Skip to content

Balancing the crafting budget

Every time someone asks us to make them a garment then recoils at the price of just the materials, we are reminded that our crafts are a lot more expensive than people might think.

It’s important to work within our budget. It’s also important for accessory makers, dyers, and designers to be paid a living wage. As we look at all the shiny things available for our craft, the trick is to choose our splurges wisely and decide where to invest.

A well-illustrated, tech-edited pattern costs several hundred dollars to produce, but ensures that your project can proceed with as few frustrations as possible. Pattern cost can be a smaller part of overall project cost, but it all adds up. If paid patterns are currently out of reach, try sites like Knitty magazine, which pays its designers for quality patterns then offers them for free.

Local public libraries stock craft books for another low-cost pattern option. Additionally, many designers offer a free pattern for signing up for their newsletter. Others offer free patterns to testers who knit or crochet the designs before the pattern is released. Some offer quantity discounts on patterns or run specials. Newsletters are a great way to find the bargains.

Luxury hooks, needles and stitch markers are a joy to use. A lifetime hobby may be worth the investment in high-quality tools. Whether choosing a luxury tool or something low- to mid-range, be sure to read reviews or ask yarnie friends on social media for their recommendations. Affordable tools that have to be replaced can be more expensive in the long run.

Hand-dyed, ethically produced yarns are a pleasure to work with and can ensure the longevity of family farms and indie dyers. A well-cared for handmade item can last for many years. Still, buying yarn for a larger item can become quite expensive.

Some dyers offer multi-skein “sweater quantity” discounts. Others offer discount codes periodically or reduce prices to close out discontinued colorways. Subscribing to a dyer’s newsletter is a great way to stay informed about what might be available.

Many crafters say that yarn is the toughest area in which to economize because of the many variables and the risk that the garment will not wear or drape in the same way as it does using the yarn specified by the pattern. I’ve put together a guide on yarn substitution that I hope will be helpful.

I love looking at pretty, shiny, yarnie things, and I love showing them to you. These are beautiful, sometimes aspirational objects, and I never want to give the impression that purchasing them is the only way to enjoy our crafts. Look at all the options available and choose a combination of pattern, tools and yarn that you can feel good about.