Confession: There are times when I have purchased yarn, not because I liked it, but because it was the least offensive yarn I could find in a store.
When I go into a new yarn shop for the first time, I often feel as though I am intruding on someone else's territory. All eyes turn to me, and I feel as though I am being judged. Part of this stems from my own personal insecurities and anxiety issues, but part of it is based on fact. I am younger than a lot of knitters, although that is changing as I age and knitting becomes more socially acceptable. Also, as B1 pointed out at Stitches West, I don't exactly look like your run-of-the-mill knitter either. I have been followed in shops because the owner thought I was going to shoplift, I have been questioned, I have been informed that the shop only sells yarn, etc. I have developed a wee bit of a complex.
As a result, now when I go into a new shop, I feel compelled to buy something...anything...to justify my presence there. This isn't easy to do since I am very picky. (Do not laugh...I admit I have a lot of yarn, but I love all of it...imagine how much I would have if I was less discerning!). In the end, I buy yarn that I don't really care for. And it's hard. If I am guilt buying, then I look for yarn that is fairly inexpensive, but not so inexpensive as to be obvious that I am only buying under compulsion. I also look for yarn that comes in skeins large enough to make a scarf, but small enough as to leave NO leftovers.
My most recent forced purchase occurred when I went into the yarn shop in Dublin. I had just moved here, and already had a delightful experience at the Pleasanton shop. Unfortunately, the Dublin shop was a dud. I got the judgemental stares, the following, the constant "can I help you find something?". (Advice to store owners: If I tell you I am just browsing, let me walk around and squish the skeins. I am more likely to impulse buy by touch than by your constant pestering. Asking once is good customer service, asking repeatedly is just annoying.)
On top of the behavior, the yarn just wasn't what I like. Also, it was organized by brand rather than type. Brand organization is even less accessible to me as a knitter than organization by color, which I also dislike! (Note: I don't intend on going back there. I love Knit This, Purl That! which is closer to my house anyway, so why make the effort?)
I had to buy something. I didn't like anything. They didn't even have a good needle selection...so I ended up purchasing this:
Its ok, but not really my thing. I ended up making a scarf out of it using a simple pattern from "Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair." The scarf turned out pretty well. The variation in the weight and texture of the different yarn elements made the stripes droop in places as heavier parts pulled it down. That is annoying. Also, the style of the scarf isn't really my thing. It is going into the gift stash, or perhaps to a consignment shop or something. We'll see. At least I finished it, and my stash now has more room for a wanted yarn.