How Yarn is Made and Delivered to Stores
We take for granted the yarn magically shows up on the store shelves without realizing all of the steps involved in order to make it in the first place. We don’t realize the hours and hard working men and women behind the scenes that are part of the journey to get yarn to you.
Before starting The Crochet Crowd, I was like many people online, complaining when I find knots in balls. I wondered, “How can the Maker not realize there is a knot and just chuck the ball out into the garbage so there are no knots in balls?
Since being part of the industry from a behind the scenes perspective, I soon changed my opinion because I hadn’t appreciated the effort to get the yarn to the store and the amount of time and speed that is necessary to stock all of the shelves. I had to think globally instead of locally, realizing there are over 1200 Michaels Stores, over 850 Jo-Ann Stores, Over 130 A.C. Moore Stores, Over 400 Walmart Stores in Canada, Over 4600 Walmart Stores in the USA, and many other retailers where yarn has to be stocked. That’s nearly 6500 stores that don’t include smaller retail chains and independent stores.
While some crocheters still complain when they find knots in balls, the amount of waste yarn is directly impacting the retail price of yarn. More waste equals higher costs. While the manufacturers do their very best, in order to find every knot, the yarn production has to slow right down to the point where the stores won’t be able to fulfill the demand we put on stores to always keep the yarn in stock.
I’ve also come to learn the difference between value yarns, medium, fiber blends and higher end yarns. While some of the higher end yarns could be speculated you are paying for a name verses the better quality, most of the main stream manufactures as value driven, meaning, the price of the yarn is at the lowest possible prices so the retailer can make their money in keeping the yarn on the shelves. While it’s great to see a deal, each retail store has overhead expenses which include rent, staffing, insurance, electric, water, security, computer systems and much more. They have to pay their expenses through the profit they make. To some, it seems unfair, but realistically speaking, if you cannot make a profit, why would you stock it? It’s money lost if you cannot use the profit to cover the expenses. That’s the business side of me speaking now.
The Thing About Yarn
Yarn is a fiber based product where spinning and manipulation of a product is required to turn a fiber into yarn. Things happen and it’s not a raw fiber that can always be consistent. While they get it right most of the time, sometimes the fiber breaks during manufacturing. It’s just the nature of the product. When you see the video series below and the speed of which yarn is made, you can gain appreciation.
While it could be argued to slow down the machines to catch more knots, chances are consumers, like you and I, would complain if the prices were raised as a result of this practice. It’s almost a catch 22.
How Yarn is Made Series
Since working with Yarnspirations as they are my official sponsor, the manufacturing of yarn happens within about 1/2 hour of my home. I’ve got to see the operation first hand many times. There’s a lot of hours involved and as I follow the steps involved, you come to realize that the making of yarn isn’t a simple process.
For myself, I cannot buy raw fiber, spin it myself, then dye it and ball it for the prices I can buy it for. It would take me forever. So my value of yarn, to myself, is based on time savings of having the manufacturers do the knitty gritty work so that I can buy the finished ball to work on my projects. Does it make my lazy? Not really, it makes it affordable to me and I can enjoy my hobby without hours of labour ahead of me before I even think to grab my crochet hook.
Let’s follow the process now through the factory and then finally to how it gets to a store near you. It can take several weeks to get yarn through the factory because of all of the steps involved.
How Yarn is Spun
In this video, we will start from the raw fibers. Watch how much work is involved even before it gets to spinning. This video will then take you through spinning, doubling, twist, steaming and final packaging as well.
How Yarn is Dyed
Yarn can be dyed a number of ways. Many yarns are actually dyed prior to being yarn. For example, the raw fiber may already be dyed and so it’s just preparing and spinning involved.
Other yarns, the yarn needs to be dyed after spinning and preparation.
How Cotton Yarn is Packaged
Cotton yarns are not the same as acrylic. After the cotton is dyed or washed, depending on what the customer wants, the yarn is put through packaging. It doesn’t require steam like acrylic and goes through a different operation.
How Caron One Pound is Prepared and Packaged
This is a closer look at the work involved after dying and spinning. This is the packaging process of preparing the yarn shown through Caron One Pound Yarn Balls.
How Yarn is Distributed
Once the makers are done making and preparing the yarn, the yarn now heads to distribution centers where it goes into the next step of getting it closer to you. From the distribution centers, yarn is dispatched to the retail chains from their distribution centers.
In some cases, depending on the retailer, it can also leave the manufacturer and go directly to the store.