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I was super happy when I received my invitation to the Schoeller blogger event, particularly as it included a factory tour at their dye works in Hard, Austria. A perfect combination of my degree in engineering and my love for knitting! Of course, I confirmed the invitation and was delighted to meet Rebekka, Alice, Kiki, Miki, Fritzi, Stefanie, Janine, Jasmin, Katha, Simone, Steffi, Marco and Julia-Maria. We were welcomed with a cup of coffee in a beautifully decorated conference room.
First, we were introduced to the company, whose main branch are industrial yarns. With their dye works located within sight of Lake Constance, they had to fulfill a lot of environmental requirements very early. The result is, that their yarns are bluesign approved, the treatment for their machine-washable yarns is chlorine-free and as a bonus, they are mulesing-free as they use south-american Merino only.
The tricky part is, not all their handknitting yarns are manufactured by themselves. So the Austermann Merino yarns, Schoeller Zimba and all sock yarns are produced to the Schoeller standards, other yarns may or may not be chlorine-free or bluesign approved, depending on the individual case. However, I am deeply impressed, Schoeller is working on a sustainable production.
If you are interested in my pretty technical summary of the factory tour, you can find it in my Instagram story highlights. Nonetheless, I want to write about some details here.
This is a poster showing the fineness of sheep wool depending on the animal part it is shorn from. The lower the number, the finer is the fibre. As you can see, the shoulder part (1) is where you find the finest hair with only 14,5 micrometers in diameter. This is how it looks like as a wool top:
Sadly, this quality is so hard to spin that fine hand knitting yarns usually start from 16,5 micrometer fine fleeces.
As industrial yarns are knit on knitting machines, they must not have considerably thicker or thinner sections. During quality assurance, these sections are cut out and the yarn is joined with a technique known as “Russian join” in hand knitting:
After lunch, we were introduced to the design philosophy behind the Austermann and Schoeller+Stahl hand knitting yarns as well as their knitting patterns. They also had brought a lot of their knits to take a detailed look at them. As all of us had received a large package of yarns to play with beforehand, we were asked to show our projects and to share our opinions about the yarns we had used. My favourite projects were a cardigan and a hand bag knit by Fritzi and a cowl by Alice. I will show you my own projects in a separate post, soon.
Thank you so much for inviting me, it was a blast! It was totally worth the 20 hours I spent in Flixbuses to get to Lake Constance and back. The day passed by way too fast with an amazing insight into the company and some really good talks. Well done, Schoeller!