Frugal Hobby Time
Not Just for Old Biddies Anymore: Knitting
Now, before you dismiss knitting out of hand due to it's reputation as something for old women or as being too difficult, let me assure you that (1) more and more young people are starting to knit and (2) it's really really easy, especially to do the basic stuff.
My brother's fiance taught my sister how to knit a year and a half ago and the activity has spread through the family like wildfire (ok, maybe not so rampant, but you get the idea) and now my boyfriend, my sister's ex-boyfriend, my brothers, my boyfriend's brother, several of my friends and etc know or are learning how to knit.
Here is the reason why I love knitting: it requires only two things to actually do it, and you can find a gajillion free resources online for whenever you want to upgrade your skills or refresh yourself on what you have already learned.
If you already knit: yay!
If you don't, here's what you need to purchase to get started: (1) a set of needles, and (2) one skein of yarn
Knitting stores do exist, and if you have one in your neighborhood, you might find it helpful to drop by and check it out.
Personally, however, I have gotten all of my knitting supplies from Michael's Craft Stores (and one from Joann's Fabric and Craft Stores).I still consider myself a beginning knitter as I have only ever attempted or made scarves, and Michael's serves me just fine. The only really unfortunate thing is that you can't buy the knitting needles online from there. To that end, I have noted that Joann's does sell its needles online, and the ones I like can be found here. I recommend starting with a size 9 or 10, which are $3.99 and $5.49 from Joann's, respectively.
Now for the yarn. I suggest starting with a really basic yarn like Vanna's Choice ($3.29/skein) or Caron's Simply Soft ($3.49/skein) which are inexpensive, soft to the touch, and easy to manipulate. Generally speaking, you can easily make a scarf from any regular-size skein of yarn and I fully recommend starting with a scarf.
As far as doing the actual knitting, I am not going to attempt to explain it here, but KnittingHelp.com has some helpful hints and instructions. Even better, I have found, are the instructional videos available on the site which teach you how to get started, how to do the knit and purl stitches, and how to finish.
If you happen to know someone who does knit, I highly recommend having them show you first and give you the tips they have and then just use the videos as refreshers and how to do some new things.
I also want to say that it can get a bit frustrating when you're first learning how to manipulate everything and make the beginnings look like you want it to. But, trust me, once you get the hang of it you will lovelovelove knitting because:
(1) you can make cheap, easy gifts that people love and will be amazed and impressed that you made
(2) you can do it while watching TV, having a conversation, on public transit, on a plane (I even do it while in some trainings, just to have something to do with my hands -- I generally don't have to look anymore)
(3) you will soon have an overflowing scarf collection that people will notice because you have a new one every day and to match every outfit imaginable.
While it is a very inexpensive hobby, you can always go overboard and there are tons of pretty expensive equipment for it....which I stay away from like the plague. I do, however, have probably 15 sets of needles and 10 skeins of yarn just waiting to be knit into something.