Okay, just to muddy the waters a wee bit more, I'm going to throw out one more variable to consider when evaluating the economics of knitting. Yesterday I talked about Cost Per Yard, cautioning you to calculate this before deciding whether a yarn is a good buy or not. I also brought to your attention the variable of yarn thickness, demonstrating that thicker may be quicker, but it isn't usually cheaper.
Today we will look at Total Project Cost, or how "put-up" can affect the price of a project.
"Put-up" refers to how a yarn is packaged for sale, usually how many yards are in a ball or hank. Sometimes the put-up will affect your actual cost so that a yarn that may be cheaper per yard is ultimately more expensive in the context of your particular project.
Let's look at two bulky yarns by Cascade: Cascade 128 is put up in 128-yard hanks (get it? that's why it's called "128"); Cascade EcoWool is put up in 475-yard megahanks. Here is Cost Per Yard:
Cascade Eco-Wool: $18 per hank divided by 475 yds. per hank = 3.7 cents per yard
Cascade 128: $9 per hank divided by 128 yds. per hank = 7 cents per yard
Eco-Wool is much cheaper, nearly half as much when measured by Cost Per Yard.
But suppose you want to knit a baby blanket that requires 3 different colors of the same bulky yarn. And suppose the pattern requires 500 yards of Color A and 100 yards of each of Colors B & C. Let's look at the total amount of money you'd have to shell out to buy enough yarn to complete the project:
Cascade Eco Wool
Color A = 2 hanks x $18 = $36
Color B = 1 hank x $18 = $18
Color C = 1 hank x $18 = $18
Total Project Cost: $72
Color A = 4 hanks x $9 = $36
Color B = 1 hank x $9 = $9
Color C = 1 hank x $9 = $9
Total Project Cost: $54
Because of the large put-up on the EcoWool, and the quirks of the particular project you are making (e.g. one large EcoWool skein isn't quite enough for Color A so you have to buy two, thus ending up with lots of excess yarn in Color A), the yarn that is more expensive per yard ends up being cheaper for this particular project.
Have I totally confused you?
The moral of the story: Do the math. Take a calculator with you or borrow one from your friendly LYS salespeople and figure out Total Project Cost if you have a particular budget in mind for your project.