Learning how to do a needlecraft is always a new and exciting adventure. However, what comes with that adventure sometimes can be pricey. I always tell beginning crocheters/knitters to follow the steps of frugality learned from our grandparents and great-grandparents during the great depression. Crocheting and knitting should be fun and enjoyable. It should not break the bank.
- Buy only what your need. This is a tough one sometimes when you see all the pretty new yarn colours or a hook that you’re just dying to try out. When on a budget, be strict about your purchases. Plan ahead; write out what you will buy on a checklist of the absolutely necessary items and stick to the list. Don’t let your eyes wander over to that lovely new mohair skein. Lists prove to be the best way to prevent impulse purchasing.
- Buy during sales, online and with coupons. I love sales. My hubs says I’m a pro at finding the least expensive way to purchase something. Many retail craft stores have sales and promotions each week that could reduce the price of your yarn by half. Also, coupons. If you find them online and print, great. But don’t forget your mobile phone. Both JoAnn and Michaels have an app that displays the latest digital coupons for a variety of items. This has come in handy many times. If all else fails, the coupons and sales aren’t there or just not enough to justify the cost, check online. There are a number of places to check for lower yarn prices including Amazon, KnitPicks (which has a monthly yarn sale), Yarn Paradise (although I have not yet purchased from here, I have heard from colleagues that it can be a good source), and Craftsy are just a few to choose from. If your project requires top of the line yarn, you’ll need to budget for that and probably go to a LYS to find the best product. However, if your project doesn’t rely on super high quality or wool blended yarns, these options are available.
- Use it all up. Yep, use everything to the last bit. Use the yarn you have until it’s gone before buying new. A good method to do this is to keep an updated inventory on your phone or on a piece of paper so that when you shop you do not repeat purchase yarn (or tools) you already have. And for the leftovers, don’t throw away any unused yarn. Keep the skein even if there is only a handful of yarn remaining. Extra pieces of yarn can come in handy especially when doing colour work. Small pieces can be trimmed and used as stitch markers providing what you need without the extra cost. Leftover yarn can be wound into a ball either by hand or with a ball winder and used for future projects so breakout a box, bag or other location to store the misfit yarn pieces.
- Substitutions can work. Read your pattern and determine if the yarn suggested is really necessary or if a substitution can be made. For example, if a pattern calls for a number 5 alpaca wool yarn with silk thread, you can perhaps exchange it for a different number 5 yarn made out of a less expensive wool without the extras, or even find some good quality acrylic yarn? Remember that the patterns are suggestions, the colours and types of yarn can be substituted to your preference and budget to achieve the same result in half the price.
- Reuse and repurpose. Frequently your yarn stash ends up with small amounts of yarn, too little to make anything substantial but too much yarn for you to even fathom throwing in the trash. These strands of yarn can be tied together in sequentially and rolled into a ball with all the different colours and types showcasing it’s uniqueness. This is the magic ball of yarn, you’ll recall this post on how to make one. Once you have enough yarn in the magic ball, you can make a variety of special, one-of-a-kind items. Also, when you decided to not finish a WIP, don’t throw the project into the trash. I know it is painful to frog all that work but there is yarn there to be used for something new. Take some time, pull the WIP apart carefully and wind the yarn into a ball for future use. Yarn saved.
- Attend a free needlecraft classes or event. Many arts and crafts stores, retail stores and LYS have nights or afternoons with a free class offered. Check with your local store calendars’ and find out if there is a beginning crochet, open time crochet, or just a free class to show you how to do a specific stitch. Some of the stores may also have knitting circles where you could come to not only socialize but get advice and help if you’re struggling on a particularly difficulty project. And of course, don’t forget craft fairs, fiber festivals and other markets. Many of these have a booth with second had tools for sale where you can pick up some tools for less than a few cents for a hook (I did at one fiber festival). These events also have the vendors present with a variety of ideas and products. Feel free to ask for demonstrations if you’re curious about a new skill or even if they have a blog/online shop. In any case, you’ve brushed up on your skills, learned some new techniques and possibly bought some inexpensive tools. Not bad.
- Share with your yarn friend or neighbor. And finally, don’t keep all your knowledge to yourself. With your friends who do crochet, knit or other needle arts find out if you can borrow that hook size you were thinking about before you buy it and offer to loan a tool or even some of your leftover yarns. Helping each other out and using the tools and supplies we already have can greatly save money when you’re stretched on a budget.
There are many more ways to continue to crochet on a budget, and as always remember that this is an art form meant to be enjoyable. If you find yourself having to buy a new hook every new pattern, or 10 skeins of yarn every other week, you may want to reconfigure your fiber art strategy. Do you have a tried and true way to save and still crochet while on a budget? I’d love to hear from you and how you manage to stay on track and happily with your yarn at the same time.