Selling Handspun Art Yarns

by Dayna Mankowski, Owner of Madison Wool

One of the main reasons we created THISyarn was to have patterns and projects to help sell the handspun yarn in your shop - be it online or brick & mortar. We want this publication to grow the economy of the entire fiber art community - from the wheel manufacturers around the world, to individual artisans spinning gorgeous yarns. This article is focused on successfully selling and promoting handspun art yarns in your Brick & Mortar shop. 

At Madison Wool, in addition to traditional hand knitting yarns, we carry an abundance of one of a kind, textured, handspun yarns. Here is how I organize the handspun inventory in my shop.

YOUR INVENTORY

  • My Handspun: a blend of funky, plain/traditional and wearable pieces. If you are the sole creator of the yarns you sell, try and make different styles for maximum selling advantage.
  • Other Artists Handspun: I strive to have a balance of styles, colors, and textures of fiber artists I enjoy. They are all different - so there is no competition for sales of similar types. It is always fun to see customers come in and always seem to buy a certain fiber artist’s yarn, due to either color or style. Make a note of this- you can then see what is popular, and try to spin in this style for maximum sales.

YOUR CUSTOMERS

Some observations of general customer types from my 5 years of running a brick & mortar yarn shop:

  • The Pattern Follower: Doesn't want handspun. Maybe it’s not their style or aesthetic. Maybe they are allergic to natural fiber. Maybe they need a yarn that is machine washable. Maybe the specific project they have in mind (ie: socks or diaper covers) just isn't right for handspun art yarn. They shop for a commercial skein that easily fits into a pattern, and with enough yardage to complete exactly what they want to make. They are inspired by the pattern, and need a specific yarn to make what they want.

  • The Creative Adventurer: They LOVE handspun. Handspun inventory is the reason they come to my shop. They travel miles, and they stock up. They know what to do, they don't need a pattern, they are willing to try new things, and mix it up. They create with confidence, regardless of yardage or gauge. They are inspired by the yarn, and don't need a pattern to create something they want.

  • The Blossoming Wanderer: They are the ones who ask you "What can I make with THISyarn?" These customers are intrigued by the color or texture of a yarn, and they want to work with it, but they don't feel confident enough in their creativity to experiment without a pattern. They may look around at the samples hanging in your shop and want to make exactly what you've made. They may struggle to understand quick verbal instructions like, "Oh just cast on 5 inches and knit till you run out of yarn then bind off" - they need direction and specific instructions to make something they find beautiful.

Here is where you come in. It's your job as a brick & mortar shop to provide inspiration for these blossoming wanderers coming into your shop. You are their guide into their own creative potential and artistic confidence. It's a role that you will be remembered for by them, forever. It's an honor and a privilege.  


GUIDING THE WANDERER

  1. Make Samples. Feel free to use any of the patterns we publish on THISyarn as the patterns in your shop (we just ask you credit THISyarn for the pattern). Patterns Sell Yarn. The biggest issue with making patterns with one-of-a-kind skeins of yarn is that customers will often want the exact yarns you used. Perhaps they've never experienced "one of a kind" skeins of yarn and are used to large dyelots and colorways. This is the first bridge you need to guide the wanderer over.
  2. Find The Color. Ask your customer about their favorite colors and find handspun yarns in the colorways that they find most beautiful. Then build a collection of handspun and commercial yarn from there to get the yardage needed for the pattern they have been inspired by in your shop. Remember to display patterns with all the styles of yarn you make / sell so customers can see how it works up.
  3. Embellish. Take a traditional pattern (like a hat) for millspun yarn and add a handspun yarn as an accent. This is perfect for small skeins of handspun, or to make a larger skein go further. With the popularity of gradient yarns and mini skeins, using smaller skeins of handspun in striping patterns would be fun too.
  4. Build a Kit. Offer to build a kit for your samples to take the guess work out for the customer (see "Find the Color" for kit building)

 


YOUR SHOP SAMPLER COLLECTION

The following are yarns that you should display in your samples if you sell them in your shop. These are the most popular textures in my shop and always get the most attention. This is a suggestion- use what you have and love!

  • Highly textured yarns
    • Embellish as trim on gloves / cuffs / collars of traditional patterns
    • Drape on a mannequin as a scarf (embellish with buttons, silk ribbon or shawl pins)
    • Knit on large needles (size 19-50) for a loosely knit scarf.  
  • Thick and thin singles
    • Replace commercial yarn with thick and thin single in a traditional pattern for knit or crochet
      • Fingerless gloves - about 70 yards
      • Hat - about 125 yards
      • Scarf - as little as 25 yards with big needles / elongated stitches

Remember to also feature crochet, weaving, macrame, and fiber art projects for handspun yarns. Your samples are the inspiration for the next generation of fiber artists. I have handspun yarn woven wall hangings on the walls of the shop, and one customer bought a rigid heddle loom and handspun yarn on the spot to make her own. She signed up for weaving class, and after weaving a few pieces, is now coming to learn to spin too. Guiding customers into new creative methods is one of my favorite things about owning a brick & mortar shop.


We want to help you sell more yarn!

Fill out the form to the right and we will send you a starter pack of 25 post cards or business cards for you to display or put with your handspun yarns, so your customers know there is a place to find patterns and inspiration for their one of a kind treasures.

If you need more than 25 cards, here is the high res postcard & business card design to download and print for your shop. You can get 500 business cards for $9.99 on VistaPrint.com with the coupon code BC500

This Yarn Standard Sized 4x6 Postcard (click to download high res)

This Yarn Standard Sized 4x6 Postcard (click to download high res)


THISyarn standard sized business card (click to download high res)

THISyarn standard sized business card (click to download high res)

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