Thursday, July 31, 2008

Virtual wool

I was listening to NPR the other day and heard a story about yarn. They gave us that "tease" at the beginning of the hour, and I had to listen through business and money related stories on gasoline prices, food prices, mortgage prices, and the stock market...and then finally, the piece on what's really important...yarn. If you want to listen (or read), here it is:


They consider several causes. First, that knitting is going out of fashion. What? I don't THINK so. Just look at Ravelry. I'm not going to even entertain this notion. Yes, the trend began rising in 2001 after you-know-what and peaked in 2005 (maybe because of Katrina and the charity mentality aftermath?) So every trend waxes and wanes. I think knitting is on a slow and steady rise.

Second, more knitters are going to the Internet. Umm, yeah I can see this. It's easier, saves gas, there are mad sales, there's more stock at your fingertips, and then you forget that it's coming and you have a little gift one day all of a sudden in the mail.

The downsides? You don't get it right away. I used to go to Knit and Stitch = Bliss a lot and would always see afellow shoppers at the nearby Starbucks minutes later, often starting new projects. Second, you can't feel the yarn, which is SOO important to me. I've heard it's a good idea to put it on your cheek to see if it will make a nice fuzzy non-itchy scarf. On the other hand, if you already know that you love the yarn and/or brand, you'll know you are getting a good yarn even if the picture doesn't make it look appealing (sorry, knitpicks, but I don't think your pics are good representations of your quality yarn. I bought some based only on your good reputation and love it).

I also think a disadvantage is not having the helpful staff there to answer questions. So many new knitters depend on them to help them learn what yarn is all about. I unfortunately didn't have a good experience on my first LYS. I'm not here to name names because it's been said that there is a certain compatibility between knitter and yarn store (which is a little exclusive I think), but others have described that they felt as if they were "intruding on a private party" which described my feeling aptly. In the recent past, however, I found an LYS (A Tangled Skein). The new knitter loves the yarn store because it's a haven where questions can be answered and a place where muggles (thank you SPM) don't look at you funny when you yell at a half-made sock and throw it across the room/metro car.

I think the ease and accessibility of the Internet is a major reason why people turn to it for yarn. One of the business strategies is to have an online yarn store as well as a brick-and-mortar store. They interviewed Jimmy Beans Wool. Webs also comes to mind.

But I think that yarn stores aren't becoming as sparse as the story stated. As long as they have a good business plan that puts its customers and future customers first, and listens to their needs, then they will be in high demand. But I'm not a businesswoman, just a lowly knitter.


cici said...

thanks what a great story. I love NPR, they always have the greatest stores. Don't you hate when they tease you like that. Tv news is even worst. you wait the entire hour for about 2 minutes of a story.

leslieanne said...

I too find it unbelievable that knitting is on the wane. I personally am the absolute only person I know who knits and crochets but it's always been that way. Thanks to the internet I know there are others out there. Oh, and I have never ordered online yarn cos I need to feel it too. I know I will someday though cos we have no yarn shops here, just Hobby Lobby which has an inordinate supply of fun fur. Blech.