Yarn Companies Listen UP! 32


After reading several articles, listening to a few pod-casts, reading tweets till my eyeballs want to pop out, and then running into two former students in a local coffee shop and helping them fix the crocheted baby hats they were working on (I’ll get to the specifics in a minute) and then subsequently banging my head on my desk and wanting to shake something that’s cute and fuzzy, I’ve decided to write a blog post.

Sigh…I will do this again…how many posts is it now?  (I should do a search on my blog for how many posts I’ve written on this subject. God I hate repeating myself.)  Fearless is going to rant.

YARN COMPANIES LISTEN UP!

You don’t mean to, I know it’s not malice, because frankly why would you discriminate based on a craft? I mean that would be silly right? You don’t mean to sound patronizing, you don’t mean to sound like you are talking down to us, you don’t mean to make our collective  blood pressure rise. You don’t mean to give out outdated and inaccurate information, you don’t mean to be so far behind the crochet times that you have no clue what’s in fashion for us, or what techniques are hot, or how much our craft has advanced. OMG I so wish you meant to, because your ignorance ASTOUNDS ME!

As perveyors of yarn, you have no room to complain about the lack of sophistication in the crochet market when your idea of  marketing is a crappy free download or pattern on a ball band, with limited instructions and possibly a lame and hard to understand tutorial on how to get started.  What amazes me is how you can CLAIM to be crochet friendly and then out of the other side of your mouth almost sneer about how you want a “certain look” in your designs, which is why you have so few crochet patterns! Seriously?  What would that look be, because oddly enough I “look” at a lot of pointy stick patterns and the hottest things going right now? COPIES OF WHAT WAS HOT IN CROCHET FOUR YEARS AGO. Now this isn’t your fault that you are so out of touch, “ooooh crocheted ponchos… ” really? I mean we all make things like that from time to time, but that was a like a huge deal when Martha Stewart got out of jail wearing a crocheted poncho, that’s so old news. But your other designers they’ve seen what was hot, and may have done some hot crochet designs and figured out how to do them in pointy stick land, and suddenly? Oh man that’s hot.  Really? Really? Are you that obtuse?

Seriously…my left eye is beginning to twitch. 

Today as I was rescuing my favorite mother-daughter pair of students, the daughter who has a lack of confidence to start with was sure it was her work that was the problem; No, her stitches are lovely, nice and even, well made. It was the fact that the pattern used the ungodly over simplified piece of clap trap that poses as a yarn guide from the Craft Council of America.  When I counted stitches and looked at the pattern, I asked “mom” if she was using the yarn called for in the pattern.  She shook her head and then said in a confused sort of way, “But it’s a three, just like the pattern called for…” I am so glad I didn’t growl in frustration (because I was in public and I didn’t want to make myself seem like a raving loon), but I was able to inform them as an expert about yarn my feelings about that stupid chart.

There are close to ten separate widths that go into each one of those “six” categories of yarn. The three they were using was an the wide end of the threes. But is there any information about yarn out there for crocheters? No. Why? Let me inform you, because the people in the yarn companies have such limited knowledge of what crochet is, can be and always has been? Hardly worth talking about. Oh sure there are some who have crocheted a fair amount, but are they real and true experts? Are they? Not when I hear them talk, and here’s the secret, we who write and design in crochet, especially of those who specialize in crochet, we laugh at you yarn company people behind your backs. Yes, we snicker like the naughty kids in the back of the school bus. We’d throw spit wads at you too, but for some reason (like getting design gigs) folks haven’t gotten that far…

YOU NEED TO STOP PATRONIZING US! You need to STOP telling us we’re just supposed to deal with inadequate products, services, and pattern support……. If YOU don’t market it, it CANNOT be bought.  Who’s stopping the market from growing and maturing? Is it crocheters? No.

I am tired of a supply driven market.  I’m going to get Jerry Maguire on you…SHOW ME THE CROCHET!!!! SHOW ME THE CROCHET

SHOW ME THE CROCHET DAMN IT!!!!!

Specifics:

1) STOP using the ugliest ombres known to man in your pattern samples. Have your dyers NOT figured out how to do long lengths of color? Crochet stitches that offer drape often take up a tad more yarn, so we don’t look good in the “self striping” and ombre yarns. We do better with blended colorways, if you don’t know how to do this, I’d LOVE to teach you, because I do this in my kitchen and my backyard all the time!

2) Stop getting your hot stick designers to “pick up” crochet and start designing. They keep re-working old concepts, we want fresh and new. Is there fresh and new in crochet? Yes, yes there is, in the realm of indie publishing, and some forward thinking yarn companies! (You may look at the 3rd Annual Crochet Nominations Group on Ravelry to see who crocheters are choosing. Why? Because we’re choosing companies that CATER to US!)

3) Please, and for the love of God, please stop thinking we all watch day time or early evening televsion and get some star that has zero cultural relevance to us to try to get us to buy yarn. Seriously, that’s like throwing in gratituitous sex in a mystery novel trying to get “the chicks” to buy in, so very 1970′s. Grow up industry, please. I’d rather see Tank Girl or the Justice Friends or even Scooby Doo on a ball band, and I am so not joking.

4) Stop insulting our intelligence on your blogs, in your advertising, and in your interviews. A) we are not an angry mob waiting to lynch you. We simply want products and support, oh my gosh that’s frightening!  B) we are not stupid, you can talk all you want, but we do like to see results.

5) Stop saying you cater to us on an equal basis when we can count patterns and read your labels. When it says “knitting yarn” on the ball band that’s really uninclusive. That says who you want right there…I don’t care if it’s always been that way, it used to be perfectly legal for a man to beat his wife except on Sundays, that too has changed.

6) Craft Yarn Council: You are doing more harm to yarn crafting than help by giving inadequate dimensions, since there is no official standard widths (which is good because standards make things less interesting), stop giving the idea to the public that there are standards. (Blog post coming about yarn and their widths coming to the CLF blog soon.) Size matters, and yes people should swatch, and no they do not, so please, please, please re-work this very inadequate system.

7) Start  including crochet on ALL of  the ball bands of ALL of your yarns, not just your discount yarns, and crappy (versus nice) acrylic. For the love of all that is fuzzy WHY LIST A CRAFT? You can do lots of things with yarn, seriously.

 Can you tell I am beyond annoyed? Yup, I think I do two or three of these posts a year…let’s see what good it does it this time. But at least I used big red type, maybe that will get someone’s attention.


About Laurie A. Wheeler

Laurie A. Wheeler is a blogger, crochet addict, yarn designer and champion for independant artisans and crafters. She is also known as Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front.


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32 thoughts on “Yarn Companies Listen UP!

  • Kat

    Hook raised in salute to Frealess’ rant. Everything you said is so spot on!It bares repeating, and repeating, and repeating until results are seen.

    I would add one more thought for the yarn companies- Savvy independent designers are lining their pockets because of your failure to see the market you could so easily have it you bothered to try. Crocheters are not waiting for the companies to catch up, they are starting to leap ahead of you. We will design our own patters, offer information to one another, educate new hookers, and keep elevating our craft with, or without yarn company support. It is your loss if you fail to capture loyal support from us from now on.

  • Kari

    (long) I’m really, really sick of opening up a newsletter from a few specific companies, seeing a handful of spectacular knit patterns and a handful of extremely dated, tacky, typical, last-minute-insertion crochet patterns. I just opened one 10 minutes ago: gorgeous knit patterns, horrid crochet patterns. If I see that exact same curly scarf one more time, I’m going to set my hair on fire and run naked through my neighborhood. And don’t get me started on the pom-poms. My once-favorite magazine is also crazy about the pom-poms so I’m especially irritated over this pom-pom stuff. What in the world gives you folks the idea that we LIKE pom-poms and want to fill our homes with pom-pom pillows, bath rugs and stupid heart-shaped purses? Seriously. It’s gone beyond the point of insult.

    I’m more than willing to give a large commercial yarn company my cash for 6-10 skeins of yarn for large projects – but not if I’m going to be insulted because my craft is an afterthought or doesn’t have the mysterious cool factor of knitting. I spent 4 hours crocheting in the hospital yesterday and every single person who approached me said, “I had NO IDEA you could make something THAT COOL with crochet. I thought crochet was for doilies & toilet paper cozies.” It’s time for the stereotypes to be abandoned and it’s time for crocheters to be recognized as legit crafters who have incomes & money to burn. Crochet is not a summer-camp craft for little girls who make pom-pom barrettes and to continue to perpetuate this nasty stereotype is only going to cause us to continue to bring our piles of cash to other yarn and crochet supply vendors. I spent $500 on yarn in 2010 and that’s $500 I’m not giving to YOU. And guess what? 2011 is the year of large projects for me so that amount is going to drastically increase. I’m still not giving it to YOU. Wake up. (karifq from Rav)

  • Grieney

    Can yarn companies also take the time to list gauge in the hook size that would actually be used with that yarn? HINT: It is NOT the same size as the knitting needle. If the yarn is knit for gauge with a 5 mm needle, and I made a swatch with a 5 mm hook, and put that swatch in my bag, I would be arrested in some counties for carrying a concealed weapon because more often than not I made a swatch stiffer than steel. I think I saw a two-story building in Guatemala made from those swatches, and 8 people lived on the second floor.

  • Nancy Davis

    Oh, Fearless, you have stuck your foot in it! They don’t care and you know what, I don’t care about them. I love indie designs, and I will buy whatever yarn I choose. I have a LYS that has lovely yarn, but it is filled with snobby two stickers. OH, (sneer apparent) you crochet???? I can teach you to knit. I don’t want to knit. I am horrible at it! I want to crochet, crochet, and crochet some more.

    I raise my hook in salute, but I fear they are not going to listen. Snobbery is rampant in the fiber arts.

  • Kathy Rollins

    Thank you for your message to yarn companies. They deserved a good spanking !! I am so tired of being a second class citizen, even in my own local shop. Why the “class” distinction? You said everything I’ve wanted to ask over the last 20 + years. But I taught myself to crochet and was made too feel like I was doing something wrong. I struggle with my self taught cumbersome knitting instead. I actually thought there were two types of yarn and never could find crochet yarn (except bedspread–and talk about intimidating). So I filled in the years with quilting – and there they were again – with the “Oh I didn’t know anybody did THAT anymore.”

    Well, by golly, for my 60th birthday I promished these years belong to me and God — simple. My crochet is great because I say so. And God has given me the call to dedicate my life to crocheting for Children at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital Indianapolis. They love and accept unconditionally. And this way I can wrap my arms around the children by saying silent grandma prayers of hope while crocheting for a child unknown to me – but linked by God and Angels. Ya know something?? Life just doesn’t get any better than that.

    Life doesn’t get any better than that.

  • wendyloohoo

    uggg I went to check out one of the “big brand” yarns to see what is up for myself because yes I read the post and even gave Fearless an Amen but I wanted to check some info about a specific yarn. On their front page they are offering a CAL and KAL for project Linus (big props for them going with alphabetical order) and I thought hey I needed a charity project so sure. However when you go to the patterns listed the knit patterns are listed first! Ok fine so I scrolled past them and looked at the crochet patterns (because they are offering 25% off if you order the yarn online and the colors they recommend) the first is a nice basic ripple in purple and white, they have almost an identical one offered in knit. Totally cool. The other crochet one is a giant granny square, which on its own is perfectly fine. I made one in fact for my nephew, the problem I have for it is the colors! Hello 1970s with your avocado and orange, really? That is the best they could come up with? Really? This demonstrates exactly what Fearless is writing about and it made me sad.

    • Fearless Leader Post author

      Yeah, everytime a blanket is crocheted in fugly colors, because a yarn company thinks we’re all living in ugly color land, a fairy commits suicide…it is sad.

      • Kathleen

        “Yeah, everytime a blanket is crocheted in fugly colors, because a yarn company thinks we’re all living in ugly color land, a fairy commits suicide…it is sad.’

        Fearless Leader, my keyboard is now covered with a spray of coffee. :D

        Btw, may I use that as a quote?

  • Jill Horwich

    Wow!! I was wondering if it was only me who got annoyed with variegated yarn! I love the way it looks in knitting, but in crochet, it never seems to work right. You go, girlfriend.

    • Fearless Leader Post author

      Oh my word no, we’ve had tons of discussions about this over the years on various message boards and email groups. And you know what their response is? They blame the craft! Seriously? I blame their dyers. Seriously, I dye my own yarn, and for some reason I can manage. It’s a little bit of math. If they can do the math to have fair isle patterns for knitters why can’t they do the math so crocheters don’t get major pooling? Not the crocheters fault in the least.

  • GreenWoman

    I love it when you rant because you are so dead on! Thanks, Fearless! It will be so nice when we are no longer ignored or acknowledged in a condescending manner.

  • Korina

    As usual, you hit the bullseye! You give good rant. ;-)

    Sorry to be the stick in the mud, but, um, I can’t quite figure out who are you ranting to? I mean, I know it’s to the yarn companies, but do they actually read your blog? Or do you send them emails? I was just wondering, because if you (*and we*) DON’T ACTUALLY TELL THEM, they’ll never know they’re annoying us.

    And maybe I’m just having a rotten Thursday. I look forward to your next post.

    Respectfully,

    Korina

  • devi

    I would buy so much Tank Girl yarn. So. Much.

    There are a few yarns with long lengths of color and they’re wonderful. Until it sinks in that they’re exceptions. Hopes, get back on the floor.

    • Fearless Leader Post author

      See, Tank Girl yarn would be Awesmazing! And glow in the dark Scooby Doo yarn? Priceless… What about Hellboy? Or Buffy? Or Hello Kitty…I mean crap licensing people LICENSING… Spongebob elasticated yarn :D That would be funny… I’m full of ideas…

  • KnitPurlGurl

    I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents for whatever it’s worth. I am a knitter learning to crochet. And BTW, I didn’t become a knitter for the “Coolness factor” and I don’t like to be called a 2 sticker – that’s a little negative. I learned to knit because they was an article about knitting and how it is therapeutic to autism spectrum disorder children. My son has Asperger’s Syndrome. So I learned to knit and taught him to knit.

    I grew up in a household where it was looked down upon for women to engage in such “weak” activities as crafting, fiber arts, and sewing. And although I longed for this in my life, I didn’t have anyone to teach me. Sure there was Home-Ec – but all I did there was sew my sleeve to my locker caddy project (it was the early 90′s – puffy sleeves and pirate shirts were in) and make chicken soup. My Home-Ec teacher wasn’t interested in taking the time to teach me to sew because as she put it, “Every woman has a sewing machine.” Well, my mom didn’t.

    After whetting my appetite with knitting, I was compelled to learn more fiber arts. So I bought some crochet hooks and crochet mags. I was so excited to learn to crochet! I sat down with several crochet mags and flipped through them only to find cozies, crocheted toys, and really ugly crocheted garments. I was so disappointed. I thought maybe crochet wasn’t for me afterall. Then I started to see crochet patterns on blogs, Etsy, and Ravelry and learned that crochet doesn’t have to be the plastic canvas craft of fiber arts. It’s stunning. It’s complex. And for me, it is difficult.

    I’ve been teaching myself crochet. Watching You Tube videos and asking endless questions on Twitter. I don’t have a LYS close to me that offers any classes beyond learning to chain and sc. So I’m kinda in a rut. But what I want to get across is this: there are a TON of knitters who really DO want to learn to crochet. But when they see projects that aren’t representative of the cutting edge couture that a lot of indie crocheters are producing, they don’t bother to pick up the hook. I’m not dissing cozies, but I’ve seen the light and cozies aren’t the end all, be all of crochet.

    Crocheters – I totally get your frustration. Please don’t assume all knitters are snobs who think crochet is the red-headed step child. We just aren’t seeing the caliber of patterns in major publications that we see with knitting, so we (knitters in general) don’t KNOW how great crochet can be. I’m really glad to have made several crochet friends online who’ve shown be how great it can be..

    And please, don’t label knitters. Perpetuating division in the world of fiber arts helps no one. We all love to create. Let’s drive the point home that multi-craftual peeps buy MORE yarn than singular-craft peeps do. For companies, it is the bottom line that they are concerned with.

    • Fearless Leader Post author

      I appreciate your commentary, and I get what you are saying, but the CLF has always been a pro crochet and not anti anything organization. I choose to rarely employ the ubiquitous K word because of the inevidible compare and contrast discussions that happen online. You know the ones… “Which is better?” “Which do you like best?” discussions… Those lead to a slippery slope. Of the hundreds of blog posts I have written here, I have encouraged people to do what they love, but lets face it: Right now hooksters are the underdog in the industry.

      After whetting my appetite with knitting, I was compelled to learn more fiber arts. So I bought some crochet hooks and crochet mags. I was so excited to learn to crochet! I sat down with several crochet mags and flipped through them only to find cozies, crocheted toys, and really ugly crocheted garments. I was so disappointed. I thought maybe crochet wasn’t for me afterall. Then I started to see crochet patterns on blogs, Etsy, and Ravelry and learned that crochet doesn’t have to be the plastic canvas craft of fiber arts. It’s stunning. It’s complex. And for me, it is difficult

      But you see I am really aware of what is out there in the magazines, I bet you noticed the lack of publications. We lack choice in our market. That is not anyone’s fault but an industry that cannot innovate if it meant they could swim in cash.

      And there have ALWAYS been great crochet designs, I and every other crochet fantatic in the world have collections that date back to the turn of the century. The sticks don’t have a site dedicated soley on what not to cast on. It’s not just the indies producing great designs. Trust me a great deal of the award winners in the Flamies are not indies, they are mainstream on contract with publisher designers. Not that our indies are not fabulous and awesome. The problem, we know where to look because of our fantatacism we will sleuth them down. Is that anyone’s fault? Nope. That’s why we try to share our knowledge and hit the industry in the pocket book in two ways, taking our money to the people who want it, and celebrating those who do actively want our business. Hence the Flamie awards.

      And I don’t care if we convert anyone over, seriously that’s not my end goal with the CLF. I happen to know there are plenty of hooksters who are not getting the supplies and patterns they want easily from an industry that doesn’t appear to want to make money.

      Is it the knitter’s fault? NO WAY! How can it be the knitters, my rant wasn’t about knitters, it was about yarn companies. The two are not synomous, regardless of what the yarn companies want to think. In the end my frustration lies not with any crafter, but with an industry that is so unwilling to earn more dollars and listens to it’s own circular logic (TNNA takes stats from LYSes who don’t welcome crocheters or supply products and then they have stats saying no crocheters). We welcome your crochet work, and are there to help if you need it or want it. We welcome anyone who doesn’t want to learn but appreciates crochet for the heritage, diversity and vastness that IS crochet., we welcome anyone who doesn’t actively put us down.

      Often people percieve we are combantant to the crafters, that has nothing to do with it, and yes there are snobby folk out there who are literally mean. I have met them, I have personally experienced slings and arrows, the snickers and snide remarks, and the ever so prevalent, “Why don’t you learn to knit?” As if I am somehow really missing out by not knowing how. (SHSHSHSHSH don’t tell anyone but I can enough to swatch, it’s just not my craft of choice, any more than warping my loom is my favorite activity…) I do not paint all of the knitters in the world as mean and snobby, and when I point out it exists I try hard to remind people that it isn’t everyone who knits that acts like a big blue meanie.

      But as for your final point, I disagree. I really only crochet, like I said I can swatch on sticks, I learned to sell my handspun, but seriously I only crochet and I buy a Donkey Cart load of yarn all the time. Our end game is to bring more crocheters better quality products and services, that means even more yarn can be sold. And heck they may end up wanting to learn how to tat, or weave, or do crewel embroidery or yes, knit. It’s hard to get to those other crafts when we don’t have a supportive environment.

      Again I really do appreciate you taking the time to post here, and your thoughts on the matter. I’m glad you have found people to show you the depth and breadth of our much maligned craft. And when pointy stick players and hooksters often get along, I know we do at my LYS, where the farmers and the cow hands really are friends.

  • KnitPurlGurl

    My comment wasn’t only responding to your original post, but to the comments from other crocheters under your post. I am not saying that there aren’t snobby knitters and LYSs out there. I know there are. There are knitters who look at crochet as a crude fiber art because that is what we’re being shown in publications. And my Indie comment was in response to the many comments asserting indie designers are the only ones producing cutting edge crochet. Personally, I love Robyn Chachulla, Drew Emborsky, Kristin Omdahl, and Doris Chan (main stream crocheters).

    And when I refer to multi-crafters, I don’t mean crocheters who knit and knitters who crochet – I am actually referring to any craft involving fiber and yarn products. Currently, I knit, crochet, rug hook, locker hook, bobbin lace, and am learning to tat. What my final point was – was that most crafters out there engage in more than one craft. If we could get companies to understand THAT, then they would be more open because it would boost their bottom line. Right now, all they see is divided craft groups: Knitters, Crocheters, spinners, weavers… They don’t really realize that many fiber fanatics and even crafters who just use yarn in general crafts, have purchasing power.

    I’m not trying to put down crocheters in any way. I’m a knitter. I’ll always be a knitter. I’m learning crochet and so far I LOVE it. I think everyone has one craft that is predominant in their lives. And that’s great. I wasn’t suggesting that you convert knitters to crochet to help your cause. And I definitely don’t want you or your readers to think that I am in anyway suggesting they learn to knit, to convert.. I just thought I’d share with you my thoughts from a knitter’s perspective (a knitter who loves and welcomes every fiber art). And to let you know that there are many of us who embrace crochet , even if we don’t crochet or crochet well (in my case) and want to see it given it’s props just like any other craft.

    I didn’t mean to come off as defensive before. I love your blog and I tweet with you on Twitter. I just wanted some of your commenters to know that not all knitters are snobs who hate crochet and think crocheters are second class. Because there are many of us who love all things to do with fiber arts!! :)

    • Fearless Leader Post author

      Thank you, and I have to say I perhaps was a wee defensive, I am in the middle of Flamies right now with the date looming and on lack of sleep.

      I am glad you love all that you do, and I follow you on twitter too :D