Keen for some cost effective crochet ideas but not sure if this is even possible? The good news is crochet is about as cost effective as you make it.
An inexpensive ball of acrylic yarn will set you back maybe $3 (I’m Australian – we don’t get yarn much cheaper than that round these parts so cost effective crochet is a bit harder for us!) and the cheapest bamboo hook will be about $3 too. This is a great little beginner pack and it’s all you need to start learning.
Once you start moving in new directions though, things can start to get mighty expensive. Especially if you become accustomed to using ergonomic hooks and luxury yarns. Projects can cost as little as $5 to make but I’ve seen blankets that can cost $500 plus to make. Which is fine if you have the cash to spare but if you need to tighten your belt a little but you don’t want to give up your favourite hobby, here are a few tips on how to make your cost effective crochet on.
1. Use inexpensive yarn
A single ball of yarn can cost $1 or several hundreds of dollars. Go to Etsy and set the price scale to ‘highest price’ and search ‘yarn’ and you’ll see what I mean. You can get actual gold spun into yarn. For real. If you want to keep your dollars in your pocket stick to acrylic, cotton, cotton blends and less expensive 100% wool varieties. Do your research though – I’m not an acrylic snob at all, in fact I use it often but there are some brands of acrylic that are really yucky to work with and other brands that are lovely and they’re often around the same price. I like Style Craft dk as a good quality affordable yarn and Lion Brand Woolease is also great. I also love little inexpensive balls of cotton from Lincraft or Spotlight (the Aussie version of Joanne’s or Michael’s) – they’re great for making string bags. Cost effective crochet is best achieved through inexpensive yarn because that’s your main cost.
2. Do the maths before you start the project
Particularly with blankets. I’ve fallen into the trap of buying a few balls of on sale yarn, starting a blanket and then going back for more only to find it full price again. Most patterns will tell you how much yarn you need for a project so make sure you buy all of the yarn you need at once to avoid falling into the trap of sale yarn.
If you’re making simple blankets and experimenting yourself, make sure you do a practice swatch, take note of how much yarn it uses and do the proper calculation on how much yarn you need. You don’t want to estimate needing five balls of $3 yarn when you really need fifteen balls. That’s the opposite of cost effective crochet.
3. Make small things
Blankets are expensive no matter what kind of yarn you use. Baby blankets can be cost effective but even then you’re looking at several balls of yarn at least and it all starts to add up. Hats, arm warmers, scarves, beanies, slippers, bags, shawls and small homewares use much less yarn than other projects so if you want to cut down on yarn buying, make small stuff. If cost effective crochet is your aim, avoid enormous projects like blankets or big garments.
4. Ignore anyone who tells you crochet uses more yarn
This is a weird rumour I read a while ago and I assumed it was true but it turns out it’s not. If you’re a multi-disciplined crafter, don’t turn to your knitting needles to save yarn. Crocheting uses only marginally more yarn than knitting in one particular stitch, in the rest crocheting uses less yarn. I’ve seen lots of online chatter about how you should knit instead of crochet to save yarn but it turns out, that’s not true!
5. Make lux items instead of buying them
If you’ve ever walked past a delicious merino scarf in a designer store and nearly choked when you saw the $300 price tag, you can easily make a big delicious merino scarf for less than $100. That still might be out of your price range but it’s an enormous saving for special gifts or fancy items you want to make yourself. My Nomad Shawl probably cost around $60 to make and it’s super luxurious and I wear it constantly. It would easily be $300 in a shop and that’s before you count the 20 plus hours it took to make it. Money can’t buy items like that. Cost effective crochet doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not spending a lot of money – it can also be about cost reduction.
6. Buy inexpensive hooks
Full confession – I’m a Clover hook junkie but that may be because they were the first style of crochet hook I tried that wasn’t a cheap bamboo one. I bought a set of Clovers shortly after I started crocheting for about $60 and it was the best thing I ever did. I’ll be using them for years. If you can’t fork over $60 for a set of Clovers, you can get inexpensive ergonomic hook sets online that will do the trick. Here are some cost effective crochet hook sets you can grab on Amazon.
7. Thrift everything
Always check your local op shop or thrift store. The pickings are pretty slim in Australia – there seemed to be limited crocheting publications so most thrift stores have all the same stuff. I’m pretty sure you couldn’t buy any hooks other than Aero steel hooks (which are great!) back in the day so we don’t have a lot of fancy vintage hooks on offer. The yarn pickings are often quite good though. I’ve found some amazing vintage Patons yarn in a plastic bag with a gorgeous crochet dress pattern for $8.
8. Recycle your unworn knits into yarn
I’m relatively new at this but I’ve been keeping an eye out for 100% cotton sweaters in second hand shops and then unravelling them. There’s a bit of an art to it and you need to be quite patient but I got several very large balls of 100% cotton yarn from a cricket vest that cost me $5. I don’t know exactly how much it is in yards but it’s a lot. I’ve got a pink sweater just waiting to be unravelled and turned into something. Tips – go with the chunky knits. Thin knits are a nightmare to unravel. Also choose natural or lux fibres. There’s no point in spending all that time unravelling inexpensive acrylic that you could buy new for the same price.
9. Recyle t-shirts into yarn
You can buy a large ball of t-shirt yarn for about $10 but if you want to get super thrifty you can cut up an old t-shirt to make your own t-shirt yarn. My basket pattern uses t-shirt yarn and recycled t-shirt yarn would look awesome in this is pattern.
10. Ditto sheets and towels
You can cut sheets and towels into long strips and make bath mats, door mats and even wall hangings out of them. It’s a great way to use up old sheets you can’t use anymore.
11. Readjust your thinking
Crochet IS a cost effective hobby. The entry point is $6 and from there the sky is the limit as long as your budget fits.
I also want to give you permission to spend money (if your budget allows) on the thing you love doing. There seems to be a lot of hobby guilt and hiding-the-yarn-stash-from-the-husband kind of stuff going on in the crochet community and I think we should own our hobbies, invest in them and not feel guilty. I spend a fair amount of money on good quality hooks and lovely yarn and I haven’t even scratched the surface of what my partner spends on his photography hobby. My best mate has a golfer husband. A way more expensive hobby than crochet. We also haven’t bought a commercial baby gift, wedding gift or birthday present in 5 years. If anything I’m SAVING us money with my hobby. If you have the funds, grab that Clover hook set and don’t feel guilty about it.
Do you have any cost effective crochet tips to share? How do you keep your crochet costs down?