Poor knitters

How do you do it? I’m not poor per say, but I live paycheck to paycheck. I don’t have a yarn stash and I don’t have a lot of needles (only what I’ve bought for previous projects). I see so many projects that I want to try, but no money to buy everything with. I saw this sweater pattern that looked really nice that I wanted to try, but by the time that I would have gotten everything bought this sweater was probably going to cost me $40 or more. I guess I could swing it if I really wanted it. But then when I finish, I’m only going to want to start another project…sigh. What can I do? Should I just ask for needles and yarn to start a stash for Christmas when I know nobody would buy me any of that stuff because nobody I know knits so they wouldn’t know what to buy me. Or should I pimp myself out. Start asking people if there’s anything they want me to knit for them as long as they pay for the yarn. That sounds a bit rude. What do poor knitters like me do? :shrug:

You can find really cheap yarn in bargain bins at yarn shops and craft stores alike. Also, check your local freecycle list (start at www.freecycle.org), some people de-stash that way. I’ve gotten some nice yarn off of freecycle, and I still don’t know what to do with it.

Other suggestions: ebay (look for large lots, you can auto-stash a huge variety of yarns), tag sales, thrift stores (look for sweaters you can recycle the yarn from), and yes, asking for yarn gifts for christmas and birthdays.

I bought a needlemaster set (interchangeable needles) off of ebay for half price, and I love it, it allowed me to try projects I would otherwise have to spend lots of money on needles for.

Good luck and happy knitting!

Also try your local thrift store… I went in to drop off some items and they had skeins of yarn bagged up in clear plastic bags, some with circular needles and the yarn still was in the original package with the price sticker. One in particular had a whole bag of lilac yarn (about 6 skeins with circular needles for 2 dollars)… !! also let people know that you are knitting people DO spread things by word of mouth. also check out the swap/trade section on this website…
Good luck!

Also, for gifts ask for gift cards to the local craft store… they have sales oftern and always check out the clearance section in them… I have found lots of yarn including Lion Brand Thick and Quick for 3$ skein… it is perfectly acceptable to ask for gift cards instead of cash… and don’t volunteer to make a project unless you really W ANT too!!

I actually found it cheaper to go ahead and buy a set of interchangables (yeah Options!) I was doing the one pair of needles at a time thing, and it was adding up. I’ve also not been able to beat Knitpicks prices in my local area. Love them. The others covered some good ideas to try.

There are yarn deals out there. You just have to search them out. Knitpicks, and other online places such as e-bay. I buy cheap needles and spend more on yarn. I use free patterns mostly. We also do yarn swaps at my knit meets. Long time knitters just give their yarn away.

Stashes develop over time. Mine stems mostly from yarn sales, projects not yet done, projects that had left overs. I’m trying to use up my stash at the moment. It will be a long process. I just don’t like accumilating yarn with no purpose.

Trust me the stash will come.

I so know what you mean! I plan to sell my Boyes soon to buy the Options set, so if you’re wanting a nice big set that may be something you’re interested in.

[b][color=indigo]I knit alot with acrylics because that’s what I can afford. If I really find something I want to make with higher end yarn, I save until I can afford it.

I knit mostly for charity and my family (who just doesn’t want to be bothered with special washing) and they are just as happy with acrylics.

But, generally I knit for content rather than product so…[/color][/b]

I’m having the same problem. I have told the hubby and all family members that knitting stuff is the only acceptable gift for birthday and christmas until further notice. Also hubby is looking at large lots of yarn on ebay to bump up my stash. Right now I only have enough yarn and needles for the two projects that I am working on right now and everything but the yarn for one more project. If all you can do is buy a bit at a time, that is all you can do. I do want some interchangable needles as well though.

Ask for Knitpicks’ Gift Certificates any time a day approaches on which you should receive presents… birthday, Christmas, Hannukah, Groundhog’s Day… :thumbsup:

Isn’t September 1st Labor Day? See, there’s a holiday closer than you think! :rofl:

Seriously though, these are all great suggestions. Other then highly recommending saving up for (or asking for a present) an interchangeable set (yes, you’ll have to buy more needles at some point, to cover what the set doesn, in the long run it’s sooooo much cheaper) I have nothing to add here.

Good luck! :thumbsup:

I can’t afford the more expensive yarns, either. I mostly shop at Hobby Lobby. Every other week, they have a 40% off internet coupon and every few months they put knitting needles on sale for 1/2 off (including the brand new Boye Needlemaster). Which happens to be going on right now, so if you have one, run, don’t walk!

They also have yarn specials every week, so check those, too.

If you don’t have one locally, you may be able to work out an arrangement with someone who does.


Lately my local Dollar Tree stores have been having yarn for sale. They are still acrylic/nylon mix, but they are yarn skeins (Paton’s usually), that are selling at Michael’s for $5-6 per, and at the dollar store they are $1. They can be hit and miss. I’ve found some I really like, and some that are yeck! :gah: But when I’m over by the store I always go in and check.

Have looked at my $ Tree and they don’t have any. But the BigLots in my city has had Caron’s Jewel box for $2 each, and some Lions eyelash too. They’re nearly gone now, but I bought my share. Maybe more…


I bought some Lion’s fun fur at Big Lots, too. Can’t leave any stone unturned!

Recycling yarn from sweaters can be an excellent way to get high quality yarns at VERY inexpensive prices. One area I sometimes visit has a thrift store with 99 cent days on Mondays. An average size woman’s sweater often has 1.5 - 2 lbs of yarn. That’s 9 or more 50 gram skeins for 99 cents!

One thing I feel is important when getting recycled sweaters is that the sweater be in excellent condition to start with. The easiest/most likely place to check for pilling is the underarms. Don’t forget to look in the men’s section for sweaters. They are often larger (more yarn) and guys seem to get a lot of gift sweaters they never wear! While there is not 100% brand for how things recycle, JCrew, Eddie Bauer, Coldwater Creek, and Banana Republic sweaters have a good reputation for how they hold up to recycling.

I wash my sweaters before I take them apart. First, because I don’t like working on the sweaters unless I know they are clean, and second, I find it much easier to clean them as sweaters than trying to wash the hanks of yarn.

Once the sweater is washed and seams removed, I simply wind it straight onto a ball winder. This is a very quick way to undo the sweater. At that point I can either leave the yarn in cakes from the ball winder or if I know I won’t be using it for some time, I can use put it into hanks. Some people simply knit straight from the sweater piece and don’t even bother with winding the yarn into balls.

I don’t bother to unkink the yarn as it tends to unkink as I knit. If you want to see how yarn that hasn’t been unkinked first knits up, here are a few photos of items knit with the yarn still kinked.

This is a booga bag and matching scarf made by my daughter from a 99 cent wool sweater

An illusion scarf made from parts of two JCrew sweaters, again, less than $1 in yarn.

Here are a few photos of things, all knit from recyled yarn. I have more on my blog, but I don’t know if they are identified as such.

tychus hat


This little gown is a good example of how to mix new and recyled yarns. This is one of my all time favorite fabrics. It is a combination of recycled cashmere and new tencel. The tencel on the cone was very inexpensive.

Diaper cover from a Coldwater Creek sweater

I find a ball winder well worth the cost when recycling sweaters, although not a required necessity. If you use a 50% off coupon from Joann.com or if you live anywhere near an A.C. Moore or other stores that have regular 50% off coupons and carry ball winders you can get one for a very reasonable cost.

If you have young children, or nieces and nephews, kids LOVE to wind up yarn. My nieces always ask to run the ball winder when they visit (and I always send some yarn home with them) and my son used to increase his lego fund by reclaiming yarn and selling it at the local farmers market.

Just some ideas! Hope they help.

Mama Bear

ALL are great ideas–and I DO ask for knitting gift certificates, mainly to KnitPicks, because it’s more bang for yourbucks there!!

But Mamabear, I’m embarassed to say this, but I’ve tried several times to recycle sweaters–and I just don’t ever seem to get anything but tiny little strands that aren’t attached to anything!! Please tell me what I’m doing wrong! I’d LOVE to use some of the thrift store sweaters I see, but I gave up buying them after I just couldn’t figure what to do! :shrug:

Trudy, it sounds like you are using sweaters that have been serged, rather than seamed. Inspect the seams before you buy; seamed sweaters may be harder to find because serging is so much faster.

I could be wrong, just FYI.


Here is a recyling yarn tutorial that shows the seams you want to look for.

I do a few things differently than the tutorial. First I wash my sweaters BEFORE I take them apart. I find this much easier, plus I’m working with clean yarn to start with that way. Secondly… I don’t unkink it. I just wind it straight from the sweater. I have even been known to knit right from the sweater pieces.

If a sweater is thin, the yarn strands are likely to be VERY thin. This is a little harder to work with and get yarn without more breaks. Cashmere often is thin. I usually double it or triple it up or use it with a strand of something else when I knit.

JCREW sweaters in the mens section tend to be a DK or Worsted weight and are generally plied well (rather than loose strands held together).

Most seamed sweaters have a chain stitch down the seams, similar to those on the top of a bag of flour or a dog food bag. I find that the majority of chains “unzip” from the bottom edge of the sweater and from the edge of the sleeve. I use a seam ripper and pull the seams apart a little and clip the first few stitches. I try those first and if they don’t give, then I try the arm pit out in each direction for the second most common scenerio.

Sometimes all but the shoulder seams will be seamed and those will be surged (threads go over and around the seam). That’s ok… you can cut those off and just lose a little yarn.

Good luck!

Mama Bear

That’s a great link, thanks! :muah: