Knitting is an addicting craft, but like most crafts, it’s not particularly cheap.
However it’s cheap to start. You just need a £1 ball of yarn from the bargain bin and some sticks! Once you actually get good enough to make your first jumper you may no longer find that cheap acrylic yarn to be good enough.
By now you’ve amassed a few needles, some accessories, gained some knowledge of the different yarn fibres, joined Ravelry and discovered all the awesome free patterns the internet has to offer. Eventually you will buy some luxury hand-dyed sock yarn and never look back. It’s just a slippery slope to spending £45 on 100g of qiviut or several sets of carbon-fibre needles…
Whoa there! Before you become the warmest hobo on the block!
Exaggeration aside, knitting cheaply doesn’t mean sticking to artificial yarns and naff needles. There are some nice and easy ways to stop your new favourite hobby burning a hole in your pocket. You can have that merino cardigan without the financial guilt:
1. Look to your elderly relatives!
When my grandma heard I was into knitting she promptly gifted me with a large selection of old knitting things. 75% of my needles used to be hers, as well as all my crochet hooks and a couple of stitch holders! Not everyone is lucky enough to have such an extremely crafty family member, but the older generation are far more likely to have accumulated such things as needles over their lifetimes. Chances are, if you’re the crafty type, you got it from somewhere! Pick up their torch! Why not politely ask if there are any old supplies that are no longer needed?
(Sub-tip: Learn your imperial needle sizes)
2. Knit skinny.
The downside of DIY clothing is that you end up paying per square inch. Sure, you can get around this by knitting tight-fitting clothes but that’s not what I mean by knitting skinny! Another option is to just use less wool per square inch – knit with thinner yarns. It’ll take longer, but as well as saving money you get more accurate shaping and a more flattering, drapey fabric. Bonus!
Case in point: As a UK size 14, I usually spend around £40+ on a jumper in DK weight wool. That’s roughly 1800 yards or 500g of fibre. £38 (625g or 2500 yards) of Jamieson & Smiths 2-ply jumper weight wool on the other hand, has turned into two half-sleeve jumpers and a pair of gloves and I still have ample yarn left for a hat! That’s quite a bit less than you’d pay for pure wool clothing on the high street.
All that, and some leftovers!
3. Trawl the internet.
The internet is obviously an invaluable tool for finding discounted products. But where to start?
My go-to wool sites are Black Sheep Wools and Deramores. I think I must mention them quite a lot on here, but that’s because they are cheap, cheap, cheap.
If you’re after some big commercial brand like Rowan or Cascade, then a good bit of Googling will turn up something. You can also try searching for ’x 10′ in eBay’s crafts section and see what job lots come up.
For discounts on smaller brands, you’ll have to get close to the source. Find the brand’s website; it’ll be the best place to hear about discounts and sales firsthand. ‘Mid-sized’ brands will often be sold from other independent online yarn shops and they will offer sales of their own.
It may sound like a lot of work, tracking down the little guys, but if you’re on Ravelry just find the brand group page – there are often discounts offered to members.
Stuck with yarn you don’t like? Don’t buy more, just trade the old stuff. Online knitting communities like Ravelry have a whole load of yarn swaps going on. Your uninspiring bag of 2-year old yarn is someone else’s perfect stash and vice versa.
If you’re lucky you might even find you’ve traded up a little!
Incidentally I am super-pleased with my latest swap!
5. Advance planning.
Here’s something I’ve learnt the hard way: Don’t buy a load of yarn because it looks/feels awesome and assume you’ll work out what to do with it later. You won’t!
Have a pattern first. Buy yarn later.
This sort of forethought prevents all sorts of woes: regrettable impulse buys, random unwanted balls cluttering up the living room, unflattering garments knitted just to make space for more yarn etc. You will always find yourself knitting something you want, in the right colour, with the right amount to hand.
The thrifty knitter is an organised knitter. Well, it’s an obvious thing to say, but a hard thing to practice. You can always make an advance plan to splash out on random things too! After all, you’ve saved all that money by following the other tips haven’t you?