the recent poll on knitting cost got me thinking...

I am what some might call cheap. I prefer words like "thrifty" or even "frugal" (got to bring that word back into use).
Knitting is no different, why waste money on name brand stuff?
Right now my favorite sticks (needles) are homemade bamboo DPN's
They are made from 14inch bamboo skewers (check grocery and out door depts ant local retail store) So far I have found a 1/8in and 1/4 inch diameter skewers. Equal to US3 and US6, they cover most of my needs.
Break one? Who cares, on average they cost me about $0.05 each, and 5 to 10 min's with an emery board or some sand paper, to smooth the sides and tips. With packs of 50 to 100, a replacement is always available. Rub them with a candle, and then apply even pressure as you rub. Friction will soften the wax helping to fill any gaps in the wood
I even cut to different lenghts depending on my current project. Right now I am using a set of 10 7in DPS to knit my Birthday socks (4 per sock, + 1 working needle and 1 cable needle). All the stick I could need for this project, cost me a Quarter. Even got a set of 4in DPS, for knitting glove "fingers" (note: will not go below 5in, in the future; too short and get difficult to handle)
Now where to keep the sheep/bunnies/alpaca's,/camels et all... for cheaper wool?...


Bill's picture

it's a lovely thought...but I'm happiest knitting with stainless steel dpn's.
...used bamboo a lot when I was starting out...
I find the cost of really nice wool, and good needles is minimal compared to the enjoyment I get using them.
I live on a very small retirement income, and my knitting costs are an important factor.

AKQGuy's picture

I agree with Bill. The enjoyment I get from a nice wool whether homespun or bought and my nice needles brings me so much joy I prefer to budget nicely for those items to treat myself. Mind you, I am not buying the big ticket super expensive materials but brands such as ChiaoGoo that I find not only to be good craftsmanship but a good cost as well. Guys from last years retreat will refrain from mentioning a certain cashmere purchase, but even there I strictly budgeted it and also chose an in depth pattern to make the pleasure (and it was) last. But hey, if the bamboo skewers work for you, then rock them out and have at it.

steve kadel's picture

there is a movement to repurpose yarn by buying knitted items at thrift stores and harvest the yarn

we put birds on things

SAPBrown's picture

thanks for the idea,
we have several 2nd hand stores locally, will check them this weekend

Bill's picture

be careful....look at the inside seams. If they've been serged, the edges have been cut, and you'll have short lengths.
Make sure you can see the knitted edges of each piece...then carefully, find the thread that sews them togther, and cut that...

Tom Hart's picture

At times I CAN be and indeed have actually BEEN a bit of a libertine with regard to knitting. Frexample I like my addis. The smoothness, the ease, the je ne say quoi, just f***ing does me in sometimes. I guess you could say it’s a pleasure. I have done knitting that was not a pleasure. Frexample I once knitted (double-knitted, actually) a bathroom rug from cotton yarn. It was not fun. I have also knitted rugs from jute twine. They were not fun. I’ve learned the lesson. I’ve stopped doing it. (Well almost: I still have a ways to go on one last jute rug but once that’s over, it’s really over for me and jute.)

On the other hand my economic circumstances do not lend themselves to splurgation. A person in my knitting group recently bought a ball of mink yarn at Stitches West for $35.00. It’s as fabulous as you’d think it would be and more, but it’s just out of my league. (By the way the minks are not harmed in the yarn-making process. I think they shave them like sheep. They do not shoot them for their hair.) So I generally content myself with acrylic blends with the occasional merino superwash experience.

I don’t know what to say. It’s a hobby (like drinking?). It’s something I do for fun and pleasure. Bamboo skewers really would not work for me but I could certainly see how, if frugality is your pleasure, they would totally work for you. So you go! as they say these days. There are untold and unimagined ways to enjoy this craft. All the best with it!

SAPBrown's picture

I have tried almost any type of string/yarn/cord I can get my hands on:
Jute, it was hard to work with but manageable
Sisal on the other hand.... Never never never again
twisted Nylon (lineman's cord, i think) for a nephew's hacky sack
Butchers twine (cheap kitchen cotton) for a few wash cloths
Next project, Wool-Ease

but most of all I knit for me, it is relaxing and productive
besides I hate being cold

Tom Hart's picture

There is one more thing with the jute gardening twine I want to do and that is crochet lace doilies for use as place mats for dinner plates. Crocheting with jute was a whole lot easier than knitting with it...

Bill's picture


Tom Hart's picture

Well, as long as you’ve broached the concept, Bill... (And thank you very much for doing so.) I was going to say something on the order of, “This could possibly be considered a butch form of lace.”

The thing is, if I were a middle school teacher and wanted to teach 12 year old boys how to crochet lace I would tell them that we were going to learn how to make mats out of gardening twine using hooks invented by the French for tying a series of slip knots.

New York Built's picture

Please be more inclusive and less Western-centric in your curriculum, Tom...LOL. The French got the idea from Arabic sailors for nautical gear, inherited from the earliest residents of the Tigris-Euphrates valley.

Every person I encounter teaches me more about myself. Without whom not.

Tom Hart's picture

Wow, Sumerians, Mesopotamians and Phoenician sailors! Even better! (I'd probably be inclined to reserve those bits for your guest lecture, though...)

Love this site. Not just good knitting tips but history as well. What more could I want?

I love this site. Not just great knitting info but history as well. What more could I want?


My mother was very frugal. I don't ever recall any wool in anything she made. It simply was too expensive. Once and while she might try something with a mix. I have still a bed jacket she knitted that was an mix with acrylic and angora She also never used any wooden knitting needles prefer Boye metal ones. or plastic. In fact the patterns she had mentioned using "plastic double headed needles".
And yet she enjoyed the craft. I learned on everything either metal or plastic. My first big project was circular plastic Boye needles. And I used Red Heart Acrylic yarn. Although I like the feel of baby alpaca(im addicted to it) or 100 silk, I do scout out for sales and seconds, and try various things like fish line. I saw on here a guy used dental floss and beads to do some bead knitting it was terrific. I think all he had to do was buy the floss (couldn't be more than 2.00 and some beads)
I also try to be creative and using bamboo skewers are creative. Ive done knitting with branches from a tree with jute binders twine (from hay baling) just to see the results.
I think to be too trapped and rigid with knitting can result in boredom. Who says it has to be yarn? Who says it even has to be knitting needles. I saw one pattern where a male artist used enormous knitting needles requiring two people to do the work and some type of metal "yarn" it was a type of environmental work.
SO don't feel you have to subscribe the "normal" I don't believe it works in knitting! Let your inner KNIT out!

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I've always said to work with the best materials you can afford. At times, that means crafting my own knitting needles out of wooden dowels. {Well, other than the time I made 12 sets of single points for a beginning knitters program I did while working at the local library. But that's a different story.}
Like Quinton, I often end up budgeting in yarn and needle purchases for special occasions - like the retreat - and usually look for items on sale or such.
Either way, the main thing is to enjoy our craft/art. And so I do.

ETA: I also look for knitting supplies at thrift shops and garage can sometimes pick up great finds at very reasonable prices.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Crafty Andy's picture

What can I say, you learn by experience. You also learn that not all yarns are created equal . Needles, yarns and hooks, spindles and wheels, looms and the such. You can spend a lot of money on things that don't fit your way of crafting. What can I say I have gotten very picky about my acrylics and my glitzy yarns.

You have to be careful about your yarn budget! Yep some of us have one, but I hate to buy something cheap that breaks and ends up costing me twice as much. Yarn brands are guides for you to test the waters. There are some yarn brands that I don't like for crocheting, but do for knitting and vice versa. Anyway, you are the creator of your reality so the most important part is for you to have fun, because in the end is all about fun and lots of glitter.

Bill's picture

Hooray for GLITTER!!!!