There’s been lots of news unfolding in the yarn industry over the last few months including increased fragmentation, boycott lists, a trend towards ‘craft dabbling’ and fundraisers for those affected by the wildfires in Australia.
Stacey Trock rounds up the lastest yarn industry news for us each quarter. Here’s her latest report:
As 2019 has drawn to a close, we can look back at a few trends in motion in the yarn industry. In 2019, we saw an increased fragmentation of the marketplace. Consumers report that there’s no ‘one big show’ or ‘it-brand’ or ‘must-know designer’ that everyone flocks to. Increasingly, private Facebook groups are destinations as communities, meaning that certain conversations or products can be incredibly active and popular in one group, but unheard of in another.
Relatedly, 2019 also saw the rise of lists (lists of companies to boycott, lists of companies and their political affiliations, lists of companies known for sustainable work ethics) all distributed in private groups or a privately-shared link.
It seems that the 2019-consumer was all about ‘trying something new’. This gave some new brands a boost, but left many established brands suffering. A number of consumers expressed the sentiment, “that’s a lovely yarn, but I’ve already knit with it. I want to try something new.” This contributed to the breakneck pace of closures, acquisitions and pivots seen in the industry.
More generally in the craft industry, millennials are huge proponents of ‘craft dabbling’. This is the practice of wanting to learn a new craft and have experiences with friends, but not necessarily go deep with a craft before moving onto another. Crafting studios with classes in myriad crafts are opening across the country, and may be filling a slice of the market that has been traditionally filled by LYSs.
Long-standing shows (such as Rhinebeck) are still as busy as ever as destinations to meet with knit and crochet friends, but some retailers report that overall spending has been dropping. More knitters are spending time Instagramming a meet-up on the grassy hill or an Artichoke French, and less time shopping in booths. A retail position for Rhinebeck is much coveted, as the waitlist is years long. Some are speculating that the lack of enthusiasm for shopping at the event is a product of hosting the same vendors year after year, who naturally, hold on to their spots until they are out of business. It is no question that in the current competitive climate, shows have to go above-and-beyond to attract shoppers.
Attendance in trade shows is down, leading TNNA and AFCI to co-locate for this winter show. And with the closure of Yarn Market News, it is clear that the way the industry does business is changing.
Crafters Rally Behind Australian Wildfire Tragedy
Horrendous wildfires (“bushfires” in Aussie parlance) have been burning for weeks across Eastern Australia. While the human toll, lost houses and charred acreage are staggering, perhaps the most devastating statistic of all is the loss of native wildlife. Some projections put the total loss of wild animals at over one billion, including the koalas and kangaroos that are so beloved and uniquely Australian. It has been widely reported that some native species have been rendered endangered or functionally extinct due to the massive loss of lives and habitat.
The fiber community from all over the world have rallied to send help Australia’s way. Knitters, crocheters and sewists have been making pouches, which are used to keep orphaned and injured animals warm. Countless artists and small businesses have started fundraisers or are donating a percentage of their profits to the cause.
Kind-hearted crafters are quick to put their skills to use after a tragic event. However, in the wake of the Newtown, CT shooting, we learned that this abundance can quickly become a source of strain; this article about the man left to manage the donated stuffed animals casts a light on the burden in the aftermath. For those looking to help, it is recommended that you send cash donations if possible. Organizations responsible for managing the event are the ones best equipped to determine what is needed urgently and put those funds to efficient use.
If you’d like to help, the Australian Red Cross and New South Wales Rural Fire Service are on the front lines. If you are interested in knitting, crocheting or sewing a pouch, check with the organizer of the charity to confirm that the receiving organization is still in need of more pouches.
Financials: Acquisitions, bankruptcies, closures and distribution changes
Yarn Market News closes. Yarn Market News, a long-standing source of trade information in the yarn industry, announced the January 2020 issue is the final issue. Citing decreasing ad revenue, the magazine has shuttered. This follows a decrease in numbers of issues six years ago, and a move to online publications more recently.
Jimmy Beans Wool buys Madelinetosh. After a series of social media mishaps, a stop in shipments and sale leading many to suspect that Madelinetosh was going out of business, the business was purchased by Jimmy Beans Wool, the online yarn retailer that also recently purchased della Q and Namaste bags.
AC Moore closes. Citing an increasingly competitive retail market, big-box craft chain AC Moore closes its doors. AC Moore had 135 stores mostly in the Eastern US.
Candy Shoppe Yarns has closed. Indie dyer Candy Shoppe Yarns, closed their doors December 30th.
Knit Picks launches crochet-specific brand, wecrochet. Knit Picks has launched wecrochet, a brand specifically targeting crocheters. Although Knit Picks features crochet patterns and yarns appropriate for crochet, the name and branding skewed knit-centric. The brand is hoping to capitalize on the numerous crocheters, typically underserved in the fiber industry, keen to have a crochet-centric experience.
TNNA co-locates with AFCI for Creativation. This event takes place January 16-20th in Phoenix, AZ.
Swatched, a fiber docu-series has launches to acclaim. The series, Swatched, explores the intersection of artistry and identity, and is a take that isn’t usually viewed in the craft industry. The trailer features Angela Tong, a knitwear designer, weaver and weaving instructor. The series is produced by Cereal Made and sponsored by SweetGeorgia Yarns and The Knitter’s Planner. The short series is a proof of concept and is being shopped out to networks and platforms for full-scale production.
Skacel announced a recall on its FlipStix knitting needles. The recall notice estimates less than 300 of the impacted needles were purchased between November 2018 and August 2019.
LA LYS looks for funding. The Knitting Tree LA, a local yarn store in Los Angeles, has started a GoFundMe campaign. Citing closing stores and inventory complications, as well as a desire to put on events and invest in dyeing and weaving equipment, the store is seeking customer support.
Colorado-based LYS for sale. Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins, is looking for a buyer.
Stacey Trock helps small businesses in the craft industry put their best foot forward in the digital world. She specializes in developing a company’s branding, marketing + social media to build customer-loyalty, community-building and engagement. She writes, teaches and consults on a variety of small business marketing topics.