Thursday, March 13, 2008

Acrylic has Cooties

When I was growing up, I only ever thought there was one kind of yarn - Red Heart acrylic. My grandmother had a big dresser full of it, and I played with it to make bracelets for my friends. I watched her knit blankets, mittens, and hats with it and crochet clowns with it. She had all the colors of the rainbow and back again in her dresser drawers. As I got older and found an interest in crocheting, I discovered that there was a whole world of yarn. In flipping through some of the forums on Ravelry, I've discovered there's a whole culture surrounding different yarns. For some it seems as though yarn is a way of life.

By no fault of my own, I have a bigger yarn stash than I ever would have thought I would have - mostly various acrylics and acrylic blends of various ages. I've never found fault with acrylic yarn, but have discovered of late that there are a whole lot of people who are anti-acrylic. Most have valid reasons for not liking acrylic yarn: it irritates hands, it's made of petroleum based stuff and isn't good for the environment, people don't feel it breathes the same as natural fibers, etc. But then there are a few yarn snobs out there too who just flat out discriminate against acrylic yarn and its users. One person on one of the forums I read asked for advice on making a sweater out of Red Heart Super Saver acrylic yarn, and was told:

"I can't help you because you're using acrylic. You need to get some real yarn, made from animal fibers. If you look in a zoological book, you will not find an animal named "acryl." Therefore, ask your question when you're using an animal fiber."

Wow. That's terrible! Don't get me wrong... I would love to get my hands on some more cotton yarn or maybe even some specialty yarn from a neat animal like a yak. My favorite yarn I've found so far is Paton's Classic Merino Wool. But what the heck is so bad about acrylic yarn that a few people have to become yarn snobs about it?

Acrylic yarn is affordable, softer in a lot of cases than our grandma's acrylics were, easily washed, and versatile in the projects that you can make with it. I see no real reason for the snobbery that I've recently learned about regarding acrylic yarn. At least (from what I've seen) this elitist attitude seems limited to a few select people, while most accept that people are free to use whatever yarn they feel is best for their projects and budgets. For the latter attitude, I am thankful.

Bottom Line: I don't think it matters what yarn you use. What you make with it comes from your heart. The patience and care needed to use needles, hook, or loom to put it together is worth more than what yarn is it made of or how much the yarn costs. The end results are made with love.

Acrylic vs. Wool Yarn
Acrylic Yarn thread on "Get Crafty"


Kimberly Pye said...

I wore some Red-Heart-derived socks yesterday. Ouch. Not good.

But yeah, acrylic-hating is lame. I definitely wouldn't make a sweater out of it, but it's just fine for afghans, small accessories, and toys.

Some people just want to seems cooler than they are, but inside they'll never be as happy as the acrylic-users.

Kimberly Pye said...

That's "seem." Not "seems."

(Ha! My captcha word is qpoobe!)

Anonymous said...

Seriously, there are elitist everywhere you turn. Just ignore them...or you can always play with their minds and say that you don't use "natural" yarns because you are a strict vegan and don't believe in using animal products. Ha!

Kat said...

I was laughing so hard at the expression "yarn snobs" I think I may have pulled a muscle.