UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

May 29, 2009

fiber clubs, or how the weight of too many holds back success

Filed under: discussion, fiber — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 5:32 pm

I got the May fiber club shipment today (in case of revisions, today is: 29 May 2009) from Susan’s Spinning Bunny.

This is definitely going to be my last fiber club. I like a lot of the things you cannot get any other way. Most fiber clubs are the only sources for odd fibers, because very few fiber vendors sell non-standard fibers. (Though Paradise Fibers does, and so did Yarn Barn when I was there in person, obviously I just live somewhere with a dearth of fiber-friendly stores. (A boutique yarn store is not fiber-friendly, it’s about looking good through the window.) ) I am not sure why no one sells baby llama. I am not sure why it is impossible to find naturally colored alpaca+silk. But I am extraordinarily picky about dyed fibers. Sometimes I admit that I chose my matching Rav username right around Halloween, but a lot of the sentiment behind it holds true.

Mass production certainly does not help, and that holds true for all clubs. Spunky Eclectic sent out an 80% white thing with random splotches of blue and brown. I bought fiber at Stitches that was still wet. I have seen shipments where the fiber is exposed during shipping. But the worst thing about mass production is how the perspective is wrong. When a dyer is doing umpteen batches of the same thing, there is a tendency to cut corners– leaving lots of white, using dyes straight up instead of blended, fingerprint splotches of other colors… and lousy packaging. Because it is hard to do a mass production, the final quality is usually lower. But each customer only gets one.

You see what I am saying? It does not matter if the dyer does 1000 or 2, each person only gets one. So each recipient can only evaluate one. I am not evaluating how big a project it was to dye 50 pounds of wool and get it shipped out even though there were supply issues and holidays. (The logistics of doing that as one person are a nightmare.) I look at my shipments for any fiber club and I am not seeing an artisan practicing a craft, I am seeing the 8-pack of fat crayons kindergartners use.  

I am disappointed while I know the dyer is damned proud of her*self because something went out the door and on time. (*her because 100% of the dyers I have dealt with and seen are female, but this is not about one person and there is a possibility that there might be men in this field somewhere. In fact, someone recommedn one to me and I will sign up for his club and we will see if I am non-sexist enough to tell you honestly whether his quality is better.)

Overall, I think fiber clubs are a good idea to push me out of my rut of buying the same fibers over and over and over and using the same kinds of colorways over and over and over again. But I hate pink. I hate orange. I hate yellow (until enough black has been added that it is an olive green, then it can be a nice foil for jewel tone colors). It seems like I should do something else with my money because it is extremely unlikely that something intended for a wide audience would exclude half the colors. 

I keep hoping that fiber clubs are going to be more like spin-alongs. But the spin-alongs I have seen prove that a group homogenizes on the mediocre (they always choose lousy dyers and hideous colorways and mediocre fibers— but somehow without saving any money). 

I guess spinning has to be about the yarn because I sure as anything certain am not making any friends this way.

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