Sign Me Up and Take My Money (maybe)

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 🤓

Obvs.

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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?

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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 🤪)

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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’):

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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! 🦄🍄

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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.

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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

FABRIC GODMOTHER

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.

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CRAFTINE BOX

The Fabric Godmother box is very similar to the Craftine Box:

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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.

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QUILTING BOXES

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:

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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?

Meh, basically.

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 🤑🤓)

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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 🤷🏻‍♀️

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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?!)

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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! 👇🏻

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31 Comments

  1. Sam
    February 10, 2019 / 8:59 am

    I’m with you on this Sarah, I’m essentially tight & wouldn’t want to commit to spending over £20 a month for someone else to choose my fabric or patterns. I believe Sew Over It has just started a fabric club too – I just don’t get it! I was once collared at a flower show for a subscription to having flowers delivered – what, no I’ll pick them up in the supermarket as & when I feel like it thanks! I’m guessing the idea came for giving the subscriptions as a gift maybe. I too have fallen down the knitting & crochet rabbit hole.

  2. Judith Tomkinson
    February 10, 2019 / 10:10 am

    Im with you .I need to have full control over the pattern and the fabric Subscription boxes are not for me

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 12, 2019 / 7:31 am

      Yay Judith I’m glad you’re on my side of the fence! I’m just not sure who they are being aimed at – once you’re comfortable at choosing fabric and patterns for yourself, you’re not going to want stuff that someone else has chosen for you 🤷🏻‍♀️

  3. February 10, 2019 / 10:53 am

    I’m in team Risk Aversion as well- I don’t even buy lottery tickets [maths teacher, same type of thinking lol]
    I just did a mini clear of my wardrobe, and found that I could only actually remove 6 garments I’ve made over the last five years or so, that simply don’t get worn. In each case, I still love the fabric, so need to do some re-purposing to salvage what I can. I think that shows I know what I like and what suits me pretty well, as I probably make 40 or more garments each year, not a bad win rate!
    The sock yarn does look yummy, but nothing will lure me back to knitting, my arthritic hands are too contrary these days in any case, and knitting is so BORING.
    I look forward to seeing you sporting your cuddlesome toe-cosies

  4. The Wise Sprowl
    February 10, 2019 / 11:09 am

    I know many quilters who sign up to ‘block a month’ quilts that never get made. Monthly subsections are not for me either (unless it’s wine!). But I enjoy knitting, it’s the lazy sewist (me) alternative even if it does take longer.
    Thanks for the signpost to your Watson bra, this is something I’d like to try.

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 12, 2019 / 7:41 am

      Ooh there’s a ‘block a month’ thing? I didn’t know that 👀 I’m actually quite tempted to try a quilt, but worried that I’ll fall down yet another craft rabbit hole 😂
      I kind of don’t mind the fact that knitting takes longer… I quite enjoy the process.
      Ah yes the Watson bra! I’ve made a fair few from this pattern and they get worn on the regular. Just be wary of the sizing, my measurements put me at some tiny size according to the chart, so I went with my instinct and upped it a bit, and even that was too small and I had to size up again 😱

  5. Emma - snowfrosch_sews
    February 10, 2019 / 11:31 am

    Yeah, I would never buy something that I couldn’t see first, especially when it comes to colour and design. I don’t need the support, as i am no longer a beginner sewist, but being able to pick the fabric and pattern combination MYSELF, rather than having to rely on someone-else’s idea of what is “fashionable”, i.e. RTW, is one of the things that is most joyful about sewing, or (beginner knitter, here), knitting my own clothes. :o> Emma.

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 12, 2019 / 7:44 am

      Totally agree Emma!
      And I actually hadn’t thought of it like that – someone choosing the style and fabric for you is essentially buying RTW isn’t it 🤦🏻‍♀️ (except you have to sew it yourself). How is the knitting going? What’s currently on the needles?
      And yes, purple and aqua is the best combo, amirite 😍

  6. Emma - snowfrosch_sews
    February 10, 2019 / 11:35 am

    And the little doodad, that is now my little doodad, was a win for me…favourite colour – purple, a favourite colour combination – Purple with aqua. :o>

  7. Melody Srygley
    February 10, 2019 / 3:00 pm

    Buying fabric via the internet (sight/feel unseen) is gamble enough for me!

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 12, 2019 / 7:46 am

      It is a gamble, isn’t it! I’ll admit I do buy most of my fabrics online (apart from the massive splurge I had in the garment district in NYC last year 😂) and there’s been a few times that I’ve been disappointed. Now I have more understanding of what the different fabric types are (crepe vs sateen vs twill etc) I tend to choose better, but you’re relying on the supplier to give sufficient – and accurate – information 🤷🏻‍♀️

  8. Romy
    February 10, 2019 / 4:56 pm

    I liked the idea of the Sew Hayley Jane boxes at the beginning because it’s like getting a little gift each month, but unless I had a lot of disposable income I wouldn’t buy it because I’d rather pick a fabric I really love or need in my wardrobe.

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 12, 2019 / 7:48 am

      I guess it is like buying yourself a little gift each month! 🎁
      Except it’s chosen by someone that only knows that you sew, and doesn’t know what you like 🤔🤷🏻‍♀️ These boxes seem to be really popular, but if I’m honest I don’t quite understand why! Like you say I’d rather spend that money on something I know will get made into a garment I’ll wear on the regular.

  9. February 10, 2019 / 6:47 pm

    I’m not too keen on subscription boxes, mainly they take trade away from local shops. The wool shop I used closed last year due to falling sales. There’s nothing quite looking at stuff and felling it befor you buy!

  10. February 10, 2019 / 7:09 pm

    I can’t afford a subscription box at the moment, and I always forget to cancel these things too so almost always end up with a nasty surprise! I love those toadstool charms tho, I am obsessed with toadstools (in a good way…I don’t do drugs pmsl) x

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 12, 2019 / 7:53 am

      Haha… ‘obsessed with toadstools’ hey 😂😜😘
      I think maybe that’s what these companies rely on – people not cancelling, and then thinking ‘oh I’ll just get one more, maybe it will be better’ etc. Seems a bit like a money trap to me 🤔 It’s a lot of dosh to shell out for something that you might be underwhelmed with 😕 I think I’ll leave these well alone!

  11. Bren Holmes
    February 10, 2019 / 9:39 pm

    I tried a monthly fabric subscription box, but was disappointed by receiving children’s fabric, which I have no use for and gave away, or fabric that just didn’t appeal too many times, so cancelled it eventually. I do buy fabric online, simply because of the lack of shops selling any fabric other than quilting cotton locally, but much prefer to see and handle fabric before purchase. I received a sock knitting kit as a Christmas gift a few years back and they still get worn regularly in the winter. They are so warm and cosy! I’d like to knit myself some more. I love your sock wool and pattern.

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 12, 2019 / 7:57 am

      Hmm, yes I’d be mightily disappointed to receive children’s fabric too 😕 And then it’d be frustrating to have to give away the fabric you receive, having paid for it 🤦🏻‍♀️ I guess socks are a bit more of a safe bet – you know that the person you’re gifting to probably wears socks, so really it’s just a question of yarn colour. I’m so excited to knit up my sock kit – my feet are ALWAYS cold so hand-knitted cosy socks sounds like heaven to me 😂 I do feel that there’s a slight chance I might get addicted to sock knitting though… 😨😜

  12. Rebecca in SoCal
    February 11, 2019 / 1:53 am

    One of the reasons I sew clothes is to have unique garments (I still remember running into someone wearing the same purchase blouse as I–she was not someone I wanted to look like!), and there is only so much customization one could do unless going independent on the pattern, but then why subscribe?

    On quilting Block of the Month kits, I always look at the total cost (including shipping),* and my jaw drops. I just don’t understand the appeal.

    As for quilting subscriptions, I hadn’t seen what you showed. I used to read Leah Day’s blog, and she was getting Quilty Box for a while. She didn’t necessarily do what they suggested, but it was more than a stash-builder. According to their site, you will get “2 yards of fabric, a small spool of thread, and one or two notions and tools. You’ll also receive our Bundles of Inspiration mini-magazine complete with a showcase on the featured artist, articles and tips, and three patterns (full sized pattern from our featured artist, a mini pattern, and an English paper piecing pattern),” so somewhat more project-oriented. But it starts at $48/month.

    *No, I’m not in finance; just thrifty in some ways.

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 8:48 am

      Hi Rebecca! I totally hadn’t made the connection between a garment subscription box being practically the same as buying RTW until I was reading through these comments – you (and many others) are receiving the same sewing pattern and the same fabric. Everyone’s is going to look the same 🤷🏻‍♀️ Which as you say, defeats the point of being able to choose your own fabrics and patterns. 🤦🏻‍♀️
      Yay for being thrifty! 🙌🏻 I always look at the total costs, and costs per kilo or metre or whatever and work out which item is best value 😂🤑
      I honestly never knew a lot of these subscription boxes even existed until I bought the Knitcrate – but I felt like there was so many of them, that I was the only person missing the point of them. But it seems like all you guys feel the same too! 🙌🏻

  13. February 11, 2019 / 6:36 pm

    I’m so very picky about fabric and patterns, the thought of a subscription box that isn’t even tailored to my taste sends me running. I once tried one of those styling boxes out of curiosity (where you fill out a quiz about your clothing style, you get sent a box of things picked out for you and only pay for what you keep) and ended up sending everything back.

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 8:52 am

      I so agree with you – I’m struggling to get my head around why you would pay for someone else to choose the materials for you 🤷🏻‍♀️ And if you don’t like what you get, you can’t even send it back! (In most cases, anyway). I just don’t get it! Like you I’m very picky about fabrics and styles, but I think that’s a good thing – we know what we like! 🙌🏻

  14. February 11, 2019 / 8:55 pm

    There are so many subscription boxes now a days, it’s incredible. They are very inspiring and bring a lot of new product ideas, but sometimes they send items that one might not like.

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 8:54 am

      There really are SO many aren’t there! For anything and everything you can think of, as well. Like you say I think they are maybe good as inspiration, but once you’ve found your flow and know what you like, it’s better to be able to choose the things yourself.

  15. February 12, 2019 / 3:08 pm

    Planning my next project is one of my favorite parts of the sewing process! It helps that I have a big collection of fabrics that I love and can’t wait to dig into and a pattern queue longer than I can remember… Ruminating over all the possibilities is a big creative outlet for me, so it’s hard for me to imagine the customer who is disinterested in that!
    Enjoy lots of cozy snuggly knitting time–I also switch from sewing to crochet when I just want to vegetate in front of the TV under a heavy pile of blankets!

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 8:57 am

      Ah, me too! I love thinking about all the patterns and fabrics that I have, musing about which pattern I should make with the more precious pieces of fabric, wondering which designs would work best with the print of the fabric. I think I spend longer thinking about sewing than I actually do sewing 😂
      Now that I’m getting back into the knitting, my knitting project queue is growing at an alarming rate 😳😂 Trying my best (and succeeding fairly well) at not stashing yarn but only buying with projects in mind… but let’s regroup in six months on that and see how well it’s going then 😂

  16. February 12, 2019 / 4:25 pm

    Great research 👍 I just wish I could follow a knitting pattern! 😩

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 8:59 am

      They do seem daunting at first (like they may as well be written in Japanese or something 😂) but I PROMISE they really aren’t as bad as they seem. I don’t think this is the norm, but I actually find charts easier to read than written instructions as it’s more visual 🤷🏻‍♀️
      If we ever get the chance, I will teach you 🙌🏻

  17. Lodi
    February 12, 2019 / 4:58 pm

    Me too Andrew! (And I knit. Or pretend to…)

    • Sarah
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 9:00 am

      😂 I definitely think there’s a gap between actually being able to knit (as in using your hands and needles to make the thing) and reading charts and instructions – you definitely need two different sets of skills here 🤯

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