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  • How we select yarns for an upcoming issue

    June 19, 2023 3 min read

    Hi lovely Collective members,

    I hope you are all well! I am back today with the second glimpse behind the curtain of our magazine work - how we select the yarns that go into a magazine.(If you missed Part 1, head over here to read how we select the designs!)

    My first stop when selecting the yarns for the magazine is the designer submission. Most designers will include at least one, sometimes more, options for yarns that they would pair with the design in their submission. I believe the designer knows best which kind of yarn would work well for their design, and so I try to honor their yarn proposal as much as I can.

    I deviate from their yarn choice in a few cases:

    • The yarn does not fulfill our sustainability criteria, e.g. it contains nylon or is superwash-treated.
    • The yarn is not or only very rarely available, e.g. it was a limited-edition run.
    • The color options available for the yarn don't work with the collection.

    I also always have two additional questions in the back of my mind when I select the yarns:

    • How expensive will the yarn be for the knitter?
    • Do we have a good mix of yarns in the magazine?

    On cost of yarn: I fully believe in fair compensation, full stop. This means that I also fully accept hand-dyed yarns that are on the higher end of yarn price points. At the same time, I am trying to strike a balance when I look at the overall magazine - I want yarns from different price points for the designs so that there's something for everyone.

    On mix of yarns:I also strive to get a good mix of yarns location-wise,i.e. some that are more readily available in Europe, and some that are more easily accessible in the US. I also want the yarns to support our planet and its people,so I am looking for a mix of yarn companies with different initiatives to do that. Some focus on completely traceable sourcing, others on minimizing their transport emissions, again others on strengthening their local economy. There are a million different ways to "do sustainability" as a business, so I'm trying to reflect that in our yarn choices as well.

    So! Back to the yarn selection process: When I've looked at the submissions, there's usually about half to two thirds of the patterns for which I am taking the yarn the designer has chosen. For these, I go to the yarn companies' websites, and choose colors - my favorite part of the entire design selection!

    I create a secret Pinterest board on which I pin the colors I choose. Again, I will often follow the designer's choice, but here I will take more liberties than with the yarn base choice as one of my core responsibilities is to make the collection look cohesive. And color is maybe the most important part of that!

    When I've chosen and pinned the colors for these designs, I go back to the drawing board and look at the other designs for which I now need to pick a yarn. I have a drawer full of shade cards and yarn samples, and a running list of yarn companies I'd love to work with or support, and out of these, and the designer's description of which kind of yarn they're looking for, I curate the rest of the yarns.

    For some patterns, this is super fast - say, a DK weight yarn with crisp stitch definition in a broader color range is quite easy to find. For others, not so much - a five-color colorwork sweater is tricky (after all, I want a broader color selection than just five to be available for our test knitters!), and patterns that combine more than one yarn (say, a mohair lace-weight and a fingering-weight) are also more complicated. For those, it's essentially triple the work: I need to look for a yarn company or dyer who fulfills our sustainability criteria, has both bases, and dyes them in a way that works together.

    Pattern by pattern, I work my way through the list, pinning yarn choices as I go. When I'm done, I take a good look at the Pinterest board: How does it feel? Are the colors balanced? Are we missing anything?

    Sometimes, I go back to a pattern or two to try other yarns or colors. Other times, it's good as is. Always, this part is so enjoyable - I can start picturing the designs in these shades already!

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