söndag 8 september 2013

Quality is worth paying for - 100 % wool, what does that mean?

Today we aired our woollen sweaters. I found some sweaters that had outlived themselves. Trying not to waste wool I thought that if I felted them in the washing machine I could use the fabric for other purposes. I was in for a surprise ...

In the pictures below I have photographed four sweaters. Originally they were all the same size. The brown one, always at the bottom in all pictures has not been in the washing machine. The other three have been roughly treated and washed in 95 degrees Celsius, as close to boiling as our washing machine can manage, in a program that takes 140 minutes. No mercy - felting was what I aimed for. All sweaters were bought (not hand knitted), and they were all marked 100 % wool. One was even marked "100 % wool non superwash" (Superwash is a non-shrinking agent). All of the sweaters were marked as "hand wash, 30 degrees".

This is sweater no. 1. As you can see almost nothing happened to it. There has been some shrinking but I could easily get it to be the original size if I stretched it just a little. No felting has occurred. The stitches are still showing clearly in the fabric.

Sweater no. 2. This one has actually shrunk a couple of sizes, but a lot less then I expected considering the temperature of the water and the length of the washing program. This was the one marked "non super wash". All stitches are still showing.

This is the third sweater. This was more the result I was expecting. A lot of shrinking. The fabric is fully felted. It is not possible to identify the stitches or the thread. But, sadly, the entire sweater is full of very short and loosened fibres (it took forever to clean the washing machine). They are on the surface of the fabric and when I brush it they never stop coming loose. It is like hand carding. I can´t use this since the fibres will probably stick to everything that comes in contact with it.

So they are all 100 % wool, none of them marked as superwash. I am very disappointed with the result. Without any doubt something is fishy here. What has been done to the wool? Is it really 100 % wool in the garments? The sweaters are all made in different countries, in different parts of the world so this is not a local issue. 100 % wool without the superwash treatment should show quite a different result. They should all have felted nicely, and if the wool had been of a good quality, no loose fibres would have appeared.

Sadly I have to deduct that none of these sweaters were made of a good quality wool. But how was I to know? I have put my faith in the 100 % wool mark - but now I realise that that on its own, does not vouch for much ...

Quality is worth paying for. I am sometimes told that my favourite yarn from Wålstedts is expensive. But I will gladly continue to pay for a yarn that I know is made with the best wool available, in a process that will do the least damage to the fibres and keep the strenght and lustre in the yarn and thus making the knitted items more beautiful and durable.

I would also be prepared to pay extra for a sweater made of high quality wool (longer fibres, stronger, more lustre and less pilling). The problem is how to find such sweaters. The best way is probably to knit your own sweater using a high quality yarn.

3 kommentarer:

  1. Good post and that is why I like to use my own handspun wool(from sheep I know personally) to knit with as much as possible. My own handspun Alpaca is also far superior to the South American Alpaca yarn that I have used in the past.

  2. Det är något roligt skumt med textilindustrin, inte bara när det gäller ull. Man får verkligen se upp när man köper textilvaron, men tyvärr hjälper det inte. Det är lätt att bli lurad.

  3. Hoppsan, stavningskontrollen igen. Inte "roligt" utan "något".