2014 Crocheter’s Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

It’s that time of year when we all start thinking about gifts for others – and for ourselves. I’ll be sharing a series of gift guides for crocheters, starting with today’s edition: Yarn Club Memberships and CSA Shares.

Yarn club memberships and CSA shares are gifts that keep on giving. For the next month, or season, or year, the recipient will receive a delightful package of yarn in the mail, sometimes even including a pattern. These gifts are also great for knitters. (If you’re looking for options for spinners, many of the companies in the gift guide also have a fiber or roving option.)

So what are yarn clubs and yarn CSA anyway?

Yarn clubs are subscription services for yarn lovers. Many yarn clubs operate on a mystery model, where the exact yarn and/or colorway isn’t revealed until the package is received. Some yarn clubs are organized by a single yarn company and include exclusive colorways or first releases of a new yarn; others are coordinated by one company and include yarn from several dyers, spinners, or manufacturers.

CSA is an abbreviation for community supported agriculture. (You can read a brief but interesting history of CSA in the United States here.) Members buy a share of a farm’s fiber or yarn production in advance, which allows the farmer to plan and budget and also gives the share holder the opportunity to get to know more about how the yarn was produced and the animals that contribute to the yarn. CSA yarn is sometimes undyed, in which case it would also make a great gift for a dyer.

I should mention that I haven’t participated in any of these yarn clubs or CSA programs in the past, but they look like a lot fun! I’ve compiled a list of 5 yarn clubs and 5 yarn CSA programs that are still open for 2015.

5 Yarn Clubs Accepting 2015 Subscriptions

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Ladybug Fiber Company: Self-Striping Sock Club (3 Month Subscription)

  • Shipments: 3 – January 2015, February 2015, and March 2015
  • Yarn: 1 of 6 different superwash wool blend sock yarn bases are hand dyed each month
  • Cost: $95
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

stitchjones: Yarnageddon 2015

  • Shipments: 4 – March 2015, June 2015, September 2015, and December 2015
  • Yarn: Each package contains hand dyed yarn (in a colorway inspired by the Beatles) accompanied by an original pattern, PLUS a yarn alternate or fiber selection, PLUS a special themed gift
  • Cost: $210
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Sundara Yarn: The Happiness Yarn Club

  • Shipments: 3 – January 2015, March 2015, and May 2015
  • Yarn: Hand dyed Sundara Yarn, 8 skeins, 2050 yards, DK Angora (angora/wool blend), Worsted Silky Alpaca (alpaca/silk blend), and Sport Silk (100% silk)
  • Cost: $310.50 (6 monthly payments of $51.75)
  • Deadline for sign up/order: Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 5 p.m. PT

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

sweetgeorgia: Sock Yarn Club

  • Shipments: 3 – January 2015, February, 2015, March 2015
  • Yarn: Approximately 4 oz (113 g)/375-425 yards (343-389 m) each month of a unique colorway of sweetgeorgia sock yarn (exclusive for at least 1 year) in wool or wool blend
  • Cost: $105
  • Deadline for sign up/order: Wednesday, December 31, 2014 or when supplies run out

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Yarnbox: Classic Crochet Gift Subscription

  • Shipments: Monthly (3 and 6 month packages available)
  • Yarn: Customizable by weight and color
  • Cost: $39.95/month – $215.70/6 months
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

5 Yarn CSA Offering 2015 Shares

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Feederbrook Farm (Maryland): 2015 CSA Membership

  • Shipments: Ships late August, 2015
  • Yarn: Wool – 6 skeins of natural colored or organically hand dyed, locally milled 2 ply DK yarn (approximately 260 yards) from Bluefaced Leicester sheep
  • Cost: $175
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Foxfire Fiber and Designs at Springdelle Farm (Massachusetts): Sheep Shares CSA

  • Shipments: Spring Share ships in June 2015
  • Yarn: Cormo Flock Sock (90% Cormo wool/10% Bombyx Silk), 220 yards (approx. 2.2 oz) skeins in 3-ply, fingering weight
  • Cost: undyed: 2 skeins/$48; 4 skeins/$90; dyed 2 skeins/$52; 4 skeins/$98
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Grand View Farm (Vermont): 5 CSA Options

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

 

Juniper Moon Farm (Virginia): 2015 Colored Flock CSA

 

  • Shipments: Ships September 2015
  • Yarn: Varies from year to year with an average of 6 skeins of worsted or dk weight yarn in a full share
  • Cost: $125
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

Underground Crafter's 2014 Crocheter's Gift Guide: Yarn Club Memberships & CSA Shares

Where the Rooster Crows (Montana): Shetland/Romney Wool

  • Shipments: 1, late summer 2015
  • Yarn: A variety of natural colored wool yarn in whites, browns, blacks and gray, typically 12- 16 skeins.
  • Total Cost: $150
  • Deadline for sign up/order: open

If you’d like to find more yarn clubs and yarn CSA programs, I have a Pinterest board devote to this theme. Many of these open up at different points during the year and aren’t accepting new subscriptions or shareholders now.

Follow Underground Crafter’s board Yarn Clubs & Fiber CSAs on Pinterest.

NaBloPoMo

I’m participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Post Month (also known as NaBloPoMo) by blogging daily through November, 2014.

Interview with Laura Watson from Full Moon Farm

At Vogue Knitting Live 2013, I had the pleasure of meeting Laura Watson from Full Moon Farm.  Laura’s yarns were extremely colorful – and so was she! – so I was immediately drawn over to her booth.  It was wonderful to learn that she’s a New York State local (about 90 minutes north of New York City).  I ran into her again at 2014’s event, and she was kind enough to take some time from the busy lifestyle of a farmer/shearer/spinner/dyer/entrepreneur to share an interview.

You can find Laura online at the Full Moon Farm website and their Facebook page.  You can find out more about their yarn and fiber here and learn where to buy their products here.

Laura Watson at Full Moon Farm's Vogue Knitting Live booth in 2014.
Laura Watson at Full Moon Farm’s Vogue Knitting Live booth in 2014.

Underground Crafter (UC): Besides shearing, spinning, and dyeing, do you also crochet, knit, and/or weave?

Laura: I knit, but am a rank amateur. It is on my list to get better. I felt and do Australian Locker Hooking.

The Full Moon Farm booth at Vogue Knitting Live in 2013.
The Full Moon Farm booth at Vogue Knitting Live in 2013.

UC: Tell us more about your motivation for starting Full Moon Farm, and about its expansion.

Laura: I grew up on a sheep and beef farm. I (like all my siblings) moved away from the farm but then, in the end (like all my siblings) I returned to farming. I stuck with the sheep. I like them and can manage them, physically, without assistance. My flock started with 1 bred ewe, Border Leicester.  I added Corriedale and then Merino, so now my flock is a motley mix with decent body size for meat, and nice, fine wool for spinning and felting.

Felted signs in the Full Moon Farm's booth at Vogue Knitting Live in 2014.
Felted signs in the Full Moon Farm’s booth at Vogue Knitting Live in 2014. 

UC: Some of us urban dwellers have fantasies about moving out to the country and starting a farm. Can you tell us a bit about the realities of farm living and working?

Farming is a 24/7 life. One must be prepared for fencing or haying a field in the heat of the summer or checking on the flock in the middle of the night in the cold during lambing season. The benefits are the beauty of the pasture or hay field, the coziness of a full hay loft, new born lambs – so sweet and bouncy – and fiber.

Felted hats at the Full Moon Farm booth at Vogue Knitting Live 2014.
Felted hats at the Full Moon Farm booth at Vogue Knitting Live 2014.

UC: One of the things that struck me about your booth at Vogue Knitting Live was your colorways. Where do you find your inspiration as a dyer?

Laura: I love color and have so much fun dying my yarns and spinning fiber. I usually go with colors I like. I am not afraid to combine colors and just go with my gut to choose what combinations to make. I have recently started trying to be more focused and going with a theme such as “Mom’s Flower Garden” or “Field of Sunflowers.”

Yarn at the Full Moon Farm booth at Vogue Knitting Live 2014.
Yarn at the Full Moon Farm booth at Vogue Knitting Live 2014. 

UC: You have the opportunity to travel to many fiber related events. Tell us about some of your favorite fiber festival experiences.

Laura: I love going to fiber festivals because I know that the people attending are there because they love (or like a lot) fiber, so we already have something in common. I like to see what the other vendors are doing too because there is such versatility in wool and other fibers. It makes me smile just writing about it.

More yarn on display at the Full Moon Farm booth at Vogue Knitting Live 2014.
More yarn on display at the Full Moon Farm booth at Vogue Knitting Live 2014.

My favorite event is a little fiber festival in Clermont, NY at an historic site. It is called The Chancellor’s Day Sheep and Wool Festival. The setting, on the banks of the Hudson River, is idyllic, and they do historic re-enactments, such as shearing sheep using an antique shearing machine. It has grown in size and popularity over the years but remains small, quaint, and very friendly.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Laura!

By the way, I love the look of the skein I bought from Laura in 2013.  It has since been wound into a yarn cake and is awaiting transformation into a beautiful project!

Full Moon Farm Fabulous Yarn

Interview with Karia from Kouture Crochet

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Karia (also known as KoutureCrochet on Ravelry).  As a Brooklyn native, I’m always excited to meet crocheters in my home borough online – somehow, it often seems easier than meeting them in real life!  Karia is organizing an interesting Kickstarter project and also co-owns an Etsy shop.  You can also find Kouture Crochet online on Facebook.


Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting and knitting?
Kouture Crochet (KC): I started crocheting as a teen. My sister was in high school taking an art class where she was learning to crochet. As any self respecting younger sister, I wanted to do what my big sister was doing.  So with the help of my mother, my sister taught me how to crochet. I crocheted all through high school, college and beyond. I learned to knit years later after graduating college. These two art forms quickly become a big part of who I am and how i relax, how I watch tv and why I love audio books.

A unisex black alpaca scarf by Kouture Crochet. (Click photo to link to Etsy shop.)

UC: What inspired you to start selling your creations on Etsy?
KC: I started selling on Etsy because I was going broke making scarves and gifts for friends and family! Selling on Etsy was a way to continue to craft without losing money. I quickly realized I wanted to make this into a career. I’ve been selling on Etsy since March 2011, and I hope to be selling my crafts for a long time to come.

Knit skinny tie made with handdyed yarn by Kouture Crochet.

UC: Tell us about your Handspun Single Sheep Breeds Yarn Kickstarter project and your inspiration for developing it.

KC: For my shop on Etsy and for my personal projects, I used only natural fibers. One thing I found is that the selection of high quality 100% natural yarns is limited and often extremely expensive. I was able to find easy accessible camel and alpaca yarns through some luck and research. Wool yarns was more difficult. It felt like I had one option: merino. I love working with merino but I wanted to try something different.

When I started trying to find wool from other sheep breeds I was completely overwhelmed. There are hundreds of breeds and countless varieties. Purchasing finished yarns from more than one or two breeds was just not in my budget. In the end, I taught myself to spin yarn on a drop spindle in order to be able to try different breeds and varieties. I was lucky enough to be able to make my own yarns and learn to spin on a drop spindle, but most people don’t have the time or patience to learn to make their own yarns. There is a such a need for single breed yarns and it seemed to me like the market was not filling that need.

The best way to know “what is what” is to feel the yarn and work with it. However, there are hundreds of breeds and thousands of varieties. One skein of single breed yarn can be anywhere from $15 – $70. I had been a backer of many Kickstarter projects, and Kickstarter was a perfect format for this kind of idea. The project took months to research and price even though the goal was simple: affordable, an easy to understand way to try different single breed yarns. I have narrowed down the list to just 26 breeds. They vary wildly in softness, crimp, coarseness, strength and even the natural colors the fibers come in. I don’t cut corners in quality, but by offering samples of one ounce mini skeins its possible to offer many breeds for an affordable price.

Few, if any, local yarn shops will have more than 5 breeds of yarn to try, let alone 26! As a lover of natural fibers, it is great to be able to feel and sample a yarn in your hand. My hope is there are just a few people like me who wanted to try these fibers and yarns. Crafters who love natural yarns will be able to do so at a very reasonable price. I also hope that people who think wool is that “itchy, expensive stuff” will also give it a try.  (UC comment: This is really a great project!  If you’d like to contribute, check out Kouture Crochet’s Kickstarter page here.)

Handdyed merino yarn by Kouture Crochet.

UC: Do you have any crafty websites or blogs you frequent for inspiration or community that you would like to share?

KC: I’m new to Ravelry, but I love having such a large and active community of crafters.

 

Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Karia!

Handmade Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Great Gifts for Yarncrafters

This post contains affiliate links.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In the U.S., the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) signifies the official start of the holiday shopping season.  In the spirit of keeping the holidays a little more handmade and small business and a little less mass produced and corporate, I’m sharing several holiday gift guides today.

Great Gifts for Yarncrafters

There are so many great gifts out there for yarncrafters that I hardly know where to begin.

Books

Books are great gifts for yarncrafters, but with so many options out there, it can be hard to choose.

Kits

CRAFT magazine posted a Craft Kits gift guide for 2011.  Here are some of my favorites.

Double Drop Spindle Maple Wood Yarn Spinning Kit from Maine Woods Yarn & Fiber. (Image used with permission.)

Classes


Classes are so fun!  Not only can you learn new techniques and projects, but you get to meet more people who share your passion for knitting and crocheting.

Yarn

Most yarncrafters are always on the look out for new (and more) yarn.  Buying yarn for someone else can be daunting though.

  • Look for tips for color and yarn weight in their Ravelry project pages.
  • Or pick up something unique, like a handspun or hand dyed yarn, or something that isn’t available in their community, like small batch yarn ordered online.
  • Check Ravelry’s Black Friday Yarn Sale thread in Needlework on the Net for weekend sales.
  • I’ve had the pleasure of being introduced to some wonderful yarns from several small companies this year.  You may want to check out A Stash AddictBitsy Knits, or Chopped Tomatoes Design Kitchen.  Other yarns that I’ve admired from a distance but haven’t yet tried include Candy SkeinFunky Monkey, and Swoon Fibers.
Emerald Forest colorway from A Stash Addict.
  • A gift certificate to a LYS is another option, if you are worried about making the final decision yourself.
  • And, of course, I wrote about my favorite yarns here if you are still looking for ideas.

Hooks and Needles

Crochet hooks and/or knitting needles make great gifts, especially if you pick out something special.

Show Your Appreciation

Making things by hand is a labor of love.  Show your appreciation with a set of This Took Forever woven labels from Sublime Stitching and maybe you’ll get a homemade gift in return :).

Wishlists

Does your favorite yarncrafter have a wishlist?  I rely on the Add to Amazon Wishlist browser button to keep my wishlist organized in one spot.  (Hint: If you are a yarncrafter hoping people will get you awesome holiday gifts, maybe you should do that, too! You can even add patterns from Ravelry so that non-members can see them from the pattern purchase page.)

Enjoy the last gift guide, and feel free to share your favorite gifts for yarncrafters in the comments!