HGA provides a mentor for the COE programs. From what I can see, this is only for interpretations of the program instructions and nothing else. The current mentor is someone who completed the program about ten years ago. A lot has changed since then, but I will assume that anyone who is doing this officially on behalf of the organization knows about the current requirements.
I asked some questions and I got some answers. Here's what I learned:
There are still things about the millspun examples I'm just going to deal with as it makes sense to me. She did say that the ball band or whatever is basically to identify the millspun yarn. I didn't find out what to do about yarns that do not have a ball band or if a copy is ok or how important an exact color match is, but I did get clarification on what to do with the spun samples. They are not supposed to be treated like the other skeins, so they don't need the fancy labels and all that. This wasn't really clear because the section that describes how "Each skein must..." is called "Samples, Finished Yarn, and Swatches." This is one of those FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS things, where I'm not sure if the requirement that I think looks weird is just a confusing way of descibing something or is really the way things are expected. (An example of that is how a bunch of written material that I think would be easier to deal with in the notebook is supposed to be presented in a file folder. I was going to ask a question about that but I went through it again and yes it's supposed to be that way.)
The synthetic fiber skein is just that, chemically synthetic. Since the synthetics are lumped in with the remanufactured fibers in table IV, Man-Made Fibers, I was hoping that maybe it could include both. There aren't as many synthetics easily available retail and some of them are pretty nasty. (The second likely explains the first.)
I didn't bother asking about special effect yarns, I did some reading and pretty much everybody thinks a special effect yarn is anything that isn't smooth and all one color. More or less, anyway. So I'm going to go with that. It does still seem an "I know it when I see it" thing, and "see" is an important distinction. I think that special effect should cover characteristics other than visual design. An example might be wool blended with yak for warmth.
I can basically do what I want with the swatches as long as I get the right mimimum area. That means the shoelace will have to be really long, but it's ok. As is combining the sample yarn with something else, if that's a part of it's intended use. Some of my intended swatches need other yarns to work right.
The suggestion for multiple uses for special-purpose yarn was "think harder." Yes, I can come up with more possible uses but I'm less than thrilled with how practical they might be. I'll have to work on that one.
Yes, "American" cotton is upland cotton. It's the kind that makes up nearly all of world production and is believed to have originated in Mexico. Sea Island cotton is also considered of American origin. I also sent an email to the extension service cotton specialist and got some helpful info there for more sources for current cotton data. I'll have more on that later as I actually get somewhere with it.
I had to think a lot about how to put this, but I did ask about the metric measurements. I do find it strange how they are presented. Basically I pointed out that it seemed a little weird, compared to how the Imperial measurements are presented, and that it couldn't possibly be as anal as a technical reading of the numbers suggest, right? Eventually I got what I was expecting, that it's not that big a deal. Really, they need to rewrite that in the next revision so that it conforms with basic common practice of equivalents.