Maybe you have considered learning to spin your own yarn, especially if you are buying craft yarn for your projects! Will you save money learning to spin your own yarn or are you better off to buy from someone else?
Compared to buying hand crafted specialty yarns, you save money by purchasing prepared wool and spinning your own yarn. If you are buying normal 100% wool mill spun yarns, you are breaking even when spinning your own yarn versus buying it.
Is Spinning Your Own Yarn Worth It? goes over the math of spinning versus buying wool yarns.
|Spinning Wheel cost per month |
($773 wheel paid over 48 months)
|$16.10 per month|
|Prepared wool (roving or top)||$40-50 per pound|
|Prepared wool from small businesses||$40-68 per pound|
|Machine spun 100% wool yarns||$52.20-82.24 per pound|
|Hand crafted wool yarns||$101-110 per pound|
|Money saved/lost by spinning your own 100% wool yarn||none, breaks even most times|
|Money saved/lost by spinning your own craft yarn||save $27.80 per pound of yarn|
Spinning wheel will cost $519-909
To spin your own wool, first off you are going to need a spinning wheel of some sort. There is a huge range of choices here, I’d go with the one you can practice on or that a friend has so you can try it out first before buying.
I picked out a nice selection of spinning wheels that range from $519-909. There are a few lower priced wheels and multiple ones that are more capable, so are also higher priced.
Here are some wheels that I have heard good things about:
The Ashford Kiwi 3 is popular, with new spinners. Of course, Ashford is a well known brand and the price of the Kiwi 3 is $519. The Kiwi 3 is shown on the Woolery site, it is one of their many wheels available.
The Louet Classic S10 Double Treadle Irish Tension is a wheel similar to mine and it is $909. This is just one of the many wheels available from Paradise Fibers.
The Schacht Ladybug Spinning Wheel is a beginner friendly wheel and is $773. Schacht has many wheels and spindles, this is just the one I have heard the most about, so it’s the one I picked.
Please look around and see what wheels appeal to you. There are tons of great choices out there for your first spinning wheel, these are just a few options to give you an idea of where to start looking.
You can rent spinning wheels
There are rental options, check out Gwen Erin Tool Rental Program for details, but I am figuring you are going to be buying your wheel, so we’ll include the cost of buying rather than renting.
Of course, you could also spin wool on a drop spindle, but since that would take significantly longer than spinning on a wheel, I’m once again making a guess and going with you deciding to use a wheel rather than a drop spindle.
Your spinning wheel will last you for decades
I have a Louet double treadle spinning wheel, this is the one I learned on and like it. I have kept using it for more than 20 years. I think I paid around $350 for it, but that was 20 years ago!
When I got the wheel, I stained it a darker color, but other than that it has run well for without additional upkeep. I did have to buy another tension band when the original one was cut by a wayward pair of scissors, but that’s it!
Wool to spin will cost up to $50 per pound
You have basically two choices for wool to spin, you can buy from someone else or you can use the wool from your own sheep. We’ll go over the costs for both.
Wool Roving: What is it, why use it and where to get it gives you the full scoop on getting your spinning fiber!
Prepared wool will cost $40-50 per pound
Prepared wool will cost you from $40-50 per pound. Prepared wool is wool that is made into roving or top and is ready to spin as soon as you get it. No wool is prep required, you just open the bag and get spinning!
The $50 per pound prepared wool is pretty normal for what I have seen for nice wool that will be a pleasure to spin and is purchased in bulk, more like a half a pound or more.
Here is an example, this is some Super Fine Merino Top that is 250 grams for $22.99. 250 grams is just over a half a pound or, more precisely, 8.8 ounces. This wool is $42.80 per pound.
The best prices for ready to spin wool that I have found so far are from The Woolery. They have tons of choices and most wools are in half pound (or close) lots, which gets you more wool for your money.
Specialty fibers and ultra fine wool will cost you more
If you want specialty dyed wool, more exotic blends, or smaller lots of wool, like 100 gram bags, your cost will go up to closer to $55-60 per pound. 100% exotic fiber like Angora or Cashmere are much higher, $40-45+ per 100 grams.
The ultimate in soft, Ultra Fine Merino Wool Top, is $42.99 per 250 gram bag, which is 8.8 ounces. This would be $78.16 per pound.
Generic wool will be the cheapest per pound
You can also go flat out, cheapest wool to buy, just to get in more practice, and for that I have seen a blend of breeds called Heinz 57 that is $15.99 per pound.
This comes with a built in catch of the reason it is cheap to begin with is that not a lot of folks are using it. Why? Because they want to work with something softer or with a more specific staple length.
You can order wool from sheep farmers and small fiber businesses
I have also just got in two orders of fiber to spin from small farmers/wool enthusiasts on Etsy. My first order was from PromisedLandFibers and the second order from FriendsInFiber.
From Promised Land I got some hand dyed Rambouillet and undyed Rambouilllet, Romeny, Merino and Corriedale and an Alpaca wool mix.
My order was $10-16 per 4 ounce package, with the $16 one being the hand dyed Rambouillet. The average cost for the undyed fiber in my order from this shop was $40 per pound.
From Friends In Fiber I got some Zwartbles, Black Welsh Mountian, Gotland and Faulkland. My wool was $5.75-8.50 per 4 ounce package. The average cost for fiber in my order from this shop was $32.25.
Orders shipped quickly and are great fibers to work with, I’m still doing the inital experimental spin and knit to see what’s what, but so far, I’m enjoying what I ordered.
Consider sourcing your fiber from farms or individual shops
When looking for spinning fiber, I like to look around on farm websites or Etsy shops to see if I can find what I want while supporting a small business.
While there are cheaper wools out there, since you are wanting to compare prices to see if spinning saves you money, you have to use the nicer wools to get the nicer yarns, so we are using a top notch Merino.
If you are thinking about using a different type of wool, just adjust the numbers to suit the wool you plan to use.
You may be shopping around and saying “that’s not the prices that I see”, partially true. Most prepared wool is not selling by the pound, it’s usually divided up into smaller lots, more along the lines of 4 ounces or 100 grams.
These are sizes put together with an individual spinner in mind. Since I am comparing spinning your own yarn to buying it, I have to keep the wool amounts comparable, meaning if one is in pounds they all have to be in pounds.
Processed wool will cost you about $20-25 per pound plus shipping
You can, of course, have your own fleeces or fleeces you purchase, processed for you at a woolen mill. From doing some basic math, I have come up with the cost of about $20-25 per pound of ready to spin wool.
What eats up the money here is that the mill only charges $12 per pound to process, nothing wrong with that. But you are going to loose 25-50% of that weight as soon as the raw wool is washed. This is where the price goes up.
If you compare buying processed wool and having your own processed, you are actually saving money having a mill process your wool for you, since you are down to around $20-25 per pound rather than more like $45-50.
Of course, another option is you could just have the fleece washed and sent back to you clean but uncarded rather than as prepared fiber, if that is how you prefer to spin. This would cost a bit less in processing but more in your time.
Know that if you have wool that requires additional washes, is full of vegetable matter or you want other processing done, like have it made into pencil roving or batts, it will cost you more per pound than the prices listed above.
Your raw wool that you process only cost is fiber wash
You can process your own wool at home and the cost will be your time plus a bit of fiber wash. I use Unicorn Power Scour, works great, but there are plenty of other fiber washes, too. Get whichever suits you or is easy to find.
However, I must point out that processing your own wool at home will be tough to do to the quality level of the mills.
The processed fiber from the mills is so good, truly wonderful, that in my opinion, your time is better spent spinning and leave the processing to a pro.
I have done all of my own wool processing up until now and have done fine for my purposes (which is pleasing myself), but it’s nowhere near as nice and uniform as mill processed.
If I were looking to do more with my spinning or just do more spinning, I would definitely leave all of the wool processing to a professional.
Sell homespun specialty yarn for $101-110 per pound
Since you are making homespun specialty yarn, not just any old wool yarn, you should be comparing your prices to yarns that are made with the same care and quality that you will be putting into yours.
Here are some examples of folks selling handspun yarns on Etsy. There is a wide variety of prices here, with the more middle ground prices being in the $101-110 per pound for finished, ready to use yarn.
One shop I found is selling for a bit less than $100 per pound of finished yarn and one shop is selling for significantly more than $100 per pound. Poke around online and see what other price points you find, if you want more examples.
FeistywomanDesigns has a nice hand spun worsted weight yarn that is 2 ounces for $13.86, which is $110.88 per pound.
Everspace has a lovely hand spun and hand dyed Rambioullet yarn which is 5.25 ounces for $33.33 or $6.35 per ounce which is $101.57 per pound.
GardenPartyFibers has a 7 ounce skein of hand spun alpaca and wool for $37.00, which would be $5.28 per ounce or $84.57 per pound.
WoolandKing has a 1.8 ounce skein of bobble yarn for $26.00, which is $14.44 per ounce or $231.11 per pound.
Machine spun wool yarns sell for $52.80-82.24 per pound
Here are some example of machine spun wool yarns for sale at the Woolery:
Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride sells a 15% Mohair worsted weight yarn that is 4 ounces for $13.20, which is $52.80 per pound.
Cestari Mt. Vernon Fine Merino yarn is selling in 3.5 ounce skeins for $17.99 each, which is $5.14 per ounce and $82.24 per pound.
Jaggerspun Superfine Merino sells a laceweight yarn in 1 pound cones for $77.99 each.
Shetland Croft yarn sells for $16.00 for 100 grams, which is about 3.5 ounces, so that’s $4.57 an ounce or $73.14 per pound.
The reason I am giving you these yarn prices is that you could easily buy these yarns to use for your projects and have wonderful, 100% wool yarns to work with.
This is really your price comparison if you just want to have wool yarn for your home use.
If you are wanting to compare making your own yarn to buying specialty blends or yarns made with creative spinning techniques, then you need to compare prices to the artisan yarns in the section above.
Spinning your own yarn can save you $27.80 per pound of finished yarn
Now we have to make some assumptions on your spinning, first that you will keep up with the spinning and continue to use the wheel for years, this way we can spread out the cost of the wheel over many skeins of yarn.
The second assumption is that you will practice until you are capable enough to spin the type of yarn that you want, which can include learning a few different techniques so you can make the types of yarn you would otherwise buy.
We’ll spread the cost of the wheel over 4 years, just like a car loan. If you bought the $773 wheel (I just picked a middle ground price) and you are willing to “pay” for it over 48 months, your wheel cost per month is $16.10.
When you use prepared fiber to spin, you get to use 100% of the fiber, not so with a fleece or preparing your own wool, so we’ll use prepared fiber as our materials cost. Since prepared fiber is $40-50 per pound, we’ll use $45.
If you spin 2 skeins per month, this is a low number, you can make one per day if you put in the time, but since we are real people with lives outside of spinning, we’ll figure on the minimal number of 2 skeins of 4 ounces each per month.
The skeins use 4 ounces of prepared fiber, which is $11.25 each for the fiber plus the $16.10 for the month’s “payment” on the wheel.
$11.25+11.25+16.10=$38.60 in costs per month.
$38.60/2 skeins=$19.30 per skein
Since a skein is 4 ounces, your home made yarn is costing you $4.83 per ounce (wool and wheel costs), which is $77.20 per pound of yarn.
At $77.20 per pound for yarn, you are right in the normal range of 100% wool mill spun yarn, meaning a few brands are cheaper and a few are more expensive than your home crafted yarn, on a per pound basis.
If you are buying or using specialty yarns, they are about $105 per pound (ranging anywhere from $84-231 per pound, but most I saw were $101-110, hence $105), which means you are saving money from the get go by spinning at home!
At a purchased average of $105 per pound of finished yarn, your home crafted yarn will save you $27.80 per pound, or $6.95 per 4 ounce skein.
After four years, your wheel costs are paid, so the cost of spinning goes down quite a bit to just the cost of the fiber, which using the above averages is $11.25 per skein.
You can lower your costs even further by:
- buying and sending for processing an entire fleece
- buy prepared fiber in bulk amounts
- continuing to spin, the cost of the yarn goes down by $16.10 per month or $8.05 per skein after 48 months
If you were to send a fleece away for processing, you would have the fleece costs, we’ll use $75, plus processing costs of $20 per pound of ready to spin fiber, we’ll say you get 4 pounds of fiber, which is $155 ($75+80=$155)
$155 for 4 pounds of processed fiber is $38.75 per pound, which is less than average fiber costs plus has the benefit of being exactly what you are looking for in wool to work with.
Costs that are not included here
To be upfront, there are some unaccounted for costs here that I have left out because you would not have to purchase these things to spin really great wool. You could purchase these extras, you just don’t have to.
Examples of extra costs not included are:
- any dyes you would purchase
- any unusual fibers you might choose to work into your home crafted yarn
And, of course, you also have to count in the time it will take you to practice until you improve your skill enough that you can spin yarn at home that is comparable to the yarn you would be buying.