    Or keep a wish list with your favorite vendors urge them to use that. Even if they don’t buy from the list, it will give them a better idea of your fiber and color preferences.

  3. Anonymous at 9:23 am July 30, 2018

    The BEST birthday gift I ever got was when my daughter and two daughters-in-law ( I call them “my girls”) gifted me with lunch and a trip to a very nice yarn store. They even went with me and told me to buy whatever I wanted. I controlled myself because I didn’t want to be greedy but I got yarn for a couple of projects I had been wanting to do and got to spend time with my special girls. Doesn’t get better than that!

    • Anonymous at 8:43 pm July 31, 2018

      My son and daughter-in-law did the same for my birthday at a yarn shop too far away for me to drive and afterwards we had lunch…all their treat! It touch my heart…and so does the shawl every time I wear it…thinking of that day.

  4. Anonymous at 11:04 am July 30, 2018

    Well said! Loved your article. I’ve experienced all you wrote. Gift card is the best gift that keeps you happy with what one wants to purchase and not trying to put away or hide that yarn in a corner somewhere. Much thanks.

  5. Chris at 2:14 pm July 30, 2018

    Two stories of me, knitter, as receiver of yarn-related gifts.
    SUPER retirement gift from co-workers: $400.00 gift certificate (yes, Four Hundred) to my favorite yarn shop. I bought a wonderful heavy-duty canvas tote that was the shop’s signature bag with about half the funds. I use it every day and think of my generous colleagues with gratitude & pleasure. I purchased the yarn for a project and had the rest to draw on for the future.
    A few years ago a friend bought me one skein of a beautiful fingering (merino, silk, & yak) made by a local indie dyer in colors I adore as a Christmas gift. I thanked her & set it aside to be used “soon”. With one thing and another the next Christmas came & the same friend saw another skein of the same yarn. She forgot the first purchase, just knew it was “right” for me, & bought it. Now I had Two big skeins. I took myself to the LYS and bought a third and knit myself a gorgeous Isabell Kraemer tee. Sometimes things work out…..

  6. Cynthia N at 3:43 pm July 30, 2018

    Sooooooo correct-couldn’t have said it better myself. One of the best gifts I got from my middle sister for Xmas once was a $50 limit to a now defunct yarn shop. Perfect……I haven’t had a Michael’s gift card for 14 years….hint, hint I don’t think any of my relations know about Interweave

  7. Anonymous at 4:15 pm July 30, 2018

    Wow, I totally disagree. I love when people give me yarn. Figuring out what to make with it or how to combine it with yarn I already own is a fun challenge. When someone gives me yarn I might not ever choose myself, it pushes me to try new things. Even the weirdest yarn is better than a generic gift.

  8. at 9:45 am August 17, 2018

    Knitting kits, where you have the yarn, the pattern, and sometimes goodies like buttons or wool-wash, could be a good idea. I’ve been known to leave ads for knitting kits on my spouse’s desk, with the mention : “Perfect Xmas gift idea for Myriam”.
    It worked.

  9. Lara F at 8:41 am December 7, 2018

    I disagree. I love the challenge of finding something fun to do with what people give to me. And I get the best yarn presents from my friends who are knitters. We joke that one skein is a “paint chip”…and there are a lot of patterns out there for smaller projects which can be gifted. Send me your unwanted yarn! I’ll give it a good home.

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