Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Penny Pincher's Guide to Cheapskate Knitting - Part 3 - Frugal Yarn & Knitting Supply Sources

I love searching for a good bargain on yarn and knitting supplies and I've spent countless hours honing my cheapskate buying skills (and adding to my frighteningly large yarn stash).  It provides welcome recreation and I find it relaxing on the weekends - my reward for working another week in the financial world and much more fun than grocery shopping.

I am on the lookout for items that can be used for knitting supply/yarn storage everywhere I shop.  Some of my favorite containers came from Ikea.  My double-pointed needles are housed in a "Lidan" bag which was intended as toiletry storage and the "Flort" remote control pocket on my favorite chair keeps my knitting needles and supplies handy.  All sizes of "Expedit" shelving, which is divided into cubes, is ideal for yarn storage with or without the optional fabric "Drona" drawers which will hide an entire project.

There are specific local craft places I look first depending on what I'm searching for.  When I need any good, functional yarn or a knitting tool/needles quickly, I'm always prepared with coupons for Joann's, two of which are conveniently located minutes from my place.  If you're not on Joann's mailing list, get there quick.  They send out a mailer every few weeks that has at least one 40-50% off an item coupon and sometimes several.  They also email coupons regularly, and are willing to accept Michael's (and other craft store) coupons.   Last weekend I walked in with 10 coupons for 40-50% off  any regularly-priced item and stocked up on enough Lion Brand "Amazing" to knit a sweater, which I couldn't have justified at full price.

I have amassed an impressive Clover bamboo single and double point needle collection, all bought with 40-50% off coupons.  There's nothing quite as satisfying as the scritch-scritch of basic bamboo needles.  Several times a year, Joann's  has 10-20% off everything coupons for both regular and sale-priced items.  That is a particularly good time to stock up on needles, crochet hooks, cable needles, stitch markers and any other fun tools you've been wanting to try out (perhaps those pricey rosewood single points).

Michael's also offers coupons, although they don't ever mail me anything and I'm on their mailing list.  I find their coupons online (sometimes it involves Googling) and print them for use at the physical store location near my place or at Joann's.  Several weeks ago I stopped in to use a 20% off everything coupon I had printed online for them.  I was thrilled to find a bunch of unadvertised yarn specials on brands/colors they were closing out, but found when I tried to check my cartload of yarn that the coupon didn't cover closeouts, only sale and regular priced items.  I kept half of the yarn that I couldn't live without since it was almost half-price on closeout.  Michael's tends to seriously discount certain colors and varieties of yarn several times a year to make way for new spring and fall layouts, so check in periodically.

Keeping an open mind about yarn brands and materials is important when shopping at Michael's and Joann's (and AC Moore, Craft Warehouse, Hobby Lobby and other big craft stores).  Even "Yarn Snobs" can have a satisfying shopping experience if remaining open to possiblity.  I used to be the worst of the brand snobs when I owned my yarn shop and looked down my nose at any Lion Brand, Red Heart, Bernat and Caron yarn for their perceived lower-quality, acrylic-laden yarns.  I've come to appreciate many of the brands I once avoided and I've always had a soft spot for Paton's yarns.

Some of my perennial craft store yarn go-to's are Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool, Paton's Classic Wool, all Red Heart's Stitch Nation yarns, Paton's Kroy sock yarn, Red Heart's Heart & Sole sock yarn (love the aloe), Caron's Spa (acrylic & bamboo), Paton's Grace (awesome sheen & drape cotton), Bernat Baby Cakes (cotton/acrylic baby yarn), Lion Brand Baby Wool, and I am not ashamed to be rather fond of Lion Brand Wool Ease (easy-care and cheap).  I'm okay with acrylic involvement these days as long as the yarn in question has at least a token amount of some natural fiber.

In my next blog entry I will tackle the massive online discount yarn treasure trove.  Look out!