Knitting and crocheting can be a pricy hobby. And while there is a lot of beautiful hand-dyed yarns out there, it can get expensive to buy all of your yarn from an indie-dyer.
While I am a huge believer in supporting local fibre artists and believe they deserve to be paid what they are worth, it doesn't make you or your project any less knitworthy if you choose to go a more affordable route.
Let's face it, not everyone can afford to splurge for every project, and that's okay. It is important to normalize that all yarn is good yarn, regardless of what it's made of or where it came from.
And there are many more affordable options when buying yarn, even when it comes to buying natural and hand-dyed fibres. So, here are some of my suggestions for finding beautiful yarn on any budget.
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Shop at a craft or big box store.
There are lots of options for buying yarn at a big box store or craft retailer. And buying budget-friendly yarn doesn't automatically mean scratchy or low quality. Browsing the yarn aisle at your local Michael's or Walmart gives you the chance to feel and squish all the yarn balls to find the right one for your next project.
From my experience, Michael's often has great sales on the different yarn brands they carry and offer at least one or two entire yarn department sales throughout the year. And Michael's is well known for their coupons, so that is a great option for buying supplies such as knitting needles at 40% or 50% off the regular price.
An online yarn supplier that I love is KnitPicks (or WeCrochet). KnitPicks' online retail business model cuts out the middle man (i.e. the brick and mortar store) and passes those savings onto the consumer. You can get really good quality yarns (including merino and alpaca wool) at a reasonable price.
Even with the exchange rate, I find shopping at KnitPicks to be affordable and the delivery is usually pretty quick, even to Canada. And only once did I have to pay additional tax/duty at delivery.
Join a yarn destash group on Facebook or other social media platforms (including Ravelry).
I am a member of a couple of Canada-based yarn de-stash groups on Facebook. There is a wide variety of yarn being posted every day, from mass-produced acrylic to specialty hand-dyed yarns. The price is at the discretion of the seller, but like most things on Facebook marketplace, you can always try and haggle (if that's your thing). Haggling or not, you can find some great deals on great yarn.
I recently purchased 6 skeins of MadelineTosh DK Twist yarn from a yarn destash group on Facebook. This yarn retails in Canada for approximately $32 per skein, and I picked it up for around $17 per skein, including shipping.
It's a bit brighter than I originally thought, so it's outside of my usual wheelhouse, but the green colour caught my eye when the seller posted it. I had been looking for some eyecatching DK for a pattern I have in my queue, and even though it's not my usual colour, I think it will work for this summer top. I am pretty sure I have more yardage than I need, so I may end up re-destashing the leftover or finding another project for the leftovers.
Destashing is also an option for you. If you have yarn in your stash that you no longer love, you can sell it and use the money to buy yarn you are actually going to use.
Set up a yarn swap with your fibre friends (or find a swap group on social media).
Similar to destashing your yarn, another option is to swap yarns and fibres with your friends. Rummage through your stash for the yarns you no longer feel excited about and set up a trade with your knitting buddy.
If you don't know someone interested in swapping or trading with you, social media comes to the rescue again. Similar to the destash groups, there are also yarn swap groups. A quick search of the community page on Ravelry with the words "yarn swap" brings up 96 results.
Even specific dyers sometimes have groups for their "fans" to buy, sell and trade their colourways (especially if they offer limited edition runs of certain dye lots).
Shop estate sales and garage sales for unused yarn.
This one may not be as easy during COVID, but searching garage sales and estate sales are also an option for finding yarn for cheap. Buying and collecting yarn is a separate hobby from knitting or crocheting for many people, and like me, many people have more yarn than they can ever get through in a lifetime. Some of this yarn may get left behind when people pass away or may just have to be decluttered when people downsize to smaller properties later in life.
Estate sales often have items up for auction, and you may be able to find out in advance what is available. You may have the opportunity to bid of large lots of assorted yarn at a much lower price. Garage sales are often advertised online these days, and you may find details on some of the items for sale (including yarn, tools and pattern books) in advance, so you know where to visit.
Recycle yarn from thrifted sweaters or old projects
Thrifting is now a verb. Scouring thrift stores for unique and ironic finds is a big trend amongst young people, especially in larger cities. In fact, I had a friend who would come out to Durham from Toronto just to visit our Value Village because the second-hand shops in the City had been picked clean.
If you don't mind the extra effort, you can find amazing yarn in old sweaters. There are specific construction qualities that make a thrifted sweater easy to unravel, but if you have the patience, you can take something old and make it new again. This is not something I have had much success with myself, but I have watched a few videos on the process, so it is possible.
There is also the yarn that is knit up in projects that just didn't turn out the way we expected. There is no shame in letting go of that project, frogging it, and using the yarn for something new.
I had a sweater that somehow felted in a few spots (I think as a result of my cats sleeping on the bag it was stored in for the winter), and it was no longer wearable. But there were some sections where the yarn was still intact. So, I got out my scissors, cut off the felted sections and unravelled the rest. I now have some yarn to use for a pair of socks or two, and the rest will go into my scrap yarn blanket project.
So there you have it! These are some of my suggestions to make the most of your yarn budget. Have you tried any of these? Do you have any additional suggestions? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time, happy knitting.