Get Knitted (my amazing LYS) that I have an obscene amount of not only yarn, but different types of fibres. I love working with different fibres, getting a feel for what each one does and how they would work best with different patterns. I'm really beginning to understand what substitutions can be made from one brand of yarn to another without compromising the beauty of the finished work, as well. Take, for instance, the hat I made for my sister Eileen for Christmas. This hat is made from bamboo, and I had originally planned to make it an earflap hat. Knitting quickly told me it would not work, as bamboo knits up very drapey and flowing, and earflaps would do nothing to keep the ears warm. Therefore, I turned it into a beanie of sorts, which can be worn summer and winter, and she seemed to love it when I gave it to her. It actually calls for merino, which knits up much more sturdy and would work better as an earflap hat.
Contrarily, I substituted a cotton/acrylic blend for the hat I made my mother. The yarn called for is a wool/angora blend. The hat turned out lovely. Two different substitutions, two very different outcomes.
However, all this rumination is little more than an excuse to get pictures in a post that was going to be a very dry listing of all the fibres I either have in my stash or have worked with. There's a pretty comprehensive list on Ravelry that I've just checked, and so I'm going to go down that. Hence, I've used the following: acrylic, alpaca, angora, bamboo, camel, cashmere, cotton, linen, merino, microfibre, mohair, nylon, soy, sugar cane, polyester (I think), rayon (I think), silk, wool and lambswool. I make the distinction between merino (which comes from a sheep), wool, and lambswool because they feel so very different from each other. Most of the fibres have been blends of each other, but I have used straight merino, silk, sugar cane, cotton, lambswool, wool, acrylic, alpaca and bamboo. It's very interesting to note what they knit up on their own vs. knitting up in a blend as well.
Yes, I spend a lot of money on yarn. But I find that working with cheap stuff all the time makes knitting tedious and uninteresting, so I branch out and go for more exotic fibres, and plenty of different types. It's like having a meal of the same thing every night, or having several different favourites, some plain and easy to make, and some more difficult to make, but more tasty, giving the meal the spark of something special.
I also find myself buying more from independent dyers. This yarn is unique, usually done in small dye lots (or no dye lots) and feels a little more special than something made in a factory by machines. It also supports the yarn industry, keeps things relatively local (unless of course I'm patronising someone from the States), and makes picking out yarn more fun. No two skeins are exactly the same (quite often) and so going through, touching them all and picking out the colours you love and then digging to find something that matches gives buying yarn a thrill. I mean, seriously, would you ever find yarn like this from Sirdar or Rowan? I do love these brands, but I love the indy dyers more.