Lately I’ve been thinking about what information is helpful to know before I start to spin a commercial braid of fiber. That led me to thinking, “What if Fiber Labels Were More Like Yarn Labels
Yarn labels have lots of useful information for knitters. Granted, knitters are mostly trying to do one thing, hit that mighty gauge number, but the information on the the label helps then know what their fabric will be like.
Spinners are working with a more open road, as far as the yarn we’ll make.
Looking at a recent fiber purchase and comparing the label to a yarn label, I pondered what other information I’d want on a fiber label.
The minimum bits information that fiber labels have are:
Here’s are other things I’d find helpful:
Preparation – Some combed tops are so lofty and uncompressed that I can’t always tell right away if it’s top or roving, especially if it’s a blend. I’ve noticed lately that some dyers call top, roving. I’ve bought some of it online with equal parts hope and doubt in my heart. It comes and it’s top, disappointing, but not surprising.
Plus, the difference between top and roving can be very confusing for new spinners.
Micron Count – I’m not sure this is readily available to dyers. Maybe fiber wholesalers can help with the information? This helps me, beyond my fingers, to judge the fineness of a fiber. My fingertips aren’t as sensitive as they used to be, and if it’s camping/gardening season, they aren’t sensitive at all.
Staple Length – I’d love this to be measured by the dyer, rather than pulled from a website or a book using a breed average, because staple length varies greatly between sheep, flocks and years. The fiber most dyers have are giant bumps (50lbs-100 lbs) of a breed or blend. Pulling a staple and measuring it before dyeing would be hard, but it would be one more thing to do. Knowing staple length is important for drafting consistently.
Those are my three today. What would you add to the list?
Personally I’m always wary of putting too much information on a label. I certainly would be unwilling to put on a staple length I’d measured myself, because if I’ve made a mistake, or the fibre has a variable staple length then some people could end up somewhat disgruntled. People still need to pull a staple length themselves really, because you’d be amazed how many people can’t judge a distance of 5cm.
I do put micron counts in my listing descriptions (if the supplier has made that information available), but, don’t on labels… it’s a compromise between nice big writing that people can read without finding their reading glasses, or having lots of extra information… plus there’s the issue of blends, though you can give the micron counts of components.
Personally I include a “dyed on” date on all the fibre I sell in person, because I do like to encourage people to spin fresh fibre, and not store it for years. It takes such a difference to the ease of spinning. I might start doing it on my online sales as well… but I use smaller labels for those, and again, it’s the space/size of the font issue!