who doesn't like getting a surprise skein in the mail?
Shaking it up with
Yarn of the Month Clubs

Do you ever find yourself choosing the same yarns, or same types of yarns, over and over again? Or perhaps you tend to pick the same colorway and just don't dare venture into foreign hues?

Yarn clubs are a great way to break those routines and try something new. Prices, terms, and contents of those packages can vary significantly, but the bottom line remains the same: You pay, time passes, and you receive a surprise.

Yarn clubs have been around long enough to be a part of our mainstream vernacular. Some have become legendary, others have crashed and burned (in a few cases even taking members' money with them). Let's look at seven popular yarn clubs that are either open now or are worth bookmarking for the future. It's worth noting that all clubs but one feature exclusively hand-dyed yarns.

Because the majority of Knitter's Review readers are located in the United States, I have listed prices for U.S. subscriptions (when available). Most clubs also offer rates for Canadian and other international customers.

The Yarn of the Month Club
Sara Lucas rose to knitterly fame when, in partnership with Allison Isaacs, she opened the beloved San Francisco yarn store ImagiKnit. But a few years ago Lucas left San Francisco for Oregon, where she's been running Yarn of the Month Club ever since.

The focus here is on sampling and swatching all sorts of different textures, fibers, and twists. Each month, you receive four samples of new yarn. Not huge skeins, mind you, but enough yarn to knit a 4-inch (10cm) square swatch and get a taste for what the yarn can do. Shipments include a free original pattern using one of the yarns. Membership also comes with a bi-monthly newsletter and membership in an online community where you can discuss what you're swatching and compare notes. U.S. members pay $8.50 per month, and you can cancel at any time.

The Sundara Yarn Collection
Sundara Yarn has offered some form of yarn club almost since her beginnings five years ago. Earlier clubs had limited spots that filled within minutes. Today, Sundara has streamlined her production and simplified shipments to allow for open memberships any time of year.

Club membership is by yarn base (choose from Fingering Merino, Fingering Silky Merino, and Silk Lace), and each month's shipment includes two skeins of an exclusive colorway. I've never met a Sundara color I didn't like.

Prices run from $43 to $135 per month for U.S. members, depending on the yarn base (the higher price gets you 1,000 yards of silk lace). You can cancel at any time.

Rockin' Sock Club
Another club that's been going strong for many years is the Rockin' Sock Club from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. The club runs for a full year, with packages shipped every other month.

Each shipment contains a sock's worth of Socks That Rock lightweight or mediumweight yarn in an exclusive colorway, along two patterns commissioned exclusively for the club. This year's designers include Lucy Neatby, Cat Bordhi, Mary Scott Huff, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and yours truly.

Each shipment also includes Dyer's Notes written by Tina Newton (the creative force behind Blue Moon Fiber Arts) as well as assorted swag. Members also receive a coupon and get access to a special online community for club members.

One year's membership costs $240 for U.S. customers, and you pay up-front for the full year.

Badass Yarn Club
The brainchild of Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark of Kitchen Sink Dyeworks, this club is dedicated to the promotion of women who are making a difference in the world—or, to paraphrase Mercedes, women who "kick ass for a cause."

The club spans three months, and each month you receive one skein of an exclusive colorway named for, and inspired by, a so-called badass woman. You also get an original pattern for that yarn, and a portion of each month's proceeds are donated to an affiliated charity project. Mercedes also details the story of each month's notable woman on her blog.

Membership is billed at $40 per month for U.S. customers, with a three-month commitment. You can also pay for three months up front at a $5 discount.

Sweet Georgia Yarns Sock Club
Now open for registration through April 15th, the Sweet Georgia Sock Yarn Club runs from May to July with three shipments total. Each package includes a special colorway of 4 ounces (375 to 425 yards) of sock yarn in pure wool or a wool blend.

Shipment to U.S. destinations is $95 CAD, or $105 CAD for Canadian destinations. And for those who'd like to super-size their shipments with an extra skein of yarn, that option is also available for $72 CAD. (Prices in Canadian dollars because Sweet Georgia is a Canadian company.)

Sweet Georgia Yarns also has a Lace Yarn Club that is currently in progress and sold out. I'm guessing that registration for the next installment should open in April, but check with Sweet Georgia to be sure.

Spirit Trail Fiberworks
For those of you who love intense colors and luxury fibers, bookmark Spirit Trail Fiberworks for 2012. This year's Knitting Club is full and currently underway, with six shipments total—each of which has some combination of cashmere, alpaca, silk, or Merino in its yarn. These aren't just skeins off the shelf, either. One month includes a skein of 100% cashmere that is only for club members; another month features special 500-yard skeins of Lyra (which normally comes in 400-yard skeins).

The 2011 prices were $42 per month, billed for six months, for U.S. members. As with Sweet Georgia, Spirit Trail also offers a super-size option with double each month's yarn shipment for $79 per month.

Knit Love Club
Meanwhile, plenty is brewing across the pond in the UK with the Socktopus Knit Love Club. Sold out for this year, the club is set to reopen for new members at the end of 2011.

Socktopus is the creative venture of Alice Yu, the knitwear designer who is also responsible for the London summer event, Knit Nation. This year's club features six shipments of Alice's dream yarn, called Sokkusu-Original, which she had custom-spun just for Socktopus. Along with the yarn, you also get an original pattern by Alice.

Club members also receive one additional skein and, at the end of the year, a souvenir book containing hardcopy of all the patterns along with photos of people's finished socks and brief bios of all the members. I do not know the price or shipping terms.

Tip of the Yarnberg
The seven clubs mentioned here represent just the tip of the iceberg. Two others that are in progress but definitely worth bookmarking for next year: A Verb for Keeping Warm's Pro-Verbial Yarn and Fiber Club and the Madelinetosh Magnolia Society. But wait, I saved the best for last: Now open is the Foxfire Fiber Sheep Shares yarn CSA. Each precious skein tells a beautiful story.

The ultimate goal of all these clubs is to introduce a little surprise and variety into your knitting life. Whatever you choose, I hope you have fun and enjoy the adventure.

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Published March 31, 2011