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Guide to Cheap Yarn Crocheting: Upcycling Yarn From Blankets

Updated on February 28, 2013
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Where to get cheap yarn.

Many people crochet or knit to save money and get a higher quality product, but high quality yarn quickly eats up any savings you may gain by hand-making your own blankets, scarves, etc. So how do you get cheap yarn that isn't scratchy?

Even low quality bulk yarn, in the amount needed to make something huge like a blanket or cape, makes your crochet project more expensive than just going down to Walmart and buying a machine-knit version. Cheap yarn crocheting is hard to do!

Additionally, many people hoard yarn. Yarn hoarding is an expensive hobby, and as your hoard grows, your productivity actually decreases (or is that just me?). For this reason, buying cheap yarn online at shops like Smilies Yarn Sale can be a dangerous habit. Additionally, I find that the online bulk yarn prices actually tend not to be any cheaper than a sale day and %20 off coupon at Michael's. Plus when you buy cheap yarn online, there usually isn't free shipping.

In this article, I will detail how to get cheap yarn crocheting to the cheapest it can possibly be, while not sacrificing quality. You heard me, this is going to be NICE yarn and it will be cheaper than the crap on sale at Michaels! If you want to get wholesale yarn with free shipping, for 10 cents a ball, read on!

Results may vary by State

I have tried this in Maryland and in Arizona, but you can do it anywhere where there is a thrift or secondhand store such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, or a local variation. For places with online thrift stores, you can even get cheap yarn online. Arizona is a great place to do thrift shopping, while Maryland is not as awesome (in my area at least). This is because Arizona Goodwill has dollar days, where everything with a certain color tag is marked down to $1. Arizona also has half-price Saturdays once every two weeks, where the whole store is half-price (excepting a few things). Maryland has the Saturday deals, but not dollar days, which is rather disappointing. I also found a wider selection of my key target in Arizona (probably because of all the retirement communities, old ladies love cheap yarn crocheting as much as us poor college students!).

Can you guess what I was looking for?

It was this!

The best possible situation.
The best possible situation. | Source

But why?

So how does this help me? Someone donates a poor little handcrafted blanket, and it sits in Goodwill for years and years crying "help me!" as everyone passes by, thinking "Only one stitch, only one type of yarn? You're so plain little blanket. I cannot use you."

And then you, in your infinite wisdom, come along on dollar day, when this little blanket is only $1, and pick him up. Take him home. Cut off his ear (okay maybe I should stop personifying the blanket, we're about to get ugly here....) and unravel him from the last stitch.

But Unravelling Is Difficult...

Oh stop whining. You don't have to do it all now. Just fold the little guy up with his unravelling end on top, and pull from him just like you would from a ball of yarn. If the stitches aren't too complex, they'll just pull right out for you as you go.

So how much yarn are we talking?

Depends how big of a blanket you got. My top finds have been about 10 balls of good quality yarn. That's $1 for ten balls of yarn. That's 10 cents per ball of yarn.

But... it's used....

Actually most of these blankets look 100% new. There are tons of little old ladies who crochet and knit things for the sole purpose of donating to Goodwill. There are parents who receive 10 handmade blankets during their maternity and absolutely hate the look of yarn or think their kid will choke on it. There are just ungrateful people in this world (or really really ugly blankets). Upcycle the yarn into something beautiful that you can love forever or give to someone who will appreciate it.


So what are the rules of upcycling blanket yarn?

Not This.

don't buy it.
don't buy it. | Source

Okay, this blanket is lovely in it's own awesome way, but it CANNOT be upcycled.

When upcycling yarn, you need to keep in mind the fact that you need a useable length. Granny squares are out, they require way too much cutting and tying off. Yes we want bulk wholesale yarn for basically free, but remember that time is money and there is a trade-off if you get a patchwork item. However, if you want to use the full squares in something and just unravel the edgings, granny square blankets may be worth it.

Super-fuzzy or weird textured skinny yarns are also a no, while they look cute in scarves the fuzziness means that it knots itself while you try to unravel it. More trouble than it's worth.

Ugly blankets made with good yarn are your gold mine, love them, unravel them, make something better. You shouldn't be judging these blankets based on looks, but on touch and color usability. Would this look good in a scarf, in a lacier pattern, will it scratch my skin? Remember our goal is finding expensive yarn cheap, not acquiring new blankets from Goodwill. Quality yarn is king. Really cheap yarn crocheting is bad!

Machine-made shawls and blankets are out, as the unravelling technique is much more annoying and difficult. If you want to devote the time to figuring out how to do it, or already know how, go ahead, but I find it very cumbersome and requiring my scissors too much.

Upcycled yarn looks like this when you're done.

Source

Pros of Upcycling Yarn

  • blankets are more easily stored than yarn balls
  • it can keep your knees warm while you knit from it
  • really cheap yarn
  • good quality yarn
  • about 10 cents per ball
  • free shipping! (excluding the cost of gas)
  • discontinued yarns may surface in old blankets
  • until you're ready to unravel - use it as a blanket
  • no baller / swift required

Hope you enjoyed, search out some blankets at your local Goodwill and tell me how it goes!

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    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 4 years ago from USA

      This is a really great idea, and I can see how it could easily lead you to buy much more than you need. I go to thrift stores to buy 100% cotton fabric by buying big shirts, and buttons and embellishments. We have sales once a month, but they still seem expensive to me. I still remember when you could get a whole bag full of stuff for one small price.

    • joaniebaby profile image

      joaniebaby 4 years ago

      What a great idea! I am planning to knit lots of scarves for Christmas for my family so will definitely see what I can find at our local Good Will store. Wish me luck. This idea is something I have never thought of. Yarn is sooooooooooo expensive. Voted up, useful and awesome!

    • Tealparadise profile image
      Author

      Tealparadise 4 years ago

      Millionaire - They often have bags of 3-4 yarns at Goodwill, but a blanket can give you 6-10 easily, which still puts it ahead. I do end up buying more than I need though! When I moved from AZ, I wrapped all my stuff in blankets instead of bubble wrapping.

      joaniebaby - thanks for the vote! I am just starting out here so I really appreciate feedback :) Enjoy knitting!

    • KrisL profile image

      KrisL 4 years ago from S. Florida

      Great idea!

      In Texas, where I used to live, I could find balls of yarn, sometimes 3-6 of quite nice yarn, at thrift stores. In Vermont, where I visit family, yard sales and such like can yield good yarn. Last summer, I got some really high quality wool blend yarn. I did need to hand wash it with gentle soap and vinager, blot on towels, and dry in the sun to get rid of the musty smell.

      Down here in Florida, I haven't found anything.

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image

      Rhonda Humphreys 4 years ago from Michigan

      Wonderful idea and great hub. thanks for the ideas. Rated up and useful

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Splendid idea. I love thrift shopping. May have to take the old knitting needles out and dust them off. Having a knitting or crocheting project when you go camping is a good idea. You can always tuck it into the bottom of your sleeping bag to keep your feet warm.

    • profile image

      Ella 4 years ago

      I'm a big crocheter and a lot of yran I see in all stores have Ben pul a part by kids do you no what they do with it and I'm in fl

    • Kendra101 profile image

      Kendra101 3 years ago

      Now *this* is a useful article on getting cheap yarn! Thank you for taking the time to offer truly valuable information! I've learned my lesson the hard way at trying to unravel billions of different things that were so not worth it! Even small motifs, so had I read your article sooner, I'd have even saved myself a large amount of time! You've included some very great tips in there, too! I also found your article to be really funny! And of course I rated it as both funny and useful. ;)

      I'm like you -- not in a state that has a great selection for thrift stores. We have at least one tiny one here in my small area, but it isn't worth the time, probably. But yard sales! This place is yard-sale city. Lol. I bet I could end up with a pretty nice amount of yarn if I were to get into yard-selling around here (well, I should say "yard-shopping!" Lol.

      I will say, having an SO who's in the business of taking care of rental property (God bless him. There's no way on this earth I could ever handle the property work it requires. Whew!) and who's grandmother was an avid crocheter before she passed away, I've actually accumulated a great stash of yarn for someone who's only been at it less than a year! In fact, his grandmother is basically the whole reason I ever started -- her completed projects caught my eye & she had the supplies for crocheting. I actually started with knitting and... Whoa... I guess I forgot I was leaving a comment on an article about cheap crochet & not giving a speech about how *I* ever started the hobby! LOL. Sorry about that.

      Anyway, very awesome job on this article. I love your humor and style! :P

    • profile image

      Jeanne Whipple 2 years ago

      I have been doing this for years. My mom worked in a thrift store. I was whining (I guess) because I didn't have money for yarn. She took me to work with her one day and said see that pile of stuff. Its going to get thrown away, why not take the items with usable yarn and take it apart. That's when IT started. I make wool socks from old sweaters, dishcloths from cotton sweaters and of course afghans from everything from a stray mitten on the sidewalk to big afghans on the side of the street in a give away pile. Nothing is wasted. I keep a tube afghan going to add short ends. These make great pads for the animal shelter or your own pet. All the knots are inside. Yahoo I'm glad to see someone else is joining the fun.

    • profile image

      Tracy 18 months ago

      Machine knit sweaters CAN be unravelled, as long as they were knit in pieces, and not large pieces of fabric thats then cut and sewn like a sewing pattern. I've done a few. Look for sweaters with seams that are not serged.

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