Hi there, how are you today? I hope you are doing fine and that your week is up to a good start. Here in Normandy the summer seems to be back as it is extremely hot and muggy today. Not my preferred weather when working all day at my desk. I’m actually kind of looking forward to autumn and being inspired or enabled by all the knitting podcasters out there that are constantly talking about wanting it to be autumn to start wearing knitwear again 🙂
This past week I have only cast on for ONE new thing and it’s a pair of socks that I’m test knitting for someone so I can’t share a picture yet with you but I believe the pattern will be released in the next two months so I’ll share when that has gone official.
I’m also still working on my two test knit cardigans and making acceptable progress on both. Still nothing significant so not really worth showing pictures this week. Hopefully next week I will have things to show you.
So I thought now was a good time to talk to you about my yarn survey that I shared here on the blog as well as on my social media. The idea was for me to get some insight into the mind of knitters that enjoy and purchase indie dyed yarns. I was curious to see what makes a knitter crack and click that purchase button. What are people looking for; what makes them come back for more and what types of yarns are people interested in. I also wanted to explore the possibility of a crowd funding project involving yarn. More on that later.
A total of 100 knitters participated in my survey and I’m very happy and grateful about that.
You can click on the link below to see the detailed results for each question if you are interested.
But here is a little overview. The first question was: Do you buy yarn from indie dyers or small businesses and the majority said yes, just over 80%. That was not a surprise as most knitters today are in love with indie dyed yarns.
Question 2 was: what makes you click the BUY button when browsing an online yarn store.
Most people said it was the colorway or 54%. For the rest it was a mix of colorway, yarn blends and price. People had the possibility to expand on the question and you can read the different answers if you click the survey link above. This also was not a real surprise but still I was curious to see what was the most important to knitters when making a yarn purchase.
Question 3 was about quantity. I was wondering if people generally only buy 1 skein or if they tend to buy more. And this question was specifically about hand dyed yarns. From my experience as a shop owner/indie dyer, I had seen that most people only buy one skein although I have been lucky enough to have buyers who like me cannot control themselves and buy up to 7 at a time! So me personally, I usually buy at least 2 skeins and that has to do not only with my yarn hoarding problem/habit but about shipping too. Often when buying from overseas, shipping is expensive and I feel it is not justified for just one skein when sometimes the cost for two is nearly the same. So I might as well get two:)
Question 4 was about the use you reserve for your hand dyed yarns. I was curious to know if knitters generally use hand dyed yarns for “special” projects or just for anything and everything. If hand dyed yarn was more of a splurge/ luxury purchase and so reserved for special occasions. Most of you did say that was the case and that you do tend to use the hand dyed yarn for special projects. That does not mean you won’t use them for socks for example, just that you use them for projects that for one reason or another are special to you. Again; people had the possibility to expand and leave a note which you can see by clicking the link above. As for me, I tend to use hand dyed yarns that I buy from other dyers in projects I intend for myself and I usually knit socks, shawls and sweaters with them.
Question 5 was about what makes you come back for more. As an indie dyer myself, I have certain clients that regularly buy from my shops and others that only come by once and never again. And this does not necessarily have anything to do with them having had a problem with their order or giving a negative feedback or anything like that. So I was curious. I know that I have a few favorite indie dyers myself and I regularly go back to their shops and browse and when I can I do buy more. In my case I go back for a number of reasons such as colors, quality of the yarn, customer service and shipping prices.
Most of the knitters said they went back because they were drawn to that dyers colorways. So that was very clear in the responses. For others it was a mix and a lot of people left a note and I really saw that I’m not the only one to not only focus on color but also on customer service/contact with the dyer as well as price, goodies included or not etc.
Question 6 was about kits. As an indie dyer I have tried selling kits myself. I have offered shawl kits, a baby cardigan kit and a sock kit. The only one that really sold well was a shawl kit with a pattern from Isolda Teague. In all those cases these were small; not yarn greedy projects. But still I had hoped for more success. Personally I do enjoy the occasional kit but I’m not often able to indulge in such purchases as they very often; or those I fall for; very expensive. I was under the impression from watching all the knitting podcasts on YouTube that most knitters were very much into kits but its not really so. It’s just under a 50/50 division here so maybe there are others that share my opinion/concerns where kits are concerned.
Question 7 was a delicate one. I asked if you were willing to support an indie dyer/small company grow bigger via crowd funding and if yes, how much would you be willing to invest. Although a lot of people said straight no, a lot of others expanded on their answers saying under what circumstances they would be willing to support a small company.
As a knitter I have supported one yarn company go big and that was Knit Circus Yarns. That was a Kickstarter campaign that went well over the starting goal and really gave them a huge bust and I’m happy to have participated in that at my own little level.
I also support a podcast on a monthly basis with a small donation. I support The Bakery Bears podcast because I think they are fabulous and because for a small amount each month I get access to free patterns; extra videos and tutorials not to mention a new knitting magazine that is issued every 6 weeks or so. I appreciate all the added value I get for my money and I also greatly appreciate that they are not constantly asking for money; in fact they never do. They of course mention their patrons and Patreon but more for information on things and not as a means of asking for money. Some podcasts are constantly asking for money and telling us how expensive and how time consuming their podcast is and I do appreciate and understand that, I just don’t like being told so time and time again. After all if you want to have a podcast, that is your choice and you choose how much time and energy you put into it;no one else does. But oh that was way off subject! sorry about that.
Back to the crowd funding. I was of course asking for selfish reasons amongst other things. My shop opened in 2011 and first I had my own ecommerce website but when we moved to Normandy I had to close due to a number of reasons and when I opened up again I went 100% to Etsy. Etsy is a difficult market place to make it when one is as small as I am. There are a million other makers offering similar things at similar prices and even if you enter one shop to browse you easily find yourself in a completely different shop without really noticing it and so sales are easily lost.
Loss of sales means loss of income and that then leads to very meager means to improve and grow bigger and better. I’m at a point where I need to make up my mind about either closing and just dye for fun and make stitch markers and stuff and just use myself; gift to friends or share in giveaways – and all of those are perfectly good things to do. Or I can up the game and get myself my very own ecommerce site again, get more stock so that I can offer more yarns, spend money on advertising and marketing and really invest time and money to become something. And so I was wondering if someone would accept to support me and my little endeavour. I will be talking more about this issue later, maybe in a month or so. I’m working on this idea and hope to share it and actually launch a crowd funding campaign and see what happens.
But back to the survey! Question 8 was about yarn weight. Personally I mostly buy and use fingering weight and I was curious to see if that was the case or not for knitters generally and yes it is! The majority said fingering weight/4 ply yarn. A few DK and a tiny few worsted/aran weight yarns. I’m wondering if that is because we love knitting shawls and socks? What do you think?
Question 9 was about super wash versus non superwash. Most indie dyers offer superwash yarns and so in majority of the yarns they offer. I offer both super wash and non superwash in my shop. As a knitter I used to ONLY use superwash yarns before but lately that has changed. Often knitwear is hand washed any way so it is not a question of hand washing or not. What changed for me was when I learned/realized that non superwash wool does not stretch as much as superwash does. This in my eyes, makes non superwash wool THE perfect wool for garments, whether it is fingering weight or thicker. The yarn takes the dye differently because the process while milling is not the same but I really love non superwash yarn. My favorite shawl yarn in my shop is the Back to Basics yarn.
And the last question, question 10 was about yarn blends. I was wondering if when buying from an indie dyer/small business you looked for unusual blends, something you don’t often see in commercial yarn or not. Most of you said yes and some even added a note with their answer that you can read in the survey results. I think that a lot of indie dyers are offering the same base yarn and often the yarn comes from the same supplier. I have tried to offer different bases/ blends with different fibres such as merino, BFL, alpaca, donegal neps, cotton and silk. Lately I have tried two new bases that I’m dying to incorporate into the shop because I’m sure you too would love those. One is an alpaca, linen and silk base. Gorgeous and light, perfect for shawls and summer/spring garments. The other is a mohair, merino and nylon blend which is perfect for socks and garments. Like I expected most knitters are like me and are interested in combining a new hand dyed yarn with a new and unusual to them blend.
I hope you have enjoyed seeing the results of this survey and also hearing my input on those. I’m planning on launching a second survey shortly, also geared towards knitters and yarn buying and I will announce that both here and on my social media.
I think this is all for now. I wish you a good week ahead and hopefully you will have plenty of time to knit and crochet to your heart’s content. See you soon 🙂