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August 11th, 2007 at 08:28 am

Defining Crochet Friendly Yarns

How absurd is the above title,

Why VERY VERY Absurd of Course,

EVERY Yarn, EVERY String, EVERY Thread,
be it man made or “natural” fibers,
or Metallic or even METAL,
CAN Be Crochet Friendly.

If IT Can Be Bent, It Can Be Crocheted

(or Braid, or Knit, or Beadwork, or Macromae, or Stichery, or Woven)

You just need to SAMPLE
until you find the
proper tool and technique
for your final purpose

The recent series of questions from aspiring teachers, designers and even some shop owners led to wondering why or how to address two topics dear to my heart. Not to mention some of the discussions in several good sized “hobby” groups have made it very clear there is confusion and misunderstanding on both sides of the table.

The first, why do I consider swatching and sampling to be so important and how these swatches and tools are an essential tool for everyone involved in NeedleArts.

And of course, how the owners of our independent shops can make their shops a more welcoming place for ALL users of String, not just knitters.

During the most recent “YARN Craze”, many of those who had previously only had access to the limited selection of yarns offered in “the big chains” or thru the “bit Mail Order houses” – became exposed to a much wider variety of types and styles.

As yarn sales began to flatten and fall, those chains are now “cutting back” to the more limited selection; our yarn using NeedleArtisans have begun to venture into the Independent shops, but at least for crochet, have met with what they perceive is at best condescension and at worst hostility.

Really, what they met is more likely confusion and defensive posturing. Running a small business in an increasingly competitive environment takes a toll, and when you build your business on being helpful, but are faced with “the unknown” as crochet is for so many —

Well, they stick to what they think is true.

So here are the Myths that need busting.

MYTH 1: Crocheters are Cheap.
MYTH 2a: Yarns in the “my” shop are not suitable for Crochet
MYTH 2b: Yarns in a Yarn shop are not suitable for Crochet
MYTH 3: Yarn Labels are always correct in all use suggestions

Horsefeathers & Cow Pies –
big ugly, smelly piles of
Meadow Muffins

Sure, many who Crochet are FRUGAL because they are so often involved in charity
That does not mean they won’t splurge for a gift for someone special, like themselves.
Exactly how many Knitters do you have as customers who routinely buy your most expensive yarns for afghans? Not very many now is there (Okay DC Metro, YES Kathy does, but she donates those afghans for FUND RAISING AUCTIONS not for the animals to use in the shelters)

Instead you wisely include in your shop’s stock yarns that are machine washable blends like Ella Rae’s Amity (my current personal favorite for Machine Washable required).

A favorite shop owner of mine is fond of advising anyone who asks about “Un Natural”

“No matter what else happens, there will always be new Moms, which breeds, new Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents who want to make a special gift that is still practical”.

Then there is the issue of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? If, as a result of your/knitterly oriented mindset, you do not understand the potential the yarns you offer for use in anyone of the many Crochet Techniques – then you deserve the not only the return of the feeling of scorn you project to the Crochet NeedleArtisan, but to loose that and future sales.

Yarn shops sell YARN, the owners and staff may not know HOW to teach or support EVERY technique but they SHOULD be able to help those who enjoy those techniques to “judge for themselves” what will work.

Whether your shop is Brick, Click or both, if all you have to offer is Price & Delivery, then you are not offering competitive service and why should the Crochet NeedleArtisan not choose to vote with their wallet.

I fully understand and respect that until sales justify the expense of time and materials, it is not going to be possible

And it ain’t rocket science, it’s a sampling swatch. That is why, in January at TNNA I approached the presidents of several US Distributors of Tools and Yarns and asked if they would cooperate in a project meant to help educate the Crochet community about the yarns and tools often uniquely available in the Independent shops and to perhaps help the Shop owners to better serve the Crochet users of yarn.

Several gave immediate promises of complete co-operation and have followed thru by providing tools and skeins for swatching and sampling, others seemed willing but had certain reservations. We all know I am lazy, so this series will focus the companies who seemed most interested in helping shop owners and consumers.

So, as time and energy allow, I will be offering a series that will, hopefully, be useful to both Crocheters who are missing the more interesting yarns that are increasingly less available in “the chains”

Shop owners, remember that Crochet uses more yarn per project than Knitting, so even if those sales are fewer and further between, Or, initially are mostly focused on your sale bins, do you really want ANY yarn sale to be lost simply because you did not at least try to be helpful?

Remember my fellow Crochet NeedleArtisans, JUST because “Mart & Moore” have cut back and “discontinued” may only mean “IN THEIR CHAIN” but many of these can be found and in more colors than you thought thru the Independent Yarn Shops on and off line.
Knock that chip off your shoulder and find out what might await you in the Independent Yarn Shop of your choice –


P.S. Crochet Artisans, accentuate the positive – please consider adding to this post by commenting about your favorite Independent shop and why you consider them Crochet Friendly.



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