We've all been there. You're watching a podcast and the host pulls out this gorgeous yarn that you just have to have.
You hit pause, pull up the show notes, and immediately click over to the shop. And then your stomach drops. You are sure that the price reflects a fair wage and quality work, but there is just no way you can justify spending quite that much. Dejected you turn back to the podcast and try not to feel envious of someone else's special splurge.
Now, I want to be very clear up front that I believe in buying from the source where possible. Yarn producers, especially those in the independent market, create things of beauty that are often very labor intensive. I want to show how highly I value their work by paying what that work is worth. That said, I find shopping Ravelry destash a way to try out yarns I might not otherwise pull the trigger on.
My experience shopping destashes has been largely positive. The large majority of people are selling off their yarn for the same reason I am -- they realized they just don't love it anymore. As long as you follow some basic steps, you should not have any trouble.
1. If you want a specific colorway, be prepared to pay more. A lot of dyers have colorways that seem impossible to buy. If the yarn you want has been discontinued or is dyed in small batches chances are you will find it at a bit of a markup. Be open to whatever is listed. No one said you had to buy it if you don't like the options.
2. Check back. Check often. Just because nothing listed appeals to your color sense or your wallet doesn't mean that there won't ever be anything listed. I check in on the listings for Desert Vista Dyeworks every few weeks to suppliment my stash for the Officially Unofficial Monthly Sock Club. There are deals to be had, you just have to be persistent.
3. Be prompt with your messages, but don't expect a quick response. You might be on Ravelry constantly, but not everyone is. And not everyone will get back to you. If you notice that several people have the yarn you want listed, send a couple messages. Chances are one won't ever get back to you and others may never have updated their listings.
4. Check the buyer beware forums. Like with any person to person transaction, you should do your homework. There are a lot of groups for destash, my personal favorite is ISO and Destash of Yarn. Every time I send a message I search the feedback thread to make sure there have been no past problems.
5. Never send money as a gift. Pretty much all destashers will take payment in the form of Paypal. This benefits you the buyer because you can file a claim if you have an issue. Though it may be tempting, don't send your money as a gift. The claims only work if you send it as a payment for goods and services. Yes, this means your seller has to pay a percentage fee, but they could have inflated the price slightly to compensate.
6. Followup. Everyone has run into problems with the mail. When your yarn arrives, send a quick thank you letting your seller know that everything arrived. Then cuddle your yarn. It is yours now.