A brief guide for the Etsy consumer

Sellers are being put into a tough position and I know knitters are kind and just, so I’m hoping a little bit of info will help add understanding. 

Etsy has been a great platform for the indie yarn community. It has functioned, in some ways, as an LYS for the whole world. Perhaps you’re ready to buy some yarn (because, you know, you’re breathing), but you aren’t sure exactly what you’d like. Well, just pop over to Etsy and a search for “green worsted weight wool” provides you with dozens of options and a chance of finding your new favorite Indie Dyer.

Periodically, however, Etsy would change its terms and a wave of dyers would leave, often setting up their own sites. A few months ago in particular, Etsy changed the way makers got paid, and I know many sellers who still remember with vivid emotion their decision to go at that time. It’s a considered business decision to leave. Because the fiber community is accustomed to finding dyers on Etsy, it’s hard to not be there. A dyer also has to have enough of a customer base to support their own site. If you search for “self-striping yarn” on Etsy, you’ll probably find my shop. If you search for it on google, I doubt I’ll show up on the first 10 pages.

Even with these considerations, the tipping point for me came a few weeks ago when Etsy announced they’d be taking control away from how and when sellers paid their bills, essentially holding our payments hostage. In one of the most intellectually insulting emails I’ve ever received (and I used to work in customer service), Etsy promoted the change as a benefit because no one has time to worry about pesky little things like controlling their own finances (especially all us crafty ladies), so just let Papa Etsy handle it for us. “Way simpler, right?” (Ok, so I’m adding the patriarchal spin, but it had the most Mad Men-esque tone of not stressing my pretty woman head out over money matters because the man who actually owns the bank account has it under control. I wonder if the email would have had the same tone if it were sent to a mostly male audience?)

This week, Etsy announced new changes, which, to me, makes it clear why it is time to leave. I’ll let the headlines spell it out for me:

etsy WSJ

 

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According to a November article in the NY Times, there was a revolution at Etsy headquarters last summer where the long-time CEO was ousted as a result of an “activist investor,” and a new guy (always a guy, huh?) was installed who would focus more on making stock investors money.

He’s doing his job very well, apparently. Yay new guy!

The thing is, I have feelings about the stock market and how the American economy works in general. Rather strong feelings that resulted in me (and eventually my husband) leaving the workforce and committing to a life with about 1/3 of our previous income. In an oversimplified nutshell, I think the way we measure economic goodness is absurd (I’ll note that the Etsy stock price skyrocketed as a result of an announcement that they were raising fees. Not because they *actually* made more money or attracted new customers and sellers but because someone wrote a report with projections). I think the focus on made-up stock numbers results in massive inequality in this country and around the world, and prioritizes short-term wins over long-term stability, which has all sorts of bad consequences for people (especially poor people) and the environment on which we depend.

Ok. That was quite a diversion. But it took me 35 minutes of pre-tea braining to write, so I’m leaving it in. I won’t, however, include another paragraph about censored (filtered? personalized?) Google searches that made it impossible for me to find the headline I knew existed but couldn’t find (until my husband helped me. GAH!)

I really intended this post to be a primer for yarn buyers to understand how Etsy changes were affecting sellers, and thus might affect customers as well. Sellers are being put into a tough position and I know knitters are kind and just, so I’m hoping a little bit of info will help add understanding. 

Etsy is raising its fees from 3.5% to 5% on transactions. This fee is on top of fees that sellers pay for credit card processing, and the fee they pay for listing each skein of yarn. In addition, they now have to pay that 5% fee on shipping costs as well. I think this is the bit that angers most sellers. I have always tried to ensure that customers pay the actual cost of shipping, rather than making the product seem cheaper but overcharging on shipping.  In my case, I would have to tack on a 5% increase in the cost of postage (25 cents for $5). So, if you notice shipping charges going up, know that it’s because of guys in suits on Wall Street, not your friendly maker.

In my case, I’m leaving Etsy. I hope to provide you with a new shop link very soon (and new club signups). If you have any questions, please let me know. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll do my best to help find it.

Shop Update tonight!

New batts, yarn, and handspun tags added to Etsy at 8 pm tonight (2/22)!

At 8 pm Eastern tonight (2/22), I’ll be adding batts, self striping yarn, and new handspun tags to the shop.

The yarn is available on two bases:

CORRIEDALE SOCK
Fingering weight, 3 ply
75% Superwash Corriedale/25% Nylon
4 ounces/115 grams
434 yards

TARGHEE SPORT
Sport weight, 4 ply
90% Superwash Targhee/10% Nylon
4 ounces/115 grams
350 yards
Made in the USA

There will be three colorways in the update. Barn Love (4 skeins on Targhee), Wooly Mammoth (6 skeins on Targhee (3 are discounted 100 g skeins), and 2 on Corriedale), and South Island Ocean Hike, below, (7 on Targhee (3 discounted), and 3 on Corriedale).

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I am already preparing yarn for the next update, which I hope will be in mid-March. I sold out of the green colorway, County Clare, at a vending event and I’m craving green, so there will be more soon. I also intend to add a Superwash Targhee/Nylon fingering base.

Also new for this update are handspun tags made from thick scrapbooking paper and strung with cotton string. They come in sets of 10 with unique, adorable or sophisticated prints including tacos, pineapples, and beaches.

There will be batts in the update as well, and a few are pictured below. Thank you for your support and please let me know if you have any questions!

Autumn Afternoon on the Farm

Today is the perfect, sunny fall day for lounging on the ground and taking 152 photos of the sheep and goats as they lazily chew cud and soak up the sun. I have to share it with you! I hope you can feel the tranquility and contentment from the simple pleasure of having nice hay, a safe pasture, and the smallest autumn breeze.

Shop Update Nov. 1 – New Yarn!

There are so many things in tomorrow’s shop update (11/1 at 8 pm Eastern) that I’ve considered hoarding for myself. These two batts, for example, keep trying to convince me that want to jump on my wheel right now and be plied together. It’s the blue silk that’s killing me, and I’m always a sucker for brown.

 

Both these batts have wool that was dyed with walnuts foraged from around our farm. Dusty Cowboy (left) also includes acid dyes, but Walnuts and White (right) is all naturally dyed browns mixed with undyed wool and silk noil.

There are three green colorways that feature different moods and a variety of textures. Extra Sprinkles (left) evokes vibrant frosting colors and has loads of pink silk noil. White Fir (top right) is muted, clear blues and greens with deep blue and green sari silk. Brine (lower right) has a base of mucky, swampy green blended with sea foam and periwinkle blue.

 

Peaches, plums, and vibrant purples have made it to the update as well! (Clockwise from the set of minis) Walnut Palette is walnut brown with warm autumn shades. Gentle is a base of light gray with coral, sea foam, and periwinkle. Clay is a gradient from soft yellow to brick red. Vibrant purple Mountains Majesty has magenta sari silk. Wine Grapes may be my favorite from the update with a moody, melancholy purple and deep reds. Finally, Conch Shell is a swirl of peach and coral. Let me know if you can hear the ocean when you hold it to your ear!

 

The last batt I have to share is the first colorway I carded for the update, and the only one I planned before I started dying: Silver and Gold. It has red and green sari silk and lots of sparkle. You can’t do a colorway called “Silver and Gold” and leave out the sparkle! There are rules!!

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There will be braids in the update as well – primarily in Superwash Targhee. I started dying outlandish, lively colors and couldn’t stop!

 

These vibrant tones may have been dyed to balance out the piles of walnut-dyed yarn I was previously working with. I’ve been wanting to dye yarn with farm-grown and foraged materials for a while, but wasn’t inspired by standard, widely-available yarn bases. It was really exciting to find Indie Undyed, which offers yarn in unique wools and has no minimum for wholesale ordering. They also sell retail, if you’re looking to do some dying for personal use.

The first yarns I’ll have available are walnut dyed gradients in Aran weight Shetland wool (left), and DK weight Corriedale wool (right).

 

There will also be a few skeins of Whitefaced Woodland yarn, dyed in solid browns. It is a woolen spun, 3-ply, and though it is classified as DK weight, it seems thin enough to make socks. Because Whitefaced Woodland doesn’t felt, and is a more toothy wool, socks are an excellent application for this rare breed. There will be two shades of brown available.

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The shop update is Wednesday, November 1 at 8 pm Eastern. All items will be available at KnitSpinFarm.etsy.com.

Now, I’m going to  head out into the cold sunshine to collect the last of the walnuts for the year and document how I turn them into dye for an upcoming blog post. See you soon!

J.