Sunday, 2 May 2010

J'accuse




Something that has had an increasingly raised profile on my radar since my friend Mimi received an unsolicited cruel comment a while back on a beautifully crafted item she'd made, is a vicious creature known as a Yarn Snob . This is someone who sneers, despises and mocks someone who uses acrylic yarns rather than more natural - and usually far more expensive - options like wool, silk, quiviut etc., and they are a fairly common
occurrence in knitting forums.



What raised it to the point that I wanted to comment about it was reading the first day's posts from Knit & Crochet Week, which was all about how one had started either knitting or crocheting; it was interesting to me to see that the large majority of people had started knitting/crocheting using acrylic yarn, and usually the 'economy' brands.





The tone of most of these posts was a combination of apologetic and shame/embarrassment, along the lines of 'I didn't know any better', 'it was cheap and I didn't want to buy expensive because I was a beginner'. Most implied that as their knowledge and experience had increased, so their taste in yarn had improved.

Checking my projects on Ravelry, out of 44 WIPs/FOs, only 6 are natural yarns, ie. not acrylic, and I am shameless about that. (I am shameless about most things, true enough).There are several reasons one might knit with acrylic - cost, allergies, intended recipient, aftercare, availability, color, novelty. I knit mainly in acrylic because most of my knitting is done for babies and children - therefore, to be practical, it must be both hardwearing and machine-washable. I can't think of much that would be as inappropriate as giving a new mother a handwash, dry flat, shape while damp etc etc item of baby clothing. In fact, I demand the same ease of care from most of my own clothes; and so do most people I know. My MIL owns two Shetland wedding shawls, which are carefully wrapped in some wardrobe somewhere and never see the light of day, as they are 'too special' .Which is why I knitted her a lovely lacy scarf out of acrylic - such nice acrylic that she was surprised when I said she could machine wash it. I wanted her to wear it, not hide it.



And that's the thing. Maybe back in the day, acrylic was scratchy and unpleasant (a bit like the real wool I remember from my childhood) ; but today there is such a wide variety available, to suit all tastes and textures, that I can't believe people would write off the whole kit and caboodle as beneath them.

I am making forays into the realm of natural yarns, I admit it, but that is because my interest is lace knitting; acrylic can be knit into lace, but it doesn't block and has little drape, so the finer aspects are likely to be lost for an item like a shawl or stole. However, if the stitch pattern is carefully selected, it certainly works for smaller items such as children's cardigans and sweaters: I have the photos to prove it (see photo above and my Ravelry profile).

So, friends, the point of this post is: stand tall and proud - be not ashamed of thy acrylic, for it answers many of thy needs, and is soft and purty too.







25 comments:

  1. I like what you have written. It's "direct" and "concrete" for yarn users. Even if I don't like very much acrylic, I have chosen it sometimes for the same reasons as yours !

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  2. Hear hear! I like acrylic too - it's versatile, durable and vegan. I like natural yarns too, but acrylic is really not so bad. Thanks for this brave post!

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  3. Thankyou so much for this post. The jumper I am making my gran at the moment is 75% acrylic and 25% wool (Stylecraft Life DK, I believe it is called). As far as I am concerned there is nobody in the world that deserves better than my gran, and so she should have teh best that money can buy. Unfortunately money will not buy very much at the moment. The yarn I am using works out to £2 for 300 yards, so a full jumper will come in at under £10.

    She will in no way care about that. I am sure that my time and effort will be all that matters, not fibre content. It is made not only with 75% acrylic and 25% wool, but an overwhelming sense of love. I wouldn't knit so much ribbing for anyone else in the world for a start!

    But it's more than that. Maybe for some people anything less than 100% natural would be ick. But it needs a buzz kind of fibre if that were to be the case (Ie wool). My nan has little space and carers that do her washing, in a washing machine and tumble drier. With only one arm and a broken wrist on that arm my Nan would not be able to devote time to hand-washing a jumper, so it would have to be reserved for once in a blue moon wearing.

    Sometimes acrylic yarn is the BEST yarn for the job. We don't all have time or space to hand wash everything we make.

    The item you mentioned in your post was a cuddle hot water bottle cover. Something that lives NEAR OUR FEET in the winter. I can take the cover of of that, bung it in the washing machine and drier and it comes out looking great. Looks even better, in fact.

    Horses for courses. It's not just certain projects that it is suited to - it's lifestyles, and we should never look down on people's yarn choices, whether we knit in 100% acrylic or that yarn that people fight on eBay for :oP

    The post I made earlier in the week about the Woolly Thoughts design team - all of their wonderful works are 100% acrylic. I defy anyone to say that they don't look amazing.

    xx

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  4. Like a dodo, forgot to put a linky to Mimi's project ...corrected that now :-)

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  5. I don't like arcrylic much personally I admit. It is not as comfortable as wool (sweatier and less breathable) and I would not use it for socks...ever! I have used acrylic and blends but very rarely for myself and never more than 50%. As for washing wool, I have one word...Superwash :)

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  6. All the acrylic hate irritates me too, I like yarn of all types :)

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  7. Agree wholeheartedly - sometimes it's not what you've got, it's what you do with it. I'm an inveterate substituter of yarn (there, I've said it). I think it's interesting that in every craft or pursuit there is some kind of hierarchy whether it's around equipment, provenance, materials. I think it's the making and the sharing that matters.

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  8. You are so right. I still buy the acrylic yarn for kids and baby items or anything that must endure without a lot of fuss, but alas I am still a yarn snob and I will only knit with acrylic made on the night of the new moon -smiles- Well written and it's been a pleasure to read your blog

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  9. I have been using Red Heart off and on for 50 years now. It's a good strong fiber that lasts through generations of kids, as my grands are using blankets I crocheted for their parents.

    It, like wool, has it's place.

    And sometimes, it's the only thing I can afford. Thank Goodness it's there so I can keep knitting!

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  10. I work mainly with natural yarns because I dye them but I do have synthetic yarns in my stash and in my knitting. I think the most important thing is to match the yarn to the project.

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  11. I like knitting with acrylic especially when its for kids you can toss it in the wash & not have to worry about it. You made a great post.

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  12. Yarn snobs???? YARN snobs?????

    I had no idea such creatures existed! I guess that you get snobs in all walks of life. I've got no time for people like that.

    I'd love to see Ribbitcat in full flow against a Yarn Snob :-)

    Ali xxx

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  13. Posting for my friend Kathryn, who has Blogger issues:-)

    ''hanks for the post. I also do not care for yarn snobs. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all. That has been my motto forever. I use acrylics, cotton, blends of each and blends of anything. I buy what I can afford. I do not shop in LYS’s because I can’t afford them. I shop at JoAnn’s with coupons. I make too many things as gifts and wouldn’t be able to gift anything otherwise. Anyway, thanks for reminding people to be kind. Life is short. PS- To me it is the same as those who think knitting is better than crocheting and that crocheting is a lowly craft. Hogwash! A craft is a craft is a craft. We do it because we enjoy it. I admire all works and crafts. Thank you.''

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  14. I love all manner of yarn as long as it it does what I need it to do. I grew up crocheting afghans in Red Heart, and one of my favorites is one that about 20 years old.

    I'll be the first to admit that I'm dazzled by and I heart after certain high-end yarns, and I make no apology for that either, but I also know that high price doesn't always equal quality yarn. I had made share of knots and poor wound skeins and stuff that had faded over time.

    I made things that I love with Rowan Calmer and Wollmiese as well as Caron, Lion Brand, Berroco Comfort (great for kids items) and Plymouth Jeanne, and that's the bottom line for me.

    As far as the whole knitting v. crocheting thing is concerned, I find that reasonable people appreciate beautiful things regardless of the craft that made it. If someone throws some snark about crochet, I tend to ignore it because I know my work speaks for itself.

    I'll always see myself as a crocheter first, but I love my knitting too, and it's all good.

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  15. Great post! Although I am not a yarn snob (I have more acrylic than anything else) I have come to appreciate the higher end yarns and have started to but them, but usually just for hoarding purposes. haven't made anything with them yet, except two small projects. I'm in love with indie dyers now mainly because of the colors - that's what attract me to a yarn first...

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  16. I love this post! Thank you so much! I would LOVE a post on your favorite acrylic yarns! :)

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  17. I love your post! Well said. I use a lot of acrylic myself. Some of the really good ones are so nice to work with.

    Thank you for visiting my blog today, and Ray wanted you to know that he does ship internationally.

    Yes, I'm an enabler. Why do you ask? ;-)

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  18. Forgot to mention, Acrylic can be blocked. (A myth that it can't still persists-sigh). It has to be steam blocked, not wet blocked. I've been doing it for 40 years. I wrote an article on how to do it here:

    http://beadknitter.blogspot.com/2009/03/you-can-block-acrylic.html

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  19. Seriously. Sometimes acrylic is the best choice. I think people also do not realize that there is a difference between acrylic yarns from brand to brand. There are some really nice ones out there.

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  20. Yarn snobs are big meanies :-) Acrylic (and cotton) is the only thing I can knit with for my mum, she is horribly allergic to all types of wool and even has to be careful which shampoos she buys incase they have lanolin in them! I like acrylic as I can knit stuff for my six year old without worrying about it getting destroyed at school - and I don't mind quite as much when he comes home with one less glove!

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  21. Eh, you can be a yarn snob without being a big meanie (present company included). I knit a giant blanket out of acrylic, and we can't use it because we seem to be inhaling fibers and hacking up yarn wads every time we're under it. I think I got pretty jaded after that...but I'm also not knitting for babies/kids and would use acrylic for them in a heartbeat.

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  22. I love you. I am not a yarn snob. I will knit with anything. In fact, In my experience, I've usually been disappointed by the yarns that most yarn snobs seem to love.

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Thanks ! I love comments :-)