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Mill Rant #59304508244

I’ve been advised on occasion not to share this kind of information because it might make me look bad or give those that don’t like me (I know… right)

ammunition, make me look like a whiner… the list goes on.  Whatever.

Information helps you makes better choices and plans, right?  I also think that the best way to change a faulty system is to take it to the end user and that my knitterly friends is us.

So here it is.

This week, in the middle of a massive order crunch ( not complaining) with both sock club and Oregon Flock and Fiber looming in the not so distant future, we lost 2 days of work. Actually that’s not quite accurate,we didn’t loose it those days, I know exactly where they are. They are hanging from the rafters of my studio. Hundreds of skeins of Woobu hanging from the rafters. Skeins we can’t sell. Skeins we dyed for orders that we’re running up against our promised shipping deadline on. Skeins that are not milled to spec.  Skeins that are overweight. Skeins once we problem solved the issue we had to redye in the correctly spun yarn.

WHY? Why you ask? 

I’ll tell why. Because the mill got in a bigger order while they were running ours. So they stopped ours and ran that one. When they went back to it they didn’t adjust the specs on the machine. Now I for one certainly understand a mistake.  I run a hand painting business I get it. But this mistake could have been caught had they checked the yarn before it left the mill or checked it when it arrived at the broker.

We caught it here. We caught it before it left here. None of it has left this building. Debra and I caught it, but kept dyeing because of that whole order crunch thing, while waiting to hear from the mill. Note to self: Don’t do that next time, it creates inner turmoil.

While I find it disturbing that there are obviously no quality control standards and checks and I most certainly do. The lack of this in the US mill industry has cost me a whole lot of sweat and tears ( no blood yet).

What I find the most disturbing is the attitude I get when this kind of thing goes down with a mill or broker. I can tell from the look on their faces and tone of voice that they think I’m a picky unreasonable wing nut.  I can tell because they say things like so what it’s a bit thicker no one but you will know. The first time I heard this I was so stunned I couldn’t form complete sentences. Those of you who know me know that this is no small thing.

I now point out the error of this thinking to them. I educate them on the hand knitter and our needs. We talk about pattern support for yarn and how can that possible happen if they can’t spin the yarn to the same specs.  I explain what goes in to designing a pattern for a specific yarn.  I tell them how much we spend on promoting such a design and yarn. And then I tell them about knitting with it. I explain about running out of yarn for a project and having to buy more and how frustrating it is to get it and have it knit to a different gauge than what you were working with.  I explain all of this very patiently but firmly with maybe a hint of steam escaping every once in awhile. I explain this to blank stares. I then tell them how much it’s going to cost them to continue this way. It’s amazing how quick they tune in then.

I think about this a lot and I swear before I exit the planet there will be better mill standards in the US wool industry. 

As I was finally dyeing my last skein for the day last night I had an idea that I think would help. I think that we need to teach them to knit.  If they knew from their own two hands what it was like to take two sticks and yarn and make stitches. If they could then watch those stitches build upon each other into a sock or a shawl or sweater. If they could then put it on and feel that woolly goodness. I think they would have a much better understanding of the “why” here.

Ok I’m off to the barn to dye yet more Woobu.

Before I go I want to say that I have an awesome team here at blue moon. Debra, Becky, Paula, Rosie, Anneli, Joann, Debbi, Susan, Jen, Lisa, Tammy. All hard working lovely women to whom I an so grateful.

Have a colourfully stitched weekend.