Yarn reincarnated?

I didn’t care for their superwash wool, but I was sorry to hear that production issues caused Mission Falls to make the decision to cease operations (the yarn distribution — doesn’t mean you won’t see Mags Kandis’s designs in future).

Mission Falls 1824 cotton had been discontinued earlier because of quality problems. I think that was a greater loss in the scheme of yarn–there are other heavy worsted weight superwash wools available from other companies, but very few — if any — cottons comparable to 1824. 1824 cotton had a gimp structure (a binder thread wrapped around a single), which made the yarn softer on the hands than a plied cotton yarn. Silk City’s Softball yarns are somewhat similar (it uses two binder threads rather than the single binder of 1824, yet doesn’t appear to be as tightly wrapped), but it’s available in DK and chunky weights, not heavy worsted.

But now Sweaterkits is selling a cotton yarn called Cotton Licious, which looks suspiciously like the former 1824 yarn — right down to the colours. [This morning, I sent them an e-mail asking if it's from the same mill, and if the colours were the same. I received a non-responsive answer.]

Speaking of similar colours, may I point out that certain shades of Rowan Scottish Tweed yarn match certain shades of a certain Hebridean yarn, although not in all weights of Scottish Tweed.

Scottish Tweed, by the way, is the new name of Rowan’s Harris yarn, as someone pointed out in the comments a while ago. Of course none of the parties who previously commented on the legal dispute over the name of Harris yarn has published any sort of press release (to my knowledge, at least) — no update from Herself, known for publicly bashing her competitors; no public comment from the parties who are actually involved in the legal dispute (Rowan, HTTL, and HTA). Rowan’s and HTTL’s silence is not surprising, since they refrained from issuing a press release about the lawsuit when it was commenced, although HTTL’s chair did speak to at least one reporter and Rowan did apparently write to retailers about the Harris issue; however, the Harris Tweed Association, which had announced on its website that it had filed the lawsuit and garnered some press coverage, has not updated its site with any news on the progress of the action.

The absence of public updates about the lawsuit is not unusual. If you searched the newswires for announcements regarding legal actions, you’d probably find that there are a lot more press releases announcing their commencement than their resolution. There can be a number of reasons for this discrepancy: the plaintiff (likely the one issuing the first press release) might have achieved only a lacklustre result, or perhaps even lost at trial; the public might have no interest in the outcome, so there would be no point in issuing a further press release; or a settlement might have involved confidentiality terms, which again might make a press release pointless. Sometimes you can ferret out more information; if one of the companies involved is publicly traded, for example, you can probably find information about the status of ongoing litigation in its financial statements. Court documents are generally public documents too, although obtaining copies costs money (and settlement terms may not be included in the court record).

[That UK magazine, Knitting, published a short piece on both the Harris yarn dispute and Alice Starmore's beef with HTTL in its August 2005 issue. Unfortunately, that article, which presents the points of view of HTA and Starmore, doesn't contain much more content than what is already available on the Internet; you'd get the same information by reading the HTA press release and the Virtual Yarns website. Pity that the author of the article, who is in Stornoway, didn't get any further information from any of the parties, including HTTL. The article also failed to mention the name change to Scottish Tweed, which makes Knitting seem a little behind on its reportage; although given the frequency of publication and the lead time necessary to prepare an article for such a magazine, that was to be expected.]

So what does it mean that the name of the yarn has been changed by Rowan? It could mean a settlement, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that HTA was right about the use of “Harris” to describe yarn — there’s still no court determination of the issue. What this could mean is that decision-makers on all sides figured out that the most efficient use of their resources was a compromise; Rowan might have agreed to change its labelling without any acknowledgement of infringement or liability, and HTA might not have received any compensation at all.

Edited to add: The action was indeed settled, and the plaintiff received its legal costs. I think I still have that post in draft.

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One Response to Yarn reincarnated?

  1. Julia says:

    On the subject of a soft cotton yarn with similar construction to 1824 Cotton, have you seen and/or tried Luna from Cascade Yarns? It’s also a single wrapped with a binder thread, but is a little lighter weight than the 1824. It does come in a nice range of colors, as well, but doesn’t come in particularly generous hanks.