I hope you noticed Southeast Light, a two-color hat designed by me for the First Wave of North Light Fibers Beacon Project. The single pattern is available on Ravelry, on this website, and on LoveCrafts. The kit is available from North Light Fibers online, or at VKLive. Check your local stockiest if you want to see the yarn — it is really lovely and makes up beautifully.
Southeast Light Design
Faithful readers and followers might recognize the motif and hat from when I reviewed AlterKnit by Andrea Rangel. I have that sample hat hanging on the wall over my desk. When I heard about the Beacon Project I wanted to participate because I love new and innovative ideas, and the project aligns with my view of how the industry could work to make it better for everyone adding to the wonderful world of knitting and yarn.
I was delighted to hear back from North Light Fibers that they wanted my hat. I named it Southeast Light (a lighthouse on Block Island, where North Light Fiber is). I chose the marigold and enchanted forest colors. I was on my birthday trip while the samples were being knitted.
Sadly, when they came back from the knitter they were lovely, but knit at a different gauge than I had anticipated (I had not had the yarn to swatch myself). The crown of Southeast Light is a 20 stitch repeat so the change in gauge caused problems. The original sample medium became the small. This was no one’s fault, and just something that happens. I was able to shift the samples to smaller sizes and add a sixth size. Because of the price point of Water Street, I felt we had to have an adult-size sample. Having the second color way is really perfect, so all is well!
Having Southeast Light as Part of Beacon
Things like this happen. North Light Fibers provided more yarn, I paid the knitter to make another hat, and things move ahead. But this is the reason why collaborations are such a great thing. Normally this would have be an additional expense for me. I should add that when yarn was not delivered as indicated, the yarn company replaced the yarn. Things happen.
Because my pattern-writing style is different than most designers, I was allowed to use my tech editor. This saved everyone a lot of anguish as Urban Yarning is used to my style and idiosyncrasies! Hopefully it left valuable time for tech editing other patterns.
Look at the designs that comprise Wave I of the Beacon Project!
Why Start Beacon
Rather than tell you, I’ll let you read some excerpts from North Light Fibers:
Designs, designers and patterns are at the heart of the knitwear industry. In our experience, knitters often purchase North Light Fibers yarns when they have a design in mind. The yarn makes the garment lush and beautiful but the yarn purchase is often based on a pattern.
. . .
We believe it is important to recognize design as a central part of the industry and compensate designers appropriately. We feel that if a large quantity of yarn is sold for a pattern (design) then the designers should garner some benefit from that sale. It does not seem right for a designer to only get $3, $4, $5 per pattern if the yarn sale is $250, $300 or more. It is for these reasons that we have launched Beacon.
The agreement provides royalties to designers for yarn sales, as well as allowing us to continue to market and sell our own patterns at the same time. So if you buy the kit using Water Street from North Light Fibers, it benefits me. If you choose to only buy the pattern, then I get the profits. We have shared costs of development. When I had to get a third sample made, which was totally on me, it wasn’t quite as bad as if I’d borne the full cost for all three samples.
In order to present the designs as they perceive them, North Light Fiber did the photo shoots. I love my model photos, so I’m happy. I needed to get some adjustments made to the flat photos, so I sent them to KnitEcoChic who does photo editing. While I can do some editing, she is better, and so much faster! I paid for that because I didn’t have to spend the time or money on a photo shoot and hiring it out meant I could do other things with that time.
My Experience of Beacon
I think North Light Fibers and I work pretty similarly so this was an excellent experience for me. Knowing how frantic everything can get as things come together, I made sure to work ahead as much as possible; being allowed to keep to my pattern style was a time and money-saver at my end. When I didn’t know what the plan was, I asked questions and we pressed on.
We all need beacons. The first Wave of the Beacon project was an awesome experience for me. I hope I get in on future Waves.
Thoughts from NLF:
The program is simple yet pretty radical for the industry. North Light Fibers is teaming up with talented designers to create beautiful designs in North Light Fibers yarns and compensate the designers with a royalty on each kit sold. The plan is to release 2-3 “waves” of designs per year with the introductions jointly supported by the designer and North Light Fibers.
We are very excited to be part of launching Wave I of Beacon this week and we hope that the program helps make a healthier knitwear industry.
Why I love Lighthouses
It isn’t uncommon to like lighthouses. Lighthouses in concept are pretty awesome, and were often built to be grand structures. I always see them as a symbol of what we are all looking for: a light shining the way safely forward, and anchored firmly to bedrock.
I think small mills and dyers are lighthouses within our industry. We need to keep our eye on them. For other reasons, I believe I am a lighthouse too. As an industry we have to serve a wide variety of customers. Not everyone has the same needs, resources, or goals. By working in different ways we can improve the working end of things for everyone, and continue to provide exciting and valuable products.
North Light Fibers is not producing economy yarn. They do understand that good design supports all knitting. If you cannot afford a Southeast Light kit, feel free to buy the pattern. If you bought the kit, you are awesome, and thank you so much.