I can only wonder what my foremothers would think of the fiber "sellout phenomenon." I'm sure there's a more official name for it, though I have no idea what it is. I'm talking about the way certain sellers (like Wollmeise) or certain product lines from certain sellers (like The Sanguine Gryphon's Bugga!) barely have time to hit the virtual shelves before being snatched up by eager buyers, many of whom don't even bother checking the colors that they get in the excitement of getting something, anything at all.
It kind of reminds me of my first trip to Rhinebeck, when I saw the line snaking from the Blue Moon Fiber Arts booth past at least half a dozen other sellers, practically to the exit of the showroom. I asked one woman whose arms were filled with skeins of Socks that Rock yarn what was happening. I honestly thought the yarn must have been free to generate such a line. No, she replied, we all just love STR. No special show discounts, just the chance to see colors in person instead of online. People walked away with bags full of the stuff, paid in full.
I went through a period when I bought yarn at least in part for the phenomenon factor. Much as I adore Ravelry, I find it all too easy to hear about the latest and greatest yarns there -- the fiber must-haves that I then suddenly decide I must have, too. I've stalked Wollmeise at 3am, bought colors of yarns that I didn't even like because I knew they had good "trade value," and generally built my stash the way some people build their stock portfolios.
Then, I stopped.
I think I sort of burned out on keeping up with the Joneses. I had a metric shitton of yarn but relatively few FOs; yarn stalking does take time away from actually using said yarn, yanno. I was also worried about DH's job situation and decided that cutting back in general was a good idea. So, I quit cold turkey.
I stopped hanging out on the Ravelry swap boards, which made a huge difference. I don't think I bought yarn for over half a year, maybe longer. I actually didn't mind. I didn't feel like I was missing out, like I was denying myself anything. When events conspired to keep me away from Rhinebeck for the first time in 3 or 4 years, I was down for a bit, but ultimately I was glad not to have spent the money I was sure to have dropped had I gone.
Oh, I've bought yarn and fiber since then. Some special pretties at excellent prices mostly, stuff I love that also happened to show up on sale or on a particularly good Rav destash at a time when I felt I couldn't pass them up. I've done a bit of trading, too, to get yarn I want for specific projects. And I treated myself at the start of the year to my very first spinning fiber club, from Crown Mountain Farms. But, in general I just passed on the phenom yarns. Just a few days ago, in fact, I had 3 skeins of Bugga! in my cart at The Loopy Ewe -- I'd caught a note on Rav about an update just moments after it happened -- but I closed the window without buying because I couldn't see spending nearly $90 on three skeins of yarn that were okay, but nothing spectacular. Trade value or no, I just didn't love the yarns enough to want them that much, so I didn't buy.
But tonight, I finally succumbed to a phenom. I bought a Phat Fiber box.
Honestly, I'm not quite sure if it will be worth it. I've been intrigued for awhile, and I've even tried scoring one before but with no luck. I was always the kid who loved the surprise packages from the mail-order catalogs, after all; it's only natural that a surprise box of fiber would appeal to me. I picked a Fluff box figuring that I could do more with a bunch of samples of spinning fiber than I could do with short sample lengths of yarn. And I do have high hopes. If nothing else, it will be something different, out of the ordinary. I'm calling it a little birthday present to myself.
And if I wind up loving it, all my ancestors can watch from the great beyond in bewilderment as I hover over the computer next month, competing with thousands of other fiberistas from around the globe for the privilege of spending my money. Who would have ever guessed?