Now that you know how to produce your hand knit collection, sourcing your yarn is the next step in bringing your knitwear designs to market. You should begin sourcing your yarn at the initial stages of product development as you will want to use the actual production yarn for all prototype and sample development.
Here are some sources for yarn:
A well-stocked yarn shop is an excellent resource for developing your collection. This is a great place to purchase sample yardage and get place to learn about the vast list of fibers available. Your local yarn shop will likely have samples knit in their best selling yarns which will give you a good idea of the fabric that can be created with a given fiber. You can purchase small quantities of yarn at a yarn shop for swatching or samples. Check out Local Yarn Store.com for a list of yarn shops near you.
One caveat with sourcing at your local yarn shop is that you are limited to what the shop owner has purchased. This is a great place to get started – but it is by no means a complete picture of the yarns available on the market. For that, we recommend that you attend a wholesale trade show.
The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) is the professional trade association for yarn companies and knitwear designers. TNNA has an amazing resource of publications available from the basics of how to knit to details of the knitwear industry. Some of their publications are available for purchase for non-TNNA members.
TNNA sponsors two major trade shows a year and one mid-year cash & carry show for yarn retailers. These trade shows can be an invaluable resource for designers who want to order the newest yarns on the market. This is also an excellent way to talk to many yarn companies in one place.
- The winter show, held in January is where you go to see and buy spring yarns. This show is typically held in California.
- The spring trade show, held in June is where yarn companies debut yarns and patterns for the winter market. Since hand knitting is largely considered a winter craft, this show is the largest of the yarn trade shows. The yarns launched at this show will ship in late summer/early fall.
- The mid-year show, held in September is a hotel show. It is the smallest of the yarn trade shows and is generally considered a cash & carry show. It is typically held in the mid-west. If you are a knitwear designer and are local to this show, it could be an affordable way to meet with some yarn companies. However, this is a much smaller show.
The TNNA trade shows are also great places to take classes and networking events.
There are also some regional trade shows that are not affiliated with The National NeedleArts Trade Association. These shows are smaller but can be a great local resource to reduce travel costs for newer designers.
NENA is the New England Needlework Association. They hold one cash & carry trade show each spring in Massachusetts.
The NW Needle Market is a regional yarn trade show held once a year in (or near) Seattle. This ‘wholesale’ only market is held in July.
Pitti Filati, held in Italy biannually (January & July) is the European yarn and fiber trade/trend show. This is where many US yarn companies go to see trends in fiber and color as well as meet with mills to buy yarn. For a designer this show is a great way to meet the sales staff of the major mills, see trends in yarn and fiber, and buy yarns not yet available in the US.
Once you have chosen your yarn you will want to contact the yarn company to discuss your product plans. Here are some important questions for a yarn company when you are considering using their yarns in your collection:
- Is their yarn available for reorder?
- Do they offer stock service or is there a lead time that should be taken into account when planning production?
- What is their minimum order for wholesale pricing?
- How far in advance do they plan discontinues?
- Is the yarn you have chosen likely to be discontinued in the near future?
Once you have your yarn and your design you are ready to begin producing your knitwear collection. Go to our consultations page to download an Original Design Quotation Form to get a quotation for your first samples.