Bitty Budget: Think of alternatives

Welcome to the second post in my Bitty Budget series. Here, I will share tips both large and small that I use to keep my knitting as efficient as possible.

Tip #2: Think of alternatives.

Intermediate knitting techniques often require extra bits and pieces beyond your needles and yarn. While it’s convenient to just buy the name-brand tools, you may not need to. I encourage you to think outside the box and find alternatives to conventional knitting tools. Here are a few that I’ve discovered (either on my own or from someone else) to get you started:

Blocking mats. These things can sure be expensive! While higher-end boards and mats may boast high quality and greater durability, there is certainly no need to shell out so much money. I picked up a set of interlocking foam mats from the toy section at Target for $12. (You could probably find them even cheaper at a thrift store.) Sturdy cardboard is also an option. I have also heard of knitters who just pin their projects to a mattress. (Extra tip: Use a smooth strand of cotton, nylon or even cord instead of shelling out for blocking wires.)

Bitty Knitter

Maybe I'm just justifying my thrifty ways, but I think my rainbow blocking mats are quite pretty.

Yarn bowl. I will admit, I own a beautiful yarn bowl that was a Christmas gift. But I know that it was one pricey gift. Before I had the bowl, I always found my yarn sliding off my lap into the dusty oblivion under the couch or bed. To ward this off, an empty tissue box works as a cheap makeshift yarn bowl. Other knitters have used wet wipe containers and paper towel spools.

Bitty Knitter

Using a tissue box is especially fun if it's got this colorful and bold of a pattern.

Needle holders. There are plenty of beautiful, fancy holders that are specifically designed to hold needles. I would love to own some in the future. For now, I’ve enlisted the help of spare pencil, toothbrush and glasses holders I’ve found lying around. They’re not as pretty as some of the handmade holders I’ve seen online, but since I was able to keep up a coordinating color scheme, I can’t complain. (Extra tip: There’s no need to buy a cable needle; a DPN makes an excellent substitute. I’ve even heard of daredevil knitters who simply suspend their live cable stitches, then pick them back up later.)

Bitty Knitter

My needle storage solution: wide pencil pouch for my fixed circulars, toothbrush holder for my tall DPNs and a glasses case for shorter DPNs and crochet hooks.

Stitch markers. These are probably some of the cheapest purchases in knitting, but if you’re looking to save a few bucks, any ring-shaped objects will work (keyrings, large beads, etc.). Or on the quick, snip and tie some out of your scrap yarn.

Bitty Knitter

Using scrap yarn to make stitch markers is a nice way to put really small amounts of leftover yarn to use. I like to make mine out of the pieces that get cut off after weaving in ends.

Share your stories: What are some of your money-saving substitutes?