Knitting on a Budget

  • characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources (Merriam-Webster)
With the way our economy has taken a nose dive the last few years—didn't anyone tell you...the recession is over—even us lowly knitters have had to look for ways to keep on throwin' and pickin' with a bit less exorbitant expenditure. Though purchasing less extravagant fiber or knitting with only free patterns wouldn't be an option for many of us, there are other ways to stretch your knitting dollar; so, don't go cancelling your Interweave Knits subscription just yet. I've spent some time putting together tips to keep on knittin' on without sacrificing a single camelid purl...

  1. Don't use 'em!  Try and come up with something creative and let your mind soar.  Some of the best ideas come from "mistakes."
  2. Search through the patterns you already have.  If you're anything like me, you have a whole lot more patterns than you ever thought you had.  I have PDF downloads, a ton of needlework magazines, books, binders of printed patterns, etc.
  3. Try knitting a pattern you previously used (and you particularly enjoyed) changing up the yarn, color or utilizing simple modifications in fit or construction. A great jumper knitted as a cardigan with a different collar, button band and yarn can bare little resemblance to the original.
  4. Visit your public library.  Most libraries have a decent knitting section from which to pull inspiration, a new technique or an interesting pattern.
  5. Three words...Ravelry, Ravelry, Ravelry!  It's the needle worker's best friend.  There are literally thousands upon thousands of free and low priced patterns.
  6. Search out knitting blogs.  Most bloggers have at least a few free patterns or charts on their blog (I just added one to mine and have another one coming out next week).
  7. The world wide web also has MANY free patterns available.  Just google "free knitting patterns!"
  8. Email a favorite designer to see if they have any new designs or sizes to be test knit.  Sometimes they will even supply the yarn!
  9. When purchasing patterns, choose patterns that aren't too trendy and have a classic silhouette which can be easily modified for gender, size or style to get the most out of your dollar.
  10. Look for eBooks.  If you like the majority of patterns by a particular designer, buying an eBook with a compilation of their patterns will be cheaper than buying the individual patterns piece mill. 
  11. Join yarn and knitting retail websites.  They always have free, promotional patterns listed on their site.
  12. Knitty.com!  OB—SESSED!
  13. Check out the sales bin at your LYS or favorite book retailer.
  14. Don't be shy about contacting a favorite designer or knitting blogger.  If I had someone who
emailed me due to their interest in knitting a pattern, but was on public assistance, lived on a fixed income, was a student, was disabled, etc. and couldn't afford a pattern I had for sale, I wouldn't think twice about emailing them a copy.  Really!


    1. Go ahead. I give you permission to use a well priced acrylic!  That's right...I SAID IT!  A-C-R-Y-L-I-C!!!!  Listen, I LOVE organic, natural fibers as much as the next knitter, and knit with wool, alpaca, silk, cashmere and cotton about 85% of the time.  However, when I'm knitting for pets, babies, kids, or the laundry retarded I use an acrylic or acrylic blend.  I even knit items for myself from time to time for "go to" items like my white cardigan I wear over my scrubs that has to be laundered very often.  Here's the caveat—sometimes good acrylics/blends aren't exactly low priced, so don't automatically assume it's a budget saver.
    2. Knit Picks has to be my favorite online, discount knitting store.  They have great quality items for great prices and they have THE BEST customer service of any online retailer I've ever encountered!!!  And, who doesn't like shopping in the comfort of your own home while in your underwear?
    3. Check for sale yarns at your LYS!  Many times they will offer discounts on yarn that may be out of season, but by the time you finish knitting the item it may very well be the right season to wear or gift to someone special.  Many LYS's also offer large discounts on discontinued yarns they will no longer be ordering or novelty yarns that have gone out of vogue.
    4. Knit with lace weight or fingering weight yarn.  You will get many more knitting hours per hank as compared to a bulkier yarn.
    5. Go to a garage sale, thrift shop, or second hand store to look for sweaters you can frog and re-use the yarn.  This is a favorite method of mine and is a way to conserve.  Don't miss looking for sewn items that may contain great buttons for future cardigans!  Sometimes you may even have a sweater in your own closet that no longer fits or its design has gone out of style and is lying around waiting for a breath of new life.  How about a moth eaten sweater that may be knit up into smaller items such as a vest, scarf, cowl, hat or mittens?
    6. Learn to spin!  I haven't tried this one yet, as I or no one around me is quite ready for another fiber-related obsession, but roving is cheaper than spun yarn and unprocessed fleece is cheaper still (though skirting, bathing, carding...I'm exhausted just typing it...spinning, and plying doesn't appeal to my general sense of laziness).  Besides, removing vegetable matter, is just code for picking out sheep poo!  Just sayin...
    7. T-shirt yarn!  If you haven't been acquainted yet, go give it a look see. It's pretty ingenious really
    and a great way to recycle old t-shirts. Basically you cut up a continuous half inch strip of an old t-shirt proper, less the hems and sleeves. When you give the strip a gentle tug it rolls up on itself and you have a bulky cotton yarn! It makes for a great utilitarian yarn ideal for trivets, pot scrubbers, oven mitts, etc. Just remember, when you are cutting up your hubby's dingy, hole riddled, yet favorite—it is better to apologize afterward than ask for permission beforehand!

    1. Most knitter's needle stockpile is akin to a crack addict's spoon, tourniquet and pipe collection.  Mine is almost embarrassing (my knitting needle arsenal, not the drug paraphernalia).  We are on some unrelenting search for the "Holy Grail" of knitting needle that will make all other needles obsolete.  It's a disease.  My point is, if you are a knitting neophyte ask around and borrow some needles for your first few projects.  You'll get to learn the eccentricities of different types and discover a favorite.  If your knitting friend isn't too far gone in his/her needle hoarding illness he/she may even let you keep it.
    2. Interchangeable needle sets are generally a good investment, regardless of the brand.
    3. Once again...Garage sales, Thrift stores, Second hand shops!  GTS...it's the "Jersey Shore GTL" of the knitting world.
    4. Ebay!  Granted, the only knitter that would give up his/her needles would probably be a...well...dead one, but if you don't mind the whole deceased knitter thing then you can often find a good bargain on a whole slew of needles in bulk.  Added bonus: the non-knitters left behind will often sell them for much less than they're worth.
    5. Again, Knit Picks, has their own line of interchangeable, straight and static circular needles (in wood, acrylic, and nickel-plated brass) with VERY flexible cables and decent joins for great prices!
    6. Make your own!  This is a lot easier and less involved than it sounds.  All it takes is a couple of dowels, a pencil sharpener, sand paper/nail file and a little elbow grease.  There are even tutorials on how to make your own circulars.
    7. All joking aside, once you are familiar with different styles or materials and narrow down a favorite, invest in the best needles you can afford.  You will spend years and countless hours knitting with them so it should be an enjoyable experience.

    This is in no way meant to be an all inclusive list, but hopefully it will spark a few ideas to help make your knitting dollar stretch.  I also want to encourage you to frequent and support your LOCAL YARN STORE!  Many store owners have responded well to the fluctuating economy and bring you an experience that is unsurpassed by any online retailer—some may even let you fondle the fiber in your underwear.  It's certainly a place to gain wonderful advice, knitting camaraderie, and creative entertainment.  One last thing I'd like to call attention to is BARTERING!  I would readily trade a few original patterns for a great hand-dyed hank of sock yarn.  Don't be afraid to think outside of the knitting bag!  I'll leave you with a purl of wisdom to ponder...even if you are a knitter who only wants to knit with vicuna yarn on Signature needles (which are amazing by the way), it's still probably cheaper than a month of therapy!


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