I’ve decided that 2019 is going to be the year that I bring knitting back into my life. I’ve been a knitter for many years – I was knitting way before I was a sewist – but over the past couple of years the sewing has taken the spotlight. The slower process of knitting got pushed aside to make way for the faster-gratification sewing, but it’s BACK, baby ??
I’ve already knitted a couple of (admittedly small) things over the last six months to ease myself in – to be on the blog soooooon I promise – but there’s also a shawl in the works for the husbeast that’s nearly finished and one for me that will be started immediately afterwards. (Note to self: start knitting/sewing the colder weather items before the super-freezing weather arrives, so that they’re finished in time to wear them while it’s still cold ?)
I’ve also got that awesome yarn I picked up in NYC to make us sweaters with – first round pattern selections have been made, we just need to make the final choice.
Whilst browsing yarn-related stuff on t’internet (as you do, but which I really shoudn’t do, because at this rate I’ll have a fabric stash and a yarn stash), I stumbled across something new to me – a yarn subscription box.
I bought one, in the interest of – y’know – research ?
THE KNITCRATE BOX – THE BOX THAT STARTED IT ALL
Who and what is Knitcrate, I hear you ask? And what is a yarn subscrption box exactly?
Well, Knitcrate are a company in the USA that sell (amongst other things, like yarn and patterns) subscription boxes. You pay a monthly fee, upfront, as a regular payment, and in return they send you a box each month with some yarn and a pattern. You don’t tend to know in advance of paying what exactly the box will contain in terms of colour or pattern – that’s part of the surprise – but they do a ‘reveal’ on the first day of the month so that you know what is currently making it’s way to you. You could, of course, choose not to read the reveal on their blog/social media so that when you open the box it’s a total surprise, it’s up to you! ??♀️
At the time I saw this box, the big reveal had already happened so I could see the contents of the box I was buying. The colour of the yarn was what drew me in (because pink and purple, duh), and I really liked the sock design. I had promised myself that this year I would stop whinging about how cold my feet always are and actually knit myself some socks, so for twenty something dollars, I thought why not. I placed my order, and waited patiently for it to arrive. It took a while to ship, but I now understand that they were transferring over to a new (apparently faster) shipping partner that very same month, but there were a couple of hiccups. It eventually arrived though, and that little bump in the road wouldn’t put me off using them again.
So, what did I get in my box?
Well, there’s the yarn… that pretty, purpley-pinkey-turquoisey mash of colours. Beautiful ? It feels nice and soft, and I’m excited to start working with it. You also get the sock pattern, which is in a nice little ‘inspiration booklet’ (rather than a printed pdf which always gets ratty within about ten minutes in my hands ?)
In the booklet, you don’t just get the actual pattern, you also get some visual references to the inspirations behind the theme of the box (this one being ‘enchanted’):
Knitcrate promises subscribers to the Artisan Sock Crate the following: yarn, a pattern, and a little somethin’-somethin’ extra.
The extra in this box was… handmade stitch markers. These suit me perfectly – magically themed unicorns and toadstools! ??
Knitcrate don’t just do sock crates – they do others too. Some with a bit more yarn for a bigger project, plus a couple of patterns (usually one knitting and one crochet, so that you can pick based on your craft preference). There’s also a quarterly Malabrigo crate where you can get exclusive colourways, but this is more expensive at $45 and sells out quite quickly.
So after discovering the world of knitting subscription boxes, it got me thinking – what else is out there?
Turns out, a lot ?
SEWING BOX SUBSCRIPTIONS
I’d previously heard of the Fabric Godmother Dream Wardrobe subscription box, which gives you a sewing pattern plus the fabric and supplies to make it – basically a complete kit in a box. It’s £39 per month (ouch), and you have to subscribe for a minimum term of three months. If you don’t like what you get, you can return the box for £39 store credit – which redeems the situation a little, given that you’re probably not going to get three perfect boxes of stuff that you love. If you want to pay an extra £10 per month – making the cost £49 per month – you can have a ‘style consultation’ in which you’re asked about your body type, colouring and lifestyle. Hopefully this would result in better choices for your boxes, but there’s no one I trust with fifty quid to pick out fabric for me other than the husbeast, quite frankly.
The Fabric Godmother box is very similar to the Craftine Box:
Again, you get a whole kit – two, in fact – in a box, but this one comes with downloadable patterns rather than printed. Which would be enough to put me off, because you’ve then either got to pay to have the patterns printed onto tissue, or suffer the agony of taping together A4 pages. The Craftine box is £29.90 per box, every two months, which can be cancelled anytime. From the picture below of their most recent box, if you didn’t like yellow you’d be pretty damn disappointed.
As well as knitting kits and garment kits, there’s also quilting boxes, which all appear to be aimed at feeding the stash rather than making something specific. I’m not sure how I feel about that – it kind of screams hoarding to me – and what if it’s not really your colour scheme, or your preference in prints? I’d be pretty disappointed if I received a pack of dots, stripes or flowers (none of which are really my thang), when I could have spent that money on something I would actually use.
MY SEWING BOX SUBSCRIPTION
For between £20 and £25, you can get yourself a quilting box from My Sewing Box:
Nothing really to my personal taste in that gallery, but see that ‘Custom Made’ box in the top left? You can choose specific fabrics or a colour theme. I’d be a bit more likely to take a punt on that. I like that they show you past boxes, so that you can get more of an idea of the range of stuff or colour schemes (seems to me there’s a lot of red, white and blue going on there ?)
Alice Caroline do a Liberty subscription, and there’s also a Kona solids subscription box from Sew Hot (a whopping £76 per month for fat quarters, though ?) which would be a little bit more appealing to me – at least you have a better idea of what you’re going to get.
AXHOLME QUILTING BOX
Axholme Quilting (UK based) do a subscription box as well, and the images on their site of the boxes show fabrics in modern, rich colours:
I was very, very nearly tempted to buy one of their boxes, but I couldn’t really find many photos of previous boxes and that made me edgy and a little reluctant to buy. Turns out I was right to listen to my spidey-sense – I found a picture on Instagram from a recipient of their current box:
Needless to say, I’d have been mightily disappointed if I’d have received this. Blue isn’t my thing, and neither are woodland creatures (on fabrics, anyway – in real life I actually like the foxes and hedgehogs that we get in the garden).
SO WHAT’S THE VERDICT?
I’m pleased with the particular box I got, because the colours are to my taste and I like the pattern as well, but not all the other boxes Knitcrate have released recently have been my thing. I mean sure, you could use the kit to make something as a gift for someone else if it’s not quite your style, but if you get five boxes out of the twelve per year that aren’t quite to your taste then that’s $100 you’ve spent on stuff you don’t really like, and that’s a lot of money. (You can take the girl out of finance, but you can’t take the finance out of the girl ??)
I guess it depends on whether you are happy for other people to choose things for you. Me personally, I’m not so cool with that. I’d rather make sure that I’m spending my money on something I really want, rather than just frittering it away on things to ‘feed the stash’ ?
I only bought the Knitcrate box because I was able to see the contents first – I wouldn’t spend money on something that was going to be a total surprise. I think it’s just too much of a gamble – I know my tastes, in both sewing patterns and fabrics, and I see it as too risky to drop money on something that I might immediately open and be like NOPE THAT WAS A TOTAL WASTE OF TWENTY QUID. I’d rather spend that money on something I know I’d like.
I realise that kind of ruins the ‘surprise’ element of subscription boxes, but there’s just totally no point in me receiving supplies to make a garment that I know I’ll never wear. It’s a waste of both money and materials. I can see that it would be good if you’re new to sewing, and don’t really know too much about pairing patterns and fabrics, or just don’t have a clue where to start. When I made my first Watson bra, I was so overwhelmed by all the different lingerie elastics and findings available that I bought a kit with pre-cut lengths of everything. I know now what I need to make a bra, but that kit was super helpful when I was a newbie. I can imagine that the dressmaking kits would fill the same void – it would help you get started, but once you’re on your way you don’t really need the support anymore.
I imagine these boxes would also suit people that perhaps don’t have access to many physical shops, and/or don’t like shopping online – it’s basically a craft personal shopper service. Except it’s not very personal, because you’re receiving the same as everyone else, so errrr yeah ??♀️
If I could set some sort of preferences on the contents of the box, that might be a little bit better – or set some exclusions of things I wouldn’t want to receive (like white and grey) – but then I realise that would be a TOTAL headache for the suppliers, because they’d have to have multiple boxes and choose each one individually. What I liked about the Knitcrate one is that they do a ‘reveal’ of what’s in the boxes – but this is after you’ve already paid your money for the month, so it’s tough cookies if you don’t like it.
Despite my personal opinions, these subscription boxes appear to be big business – so clearly people don’t seem to mind taking a gamble on what they’re gonna get in exchange for their dosh. Maybe it’s just me being risk averse (and is this why I work in finance?! ??) In my eyes, it’s basically gambling – you could win, or you could end up with nothing. You’ve got to be prepared to lose, and with the cost of some of these boxes, that’s not something I’m cool with.
It seems like subscription boxes are covering just about anything these days – not just sewing and beauty products… plants on subscription, anyone???♀️?
(Come on. Plants? Really? WTF?!)
In the end, I cancelled the Knitcrate subscription before the deadline for the next box, and I’m cool with that. Based on the January reveal images, I’d have been disappointed anyway – the sock artisan crate was a muddy shade of grey which I wouldn’t have knit up for myself. I’m happy with my one-off box, because I got a pretty skein of yarn and a nice sock pattern written especially for said yarn.
Do you subscribe to any craft boxes? Have you in the past? I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether they were worthwhile or not ?
Next week on the Wanderstitch blog… My second iteration of the Deer and Doe Opium Coat ✂️ Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out! ??