I'm a new knitter. I just learned how to knit in mid-January. My first knitting was done on yarn I bought for less than a dollar at the thrift store; it came in a big bag of mismatched balls. I used needles that had been left in our house by the previous owner (my previous use of the needles had been to fish lint out of the dryer trap).
When I felt confidant, I ventured to Michael's and bought some chenille, some eyelash, some suede, and some ribbon yarn; no skein was above $6. Then someone told me about the moebius design so I bought the book and circular needles through the mail. Several knitting friends sent me links to their favorite knitting websites and I bought wool ($8 a skein) and a pattern from PeaceFleece.
I was searching for a particular colour of wool (our Michael's does not sell wool) and so I visited a local yarn store StitchDC. Oh my goodness! There were so many beautiful yarns. The colours! The textures! Gasp The prices! I smiled and willingly paid from $6 to $17.50 per skein. Then my dh chose the yarn for his moebius (posted below as Luxurious Moebius on needles) at $23 per 50 yard skein. I was in price shock. It's not that I don't think the yarns are worth it, I do. They are beautiful and labour intensive to produce but I feel guilty spending an amount that I know will feed a family of five a filling meat based meal for one skein of yarn.
I was very happy to stumble on the idea of recycling knitting. Following instructions found online (when I find the website again, I'll post a link) I went to the local thrift store and bought several wool sweaters in good condition, unwashed and yet clean smelling, with the proper seams, and nice colours. I took them apart (the family likes to help) and am now using the yarn to make new projects. The blue is making two child sized sweaters.
I allay my yarn spending guilt with several projects to help others: CiC which sends warm knitted items to former Soviet Union orphanages, TheDulaan Project, and The Red Scarf Project. I do not know any of these people but I do believe that people should have warm clothes and if I can help, then I should help.
I read Femiknitmafia's piece on the elitist bent of modern knitting with a honest mind. It is true that I have the option of paying the big bucks for yarn for non-necesities but I think I am too practical to pay high prices for everything. After all, I buy groceries at both the organic CSA farm and COSTCO, I buy some of my clothes from little boutiques but most of it comes from thrift stores. There is a balance. OTOH, I know my weaknesses and am determined not to buy more yarn that I need for current projects and not to have more than 2 projects on needles at the same time. I will not buy and hoard beautiful textures and colours just because I want to look at and touch them...they are not jewels in which to invest for my future.