I have to preface this post with a nod to the source that really kicked me in the pants to write it-- Marcus Sheridan. Watch this video and read this book. It just might inspire you as well.
Although there are a lot of places these days around the world to purchase undyed yarn and fiber for dyeing, I've settled down on two suppliers, Wool2dye4 and Ashland Bay. Now that I live in Portland, Ashland Bay is literally a 20 minute drive away from me! I order from them because their quality is consistent, their customer service is excellent, and their prices fair. I also have to admit that I get my Ashland Bay orders really fast now that I live so close, and it was still pretty fast in the Bay Area, so that is a huge bonus.
For way too long I tried to dye ALL the yarn. Lace, fingering, dk, worsted, with silk, with cashmere...all of it. The reality of it though is that my dye process is extremely time intensive and I even before I had a second career, I couldn't keep all of it stocked, in all of my colorways. If you are running your business on your own, I highly, highly recommend you pick just a few bases and weights and stick to them. Don't try to do it all. It's impossible.
Both of these suppliers have wholesale minimums, Wool2dye4 per order and Ashland Bay an opening order minimum, which was $250 but may be different now.
These are the ones that are solid products:
High Twist Sock. Superwash merino. I tend to use this base just for my mini-skein sets because I like how my dye job works on it, I like the gloss, and I like the drape. Although I do the sets in American Sock as well, I'm really heading towards just using this base. Simplicity and efficiently are what enable one to be able to offer multiple colorways and keep them in stock. This yarn is sold from Wool2dye4, and is under the name Sheila's Sock. I purchase it on cones because of the mini skein sets, but they also offer them in skeins.
Silky High Twist Sock. I also purchase this one from Wool2dye4. It has all the properties I like of the High Twist Sock, with the bonus of 20% silk. It doesn't come on cones, but comes in skeins of both 100g and 150g. I only use the 100g skeins. It's sold under the name Diamond Sock.
And that's actually it! I do occasionally dye up other bases from Ashland Bay, but I'll write about them in a separate post. (Spinning fiber is easy-- Ashland Bay all the way.) I am so much happier with a pared down list, because as I also teach Pilates and try to do some art when I can, I simply don't have the time to dye more...and still have a semblance of a life.
Why am I writing this post? Because almost all dyers, including me up until now, won't share sources, and it's stupid. Why? One, because of the internet. With a little patience and digging, you can pretty much find out anything. Two, because of this:
People don't buy your yarn for the yarn. They buy the colors you dye,
which will always be unique to the dyer.
Here's a secret-- there are only a handful of North American suppliers that widely supply popular yarn bases to indie dyers, the 3 big ones being Wool2dye4, Ashland Bay, and Elitespun (Amtex). They also advertise on Ravelry. We are already using the same yarn! (unless you get yarn custom milled for you, which is a whole other topic that I hope to have a guest post on, because I know nothing about it.) You know that 80/10/10 superwash merino/cashmere/nylon blend that appeared on the scene and everyone was going crazy about it? Elitespun. It was pretty easy to see that the same specs show up on multiple differently named yarns from different dyers. So I find it amusing when I'll see someone on Ravelry complaining about how one dyer's yarn pills and people will then rave about how similar yarns from the dyers they love feel so much better and pill so much less. They are talking about the exact same yarn.
Look, I get it. It's a saturated competitive market out there and you cling to anything you think will give you the edge. If you read this post and think "yeah, but I still am not going to share my sources", despite my rather harsh criticism above, I totally understand and respect that you think that is the best decision for your business. I do hope that it makes you stress about it a little less and to see that what gives you the competitive edge is your talent.
(ETA: another large supplier is Henry's Attic. The last time I checked, 2-3 years ago their minimum opening order was $1000 and I found them rather rude. So I'm biased. But they do have nice yarns.)
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