The other night I had, what I can only assume is the closest to a near knitting death experience as I ever want to be. With the new addition of the office chair for my desk, my room has become a little more cramped. I’ve used the chair’s location between my bed and desk to my advantage with everything from reading, to writing with a lap desk and of course knitting and watching television. I swivel back and forth throughout the day between my desk and the lap desk that sits on my bed and work between the two computers. It’s been bliss.
One of the knitting projects I’ve been working on is a big blanket, long over due and frought with problems. I had manuevered my project bag between my bed and the chair and at the same time underneath my night stand so that I could knit from either my bed or the chair without having to haul the entire bag onto my lap.
I finally felt like I was back on track with it until the other night. Somehow Brian knocked over a glass of iced tea onto the blanket. The whole glass went straight into the bag, just missing the entire skein of yarn but not before it gave the blanket itself a good soak. I immediately jumped up and grabbed the blanket, cut the working yarn and ran to the kitchen sink. Brian trailing behind me mopping up the tea off the floor that I was dripping with a towel. I ran tap water over the blanket and rinsed it as best I could. I laid it out flat to air dry with a towel underneath it and went about doing the same to the cowl project that was also in the bag.
By some knitting miracle, I managed to save the blanket and the cowl. I was most worried about the blanket because it’s not for me. The cowl is mine (or for a very good friend, I haven’t decided yet) but it is much darker in color than the blanket and therefore any discoloring won’t show up (and yes, it will get washed and blocked to get any remaining tea out of it before wearing/giving).
With all that excitement, I’ve gotten bored with my knitting. It’s a knitting ADD problem. I’m always jonesing for new yarn or a new project. Ravelry is wonderful and my LYS usually has what I want but lately I’ve become unimpressed with what’s available to me. I needed a pick me up, a new yarn discovery. I knew I had to widen my yarn horizons.
It was time to venture out of my comfort zone and think bigger than my local LYS so I looked into knitting subscription boxes. I started researching knitting and yarn subscription box reviews late last year but didn’t find a ton of information. I’m hesitant to purchase things like yarn online because I really do feel the need to touch before I buy. Unfortunately I didn’t find a ton of reviews that weren’t tied to a subscription box website. The information was vague: “every month you’ll get a new yarn to try!” You can’t get much more vague than that and unless I signed up for a subscription, I wasn’t going to get a ton more information. But trying something new was on my list for the new year so
out of the box into the box I went!
The first box I opted for was from try a knitcrate. They promise a box filled with the following:
Premium yarn by a different company each month
Pattern(s) for a surprise project suitable for your subscription level
Enough YUMMY yarn to complete the pattern
A Sweet/Soothing extra to enjoy
A Fun Extra to love
Bonuses like promo codes with exclusive discounts on fiber arts related product (e.g., patterns, books, yarn, kits)
There are several types of subscriptions you can buy: Let me say again, I really like to try, touch, feel the yarn before I buy it.
- Minis – 5 or 10 packs of 30 yards of mini yarn skeins.
- Int/Adv – Yarn with a project to meet the challenges of advanced knitters.
- Beginner – Yarn and project for newer knitters
- Sock – Indie dyed sock yarn plus sock pattern
- Indie – Hand dyed or hand painted yarn
I opted for the beginner box because I’m very leery of advanced lace patterns or ANYTHING with cables. Don’t judge me.
The boxes range in price depending on which one you choose ($35 – $65 for US orders on average) and there is a one time set up fee of $2.50 – $5.oo depending on your subscription type for new subscribers. As a subscriber you can be billed monthly, or have a bi-monthly subscription or If you’re not sure you want a subscription you can choose “Try a Knitcrate” and if they have any available, you can try that month’s box depending on what’s still available.
I opted to try a knitcrate and was lucky enough to be able to choose beginner. I wasn’t charged a set up fee because I hadn’t chosen a subscription.
My crate arrived in less than two weeks from when I ordered it in a red bubble package. There was no way I’d miss that in the pile of mail!
In my “knit crate” were two skeins of Noro Shiraito (a mix of angora, cashmere, and wool from Noro Yarns), Earl Grey tea from Harney & Sons Master Tea Blenders, and a color grid for designing from Kangaroo Dyer. It also included an information card which detailed what was in the knitcrate and bonus sweater pattern booklet from Noro Yarns.
I can’t tell you for sure what dollar value the other items held (the tea was only a sample and came in a cute round tin) but the yarn itself retails for about $30 a skein and each skein is 196 yards of fingering weight yarn.
Now to put it to the test. I’ve never tried Noro yarns before so I’m not an expert on what the yarn typically looks like and behaves like on the needles. So far my experience has been mixed. Not even into the lace portion of the pattern and already the yarn had broken on me. In many places it looks as though the yarn was spun too thin and I worry about how well it will hold up once the pattern is complete. However, the color is gorgeous and the yarn is pretty soft, much like you’d expect angora and cashmere to be.
As for the pattern, I was surprised to see that I had to go back to the knitcrate site and download it. The information card gives a code that you enter into a “shopping cart” so your pattern is free when you check out. This knitcrate came with a main pattern and an alternate pattern; both of which I would definitely categorize in the beginner to even intermediate skill level. Still I find the fact that I had to go back to the site in order to get the pattern – that seemed like a bit of a pain to me. It definitely didn’t solve my need for instant knitting gratification. I will say this though, the main pattern is for fingerless mitts and this is probably one of the few fingerless patterns that I’ve seen knit flat and then stitched up the side. If all works out well, I may switch to this method of fingerless mitt knitting.
If I had to give KnitCrate a rating on a scale of 1-10, I’d go opt for a seven.
- The cost is about what I’d expect to pay for two skeins of yarn. Really that’s the only thing I can figure that you’re actually paying for. Time will tell though if $55 (the cost of a beginner box) every month is worth what you receive in yarn.
- The yarn is a good quality. I can’t doubt that and I can’t find Noro yarns in many places here.
- Your subscription earns you “points” and if you review your box on the site, you can earn additional points that you can cash in at a later date for free boxes or other goodies.
- The return policy is iffy – the site states that you can return non sale items, minus a restocking fee and your shipping fee but you can’t return a subscription box.
- I’m really not a fan of having to track down the pattern in order to start knitting. That’s bothersome.
- The website is not the easiest to navigate. Quite a few times I tried to figure out whether or not my “try a crate” automatically opted me into a subscription (it does not, the actual sign up for a subscription is a completely different process).
Overall, I liked the yarn and the pattern (my son’s girlfriend already claimed the mitts when they’re finished) but I’m not sure it’s worth $55 every month. Your subscription automatically renews monthly unless you cancel and it looks like you need to email them to cancel a subscription but don’t quote me on that. I do recommend giving them a try though, you can choose to try a knitcrate (like I did) or just shop directly on the site for accessories or yarns from past boxes.
The process of trying out something new was fun and very soon I’ll be reviewing another knitting subscription box. I’m still on the hunt for new things, so if you see something I might like to try, leave a comment and let me know!
What’s on your needles?
*this post contains affiliate links. While the people at Knitcrate didn’t pay me to talk about them or review them, I’d love to earn free yarn because, who wouldn’t?