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5 Tips for Knitting on a Budget for all Knitters

Hello and welcome fellow knitters of all levels, to my knitting on a budget top tips blog post. We are all here because we love to knit, or want to learn to knit but the current price increases of...everything (!) may be impacting your knitting choices.

Alice, a white female knitting teacher's hands are knitting with wooden needles.
Knitting on a budget is easy and manageable.

Worry not, this blog post will cover my tried and true top tips for knitting on a budget and they will work for you.

When Were You Knitting on a Budget?

I started knitting as a jobbing TV and Theatre actor in my 20's. Funds were very 'ebb and flow' and I had quickly developed an obsession for knitting (the best way to pass the frequent waiting times on TV sets/in trailers) and a taste for beautiful yarns.

Alice, a white female knitting teacher smiles in a newly knitted hat
With one of my many just finished hats.

I initially started knitting using acrylic yarns, they are cheap, often colourful and fed my newly discovered fascination with knitting all the things, all the time. But the quality of acrylics can dramatically differ. I soon discovered some of the projects I had lovingly knitted for myself or loved ones, weren't holding up after some basic wear and tear. Or, as I rather traumatically discovered, having left the house one day, proudly wearing a newly cast off sweater...made a body feel rather sweaty and clammy and, at the same time, cold, within a matter of hours.

So I had the taste, the demand and the appreciation for good quality knitting yarns and patterns...but not the budget. I soon developed these go to tips for knitting on a budget and am delighted to share them with you.

1. Happily Donated Knitting Materials

I quickly discovered that the more I talked about my love of knitting to people, the more they responded with offering me knitting needles (and sometimes bags of yarn). Either they themselves had started knitting and for some reason and not continued it, so had accumulated unused knitting needles, yarn, knitting books, stitch markers, stitch name it, people were literally throwing them at me.

A basket of multi coloured yarn sits on a wooden table
Yarn deserves to be knitted

So, do not be shy, tell people you want to learn to knit, share your new interest. You may even find the courage to ask people, directly or on Facebook groups, if anyone has any knitting materials they would like to find an eager and enthusiastic home for. You'll be amazed how much can come your way. Ask and ye shall receive!

A wooden box with a selection of knitting needles
Some of my knitting needles are older than me!

I still knit with loads of the knitting needles I was given in those early days, and the yarn I have either knitted or...and this leads to my next tip, swapped!

Because I had been given so many bags of knitting materials from people, and often their delighted grandmothers, who sadly, thanks to arthritis, were no longer able to use their knitting kits, I often had multiples of knitting needle sizes. Depending on the generation of your generous knitting donors, you will often get a stack of needles in a small range of sizes.

2. Swap Knitting Materials

Through local knitting stores I found knitting communities and new friends. It was in these communities I learnt about swapping yarn and needles.

Don't fancy joining your local knitting group? No fear, you may have a friend or family member who already knits and would be happy to either swap yarns with you, if you each have something that works for the other in your stash. Alternatively you can also use each other as a knitting needle and notions library.

A white hand in a knitted glove holds a bunch of wooden knitting needles
Swap, Lend, Borrow!

If I couldn't afford to buy a new knitting needle in a size that was vital for the knitting project I wanted to do, I would ask my fellow knitter chums if anyone had that size I could borrow. As long as you return it in good condition, very few people will refuse your request.

I have lent out so many knitting needles over the years I started a little loaner notebook to keep a record of who my knitting needles were with next time I went to look for them. I always loved knowing they were being used and relied upon to create something beautiful.

3. Secondhand Shops aka Knitting Treasure Troves

If you live in or near a town or city, chances are you have an affordable second hand or charity shop to peruse. You will often find tons of donated knitting needles and yarn, tucked away, maybe in the back, near the books. But they are almost always there.

And if you ask the sales assistants/volunteers, they may share the stash they have yet to put out, to see if it's of interest to you. Not only are these items cheap, but often your budget goes towards helping a social cause or community that will benefit from your custom. Win win!

A garage sale stand with clothes and knick knacks
Knitting treasures to be found!

And before you leave those secondhand stores or garage sales, be sure to check the books for knitting pattern books! Again, some of my long loved, go to knitting patterns have come from knitting pattern books I have collected from charity shops or garage sales. You can often find some very fun, vintage knitting patterns. I have a terrific book from Elle Knitting that dates from the early 80's. Over time I have learnt to adapt these patterns but either way, every trend always comes back around!

4. Quality Yarn Shopping: In the Sweater Racks

If like me, you find knitting in acrylic a bit challenging in the sensory sense, then this tip is right up your street.

Not only can quality, real, natural (and sustainable) yarn be pricey but purchasing enough of it to knit a sweater can really add up. So why not start with an already knitted sweater? While in those second hand and charity stores, or rummaging through the treasure at a garage sale (we Brits call them car boots), make a point of looking through the knitwear on offer.

A rack of knitted sweaters
Imagine the re-knits you could make!

It's essentially yarn shopping, the yarn is just presented differently than in a knitting store. Find a wool sweater in a colour and yarn texture you like, check the feel of it against your skin, in your fingers, all the standard yarn shopping pointers I cover in this blog post: 4 Things to Consider When Buying Yarn and snap it up at a very budget friendly price. Remember to check the label to identify what fibre it is. I consider a 100% merino or lambswool sweater a golden find.

Not only do you now have yarn to knit with, but you know you have plenty to make a sweater with too.

Once you get it home, check which end is easiest to undo, (normally it is the top down), start unravelling and winding and you will soon have a set of beautiful balls of yarn, ready to be re-knitted in whatever you choose.

A few extra tips with this one:

  1. Your reclaimed yarn treasure may benefit from a gentle wool cycle wash before being unravelled.

  2. You may need to cut some of the yarn to get an end and start unravelling.

  3. If you are not sure of the weight of the yarn and therefore the best knitting needle to knit it with, use my last blog post: No Yarn Label, Which Knitting Needle: A Simple Solution to help.

  4. Don't be alarmed that the undone yarn is kinky/wavy, it will still knit up wonderfully.

5. Free Knitting Patterns Galore

So we've covered easy ways to acquire knitting yarn and needles on a budget, but what if the secondhand knitting pattern book offering doesn't spark your creativity?

Well that is where the many free knitting pattern sources come in. You will find loads of free, stylish and contemporary knitting patterns online, available to download and print in just a couple of clicks.

Ravelry is an online knitting community with a huge database of knitting patterns from incredible designers. Many people share free knitting patterns via their connected blog links or Ravelry accounts. Simply create a free account with your email address and a password and start clicking those relevant filter boxes to search the free knitting pattern database.

When you do have some budget, you will also find gorgeous patterns form independent knitwear designers from all over the world available at prices that rarely exceed €10. Not only are the patterns inspiring, but by buying them on Ravelry you are supporting an indie designer and have access to a community who have all knitted the project before and can share tips and advice.

Alice, a white female knitting teacher holds a stack of knitting pattern books
Knitting Patterns to inspire

Another great place to find free knitting patterns are on the websites of some of the big knitting yarn brands themselves. Knitting yarn brands such as; Drops, Lion's Brand Yarns and Debbie Bliss. These companies publish free knitting patterns to encourage you to knit with their yarns. The yarns they recommend you buy for the pattern, can easily be substituted for other yarns of the same yarn weight or gauge. So you can knit the pattern, without the hefty yarn shop price tag.

Alice, a white female knitting teacher smiles with a ball of yarn and bamboo needles
I can't wait to see what knits you make!

I hope these knitting on a budget tips excite and inspire you. Knitting doesn't need to be a privileged hobby and creative outlet. In fact you can also save money by knitting (birthday and holiday gifts, homeware cushions and blankets, baby clothes, winter accessories), and reduce your stress levels while you do it.

That's for another blog post but knitting during stressful times helps create mental space to park the worries and take a well needed and necessary breather before trying to navigate these trying economic times.

If you have any knitting on a budget tips, please share them in the comments. It's so nice to share our experience and help each other.

Before I sign off, I would be remiss in not pointing out that my pre-recorded Beginner Knitting Lessons come with lifetime access. So buy the full course once (with skills that empower you to knit clothing, gloves, hats, scarves, blankets and cushions) and re-use it as many times as you want or need over your knitting journey.

And with that, I wish you happy knitting, whether you are on a budget or not!

PIN it for later

How to Knit on a Budget Yarn Tips Pinterest Pin

If you are a beginner knitter or simply want to brush up on your basic skills, check out my Beginner Knitting course or pick the specific skills class you need with the single class options.

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