Sunday, October 29, 2006

A snob is born - OR - Why acrylic is like poison on fire

Sometimes it takes more than one mistake to learn a lesson. Take for instance, the way I feel about wasabi. I love sushi, but I hate wasabi. Every now and then I need to taste it to remind myself - oh yeah! It tastes like poison on fire! And so I found with my knitting; acrylic yarn has finally gone the way of wasabi. Allow me to explain:

When I first began knitting again as an adult, I was eager to pick up cheap fibre whenever possible. On my many thrift store excursions, I managed to find plenty of perfectly good, knit-able yarn. (Once I even found angora!) I understood from the beginning that natural fibres were superior to synthetic, but that didn't stop me from buying blends. So, when I found four matching skeins of bulky black 75% acrylic 25% wool for $2.99, I thought - why not? It contains some wool, how bad can it be? Oh, silly, naive knitter - how had I not known? First, let me refer you to a previous post of mine, ("Look Ma! I'm Done") when I said:

3) Cheaping out isn't worth it in the long run. Natural fibres are worth every penny.

Hmmm. This point got lost somewhere between that post, and last evening when I dragged out the chunky black yarn and decided to finally put it to use. My looming Clapotis deadline, combined with the boredom of project monogamy drove me to dig through stash. Like any (in)sane knitter faced with a deadline, I did the only logical thing: I started a new project. I wanted to knit a simple black shrug and I didn't care what people thought! Acrylic couldn't be all that bad! I've got tones of commercially manufactured sweaters made from synthetics. I liked those. Besides, I can't always spend $100 on luxury yarn every time I want to knit a sweater! Nay-sayers be damned! I was going to use my acrylic!

Three gauge swatches later I held the first few rows of knitting in disgust. No matter how much I tried to convince myself it was just snobbery, I was totally dissatisfied with the stitches on my needles. The yarn was squeaky. It was oddly shiny. It didn't slide across my needles properly. What was I thinking? I began to have visions of wearing the finished sweater in front of other knitters. I realized I would actually be embarrassed to have knit a whole garment out of something so unpleasant. And that's the clincher really. The chunky black acrylic yarn that I had kept in my stash for so long was unpleasant to work with. Why would I want to spend hours knitting with something that didn't make me happy?

So, (finally) a lesson learned:

3) Cheaping out isn't worth it in the long run. Natural fibres are worth every penny.

Too bad. I guess this just means I'll have to go yarn shopping...tee-hee!



Jason Myles said...

I'm with you on the sushi/wasabi thing but not the acrylic yarn thing.

laura said...

There are definitely cheap, natural fibre yarns available (; and I've tried a lot of them. They're fine, especially for enlightening younger or people with less money for yarn to the ways of wool and alpaca, but still, you get what you pay for.

And if you're going to spend 40 hours knitting a sweater, it should be out of something beauuutiful!

fibersnob said...

Welcome to the dark side...LOL