and many happy returns

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one week has passed and today, i have an update on the yarn rant—well, actually several! i did not send a whole lot of rant letters. most of the time, i am very content with the yarn i purchase and i don’t buy a whole lot of commercial yarn, preferring instead to use my handspun and hand-dyed fibers from micro-producers (as in, people who produce a product in their garage
or spare room!).

i sent only four letters of complaint and then a small bunch of thank-you’s to people whose yarn i love and have had a good experience with.
and i was truly overwhelmed with the response! almost every single recipient emailed me back right away. three out of the four companies i complained to have taken concrete measures to remedy the issues i raised, mostly in the form of investigating further at this time. most of the people i sent compliments to have emailed me back in kind.

here are some examples:

Hello Anne,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write to me and inform me of the issues you had with our yarn. I assure you that the problems you had are certainly not typical of this yarn and I apologize for the huge inconvenience it must have caused. I would like to offer you some replacement yarn (either in Karaoke or another SWTC yarn of your choice.) If this is acceptable to you, please let me know your shipping address and the yarn you would like to receive and I’ll send it out right away.

Also, could you please let me know the item number and dyelot of the yarn you purchased?

Very best wishes,

Katherine Cade
South West Trading Company

and from Rowan, a more in-depth investigation of a problem i had with color variations in their kid classic yarn:

Dear Anne,

Your email about your Rowan sweater was sent on to me at Westminster Fibers by Rowan in England.

Can you let me know which Rowan yarn you used? After you finished knitting the sweater about 1 year ago did you wear it a few times and then put it away. Where did you store it? was it hanging in a closet or folded in a drawer? Did you wash it at any time?

Also can you let me know at which store you bought the yarn.
Hopefully when I know a little more about the circumstances, then I can offer you some help.

June Bridgewater

hello june,
the yarn was the kid classic, in the color thyme, which i purchased several years ago directly from the rowan distributor in the US (i am a rowan member), westminster fibers in new hampshire. it was in a sealed bag of 10 balls.

the sweater was style “heather” from the yorkshire tales book. i always store my sweaters folded in a wooden drawer, lined with paper, inside my cedar closet. it was not washed, since i finished it last summer, and did not wear it until this past winter. it was brand new and had been worn only a couple of times when i saw the color differences.

at first, i thought it was just a shift at the collar area, due to knitting the collar up from the neck edge. then i saw the bands across the back as well. it is fairly subtle, but when i showed it to a few other knitters, they agreed there was a definite color change. in fact, a couple of other knitters said they have seen this same problem with rowan yarns (though i don’t knot the details).

i hope this helps; thank you for your reply, and have a good weekend
anne hanson

Hi Anne,

Thank you for sending me all this info. The only other dye problems we have had were with a 4Ply Cotton and Wool Cotton, never with the Kid Classic. If you are willing to return the garment to me at Westminster Fibers in New Hampshire, then I will take a look at it and let you know if I can replace the yarn for you.

June Bridgewater

i did send out my sweater the other day, with the color banding marked. hopefully the problem can be sorted out. this was a particularly heartbreaking one because the sweater went together beautifully and fits perfectly. i get compliments every time i wear it.

one important exchange took place between myself and Jeffrey Denecke, who is the director of operations for Euro Yarns, a subdivision of KFI (the american distributor for Noro yarns). mr denecke has tackled my complaint with aplomb, and though initially i was a little dissatisfied with the responses i got (see my posts from friday and saturday, last), we did make headway over the course of the week.

wednesday, june 7

Dear Anne,

Thank you for your research and for the photos. The reason I asked you to send the skein in question was not to “prove�? your contention – but to make your life easier (I asked – nothing I wrote came from Noro directly). Rather than going through the process of taking all the photos and documenting everything – you could have simply mailed the one skein in and been done with it – then I would have passed it along to Noro so they could follow up on the problem. However – I appreciate the extra effort you have put into documenting this issue and taking photographs for us. I would still appreciate if you could just mail us one of the skeins (not all of your Noro yarn – just the one in question that brought this to a head).

In the meantime – browse our website and find a product you would like (Noro or otherwise) and let me know. We would be glad to send you a free bag for your trouble.

Jeffrey J. Denecke Jr.

Hi Anne,

I read your blog – I understand if you are attached to the yarn and do not want to send any of it back. It was merely a preference – not a demand.

In any case – let me know what yarn you would like “gratis�? for your time and hassle. Thanks –

Jeffrey J. Denecke Jr.

dear mr. denecke,
i will definitely send the ball of yarn; my intention was not to irritate anyone, but to simply explain that it is not a problem that ONE ball of yarn can describe. the problems affect a good percentage of the noro yarn produced, and, when one has purchased a quantity of which 50 or 60 percent is defected, it is discouraging, and bewildering that the company in question has not done anything to remedy it! (upon further research, these quality issues are long-standing and well-documented across the internet).

the yarn is in the mail! and once again, thank you for your time and effort on my behalf,
anne hanson

Dear Anne,

Rest assured you did not irritate anyone. Thank you for sending the one skein and for your continued valued feedback.

Let me know what yarn you’d like us to send you for your time and trouble.

Jeffrey J. Denecke Jr.

dear mr. denecke,
that is SO generous of you, and i really appreciate it! i looked at the site, and i think i would like to try the noro “blossom” in color #4, or whatever color this sweater is made from [picture inserted}.

again, i appreciate your generosity, and will be sure to let my readers know about the steps you have taken to remedy the problems i described.
i would love to be updated on the response from the noro company, as well as any information they can offer about a plan for improved quality.
anne hanson,

Dear Anne,

Is there an address I can send the blossom to? (I will be at TNNA until next Tuesday – so it probably won’t go out until then).

In regards to Noro addressing the problem – there are a few facts I need to put out there so that everyone can fully understand the reason for knots in Noro products. Firstly – Noro pointed out to me that all their products are at least partially handmade using a “wool machine system�? – they are not worsted. Without getting into the specifics and revealing Noro’s secrets – this is part of the reason that no one has been able to duplicate the color and quality of Noro yarns – and why there is no true competitor on the market.

Due to this process Noro cannot eliminate knots as thoroughly as worsted manufacturing centers. They explained that they do their best to have zero knots when possible – but that one or two knots in a skein is generally acceptable practice and will happen from time to time (although two knots is quite rare). When it does they will make sure that the knot is on the same color so that the color sequence continues without an abrupt change.

However – they are very concerned about the mentioned batch of Silk Garden that had three and four knots in some skeins that did not follow the color sequence. Noro has called a meeting with all staff to discuss this problem and make sure it is not repeated. They have assured us that we will not see this problem in our next delivery of Noro goods.

I hope the above explanation is satisfactory.

Jeffrey J. Denecke Jr.

and again, i TRULY understand that mr. denecke does not have much control over what happens at the Noro factories; obviously, though they have directives in place about how to handle yarn breakage, these are not followed on the factory floor, and the product is passed on to consumers nevertheless as “generally acceptable”.

and therein lies the rub; must knitters absorb a defective product which the Noro manufacturer is unwilling to waste? there is no mention of how Noro handles quality control, but it appears to be a poor system, as they are not even aware that it doesn’t work.
and why are they happy to peddle a product that is merely “generally acceptable with one or two knots [in 100 yds]”, rather than “stellar“, or “superb“?

which is not mr. denecke’s fault, but hopefully, now that he has been alerted, he will also be more demanding of the product he handles. i appreciate that someone is so willing to defend a product they believe in, and it is my sincerest hope that the product, in turn, will live up to mr denecke’s conviction that is is of high-enough quality to earn his seal of approval.
again, with SO many wonderful materials out there, it would be a shame to waste this man’s conviction on a product that is merely “generally acceptable”.

i don’t know how many other knitters took the opportunity to voice concerns on rant day, but i hope that others had the same results, and that it was a positive experience. it is important to feel that the dollars one spends as a consumer are well-spent; knitters, like other people, work hard for their earnings. how we spend them is a direct expression of what we see as worthwhile. with SO much choice in materials available to us now, we DO have complete freedom to choose one product over another, and to make our dollars do double-duty: first as a compensation for goods received, and second as a vote for items of quality that perform well and hold up to a higher standard.

5 thoughts on “and many happy returns

  1. I had some great responses from yarn companies including cascade liking my sock pattern made from indulgence and lornas laces letting me know that they can make jungle stripe in shepard bulky….

    Galler is sending a me a bag of all the colours if their foire II

  2. I too think it is wonderful that Mr.”D” has so much conviction for a product and company but I think he is the only one on that side that cares about quality controll and I think personally, if I were Noro, I would thank my lucky starts that Mr.”D” is in my employ. Through no obvious fault of his own, Noro produces a substandard product and as I said before, I they know it and HAVE known it. I did a google and was very surprised at how LONG these complaints on the exact same problem have been going on. I truly feel for Mr. “D” and have much respect for a man that has such a fortitude for something/someone but I havea feeling his efforts will go unresolved much as they have for some time now. There are just WAY to many “garage producers” and a few other larger companies that I personally feel compete right along side of Noro for colorways BUT surpass Noro in quality/controll. I am taking my hard earned nucks to other companies. I do have to say that Lorna Laces was also so gracious on their feedback letter, they seemed truly touched and pleased. The other company that was very pleased was Shaefer and the company that was very gracious about the negative feedback was SWTC. Oh well, as long as there is always a nice supply of handdyed and patterns that aren’t photocopied 😉 to go with the yarn, then I’m happy snappy!!

  3. I sent out two emails for the Rant: A ‘thank you’ to Mountain Colors, and received this reply:
    “Thanks so much for the thoughtful note! It is always great to hear that folks are pleased with their project!!”
    Also sent out a compaint to Noro – and have received NO reply. Agree that there are many other sources of beautiful, quality yarn.

  4. I didn’t write any letters, because I haven’t run into problems with my yarn. But I just wanted to comment and say that this was a fantastic idea.

  5. Wow, I’m impressed with the responses you received– as well as the ones with the Noro distributor.

    The only company I ever had the need to “complain” to was blue moon fiber arts for half-knots in a skein– they were amazing w/ their customer service. Its cool to know other companies are serious about this too 🙂

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