Did you know that doe to EU law changes, the information you find on a yarn label or ball band is being restricted?
If you don't, then you haven't been talking to me at a knitting show, reading the Planet Handmade blog or in any other way been in communication over yarn lately.
It's a topic that I've been researching a lot lately and one guaranteed to make me cross. In simple terms the EU has set out to make textile labelling clearer and end problems like a jumper being advertised as "wool" when it's 80% acrylic. As part of the changes the EU has issued a list of what names of fibres can be used on labels and what comes under each name. Unfortunately the process doesn't seem to have involved anyone who actually buys textiles.
So yarn producers can no longer put specific sheep breed names in the official composition information on their labels - all fibre from sheep and lambswool in "wool". So out are labels saying "100% merino", "75% BFL, 25% nylon", or "100% Britsh lambswool" - these are now "100% wool", "100% wool, 25% nylon", and "100% wool". Not exactly informative is it?
Baby alpaca must be labelled "alpaca" or "wool" - huh? - and bamboo is not a recognised fibre (it probably comes under viscose), to give some more examples.
There are more examples in my feature in The Knitter this month (November 2012).
There is some good news though, my research with the EU and the feedback yarn producers are getting from trading standards suggest that more fibre can be given elsewhere on a label. So your yarn may say 100% wool and all wool sourced from merino sheep, or say 100% alpaca and be called Baby Alpaca DK.
But it does make life more difficult for those of us who buy yarn based on its composition. We may have to work harder to find out what's in a yarn and I'll certainly be more wary of buying any yarn just labelled 100% wool unless I can give it a good touch test to ensure that doesn't mean "100% over priced, poor quality, scratchy stuff that happens to have come from a sheep".