I get a lot of people asking me where I get my yarns from. They seem to think that because I create bright and colorful clothing, I must be spending a fortune on yarn. Well, OK, I am. But that has everything to do with quantity and nothing to do with quality. I just can't stop myself. As for the bright colors....Hello? Walmart! Or whatever department store craft section is near you.
Since moving to a small town with very little craft supplies a little over a year and a half ago, I have had to be creative about where I find yarn. One of my best resources is discount stores that sell the 1lb bag of mill ends. I usually have to sort through large bins full of horrible browns and baby blanket pinks to find a good color, but it is always worth it. Mill ends are the end sections of the yarn that the factories don't use for brand names. They are then packaged in 1lb bags (usually in a few different sized skeins) and sold like a no-name yarn. I have seen them at Walmart, Giant Tiger and The Bargain Shop. Now, don't get all snobby. There is nothing wrong with bargian shopping at those stores. A word of warning about mill ends, though. The reason this yarn is cheap is that it is often wound too tight at the ends, This makes for some weak product sometimes. Make a small hole in the bag (do NOT rip open the whole bag and yank out all the yarn, PLEASE) and feel it. If it is too thin for you, don't bother buying it. It will only add to your stash of never-used-yarn. Also, while most of these yarns are 100% acrylic, the package won't tell you. If you don't really care what it is made of, you're good to go!
Another great method of yarn hunting is the allmighty YARD SALE! My oh MY do I love a good yard sale! I don't get out as often as I would like, but when I do, I go all out. A lot of yard sales have GOBS of old yarn. A lot of the time it is useless. I don't know who they expect is going to want 23 one inch balls of leftover grey, all in different thicknesses. True, you may find a box of 23 different colors, which would be great for making flowers, granny squares and other embellishments, but don't hold your breath. What you need to look for are vintage yarns. I once found some great german tweed from the 70's. There was only 2 small balls of it, but it made a great toddler poncho. I think it only cost me about 75 cents. The beads were a vintage find, too.
You can also look for vintage sweaters that are too ugly to ever be worn again. If you get a large men's sweater, there should be plenty for a smaller project, like a child sized poncho or sweater. I have some great real wool that I got this way. I am waiting for just the right project to use it.
Don't forget about patterns. I don't actually use patterns when I crochet, but I do use them for inspiration and ideas. Look EVERYWHERE for vintage patterns; yard sales, rummage sales, secondhand stores, your mother-in-law's basement....you get the idea. And, as an added bonus, they are also usually worth a bit on Ebay . Spend the 25 cents now and it could really pay off later.
Basically, I make cheaply, but not cheap. You can create quality and durable items with less. I sell almost all of my projects on Ebay, so it is important that I do not spend more in supplies than I earn. Below are a few examples of items that I made for about $3.00 CAD each. Go on, be a cheap crocheter! If anyone has any more tips on how to crochet on a budget, please let me know!
These are only a few samples, almost ALL of my projects cost me under 5 dollars.