When I started transforming It’s a Stitch Up from a hobby to a business, one of the most important objectives was to be able to provide value for money to customers; that is to offer beautiful quality, ethical yarns and thoughtfully-crafted patterns to offer an alternative to commercial brands. With a lot of hard work and I’m delighted with what we’ve been able to achieve, but we have reached a point where in order to continue, we need to review our pricing. I want to be absolutely transparent about what will be increasing and the reasons behind this. While some of our yarns will be going up in price, our commitment to fair pricing means that patterns will be getting slightly cheaper for UK customers, our improved dyeing kits are better value, and we’re working on fairer shipping costs.
Since launching our yarn brand in 2015, the price of unprocessed wool has increased considerably, and at the end of last year our mill had no choice but to pass those increases onto us. This is entirely due to the UK economy weakening since the Brexit vote. Our Merino and Alpaca are from Argentina and Peru respectively, and are traded in US Dollars, so the weak UK Pound relative to the Dollar has resulted in these becoming more expensive. Perhaps more surprising is that the cost of British wool has also increased due to the same economic effect. Our British Bluefaced Leicester is bought through the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB), and is also priced in US Dollars. The role of the BWMB is to ensure that British farmers receive the best price while being competitive for export, so unfortunately British Wool has become more expensive for us to buy here in the UK. I firmly believe in supporting British wool and I think our British wool lines are superb quality, so until now we have priced them lower than our imported yarns because I am so excited to get them out there and into knitters’ hands. But, they are over 10% more expensive to produce, so effectively we are subsidising them, which is something we can’t afford to continue.
Another reason we need to review yarn pricing is that there are so many hidden costs in producing hand-dyed yarn, such as fuel, pigment, water and labels. These can be difficult to calculate and until now we haven’t accounted for them in deciding how to price our yarn, but they do add up and continue to become more expensive along with everything else.
So, with that in mind, we will be making small price increases to the imported yarns. We are committed to keeping top quality British wool affordable, so we have decided to increase the price of those lines to match the imported lines and no more (even though it is more expensive for us), with the exception of Brilliance, our British wool and silk blend. Brilliance is a luxurious yarn which at the moment is under-priced, so we need to increase it a little more to cover costs.
We will keep yarn prices as they are throughout August to give everyone a chance to buy before the increase.
For some years now we’ve priced our patterns in US Dollars because most of our pattern customers are in the US. But, over the last year the dramatic fluctuations in the exchange rate with GBP have meant that UK customers have been getting a worse deal. I have adjusted pricing twice this year in an attempt to compensate and make pattern pricing fairer to UK customers, but it has become difficult to keep up, so I have decided to switch pricing back to GBP. I’ll be doing this over the next few weeks, and it is a bit of an experiment. It should work out cheaper for UK customers, and roughly the same for everyone else. We will continue to sell on Craftsy in USD as it does not support GBP, so you might find Craftsy to be either cheaper or more expensive than buying through our website (powered by Ravelry), or our LoveKnitting store, depending on the exchange rate on the day. It’s not an ideal situation but with the current economic uncertainty we think it’s the fairest solution, and we have no plans to make any actual price increases at the moment.
There are 16 different components in our small dye kits and 19 in the deluxe kit, many of them, like containers and labels, go unnoticed, but almost all have gone up in price. I’m pleased to say that by working to find new suppliers and (thanks to the popularity of the kits) being able to buy in bulk, we’ve managed to keep costs down and make kits better and more sustainable. Our kit boxes and tissue paper are now manufactured in the UK and are part recycled. Kits now include the Little Book of Yarn Dyeing, so we’ve increased the price by a very modest £2 to cover the cost of the book, which we think makes them better value than ever.
UK customers will be glad to hear that our flat-rate shipping will not be increasing, and we plan to introduce free shipping over a threshold to make it better value for customers who place larger orders. Overseas shipping is another area that has been slowly creeping up in cost, to the point where we now make a loss on shipping almost all orders outside Europe. Our current flat-rate system isn’t working well for overseas orders because postage prices almost double from one weight bracket to the next. We plan instead to introduce a tiered system which will mean that customers will pay less to ship small orders to international destinations, and shipping larger orders will continue to be priced fairly.
Like our dyeing kits, we’ve also been working to improve the sustainability of our packing materials. Our yellow mailing bags (distinctive and lovely as they were) have been replaced with British made, biodegradable grey bags and recycled packing paper.
The shipping pricing changes require technical development so it will take us a little longer to get that up and running than the other pricing changes.
Thank you for your support!
July was a fantastic month for us and in many ways a tipping point. The Little Book of Yarn Dyeing was our first printed publication – what started as a simple set of instructions grew into a published, full-colour introduction to yarn dyeing. We have been overwhelmed by the response, having sent copies all over the world. We published our most ambitious knitting pattern to date, Crystalline Shawl . And, despite being the height of summer in the northern hemisphere, we’ve sold more yarn than any month to date. This allowed us to fund the self-publishing of the book, and invest in things like sustainable packaging for the kits, shiny new yarn bands, and a new DK yarn line (shhhh!).
For the last 18 months I have been working away to get our own brand of hand-dyed, ethical yarn out in the world, and July was the point that it started to feel like a viable business. The pricing review is something we need to do to ensure that we can stay in business while remaining committed to the guiding principles we drew up when we launched It’s a Stitch Up Yarn.
I want to thank everyone, friends, followers and customers, who has joined us on the journey so far, and for your continued support as we grow!