The yarn industry appears to be in the midst of industry-wide consolidation, with this quarter seeing even more acquisitions/mergers.
Diversity in the industry and concerns over the inclusion of knitters/crocheters of all races, religions, genders, ages, sizes and socio-economic statuses has been the largest topic of discussion this quarter. Although the topic has simmered for years (decades?), the popular discussion began on Instagram in February and began on Instagram before moving to other social media networks and live events.
Financials: Acquisitions, Bankruptcies, Closures, and Distribution changes
Continued tariffs. Consistent with the theme of 2019, tariffs continue to be newsworthy. A recent announcement reveals that the US administration is set to impose tariffs on polyester yarn from China + India, although it is unclear how much of this yarn is destined for the hand-knitting industry.
Alpine Moss from Stunning String Studio
Buffalo Wool announces changes in distribution for its yarn. In an announcement at DFW Fiber Fest, Ron Miskin of Buffalo Wool Company announced that it is handing over retail and wholesale distribution of its yarn line to Stunning String Studio to focus more on ready-to-wear items. Buffalo wool will still continue to process the fiber and create the yarn. Stunning String revealed they will start “a line called Stunning Buffalo that will incorporate the existing BWC yarn bases (with hopes to add a few new bison fiber blends and weights) with our color palette.”
Louet North America rebrands as Kollage. Louet North America announced to its wholesale customers that it is discontinuing distributing yarn and is rebranding as Kollage- the brand name of their Square™ knitting needles and crochet hooks. The Euroflax yarn line has been purchased with new ownership to be announced soon.
Jimmy Beans Wool has purchased Della Q. After 15 years of producing needle cases for the LYS market, Della of Della Q is stepping away from the industry. Jimmy Beans Wool’s acquisition of Della Q follows their recent purchase of Namaste.
Interweave files for bankruptcy. As reported on CIA, F+W, the parent company of Interweave, filed for bankruptcy. The company is hoping for a buyer. A number of authors have been notified that they will not received payments/royalties due to them.
US-based mill, Maine Textiles International files for bankruptcy. Formerly known as Saco River Dyehouse has filed for Chapter 11 and is attempting to restructure and avoid eviction during bankruptcy proceedings. Owner Raessler had teamed up with Pam Allen of Portland-based Quince & Co to run the dyehouse after the closure of JCA and reportedly ran into trouble as expansion did not go as planned.
Bijou Basin Ranch closing. Bijou Basin Ranch announced its closure and retirement.
- Jimmy Beans Wool has hired Amy Gunderson as Yarn Director. She was formerly the Creative Director at Universal Yarns.
- After Trisha Malcolm’s departure, Carla Scott has been appointed to the position of Editor in Chief of Vogue Knitting magazine. She has been with Vogue Knitting since 1982.
- Heather Zopetti announced she will begin a full-time job outside the industry, while maintaining her company, Stitch Sprouts. She cites health insurance as a major consideration for the decision. It’s an issue heavy on the minds of many independents in the industry.
Diversity and Inclusion
There has been much discussion in the yarn-world regarding diversity, racism and inclusion, bubbling up to mainstream media with this article in Vox (the article also includes a good summary and links to key points in the discussion for those who haven’t been following. Due to space limitations, only the most bare outlines are provided in this quarterly round-up, which gives no justice to the scope and breadth of the conversations.)
The topic inclusivity has recently turned to a discussion about affordability, privilege and the earnings/wages of designers. Select voices in the conversation are Sukrita, Caroline Dick, Woolly Wormhead and Hunter Hammersen.
Due to industry demand, TNNA announced a panel on diversity and inclusion at its upcoming summer show. Members have received an email where they can submit comments, experiences or suggestions.
Marceline of HeyBrownBerry will be presenting an exploration of community (digitally and in real life) at the upcoming Wolllinn in Dublin. Ravelry and Cross & Woods are co-sponsors and the event will feature Adaku Ezeudo as a guest speaker on creating a culture of inclusion.
Laine’s most recent issue (8) received popular acclaim not only for the stunning patterns, lovely photography and beautiful models, but also for its transparency about its test knitting process and publishing ‘non-traditional’ designers, including a designer’s first pattern.
The organizers of Edinburugh Yarn Fest announce they will take a break for 2020.
The second-annual LYS Day, an initiative by TNNA to bring traffic to local yarn stores (LYSs), is widely reported as a success.
Warm + Fuzzy News
Jonah, the 11-year old crocheting prodigy and budding philanthropist, is still getting lots of love!
After A Hundred Ravens (an indie yarn dyer) had their trailer stolen on the way to a fiber festival, along with tens of thousands of dollars of inventory, a keen observer lead to a successful recovery of much of the product. A heartwarming story.
Stacey 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. www.staceytrock.com