OK, Buttercup: You’re Up

A flat 9×12 white-plastic envelope sat on my desk for a while this week: I assumed it was one of my magazines that comes packaged that way. Meanwhile, from time to time, I wondered where my latest yarn shipment was. I got the shipment notice about 10 days ago, and it was only coming from St. John’s. Odd.

Today I picked up said envelope and was surprised at its heft and hardness: This was no floppy magazine. Odd again. I struggled a bit to extricate an inner sleeve of plastic, to be greeted by my yarn. Sort of. It looked–I dunno–odd.








The oddness was more evident from the side.








The shipper had used one of those suck-the-air-out machines (I believe the proper name is “vacuum sealer”) to make this parcel of three skeins of yarn thin enough to fit through that little slot that Canada Post uses to sort the sheep from the goats. The letters from the parcels. The cheap-to-mail from the costly.

As I made my way into the sealed pouch, the skeins started to reinflate. Here they are, back to almost full size and very happy indeed to be able to stretch their, um, legs. To breathe freely. (Since this shot was taken, they’ve plumped up nicely: No harm done. You’d never know they were less than an inch thick just a few hours before.)











Quite reasonably, post offices and other shippers charge both by parcel weight and by dimensions. As a result, there are two strategies to control shipping costs:

  • Minimize the weight, which usually means using lighter packing materials: hence the plastic envelopes, lighter than paper for the equivalent (or better) toughness, with waterproof-ness included whether you want it or not, and after someone thinks of it, how could you not want it?
  • Minimize the dimensions, which means cleverly aligning things that don’t squish, and removing air from things that do: clothing, blankets, quilts, pillows, mattresses (!), and yarn.

I never thought about the air that’s part-&-parcel of the parcels of yarn I receive: air that I’m paying to ship. I’ll never not think about it again.

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14 Responses to OK, Buttercup: You’re Up

  1. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – the real question is, why do you have to get yarn from as far away as St. John’s.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – ๐Ÿ™‚ St. John’s is close, as these things go. I order yarn from Myrtle Beach and (very occasionally) from Phoenix. The answer is that I was looking for a brand that wasn’t available locally. When a pattern specifies a yarn, it’s easier to go with it than to substitute something else (at least until you’ve tried it once and can see whether that yarn is important/significant). This yarn comes from Finland.

      • John Whitman says:

        Makes sense to me.

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          John – One thing that has surprised me (relatively new as I am to knitting) is the incredible number and variety of yarns. No brick-&-mortar store could hope to carry more than a tiny fraction of the total, so there is a vibrant online community of sellers. And buyers!

  2. Nor will I ever not think about it again, especially since that mattress link fills a blank spot in a project I am working on! However, I don’t think I can shrink the weight of a book by that method. The method I am working on for books is absolutely airless: send them through cyberspace by making them downloadable, Kindle being one such option.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – ๐Ÿ™‚ Indeed, books are better digitized than vacuum-sealed. I have often lamented how expensive they are to mail. The USA has a special book rate that cuts the cost — maybe to about a fifth of what it would be here? Something like that.

  3. Alison Uhrbach says:

    Well, you’ve made me curious – what are you making with the yarn?? Looks intriguing

  4. Tom Watson says:

    Makes me think of this: “What’s up, buttercup?”

  5. Mary Gibson says:

    Very good.

  6. Judith Umbach says:

    Reminds me of when I was packing to return from my holiday in the Adriatic, where I bought a crocheted tablecloth, among other things. My friend and room mate dismissed my moans about not being able to close my suitcase, saying, “It’s only air!” Sure enough, when she pressed and I zipped, it did close.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe vendors could attract buyers by offering to vacuum-seal purchases like yours for easier packing. Or maybe then we’d just buy more stuff . . .

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