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Don’t Buy That

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While I can easily justify the expense of “must-have” craft supplies (the sparkly beads I’ve been eyeing, a palette of lusciously colored wool roving, black brass bezels, you know), I cannot justify the expense of boring craft tools and supplies. All those sundries that don’t sparkle, but do all the hard crafting work, then sit in the craft room when you finally turn out the lights. Most of my favorite tools and supplies are free upcycles. And you know what that means: more money to spend on yarn.

So here’s a list of some of my favorite (free) craft workhorses:

1. Egg cartons. With little easy-access compartments, egg cartons are perfect for sorting supplies, like when making 10 pairs of matching earrings for your sister’s (too extensive) bridal party. Thank you, egg carton. They’re also great for small painting projects: both holding painted objects mid-coat, and posing as a perfect drying rack.

2. Plastic lids: Use plastic sour cream (oatmeal, yogurt, raisin) lids as toss-able paint palettes. And I have finally learned to put these under my super-gluing projects.

3. Fannie May boxes. These boxes are the perfect size for most beading projects, holding beads and supplies, and then keeping the finished product safe.

4. Bread tags. Those white plastic tags that secure the bread bag are a knitting life-saver. They work nicely as removable stitch markers and also to identify UFOs in your work basket. I’m always stealing the needles out of a neglected project to start a new (soon to be neglected) project. With bread tags, I can Sharpie the needle size I used, or even the last row number onto the marker, slip it onto the project and have NO GUILT as I leave that project in the dust. These babies can also mark circular needles (which, I don’t know why, are never marked like their straight needle cousins).

5. Beans. A cheap filler for small knit toys.

6. Velveeta boxes (and Ramen noodle multi-pack boxes). OK, now don’t judge me for having these boxes in my pantry (I do) but they make great, uniform storage boxes for all your craft supplies. They’re rigid, corrugated boxes that can hold up to serious craft storage (30 bottle of blue acrylic paint? 15 half-full bottles of glitter? OK then.). And their shape is high-walled and perfectly rectangular, so they line up nicely on shelves. Add square manila labels for full craft-prissiness.

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7. Bamboo skewers. At all times, my paintbox has at least ten of these wooden skewers lying around. They make not one, but two sizes of perfect polka dots (small and extra tiny) and nicely dig out the dried paint that always gunks up the paint bottle I’m trying to squeeze.

So now, there’s only one thing left to do: buy a box of Fannie May.