Knitting on a budget

so as a new knitter and a poor college student, i was just wondering what others did to keep costs low. Between buying new needle sizes and picking up yarn i racked up quite a bill yesterday :confused:


You can get a set of 36 bamboo circular needles of all sizes off ebay for 21 dollars including shipping. about 6 or 7 will be unusable, but the rest will be OK. I think Knit Picks is a great place to look for yarn at a good price.

Depending on how creative you want to be, you can make your own ndls from dowels, chopsticks, skewers, etc (cost runs from free to pennies each) and recycling thrift sweaters provides enough yarn for a sweater, or several small projects, for a buck or two.

Lots of sites… and links… for recycling and thrifty knitting.


Taking up any new hobby whether it’s painting, cooking, knitting or whatever takes some money for the basics. No getting around it.

Whenever possible buy your supplies and yarn on sale and watch for coupons. I’m not sure where you shop, but Joanns and Michaels have 40% of one item coupons almost every week. You can often sign up at the store to receive an ad weekly or online for online sales.

If you can shop online there are some good deals. Knitpicks and Elann both have good prices, but you do have the shipping charges unless you spend quite a bit.

This places has free shipping.

There are dozens of other yarn stores, too.

I look out at car boot sales (I suppose that would be yard sales in America?). I’ve managed to pick up needles, yarn and even a ball winder at very good prices :slight_smile:

I knit with the yarn I can afford (thus, my knitting consists of acrylics and some inexpensive cottons). Hit sales, check out discount yarn sites on the 'net, in nice weather hit yard sales, flea markets, check out swap postings…

Michael’s or Hobby Lobby has sales for yarn almost every weekend. In my city, you can also get bonus coupons that are found in the newspaper. I hope this helps!:knitting:

Stalk your local thrift stores! Right now there’s a bag of POatons Angorel for $1.99 at ours. I don’t need it, but it feels nice. I’ve found everything from Red Heart Super Saver (and yes, I use it) to antique German silk there.

And on another coillege student note, I’m always amazed at how much clothing lands at ours with the tags still on–and I’m not talking about ages-old ratty stuff, I mean nice, in-fashion clothes somebody just didn’t feel like taking back to exchange.

I pretty much knit on a small budget too. I watch for sales and use a lot of the less expensive yarns like Caron Simply Soft, Sinfonia, and similar acrylics and cottons.

Look for clearances in stores. A coworker of mine found yarn at Bi Mart in a basket for .75 cents a skein and picked up a bunch for me. I went to Walmart and they also had a basket of clearance yarn that was half price. I spent from .75 cents a skein to $2.50 a skein. The $2.50 skeins at Joanns cost $5.99. I look for sales, coupons and clearances.

As a broke student (well, sort of) myself, I shall try to help as much as I can! :slight_smile:

For yarn: I’m with Knitting_Guy on the Caron Simply Soft.

I live in an area with literally NO knitting shops, and buying yarn offline is a bit expensive for my day-to-day budget (YAYE CHRISTMAS!). Thus, I’m reduced to Wal Mart.

They mostly carry Red Heart Yuck (ITCHY!), and almost nothing else, but they do carry about 20 colors of Caron Simply Soft, and I’ve fallen in love with it. It’s very inexpensive ($2.00 a skein), definitely soft, and is very nice on my hands to work with. (The Red Heart really, REALLY took it’s toll on my fingers after awhile!)

I would check out KnitPicks right now, though, as they’re doing a huge clearance on yarn and have some beauties for very very low prices. They also carry Wool of the Andes in BEAUTIFUL colors for about $2 a ball, and from what I hear, it’s a very, very nice yarn indeed.

As for needles, I would suggest penny pinching and saving up for a good set instead of buying separately (save up Christmas money or birthday money and spring for a set. KnitPicks Options seem to be the best by general concensus). You will save money in the long run.

Also, keep in mind that you can do flat knitting on circular needles, so you don’t necessarily need to buy straight needles and circulars of similar sizes. If you knit flat on a circular, you’re saving yourself some money there.

And, as for things for keeping your yarn while working with it…while I would love to be able to use a ball winder or things like that, there is no affording one at the moment…so I just wrap my yarn around a DVD case (longwise), and it holds it pretty nicely. Not exactly the greatest long term solution, but it keeps it at a manageable size and keeps it from getting tangled.

Also, if you need all those little extra’s that seem inexpensive but add up badly, check out this:

Mary Maxim Knitter’s Accessory Case

I can tell you from personal shopping expeditions that between the stitch holders, folding scissors, yarn needles, and gauge alone, you’d pay for the case at least once. I haven’t gotten mine yet, but I’m going to be buying one with my Christmas money.

Also, check out thrift stores and places like the Salvation Army for old crochet hooks, straight needles, etc. They may have circulars, but the cables would probably be brittle. (Support a good cause, and save, woot!)

Hope I helped! Good luck supplying!

I only buy on sale items. I use the Jo-Ann’s and Michaels coupons. If there is something I really want, I save $5/wk until I can afford to buy the accessory or the yarn I want. I have a little jar that I painted and paper-crafted that says, “Yarn Stash Money.” I put all of my extra quarters in it and any extra dollar bills. When I have enough, I buy some yarn.

Also, yarn swaps are great. Some people have yarn you want and will trade for the yarn you have.

I only knit with cheaper yarns for my everyday projects. Special projects and special yarns, I save for. :slight_smile:

I know it can be tough being on a budget but there are defintely ways around it!
Tell your friend and family about your new hobby! My Grams gave me a huge bag of yarn, needles and patterns that she wasn’t using anymore. My aunts have also donated yarn to me. Another place to look is your local Freecyle. Last week a woman was destashing before a move and was offering a ton of yarn. You can sometimes find good deal on yarn on EBay or Craigslist.

I would check out Knit Picks, like the others have suggested, especially for needles. If you can find the money to save up, many people here rave about the Options Interchangeable set (and I’ve been hinting around for a set for Christmas. :slight_smile: ), and that would take care of many different sizes of circular needles for you. The set is $60. I bought some of the their smaller fixed circulars for knitting socks, and I find them to be very comparable to the Addi Turbos for probably a third of the price of the Addi’s.

Also, do your homework when you have a project in mind. I will figure out how much it would cost me to do a project with the brand of yarn and amount required by the pattern. I use that as a starting point and then research substitutes or decide if I want to set money aside and save up to buy the yarn specified in the pattern. There’s an afghan I want to make where, after I did the homework, I came up with a cost of $260 for yarn if I used the yarn and amount of yarn the pattern calls for. :noway: Needless to say, I won’t be using the yarn the pattern specifies for this particular project. (I’m not sure, if I were in a position to drop that much money for yarn for a single project, I’d want to spend that much on yarn, either). The yarn I plan on substituting will cost me a total of $25 for this project. $25 is an easier pill to swallow than $260. On the other hand, there is a sweater I am looking at making, and after I did the math, the cost of the yarn in the amount the pattern calls for is around $70, so in this case, I may just save up the money and buy the yarn called for in the pattern.

Ravelry is a very good place to start for doing your homework. If I had to only pick one good use for me for being on Ravelry, it would be this. If you have a project in mind, you can see other people’s projects from that same pattern and see how things went for them, too, especially if they substituted yarn for what the pattern calls for.

I try to buy the best yarn that I can afford that works the best for the project I have in mind and that’s why I do my homework.

What worked for me:

  1. Don’t bother with buying straight needles - get a nice set of circular interchangeables. You can knit with these just as if they were straight needles back and forth. The nice thing about interchangeables is you can not only change the size of the needle - but also the length of the cable which can’t be done with traditional circular needles.
  2. I agree with previous advice about buying yarn you can afford. Technique is just as important as yarn in creating a beautiful project. I’ve seen gorgeous things knit with Red heart, Caron Simpy Soft, and I am a big fan of Patons Classic Merino Wool (available at Michaels - and maybe Hobby Lobby - we don’t have that chain in my area). You get a huge amount of yarn for the price and the benefit of knitting with a nice natural fiber.
  3. Take advantage of all the free patterns and tutorials on the internet. The videos here are priceless in their help to the new (and even seasoned) knitter!

i’ve been knitting since i was 7 and have only just started springing for new needles (and checking gauge, and you know, generally doing things properly). The way I’d get away with it was to by any needles at opshops (i think American’s call them thrift stores.) over here I can pick up a pair of needles for .50c. Compare that to $12 odd for a new pair, it’s a bargain. sometimes they’ll have some really nice yarn too.
also if your beginning, may I recomend metal over plastic needles for the simple matter it’s hard to snap metal.
And keep a list of the sizes you have, like, and/or need in you wallet so it’s always handy for that surprise bargain.
that and only ever by yarn on sale.

thanks for all the great suggestions! I will definatly invest in the intercheangable circulars everyone is telling me about once i get through the holidays.

Use waste yarn in a contrasting color for stitch holders and markers, you don’t need to buy them.

Check out (haha) your local public library for knitting books. But, dig a little to find out what services are available. Many libraries have cooperative lending arrangements. For example, my “local” library has a couple shelves worth of knitting books. However, they’re part of a county-wide library system, and the system lists almost 300 books total under the “knitting patterns” subject. (And there are other subjects… just plain “knitting”, “knitting–Scotland–History”, etc.) It’s very easy to request a book from one of the other libraries to be delivered to my “home” library for me to pick up. So if you don’t know whether your library offers a service like this, it’s probably worth your while to find out.

I’m a college student, too, and here are the things I’ve picked up in my knitting career:

Buying a set of interchangeable needles can be a reasonably expensive initial outlay, but in the long run, it’s just a good investment. BUT Hobby Lobby is a good place to start with stocking up on needles. This week, in fact, all the knitting needles and crochet hooks are 40% off - so it’s practically 2-for-1 at the moment. :slight_smile:

Knit with the best yarn you can afford. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference that makes in your knitting. That being said, remember to knit with what you like: do you like acrylics? There are some really spiffy ones. Do you like cottons? Same there. And with all of them, there are some places that are better to buy from than others. Your LYS has a higher overhead, therefore they’re going to have a higher per-skein cost. A store such as Knit Picks or Smileys are going to have lower costs in general.

Free patterns: the net is rife with them. :slight_smile: But investing in a couple of good books is always a good move: a stitch dictionary, a “rule book” with techniques, a general treasury… Just some good things to have on hand.

Basically, this reply is more “what’s worth investing in” rather than “how can I get by on the cheap,” but it’s a good thing to ask yourself. If knitting is going to become a part of your life, you owe it to yourself to have the best tools and resources you can afford available to you.

That said, there are ways to acquire all of those things for less-than-retail. E-bay,, etc.