I love getting mail. It’s not just that it’s rare to get it in this digital world. I’ve always loved it, even as a kid. I think it’s the surprise of opening the box, even if you ordered it. So it’s really no wonder that I was attracted to the online subscription services like a bee to a flower.
Turns out, I love a surprise, but I’m very hard to impress. Over the past few years, I’ve signed up for no less than 10 monthly services (not all at the same time, of course, that would be ridiculous). They fell into three categories – for me, at least: clothes/makeup, food, and yarn. I’ll break down the first two quickly, just in case y’all are curious, then hit the yarn ones.
Part One: Clothing/Makeup
StitchFix: Clothing and accessories. Fill out a form on what size/style/price/kinds of clothes you’d like to get, and they send you up to five pieces per shipment. I schedule when I want it, with no minimum deliveries, and I can share my style boards on Pinterest with their “clothing stylists”, to better customize my clothing order. I like getting things that I wouldn’t necessarily ever take into the fitting room of a store, and usually end up keeping most of them. I get a discount if I buy all the pieces in a box, but I can return the whole thing with a prepaid bag envelope if I don’t. It’s a bit pricey for me, so it’s a special splurge a few times a year, but I highly recommend it.
Peaches and Petals: Described on their site as jewelry and makeup with other style items. I’ve had two boxes so far (both two weeks late) and it was a random collection of things, as if I’d given a friend a $20 bill and sent her to the mall and said, “Get me something from every store.” It’s just a little too random for me.
Part Two: Food
These have been a little more successful than makeup for me.
Graze: Inexpensive, small snack packs with various levels of spiciness and ingredients that you can rate after tasting, to improve your next selections. I couldn’t get the flavors dialed in to my tastes, and ended up giving most of them to my co-workers (which made me popular but not worth my money).
Love with Food: Good assortment of items, all with organic or healthy choices, and if I like them I can actually find them in a store to purchase again (unlike Graze, who has special batches they make themselves). Bonus: for every box purchased, they donate a meal to a national food bank program. Gotta love that. I’ll stay on this program for a while.
Part Three: Yarn
This is a little harder to quantify. I’ve come to realize that I’m very particular about my yarn choices, and there are very few people that can make me happy. No less than five companies have tried. (One I can’t remember anything about, other than the fact that they wrapped my yarn in very strong handmade cedar soap – to which I am allergic – and I had to air that yarn out and give away the soap. Needless to say, that got cancelled immediately.)
OK, on to the ones I do remember:
YarnBox: I gave them three months to impress me. The first shipment were “yarns” (term used loosely here; it was strips of unused sari material and raw nubby silk that sheds like crazy). They were made by a company that helps poor women in India earn a living, which is very noble, but the stuff is unusable. Add to that, the fact that they still smelled very strongly of the Indian factory they came from when I opened the box, and I had to air them out for a solid week to get the smell out. I honestly have no idea how/where to use these things, and they are so far out of my interest that they have sat in the bottom of my stash for almost three years. The next two shipments were better, but were still in colors I would probably not use for myself (those were traded or still in the bottom of a stash box).
??: I can’t even find the name of the group that did this, but for about $10/month, they would send me approx. 20 yards of a few different brands of yarn, along with a small pattern. That way I could swatch them and see if I liked them enough to buy a whole bunch. I hate to swatch almost as much as I hate to vacuum out my car, so the odds of doing anything with these little baggies was very small. Still took me three months to tell them to stop, I love getting mail that much. 😛
Knitologie: (You’ll notice I did not include a link here, as I have no intention of sending any business their way.) Where to begin with these folks? Not being allowed to rant on Ravelry about them (the dirty digital looks I got from the other Ravelers when I put my toe in those waters quickly stopped me), I will proceed to rant right here. It’s my blog and I’ll rant if I want to…
Their yarn is custom-dyed on their own yarn bases for this select group of subscribers. Their subscriptions are for 3-month periods, one package per month, and auto-renew the month before your last box ships. So if you decide you don’t want it anymore, you’ve got to tell them after the second box ships, or you’re stuck with another $87 charge you can’t get out of. Believe me, I know of what I speak. They also send out “mood board” images of what they were inspired by to dye the custom yarn, although those images only bore a passing similarity to the actual product I received.
To be mildly fair, the yarn bases were always of good quality, and if they’d been remotely in a colorway I could tolerate, would have been quite lovely. But that turned out to be the problem for me, I just didn’t like most of the colors they chose. The others on Ravelry just raved about them, and how they couldn’t wait to cast on their next project with them, while I was scrolling through my mental list of fellow knitters that might be slightly interested in taking this stuff off my hands. It was just really frustrating to be so disappointed every time; I know the point of a mystery subscription is that you’re up for anything, but it ended up being rainbow, pinks or purples the majority of the time. Not being a 9-year-old girl, that really didn’t float my boat.
But let me end with the most miraculous subscription of all,
which (almost) balances out the disaster that was Knitologie:
Madelinetosh Yarn Club: Anyone who knows me knows of my love for Madelinetosh. Their colorways are luscious, as are their yarn bases. It’s a little pricey ($155 total for 3 months/6 skeins), but well worth the money when you can afford it. This yarn club is only open to enroll in quarterly, and you have to be on an email list to be notified when they open the subscription, since it fills up so quickly.
You get to choose three of the four themes offered (Spring was Earth/Wind/Water/Fire), and get to vote on Ravelry from a selection of images to determine the custom colors they will dye for that month. I got two skeins of each theme color, and each month is a different yarn base/weight. Two of the three months were amazing, and even the third one that I didn’t fall in love with was still very nice. I’ve already signed up for summer. Can’t wait!