Monday, June 25, 2012

A Little Research

This design will get produced, just
not by who initially said yes ...
I wrote this blog entry way back in November about a design that was supposed to receive yarn and marketing support from Yarns of Italy. At the time I was incredibly excited about it - even though the support was in the future, and we both knew the yarn hadn't yet been manufactured and delivered to the this side of the Atlantic.

Well, fast forward to March of this year. Yarns of Italy informed me that they hadn't yet received the yarn, didn't know when it would be delivered, didn't really have a suitable alternative, and had decided to scrap their original plans of marketing support for the design. Disappointed was I. However, I actually was equally disappointed in myself - I knew all of the facts, and I took a leap of faith. Ok, so much for that.

In March, I proposed a salvo that I was thought was incredibly gracious and very easy to say yes to - please provide me with some swatching yarn. I was still swatching for projects for the fall (although, admittedly, that was wrapping up fairly quickly), and swatching with the yarn might afford both of us some beneficial opportunities. Yarns of Italy was on board.

Well, I never received any swatching yarn, and of course chose other yarns for things that will be published by others later this year. Disappointed again was I. This time, definitely not with myself.

However, I tried one more time - I contacted Yarns of Italy, told them I had a design in mind, and would they want to support it with providing yarns that are already in their warehouse? I once again was told yes, and my YOI contact passed along the request to the person now handling all designer requests. That's happened. Still no response. Disappointed am I? No. This is par for the course. I just thought I'd give it one, last try.

I bring this up because while I wish I had been treated differently, it's symptomatic of a much deeper issue. YOI is a small company, and if I'm going to be completely fair (why do I always feel the need for fairness?) I can see their need to keep a tight reign on the marketing budget. However, the craft numbers tell a story that should lead people in the industry to a different set of actions.

Both The National Needle Arts Associates (TNNA) and The Craft and Hobby Association have conducted surveys and published their respective results. While Doris Chan has written about her analysis of the data, (and yes, the survey methodologies are like apples and oranges), there are some irrefutable truths:

 * there are more households crocheting than knitting;
 * 58% of the crocheters TNNA surveyed spend between $201 and $800 on their
   craft in a year;
 * one of the two most-requested "fresh and new" products TNNA
   respondents indicated were crochet patterns (with cross-stitch being the
   other most requested); and
 * crocheters spend equally or just slightly more than their knitting counterparts on
   patterns and books.
One of the fresh cardi designs from VK's
special crochet edition

Seeing how the recent Vogue Knitting crochet special edition has flown off the shelves, the last two points aren't a big surprise. It's also no surprise that fresh patterns sell yarn. Given all of this, you'd think YOI would have acted differently. Oh well.

There are some yarn companies that recognize the above, know that crocheters have many purchasing options, and speak directly to crocheters (as well as knitters!) with great yarns at affordable prices underscored by great design. Garnstudio/Drops Design has an amazing selection of yarn and an equally amazing pattern database; KnitPicks also has an excellent line of yarns and their IDP (independent designer program) supports both designers and designs. Those are just two of several.

So I put it to you dear reader: what are your favorite yarn lines? What do you crave in patterns? What myths or stereotypes does the above information shatter?


  1. I am so sorry for your disappointment; I think it would not have been so bad if they had been better at communicating, more open about it all :-(

  2. Aw, hugs! Seeing just a couple of your patterns, any yarn manufacturer would be lucky to have one of your patterns to support/promote their yarn.

    I wish that I had more yarn to produce to make this happen.

    Other than my own yarn, I tend to buy a lot of Cascade and I also like the Shepherds Wool (made here in Michigan). I also tend to buy a lot of Schaefer yarn too.

  3. It's unfortunate that you've had a disappointing experience. I have to admit that as a knitter, I tend not to pay attention to the crocheting side of things until someone shows me something beautiful and I think, "ooh, I should learn how to do that!" Your stats on the popularity of crochet do take me by surprise, because I've probably got blinders on in my own personal focus on knitting.

  4. Oh how frustrating.

    It really bothers me when people just don't say "no." Seriously, we are ok with the word "no." It's much more respectful than saying yes and then leaving the person hanging.

    If they hadn't of said yes, you could have been peddling your design elsewhere. I think it's very rude. :-/

    I don't think I realized that more households crochet than knit. Is that in the US or Internationally? I suppose it's probably both.

    I am teaching a friend's daughter how to crochet this summer. She saw me doing it and exclaimed that I was awesome! lol.

    I have no yarn-brand-loyalty. I select based on feel, color, gauge and content. I've started considering the possibility of splitty-ness as well.

    Also that sweater looks like a swirl that was so popular a couple of years ago. I think I will have to go check out that issue. :-)

  5. Thanks everyone, for your thoughts and opinions. And I agree, Kathryn Ray - if they just would have said no, I'd have understood that and kept right on going. In terms of the numbers, they are U.S. only - I expect the disparity might grow slightly in crochet's favor if they were international - crochet is just as widely practiced as knitting in Europe and Asia, South America to a lesser extent.

    @ Leah - I completely understand; what I found very intriguing was that more than half of the crocheters indicated they knit (I'm part of that statistic); slightly more than 40% of knitters said they crocheted. Go figure. :)

  6. That sucks! Why say yes to you and NOT follow through? WTH? That company just makes itself look bad. Their loss. Just not meant to be for you b/c there is a bigger and better opportunity that will open for you in the future.

  7. Your post was interesting and enlightening. I crochet and don't knit (only because I haven't learned yet). I sometimes feel like the minority even though it seems I'm not. I do see an increase in the number of new (quality) books for crocheters. As for yarn, I don't have any real loyalties. I look at price, and what appeals to me when I'm looking to purchase for a project. I do buy online as locally my options are very limited. As for your (crummy)experience with the yarn company, it sounds like they are unorganized and struggling with poor business manners/practices. Just because they make a good yarn, doesn't make them good at running their company. Thanks for sharing this informative post.

  8. So sorry your were treated rudely by Yarn of Italy. At least we know now they will have a few less fans if we ever see their products.

    I primarily knit, just because that's what I've always done, but I learned to crochet when I was very young and can do it when I need to. I remember older girls (in China) making these huge table cloths in fillet crochet one after another, they were beautiful. The girls would stand around chatting with their friends, hooks flying, and they always used sharp steel hooks! It was such a sight.

    In America knitting is exclusive, there were flame wars on various knitting forums about why or why not crochet is the ugly C word to knitters. In my (real life) knitting group there are plenty of people proudly announce "I Don't Crochet!"

    I'm generally attracted to small production, unique yarns, but there are staple yarns I also love, like Fisherman's wool, Paton's Classic Wool. A yarn company with interesting patterns would definitely get my attention, like Drops.

    I really enjoyed reading everyone else's comments!