Saturday, January 25, 2014

Taobao yarn store review: MIC MIC

I've been intending to write up a blog post highlighting my favorite Taobao yarn sellers for a while now, but then I decided why not just write up a short review for each of my favorite shops? So I'm going to start with my current absolute favorite, MIC MIC.

First, some photos of recent purchases I've made from this shop:

Pure merino from a mill based in Uruguay called Solana Yarns. Chunky weight, 120m per 100g. Very soft, nice heathery gray color. Planning to use this for a re-gauged Warm Wishes cardigan

Pure lambswool, very fine (NM 3/36). I asked the seller to wind four plies together to make a sport weight. 
This shop sells "外货" (for overseas markets) mill end yarns. I interpret that as meaning leftovers from industrial garment production. The garment manufacturing occurs in China, but a good many of the yarns do seem to come from overseas, most commonly from Italy but more recently I've purchased yarns made in Uruguay. The origin of most yarns is not specified. The shop carries a range of qualities, from cashmere at the high end and on through merino wool, wool and silk blends, pure silks, cottons, cotton and wool blends, and plenty of synthetics at the low end. Many of the high-end yarns are very, very fine (cobweb weight), but there are some heavier (fingering up to chunky) pure wool yarns usually available.

Stock rotates fairly quickly at this shop, which means there's something new to see (and lust after) every few weeks or so, but it also means that yarns sell out quickly, and once they're gone, there's no getting more (so make sure to order enough for your project).

The price is among the lowest I've seen for this quality of yarn on Taobao, which is why it's my favorite store at the moment. The synthetic yarns usually start at around RMB3 per 50g, and the cashmere is around RMB40 per 50g. Pure wool or wool blends usually range from around RMB4 to RMB10 per 50g, depending on the quality and the blend.

Navigation and Descriptions
Navigation is quite simple: categories on the left-hand navigation bar are broken down by fiber content (silk, wool, cotton, linen) or by yarn texture (boucle, thick and thin, fluffy, ribbon yarn, etc.) Generally the product description contains the yarn weight (either expressed as a description, such as "heavy" or "fine" or as an NM or 支 number, so you can calculate the meterage per gram), the shop's recommended needle size(s), the suggested quantity required for an "average" woman's pullover, a sweater coat, or a scarf. It will also include the price per 50g and usually some brief words about the feel of the yarn (whether or not it can be worn next to the skin). Finally there will be a photo of each colorway available, usually of the yarn on the cone or in the hank. Occasionally there is a photo of a knitted swatch. I've found the colors in the photos to be generally pretty accurate.

This shop is one of the handful I've found willing to wind multiple plies onto the cone (lots of other shops are willing to wind separate cakes, but that's about it). As you can see, most yarns come on cones, but some of the bulky and superbulky yarns come as hanks or balls. The receipt included in the package indicates the exact amount that is on the cone, and usually they wind a few grams extra onto the cone, which is nice. They also provide free gifts with most purchases, like stitch markers, bamboo needles, steel crochet hooks, darning needles, or plastic or wooden buttons.
70/30 silk/cashmere blend. Super silky and drapey. Again I asked the seller to wind several plies together to make a heavier weight.

  • Low prices
  • New products posted regularly
  • Reasonably clear descriptions and photos
  • Photos generally seem to be color accurate
  • Fast shipping, frequently free shipping deals if you spend a certain amount
  • Yarn almost always wound onto cones
  • Amount precisely stated on receipt, and usually they "top up" your cone
  • Will wind together multiple plies at your request
  • Free gifts with most orders


  • Information on origin or brand of yarn is usually unavailable -- the only times I've been able to track this down is when I've ordered a sufficient quantity (more than 500g) of one yarn for it to come on the original cone from the mill, and then there will be a sticker with identifying information. But for smaller quantities, the Taobao shop will wind it onto a new cone.
  • That also means that occasionally the fiber content as listed is not completely accurate (for instance, a yarn that was listed as 90% wool turned out to be 20% nylon, according to information I was able to find online and also my home bleach test).
  • When it's gone, it's gone
  • Color selection is very limited -- many yarns have only one or two colors available, and most frequently there are a lot of neutral shades like grays, beiges, black, brown
  • Yarn occasionally has musty odor, probably due to long-term storage in humid conditions
  • Any other cons I can think of would really apply to yarn shopping on Taobao in general, which is a post for another day!

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