Crochet Piggy Bank image borrowed from here.
1. Raid Your Stash! Instead of buying new yarn for every project, think about using what you've already got. I know, I know, sacrilege. Desperate times call for desperate measures though, so go through those piles of yarn in your craft corner and see if anything you've already purchased matches up with a pattern you've been meaning to try!
2. Become Unravelled. We've all done it. Knit a project that we loved in concept but once it was finished, resulted in something that we wouldn't likely use or wear. Don't let that yarn go to waste! Use the same "one year" rule that organization experts suggest when cleaning out closets: if you haven't used it (or in this case, even admired it) in a year, then you probably don't need it. Consider unravelling the project and repurposing the yarn into an exciting *insert jazz hands* new piece!
3. Get Thrifty. Raid those second hand stores for out-of-date sweaters, knit with beautiful wools. Unravel the sweaters, clean yarn, and knit-up something modern! This is a great way to not only recycle something old but also, get the supplies you need for about 5-10 bucks!
4. Compromise. As much as we'd all love to knit only with fine cashmere, silk and quivit--alas, now may not be the time. Consider using those luxury fibers for smaller projects that call for only a ball or two of yarn. For the larger projects, opt for less expensive wools, cottons and soys. Remember, to substitute a yarn called for in a pattern with something different, all you need to know is the gauge, weight and drape (ie. how your yarn will hang compared to recommended version). You can read more about that here.
5. Stay Single. If you can't afford to buy whole books of patterns, most designers also offer single patterns for sale (although not usually the same ones that are in their books). Buying them this way requires less outgoing cash on your part for the time being, while still supporting the people who work to make a living designing great projects! Google individual designers names, or jump on sites like Ravelry or Etsy and search under "knitting patterns".
6. Make Your Own Yarn. Although they'll likely never be substitutes for the luxuriously spun yarns you find at your LYS, homemade creations are both fun to experiment with and easy on the ol' wallet. Rough economical times offer the perfect opportunity for recycling unused items into customized yarns. Remember, anything that's pliable and can be cut into strips, can be knit with: plastic bags, towels, sheets, newspaper (needs to be spun), fabric, t-shirts, Duct tape, and more!
7. Buy, sell, trade. If you have yarn in your stash that you know that you'll never use, then why keep it? Consider listing it on Ebay, Craig's List or knit-related web forums. The former 2 may earn you money to buy NEW yarn and the latter is a great way to find out if other stitchers would be interested in a fiber trade.
8. Dye for it. If you've got some white or cream, natural fiber (synthetics won't work) yarn laying around, breathe a little color into it by dyeing it yourself. For anywhere from $0-$20, you can create one-of-kind colors using either store-bought craft dyes or fruits & veggies from your garden! I have tutorials for a couple of options here and here.
9. Invest. Instead of constantly buying different yarns for different projects (the little purchases add up, don't they?), consider a one-time purchase of yarn for a larger project like a blanket. Although you'll be spending more cash up front, blankets take longer to make (meaning you won't need to buy more yarn for a while) and can often be kept as heirlooms (making the cost a long-term investment). Oh, and don't forget that knitting also counts as entertainment, so you can pull money from that budget, too to pay for your project!
10. Throw a party! Organize a knit-together with local stitchers and encourage people to bring their unwanted yarn and supplies. Pile the stuff up in the center of the room, have people draw numbers for turns, then let groups of 3 at a time dive-in and grab whatever they want until alloted time is up. Yarn-swaps are fun ways to socialize and score some great stuff for freeeeeee!
Have more suggestions for ways to keep knitting through the recession? Post 'em here!