Sunday, November 10, 2013

Creating the Color Cards for a New Yarn

Scan of official Lotus yarn color card.
You can enlarge it here
This post is part of a series: I'm blogging what it's like to start a yarn company as a crochet designerIt's an adventure with unexpected - ah - twists, and an odd sensation that I'm transgressing industry categories/roles. A new Crochet Inspirations Newsletter issue goes out soon; subscribe to be alerted when I add new posts to this blog series.
If I have color cards made for Lotus, the yarn must be available for purchase soon, right? YES!! In just a day or two! Right NOW!! In the meantime you can see all the colors and test swatches and labeled balls of yarn here. Adding them to Ravelry right now too.

So what's a "color card"? It's a yarn industry thing: an official "B2B" (business to business) fact sheet. Color cards display the available colors of a yarn as accurately as possible. A printed card is traditionally large with actual yarn samples of each color attached. Nowadays, the online equivalent might just be a close up of photographed colors. 

You've probably seen color cards if you have looked up yarns in Ravelry. You might even own some if you have ever:
- Paid for one while ordering yarn from a website or mail-order catalog.
- Been taken seriously enough as a designer by a yarn company. 
- Owned or worked in a yarn shop.

Tassels from the first mock-up of the Lotus color card.
These are actual Lotus colors (four neutral colors are missing).
It's an important reference for yarn shop owners and magazine editors. Color cards may be created by the yarn mill or packager/distributor to help a yarn shop owner order the best colors for her/his shop. A magazine editor can use the same color cards to plan a unified color theme for an issue, and to quote the correct color names and numbers when ordering yarn for the designer. The magazine's technical editor might check yarn facts in the patterns against what the color cards say, before the issue goes to press.

Before creating a short stack of color cards for Lotus, I compared a range of
Exhibit A: Glued Yarn Snips
color cards that have accumulated in my studio over the years. Some yarn companies add "glam copy" (persuasive, even flowery descriptions of the yarn's features). Others provide terse product specs. 

As you can see in "Exhibit A" at right, yarn snips may be glued down to the card. This is very common. Maybe it's the fastest and easiest way to mass produce them. 

Exhibit B: These 6" tassels are the longest of
any examples I have on hand.
Another common type of yarn snip is a tassel (Exhibit B at left). They can be of any length. The ones at left are especially long.  

As a designer I've wished that I could pull out a small length of the yarn to see how smooth and even it really is, and to just chain it to quickly experience crocheting it. I'm trying out a 30-inch length doubled up a few times, as shown in the top left photo above. 

Something that has always bugged me about color cards is if the tassels are long, they look messy and don't work well in a binder. I designed mine to fit in a 3-ring binder so that the yarn snips don't flop around beyond the edge of the binder.

Next in this series: How My Lotus Yarn Got its Name.

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