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Topic: Selling Handspun Yarn?  (Read 4839 times)
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« on: November 01, 2006 07:57:23 PM »

Hi all.

Let me start by saying some of y'all are incredibly talented and do amazing stuff and are completely and utterly inspiring. Seriously. Wow and wow.

I'm Tom. n00b-extraodinaire. Hi.

Long story shorter:

I'm selling a modest lot of stocks and have decided, in an entrepreneurial fit, to think about starting spinning. The whys and wherefores are pretty boring, suffice it to say adjunct professoring only pays some bills and leaves lots of free-time for doing krafty things.

(My girlfriend knits which planted the original thought; my shopping with her and seeing the price on small-run-type yarns made me think "Hey!" Her teaching me to knit and having played around with it for a few days makes me think it's a fine and honorable thing.)

Before I go on, please don't crucify me for my capitalistic leanings. I've done craft stuff in the past - high end leather / exotic wood chess sets - and my REAL drive comes from my enjoyment of playing with stuff. And Craftster is great and I'm a n00b. Hi. You guys are awesome and I enjoy reading your posts. Hi.


I've been shopping for some stuff, and since y'all are pros I figured I'd run my shopping cart by you. I'm thinking of ordering from The Woolery, because at least some of you seem to have had luck with them, and their prices seem reasonable enough.

I'm thinking about the Kromsky Mazurka. My thinking goes like this: there are a lot of wheels, and it seems (to my n00b brain) that the Kromsky will do a fine job spinning most kinds of yarn. Plus, it's purty.

I'm further thinking about picking up Strauch's Finest. Expensive and flexible, yes? Probably a skeinwinder in there as well.

I'm also going to just get kinda whacky and throw a bunch of different sorts of fiber(/re)s into the shopping cart.

So! Here's the top-hat-rotten-capitalist question I have:

1) That I have a fair amount of time to learn to spin - roughly until the paychecks stop in May.
2) That I'm not completely incompetent
3) That a worldwide sheep epidemic doesn't happen
4) That I'm a capable marketer

Is it possible to make money spinning? A little bit? Etsy and eBay and LYSs and things? I know it's not going to be an over-night type thing, but I really have lots *lots* of free-time, and I'm a fairly quick learner. I'm not in this to get wildly rich, but I really, seriously, *seriously* need something to supplement my meager salary, and doing something wholesome and beautiful and non-ridiculous and with a long a storied and neat history like spinning seems right up my alley. 

I know that you pros out there might be unwilling to divulge all their industry secrets, but let me remind you that competition is what makes capitalism work, and my inferior product will make yours that much more impressive!  Grin

I love you all and Craftster is great and thanks for all the knowledge that you've already given away and I hope you have a delightful November and thank you.

« Last Edit: November 01, 2006 08:08:36 PM by xcb » THIS ROCKS   Logged

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - HLM
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2006 06:26:46 AM »

As far as the specifics of what you're buying and such, I'm not a knitter or spinner.  You might have more luck with feedback about that in the knitting forums.
It sounds like you've got the energy and initiative to make a go at selling.

Good luck.
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2006 06:33:31 AM »

I tried that. Smiley The mods put me here.


... I'm patient.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - HLM
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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2006 07:39:09 AM »

I learned how to spin ages ago in sort of the same circumstances. We even had our own sheep. I had visions of spinning and dyeing my own yarn so dear mom could knit me a sweater. Problems: It took A LONG TIME to learn to spin evenly and acurately control it. My skeins were beautiful but all different thicknesses. Also, it took A LONG TIME to spin it. Even after I got better. I gained a hell of a lot of respect for the spinners of yore who spent all day spinning yard to make thier clothes with.

I would ask around at yarn shops to see how well thier hand spun, hand dyed yarns sell. I know there are others out there but I dont know how fast you'd have to spin to keep up with any kind of demand to make any kind of profit? I'm too impatient these days...I gave up spinning and knitting. I need instant craftification!

I would definately suggest you try to borrow a spinning wheel for a while if possible. Or perhaps you might make a connection through a yarn shop to buy a used one?

Good luck! Let us know how your venture goes!

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« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2006 06:55:30 PM »

Before investing that amount of capital, I would definately find someone who already spins and see if they will show you how it's done and let you play on their wheel a bit.

Your might find out you,

1. Absolutely hate it.
2. Absolutely stink at doing it.
3. Are allergic to the wool or some other crazy idiotic surprise.

I would suspect every crafter here, myself included, has had that awesome I'm gonna make a <insert some adjective here> of money with this idea. Some have exceeded their original dreams, others have had to accept a reality check - oh well, no one wants my pink and red knitted steering wheel covers or whatever it is that someone thought was an original idea until they found 100 websites with the same thing. Or, no one likes my purses because they are too heavy, small, always turn out slightly crooked, etc.

My mistaken craft tycoon project was seed bead earrings. It started out as a form of therapy to help deal with the job from hell. A neighbor was making more selling her wire wrapped jewelry than her school teacher's salary. The earrings came out wonderful and I began having visions of being a professional crafter and telling my boss to take their job and shove it.

It was a great idea until they started importing the same (well, not as well-made or pretty) things from some country where they were happy to sell them for $3-5 retail. Where I live now, and over 10 years later, the local Indian tribe has prices on their pieces that are nowhere near equal to the time and skill required to make them.

I'm not sure you shouldn't explore the high-end leather chess set concept a bit more. There are so many folks out there already spinning and making some awesome yarns; but, you are the first person I have heard of that makes leather chess sets. Maybe think about other leather goods you could make.

If you have any motorcycle shops near you, see if the owner might give you any ideas - there is a huge market for leather goods for bikers in my area. Talk to high-end clothing boutique owners - they might have a lot of requests for a leather something that they can't find.

I hope our answers haven't discouraged you; but, you sound like you are getting ready to spend a great deal of money without perhaps doing enough research.

I love to work with most kinds of needles; I crochet, did the beading, make nice cross stitch and embroidery - but my needlepoint is absolutely horrid. I look at the needlepoint kits I've bought through the years and am finally facing the truth and putting them on the yard sale/donations pile. Thank goodness my investment wasn't as large as what you are planning.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2006 07:43:30 PM »

Excellent stuff, all. A few more thoughts, if I might:

I won't go into the problem of re-going down the leather chess set thing; but suffice it to say that it took an ENORMOUS amount of materials, tools, space, and time. My new and ultra-luxurious 660 sq.ft. apartment won't support a lathe, a bandsaw, a workbench, wood supplies, etc. Plus, they were extremely, extremely, extremely time consuming items. And I, too, ran into the competing-with-the-Chinese thing at every turn. Probably a bad plan from the get-go, but something I wanted to try.

Plus, I sold all my gear about a year and a half ago. 

As far as the more general leatherwork, I've hit the two following walls: 1) I'm permanently off the idea of using dead animals to make stuff, and (perhaps most importantly) 2) Leather is a medium fraught with all sorts of flavors of idiocy.

While I do ride a motorcycle as my only vehicle, I cannot bear weekend warrior leather motorcycle people. Pet peeve. If it's not them, it's the S&M crew, who are fine, but part of me feels queasy about having to tell folks "Oh, I'm a part time college prof, but I make ball-gags on the side."  It's just weird. Cowboys, Hot-Topic'eers, SCA, all sorts of... lifestyles that I don't want to have to invest myself in in order to make a little bit of extra scratch to subsidize my teaching habit.

It's not that I'm too good to have clients, but I'd like something slightly more wholesome. No dead stuff. No perverts. No lifestyle choices.

Your other point, about the expense, isn't quite as big of a deal for me. My leather/wood venture was a $15,000+ investment that didn't really pan out as it could have; mostly due to the fact that I decided, instead of focusing on the task at hand, to fall in love and move abroad for the helluvit.

The $1,000 on a full spinning setup is, in my mind, quite reasonble. Perhaps not objectively cheap, but certainly nothing as ridiculous as what I've done in the past. And really, what's a grand in the big scheme of things? Less than a few college courses! Cheaper than a transmission!

Plus, look around! Potential customers everywhere!

Until the Stitch'n'Bitch thing blows over. Then I'll have to move on to... hell... I dunno... blacksmithing or something.

/still crunching the numbers; market research, donchaknow
//haven't pulled any triggers yet

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - HLM
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2007 06:59:12 AM »

One of the ways I "justified" my purchase of a spinning wheel was by telling myself that eventually, if I get good enough and make interesting yarn, I could sell it either online or locally. So I'd like to learn more about what that would entail, and ask a few questions.

For example, I don't really like dying my own roving/yarn...but I love spinning with hand-dyed roving. Would it be inappropriate to sell yarn that was made with someone else's hand-dyed rovings, sort of like how you can't sell something you knit with a copyrighted pattern? If you embellished the yarn enough to make it "your own", would it be all right to sell then?

And what about the seeming overabundance of handspun yarn available online, like on Etsy? Does anyone here sell their yarn in other outlets, like to LYSs or at craft fairs?

Thanks for the input, everyone! I hope to someday create yarn that's as fabulous as some of you who are already "in the business."  Wink


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« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2007 12:42:49 PM »

I wouldn't think it wouldn't be a problem since roving is really a craft supply.  Anyone who's selling hand-dyed roving probably understands that it will be used either for felting or for spinning and that there's a good chance that that will go into a craft that will be sold.

I'm not an expert, however.

« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2007 06:55:21 AM »

I have had a lot of people ask me if they could buy yarn off of me, but I am not at that point yet- I have not become saturated enough with yarn yet. Cheesy

Do any of you sell yarn?  How do you do it- I mean, I don't know the length, but I can weigh it- and I have no idea what to charge- after all of the dyeing and spinning work I am sure I will never really get what it is worth anyway....

Any input?

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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2007 08:39:22 AM »

Your best bet is to ask before you sell something made from someone else's hand dyed and to always, always give them credit for the dyeing portion of the project. I actually asked someone after seeing several people selling from her hand painted rovings and she told me she didn't mind but it bothered her if a. people didn't ask first or b. didn't give her any credit.

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