At the Waldorf crash course I attended, we were encouraged to use natural yarn instead of acrylic/synthetic ones but since I would be practicing first, I thought I could go the acrylic way first.
But where does one get yarn here in Manila? More specifically, the worsted weight kind used for arts and crafts as well as beginning crochet/knitting?
The crafts shops along Tabora Street/Ylaya in Divisoria sell local worsted weight yarn, the most popular brand being the Red Heart one. You can get a 35 meter roll for the price of P10-11. The local Red Heart brand will sell for P19 at National Bookstore, on the other hand.
Of the local yarn I have tried (and I have tried 4 different brands), I prefer the Carmencita brand from Divisoria (I haven't seen them anywhere else) because it's the softest one and pills the least. I have a maroon ball that I have practiced knitting on again and again and it still works like a new yarn. It's also the thickest and works very well with a 4 mm crochet hook.
That being said, the local Red Heart is the most common and easily bought since you can get them at National Bookstore (either in the hobbies section, or in a basket near the gift wrapping section). I've found the multi-color ones to be slightly thicker than the solid colored ones. The multi color ones work great with a 4 mm crochet hook but the solid color ones work best with a 3.5mm hook (at least, if you're making hacky sacks, the project I practiced on).
At the Heavenly Stitchin' Moment crafts shop at the Mall of Asia, they only have the local Red Heart and no other fingering/worsted/bulky weight. They have a lot of things for cross stitch and the Cannon, Monaco and DMC kind of cotton yarn but I think they're more for doilies and other similar fine projects, so, I have not really attempted to work on them (even if I have two rolls). The bother of hooking two yarn threads turn me off, as of the moment. But, a Mom from my son's school have taken 3 threads and crocheted baskets for goodies with them and it was really nice :)
So, the Dreams shop at Glorietta 5 (located at the 5th floor) is really where to go if you want specialty yarn or yarn by the bulk (after all, it does get annoying having to crochet through knotted yarn, and sometimes, you end up wasting more yarn if you're using small rolls). They sell the local Red Heart there in 3 sizes (the small rolls in packs of 6, the medium ones in packs of 3 and the big rolls) and they also sell imported Red Heart (the way to go if you don't have a budget for natural yarn but also don't want a lot of pilling in your work). I have also discovered that Red Heart economy packs sold at National Bookstore (P380) are more expensive than if you buy from Dreams (P345)... but if you buy them abroad, they only cost P145-215 (when converted) so I have tasked my sister to just buy for me since I really don't have any urgent need to stock up asap.
Other yarns sold at Dreams are just so expensive for a beginner like me that I really didn't bother anymore to buy any except the ones below:
Hobby brand 70% acrylic, 30% wool... super soft and cost P170 per 50 gm ball
Acrylic yarn sold by weight... depending on the size of the ball but it's roughly around P80-100/ball... works best with a 3-3.5 mm crochet hook and this type of yarn unravels easily (the red and black more so than the other two) so I really cursed the day I chose to use it to make my son's water bottle holder :D
Like what I had mentioned, I have been practicing crochet and experimenting with different yarns in making hacky sacks
The two in front were made using local Red Heart and the one in the middle was made using the Hobby yarn I bought from dreams
Now, look at this sad picture. Same stitch count but since I used two different brands (local Red Heart and Carmencita) and the yarns were of different thickness, it looked deformed. I still finished it as a hacky sack because I didn't want to deal with the yarn I have already cut (I was also practicing changing colors). I made another one with other local yarn I bought from National Bookstore... same sticth count but those yarn were stiffer... and I ended up with what looks like the beginnings of a bonnet. So, yes, different yarns affect tension :D
What else can you do if you want better yarn and you're from Manila?
I found an Ebay supplier of 100% wool yarn that sells them cheaper but I haven't ordered from him yet because I was wisely advised that wool, for children's things, would be too hot for our climate. Plus, i'm not sure if the package will be delivered on my doorstep or if I'd have to get them from the post office. Just search for seller onewor1donedream2010 on Ebay. I got my crochet hooks from them too (14 different-sized ones, and I love them) but they were shipped to the US, that's why I don't know how they will be delivered here in the Philippines. Oh, and always just choose the items with free shipping rather than bid on the $0.99 ones because it amounts to the same... and yarn coming from Hong Kong costs slightly higher than ones coming from mainland China. Yes, I have spent hours on their store.
You can also just appeal to friends and family abroad to ship to you, or bring you (because they're bulky but actually light), yarn that you order online. You can also avail of services like pobox.ph and Johnny Air where you consolidate your orders and they then ship it to you.
My favorite online shops for yarn are Knitpicks.com (I cannot wait for my slow-changing Chroma orders!) and Knitting-Warehouse.com :)
I have heard of a place in Pasig, I think, where yarns are sold in baskets. I've seen pictures. Unfortunately, I think beginners like me need labelled yarns so I know exactly the gauge, recommended hook size and the length of the yarn ball.