Dye lots, and other issues.

We have been inordinately busy recently. We set up a proper new shop in Oswestry, in addition to our lovely Shrewsbury market shop, this time with a smashing big room for running workshops, and a tearoom! So time is in shorter supply than it was, and blog posts will be fewer and farther between. 

Recent events have prompted this post. We've had a few incidents of customers being dissatisfied with goods or services, and I thought it might be a good idea to put down somewhere what can and can't be expected from a small yarn shop.

Let's start with dyelots. This is an interesting area that results in all manner of problems. Yarn manufacturers attribute lot numbers to each batch of yarn dyed in one go. All balls with the same dye lot come from the same batch and therefore have recieved the same treatment, and are going to be as similar as can be expected. And there's the rub. We sell natural fibre yarn, and with all the will in the world it is not possible to make a natural product completely the same each time. The dyeing process is subject to a huge number of variables, atmosphere, water quality, air temperature, the health, age and wellbeing of the animals the fibre came from, the variables in the sorting, scouring, blending and spinning of the undyed yarn, the variables in manufacture of the dye, and so forth. Incidentally the dyeing of manmade fibre is subject to almost as much opportunity for variance.

Now the larger the company producing the yarn is, the more likely it is that yarn colours will be consistent from batch to batch, but this is not completely reliable. We have had batches from some of our larger companies that have differed. Now given that this discrepancy is not something that can be completely got rid of, is it a fault? My research leads me to the conclusion that difference in dyelot is not a manufacturing fault, but is an acceptable anomaly, something well recognised throughout the whole of the textile industry, and something the customer needs to be aware of.

As a small yarn shop we do what we can to inform people, and to check dyelots if someone is concerned about them, but we are not infallible and sometimes dyelots get mixed up. This is where you as customers come in. If dye lots matter to you then it is up to you to check that you have all the same batch before you begin. We are happy to exchange unused balls if we have the dyelot you are looking for, but if you've started using a ball in your project and find that it is different, then that one can't be exchanged. We also can't be held responsible for what you don't know about dyelots. The information is there on the ball band for you to read, and we are always happy to answer questions. 

We have had a couple of other interesting issues. One concerned the length of yarn in a ball that was used to warp a loom, and didn't go as far as the weaver thought it should have. Yardages are generally put down as approximate, and do vary within an acceptable tolerance. Balls are mostly measured by weight, and this will again be within an industrial tolerance. If you find that the yarn you bought for a warp doesn't reach as far as you thought it should, I bet you can still get the expected length of knitting from it. Yarn is created with knitting or crochet in mind, and will do those jobs with reliable outcomes. Use it for something else and it may not give quite the result you want. We do know that a lot of our yarns work well as warp or weft threads, but as to how far they go, well that's a piece of string question. Sadly, if your chosen warp yarn does not cover the area you wanted, this is not a fault in the yarn, unless you can show that your ball was a short weight.

We did have rather an odd complaint in the tearoom, when a couple vociferously complained that we had the wrong colour sugar for coffee. Ahh well, may be we just can't please everyone.





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