Pollyanna’s Tips & Budget Stretchers for Knitters

Hi, Anna-Liza here. Just like everyone else (with the possible exception of Marin), my knitting budget is almost zero quite restricted these days. I’m mostly knitting stash with the exception of a few skeins I bought for Knitting Sprite’s impending Wee Sprite. (She’s due in December). There are some other things that can help keep you knitting and sane even if your cash for acquiring stash has diminished. Or disappeared. 

Okay, maybe not sane. But closer to it.

So the first tip is pretty obvious –  knit stash. ‘Nuf said. But there are variations on this theme, Grasshopper.

Variation one: Get out all your UFOs and either knit them or rip them. This will add to your existing stash (by returning yarn to it that you no longer have tied up in pointless projects), and make you feel all virtuous. For me, that feeling is rare enough that I really enjoy it when I have an excuse to feel that way. And you get to dream about new projects for the reclaimed yarn, too! Plus you get re-enthused about projects you had sort of (or really) forgotten. If they’re not enthusing you, you should rip.

Variation two: When you’re feeling dangerously close to a yarn shop binge, go reorganize your stash. If you have even a moderate stash, you will find some forgotten treasures in there, and by handling and reorganizing all your yarn, you will most likely take the edge off your fiber jones. While you’re at it, organize your patterns, too. You’ll probably rediscover some that still excite you and can toss the ones you’re disenchanted with into recycling, freeing up some space (physically and mentally) for new loves. Doing this in close association with stash organizing might yield some brilliant new ideas in the pattern/yarn matchup area, too.

Another variation on the theme is to have a yarn trade with your knitting buddies. After you’ve all reorganized your stashes, bring any fiber you’re no longer in love with to a knit night. Trade in any fashion all of you feel is fair. A good general rule of thumb is to take the same amount you put in, without (much) regard to fiber content. Pull numbers out of a hat or roll dice to determine the order. Or just trade around the group.

So, abandoning that theme altogether, here’s a great tip I got from Cheryl Oberle several years ago. For a blocking board, try using a sheet of 2″ thick styrofoam insulation board. I like the kind with the thin plastic skin on both sides. A new sheet will cost about $25 to $30 at any home improvement center. I have a scrap leftover from a remodeling project, about 3′ by 4′, that works for almost everything, and I will be getting an intact 8’ sheet for larger projects, like the lace shawl I finished about a year and a half ago that still needs to be blocked. (Hey, I only just got Eris blocked after having cast on three years ago and finished the knitting last February).

If you don’t like the look of the plain board, cover it in contact paper – pick something that won’t interfere with getting your blocked items straight when you pin them out. An important bonus for me is that once the blocked item is pinned out, you can prop the whole thing up against a wall, which saves floor space and makes it somewhat less attractive to kids and kitties. I said “somewhat”.

Can’t find your stitch markers, or need more than you have? Paper clips work very well. The large ones will fit up to a size 10 needle. Get the coated kind if you hate that metal-on-metal scraping sound. They’re prettier, and still pretty cheap. Also, you can use them for color-coding your lace patterns. (Oh yes I do!)

I will frequently get my mid-size wooden needles, stitch holders, and other notions at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby when they have one of those 40% off coupons running. I will also buy yarn there. I am a bit of a yarn snob, but there are perfectly good yarns available there. And I can’t afford to be too snobby these days, frankly. (If you can, please please indulge!)

I’m sorry if this shocks you, but I will knit acrylic if it serves my purpose – but not the oldtimey Red Heart, which just doesn’t feel good to me. Wait ’til you see the baby item I’m knitting with a cheap very inexpensive acrylic that people keep thinking is handspun. Super soft, washable, and the whole thing cost about eleven bucks.

So what are some of your tips? I’ll collect them and do another post some time when it occurs to me. After all, the more we save where we can, the more we have left to spend at our LYS for the more critical things – like the perfect sock yarn for the gift knitting we’re doing right now.

Oh. Yeah. Gift knitting. I’ll get right on that.


2 thoughts on “Pollyanna’s Tips & Budget Stretchers for Knitters

  1. Marcy

    Good suggestions… I’ve gotten some nice yarn from unraveling old storebought sweaters I no longer wear, and I’ve even unraveled sweaters I find at thrift stores. You just have to know how to identify and avoid cut-and-sewn sweaters. And have lots of patience, especially for finding that woven-in end and getting the unraveling started.

  2. highlyirritable

    Or you can do what I do – call your Gramma and after getting her to agree what a pain in the arse knitting is, “helpfully” offer to take all her unused wool and UFO off of her hands.


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