Yarn & Money
by Kitty Quitmeyer
Kitty Quitmeyer is passionate about yarn crafting as an art and as a coping mechanism. She knits and crochets in the Panamanian rainforest, where she operates Digital Naturalism Laboratories with her partner, Andrew Quitmeyer. Continue reading for a comic about Kitty's thoughts on the intersection between yarn and money!
Crafting is one of the most helpful techniques I know for coping with stress. But sometimes, the cost of supplies can actually add to my anxiety! It can be hard to decide how much is ok to spend on a hobby. Luckily, there are lots of ways to avoid splurging too much on yarn, knitting needles, and crochet hooks.
For some projects, buying nice yarn is crucial. A scratchy acrylic hat is less comforting than one made out of a softer yarn, if you can afford it. And it feels good to support local and boutique yarn makers by spending a little more money on the beautiful works of art they sell by the hank. But some of the things that I knit and crochet, like baskets or toys, don’t need to be made from cashmere or baby alpaca, and there are lots of ways to find materials for not much money.
One of my favorite resources for inexpensive crafting supplies is when a yarn shop has an estate wool section. I learned about these at the exemplary Eugene Textile Center (ETC) in Eugene, OR. Shop owners hunt down pre-owned, unwanted yarn, and they sell it by weight for low prices. They also have a great used equipment section where they resell looms, spinning wheels, and the like. If you’re lucky enough to live near a yarn shop like ETC, you’ll find all sorts of delightful yarns and crafting notions for very little money.
When you’re looking for supplies, make sure to call on your circle of crafty friends! You could organize a stash swap with your knitting circle, much like a clothing swap. Just like with our wardrobes, most of us end up with a few odd items that we don’t put to good use. Someone else might adore the yarn that has been ignored in your stash bag for years. I also like to ask my friends for their leftover scraps of yarn from completed projects. Good uses for small amounts of yarn include making tiny amigurumi; projects with lots of stripes and colors; yarn embroidery; and stuffing for toys and pillows.
There are lots of good options for searching out cheap or even free yarn online. If you search out the thrift stores in your area, you might find yarn and tools, and if you enjoy frogging, you can sometimes unravel thrift sweaters and salvage the yarn. I’ve bought yarn on Craigslist, and meeting up with a stranger for an underground yarn deal can feel like a silly, illicit thrill. Some people even list free unwanted crafting supplies on Freecycle – they just want the unused yarn out of their house.
Have you ever tried making plastic yarn, or plarn? I love upcycling, and I find knitting and crocheting with plarn to be very satisfying. You can make pretty much anything out of plarn, although I personally use it for non-clothing items, such as baskets and canteen slings. You may say, “I live in an area with a plastic bag ban,” or “I always bring my own bag.” That’s excellent! But if you ask your neighbors and friends, you’ll probably find someone with a hoard of plastic bags under the sink that they don’t want. And unfortunately, so many products still come in stretchy plastic packaging, and you can keep that out of the landfill by reusing it for plarn. If you’d like to try making plarn but don’t know how, just Google until you find a tutorial that works for you! Here’s a sample from Plastic Bag Crafts: http://www.plasticbagcrafts.com/make-plarn/.
Kitty Quitmeyer is passionate about yarn crafting as an art and as a coping mechanism. She knits and crochets in the Panamanian rainforest, where she operates Digital Naturalism Laboratories with her partner, Andrew Quitmeyer. To learn more about the lab, please visit dinalab.net. To see more of Kitty’s crafts, visit her website at wellreadpanda.com or see her on Instagram @well.read.panda.