Hi again! I’m another Karen, owner of Karin’s nearby yarn shop, Cozy!
One of the most frequent questions I get at the shop is, “How do you pick all the colors? It must be so hard!” Short answer, it is. It’s so hard that I welcome the chance to not pick, when given it; I love it when yarn companies require me to order every color in a line, or sell “surprise” assortments, or even just offer so few colors that I don’t have to think!
However, it is often the case that I need to look at a fat binder of yarn snips with a yarn company representative (or “rep”) and just choose. Because I can’t–and probably don’t even need to–have all the colors all the time. (Did you know Cascade 220 comes in 188 colors? I am acutely aware.) I just have to try to predict a) what will be “in” this year, b) what colors my customers will love, and c) what colors will best fit the projects people are really making.
In this case, here is how I do it: I make a spreadsheet, old-school style. The vertical axis has the yarn lines, usually a few different weights or fibers from a dyer or company. The horizontal slots are by color: Red, Orange, Yellow, and so on. And then I make sure to have at least one colorway that covers each color. That’s the first part.
Then there are the exceptions… For instance, I usually choose cream over bright white, because most people prefer it, except when it come to baby things and bridal things. So if a yarn is very fine lace or baby-friendly acrylic, I choose bright white. And then, blue is tricky. I try to pick a green-blue (teal?) and a standard blue, when I can, but then that also leaves the door open for baby blue, which is always a maybe. (There are so many blues!) And a final dilemma is always yellow: do I even get yellow? People feel very strongly about yellow–they either love it or hate it, and oftentimes yarn companies predict this and leave it out of yarn lines altogether. But in a town that loves its college football the way Eugene does, I can’t not have yellow.
So, right there, if I cover all the color categories: Black, White, Grey, Brown, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple… that’s 10. Oh, and pink. I can’t leave out the pink! (It’s my personal favorite color.) I look at the yarn, make sure I choose at least the basic 11, and go from there. An additional blue, maybe two shades of green, maybe a handful of variegated colors to match… and that’s more like 20-24 colors in a yarn. To start.
So that’s a little insight into the color choice process, although many times, it gets far more whimsical than described (I’m a sucker for pop-culture-named yarns). And, despite all that decision-making, guess what our best-sellng color is, in almost every yarn? GREY. No kidding.