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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.

  1. Hazel Smith #

    The mind boggles! Blessings on you, my dear Tina, and the entire team. I’m such a fan that I’ll cut you all the slack you require. I hope for all our sakes that the mill comes to its senses and realizes the importance of standards. Cheers and red wine, Hazel

    November 30, -0001
  2. Please tell me they accepted a return and didnt charge you for it.  If you couldnt return it you can give it a different name with he correct gauge and there are some of us that might buy it.

    QC is a very big deal.  I am a loyal customer because you care about things like this.


    November 30, -0001
  3. Emily #

    So what. . .if it’s a bit thicker. . .I can’t. I just can’t.

    But also, Tina, I have to say, if you take this stuff to a festival or put it online and mark it as Woobu at whatever the new gauge is with even a tiny markdown, I think people would still buy it. I LOVE Woobu and would totally snag some at a heavier gauge.

    November 30, -0001
  4. kathleen beaugh #

    you are not a whiner! you are a caring, conscientious, dedicated business owner who totally understands your customers. one can only hope they can catch a clue and upgrade … or implement … quality control.

    thank you for all that you do!

    November 30, -0001
  5. People making yarn should ABSOLUTELY know how to knit, that is ridiculous. That’s like being a pastry chef when you don’t eat sweets.

    You should sell the fat Woobu at OFFF as mill ends or whathaveyou grin Personally I’d dig a nice DK weight Woobu now and again.

    November 30, -0001
  6. I think teaching them to knit is a great idea – it definitely couldn’t hurt!  However, the whole “lack of quality control” thing is rampant—it seems like there are lots of people who don’t check their work anymore, because it takes too much time or something.  And it’s not just in manufacturing—I work in a library and see it all the time with our resources.

    November 30, -0001
  7. Alice in the Heartland #

    Whack them up side of the head and then teach them to knit. I’d be happy to lend a hand. Love your team and wish I was close enough to help out on days like you’ve been having the last couple of weeks (months, years). I do send lots of hugs. Alice

    November 30, -0001
  8. Tina, I support you in sticking to your guns and demanding some quality control. I just recently ordered some lightweight sock in Lucky to go along with another lightweight in Moody Blues so that I could do some colorwork socks. You can bet your butt that I checked if I had light- or medium-weight before I ordered. If I had gotten some yarn that was a different weight, the fabric would have been *off* and I would have noticed very quickly.

    Thank you for providing us with top-notch quality yarn and fiber.

    November 30, -0001
  9. linda #

    I think there is a lack of quality control running through huge areas of our society. Sorry you and the mill must continue the tug of war, I mean really what happened to caring for your customers? If other businesses ran the way Blue Moon Fibers does there would be a nation of smiling faces. You give us hope for a brighter future, keep up the good work and thanks for all you do.

    November 30, -0001
  10. OMG! And its not just knitters who would notice – weavers, crocheters…what are they thinking? Would they hand 5×8’s to a home builder and tell them that it’ll be okay, they’re only a bit thicker than 2×4’s?! Ugh. Thanks for sticking up for us.

    November 30, -0001
  11. Valerie #

    I just wanted to comment here and say that while this is most certainly frustrating for you, Tina, it is wonderful that you care so much about your knitters that you will fight for better quality control, as you always have done. Thank you for always providing a quality product, even if it is a hassle on your end. It really speaks to the amazing support that you and the entire Blue Moon Team provide to your customers. Thank you!!

    November 30, -0001
  12. How!!!! could they possibly THINK we wouldn’t notice the difference?!! We see it, we feel it, we know our yarns apparently way better than they do. Wow, Tina–that’s just stunning. I’m so sorry you got hit with their mistakes! You’re absolutely right, they have to be called out on it.

    (I bet you could sell those goof skeins off, labeled as such, faster than you could blink: not because the goof didn’t make a difference–it does–but because YOU make a difference to US and we want to support you.)

    November 30, -0001
  13. Okay, I was hyperventilating in that post, but really. It just stuns me that they thought they could fob that off on anyone and not care that they did.

    November 30, -0001
  14. Pat Dixon #

    Manufactures don’t really care about the end is the $$$$ they can make from the small business…I can well relate to your feelings, Quality is only the best way for a good business to run..

    Have you watched “Undercover Boss” Do so and be surprised how many CEO’s haven’t a clue what goes on down in the Mill.

    Tina, Don’t run a good Business.

    November 30, -0001
  15. Laura Staker #

    Firstly, thank you for YOUR (and your team’s) quality control. This is what makes knitting with your yarn such a pleasure.

    Secondly, BRAVO for your patience when dealing with the muggles.

    Thirdly, I would gladly buy some more lovely Woobu and make something where gauge is not such a big deal (shawl or scarf anyone?)

    November 30, -0001
  16. Of course they make excuses ‘cause they know they made a mistake & hope they can get away with not having to pay for it.

    I agree with others that there’s a decided lack of QA/QC all over these days. 

    I think they do need be reminded that knitters (& crocheters & other crafty people) do care & have a low tolerance for manufacturing sloppiness.

    November 30, -0001
  17. Thanks for posting this! As a yarn consumer, I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes to get the soft stuff in my hands. And, as a sock club member, I will understand if this month is a wee bit late.

    November 30, -0001
  18. You are totally not a whiner. You are someone who expects that the items you contract to buy will be as stated in the specifications. That seems like pretty normal business practice to me.

    I hope the mill eats them. Or that you find another place on the other end…

    no, no… what am I thinking! terrible use of yarn. Call them a “Mill Miss” or something and bring them to OFFF.


    November 30, -0001
  19. Yes, bring them to OFFF!  (or is the barn sale in the works for this year?)

    November 30, -0001
  20. Gayle in California #

    Hmm… “Fat Woobu From the Mill to You!”

    Sounds like a great name for a yarn…

    November 30, -0001
  21. Nebraska Knitter #

    You are not a whiner.  As someone else said above, your attention to detail is what makes your yarn so wonderful.  Of course, I love the fantastic colors.  Really – if you didn’t send it back I bet you could sell it as mill ends with a slightly different weight.

    November 30, -0001
  22. you go bitch! gauge is so important and we the knitters keep the mills in business. thanks for fighting for us.

    (also, i think you need a man in the barn. just for flavor. but one that won’t kill the lady vibe you’ve got going on. hmm. . . who fits that bill?)

    November 30, -0001
  23. Hazel Smith #

    Tina, do you have to send it back or can you sell it to us? I’m sure many of us would be willing to buy it just as we are willing to buy Rare Gems and Mill Ends. I always thought that was fantastic merchandising chutzpah. As long as there is full disclosure of what people are getting, there should be no problem. I am not condoning the actions of the mill; I’m merely suggesting a possible solution. If I’m way out in left field, feel free to tell me so. I hope things work out well and that your multitudinous orders and your sock kits all get sent out on schedule(not that that seems to have any real time effect on when mine arrives at my house-LOL). Cheers and red wine, Hazel.

    November 30, -0001
  24. Sounds like “mill ends” to me. I’m sure at least a few folks at OFFF can find a good use for it, and make some fine lemonade out of those lemons.

    November 30, -0001
  25. Sue #

    You know, that is the same song & dance that many, many companies give when the quality (or service, or whatever) isn’t up to snuff. It’s supposed to make you the one who screwed up, instead of them, so as to make you more willing to back down. That’s called blame shifting for purposes of intimidation. They do know about standards; they just don’t want to own up to their mistakes. You know, owning up might cost them some bucks. They knew they were sending you yarn that wasn’t right, but they sent it anyway. What a hornet’s nest. I hope you don’t end up “eating” the loss on this. Sorry for the rant, but I’ve been around long enough to know just how often these tactics are used, and it makes me furious!

    November 30, -0001
  26. you said…”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

    November 30, -0001
  27. Trudianne Temple #

    Unfortunately, it’s not just the American mill industry. It’s EVERY industry in EVERY country. That’s why we now have such expensive manufacturing “Quality Systems” in place (ISO for instance) and why everything of quality is SO bloody expensive.

    You aren’t alone and I’m right there with you. It is just as frustrating for us in other industries. Anyone involved in making/creating/manufacturing something will tell you the same.

    It’s a sad state when producers don’t take pride in what they make. And that makes it nearly impossible for those of us who do.

    November 30, -0001
  28. I like your idea of teaching them to knit. How can a wool mill not know anything about what their product will be used for?  That’s crazy!!

    November 30, -0001
  29. I echo the idea of selling the Not-Quite Woobu, either at a festival or on-line.  Lemons into lemonade.  “Good enough” is what people say when they don’t care enough about what they do. 

    Hang in there.  We certainly appreciate the stubbornness.

    November 30, -0001
  30. cls #

    Why don’t you publish the mill’s name and we’ll explain it to them…..?

    November 30, -0001
  31. Holly #

    (1) agree (1) love

    It does boggle the mind doesn’t it, and I’ll volunteer to be a knitting teacher for those poor mill folks!

    November 30, -0001
  32. Well… if you want a tax deduction for it – you could donate it to my project to hand craft items for each of the homeless students in the Beaverton School District… just saying!

    November 30, -0001
  33. Sue #

    Yup, Talk about their pocketbook and you will get their attention. They are a business.

    Sorry to hear you had a disastrous few days.  Do you have a contract with them?  Can you try to put a fine in the contract if they have problems like this again?

    They should have a process in place that when orders are begun the settings are checked.  Have they assured you that this process is in place?  Geez, you have a right to be upset.

    November 30, -0001
  34. hondamom #

    Amen, sister!  Thanks for explaining some of the major things you deal with in your work!  It makes me appreciate the beautiful yarn I receive from you ever so much more (if that’s possible!).  Wow!

    November 30, -0001
  35. ARGH!!!!  My Dear Honey-so sorry you have to endure this!  Amazing how a business can be in business with so little knowledge of what they are producing or how it is used!  Really, most companies can’t do well when they are that ignorant of their product and end-users!  Can hardly wait until you have your own mill!

    November 30, -0001
  36. I’m glad that there aren’t governmental controls on how yarn is spun.  Hitting the mills in the pocketbook is the most effective way to get them to change the way they do things, without inviting our “public servants” to create another board, with a committee, which will do nothing but suck taxes, grow out of all proportion, and eventually take over what kinds of yarn can be spun, by whom, etc.

    It sounds crazy, (why would the gov’t care that much about yarn?), but there are far stupider laws and regulations out there.  And, history shows, any industry regulations have a 100% tendency to grow until they’ve gone far beyond the helpful use for which they were intended.

    Businesses who will drop an order in progress when a bigger fish comes along isn’t long for the economy.  Integrity is where it’s at, and when you regularly tick off your customers, they tend to find other companies with which to do business.  (Such a thing has happened to the grocery distribution services, pointedly ignoring the needs of mom & pop businesses, catering to the large grocery store chains, and now the chains are dropping them for their own private distribution services.  Serves ‘em right.)

    So, Tina, sock it to ‘em.  Pun wholly intended. :o) Teach them the hard way.  That’s the only way these types will learn.

    November 30, -0001

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