What is it?
Darn Good Yarn is a small business which sells a variety of handmade items produced by co-ops primarily in India and Nepal. This includes yarn, recycled sari skirts, fabric, beads, and tools. Nicole, the owner, was inspired by recycled silk yarns she had stashed at home and the stories of women who produce it. She explains on her website, “I soon learned that the people who make this yarn needed a better way to make a better living. They needed sustainability and safety in their day-to-day jobs.” About the yarns, she said, “I made it my mission to show the world just how important these fun and quirky yarns are.”
The yarn of the month subscription, at the time of writing this, is $10 plus shipping, which for me is $14.95.
- skein of premium yarn
- knit & crochet Pattern
- mystery gift
I subscribed to the box in September, October and November 2018.
I am fairly certain that the first box is a standard box. I received the same box pictured on the website and looking through projects on Ravelry, this same kit seems to have gone out over multiple months. Either way, it was a solid starting place.
The kit came with 75 yards of Darn Good Yarn Roving Silk in colorway “Watercolors,” a bamboo crochet hook and knitting needles sized for the yarn, and both a knit and crochet pattern designed for the yarn.
I chose to crochet the Ripples Neckware pattern included. The patterns included were simple enough that most beginners would have an easy time picking up the project from this first box. The yarn was, as stated, a silk roving with short color changes. Being a yarn without twist, it did catch on the hook from time to time and may provide some challenges to someone who has never worked with a similar silk yarn. I found it to be a nice example of a yarn made from commercial silk waste.
The only piece of this first kit I was disappointed in was the mystery gift — the crochet hook and knitting needles. Almost as soon as I began using the hook, it started splintering and catching the yarn. It made it to the end of the project, but just barely. Examining the knitting needles, I found that they, too, were prone to splintering.
The second box came with 80 yds of Black & Hue Worsted Weight Silk Yarn in colorway “Mystic Shadows” This yarn made use of reclaimed silk and, again, consisted of a low-twist single yarn; lovely soft, but meant for gentle wear.
Both the knit and crochet pattern were titled Twilight Sky Hat and seemed to be a step up in difficulty from the first pattern, but still very simple and great for a beginning knitter or crocheter. I’m not going to lie, I found both versions of this hat very unattractive and did not find them to feature the yarn particularly well.
The mystery gift in this pack was a pair of earrings that vaguely matched the color of the yarn if you crossed your eyes sort of. While cute, they didn’t tie closely to the box for me.
The third box came with 50 yds of Speckled Tweed Recycled Silk in colorway “Stormy Day.” This two-ply yarn is primarily grey with flecks of color throughout. With its tweedy nature, it has some lovely texture to go along with the shine of the silk. My one complaint about this yarn is that it has a strong (not unpleasant) odor from whatever it was washed with. I’m not terribly scent sensitive, but it was strong to me.
The knit and crochet Cloudburst Cowl patterns included this month looked great. The patterns were simple enough for a beginner and well-differentiated from the last two patterns. The knit pattern did well to show off the texture in the yarn. I’m not sure the crochet pattern was as successful at featuring the yarn.
The mystery gift in this pack was six jingle bells in bright colors. It was fun driving my dogs crazy when I shook the box, but I have no idea what to use these for. They don’t look like they’d stand up to a stiff breeze and didn’t contribute a sense of value for me with this box.
One thing I really enjoyed about each box is that it came with a small flyer showing where the yarn originated and with a “behind-the-scenes” photo of that month’s yarn in the making. The really unique part of this yarn subscription is that it openly discusses the sourcing of its materials.
Customer service was quick to respond. While other reviewers have stated they received poor customer service, I can’t claim the same. I emailed to ask about sourcing and Phil responded within two days with a clear answer to my question and an offer for further clarification if I had more questions.
At this time, the website does not list sourcing information nearly as cleanly as the subscription boxes do. Phil assured me that there are more information pieces coming down the line for the website. If you have questions or concerns about their sourcing, you’ll want to contact them directly.
Having looked over a number of other reviews as well, one of the biggest complaints I saw repeated was that the yarn was poor quality. I found this to simply be untrue. Darn Good Yarns offers a variety of silk yarns with different fundamental qualities and made in different ways. I found them to be comparable to other yarns made in similar fashions. One cannot expect that a roving yarn will be as sturdy as a yarn with twist. It is the nature of that particular yarn and part of why these types of yarns feel so soft.
In my opinion, the yarn is of good variety and quality for the price of the box. However, I found the patterns to be very simple and added little value. Perhaps a less experienced fiber artist would receive more value from these patterns, but regardless, I felt they did little to feature the interesting qualities of the yarns. The “mystery gifts” disappointed me. After the poor quality tools, the baubles included in the next two boxes didn’t seem to connect with the projects included. That said, the goal and focus of this company to provide working wages to artisans in other countries is commendable and worth supporting.