02 Nov Is It Time to Add Spinning And Weaving To Your Yarn Business?
If you went to TNNA this June, or have been stalking Pinterest in the last year or so, you may have noticed an increase in the popularity of spinning and weaving. This trend seems to be just beginning, and we are here to help give you proper footing when diving into these crafts.
Let’s first start with the why.
If you are a member of TNNA, you have access to this year’s edition of the State of the Needle Arts Report. This report comes out every 3 years, and this year marks the second time we have gotten insight into the Spinning and Weaving facet of the industry.
Overall, the study showed that yarn shops which carried weaving and spinning equipment were generally more profitable than yarn shops that didn’t. What does that mean for a yarn shop or a retailer? There is room for growth in your business!
Local Yarn Shop
Generally speaking, weaving has two major advantages over knitting: First, it’s usually much faster, and because it is faster, people will blow through their yarn stash more quickly. What happens when your customers use up their yarn? They buy more. If we know one thing about knitters, they are always buying more yarn (even if they already have a sizable stash), and if they feel like they are “running out,” they will come to the shop and stock up. Weavers are very similar. They like having options in their stash, so they will have THE PERFECT yarn for their project.
Though the learning curve can seem steep at first, getting started in weaving is actually pretty easy. There are many weaving instructors around the country, and chances are, there is one fairly close to you! Have them teach your staff how to use a loom and how to weave in general. This arms your staff with the knowledge they need to be successful on the sales floor.
“Will I need to stock weaving yarns now?”
The answer to this question is no, however this may be an opportunity for you to break into another market. Most knitting yarns are perfect for weaving! Better yet, this opens up a wealth of ideas for shops who already stock your yarns, allowing them to do some fun new projects and kits.
Do you have some luxury-style yarns that people don’t seem to want to knit with? Weaving can usher them into using that type of yarn, since the type of fabric that one can get from weaving is generally more decadent than with knitting. Don’t underestimate the power of a swatch; they can prove very effective when used in conjunction with other swatches. What does this yarn look like when woven, knit or crocheted? Do you get pooling in one of those three? Does this yarn create a plaid without complicated weaving structures? When customers can see these swatches together, they can get lots of great ideas or be inspired to buy a specific yarn for a specific purpose.
If you are a yarn manufacturer, you are also trying to get consumers to use your yarn. Give people more ideas of how to use your yarn by pairing with a weaving designer to create a unique project with your yarns – then market it as a kit for beginner weavers. For many of them, weaving may not have been something that they knew about or even fathomed that they could do. With the right instruction and proper inspiration, they will start to see how easy it is for them to get started. Weaving adds a whole new dimension to their yarn stash.
Do you have a particular yarn that isn’t the most “skin” friendly? Re-brand it as a tapestry weaving yarn. The beauty of weaving is that there are multiple styles of weaving that are currently popular, so there is certainly a style that is perfect for your particular yarn selections.
Another advantage to weaving is that the gauge is essentially going to be the same every time. If you were to use an 8 dent reed (this means you have 8 ends per inch) with a worsted weight yarn, you will always get that sett with that specific yarn every time. This makes creating kits really easy, you can make instructions for specific equipment and yarns, and that project should turn out the same each time.
Local Yarn Shop
If you don’t already have a spinning program, it’s not difficult to start one. Find a local teacher, and bring them into your shop. If you put out a call on your local Facebook groups, you may be surprised how many people are out there.
As a shop, you can stock local fibers. In many states, there is a plethora of fiber producers; from wool, to alpaca, to yak, and more! Pair with one of them to create a unique opportunity for your customers, support another local business and to grow your spinning program.
It is known that spinners are collectors. Just ask any spinner how many wheels or spindles they own, and they will gladly tell you all about what they have in their “stable.” They buy things that feel good, that are unique, that makes them feel good; essentially, if you stock it, they will buy.
While spinning and weaving are both generally more expensive to get into, they also tend to have a higher return on investment than yarn. Another benefit of getting into weaving and spinning equipment is that there are plenty of accessories and tools that can be added to a customer’s order for a better sale. Education is the best way to boost sales, and many customers are expecting you or your staff to be knowledgeable about these things, looking to you as a source of expertise. If you have it, you’ll be sure to hold onto that customer.
Now, it is hard to wear all of those hats, but don’t be afraid to use the resources available to you. You can find many of the answers you’re looking for on the internet or over the phone if you contact the manufacturers of those products. Most of these manufacturers have great customer support that will get back to as soon as possible.
“If people are spinning their own yarn, why would they want to buy mine?”
This is a valid question, but one thing is for certain: just because a person makes their own yarn, doesn’t mean they stop buying yarn altogether. In fact, this can actually be a growth opportunity! If you source your yarns right at the mill, it’s possible that they would sell you undyed roving that can then be dyed in your colorways and style, which can then be sold to stores who offer spinning tools and fibers. Some yarns can also be used as spinning accoutrements, binders, decorative elements, etc.
The most important thing is to play! Though many people would like to state as such, there are no rules in the fiber arts. Play around with the resources you have, and see what comes up. Be innovative and reinvent what your products are used for! Do you have waste that could be upcycled into another product?
Here are some extra resources for you if you’d like to learn more.
SWG – The Spinning and Weaving Group
Spinning and Weaving Manufacturers
Strauch Fiber Equipment (Fiber Prep)
At Stitchcraft Marketing, we can help you decide how to expand your company, a strategy for implementing, and execution. Contact Leanne@stitchcraftmarketing.com for more information on how we can make magic for your brand.