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 Tanis Gray, review of Knit Local, and giveaway

This post contains affiliate links.

Today, I’m interviewing Tanis Gray about her new book, Knit Local: Celebrating America’s Homegrown Yarns.  Her publisher, Sixth & Spring Books, sent me a copy to review, and I’ll also be hosting a giveaway for my review copy.

Tanis is an accomplished knitwear designer.  She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and was the former Yarn Editor at Soho Publishing.  Like many yarn crafters, she shares her love of the craft through her volunteerism, and teaches knitting at a women’s shelter and also donates Snuggles to pet shelters.  She can be found at her website or her Ravelry designer page.  All photographs are used with Tanis’s permission, and credited appropriately below.

The Interview

Tanis Gray

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to knit?

Tanis: My mother taught me when I was 8 years old with the help of a family friend. Both my grandmothers were knitters and crocheters. I can’t wait to get knitting needles in my son’s hands! I think everyone should knit and am a big believer in knitting being taught in schools. I’d love to see it taught in every single school in America. It teaches concentration, basic math, self confidence, a sense of accomplishment, color skills, and the simple act of being able to provide for yourself. If you’re cold, make yourself a hat! (UC comment: This is so true!  I’m always impressed when people tell me they learned knitting and crocheting at school “back home” before coming to the U.S. – and they all seem to have a better understanding of math than our students here!) People are too plugged in nowadays. We need to break that cycle with the new generation and knitting could be instrumental in that.

Knitted Gift Box, published in Vogue Knitting on the Go: Quick Gifts.

UC: What inspired you to start designing?

Tanis: I had always designed my own mittens, hats, and scarves. I was in a serious mitten phase for many years and pretty much anyone I knew got a pair at some point. I started looking for certain things in stores and could never find exactly what I wanted. That led me to start designing, but I didn’t get serious about it or have the confidence until I worked at Vogue Knitting to try designing beyond accessories. Seeing my first sweater design published was a thrill. I still get a tingle of excitement when I open a magazine or book and see something I designed and knit on the page.

Atelier Gloves, published by Lion Brand Yarn.  The pattern is available as a free download on their website.

UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?

Tanis: Everywhere! There are so many museums where we live in Washington, D.C., and my mom and I spent so many weekends at the art museum growing up. Looking in magazines, reading books, seeing something on the street, in a dream… Inspiration is all over, you just have to keep your eyes open.

Cabled Belt, published in Vogue Knitting.

UC: Your new book, Knit Local: Celebrating America’s Homegrown Yarns, has just been published.  What was the design process like for this book?

Tanis: I had worked on so many books for other people while working at Soho Publishing. Being in charge and working on every single aspect where it was all on me was interesting. I wrote the entire thing on my kitchen table and at a few local coffee shops and it was the first thing I thought about when I woke up and last thing before I went to sleep. It was so much writing, talking on the phone with the yarn companies, emailing, fact checking, photo gathering, and patience.

My husband is a green mechanical engineer and he was a big inspiration. When we first started dating he changed all of my lightbulbs to energy efficient (long before it was trendy), investigated my recycling, and opened my eyes to living a more enviormentally-friendly lifestyle. Getting a bunch of designers together to design for this book who understood what it was I was trying to convey was a tough process, and I think the end result speaks for itself. The designs are beautiful and I am so proud of everyone who contributed.

My soul is in this book and I hope people love it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Caprica, published by Be Sweet Yarn.

UC: You have held many roles in the yarn industry, including working as a designer, editor, and now author.  What advice do you have for aspiring needlearts professionals?

Tanis: Never give up. Designs get rejected all the time but it’s not necessarily because the design was bad. It may not have fit into the issue or been what they were looking for that time around. Keep trying and keep designing. Don’t be married to a certain idea. I’ve seen people submit the same design over and over again because they loved it so much but it wasn’t what the magazine was looking for. Self publish it on Ravelry, get it out of your system and start again. Harry Potter was rejected 12 times before being published! Where would we be without Harry Potter? That’s a fantastic example of determination and not giving up.

Hat and Scarf Set, published by Knit Simple.

UC: What are your favorite knitting books in your collection (besides your own, of course)?

Tanis: I have so many knitting books. When another one comes in the mail, my husband always asks “do you really need another knitting book?” The answer is YES! I especially love older knitting books that are very straightforward. There are no bells and whistles, just the knitting. But on the other hand, I love glossy, full-color, beautiful books also. It’s interesting to have books from the Victorian era that are falling apart next to the most popular of today sitting side by side on my shelf. I’m a big fan of historical knitting books because I think it’s so important to know the history of a craft if you love it, especially if you do it as a career.

Over and Out Scarf, published by ArtYarns.

UC: What are your favorite types of yarn to work with?

Tanis: I’m an equal opportunity fiber lover. I love cotton, which many people don’t like knitting with, but a nice springy wool, a soft alpaca, a beautiful hand dye… I love it all! I think you should try every fiber at least once. Sometimes I’m surprised at how much I’ll love a yarn that I may have been unsure about.

Thanks, Tanis, for taking time out for the interview!

Book Review


I was very excited about reviewing Knit Local: Celebrating America’s Homegrown Yarns, and for the most part, my high expectations were met.

The concept of Tanis’s book is great.  The target audience is confident knitters in the United States who are environmentally conscious and/or interested in knowing more about how the yarns they love are produced.  Tanis encourages you to learn about where your yarn comes from, and introduces the reader to U.S. based companies who produce yarn in an eco-friendly manner.  By promoting these companies, Tanis aims to encourage us to be more environmentally conscious consumers, who buy products locally to reduce the carbon impact from transportation.  To this end, the book is arranged regionally, and includes a profile of twenty-eight yarn companies.  Each company’s profile is followed by a pattern using one or more of its yarns.

What I like about this book:

  • As someone who has always live in an inner-city, and who occasionally fantasizes about living on farm, producing my own super awesome yarn, I was thrilled to read about people who’ve actually lived this dream.
  • The stories of the different companies are really interesting. (Full disclosure: I find entrepreneurs and their stories interesting – if you don’t, this could bore you to tears.)
  • It was helpful to read the business philosophies of the different companies and to know more about their products.  I learned a lot about the philosophy behind some of my favorite yearns.
  • I enjoyed learning about new yarns, and especially about those produced by small, independent yarn companies.  The profiles feel more intimate than reading about the yarn company on a website – almost like being introduced by a friend.
  • The resources section in the back includes information about knitting notions made in the U.S., as well as information about the yarn companies profiles in the book.
  • The book is graphically attractive and has excellent photographs.  It definitely qualifies as “eye candy.”
  • Unlike many books, which have no defined target audience and include beginner tutorials along with advanced patterns, this book aims squarely at the experienced knitter.  Two patterns are done in crochet, and the rest are in knit.  About half of the projects are advanced difficulty, with the rest being mostly intermediate.  There is one easy pattern.
  • There is a broad range of projects by many different designers.

(Side note: My favorite knitting patterns were the Big Man on Campus Hoodie in Green Mountain Spinnery Alpaca Elegance by Josh Bennett, the Cabled Car Coat in Farmhouse Yarns Andy’s Merino by Sauniell Connally, the Maritime Hat and Mittens in Swan Island Yarns Worsted by Jil Eaton, the McEnroe Diamonds Scarf in Juniper Moon Farm Fire Wool Worsted Weight by Ben Walker, Farmhouse Gloves in Solitude Romney by Kristin Nicholas, and the Winterthur Beret and Cowl Set in Hazel Knits Artisan Lively by Elspeth Kursh.  It might be my crochet bias, but I really liked both crochet patterns too, the Wildflowers Scarf in Buffalo Gold Lux by Linda Permann and the Random Harvest Afghan, photo-styled like a shawl, in Brown Sheep Company‘s Lamb’s Pride Worsted by Randy Caveliere.)

On the other hand…

Like some works of conceptual art, the book doesn’t come together exactly as you would imagine based on hearing about the concept.  For example:

  • After Tanis convinces us in the opening pages about all of the benefits of buying local to reduce environmental impact, the back cover flap proudly declares that the book was manufactured in China.  It is hard to believe that Sixth & Spring couldn’t find a location in the Western hemisphere to publish this book, especially given the subject matter.
  • It is wonderful to see a book with so many different designers represented.  However, I’m not sure that any one knitter would actually be interested in making this diversity of patterns.  There are baby/child garments, men’s and women’s clothing, all manner of accessories, a pair of socks, and a sprinkling of home decor – in quite a few different styles and using a range of techniques.  The book doesn’t look as cohesive as most books with a limited range of designers or a project theme.  I think many people look for themes in their books – either a project type (e.g., socks) or emphasis on a certain technique (e.g., cables), so this aspect of the book may limit its appeal.
  • While the back cover declares “30+ Gorgeous Knits!,” I keep counting and only get 30 projects.  I actually think 30 projects is plenty for a book of this price – but since the back cover has me thinking there are more projects, it seems like something is missing.
  • I can’t help but wonder why the companies with only 1 yarn produced in the U.S. are included (though their stories are just as interesting as the rest).

The verdict

I don’t knit nearly as much as I crochet, and if you read the blog regularly, you know that I don’t tend to follow patterns, so I’m not in the target audience of this book. However, it does stand on its own as an introduction to some of the small, independent yarn companies in the U.S.  I think an environmentally conscious knitter who likes at least five of these patterns would be quite happy with the book.  (And it would be easy to find 5 patterns you like, since the patterns on the whole are really great and represent a variety of techniques and styles.)  If you are not persuaded by Tanis’s case for buying local, eco-friendly yarns, you may still be swayed by the 30ish designs included in the book.  I do think you are likely to rate the book higher if you are interested in the environmental issues Tanis presents, or prefer to shop local for other reasons.  I would rate the book as a 4 out of 5 stars for the experienced, eco-conscious knitter.  It is an attractive exploration of diverse projects with interesting, well written tales of independent yarn companies.  This is not a book for a beginner knitter, and will probably have limited appeal to eco-friendly knitters outside of the U.S., or knitters who aren’t particularly concerned with how their yarn is produced or its impact on the environment.

Full disclosure: A free review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. Although I accept free books for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review.  My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. This also post contains affiliate links. You can read my affiliate and review disclosures here.

The Giveaway

I’m giving away my review copy of Knit Local: Celebrating America’s Homegrown Yarns, courtesy of Sixth & Spring.  In the spirit of the book, this giveaway is only available to those with U.S. mailing addresses.  (Don’t worry, my international peeps – I have another giveaway coming up for you soon!)

To find more blogs participating in Blogtoberfest 2011, visit Tinnie Girl.  For Blogtoberfest 2011 giveaways, visit Curly Pops.