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Guide to Cheap Yarn Crocheting: Upcycling Yarn From Blankets
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!
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?
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.
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!
Useful Links and Info
- Types of Yarn: Yarn Weights
Different yarns are said to have different weights, or thicknesses, and different weights of yarns are used for different types of projects. Learn what the different weights are and how to use them.
- How to recycle yarn from sweaters
I believe this only works, again, with handknits.