A Knitting Pattern Designer's Guide to Collaborating with Indie Yarn Dyers

Updated: Feb 6

As a new knitting pattern designer, it's often a dream to think of collaborating yarn dyers. I remember feeling like I'd be a "real" designer as soon as I started collaborating with yarn dyers.

{Spoiler alert: I still didn't feel like a "real" designer after I'd collaborated with a dozen yarn dyers... imposter syndrome can be a big liar.} I actually find it a bit shocking that yarn dyers were so willing to collaborate with me when I only had three published knitting patterns (and 0 pattern sales), but the truth is, I've always dreamed big and been a believer in asking for the opportunities that you want.

A knitwear designer's guide to collaborating with indie yarn dyers

My First Collaboration with Indie Yarn Dyers

I had a vision to create a collection of four shawl knitting patterns, all with very specific themes, stitch motifs, and colors... and each with a different yarn dyer's yarn. So that's what I did. To say it was "a piece of cake" would be a stretch. I definitely stressed when I received several "not interested" responses, and even worse a lack of response... but, to be honest, I'd have to go back to my emails to even see how many or who they were! I worried that I wouldn't have the yarn in time to release my big collection for New Years.

But the truth is, it all came together and worked perfectly. And that collection still contains some of my absolute favorite pattern designs... and yarns. It's the Guiding Principles Collection, with Hope, Trust, Patience, and Endurance Shawls, if you're curious. You can find it on my website and Ravelry.

Continuing to Work with Indie Yarn Dyers

Since that first collaboration, I've been hooked. I absolutely love working with and sharing the art of indie yarn dyers. Nearly all of my knitting patterns have been the result of collaborating with indie yarn dyers.

I've now worked with over 20 indie yarn dyers (and I've worked with several of them on multiple designs). In fall/winter 2020, I decided to send out a survey to all of the pattern designers that I'd worked with up to that date to get their feedback: what they liked/didn't like, what is helpful for them, and so on. In fall 2021, I hosted three knitting pattern designers inside the Design Circle to talk all about Designer/Dyer collaborations.

And so it is with all of this experience and feedback from designers that I share the ins and outs of collaborating with indie yarn dyers for your knitting pattern designers.

Why Collaborate with Yarn Dyers?

If you're not very familiar with how collaborations work between pattern designs and yarn dyers, you might be wondering, "Why would I choose to collaborate with a yarn dyer?"

There are two main reasons why crochet and knitting pattern designers choose to collaborate with yarn companies, whether that is indie yarn dyers or larger yarn corporations.

First of all, you typically receive free yarn support for your pattern design for free. As a beginning knitting pattern designer to make any money off your pattern designs as it is, this can be a huge weight lifted from your shoulders.

Secondly, a huge benefit of any collaboration is that you share each other's work. So, as you work with a yarn company, you're sharing about their yarn via your marketing, all of your photos, on your pattern information page, and in the pattern itself. In return, the yarn company will often (keep reading for information on setting expectations!) share your design in their marketing.

And bonus: by working in a collaboration, you start to build a relationship with another business in the industry. If the collaboration went well, you're likely to want to collaborate together again, and you're both likely to recommend each other's services and products in the future.

How a Collaboration Between an Indie Yarn Dyer and a Knitting Pattern Designer Works

Keep in mind that not all yarn dyers will work exactly the same way, but here's the typical process for collaborating with indie yarn dyers.

#1: You, as the knitting pattern desi