Cost analysis

You know those kid-on-a-leash things? I need one. The harness would go around my body thigh, and the end would be attached to my apartment’s doorknob. Because going outside, particularly downtown is just trouble.

Yes, I went to that store this weekend. On the plus side, it was so crowded with Christmas shoppers that I couldn’t bear the idea of standing in line for the fitting room. But that’s the minus side, too, since they had some cute things on sale.

But guess what I saw? Remember a while back I told you about the knit kit, carried at Anthropologie for $98? They had it at the store this time, and I got a good look at the goodies inside. Now I think we’ll be in the perfect position to judge whether (1) the price is reasonable for what’s contained within and (2) whether this type of thing is appropriate for someone learning to knit for the first time.

In addition to the scanned picture from the catalog and the picture from their website, we now also have a shitty-quality camera-phone picture and (finally!) vital content and approximate weight/yardage information.

The kit contains:

1. Four skeins of yarn, from left to right:

  • speckled blue: 80% acrylic, 15% wool, 5% polyester
  • solid beige: 42% polyester, 30% acrylic, 28% wool
  • solid blue: 50% wool, 50% acrylic
  • speckled beige: 56% acrylic, 20% wool, 10% alpaca, 14% nylon

The yarns are next-to-the-neck soft, and they struck me as middle-of-the-road quality, like KnitPicks yarns, let’s say. I’m guessing that each of these is a 100 gram skein, which is quite a lot! The yarns are approximately worsted weight, maybe a bit thicker, so I think something like 180 yards in each skein is a good guess. As you can see, they are interesting in color and texture without the awful look, smell, and feel of Fun Fur. And while only the solid blue would allow perfectly distinct stitches, none of these are fuzzy/weird enough to be that troublesome! Personally, I don’t think these are the best yarns to teach someone to knit, but there is a lot of stuff out there way worse.

2. A “learn to knit” booklet, with instructions and drawn diagrams for making a slip knot, casting on using the twisted loop method, the knit stitch, casting off, and making fringe. In my opinion, the diagrams are pretty poor, but I didn’t get the chance to look through the written captions.

3. Measuring tape – standard issue, non-retractable kind.

4. Crochet hook

5. Straight bamboo knitting needles, approximately US 8-9. Both the crochet hook and the knitting needles were not finished to be smooth, which I can see as a potential problem with snagging the yarn.

6. The whole thing is enclosed in a pretty stylish bag, 50% wool, 50% acrylic, lined with a printed flower fabric.

So, what do you think?

Personally, I was surprised to see such hefty skeins of yarn! In fact, I’m a bit concerned with how huge of a scarf those four balls will make, considering I used only 100 grams, 180 yards (the equivalent of one of their balls) to make my green Berroco Plush scarf. I paid a total of $21 for that 100% acrylic yarn, by the way, so Anthropologie is selling the equivalent of $84 just in yarn, and all of it has wool content! Maybe this is not that bad of a deal!?!

To sum the whole thing up: we have the equivalent of eight 50-gram skeins of very soft (this is NOT Wool Ease), stylishly colored, wool blend yarns at, let’s say, Berroco prices – $10 each ($80), a crappy knitting booklet ($3), crappy knitting needles ($4), crappy crochet hook ($4), crappy measuring tape ($1.50), and a fairly nice bag ($30). Adds up to $122.50, my friends, and they are charging only $98.

Edited to add: the polls are now closed! Here are the results:

The votes are not surprising at all, but I think there’s one line of thought that’s underrepresented. If you think of yourself as the gift-giver, that kit is a joke. We are “in the know,” and we can put together a kit that’s luxurious and enticing with better quality materials for much less than $98.

But think of yourself as the consumer – a woman in her 20s who doesn’t know anyone who knits, who doesn’t know about all the resources out there at local yarn shops and on the web, someone who “doesn’t know any better,” if you will. If such a woman stumbles upon this kit at the Anthropologie store, I think this kit is a good idea (“yes” to the second question I posed). It has the cool Anthropologie appeal: she can say to her friends, “Look at what I got at Anthropologie!” and they won’t frown in the same way as if she said, “Look at what I got at that yarn shop in Boston.” Not that she would ever even venture into a yarn shop. The yarns are cool and totally wearable, and as soon as she realizes that the booklet sucks and the needles suck, she’ll get her butt to the yarn shop and we’ll have a convert for life.

At least that’s how the scenario plays out in my head :).


50 thoughts on “Cost analysis

  1. Jennifer

    Not worth it, especially with the crappy accessories. True it’s a nice enough bag and decent yarn, but I’d want to pick out my own yarn and as a gift, I would be afraid the recipient wouldn’t like either. I also feel a beginning knitter is better off with a cheaper yarn to practice with. See if you like knitting first and then commit the money to good quality stuff.

  2. Kate

    While it’s a good deal, it’s not a good idea. I heart Anthropologie, but their stuff is so over-priced (aside from sales of course), and often the quality of the material is not high though the cut and style is wonderful. The fit is nice too, but I’ve noticed (in the past at least) that a lot of their sweaters aren’t wool, that their shirts are very thin, etc.

    So basically, for those reasons I wouldn’t trust a knit kit from Anthropologie. Especially if the needles and booklet aren’t any good.

  3. Karen B.

    How much could you learn from a “crappy knitting book” anyway? Buy a knitting CD and a couple of fair-to-middling skeins for practice and you’re good to go.

  4. Purly Whites

    I’m going with good deal, bad idea. Although I still thing for that price, you should get some cashmere in that yarn.

    Thanks for your “research”! I’ve been wondering about this.

  5. eunny

    It’s not really my thing, but I can see how it might be considered a great gift – self-contained, prettily packaged, plastered with the all-important label. I bet they’re flying off the shelves…

  6. Jennifer

    I think picking out the yarn and needles, and looking through several books to teach oneself is the better way to go. A kit may go totally unused.

  7. CatBookMom

    Nice bag, not-too-bad yarn, rest is junk.

    Given your UltraShopper creds, I’d think you could put together a much nicer ‘kit’, especially with better notions, needles, and much better booklet, for $75 or less. Plus you’d put in some decent practice yarn and then some quite nice scarf-type yarn as a carrot.

  8. Anna

    I say overpriced. $98 is loads more than a beginner needs for a first-time scarf. I can see it now: Grumperina Knit Kits. I’m sure you can put together soemthing far more beautiful and with triple the quality.

  9. Amy

    Just like you could put together an outfit from Target instead of buying one from Anthropologie, you could assemble a learn to knit kit for less. However, price and practicality just aren’t the only factors. I really don’t think it’s a bad deal considering the way the kit is all put together. I think it would make a very attractive gift.

  10. marie in texas

    i’m sure the no votes are winning because who needs a fancy schmancy knitting bag? and no matter how good the yarn might be, if the needles are not so good, and the instructions are not so good then the new knitter will have problems

  11. Norah

    If the yarn is KnitPicks quality, one could get much more yarn from somewhere like KnitPicks (or, better needles & hooks from your LYS, and a good learn-to-knit CD, plus maybe even a better book, for much less. And a retractable tape measure. The only thing I’m not sure about is the bag–a really nice one can run pretty high sometimes.

  12. Sheila Mayhew

    Kathy – Did you buy this item? Please tell me you didn’t! You could do better than that!

  13. Punkie

    I feel the same way as everyone else…quality is an issue and also better off economically if you gather the goods and put the kit together yourself. Plus if this was a gift that I was to receive, it would mean more to me if the giver had gone out and handselected the items, as opposed to the “easy/fast” way out.

  14. Leisel

    I’m with everyone else… you can easily put together a far superior learn to knit kit with your own money. Comparable yarn, easily… and if you are able to buy it cheaply, you could buy much better needles, a better learn to knit book (I think the full size Vogue Knitting one is excellent, but I’m sure you have a favorite, too)… basically everything better all around for the same price or less, or if you still wanted to spend about the same, much more in the way of materials.

  15. Kristina

    While when breaking down the items, it seems like a reasonable deal, the problem is the usefullness of the contents. The bag is super cute, but anyone attempting to knit with unfinished needles is going to give up quickly. However, I think it would make a decent gift from a non-knitter to a fairly new knitter (one who would just set aside the needles).

  16. Monica

    No and no. I say, if you’re going to spend that kind of money on a learn to knit gift, then get better needles, less yarn that’s also better suited to a beginner, good instructions or lessons, and put the rest into a gift certificate to a LYS or online shop so when they’re good and hooked they can pick out their own stuff. If you’re making a scarf you don’t need a tape measure or crochet hook (well, there is the fringe…).

  17. twig

    I guess I’m pretty cheap — even with the breakdown that sounds way over priced for me and it is not something I would ever have considered when I first started out. I bought a Learn to Knit kit (sans yarn) for $13.99 when I started. I can’t see spending $98 for something I don’t even know if I’ll like it or have any talent for it.

    However, if I had disposable income and cost wasn’t really an issue (while I’m not familiar with Anthropologie, it sounds like that’s their target demographic)then I probably wouldn’t think twice about it.

    And how’s that for a wishy washy answer?

  18. Karen

    While I think the kit itself isn’t a good choice for a new knitter I think the purchasing department at Anthropologie is genius. They supply their customers with a kit that is surely going to frustrate them but the yarn is lovely so the customer returns to Anthropologie to buy their lovely overpriced knit goods. Win Win. The person is very happy with their knit goods from Anthropologie and they don’t blame them for not learning to knit. “It’s just too hard.”

  19. Dianna

    I think a new knitter would be more likely to not get discouraged and continue on with knitting if he/she had a GOOD instruction booklet, good quality needles, etc. The frustration factor of poor instructions and poor needles simply isn’t worth it.

  20. carolyn

    i think this is a lovely gift or i could see it as an impulse purchase by a woman who’s looking around the store,sees it and think ‘hey, that looks fun!’ the average anthropologie shopper might not have any clue about where to start if they wanted to take up the hobby of knitting. the more knitters the better i say and if they got their first taste of it at anthroplogie, hey that’s cool too!

  21. elisa

    As cool as Anthropologie is, if I had a friend that wanted to learn to knit, I feel I could certainly put together an appealing kit, using nice yarns (Lamb’s Pride Worsted, for instance, or Cascade 220), and including all of the accessories a new knitter might need.

  22. anne

    Oh, Anthropologie. I am such a sucker for their clever little details, just like I get drawn in by Urban Outfitters trying to sell my childhood back to me at a substantial markup. But the high prices are my resistance and this kit is no exception — still, it’s nicer than the ones at Target, for sure.

  23. rock chick

    It’s the *perfect* gift for the gal who, after a week of lugging it on the T every morning and all of her friends who also receive the Anthropologie catalog (because if they don’t recognize where it came from, what’s the point?) can no longer feign interest in her latest hobby, will kindly pass it on to the receptionist at the adult ed center during registration for her firewalking class. This ahould take place on approximately 1/10/06.

  24. patricia

    It sounds as though they’d have done better to include less yarn, good needles and good instructions. I’m also a proponent of basic, pure wool for learning.

  25. Mary

    As a new knitter, I know I didn’t really need an expensive kit. One skein/hank/ball of a worsted-weight non-novelty yarn, 2 needles, 1 hook, 1 yarn needle, and a how-to book can all be had for around $20-$30 tops. I was given a children’s “how to knit” kit that contained all I needed, and it was great, and the little book was just right for a beginning knitter, even though I’m an adult. This is the one I got:, and it was a great, non-intimidating way to begin learning. Now that I’m “hooked”, though, I feel no qualms about spending money on good yarn or a good book. But I might not spend $100 for someone who may or may not appreciate it or go further with it then their first lesson. Just my humble opinion….

  26. Mary

    But now I’m going to have to find some Berroco Plush Colors (in Blueberry, perhaps?) and knit me a scarf with it — you’ve sold me! 😉

  27. Andrea

    Still too pricy for what it’s worth, plus it’s hard to learn to knit with darker/variegated yarns because of stitch definition issues. My favorite budget DIY learn-to-knit kit runs for Still too pricy for what it’s worth, plus it’s hard to learn to knit with darker/variegated yarns because of stitch definition issues. My favorite budget DIY learn-to-knit kit runs for <$30: a copy of Stitch 'N Bitch, Clover bamboo straights (bought with a 40% off coupon at Jo-Ann Fabrics, if possible), a pack of Susan Bates yarn needles, and one or two skeins of Lamb's Pride in light/bright colors. Slap those into a cute gift bag (which serves as a great beginner's knitting tote), and you're good to go!

  28. Andrea

    (why does Blogger cut off my comments?)–anyhow, a good DIY starter’s kit can be had for (why does Blogger cut off my comments?)–anyhow, a good DIY starter’s kit can be had for <$30; I usually include a copy of Stitch 'N Bitch, Clover bamboo straights, a pack of Susan Bates yarn needles, and a skein or two of Lamb's Pride in light or bright colors. Slap those into a cute gift bag, which then serves as a knitting tote, and you're good to go!

  29. Ginga

    I LOVE Anthropologie…, but I know that they package style over substance (like Elisa said). I spent less than that (about $75) to take four 2-hour knitting classes, with yarn and needles provided, and I don’t think I could have learned from a book. And while I bought pretty yarn, I knew I’d wait until I could knit decently before I’d really splurge (still waiting!).

    That said, I agree with Dianna that it might attract some new folks to knitting who would never have tried it before. I can’t challenge them for “knit-cred”, since I’m certainly one of the newer knitters, myself!

  30. Sarah

    for a knitter, this is a definitely waste of money…

    for someone wanting to learn, this is a waste of money…

    make your own kit as a gift for someone wanting to learn or buy stuff. I looked at the kit at the store and thought it was cute, but too expensive. I liked the bag it came in and might make one of my own.

  31. kessa

    I suppose the kit will be a great gift for someone who wants to learn to knit, from a non knitter. But so much yarn for a scarf? Its not very practical. What more, the yarn is mostly synthetic plastics.

  32. Stephanie

    As someone who re-taught herself to knit I think the very most important thing is a good instruction book. I think even with the reasonable yarn and cute bag, the poor needles and the crappy instructions wouldn’t be a good thing for a new knitter. And, for someone who has never tried knitting, $100 might be more than they want to spend to see if they like it.

  33. sweetpea

    Is ANYTHING at Anthropologie a “good deal?” Love it love it love it, but we’re talking about a luxury brand that totally delivers on design, not necessarily on quality. 🙂

  34. Christie

    I think that I would prefer to put together my own new knitter gift bag. At least they would get decent needles and yarn. In colors they would like, rather than colors they chose. Can’t win ’em all.

  35. sweetpea

    my name is sweetpea, and i have posted two things here, under “sweetpea,” and they post to this site under a different name???what gives??

  36. Sarah

    Grumperina, I just read your edit and I think that you really, really, really want to like this product 🙂

    I love Anthropologie, don’t get me wrong, but who is this picks-up-a-$98-kit-to-learn-to-knit woman in her 20’s? I don’t know her.

    If I didn’t know how to knit, I think that I would probably have been promopted by something in the bookstore or gone to the bookstore to see what resources were available because I decided to learn. Most decent learn to knit books have info about yarn stores and other resources that would lead to decisions that would save money. $40 bucks mayber, but $98 is just too much!!

    (PS- I lived in Boston when the big beautiful Anthropologie store opened. Man, I loved that place!! Happy Shopping.)

  37. maryse

    i voted “no” to your 2nd question — but if i were the 20 something consumer you described i would totally want that bag. hell, i want it now!

    so i’m not dissing the lovely bag. i may have to go to anthropologie just to visit it.

  38. Christy

    I’ve never liked most high-priced name-brand stores (in part because I wasn’t raised that way, in part because I’m a big’n’tall girl with hips and shoulders, and can never find anything that fits, and going to name-brand stores is depressing).

    I’m a substance over style kinda girl. If I buy something, it has to last, and it has to be useful.

    Target sells how-to-knit kits. Dale of Norway sells how-to-knit kits. Other people sell how-to-knit kits. If I were teaching someone, I’d put together a kit in a cute felted bag, or in something that reminded me of that person (ie, if it were for my aunt, I’d put it in a terra cotta pot, if it were for a girlfriend, I’d put it in a hand-dyed fabric bag that I’d have made, if it were for my sil, I’d put it in a canvas bag).

    I can’t see myself spending $100 on a bag and some yarn, though. Well, cashmere, maybe. And a really nice leather bag. But not this.

  39. pixie

    that yarn looks like better quality then knit picks to me!

    Knitpicks is super super cheap. That yarn looks like Plymouth Quality to me 🙂 hah!

  40. pixie

    on another note, I think it’s over priced!

    I think it would have been wiser to have had a kit for around a $49 or $59 price mark, with a really nice artsy nasket, and quality bamboo knitting needles. I like the idea of various yarns (new knitters can get bored!) so that’s great. I think the purse is a waste, the cheesey booklet and all that “junk” is a given, it’s junk in ANY case!

    I am always disapointed by the kits put together by yarn shops, almost always over priced and in some lambs pride wool that is some nasty pink color.

    I like that this kit is very classic looking. They have the right idea. I’m sure some “rich” people think it’s a great gift for this “new trend”. I just think the purse is silly.

  41. Alice Twain

    In first place it’s 98 dollars. Makes about 75 euro, about 150.000 good old Italian lire. GEE! I can’t see a twentysomething student doing part-time jobs getting rid of that amount of money for a knitting kit. For a new I-pod… Well, for a new I-pod trice that much, but not for a few balls of yarn. One spends that amount of money for something she really desires, not for a whim. Not at 20 with an occasional income and University to pay. Secondly, think of this new knitter so tenticed by this kit as to buy it. Never knitted before, vague memories of a grandma knitting on a sweather but not much more. Give her cheap yarn, fine. Give her a nice bag, fine. Give her crappy instructions and crappy needles and she will think her granny was either Wonder Woman or a ool for speinding so much time on the frustrating job of trying to bend the yarn to her desires while it’s being continously snagged by the needles and using obscure instructions. (And it costs a lot of money too!) If anything, this kit seems bound to create new non-knitters, new knitting haters. ^__^

  42. Miss Clairol

    Chiming in a little late, but my boyfriend (who doesn’t knit and thus doesn’t know better) got me this for Christmas. The “solid beige” yarn is actually yellow-green. The bag is lovely and would make a great summer handbag, and the yarns are nice, but I’ve been knitting for more than a year and the last thing I want to do is to make a garter-stitch scarf!

    I’m thinking of making spiderweb capelets (from SNB Nation) out of of the speckled yarns. Would be nice if I had yardage and weight on the yarns so I can more easily figure out what to do with them!

    My boyfriend has given me worse things, but I agree with the posts here and I wouldn’t give this as a gift. But we’re an educated crowd.

  43. Susan

    I am an experienced knitter–about 52 years now. I saw the kind in Anthropologie, and loved it, ordered it, made the scarf, and have never regretted it. I get so many compliments on the scarf, and all my friends want one just like it. Additionally, the knitting bag that came with the yarn is lovely, and would not be cheap to make. Knitting needles were included as well as an easy to learn instruction booklet (which I didn’t need, but could help someone else.) Overall, an excellent value considering the high quality of the yarn. Of course, I did not see this as a “learn to” kit for me–I just thought the yearn was beautiful, and it is. Wish I could find another one for my best friend, but it’s been way too many years now.

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