Knitting isn’t exactly the cheapest of hobbies. There is actually a big debate in the knitting world right now about the accessibility and affordability of knitting while also ensuring that knitwear designers and yarn dyers are paid their worth. And although the days of buying your yarn on layaway are long gone (which is how my grandmother used to buy larger quantities in the same dye lot for sweaters and garments), there are other ways to get into knitting without breaking the bank. Here are 5 ways to make knitting more affordable to learn, find patterns and source yarn.
YouTube literally saved my when it came to knitting. As I mentioned in my “origin story” I struggled to get beyond knitting a square. And anyone who has knitted a scarf knows, it gets dull pretty fast. When I picked up my knitting again in 2014, I discovered the beauty that is YouTube. Anything in a pattern I didn’t understand or couldn’t quite visualize on my needles, Google that shit! Someone out there has created a video explaining exactly what you need to see to help you get over your knitting slump. And it’s free! Most YouTubers have ads on their videos to help them build revenue but that does not come out of your pocket directly.
I’ll be honest with you, of course, like most things on YouTube, there is a lot of crap. But one of the BEST resources for learning to knit (whether you are a novice or an advance knitter – we can all always learn something new) is Very Pink Knits (verypink.com). Stacey’s videos are the best! I always look for a very pink video before I watch anything else. She has some free and paid patterns as well to go along with some of her more extensive video series.
The Local Library
Investing in books, magazines and knitting patterns can get expensive. While I do think it is important to pay a knitwear designers for their hard work, it’s understandable that this isn’t always an option for everyone. Yes, there are some great free patterns online but sometimes you want something a little bit more. If you don’t want to dish out for a monthly subscription to Knit Scene, check out your local library! Often libraries have magazine subscriptions even to the most niche of topics. Or check out the craft section for a special knitting book.
Another trend that is popping up in my neighbourhood is the little library – people place small hutches on their property and people take books as they need (with the expectation that they’ll also donate a book or two). If you have one near you, check it out to see if anyone has left a knitting book that needs a new home.
Yard Sales/Secondhand Stores
Yard sales, estate sales and thrift stores are a great place to get knitting tools and resources! Even one of my local yarn shops has a collection of “vintage” knitting needles for sale. For yard and estate sales, look for people who are moving or downsizing and needing to reduce the amount of stuff they have accumulated in their home over the years. You might find everything from unused yarn, knitting needles and patterns/books.
Thrift, vintage, secondhand. Whatever you want to call it! It’s a great opportunity to give new life to older things. Many people who don’t want to bother with a yard sale donate or sell their unwanted stuff to these shops. And the store won’t sell junk – they sort through and find the quality items to put on their shelves. Again, you may be able to find yarn, needles and books for sale if you’re willing to hunt for it.
Another great thing about thrift stores in the sweater aisle! That’s right, you can repurpose an old sweater into yarn and make it something new! There is a bit of a trick to make sure it doesn’t come apart in pieces and there are certain seams and finishes that you should look for but, if you have the patience and an eye for quality fibre, this may be an option for you!
As I mentioned, yarn ain’t cheap. Especially if you want high quality, beautifully dyed fibres. The yarn aisle at Michael’s is expanding but the selection is limited especially if you lean more toward natural fibres such as wool and alpaca. So maybe consider joining a fibre swap! A fibre swap is especially great if you have an excessive yarn stash that has a skein or two of yarn that you bought but a) now hate the colour, b) now hate the texture or c) didn’t have a pattern in mind and can’t for the life of you find an appropriate pattern. Basically, a fibre swap connects you with other fibre enthusiasts and you SWAP YARN! There is usually an approximate value required and you can’t give your partner crap but if you have some quality yarn in your stash, there is nothing wrong with shopping there rather than buying something new.
Join a Knitting Circle
Finding a local community group of knitters is a great resources to have! When you have knitting buddies, there is no shortage of knitting support and resources. Most knitting groups are free or low cost to participate and even if they are hosted by a local yarn shop, there is no obligation to buy. Search your local community groups on Facebook or visit the local yarn shop to inquire! Even if the shop doesn’t host, they may have intel into where a group meets in your community. Knitting circles have been around as long as the craft itself and nothing is better than connecting with like minded men and women who share you passion for knitting and yarn; and who better to commiserate when you had to frog 100 rows of your sweater because of one small mistake you just couldn’t let go of.
What are some of your favourite free or low cost knitting resources? I’d love to know… share in the comments below!