Cooler with Kuler

Every trade has its tricks. And it’s not very often that one trick can carry over into another trade. So when I found a trick that carried over, I was pretty excited.

As a graphic designer by trade, we have all sorts of tools to help us out. Like a writer, we can sometimes get blocked. That’s where a few tricks can come in handy.

Some days colours never seem to work. In that case, Adobe Kuler is the place to go. You can create your own colour palette or check out what other people have been working on. It’s a never-ending site of inspiration for anyone who works with colour at all.

I was browsing the site the other day and came across this palette:


I love the deep chocolate brown with the teal and vibrant red. Rather than open a design program, I dove into my yarn bins. This is now what’s warped on my loom:



Dollar Store Delights

Yesterday we looked at the benefits of hunting for supplies second hand—whether at a store, grandma’s attic, or your own forgotten stash. Today, let’s jump down another rabbit hole—the dollar store.

Once (and maybe still) considered a shop for only the down-and-out or low-income, the dollar store is a haven for crafters of all sorts. I find most of my card-making supplies there along with beads, bubble bath, and books. A nice (or nasty) thing about dollar stores is that their inventory turns over faster than many other stores and they often won’t get the exact same stock when it’s time to refill the shelves. And every store—even if they’re a part of the same chain—doesn’t carry the same variations of each item.

I’m a Dollar Tree fan. In Canada, the only price you need to know is $1.25. No matter what the item, the price is the same. It makes yarn shopping easy. If I go in with $10, I’ll come out with seven balls of yarn.

dollar store delights

Are these the best quality yarns? Nope. But the colour selection as well as variety in size and texture is what draws me to these little bundles of joy. From the soft, fuzzy chenille to the shiny eyelash yarn to the wide, lacy, ribbon-y I-don’t-know-what-the-heck-to-call-it, little bits of this stuff can go a long way to adding visual interest and physical texture to any project.

The best part is that you don’t have to break the bank to get it! And while you’re there, pick up a few baskets (like the pink one shown) to store your stash.

The Second Hand Score

You’ve got a fantastic project in mind and most of the materials to finish it, but there’s that one elusive colour. You only need a bit. Maybe a little more texture, but those luxury art yarns, while perfect for your piece, are a little pricey for your liking. You only need a few yards, after all.

Second hand store to the rescue.

I’ve discovered some of my best supplies in bags and bins. These fabulous finds once belonged to someone else and, for some reason or another, never got used. Maybe tossing through shelves of old, smelly yarn isn’t your favourite passtime. Maybe it is. Whether you enjoy it or not, don’t overestimate the power of a great find. All of the items shown here are second hand. In many cases, I’ve paid less than a dollar for them. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve completed a project to date that was finished using entirely newly purchased supplies.

second hand yarn
All fibre shown here was purchased second hand.

If you really hit the jackpot, you may hit the store in time to score an old lady’s stash that her relatives didn’t know what to do with when they moved her into a home. (If you’re really lucky, you’ll know that old lady and she’ll give you her stash before it ever gets to the store.)

Other great places to find those missing bits and pieces may include:

  • local guild jumble sales (usually for members only)
  • garage sales
  • grandma’s attic
  • mom’s storage unit
  • a friend’s fibre stash
  • the box you packed 10 years ago and forgot you had

The only thing to keep in mind if you’re buying second hand goods is to check for damage or wear. I’ve had a few duds that had been affected by time or, worse, bugs. If there’s a smell that you find too bothersome, you can always skein it, wash it, and wind it back into a ball before using it. Otherwise, a good wash of the final piece is sufficient.

Happy hunting!