Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bad Yarn or Bad Buyer?

If you've been within 30 feet of me at home or in public anytime in the past month, you've heard me complaining about the yarn I'm using.  Interestingly enough, it hasn't been just one yarn irritating me.  I seem to have a stash full of monsters.

I just finished using a yarn (sorry folks, I won't tell you what it is... only my husband, lys owners and knit group know the name) that turned my fingers Smurf blue as I knit.  Not only that, but the yardage I used (less than one skein) had three slubs, and the yarn ply changed direction between two of them.  If the yarn wasn't splitty, it was over-energized.  Oh, and did I mention the weird color shift that makes my project look like I used two different dye lots?  All these traits in one same skein.  In short, miserable.  Now I might have told everyone within screaming distance to never buy this yarn.  I may have told stores not to stock it.  I truly had a bad yarn experience.

Then, I look to my right and see a friend in the knit group with not only the same yarn, but in the same color. I told her my experience.  Funny, her yarn wasn't turning her hands blue.  Okay, so I got a skein that had some excess.  I did observe her skein was exhibiting the over-energized traits, but she reported not slubs.  I guess I'm just lucky and should lay off bad mouthing it.

So I grab a lovely yellow yarn and cast on another project.  I can soothe away the memories of the blue yarnmare.  Totally different fiber, maker, source.  This yarn should have NOTHING in common with that last disaster... right?  Well, honestly, it doesn't.  Nope.  This one is riddled with sticks, hay, a FEATHER (I'm at a loss there), and has tiny knots (plural!), but the knots aren't across the entire ply, they are worked within individual plys, and it isn't even a handspun!!!  This yarn sheds worse than my dogs (they're getting jealous of the funny smelling yellow dog I seem to have been cheating on them with), but it does contain 30% mohair, so some shed is expected, I'm told.

Whenever I have a problem, I analyse it and try to figure out how to avoid the problem in the future.  This probably explains why I'm good at correcting knitting errors and reading my knitting.

So, define the problem: I own some yarns of lesser quality than I expect.
Analyze:

  • Are these quality names and fibers? Yes
  • Did I purchase them from reputable shops?  I believe so, but I didn't run a background check on the owners or sift through their project bags.
  • Do other people have similar issues with these yarns?  Well, excess energy, splitting and excess dye happens, but I haven't heard a collective scream of dissension from the knitting community about these in particular.
  • Are my storage techniques subpar - could I have polluted the yarn with sticks, hay, feathers?  Plastic drawers and not trips to the farm - so I'm calling this a no.
  • Am I being oversensitive and snotty about minor issues? NOPE.  Everyone I've shown these to agrees or makes disparaging comments before I even have a chance to express my angst.
  • Could I have avoided these issues?  Ahhhhh, here's where the therapist makes her money and proves her worth.  Yes.  Yes, I could have looked more closely at the fiber, spent more time rubbing it through my fingers and looking at its behavior rather than dashing to the register and throwing my wallet. 
When I look back at these purchases (damn hindsight!) I see flaws.  I'm smarter and more mature than this.  I have better self control than this.  I bought these yarns because I liked the color (ohhhh pretty!) and one of the skeins was bought on vacation, whilst in a rush (store was closing), and I was attracted to the origin of the yarn, in addition to the color.  (Note to self, you don't wear this shade of yellow and what were you thinking ... mohair?  You're allergic to it Silly!)

Will changes in my pre-purchase screening methods assure me exquisite yarns?  It'll help, but some yarn traits don't come to light until they are on the needles and temptation is one of my greatest weaknesses.  But I will make an effort.  I may even wear this scratchy, stick and hay ridden yellow nightmare to remind me.