If you have been reading my blog and newsletters recently or been at one of my lecture/storytelling events, then you’ve probably heard me talk about the changes in our little part of the textile industry. Growth and change are an inevitable and necessary part of life. Since I have been part of this industry of ours for almost 20 years, I have witnessed all kinds of changes. Hell – when I started we were seriously into fun fur, and there were basically a handful of hand dyers and no Ravelry!
Today we’re going to talk about the cost of wool and yarn. I remember way back when I bought my first pound (not ounces but a full-on pound) of fiber; and then not a year later, my very first kilo. I have to tell you I felt like such a grown-up crafty woman when I ordered that first kilo. I was pretty proud of myself.
At that point in time there was a very, very large surplus of Merino top – mostly in Australia – and we worked from that supply for a good long time with very few (and very small) price increases. Those price increases were usually due to trends in the industry and/or changes in the exchange rate of the dollar. Other contributing factors were of course disease and weather: drought is the biggest factor that affects a sheep’s well being and therefore its wool production. Drought has most definitely played a heavy hand in our wool surplus and pricing and that is something we are experiencing right now.
I shared with you at the end of last summer how wool ( especially Merino) prices were going up 20% all in one go, which was something I have never experienced in my years of making and dyeing yarn. I raised prices a wee bit last Fall but mostly tried to eat those costs, as did my suppliers and brokers, in the hopes that things would change for the better. Well, my fiber-loving friends, they are changing, but unfortunately not really for the better. Australia is experiencing a drought which means a shortage of wool. The one bright light for us here in the US is that the dollar is doing well in that part of the world; otherwise our price increase for top would be over 20%. One of my brokers said it would be 40% which is a staggering thought. I KNOW!!
Domestic wool pricing is also rising for some of the same weather reasons (including fire) and also demand. The demand right now for domestic and local fiber is higher than it has ever been, which of course also contributes to price increases. Mills in this country are also working at better wages for mill workers (which have historically been awful) and upgrading their equipment. Which is a good thing and certainly something we want to support.
There is more of a demand for wool right now than there pretty much has ever been in the history of our industry. While a thriving and growing industry is a good thing there needs to be a balance between supply and demand and right now there is not. I could go into a lot more detail about the why and how of it all but this is getting to be quite the blog post already so maybe another time. I can talk about this more – if you are interested just let me know. What this all means is you are going to see some pretty dramatic price increases this year. We have not even looked at the whole tariff thing and how that is going to effect availability and pricing in the craft industry at large.
After spending a whole lot of time on the phone with our brokers, suppliers and mills we I have some to the conclusion that I need to raise our prices. I like to keep things as affordable as possible for us all! However based on the price increases we are experiencing both in wool (Merino), silk, and yak it is just not sustainable to not have a substantial increase.
And while this price increase is probably one of the bigger jumps we have ever made, I have run it by quite few folks in the industry (including a bunch of our LYS’s) and they all agree that we were already on the low end of the pricing spectrum especially for our big ass skeins.The biggest increase are on our big skeins and even then if you look at the weight and yardage it is still a deal since most of our big skeins (weighing in at 8-9 oz) have close to 700 yds in them for around US$40.00, which for all of that is still a very good price. To give you a different perspective, if you broke that skein into 4 ounces and 300 to 400yds each, they would be US$20.00; most hand-dyed skeins of yarn on the market with that weight and yardage are at least US$26.00.
Please know this is not something any of us take lightly – from rancher to LYS owner. After all, this is our livelihood and something we are pretty passionate about. A skein of yarn supports so very many wonderful folks and animals in the circle of wool life! So with each project you cast on, think about all the great wool producers – from sheep to ranchers to mill workers to dyers to LYS owners – you are supporting with your dollars!
Our prices will be changing on September 14th so you have time to stock up at current prices if you like. (Time to get that Fall/Rhinebeck project going!)
Thank you for listening and for your support!
Sock Club shipped last week as did The School of Yarn. We are diligently working on the KAL orders and all of the August orders that came in with them. Yarn is showing up!!!!
For years now I have heard your stories of stalking the postal carriers for your Blue Moon packages. Luckily for me I have had the same UPS and USPS worker bees (Connie and Jeff) for years so they know me. The stalking here for our yarn and fiber is real!! Every time any delivery truck drives up I run out to greet them with fingers crossed. If all they have is office supplies it is very disappointing. Anyway I do see the light at the end of this one. And I cannot tell you how much we appreciate your patience and understanding. I know that a price increase is probably not the best reward but think of it as your part in sustaining our hand (knit, crochet, spinning, weaving, felting, dyeing…) community and industry. We all depend on each other. It’s one of the reasons I do not feel like I an independent artisan; I feel like I am a community one. It seriously takes a village to make yarn! I feel so very blessed and lucky to be part of such a community.
Karen and I are working on our first shipment of our Out of the Hue color club and oh my goodness this is going to be all kinds of fun!! So much color joy! We are going to have all kinds of fun. Primary, secondary and tertiary fun. LOL!
Shadey and tonal fun too! Shadey fun is the best kind. Okay I’ll stop. It’s a little late and it has been on long day with lots of math and weights and measures.
Before I go though, Team Blue Moon and I have decided that our October Dye Day Extravaganza is going to be very Halloween themed. We are so dressing up and will have all kinds of tricks and treats! You do not want to miss this dye day!