A Yarny Manifesto
There have been some great conversations happening throughout the fibre arts world about the responsibility to make our craft, space, and community open and welcoming to all. Accessibility is more than just an open door, and true inclusiveness takes an ongoing commitment.
BC local dyer, designer and fibre mill co-owner Caroline Dick @electrictree recently posted an amazing Instagram commentary with suggestions on many ways in which a fibre artist can stand in support of true inclusiveness in our community.
I asked Caroline if we could embed the post online so it could be readily accessed, and she gave permission to post her words in full, which I am happy to share. Some of these suggestions the staff of Baaad Anna’s can be proud to already stand behind; and I look forward to the challenge to double back to this post as we move forward on making more of these great suggestions possible in our shared space: in store and online.
From a Feb 10th 2019 post written by @electrictree:
I thought I’d write about tangible ways to make our industry more inclusive. Everyone keeps asking “What can I do?! I feel so helpless!” We can be as welcoming and friendly on social media as we want, but if our goods and services aren’t actively accessible than we aren’t really being particularly proactive.
1) Consider going on a Holy Grail search for a Yarn that fits with your branding but is also a lower price point. That can be difficult because a lot of the less expensive Yarns don’t dye up as beautifully. They DO exist. Talk to your fellow dyers, talk to your Mills. Give them some parameters. Find ways to lessen the price point while keeping quality. This could take a while and require a lot of research. Also consider taking a risk and buy in enough volume to make it worthwhile.
Talk to your fellow dyers and see if some of them want to go in on a volume purchase with you. Let’s face it, we use the same bases as other hand dye yarn companies. It’s not a secret. It’s not a big deal if you share in a volume purchase and have the same base as other dyers. Your dye styles are different. It’s gonna be ok.
5) For multi colour projects, if they use partial skeins, make kits so that people aren’t buying 6 skeins of fingering weight yarn for a project that uses only 600 yards total.
3) Support yarn companies owned by BIPOC. Ask for Yarn support or if they accept designs. If you’re a designer that garners a higher price for your designs, consider making a policy of dropping your price a percentage when working with a company owned by a BIPOC that’s just starting out. You need to make a living too, but I’m pretty sure we can all afford to drop our commission 20% for one design a year until the industry catches up. Seriously, one design a year.
4) When self publishing, go out of your way to be inclusive in your designs. Have a huge range of sizes. Include people of different backgrounds and sizes in your photography and sample sizes. Consider doing more unisex designs.
1) Obviously, purchase from BIPOC if the Yarns/designs/products speak to you.
2) When using BIPOC products, post on social media. But check what hashtags, etc the company/designer uses, and use them as well. Taking a few moments to do this, improves the visibility big time!
3) If you have a decent amount of disposable income, consider skipping the sale bin and purchasing products at full price. I sell yarn at shows, and believe me, I want to get RID of that sale stuff. But I also am saddened by the huge amount of obviously affluent women who have crazy free for all’s over sale bins because they want to save a buck and pad their stash. It’s awesome when a person sees something in a sale bin that’s exactly what they need, no matter what their background is. If the yarn is exactly what you need or you HAVE to have it, please please buy it! If you have loads of coin and you just want to walk out with giant bags of yarn in the style of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman shopping on Rodeo Drive, maybe do some soul searching on exactly what you’re trying to get out of your purchases. It’s saddening to see someone who clearly has very little income, purchasing from the last dregs of a sale bin in colours they don’t love or colours that aren’t quite right because that’s all that’s left.
People tend to forget what kind of power they have. WE run this industry. Every purchase we make, every company we support drives the industry and the trends. You can purposefully shift your buying habits to drive change. You are in charge. What you decide to do with that power is up to you. (Also, please feel free to share this post, so that more people have some idea of where to start making a difference).
Thank you Caroline for sharing those suggestions. I felt it also timely to make note that Caroline who is a self-identified BIPOC dyer and fibre artist will be hosting a booth at next weekend’s Fibres West exhibition, so stop by and say hi. We have stocked her beautiful yarns for about a year and are thrilled to continue to partner with her; and lastly be sure to check out her social media presence as she can be found @electrictree or @elderberryyarns and occasionally hosting the #saltspringfibrefest … she’s one talented lady that I’m proud to call my friend.