21 May Ravelry: A gap between yarn and patterns
We’ve been inspired by Bristol Ivy’s stats on Ravelry, and thought we’d do some of our own research into this wonderful resource and how it can shed light for yarn makers and pattern designers in the industry.
Today we looked at the number of entries for various yarn weights versus patterns. You’ll see in the charts below that for yarn fingering weight is the clear winner. Both in new yarns and in the database overall. We also looked at patterns, both knit and crochet, and the clear winner here is worsted weight. There are more fingering weight yarns in the Ravelry database than any other, and more patterns for worsted weight yarns than any other weight.
Maybe there’s a demand from consumers for fingering weight yarn, and the pattern makers just haven’t caught up to the demand? But when we looked at patterns added in the first five months of 2014 still we see that worsted weight is queen.
UPDATE: In our tables we counted the number of yarns listed, and did not count stashed yarns. These are yarns in the database by weight on Ravelry.
AliciaPosted at 21:32h, 21 May
This is fascinating! I am really surprised that there are so few fingering patterns in relation to the number of fingering weight yarns, especially since there are a metric ton of sock and shawl patterns out there. How are the yarns counted? Is it number of skeins, types of brand, etc?
ChristinePosted at 22:34h, 21 May
Strangely, this isn’t surprising! I have so much fingering yarn and yet when I am looking for non-sock patterns for it, the pattern selection is lacking from other weights.
That said, I have to wonder – are you counting *entries* or *skeins*? I would say that the majority of my heavier weight yarn (including worsted) is in sweater quantity form, so while it may be one entry in the database, it is actually 8-10 skeins (I’m fluffy). Conversely, I would guess that most fingering weight yarn is sock yarn, and those tend to be a one skein situation. Of course, I *still* have more fingering than anything else (I think because it is so easy to purchase one skein guilt-free), but the difference isn’t quite as stark.
leannePosted at 20:27h, 26 June
We counted the number of yarns listed in the Ravelry database per weight, not peoples stashes. Though maybe we should look at stashes too!
KimPosted at 22:36h, 21 May
This is definitely in line with our sales records. We seem significantly more fingering weight yarn than we do any other weight. Even for larger projects like sweaters. But designers we work with want to work with heavier yarns. I believe/have been told a number of reasons. The most popular? Projects knit up faster, so pattern output is faster with worsted. They believe people are more likely to knit larger projects out of worsted than out of thinner yarns. But our pattern sales records tell us that isn’t true. We sell many more patterns for lace and fingering weight yarns than any other weight. Even when we package them together as a kit.
leannePosted at 20:25h, 26 June
That’s fascinating! Thanks for sharing with us. I wonder if other indie dyers are experiencing the same phenomenon?
RebeccaPosted at 11:08h, 23 May
Could this gap be explained by socks? Socks most often use fingering weight and seem to be represented in great variety by every indie dyer. People buy up and stash sock yarn at a great rate. Can you break down the fingering weight figures further to determine if it is mostly sock yarn?
leannePosted at 20:24h, 26 June
That’s a great idea. It would be interesting to see if fingering weight yarns are mostly sock yarns, and what percentage is hand dyed.
AsiminaPosted at 19:27h, 23 May
This is an interesting thing to look into!
Are these stats complete?
There are plenty of patterns on Ravelry that do not call for any type of yarn weight. Are these patterns included in the weight columns?
Plus, imho I don’t think that the abundance of recorded fingering weight yarns has anything to do with demand. I bet that there are plenty of brands and yarns out there that are not recorded on Ravelry’s database. It may be the case that fingering is prominent since it is popular and many new brands producing them (mostly exclusively) have sprung in the last several years especially during the years that Ravelry exists.
leannePosted at 20:22h, 26 June
There are some yarns that are not categorized in Ravelry under weights, and I’m sure there are yarns in existence that are not on Ravelry at all. However, for our industry Ravelry is probably the most complete database we have.
Katie LynnPosted at 03:00h, 24 May
I wish there were more adult sweater patterns in fingering weight yarns! I love knitting sweaters but I cannot bear anything thicker than a fingering weight, both for heat and style reasons. It gets incredibly difficult once you’ve looked at the same 100 sweaters every time you go to find a new pattern.
K. CurtnerPosted at 13:59h, 27 May
“But when we looked at patterns added in the first five months of 2014 still we see that worsted weight is queen.”
Perhaps this reflects not a lack of desire for fingering weight patterns, but a lack of attractive fingering patterns compared to the number of attractive worsted weight patterns available.
leannePosted at 20:21h, 26 June
These are patterns added in numbers, and we found that still there have been more patterns calling for worsted weight yarn than any other weight.
SallyPosted at 22:59h, 28 May
Maybe this is because fingering weight is the weight most used for socks as well as gloves, mittens and Fair Isle. I think patterns for small projects like socks are more likely to be knitted over and over in different colors and brands.
MeghanPosted at 18:39h, 19 June
I have a follow-up question. What type of patterns were most downloaded from Ravelry? Worsted or fingering weight? As I designer I am curious to know if people are seeking out more fingering weight patterns for their finger weight yarn? Or perhaps this is just a strange phenomenon?
leannePosted at 20:18h, 26 June
That’s a great question! Unfortunately we don’t have stats from the inner workings of Ravelry, but something maybe we can ask Casey.
PamPosted at 22:15h, 01 July
I love stats like these – how interesting! I wonder if the disparity could be due in part to how easy it is to self-publish a pattern these days.
Everyone who wants to “get into” the pattern designing game can do so fairly easily with Ravelry. And I’d guess that new designers usually start with worsted weight yarns??
DeaPosted at 03:51h, 13 August
May I suggest a different reason for the popularity of fingering weight yarn?
It has been my experience that knitters like to gift fingering weight yarn to other knitters. ESPECIALLY lovely hand-dyes. ESPECIALLY if the recipient is known to enjoy knitting socks and/or lace shawls.
I never hear of knitters gifting sweater quantities of worsted weight yarn as it’s a much more subjective choice that usually includes a financial + time commitment.