The loonie's decline is having a noticeable effect on Canadians' purchasing power. If you live here, you've probably already encountered the now infamous $7 head of cauliflower. If you buy quality wool, you're soon going to feel the pain when it comes to purchasing new stock from your LYS, especially American-sourced products.
As you know, I'm a lover of Quince & Co wools. Let's see what they're going for right now. At Montreal's Espace Tricot, 50g of Lark is currently selling for C$11.95. The shop very considerately shows the US price below the Canadian one. It's US$8.46. That's a pretty big gap. For a size 38 cardigan that might take 8 skeins, that comes to $95.60. OK, still under $100, which isn't too horrible for a complete garment, even if American customers get to pay only US$67.68. BTW, if you live in my direction, don't forget you can purchase Quince yarns at Rosehaven Yarns in Picton, ON. I only just noticed that they are selling Lark at a very slightly lower C$10.75-11.75, the lower end presumably for older stock purchased before the latest slide in the loonie.
Now let's check out Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter, a wool of similar weight and roughly similar yardage. At the Beehive Wool Shop in Victoria, BC, it's going for C$16.95/skein which works out to C$135.60 for a simple sweater (no cables). With taxes, that ramps up to C$142.38. Ouch! Across the border, they're paying US$12.50/skein, making the same sweater only $100 (plus, as far as I know, there are still no taxes on internet-based sales south of the border).
I'm here to suggest some strategies.
1. If you really love these American wools (and I do) be aware of the big price differential between similar weight wools. As I've just shown, Quince's Lark is a much better value than Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter, and although they have a different look, that might not matter for the particular design you're interested in making. Check out andreafromtoronto's "Timberline", designed by BT's Jared Flood but knitted in Quince's Lark. Stunning! By sticking with this quality wool, purchased here in Canada, you're also supporting your LYS. If knitters are struggling with the dollar, Canadian shops are doing so too.
2. If you love Quince and BT wools, then choose smaller, less expensive projects, or larger projects in lighter weights of wool. A sweater quantity (6 skeins) of Quince's lighter weight Chickadee will cost you C$77.70. You get a lot more yardage for your (Canadian) buck. Alas, those Americans will still only pay US$55.02.
3. Explore other less expensive, but beautiful, American wools. Check out Peace Fleece, a blend of American fine wool and mohair, long a favourite of mine. You can see it here in the "Siberian Midnight" colourway. This was the prototype for Harriet's Jacket.
You can order this in Canada from Camilla Valley Farm at a reasonable C$12.55 per 114g skein, less than half the cost of a similar weight of Lark (note that Peace Fleece is a heavier "worsted", though--more like aran or even chunky). Camilla Valley sells the same yarn for US$10.50. Not such a bad differential compared to some other yarns.
4. Feeling priced out of US-spun wools? This might be the case if you are addicted to sweater knitting. Sweaters, after all, take lots and lots of yardage. Try some of the South American-spun imports, like Galway's Highland Heather or Cascade 220. The latter sells at Yarn Forward in Ottawa for C$9.99 for 100g. Comparing it to 100g of Lark at C$25, the Peruvian-spun wools are a great buy.
5. I don't recommend slumming with Knitpicks wools. Although I really love some of Knitpick's products (their wool shaver is the best!), I haven't found joy with any of their wools. This is a matter of personal taste, but there, I've admitted it. I find "Wool of the Andes" a bit skimpy, and the so-called "donegal" colour neps incorporated into the tweed yarns are nothing other than viscose, which looks cheap, at least in my opinion.
6. Want to match the American prices on some luxury products? Try BRITISH wools. Americans pay a lot more than we do in duties on British wools. Wool on Wellington, down the street from my house, has just brought in a pile of Baa Ram Ewe's Titus and Dovestone. Titus is currently going for US$29.00/hank at WEBS, but at Wool-tyme in Ottawa, the price is almost the same at C$29.99 respectively. It might seem a lot for a single skein, but the yardage is so fantastic that only three skeins will make a nice cardigan.
7. Think about Canadian grown/spun alternatives. Not many out there, unfortunately. Of course, there are some wonderful hand-dyed products, but these are mostly dyed foreign-grown wools. And there's good old Briggs and Little, beloved of Elizabeth Zimmermann. But those are "crunchy" woollen-spun wools, not good substitutes for Lark or Chickadee. (Do, however, consider B&L's sportweight next time you're thinking about a warm shawl. My favourite shawl, the one I'm wearing right now on my chilly third floor is this one, and the wool comes in 40+ colours.) Perhaps this is a moment for the Canadian wool industry, small as it is, to step in to fill the breach. Perhaps I might need to take a hand in initiating something in that direction...
Now, if only the cost of those imported fruits and veggies would go down!