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A Mottled Problem


See the picture above? (Go ahead, click on it.)

That is a skein from our last shipment of Socks That Rock lightweight. See the lovely mottled effect? It’s pretty isn’t it? It would be a great new addition to our sock yarn line had we actually designed it this way and asked the mill to produce this yarn. We did not. So, we have over 2000 pounds of Socks That Rock lightweight with this lovely mottled effect that we did not add as a design feature or ask to be put in our yarn. It is, in fact, a mill error. It is a mill error we are trying desperately to resolve.

The mill keeps telling us that it’s us. It’s the dye job. Honestly, I would love it to be us because that, my dear knitters, is an easy fix. It is not us. Our lightweight yarn is spun form the same fiber we use in our mediumweight and heavyweight Socks That Rock yarn and we have no problems there or with any of the other yarns or fibers we are dyeing. You do the math.

After a whole lot of testing and trying to figure out what the hell was going on here, we’ve discovered it is not us. (Damn.) The yarn is structurally sound. It is all our lovely superwash top, so no worries on that front. Lightweight STR is a three-ply yarn and our discovery is that one of those singles is spun a little tighter than the other two. This means that it will not take dye the way same as those other two strands. What makes this a nightmare to deal with is that it runs inconsistently through the skeins and the whole shipment. Which also tells us it’s a mill issue—either a broken or almost broken machine or an operator error.

The inconsistent nature makes this quite the challenge to deal with. If it was uniform throughout each skein and each batch, then we’d thank the three wicked spinning sisters of fate, call it a design by nature, add it to our line as STR Goes FUNK and order a new batch of STR lightweight (without the one tightly-spun ply). However, it is not uniform and, here’s the clincher, the mill is still not convinced that this is them. (the skeins below are from the same shipment)


Why you ask? Because they sent a skein or two to a dye plant where they set the colour hard, heavy and hot, which, of course, works. So in their book, there is no issue.

Except, of course, that there IS in fact an issue. I am their loyal customer and I am a hand dyer, not a big commercial dye house (not that there’s anything wrong with big commercial dye houses). There’s a difference in how we create and set colours. My goal is and always has been to give you the yarn and colourways you’ve come to expect.

So where does this leave us? Extremely frustrated? You bet. That is the predominant feeling rolling around the Blue Moon barn. I know these things never come at a good time, but, seriously, it just could not be a worse one. (Knock on wood.)

These lovely Lightweight skeins are what we have in stock right now, until this error is corrected or we find another mill to spin this yarn for us. Please note: our mediumweight and heavyweight yarns are NOT mottled in any way.

If you have received a mottled skein or two and are unhappy, please do let us know.  We love our customers and your continued knit happiness is our goal. Of course, you can return it and we will refund your money and shipping. We ask that if you are placing an order for STR lightweight to finish a project, please say that in the notes field of you order so we can act accordingly.


If you are a sock club member, this is the yarn you received in May and this will also be true for July. As I said earlier, I think it has a pretty effect. It works well with both colourways for these months and, although it is not a planned choice, I do think it is interesting in these designs. If I thought otherwise, I’d send the whole 2,000 lbs. back. If I thought for one second that this lightweight batch was structurally unsound in anyway or ugly, it would have been returned, no matter what it cost us.

Speaking of cost… because of all of this over-spun drama, we are holding off on a much overdue price and skein size increase that we were going to implement this month. We want to be thoroughly sure this issue is resolved to our satisfaction. I keep thinking that if we knit the mill workers socks, maybe, just maybe, they would get it!!!

What would Blue Moon Fiber Arts be without you, the lovely knitters, spinners and fiber crafters? We are truly nothing without you. Thank you for your continued support and understanding. We will keep you posted.

  1. krista #

    I would LOVE to buy this yarn as a special.

    I LOVE the effect.

    So, if I order a lightweight right now, it will have this effect?

    Cause I have my credit card in hand.

    Right. this. minute.

    November 30, -0001
  2. Hazel Smith #

    We’ll still buy your yarn anyway, Tina. I can guess that with Sock Summit in the offing AND a July kit to dye, package, and ship, that this is the last thing you needed to happen. While I DID notice some almost over-plied sections, I didn’t really notice that it affected the colour. Of course, I think I need new glasses. Good luck with resolving this, but you won’t get any complaints from me. Cheers and red wine, Hazel.

    November 30, -0001
  3. Ruthie #

    I agree…it’s a really pretty dye job!  However, I know it’s not to your perfect specifications and I hope you can get the mill to see things your way.  As it is, STR goes FUNK is one of the cooler colorways I’ve seen in a long time.  Wonder what a pair of socks in that colorway would look like.  Hmmm.  Got my credit card in hand, too…just gotta check with my DH (he threatened divorce if I bought any more yarn.  If I could convince him that it was for socks for him……..).

    November 30, -0001
  4. Ute #

    I have got such skein with my last shipment – Vintage! And I like the effect of that overspun single. My Maia socks are done too and behave fine smile I really love your STR lightweight.

    I cross my fingers, that you will get your trouble with your mill managed ♥

    November 30, -0001
  5. Liesl #

    Thanks so much for the detailed explanation.  I’m relieved to hear that the issue is not with the fiber content, and I’ll consider the couple of skeins of this run that I received to be rare gems.

    November 30, -0001
  6. Time to find a new mill! Those folks are so full of denial every time there is a mill problem!! Frustrating!

    That said – this yarn is a happy accident. It’s very pretty! Any chance you could do a swatch for us and post it to your blog so those who are questioning what it will look like knit up will feel reassured?

    November 30, -0001
  7. I’m sorry you’re having troubles with the mill- BAD customer service on their end. They need to instill trust in them, and if they aren’t doing that, it’s time to move on to another mill. Maybe you can work out a compromise with them? 

    I would love to buy a skein or two of the mottled yarn- it IS beautiful. Hope everything works out.

    November 30, -0001
  8. Michelle E. #

    I love the mottled yarn myself, I thought it was a new product line that you were coming out with. Don’t have a credit card handy or I would buy some too. Best of luck trying to figure out this problem.

    November 30, -0001
  9. Brandy #


    Thanks for the info!  I am glad at least it’s not a superwash problem!  This makes me feel much better!  The color variations are pretty in these skeins!  Hope the problem gets worked out soon for you!  And I can’t wait for the skein size increase!  Very exciting!!  Will they be the same yardage as this months club shipment?  8)

    November 30, -0001
  10. I like the barberpole effect, too!  I’ll like it when you go back to the regular STR as well of course, but the barberpole is pretty too.

    Also, other indie dyers have problems with this and their mills too – maybe the mill would understand if the others pointed it out too?  I don’t know, seems like they REALLY want it to be your fault.

    Can’t wait to see the larger skeins!

    November 30, -0001
  11. Lydia #

    I was looking all over the ball band to see what was different about this month’s yarn!  I even showed my husband and I just kept flipping it over saying it looks different, wow that’s really cool, I wonder what they did?  Is it a different fibre? It doesn’t say it’s different…

    Ah ha.  Now I see.  I thought it was a wonderful surprise effect, in addition to it being a great colourway.  I hope everything works out for you and thanks to all of you for your hard work!

    November 30, -0001
  12. Maggie #

    Can anybody tell me what the second yarn down is.  Me likey!

    November 30, -0001
  13. I think it’s beautiful! I bet it heathers in a really lovely way.

    I hope you managed to show the mill the error of their ways.

    In the meantime, you can dye some for me. 😀

    November 30, -0001
  14. JohannaB #

    Oh, man!  What a pickle. For the record, nothing like this will dampen my love for STR (one of the few yarns I still buy, as I spin/dye myself & have a healthy stash to boot). I hadn’t looked that closely at my May shipment (I’m a bad knitter, way behind) but I’d love it anyway.  I DO hope things can be straightened with the mill, as this should be unnacceptable, but I’ll happily knit up the FUNK version, anyway!

    November 30, -0001
  15. I would totally buy mottled skeins. As a matter of fact, maybe I need to order some right now.

    November 30, -0001
  16. Shelley #

    I think it is beautiful too and will buy any yarn you produce. I am sorry you are having such a headache with this but I love “STR goes FUNK!”

    November 30, -0001
  17. I think it looks lovely.  And of course the mill is not gonna say it is their fault.  It’s much easier to blame someone else than to take responsibility for your mistakes.  Also, I would totally buy that skein. smile

    November 30, -0001
  18. Mya #

    Did you tell the mill “that’s not how you do it”? Cuz it’s not. smile

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

    Didn’t think my eyes were playing tricks on me. Knew it had to be something with the mill. Know this just brings you one step closer to buying your own mill or enough shares in one to have a say in how things are run. If only you could order this one single overspun yarn on a regular basis for STR Funk Lightweight. I’d probably order it as frequently as the regular STR. I like the effect.

    I know how frustrating these issues are so am sending lots of virtual hugs.

    November 30, -0001
  20. Lisa #

    My Maia is wonderful, my socks are knit, and I couldn’t be happier with my yarn.  So hang in there.  I understand the frustration – especially because of the inconsistency of the issue – but I think the effect is lovely and would be glad to own some.

    November 30, -0001
  21. blogless grace #

    I hope you bring some of that to SS11–it will sell in a flash!

    November 30, -0001
  22. Constantina #

    I understand you must be horribly frustrated, but the effect is very cool, and I must have some. smile Could you post which colorways have gone funky, pretty please?

    November 30, -0001
  23. It’s obvious it can’t be your dyeing–if it were, the mottled effect would be on all three plies. As it is, I can see in the second picture that each ply is taking up the dye differently. You (the dyer) couldn’t do that even if you wanted to!!

    November 30, -0001
  24. Heather #

    I noticed a skein like this on Ravelry and was immediately envious of the owner. I think it’s gorgeous… and I hope I have a few like that!

    November 30, -0001
  25. Hazel Smith #

    Careful, Tina, careful. Before you know it, you’ll have created a market for mottled skeins and then, instead of taking the mill to task for their error, you’re going to have to beg them to ply one overspun thread with 2 “regulars” so that you can continue to produce the latest “fad” yarn. You ought to be teaching “business” at Harvard(lol). You so absolutely have a knack for marketing!

    November 30, -0001
  26. Kathy #

    This is not the first time you’ve had troubles with this mill. Maybe look for a new one which has quality control.

    November 30, -0001
  27. Two words for you:

    New. Mill.

    I know you’ve been a loyal customer for a long time, but it sounds like they don’t trust you, don’t know you, and aren’t worth the drama and angst you’ve written about repeatedly.  There are any number of smaller mills around that would LOVE to have you as a customer.  (One in Bethlehem, PA, come to mind, but I can’t remember the name–it’s just one a local indie dyer gets her base from . . . sorry I don’t know more).  I have a feeling that if you put out the word, you could find a new place to have your bases milled that would LIKE you.

    Novel concept.

    Best of luck!

    November 30, -0001
  28. I’m in the same boat as some of the others.  I really like this effect and would buy it specifically (not saying I don’t really enjoy the regular, but this would be worth having.)

    Can we special order the mottled yarn?

    November 30, -0001
  29. I’m in the sock club. I’m good with the unique and special aspects of the club shipments.

    I do like the effect (which kinda reminds me of your spiffy Twist yarn, come to think of it), but I see the conundrum. No worries – we still love you. The mill will get a clue.

    November 30, -0001
  30. Melanie #

    Oh jeezy creezy.  Wake up and smell the pickled sheep, Mr. Woolen Mill, you have a problem.

    Tina, thanks for sharing – always good to have more information than less – and don’t worry, the yarn is still seriously gorgeous.

    (Bigger skeins? Sah-weet!)

    November 30, -0001
  31. It is very pretty. But I can see how the randomness would make it a pain for you to try to get a customer exactly matching yarn for a project bigger than socks.

    So I’ll just be extra glad I have a six-month-old grandson to knit small washable things for!

    November 30, -0001
  32. Anne #

    I think it’s pretty.  You are the customer, and the mill needs to make your yarn the way that you order it, but I expect some randomness in hand-dyed yarns.

    November 30, -0001
  33. Lia #

    It may be unintended, but I loved the effect and bought to skeins.  It’s a shame with all the business you provide the mill that it is not treating you better.

    November 30, -0001
  34. It won’t make you feel any better to know that I love Mottled, will it?

    November 30, -0001
  35. Oh, Tina, you get more than your share of challeges, don’t you? Of course, as others do, I like the mottled effect. A sweater done up in mottled Mossay would be dead sexy. (Contemplating, contemplating…) See ya soon @ SS!

    November 30, -0001

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