Tuesday, 5 May 2009


Whatever happened to standards of workmanship? It is something that has been bothering me for quite a while and it seems to be getting worse - last year I went shopping for some new trousers. I discovered that most pairs made from dark materials carried a label saying "do not sit on light coloured sofas in this garment" That surely is not acceptable to the general public - well it must be I guess. The number of items that are bought that have really bright colours until their first wash is incredible, we should expect better!

I have a google search set to find blogs talking about natural dyes and yesterday there was a link to a blog describing how this lady had been knitting with yarn she had purchased, dyed with indigo (It is described as natural and a mid - blue colour) There was a photo of her fingers showing the staining she was getting as she was knitting up the yarn. It wasn't a complaint - it was almost as though this was the norm and accepted.

It made me think!

As far as I can see either the dyeing wasn't done properly - indigo even when you think you know how it works will come back and bite you, rub off can easily happen if the dyebath wasn't correctly prepared. Or it could be that the yarns weren't rinsed at all after the dyeing - this seems to be common practice now! I would be absolutely devastated to see that about my yarns on the net (and yes the lady named the yarn)

I am obviously getting on my high horse here, but someone has to start making a stand. Standards in the industry just don't seem to exist and if shoppers just buy the products and accept the poor quality it surely must be up to those of us with standards to prove you can get better?

When I dyed the silk for the blackwork for the V & A embroidery the first thing that Wendy did with the yarn was wash it in "hot soapy water" - to check that there was no bleeding of colour - there wasn't, she phoned me to tell me how impressed she was! I took it as a compliment at the time but looking back I see it as a sad indictment that she should expect there should be!

On the other hand how would you know in advance if something was going to bleed or not - do we go round all the yarn suppliers and rub the yarns in our hands to see if colour comes off, do we carry a little bag of soapy water to test out with? As far as I am aware there isn't a British Standard that you can comply with, and if it expected and accepted is it worth putting all the extra effort in?

Maybe I'm the oddity for expecting things to be done properly - I could probably save hours of work if I lower my standards - but I'm sorry I won't!!!


Helen said...

I absolutely agree with you. some years ago a friend bought a carded fleece dyed in indigo. She and I were horrified to see as she felted it it went from a deep blue to the palest of pale blues. On complaining to the supplier she was told "well that is indigo dyeing" but as we both know it is not good indigo dyeing That said I do find when I felt with my naturally dyed fibres that there is a loss of colour when using warm soapy water with some dyes such as logwood and also cochineal but this is partly because I don't for obvious reasons give my merinos a soapy rinse. I stopped using brazilwood for dyeing merinos because this can pour colour when you felt with it.
I remember Anne spinning some of my indigo dyed merino and being thrilled as her hands did not go blue!
Yes! Lets keep on pushing for high standards

Debbie said...

Should we have a washing up bowl with soapy water in at Woolfest for people to test their yarns in?!

Helen said...

brilliant idea-it would make a point! also may be a poster about what constitutes good dyeing ie should not crock should not wash off etcetc

Helen said...

and even!