UPDATE – February 2023

The wiseNeedle yarn review collection here is long gone.  Sorry.  I did make a go of it for about 14 years, relying on a small number of general audience ads to subsidize the cost of hosting the site at the database-enabled level required.

As Ravelry gained in popularity, all traffic to independent knitting sites came to a dead stop. Visits to consult the review collection and volunteer-submitted reviews both fell to near zero.  I continued on funding the thing on my own for about three years, but eventually threw in the towel.

In time I was approached by the owner of would-be Ravelry competitor NimbleSticks, and the database of reviews and yarn information went over there.  Sadly, that site has disappeared as well.

There’s now no easy to consult independent index of basic yarn info, with reviews (including the bad ones) – and in truth I don’t have the capacity to resurrect wiseNeedle’s collection.  You can find some info on Ravelry, but you have to dig for it.  Many retailers include “reviews” but they purge unfavorable comments.

The moral of the story is that all the good intentions in the world won’t fund a shared resource if no one uses it.

Original post

I’ve gotten some more questions about wiseNeedle and the yarn review collection, so I’ll take some space here to clarify what it’s all about.

What we are and aren’t

The on-line yarn review collection hosted elsewhere on this site is the latest manifestation of a project I’ve kept going since 1994/1995. Back in the early days of the KnitList mailing list, (when there were fewer than 250 members) yarns would come up for discussion. Opinions and gauges achieved would be shared. Then a couple of weeks later the whole thread would be repeated because someone had another question or a new person had joined with similar questions. So I began asking people to “donate” their comments to a central list to preserve valuable info and cut down on repetition.

My list started out as a text file that we shared round-robin. In 1995 I posted that content on my first web site, in the form of one and later a series of interconnected static web pages. It grew to the point of unmanageability. The Resident Male saw a challenge, and volunteered to build the necessary infrastructure to make the thing into a fully searchable database with a web front end open for (vetted) public contribution. So in 2000 we did.

Since then the yarn review collection has grown to include basic data for over 5225 yarns, the names of over 490 yarn makers, and to contain over 2875 individual reviews from over 2000 knitters, worldwide. We have info on both current and discontinued yarns (very useful if you have an older pattern or yarn you wish to find substitutes for) as well as products off the beaten track or only regionally available. Aside from my looking over reviews to make sure they’re attached to the intended product, that products are not duplicated without need, and that comments are not blatant planted ads or spam/graffiti, there’s no censorship or editing of anything posted.

And it’s just me (plus The Resident Male as resident technical wizard). There’s no other staff here, nor is there a group of captive volunteers assigning yarns to be reviewed or performing assessments. I’m afraid that we can’t respond to requests to see reviews posted for specific products. We have to sit and wait for someone who has used a yarn to post a review.

We have absolutely no involvement with yarn makers, sellers, or distributors and do not rely on them for subsidies or placement income. Nor do we accept samples or other marketing-related inducements. Therefore you are not going to see breathless endorsements of whatever the latest fad is, posted prior to a yarn’s wide availability. Nor do we remove negative reviews because we fear a loss of relationship with a sponsoring vendor or diminution of click-through or ad revenue from retailers who are paying for the privilege of appearing on our pages (all ads that you do see are blind-placed through Google or Burst services. Income goes to defray the cost of maintaining the site without charging user fees).

What you are going to see are honest opinions both negative and positive from knitters of all levels of experience from beginner to advanced. For widely used yarns, you’ll see reports of many different projects, knitted at a variety of gauges. Some will have follow-ups that report on washing or durability problems that crop up long after the actual knitting was done. And you’ll find differences of opinion, with some people loving a yarn for particular properties, and others detesting it for those same (or different) reasons.

So it all adds up to this. If you find an independent, central repository of this kind of info to be of any value – one which retains info long after a yarn is discontinued, is independent and impartial, and provides the forum for everyone to voice an opinion – please consider adding a review for the yarn on your needles right now to our collection. Just because someone has reviewed it before doesn’t make your experience less valuable. Your knitting experience, your project, your gauge, your care/durability experience may either confirm and strengthen group consensus about that product, or may provide a valuable point of difference. In all cases, your opinions are most welcome here.

How to post a review

The easiest way to enter a review is to look up the yarn on the search page, then add your notes to its basic info page. With as many entries as we have, unless your yarn is very old, a small run product, or very new this season it’s likely that it’s in there. Like all databases, you need only enter the minimum info to call up an entry – usually just the first few letters of the yarn’s name, then hit search. That will bring up a list of similar entries. Click on the one you want, then on the “review this yarn” link on that basic info page.

If your yarn isn’t found, there’s a handy page on which you can add both basic data and your opinion at the same time. (If your entry duplicates data for something we already have but that you weren’t able to find easily, and I can’t confirm that it’s the same I may eMail you to ask if your product is in fact something new). And there’s a page to enter basic data for yarns without adding comments, even if you’re not ready to post an opinion yet.

So please consider posting an entry to the wiseNeedle yarn review collection. I can guarantee you that somewhere in the world another knitter will be grateful for your help.

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3 responses

  1. Thank you for starting this and continuing to manage the whole thing. It’s a treasure.

  2. Here’s wishing you every success – I really miss Yarndex so in desperation I widened my search & found your plight. good luck x

    1. The wiseNeedle yarn review contents have not disappeared! They’re safely archived and open to all at Nimblestix – http://www.nimblestix.com/

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