7 Ways to Manage Your Knitting (Yarn) Habit

Us knitters, and other yarnists, frequently have a bit of an addiction problem.  We love yarn.  We love our craft.  We love fantasizing about our next project and then we buy knitting supplies for it:  yarn, needles, notions, whatever.  the problem is that our eyes are usually too big for our stomachs, so to speak.  Instead of a drug habit, we have a knitting habit.

The good news is that a knitting (yarn) habit is legal and socially acceptable, more or less.  Unless you’re buying yarn when you should be paying the rent or buying groceries, you’re probably ok.  Unless the size of your stash is forcing you to park on the street so you can move into the garage…

But your pocketbook and your family may not feel the same way about your hobby, so it makes sense to come up with some strategies to manage your knitting habit.

Here are some other reasons to adopt some strategies for managing your hobby/addiction:

  1. It will help you to achieve your knitting goals.
  2. It might save your marriage/relationship.
  3. It’ll save you money.
  4. You could make a little money.  You’ll enjoy your knitting more if you aren’t feeling guilty about it.

Right now, there’s global inflation going on.  No matter where you live, you’re counting your pennies.  What’s a knitter, or yarnist, to do?

Setting Goals

Every January I consider whether or not I should set knitting goals for the year.  Every year, I decide, “Nah, what’s the point?  It’ll just stress me out when I don’t reach them.”

It’s a valid point, but what if I set financially-oriented goals?   I could decide that:

  • I won’t buy any yarn until I’ve made projects X, Y, and Z.
  • I won’t buy any yarn until I’ve used up half of my stash.
  • I’ll set aside $X every month for yarn and treat it like a Christmas club account.  (Ideally, it would be a separate account, so you wouldn’t be spending money from your regular checking account on your knitting supplies.)
  • I’ll set and stick to a yarn budget of $X/year.

I’ve listed yarn buying goals here because yarn is the most expensive part of knitting.  It’s easy to build up a sizeable and valuable needle collection over time, but needles don’t get used up with every project.  You can easily change the list from yarn to “knitting supplies,” whatever works best for you

Olive Branch

Knitting and Your Significant Other

I remember reading a study someplace, several years ago, that men and women spend about the same amount of money on their hobbies, they just do it differently. Men will buy less often, but their toys tend to be much more expensive. Women buy more often, but our purchases are smaller and less expensive. Based on this, I’m going to assume that your knitting and yarn habit isn’t any more expensive than your significant other’s hobby purchases.

You can try pointing out all this to your SO, but they’ll probably be more impressed if you have a plan you can point to.  See the above list.  (Just think, if you have a plan, you can ask them to have one, too!  Probably a good idea in the middle of global inflation.)

Four Money Saving Strategies for the Yarnist

  1. Most don’t think about this, but yarn is (somewhat) reusable.  For example, I read about one woman who decided to learn to knit, so she went and bought some yarn.  Then she started knitting.  After it got to a certain point, she ripped it all out and started over.  She did that over and over again until her technique improved enough to justify making a real knitted project.  Or the yarn wore out.  (Don’t do this with expensive yarn!)

2. In a similar strategy, you could go to a thrift store and buy a knitted sweater, frog it, and use the yarn to knit your project.  You’ll have to get the yarn wet to get all the kinks out before winding it back into a ball or cake, so it’s a fair amount of work, but you could end up with some nice yarn that way for very little money.

3. Yarn sales season!  It’s summer, and what’s a yarn store to do?  Everyone wants to go to the beach, not sit inside and knit.  Yarn stores don’t disappear when the weather warms, so they have to tempt you away from the beach.  Obviously, really good yarn sales are the way to go!  A lot of them are pretty big ones, too.  I think the ones around Christmas are good, too, but that will set you up for the next year, not for all the knitting you want to get done before this fall and winter.

4.  One of my favorite things to do is go to my local yarn store (LYS) and buy from their clearance or discontinued bin.  I’ve gotten a lot of good yarn that way, but make sure you’re only buying quantities large enough for what you’re making.  Otherwise, you’ll end up with a stash full of colors and dye lots too small to make a scarf, unless you do a lot of stranded colorwork.

Why so grumpy, Ben?

Making Money from Your Knitting

What’s better than saving money?  Earning more of it!  Yes, even a beginner can become good enough at knitting to make something salable.

  • If your knitting is uneven and full of holes, knit for punks or zombies.  It’s not flawed, it’s counterculture!
  • Think outside the box.  Knitting isn’t just hats, scarves, mittens, and sweaters.
  • You’ll probably make more on small projects than big ones.
  • If you have other needle skills like, embroidery, crochet, etc. consider combining them with your knitting to create something really unique.
  • Check the online sites for what’s trending now, but be aware that, unless you’re a fast knitter, your project won’t be done until some time in the future when trends may have changed.  In other words, plan ahead, and check to see what was popular at the same time last year.
  • Use your own design.  Assume any pattern less than 91 years old is subject to copyright laws.
  • Value your time and skill when price setting.

If you use a pattern written by someone else, copyright laws apply.  They can haul you into court for copyright infringement.  Living in a different country won’t protect you, either. This is definitely “consult your attorney” territory.  At the very least, read Knitty’s article on knitting and copyright law.  https://knitty.com/ISSUEfall03/FEATcopyright.html

On the other hand, if it’s your own pattern, you’re in the clear, as long as it’s really your original pattern.

You can always sell your pattern, too.  This is a very popular strategy with knitters, but you may have to give away a pattern or two to attract a following.

Where to sell?  Etsy, of course!  Also, farmers’ markets, local stores, your own website, and other online sites that specialize in unique and handmade goods.  You’ll have to do some research to find what suits your product and wallet best.

Best of all, if your knitting is paying for itself, you have nothing to feel guilty about!

Final Thoughts

There are lots of reasons to manage your knitting (yarn) habit, from your family relationships to your bank account and lots in between.  Deciding to manage your habit, and following through, will demand discipline from you.  It will also demand you use your imagination and creativity to come up with strategies, and motivations, that will help you on your journey.

The benefits are big.  Imagine coming up with a new source of income, or getting your stash under control!  The resulting improvement in your self-esteem could lead you anywhere!

What are your knitting challenges and how have you learned to manage them?  Let me know below.

As always, thanks for reading!

Leave a Comment