What designers can learn from working in a yarn store, part 2

Yesterday’s post was a huge hit. In fact, I have never had so many visits to my site in one day. So you have inspired me to follow up sooner than I had planned with more tips for knitting and crochet designers that I have learned from working in a yarn store.

  1. Ravelry is about to blow LYS pattern sales wide open. Get your house in order: Ravelry is currently beta-testing a program that will allow LYSes to sell patterns to their customers directly from Ravelry. If you are a designer (or shop owner), you need to go read this post and the linked documents, and then go get your shop set up for when the program is opened up to all yarn stores. Not everyone is going to want to participate, but soon you need to make a deliberate decision one way or the other.
  2. Get thee to a niche: When a yarn store customer asks me about lace patterns, my reptile brain moves my hand toward the Anne Hanson binder. When I’m asked for a sock pattern, my thoughts reflexively go to Cookie A, Cat Bordhi, and Wendy Johnson. You want cute knitted monsters? Why, Rebecca Danger, of course. There are a lot of knitting and crochet designers out there right now. You can design a little of everything and risk not being known for anything in particular. Consider specializing and maybe one day it will be your name the LYS clerk thinks of when her customer wants to knit his teenage son a cardigan.
  3. Keep your design samples: You need to be the meticulous curator of your own little museum. Those samples that you knit up of your own designs are precious artwork. Someday you may be asked to do a trunk show at your LYS or even TNNA, and you need to have samples to show. You might even loan out your samples to your LYS in order to help pattern sales. This may all sound preposterous now that you have two designs to your name, but we are all starting somewhere.
  4. Don’t over-design: There is most definitely a market for complex designs. Witness the craze over Jared Flood’s Rock Island shawl, for example. But then, on any given day, go and look each of the patterns listed in the “most active recently published designs” list on Ravelry. Go on, I’ll wait…. Notice anything? They are all (or almost all) rather basic designs, aren’t they? I mean no disrespect to these designers by saying this, either. Quite the contrary: it takes great talent to create a design that is simple to knit but looks fantastic. As Michael Kors is so fond of pointing out on Project Runway, the best clothing design is well edited. It’s glamor that looks effortless. That’s what people want to knit and crochet. It’s also what they want to wear.

[Click here for part 1 in this series.]

3 thoughts on “What designers can learn from working in a yarn store, part 2

  1. Pingback: What designers can learn from working in a yarn store « Dark Matter Knits

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