Does expensive yarn make a pattern sell ?

As I seek to develop my pattern writing business I’ve spent a lot of time studying patterns that sell on Ravelry and patterns that get into magazines. As a Mum to a large family I knit on a tight budget. The high cost of lovely yarn was one of the main reasons I got into spinning my own yarn as I can produce lovely yarn from 100g of fibre costing £3.75. The cost of knitting designs in magazines can sometimes take ones breath away. A jumper in the March edition of Knitting magazine in Malabrigio Merino Worsted takes 11 x 100g of yarn at a cost in my size of £93.50 plus postage. As an experienced knitter I would take that pattern if I wanted to knit it for myself and find an alternative yarn that knitted to the same gauge and make it for a far lower cost. The question I am wrestling with is should I only focus on using lower cost, but widely available yarns to design with or is it essential that I use the expensive high end yarns in order to get my pattern noticed?

I did a quick survey on Ravelry the other week to see what people loved to knit – shawls, fingerless gloves and lacework came out top with socks following closely behind. This is  a quick glance at the top five patterns on Ravelry today :

1. Honey Cowl by Madelinetosh – using Madelinetosh DK yarn

2. Hitchhiker by Martina Behm – using Wollmeise Pure (scarf pattern)

3. Color Affection by Veera Valimaki using The Plucky Knitter Cashmere (shawl pattern)

4. GAPtastic Cowl by Jen Geigley using Lion Brand Wool Ease Chunky

5.Turn a Square by Jared Flood using Cascade Yarns 220 or Noro Sik Garden (Hat pattern)

A selection of luxury and indeed expensive yarns used by these designers and  so on down the top ten patterns. Although established designers get commissioned to produce designs with specific yarns it is tricky for newcomers like myself to get a foot in the door. I have a wealth of yarn companies around me in West Yorkshire – Rowan Yarns, West Yorkshire Spinners, Cygnet Yarns, Edward Hill, King Cole – I could continue. I had links with some of these businesses from my time producing children’s knitwear so I hope to rekindle these connections over the coming months.

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7 thoughts on “Does expensive yarn make a pattern sell ?

  1. I think personally if you could offer suggestions or some feedback on what “type” of yarns work then give the reader options it would be AWESOME! I constantly seek help with finding alternate yarns. Yes if I want to do a really fancy project I will buy the expensive yarn. I do fully believe in supporting LYS and the wool industry. That said.. mama needs to knit and sometimes those knits need to be on budget (ok most of the time lol). There are not enough resources out there to help budget knitters find beautiful substitutes.

    • I will try and make the effort to find a good alternative yarn that is less expensive but as you say if we knitters want beautiful yarn then we do need to support the yarn companies that are making luxury yarns too.

  2. I almost always substitute. Some US yarns are hard to find in France. And some are way to expensive. My luxury skeins go into 1 skein projects. What I like is when patterns give a yardage estimation/weight besides a suggested brand, much easier.

  3. I agree with the commenters above, having weight and meterage is so much easier to work with for the knitter to sub, buuuuut saying that it is generally the yummy yarn as well as the design thats pulls me first. It’s in all the visual. I am currently lusting over a pattern that, if I used the suggested yarn it would cost over €70! In the grand scheme thats not too bad but if the purse strings are tight it is a good bit to spend. I am currently looking at other sub options, whilst I might get the quality and natural fibre, I won’t get that yummy hand dyed look. On the other hand in a recent magazine I seen a design, fell for but when I worked out the price it would have been over €140 to knit!! Now let me explain, I’m a size 14-16 (UK), I don’t require thousands of metres to cover my body! In my opinion €140 is a ridiculous amount to spend! Would you believe when I tell you it was a cashmere blend yarn, NOT 100% cashmere! I took an instant dislike to the pattern and designer, and I doubt I will ever knit something of theirs again. I just felt that it was a step too far. The yarn in question is a gorge yarn, I’ve used it before but for a small project not a tunic style jumper! OK sorry for my rant! 😉

  4. Hi Emma, I hope you don’t mind but I have nominated you for a Liebster Blog Award. More details are over on my blog anjikrafts.blogspot.com
    Anji x

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