Just a Whine

I’m sorely tempted to buy some yarn on clearance at Knit Picks. I do have a project in mind for this yarn, but it would be awhile before I could get to it. I’d put sleeves on it, of course, but the yarn is $1.99 a ball. Any of the three clearance colors would be fine. In fact, I’d probably lean more towards the purple.

There was a big thread over at the KH forums about Red Heart Super Saver and how someone didn’t like it. And it evolved into the whole yarn snob/it has it’s place/I hate it/I’m on a budget/yadda yadda yadda…

I don’t like RHSS. Not because it’s cheap yarn and not because it’s acrylic yarn, but because I don’t like to work with it. I don’t like how it feels when I handle it. I have a UFO Doctor Who scarf that my husband hangs onto because he wants one so bad and he’s patiently waiting for me to get the rest of the yarn I need to start over again.

But do I think that this makes me a yarn snob? No. Just because I don’t particularly like a certain brand of yarn doesn’t mean I’m a snob. Why should I have to work with something I don’t like because I have to prove to someone with a chip on their shoulder about using RHSS that I’m not a yarn snob? To me, it’s neither practical nor very budget savvy to spend money on yarn I don’t like to use. How am I saving money if this yarn sits in a bag?

One of my wish list items to make is an afghan. Sometimes it pains me to see a ball of yarn in a color that I think is very pretty, only to find out that it’s one of those brands of yarn that I don’t like to use. I guess I’ll keep looking for the right yarn I can afford.

There are three factors that go into my decision to buy yarn:

  1. Practicality– What will I be using this yarn for? Am I or whomever the intended recipient willing to hand wash an item? Is it going to end up taking a lot of abuse? Is the item going to be wearable? Are they allergic to certain fibers? If I were going to knit an afghan for someone, I would lean more towards an acrylic or an acrylic blend because those yarns can take a lot of abuse and can be washed in the washing machine. If I were going to knit socks for someone, I would probably lean more towards natural fibers because natural fibers breathe and are warmer on the feet. If I were knitting something for a baby, I would again go for the acrylic/acrylic blend because of ease of care and wool is too scratchy on their skin.
  2. Price-Price is a big thing, too. I look for the biggest bang for my buck, either quality wise or price wise. I can’t conceive spending a couple hundred dollars on something like Rowan yarn to knit an afghan. If the yarn called for in the pattern is out of my budget, I will look for a comparable substitute that gives me the gauge called for in the pattern.
  3. The Project- Rarely do I go out and spend money on yarn without a specific project in mind. I did last summer at the state fair, though, and I think I found something to knit with that. Sometimes I will walk out of a yarn store with sock yarn when I just intended to in and get my yarn fix. This may be very anal on my part, but I will do my homework on yarn and possible substitutes for the yarn specified in the pattern before I even walk into a yarn store or go to Knit Picks. (If anyone ever wondered if Ravelry would be of any use for them, this is one reason why. It gives you the resources to do your homework on yarn/patterns/etc before buying anything). I will figure out how much I actually need and how much that will cost me and how much I am willing to spend on it. If the project is something I will do down the road, then I will figure out how long it will take me to save up the money to get a particular yarn.

I would never, ever, ever look down upon someone who knits with RHSS or any other acrylic yarn, whether it’s because they’re on a budget or because they like it. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean that it’s bad or that I think that someone is less of a knitter because they use it. It means that I don’t like it and I’m not going to use it.
I also don’t think it’s condescending to say that RHSS or any other acrylic “has it’s place”, either. This goes back to practicality. I sure as heck would not knit an animal bed or cat toy with Malabrigo yarn, would you? I also wouldn’t knit baby items out of wool (cotton maybe since that’s pretty durable and can go into the wash), either. I wouldn’t knowingly knit anything out of animal fibers if the intended recipient had allergies to certain fibers. I think that part of the thoughtfulness of going through the work and making something for someone else is also taking into consideration how it’s going to be used. If I were going to knit an afghan for my sister, I would also take into consideration the fact that she has little kids and a dog when choosing the material. That afghan would probably end up getting dog hair on it or food. It will probably get dragged around by the kids or the dog will probably end up wearing it (thanks to the kids). Knowing that, I would choose material that is going to stand up to that and last for a long time.

My son now wants a pair of socks. I’m mulling over the material to use for that because I’ve seen what becomes of his store bought socks. I have a feeling that any hand knit socks for him will get worn out fairly quickly, but he’s also got athlete’s foot and acrylic will make his feet sweat, which he doesn’t need. So this is something that I have to think about carefully before picking out material.

I guess, in the end though, does it really matter who knits with what? What you choose to use doesn’t make you superior to everyone else nor does it make you inferior to everyone else, either.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Annie Snyder
    Oct 29, 2007 @ 17:16:16

    Hi Ann,

    I enjoyed this “Just a Whine” blog on types of yarn. I’ve been crocheting for about two years now and my favorite projects are afghans for family members. I usually use Red Heart Super Saver yarn because my local department store always has a huge selection of it and the price is comfortable for buying the large quantities needed for an afghan. Just recently, however, I think I’ve developed an allergy either to the acrylic or something the yarn is treated with. I will sneeze when I start to work on my project and my tongue will start to burn. Isn’t that strange? Have you ever heard of someone being allergic to acrylic yarn? Also, do you recommend somehow washing the yarn before beginning the project in case its something that’s used to treat the yarn?

    Many thanks,
    Annie Snyder

  2. msannomalley
    Oct 29, 2007 @ 20:08:33

    Annie,

    I’ve heard of people being allergic to acrylic yarn, but I don’t know anyone that well who is. I’ve heard it recommended, but I’ve never tried it myself, soaking RHSS in conditioner to soften it. I suppose if you wanted to experiment, you could try washing the yarn first to see what happens. I would think that the results wouldn’t be any different than if you did a gauge swatch and washed that.

    I’ve got my eye on an afghan pattern I’d like to try and knit, and I’m considering doing it in Hobby Lobby’s, “I Love This Yarn”. It didn’t feel rough like the RHSS and it’s also cheaper than the RHSS. I’ll have to pick some up and knit something with it to see how it knits up. People who’ve used that have said favorable things about it.

    –Ms. Ann