Yesterday I had a message from a knitter who was very angry that a yarn had been continued. I explained why, and when she replied it was evident that she sees this as something that happens a lot – not just with us but with yarns in general.
It set me thinking about why we’ve discontinued yarns in the past – and why we might discontinue things in the future.
1. Sometimes things don’t sell well. In the past we’ve picked amazing yarns, often based on what customers say they’re looking for. We dye them up, put them in the shop and they sit there. If things don’t sell we don’t keep them. We can’t afford to. So they get discounted and we look for something else.
2. We (and I guess most dyers) have limited space to store yarn. That means we have to make choices about what we stock. If we decide to offer more colours in one yarn base that might mean we discontinue another one. It’s not great for a business to carry too much stock, and choices have to be made.
3. Yarns aren’t always available. Rising prices for British Blue Faced Leicester meant that we had to substitute Falkland Polwarth for a while. We’re lucky in that we can order enough of things to get yarns custom spun. But if you don’t want 20 kilos of a blend then you need to choose from what your suppliers offer – and again that comes back to what sells and space for them.
4. When we decided that we wanted all of our wool to be grown, processed and spun in the UK by the end of 2016 that meant saying goodbye to several yarns that we loved. We’re more than happy with the replacements we’ve found, but it did force us to discontinue several bases.
5. Cost matters a lot. There aren’t huge margins in dyeing yarn, especially when you wholesale. If prices increase it can make a yarn just too expensive.
6. Everyone is selling it. There are fashions in yarn. All of a sudden there will be a lot of something. Gradient sets. Freckled yarns. And for creative people that’s often a sign that it’s time to move on.
7. There are always new yarns and dyeing techniques to play with. Knitters are very keen on something new – and dyers are just as vulnerable to temptation. Sometimes the lure of the new and shiny means saying farewell to something that needs a bit of a break. I haven’t dyed much self striping yarn for a while, and now I’m itching to play with that again.
8. Sometimes you get offered something so amazing that you have to say yes. We’ll have a new yarn in the autumn that I still can’t quite believe I’m getting to dye. That means making space. That means saying goodbye to something.
9. It’s summer. I know that until yesterday woollies seemed like a necessity, but there isn’t a huge market for chunky wool when it’s warmer. So that tends to get discontinued on a seasonal basis, and it will be back in time for autumn.
So there are lots of reasons why the yarn specified in a pattern might no longer be available. I’m always happy to offer suggestions, so feel free to get in touch if you’re not sure which yarn in our current range best replaces something we used to sell.