The never ending topic of yarn support is back! Yes! With a vengeance since the last time!
There’s always something extraordinary about collaborations and the ability to leverage 2 different audiences to market 2 products to. Alas, there’s always something to be said about flake-outs and professional etiquette.
This is where I step in.
In the 7 or 8 years I’ve been in business I’ve developed several strong relationships with yarn companies and independent dyers that have granted me an exclusive view into their world, and in some cases, these relationships become personal, which is where the Fair&Square Warrior in me awakens hungry, and ready to punch people who take advantage of my friends.
What IS yarn support?
It’s a situation when a designer comes up with a concept, thinks of a yarn company whose yarn line is particularly well-suited to the project in mind, they discuss quantities, timelines and details. The designer knits a sample with the yarn provided by the company, and when the pattern is released, they leverage both their audiences to expand their market and visibility.
What ISN’T yarn support?
Asking for yarn “because it’s free!”. Placing weird comments in social media hinting to your desires to get free yarn from someone you never even had a connection to, sent an email to, or even had a mutual reciprocal following. This is the yarn equivalent of a random guy sending you a message saying “nice rack!” in your sweater project photo. It happened to me. Actually he said “nice breast”. Singular. I wonder if he meant the left or the right one.
I am lucky (not just because of my one single nice breast) because through the relationships I’ve built with my business I have a good quantity of swatching yarn from different dyers, I have color cards, I know what kind of thing they like to market to their audience, and sometimes they surprise me by sending me new yarn without my even knowing.
If your first thought reading the above is: “OMG I so wish I could get free yarn unannounced, you lucky cow”, you have a lot to learn. Read on.
If your first thought reading that was: “That’s a lot of responsibility”. You’re in the right place.
When you build this sort of relationship with a company, you must be able to follow through. If you are publishing a pattern with their yarn, is it suited to their audience? If you’re happy with their yarn, you should be able to help them carry their message along to other knitters through your social media reach. If they are happy with you, they’ll do the same.
Dyers are sometime flooded with requests. If they say yes to everyone, they may lose a lot of money. If they say no, some are afraid they’ll get a bad name. Because yarn for yarn companies is a product. When they send you yarn they lose a wholesale cost of product, time spent on dyeing, profit margin, and sometimes shipping costs. It’s a huge investment on their part to believe in you and your ability to follow through.
Dyer Horror Story Compendium
Horror Story #1:
Knitter: “Hi, I like your yarn, can I get some for these socks I’m working on?”
Dyer: “Are you a designer, where can I see your portfolio?”
Knitter: “Oh no, I just wanted to see if I could get some yarn for my husband’s socks”
Horror Story #2:
Knitter: “Can you send me 5 skeins of your SuperAwesome yarn? I will expose your yarn to all my followers”
(profile: 14 followers, 1 of them is her own cat)
Horror Story #3:
Knitter: “I love your cashmere, can I use it for one of my designs?”
Dyer: “Oh, I’d love to see some details, email me”
Knitter: “Here it is, I need 25 skeins for my cashmere coat. It’s my FIRST garment!”
Do you get the picture? These stories, while manipulated slightly (there was no real cat following this person), were told to me by dyers.
To be able to develop a relationship with yarn companies, you must first work on your portfolio. Become a designer, publish some patterns, work with technical editors to iron out your issues, try to get proposals into magazines and books to get your name out there, and overall, become professional in your attitude towards the job.
Unfortunately, there’s too many “designers” who get blinded by the possibility of “free yarn”, take anything and everything they can, and never show up their face again. Seeing how there’s a lot of yarn vampires out there, I’m going to set the rigorous step-by-step process I follow for yarn support here for you. It’s like garlic to the yarn vampires, and most importantly, the yarn companies??
They’ll say YES.
Follow the Support Series during the month of June! I’m going to teach you the steps I take to build and nourish dyer/designer relationships, how to best prepare your work presentation and what happens when it’s all said and done!
In next week’s post we’ll look at the first steps to take! If you’re preparing your own submission I’d LOVE to see it: use the #rockingsupport on social media so I can stalk it!!