When I first started designing knitwear, I started by purchasing my own yarn. I thought only the top designers got provided with yarn for their projects. As I started to get more established as a designer and know more about the world of knitwear design, I realized my concept of yarn support was completely wrong. It is possible for any knitwear designer to get yarn support!
What is Yarn Support?
Yarn support is when a company or indie dyer provides the yarn for your designs. Yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds. Sometimes, this will mean a discount on the yarn and other times, it will mean free yarn (FREE YARN!!!).
Indie dyers are small businesses that create beautiful hand-dyed yarns. These are the beautiful skeins of speckled, variegated and tonal yarns you see wound up into skeins at yarn shops.
These skeins are usually dye in small quantities and there is variation even within the same dye lot. So if you’re designing a large item (like a sweater), it’s good practice to purchase the quantity you need at once to ensure it was dyed in the same dye lot.
When getting yarn support from indie dyers, they will usually provide a percentage off the price of their yarn. With many indie dyers, it’s usually a one-woman/man show with the dyer being the person who does everything for their small business. It is important that they are, at the very least, able to cover the cost of their labor and yarn.
In my personal experience, I will usually have an idea of what I want to make with their yarn. I usually haven’t needed to have a swatch or submit a formal submission for yarn support.
I have approached indie dyers in various ways. I have direct messaged them on Instagram. Websites such as Yarnpond also have a section where you can find indie dyers that are looking to support knitwear designers.
Knitwear design is a very collaborative process and I have found many indie dyers are very open to a partnership with knitwear designers.
Yarn companies such as Lion Brand and Knitpicks are always open to designers asking for yarn support. They usually provide email addresses on their websites to submit design ideas. For these companies, I usually put together a formal submission.
When putting together a submission, this is typically what I will include in a one page PDF:
Sketch of the item I want to design
Swatch of the knitting stitches (not necessarily in their yarn)
A short blurb on the inspiration behind the pattern
Bullet points of the design details
My basic information
Instagram username and other social media links
Short bio about me
Ask Questions & Set Expectations
Each company will have different expectations so it’s important to know these when working with companies. Some questions you may want to ask are:
Does the pattern have to be released within a certain period of time?
Will the company be involved in promoting the pattern?
Who will hold the rights to the pattern? (Typically this will be you, the designer for self-published patterns, but it is good to be clear)
When using multiple yarns, does the company want all the yarn to be provided by them or are you free to use other sources within the same project (e.g. indie-dyed yarn alongside the yarn provided by the company)
I did a search to see which yarn companies provided information on how to get yarn support on their websites. But if there is a yarn company you love, you can always reach out to them to ask if they provide yarn support. Chances are, they probably do! After all, what is yarn without patterns designed for them?
Here is a list of companies that provided information about yarn support on their websites:
Pin for later!