Whether you’re experienced at knitting or crochet, a hobby sewer, or just looking to get into such crafts for the first time, you may raise an eyebrow in surprise at the price of yarn.
The average skein of yarn costs anywhere from $2 to $50.
Several factors determine just how expensive your final yarn purchase is going to be.
Here are 10 reasons yarn is so expensive.
Why Is Yarn So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
One of the main reasons that yarn is expensive is the size of the bundle (or skein) of yarn you are buying.
The bigger the skein is, the more expensive the yarn is going to become.
That’s because bigger skeins have more materials in them.
You can also make a lot more with a large skein of yarn.
For example, you might be able to finish an entire sweater or another piece of clothing with a large ball of yarn.
Since the manufacturer knows that people will be buying fewer skeins of yarn since they have the amount they need, they’ll put a higher price on the large size of yarn.
This ensures that they still get their money’s worth even if the consumer only buys one large skein of yarn.
Another factor that contributes to the price is the cost of production.
Larger skeins of yarn cost more to make, so they’re more expensive to buy.
Yarn is expensive when you buy larger sizes.
2. Merino Wool
Another reason yarn is expensive is when the manufacturer uses merino wool to make the thread.
Merino wool comes from a certain species of sheep.
You can’t get it from just any sheep and because of that, it isn’t a material that’s mass-produced.
There’s a limited supply which immediately drives up the price.
Another factor that drives up the price of merino wool is the cost of animal care.
Merino sheep herders have to spend a good amount of money and effort on making their sheep healthy.
When they’re healthy, they grow the best wool.
When a sheep isn’t healthy, then the wool may not grow as well or it may have defects.
Since this type of wool will sell for less, it isn’t ideal for herders.
Instead, they spend a lot of money on good food, quality shelters, and regular veterinary visits to ensure their animals are in great care.
There’s also a limit as to how many sheepherders can keep merino sheep.
That makes the supply for this wool even scarcer.
Finally, this wool is ideal and expensive because of its extremely soft texture.
In fact, many other types of thread are often compared to merino wool for their softness.
It sets the standard.
Since it’s so soft, this type of yarn is popular for crafts like baby blankets and clothes for children.
Adults who want to wear comfortable clothing can make clothing for themselves, too, of course.
However, because it’s ideal for babies and children, the demand for this type of wool is even higher.
This impacts the price of yarn because it means that yarn made out of merino wool is rare or difficult to come by.
Since it isn’t mass-produced like other types of yarn, there’s a lot of demand for something that’s in short supply.
That increases the price.
Yarn is expensive if it is made with merino wool.
3. Alpaca Fleece
Another reason yarn is expensive is when it’s made out of alpaca wool.
Alpaca wool creates a high-quality fleece that results in a popular type of yarn.
The average price of alpaca yarn is $100 to $150 per pound.
There are a few reasons this type of material is expensive.
The first is that not many people raise alpacas.
Although they produce high-quality fleece, it’s a market that ranchers have only just started tapping into.
Because of that, the supply of alpaca fleece is low.
Even worse, alpacas are only sheared once a year.
They can only produce enough wool once a year.
Since that’s the case, there isn’t a lot of supply coming from the alpacas unless the ranch happens to have a large number of them.
With a low supply, the price for this type of wool becomes expensive.
Another reason alpaca fleece is expensive is its color.
Some alpacas produce fleece that comes in rare, natural colors.
Crafters prize these rare colors because of their rarity.
It also means they usually don’t have to dye it further.
The natural color is usually eye-catching enough.
Since alpacas that produce rare colors are also rare, the supply for that particular type of yarn is even more limited.
The price is extremely high.
The cost of feeding and caring for alpacas is also high.
Since ranchers need to own quite a few to make their efforts worthwhile, they spend a lot of money on food and healthcare costs.
Alpacas produce the best wool for 10 years, but after that, age starts to catch up with them.
Ranchers have to keep a continuous stock to keep their farm alive.
As a result, they also spend money on breeding and stock.
All these costs influence the final price of alpaca yarn.
Yarn is expensive when it uses alpaca fleece.
4. Angora Wool Yarn
Angora wool comes from Angora rabbits.
Back when France had monarchs, these bunnies were a popular pet among royalty.
Not only did monarchs and noble houses appreciate the domesticity of the rabbits, but their wool was also prized.
They’d shear the wool when it was long enough and create silky clothes from it.
For a long time, France was the main exporter of Angora wool.
However, as it rose in popularity, other countries, like England, started to export it, too.
While more people sell Angora wool today, it’s still a rare material.
Its roots in royal history also make it appear as a type of fabric with some prestige to it.
All these factors make Angora wool, and thus Angora yarn, more expensive.
Angora wool sells for $10–$16 per ounce.
That’s a lot of money for a very small amount of wool.
A ball of yarn made out of Angora wool, thus, would be extremely expensive.
You can further determine its expense by examining finished products made from Angora wool.
A pullover sweater made from Angora wool, for example, costs, on average, $150.
A scarf costs around $30.
One of the reasons this type of wool is so popular is its soft and silky texture.
Since it’s so prized, a lot of people want to use it.
With high demand and low supply, the price becomes even higher.
Yarn is expensive when it is made with Angora wool.
5. Mohair Yarn
Mohair yarn comes from Angora goats.
In particular, it’s wool that comes from kid goats that fetches the highest price.
To classify, a kid is a goat aged up to two years old.
After two years old, the goat can still produce some decent wool, but it needs processing.
In most cases, the rancher has to inspect the wool and sort out any strands that are more hair-like which are too coarse and bristly.
Kid yarn, however, fetches a high price.
That’s because goats can only produce the best yarn in the first years of their lives.
That creates a very small supply window for each rancher.
Goats live for a few years, so it isn’t feasible for ranchers to constantly breed new goats to get more wool.
As a result, they can only enjoy high-quality yarn for a few years before they have to stop breeding and let their goats finish aging.
Since there’s a period in which they won’t be making top-dollar, they have to make the most of their money during those two years of the kid’s life.
Mohair is expensive because of its rarity.
It’s also considered an exotic type of fiber.
Terms like “rare” and “exotic” usually come with high price tags.
Ranchers also have to spend a good amount of money to keep their goats healthy.
The healthier they are, the more likely they are to give high-quality wool.
Vet costs, food, water, vaccines, and other costs keep their goats going.
Since they have high costs associated with them, ranchers have to make up for those costs through high prices on their wool.
Mohair yarn is expensive because it encompasses those costs.
It also includes other production costs like dyes and other processes done to soften the wool even further.
Yarn is expensive when it’s made from mohair wool.
6. Cashmere Yarn
One of the most expensive types of yarn is yarn made out of cashmere wool.
Many confuse cashmere wool with sheep, but it comes from goats.
The type of goat that grows cashmere is in the Himalayas.
In those mountains, temperatures can drop to well-below freezing temperatures.
To survive, most of the animals that live there need thick fur.
These particular goats actually have two layers of hair.
Their top layer of hair is bristly and coarse.
It protects the lighter and softer type of wool found beneath it.
The problem with cashmere goats is that they don’t produce a lot of wool.
While a sheep might be able to give a rancher 300 kilos of wool a year, a goat will only give you 200 grams of cashmere wool a year.
Because it doesn’t produce that much, cashmere is extremely low in supply.
Another reason cashmere is expensive is the complexity of domesticating cashmere goats.
Since they’re native to the Himalayas, they’re used to that sort of environment.
They don’t thrive well in other regions.
As such, most ranchers have to either have their ranches in the Himalayas or spend a lot of money making their goats comfortable in their new environments.
This can cause a lot of stress on the animal which can impact the quality of their wool.
There are also other costs associated with cashmere goats that are typical of animal husbandry.
Ranchers will need to feed their goats, give them vaccines, take them to the vet, and ensure that they’re clean and happy.
Because of the expensive wool that they produce, they also need to keep them safe from thieves and predators.
With all the costs associated with cashmere goats, and the rarity of the material, it makes sense that yarn from cashmere is just as expensive.
Yarn is expensive when it is made with cashmere.
7. Camel Yarn
Another rare type of wool that can make yarn expensive is camel wool.
Although camel wool used to be quite popular in the 1800s and early 1900s, it became less popular as other types of wool emerged in the market.
That said, there’s still a market for camel wool since it’s lightweight, thin, dyes well, and provides good insulation without being all that heavy.
One of the other reasons that camel yarn is expensive is that not many people make it anymore.
Since demand died down, only a few camel ranchers shear their camels and sell the wool as yarn.
Now that demand has started to rise again, the lack of camel yarn suppliers has made the price increase.
There are also very few factories that produce camel wool and make it into yarn.
As such, most of the process is either done by ranchers or other experts.
That adds even more cost to the production.
There are also the standard costs of keeping the camels alive and healthy.
Camels require certain diets and amounts of water to stay healthy.
Although they’re adaptive and used to living in harsh environments, they can still become ill.
Costs to keep the camels alive and able to produce healthy yarn also add to the final price tag of balls of yarn.
Yarn is expensive when it is made with camel hair.
8. Silk Yarn
One of the most expensive materials used to make yarn is silk.
While there are several varieties, and some blended with other materials, one of the most expensive types of silk is mulberry.
If you see yarn made out of mulberry silk, then you can expect to pay a high price for the ball of yarn.
That’s because there is not a large supply of mulberry silk.
It takes time and a lot of care to make this type of silk.
It’s also the smoothest silk in the world.
A lot of different industries want this type of silk for their various products.
Since demand for it is high but supply low, the price will be high for any product that uses it.
That’s because the manufacturer had to pay a good amount of money just to get the material.
When it comes to yarn, mulberry silk is expensive because you’re getting it in a large ball or roll.
While small amounts are available, you’re essentially buying mulberry silk in yarn format.
Since you’re buying a lot of the material, you’re going to be paying a high price.
The larger the skein of yarn is, the more expensive it is.
Mulberry silk comes from the cocoons of a specific type of moth found in China.
Like other bugs, moths are subject to changes in their environment.
When they’re not in the right type of environment or if the environment changes, then they either grow ill or die.
Their cocoons are also small.
Silk growers are only able to source small amounts of silk per cocoon.
They also have to wait each year for the moth to make their cocoon.
It isn’t as though the moths make cocoons every month.
Since there’s only a severely limited supply available, it makes mulberry silk expensive.
Yarn is expensive if it is made of silk.
9. Bamboo Yarn
With a lot of consumers concerned about the conditions and state of animals used for wool and textiles, many have turned to bamboo products instead.
Bamboo is an environmentally-friendly textile since it grows extremely fast and doesn’t require the use of fertilizers or pesticides.
It also retains water well and has a deep root system, which means it needs little cultivation to grow well.
The problem with bamboo is that shredding it down into its fibers is laborious and expensive.
There are two methods to do it, and the most environmentally-friendly way takes time and money.
It’s a mechanical process that essentially shreds the bamboo into fibers and then spins it into yarn.
Because it takes a long time, it’s a costly method of production.
The other method uses chemicals, but there’s a lot of concern over how friendly that is to the environment.
One of the benefits of bamboo yarn is the fact the fibers are strong and durable.
It also feels like standard linen.
Products made with this type of yarn will last for some time.
Since manufacturers know that, they put a higher price on this type of yarn since people will need to buy it less to repair their clothing.
Due to the cost of producing bamboo yarn and its benefits, bamboo yarn is expensive.
10. Other Production Costs
Besides the material used to make the yarn driving up the price, there are also a series of other steps that drive up production costs.
Whenever production costs are high, you can expect the final price tag to also be high.
The manufacturer or producer has to put a high enough price tag on their product to earn a profit.
One of the factors influencing production cost is dyeing.
Some companies will dye their yarn specific colors to make them more attractive to customers.
For example, those who use rare colors will likely see more demand for their balls of yarn since few other companies make those shades of colors.
It allows those using the yarn to create new and interesting designs and clothing.
Some also choose to run the yarn through a few more machines to make them softer or thicker.
Every step the company adds to the production line, the more expensive the yarn becomes.
Yarn is expensive because of various factors involved in its production increasing the cost of making it.
Yarn is expensive based on its quantity and the type of yarn that you buy.
Natural yarn made from different types of wool is among the most expensive types of yarn.
However, certain steps during the yarn’s production can also increase its price.