There are some many great people in the yarn community, producers who are making yarn, notions and other goodies for fiber artists on a small scale. You'd love them if you knew them, but there are so many and they're spread out all over the country, so how can you find out about them? And what if you don't have the cash to spend on untested (to you) products to find the designers and makers you love?
That's where Phat Fiber comes in. Phat Fiber, run by Jessica Booth, distributes mystery boxes of knitting (and, separately, spinning) supplies and related goodies that allow knitters to learn about different fiber companies and give those indies much-needed exposure.
Competition for the monthly boxes is tight, but if you can ever get your hands on one, it's well worth it. I received a sample of sampler boxes (containing a bit of yarn stuff, a bit of spinning stuff and some extras from a month when the theme of the box was tea) and was pretty overwhelmed by the awesomeness inside, which included):
- nearly 20 little samples of yarn form different designers
- bamboo roving
- a silk hankie
- a stitch marker and a pattern for a felt stitch marker charm
- a ring shaped like a plate with a teapot on it
Naturally this was a sample and the contents vary from month to month but usually include yarn, stitch markers, patterns, coupons and more.
I asked Booth to help us understand more about the Phat Fiber boxes and she provided a detailed explanation of what's what, so I'm just going to let her talk.
From Jessica Booth:
Phat Fiber is a sampler box of yarn, fiber and related goodies that we put together once a month to sell online. The box features only handmade products from independent artisans who own and operate their online businesses. A few also have brick and mortar operations, but all are required to have an online presence in order to contribute.
We have minimum guidelines for contributors to follow that are aimed at assuring quality, quantity and sensitivity to those who take the time out of their busy day to try and purchase a box. We also offer our contributors (who are also our customers) an arsenal of tools aimed at the sole purpose of fostering their success as small, independent business owners.
We sell the boxes in two “Box Drops” one day in each month. Customers who wish to try their hand at snagging a box are encouraged to sign up for an email notification list which we send out a few days before the boxes will go on sale. The notification tells them the exact times (one in the morning and one in the evening) that the boxes will be available for purchase and offers a wealth of information on how to go about getting a box, or if you can’t, how to take advantage of some really good deals and discounts.
In the interest of fairness, customers are only allowed to purchase a maximum of two boxes each month. We will be the first to admit that purchasing a box is not an easy task and can be pretty frustrating. They are sold on a first-come, first-served basis through our shop. The number of boxes we have for sale depends solely on the number of sample contributions we receive by a set deadline each month. Given the huge demand we’ve seen for the boxes, I don’t think that we could ever have too many contributors.
We have served well over 400 contributors since our inception and our numbers continue to grow. We are always looking for new artists to join our close-knit community (pun intended). It really has become an online community with a shared focus on using quality materials and supporting indie artists.
Phat Fiber is a bridge for everyone. It’s a bridge between the customer’s desire to purchase online and their ability to experience products first-hand before they commit, a bridge between indie artists, farmers and small business owners of all levels of experience and ilk, offering them invaluable information and networking advantages, and it’s a bridge between lovers of yarn with cash in their pockets and lovers of yarn and fiber with yarn and fiber in their pockets!
Each box contains a minimum of 20 samples, and each month the online community of Phatties votes on a theme. April for instance, was “Tea Party”. We are so excited that the boxes sell out so fast every month, but we would love even more to be able to put a box in everyone's hands. We have racked our brains to determine the most fair way possible to sell the boxes. We sell them on a first come, first serve basis to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to snag one.
I agree that it is worth the effort to try to snag one of these boxes if you can. The samples are beautiful and you're sure to find a few that you want to explore further. And it's so much fun to open the box, not knowing exactly what to expect. It's delightful and you get lots of fun stuff to play with that will allow you to support independent yarn makers. What could be better than that?