Updated September 5, 2023.
There are many who accuse needlepoint of being an expensive hobby. I once saw an article of “Umpteen Reasons to Love Cross Stitch,” citing it as inexpensive to start.
Many stitchers take exception to this and find needlepoint to be expensive. While I won’t argue that it can be expensive, there are plenty of painless ways to make the money you invest in needlepoint go further.
Here are some I use all the time.
Shop your stash first. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, look for threads and new projects in your stash. You’ve already spent the money; check before spending it again.
Label & reuse your stretcher bars. Before you mount a project on bars, make sure the length is marked on them. If it isn’t, write it on each end. Store the same size together and reuse your stretcher bars. Eventually, they break and need to be replaced. If you reuse your bars, you may find yourself buying new ones once a year instead of twice a month.
Buy vintage and used copies of books. Vintage needlepoint books are all the rage these days. They have great information and can often be found for a dollar or two. When you buy old needlepoint books, you build your library at a very low cost. Because needlepoint was so popular in the 1970’s, there are many titles out there. Take advantage of it.
Know the cost of your thread. Just the way unit pricing lets us compare foods, the price per yard lets us compare threads. With a calculator, it’s easier to do than you think. Take the yardage in one package of the thread times the number of working lengths of thread from each full strand if you are dividing the thread. If you are using more than one strand per working length, divide the yardage by the number of strands you use. To get your effective price, divide that number by the price. Then you can easily compare.
Here’s the analysis of two threads I just pulled today in fall 2023 prices. Kreinik #12 is $5.50 for 10 yards. That’s $.55/yard. Thread Gatherer Silk n’Colors is $8.10 for 5 yards, or $1.62 per yard. That is pretty expensive. Could I find something cheaper in a similar thread?
Gloriana silk floss is $8.65 for a 6-yard skein or $$1.44/yard. Waterlilies is $7.65 for 6 yards or $1.28//yard. Because all three have 12 strands and are multi-colored silk, they function similarly. If I pick Waterlilies over Silk n’Colors I’ll save 77% on my thread purchase.
If I wanted to use a less expensive thread for the silk, let’s see what I could come up with. Pearl Cotton is $2 for 27 yards, or $.07/yard — that’s right 7 cents! The silk I pulled is more than 20 times more expensive. If I buy pearl cotton instead of silk for a project and use stash threads. Suddenly, my project isn’t so costly.
Take advantage of sales. You know those wardrobe budget books that tell you to go shopping with a mental list so you buy things you need when you see them on sale? Because needlepoint can be such an impulse buy, it’s good to have a list of what you’d like. Then when you see them on sale or at a guild auction or consignment shop, you can take advantage of it.
Your mental list should have several kinds of things on it:
- designers you want to try
- canvases for likely future events
- canvases to complete sets you have
- canvases for special people in your life
I’ve picked up some great deals this way. Although I only knew my niece & her husband were only trying for a baby, I bought a grandparents canvas for my brother for $1 at a guild auction. His Christmas present is ready to be stitched for this Christmas (my grand-niece is due this month). I bought six Navajo rug canvases when a designer was going out of business. They are Christmas ornaments for my husband. Because I have tons of wool threads I never use, I not only have presents for him, but I have projects ready to go anytime.
By thinking ahead and shopping carefully, you can turn needlepoint into a hobby that is more practical than it is beautiful! And even with expensive threads, it’s cheaper by the hour than therapy!