Ten Things You Can Knit with that Aren’t Yarn or Needles

In This Chapter

Finding something to knit when you have nothing to knit with Getting your knitting groove back with unusual supplies
Sometimes you’re stuck with nothing to knit, or worse, nothing to knit with! Other times, you may have something to knit but you’re bored with it or you’ve misplaced your knitting mojo. At times like these, knitting something absolutely absurd is just what you need to renew your enthusiasm for your project.
This chapter lists ten things you can knit with that aren’t standard equipment. Only the most stalwart will follow through with a whole project with these substitutes, but just playing with them for a while can remind you how cool knitting is.

Raffia or Ribbon

Real or fake raffia or the curling ribbon that you use when wrapping gifts is easy to knit. You can use raffia or ribbon to knit things like hand bags or totes, but also consider using them to knit a whimsical gift bag. Raffia and ribbon are sturdy and can be economical if you pick them up on sale.

Kite String

Kite string knits up well and is sturdier than any conventional knitting yarn. Try using it for something rugged, such as a mesh market bag or even a lace seat bottom for that old patio chair! Kite string (and other sorts of twine) can be found at hobby shops or the hardware store, often in a rainbow of colors.

Plastic Bags

Those plastic bags that you get at the supermarket are one of those things that seem to breed behind your back. Here’s a way to use them up: Cut the bags into strips or loops, join them together, and then wind them into a giant ball of plastic yarn. You’re then ready to knit away. You’ll never run out of “yarn,” because your friends will always be eager to help you get more. I’ve seen purses, raincoats, and even a wedding dress knit from plastic bags, so give this method of recycling a try!

Old T-Shirts

Like plastic bags, old T-shirts are a dime a dozen. To recycle your stash of T-shirts, use sharp scissors or a blade to cut the shirts into long strips less than 1 inch wide. Join the strips together by tying, looping, or sewing, and then wind the “yarn” into a nice big ball. Depending on how you cut them, you probably need three or four shirts to make a scarf. This homemade yarn is soft and comfy, like, well, an old T-shirt!

Cassette Tapes

Okay, it’s sort of difficult to knit with the tape from a cassette, but it’s shiny and inar-guably cool. Because cassette tape is a bit fragile and can’t get wet, stick to scarves or big swatchy art pieces to hang on the wall.

Licorice Ropes

Believe it or not, long licorice ropes can be used as yarn. Indeed, famously so. A pattern published in the free online magazine, Knitty.com, that was knit with licorice got lots of attention. Your licorice knit won’t last long, but a quick knit snack is fun to make.


Chances are, even if you’re stuck someplace without your knitting supplies, you can somehow get your hands on a couple of pencils to knit with. An added bonus: Pencils measure up at that elusive 7 mm size, midway between a US 1034 and a US 11.


Try using chopsticks as needles. I’ve met more than one knitter who learned to knit on chopsticks! The rounder variety is easier to knit with than the squared kind because they have a nice, tapered point. Bonus points will be awarded if you manage to knit your noodles with chopsticks! Because chopsticks are tapered, their gauge is variable.

Skewers or Toothpicks

Bamboo skewers, which you can find at just about any grocery store, measure somewhere between a US 2 and a US 3 needle. Toothpicks weigh in at a diminutive US 0 and are double-pointed, making them perfect for knitting the world’s tiniest socks.


Sharpen the Tinkertoy tips in a pencil sharpener (the kind that works on fat kindergarten pencils), sand them down a bit to create a point you like, and then glue the end caps onto the other end. A set of these makeshift needles is wonderful for teaching your kids to knit!

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