Saturday, November 02, 2013

On Becoming a...Yarn Company?

The Starpath Scarf, a Lotus yarn pattern
Developing yarns to add to my DesigningVashti.com site is having a powerful affect on me as a crochet designer. This blog has been about the designing journey since 2005, so I thought I’d blog a series of journal-like posts about my yarn-designing adventure here.

Scroll to the end of this post for a clickable list of all posts in this series.

For the first time ever, I can design with a yarn that I already know I love, that I understand intimately, and over which I have complete control. I don't have to worry that someone will suddenly discontinue it. This has happened a lot.
Lotus Yarn in "White Blaze"

Freelance designers do not get paid for all the time it takes to get to know a yarn, yet this is one reason that creating design proposals, especially for yarn companies, is so time consuming. (For magazines, this task is delayed until you find out which yarn gets assigned to your design proposal.)
Big ol' cones of Rosy Lotus

Over the past few months I’ve been developing two new yarns, and I mean new: not offered elsewhere. The first is called Lotus, and it's nearly ready for purchase! It's a z-twisted sport weight blend of cotton and rayon. The yarn labels are currently being printed, and the last of the fourteen colors is being dyed right now. now available! (My second yarn doesn't have a name yet; I'm still finding out if I found the right mill for it or not). 
My Tunisian Wicker Stitch in "Satin Grey" Lotus



DesigningVashti Lotus Yarn in "Crystal Blue"
I’m going directly to yarn mills with some ideas for yarns that are not already available. I’ve been an avid yarn user (consumer, swatcher, stasher) for years. It's fascinating how fibers, plying, twist, dyeing, etc. add to my love of crochet and pattern designing! I pay attention to differences between yarns, and so by now it's easy for me to envision my own ideal yarns.

Yarn mill folks seem to appreciate that I study yarns and have some ideas to try. This is a great relief to me! I was afraid I’d get blank looks, or “Well, that’ll cost you!” responses. Instead, they seem more relieved and curious.
Brushed Shells in color "Peachy Sheen"

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. 

Today, what brings me to my blog is that I’m in a design slump! NOT a crochet slump, just a design slump (it happens every time I return from teaching a lot of classes at a national conference.) 

Being surrounded by my Lotus yarn in rainbow colors makes this slump a fun experience.

(By the way, I never know how the colors are going to show up on different computer screens, so I try different kinds of lighting and add various photos to my shop pages.)


This year, shipments of my new yarn were arriving from the mill while I was preparing to teach. Now that I'm home from teaching, I feel like a mother with her newborn baby. I spend every day trying out new stitch patterns with different colors of LotusI take photos of Lotus at different angles and times of day. I've dug out my early designs for which I used favorite stitch patterns. I'm going through my old books and trying stitches that have always intrigued me. 

It turns out that designing a YARN and making it a reality is like having a baby, in several ways: the months of anticipation, choosing a name, and the "labor." I even had to prepare a new room for its arrival. 


Zenobia Palm Stitch in color "Pearly Pearl"
I love that my early years as a freelance designer have taught me that the best thing I could be doing right now is swatching up different crochet stitches with Lotus! Crocheting with a yarn is like getting to know a new person. Each has a distinct temperament, unique strengths & weaknesses, and preferences. The better one knows a yarn, the better a design will work for it. 

As a crochet designer with my own yarn company, I don’t have to go on blind dates with yarns I may never design with again. Lotus is family!


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Other posts in this series (in chronological order):