Monday, November 05, 2007

Reskeining mill skeins for resale

From time to time, customers ask me about how to get two equal skeins from one of the 8-oz skeins they purchase from me. My advice is this: if you are reselling yarn in 4 oz skeins, please do not start with 8 oz skeins. Start off with one pound (or larger) cones. The reason for this is that at this end of the market -- what is known as the 'gray goods market' -- our yarns are not weighed and measured with accuracy. The accuracy comes in the final stages of the finished dyed goods. For instance, the large yarn manufacturers process thousands of yards of each weight at one time. They are spun, then dyed, then measured out into salable units which we find in local yarn shops wrapped up neatly with a label on them announcing weight, among other specifications.

At this end of the market, the measurements and weights are not nearly as exact. In recent years, since the hand dyed yarns have gained popularity, smaller dyers are discovering that an 8 oz skein may not weigh exactly eight ounces. I try to sprinkle my descriptions with the words 'approximate' and 'prox' throughout, so that people get the idea that the weights and measures will fluctuate. You can count on that.

Here's a good example of the last batch of BFL Ultra!, my wonderful sock weight in Blue Faced Leicester superwash. The skeins are weighing in at 7.6 to 7.8 ounces. The one pound cones, though, are weighing in from 1.2 to 1.6 pounds. Next batch may come in at different base weights. At this end of the market, it is not an exact science. I must tell you that I have never once received a complaint from a customer that they received up to half a pound of rare yarn for free! Not once. BUT I have heard from people who are beginning to dye in small amounts, and they think that they can buy 8 oz skeins and divide them in half to resell.

My plea is this: if you are going to skein up smaller measurements for resale, please buy yarn in cones.

All of this said, I will note that I am gradually gaining control over details such as weight and measurement, as I move closer and closer to the source of my yarns. I am having more yarns manufactured by a mill which is known for being consistent in its weights and measurements. Even though the weights will be more consistent in the future, though, my advice still stands to resellers:
The Golden Rule of Measurement: If you are reselling yarns in small quantities, start with one-pound minimum cones. Don't try to split small skeins into smaller measurements. We are at the gray goods end of the market where measurements and weights are approximate.
My suggestion: sell sock yarns by yardage. Most sock knitters examine labels to see if there are close to 400 yards in a ball of commercial sock yarn. That seems to be the benchmark to knit up a pair of socks, so be a little generous and make your skeins into 425 or even 450 yards. This measurement may increase your sales because you will be giving the customer what they want...the number of yards needed to knit a pair of socks. Giving the customer what they really want is how we do business.

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