Tips for the Frugal Crocheter

By Erin Burger – 17 Comments

Crocheting can be very rewarding and calming, but sometimes it can also be a very expensive hobby to maintain. Over time I have come up with a few tips and have been taught a few things by other crocheters and knitters I have met in my life.

Stay Organized! Keeping track of the yarn you have at home helps to prevent you from buying unneeded yarn. Keep an index card in your purse and write down what yarn you are buying right after you buy it. When you’ve finished a project, cross that yarn off your card.

Organizing yarn in clear, separate containers is also a great way to prevent from buying unneeded yarns. I use clear craft (or childrens toy) towers with three or more large drawers that can be purchased very inexpensively at any walmart, target or kmart. If the yarns are properly organized by color or yarn weight, you are less likely to buy a yarn you already have!

Don’t purchase Stitch Markers! There are many alternative methods to marking stitches. Some I’ve learned over the years include one inch pipe cleaners, different colored yarn loosely tied into place, bobby pins, paper clips or small snap barrettes (my personal favorite).

Recycle Used Supplies Why buy fiberfill or any other stuffing product? Cut up some plastic grocery bags (if you can spare any from your Plarn projects) and use that for stuffing. You can also use unwanted ends and scraps from finished projects for stuffing as well!

Recycling Previously Used Yarn
is also an excellent money saving and greener way of getting yarn for new projects. While you’re at the thrift store looking for sweaters, pick up a few cheap purses and reuse the zippers, handles, clasps and buttons!

Crochet Your Christmas Presents! Everyone loves a handmade Christmas gift and crocheting is a very versatile craft. Shawls for Mom, blankets for siblings, tree ornaments for the new couple, slippers for friends, cowls for that special friend, home decorations for the new homeowner, the list could go on and on.

Schedule Your Time! They say time is money and it happens to be one of the negatives about life. But if you properly schedule your day to include crocheting, it can be a great help. Plan to get all of your housework done before dark so you can spend an evening comfy in front of the t.v. with your crochet work. Have a kit ready with works in progress in a clear bag (the bags that sheets, pillowcases and comforters work well for large projects, freezer bags work for smaller projects) so you can get started right away without scrounging around for the right yarn or hook.
I work on projects in spurts through my day. I have a designated area in our home and in the space between my ‘working couch’ and the end table I have bags of works in progress waiting for me. I crochet for a half hour at a time, do laundry, answer client emails, work on other writing assignments, crochet for another half hour, and so on throughout my day.

Do you have any other tips to add to my list? Have any questions or comments? Please share here!

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17 Comments

  1. Laurie says:

    Often you can find great prices for yarn online. I have one that’s a favorite and one I found but have yet to try….looking for the next big project before I order.

    Also, don’t buy yarn you don’t need just because it’s on sale. It’s one thing to pick up a ton of whatever because it’s a great price and you use it all the time. It’s another to grab the last few clearance balls of cashmere if you’ve never used cashmere and don’t already have a project in mind.

    I love the idea of pipe cleaners as stitch markers! I usually use scraps of yarn. I HAVE some plastic split ring stitch markers because they came bundled with my hook set, but I rarely use them.

  2. Diane says:

    I can’t throw away even the smallest bit of yarn, I swear, so I do use ‘orts’ as stuffing for many of my projects and longer ones as stitch markers. If there’s enough of it to make a granny’s daughter, well, there’s another granny square begun!
    Borrowing or sharing is another frugal thing to do if you can. I’ve got a nice collection of double-ended hooks so if one of my co-workers wants to learn or try out the technique, come borrow mine before you buy your own! Another co-worker has the hairpin lace loom and the big knitting needle for broomstick lace, so borrow hers and see how it goes before you spend money on your own.

  3. Laurie says:

    Just last night I finally figured out a use for those cones that yarn comes on (yes, I use so much cotton at this point, I buy it by the cone): Instead of stuffing crocheted Christmas trees or buying styro cones, use the cardboard ones! They won’t dent AND they aren’t synthetic! They’ll also hold their shape way better than polyfill.

  4. nancy says:

    I save scraps of yarn also if I have a small to medium size ball i use it as a teaching tool.I use the length of for making cat in the cradle for the kids or now grandkids.the small bits become my stitch markers I also use small safety pins.
    I also like to recycle..a toiletpaper roll becomes the filling for a crocheted baby bottle or legs.Thanks for the tip Laurie about the cones i have a few and didn’t know what to do with them(just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of) Thanks Rachel for all the great tips and info.

  5. Cami says:

    Ravelry has a function to keep track of yarn. It is helpful not only to make sure we donĀ“t overbuy yarn, but also to remind us which yarn we have already purchased (or picked out) for specific projects.

    For example, I picked out a pattern and yarn for a certain sweater-coat and I needed about 12 balls. I knew I needed that, so I waited until the yarn went on sale and bought it then. I was glad I had put it into Ravelry beforehand, because although I remembered the manufacturer, I had forgotten the exact type and color I wanted.

    The result was I got a 25% discount on the entire yarn purchase, AND free shipping.

  6. Cary2Crafty says:

    One (of many) weakness that I have is that I’m a yarn-a-holic. I do buy yarn when it’s on sale – but only if it’s my favorite brand. I crochet for charity, so I’ll always have a use for whatever I have in my stash. Another of my weaknesses is those “green” bags you can get for 99 cents at grocery stores of pharmacies. They are perfect for holding the supplies I need for each project. I have a “gift card tin” that I purchased from AC Moore that I fill with my yarn needles, embroidery scissors, tape measure, and short pencil and post-it pad. I’m sure there’d be room for homemade stitch markers if I used them.

  7. sarah says:

    Great tips, Rachel! Thanks for sharing :)

  8. Gaz says:

    Not only do I only buy yarn when I actually need it – either to restock a color I use frequenty or for a new project – but I wait until I have a coupon. If you have an AC Moore, Michaels or Jo-Ann Fabric nearby they have email lists and email a 40 or 50% off coupon almost weekly, and they’re usually in the Sunday flyers as well. Michaels and AC Moore also often have a coupon good the next week print with your receipt. I will buy my supplies 1 item at a time so I can use a coupon for each. Since you can only use 1 coupon per purchase per day I either buy 1 item at AC Moore and 1 at Michaels (they’re close enough to each other and my house that it’s not enough of a waste of gas to cancel out the savings) or I drag my fiancee along and make him do one of the transactions. The coupons are also good all week so if I have to buy 1 item on Monday then wait until Wednesday to buy another it’s no big deal.
    Also the majority of the hooks I have used to belong to my mother. She doesn’t have time to crochet much anymore, and when she does she always uses this 1 plastic G hook that I don’t like so it works out. The few hooks I did purchase I used coupons for as well. I’m crazy about coupons.

  9. cynthia says:

    Great ideas everyone…another spot to look for yarn is garage sales. I went to one this summer where new skeins of yarn were only $1.00 and some partially used 50 cents. I also found crochet hooks and knitting needles for very little $$.What a steal!! Needless to say, I stocked ahead for a few Christmas, House-warming, and Bridal Shower projects(gifts). Rachael, I love your site..Especially the easy to follow crochet patterns. Thank-you, Thank-you, Thank-you for making this available.

  10. Bethintx1 says:

    There are thousands of free patterns for scrap projects on line. Just do a search!
    I have a free pattern with a video tutorial for a scrappy steps afghan you can find on You Tube.
    I also love Ravelry. Whenever you purchase yarn, put it in your Ravelry stash. It’s a great site for keeping track of your yarn and patterns. You can even do a search for a pattern in your library that uses the yarn in your stash! For me it’s taking a long time to get it all organized, because my current stash and pattern collection is so large…but once it’s finished, I can set up a queue for the patterns I’m planning and get to crocheting.
    Thank you, Rachel for this wonderful site. I visit with every newsletter!
    Beth

  11. Barb says:

    Excellent suggestions.
    I often crochet small granny squares with the remains of the yarn from various projects, always considering the colors and weight of the remnants. They can quickly be sewn together as needed for a quick gift; there are oodles of patterns for grannies-everything from place mats to afghans, doggy vests to dishcloths.
    Joanne’s Fabrics on-line offers great sales on yarn and frequently free shipping, and I wait for both offers before buying.

  12. Laurie says:

    Hey Barb! couponcabin.com almost always has a free ship coupon for Joann so even if joann.com isn’t advertising free shipping, you might be able to get it. Another tip: Michael’s (if there’s one near you because they don’t sell online) full prices on yarn are often lower than Joann’s sale prices.

  13. Amanda says:

    I usually get my yarn from Michaels/Joann Fabrics when the yarn is on sale and armed with the 40-50% coupons! :) I’ve also found that you can get really good prices on yarn in thrift stores, garage sales, estate sales, and church resale stores. There are so many places that you can find yarn at really good prices! :)

    With my scarp yarn I usually make multi-colored items…I use them to make interesting scarfs, hats, dishcloths, gloves, mittens, fingerless gloves, etc…

    I try not to let anything go to waste! :)

  14. Merry says:

    A whole lot of great tips for getting organised and saving money! thanks everyone. Here are my tips – I have started to make a collection of flowers and leaves (shapes and sizes depend on left-over yarn length) which I pop into a plastic sandwich bag so I can see all the colours. Each time I finish a project I will be delving into that bag to pick out flowers and leaves to embellish my plain items with.

    Also, recently, I decided to bag all my cotton yarn in groups of similar colours (all blues, all greens and teals together, all reds and pinks together etc.) using small fold-over sandwich bags to store them in a shoe-box. This way I can find the colour I need easily, and they don’t unravel and tangle with all the other yarns in the box. The larger balls of yarn got put away in their own sandwich bags. This also prevents the yarns from getting dirty, especially as I have several whites and other light colours.

  15. Renata says:

    I love the idea of pipe cleaners for stitch markers! I had always used a small strand of extra yarn, which is pretty hard to jam inside a stitch of yarn. Thank you! This site is awesome.

  16. Peggy says:

    I love the idea of using plastic bags for stuffing. When I moved earlier this year, I ended up recycling a huge bagful of bags (aka my bag o’bags) as I had no place to put them.

    Here’s a great idea for storing those bags from my sister, Mary Sue — fold them the way you would to make plarn (flatten the bag, then fold in half and in half again – parallel to the sides — until you get the width you want, then fold from each end in the size you want the length to be — around 2-3″ works well, and place the final 2 folded pieces into one fold. Flatten as needed to be compact. You can keep so many more bags this way in much less space; I keep mine in ziptop bags by color or pattern. Susie (my family’s nickname for my sister) keeps hers altogether to use for dog poop removal; she and her family have a lovely Norwegian Elkhound named Seven, whose sister Elke lives across their backyard.

  17. Jo says:

    I have on on going afghan that I call a hobo afghan. I use my leftover yarn and keep adding to this afghan. No rhyme or reason. Just a lot of different colors. I make smaller ones for my grandchildren and have a few here at the house for when they sleep over. You will be surprised how fast they work up. I just use a double crochet. It just takes a few minutes to add your leftover yarn or scraps of yarn to it at the end of a project.

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