Yarn Choices-Can You Avoid Acrylic Without Spending a Fortune?

Yarn Choices

Unbreathable acrylic Tunisian wrap

Am I the only one frustrated when making yarn choices? As I pick up pattern books from local libraries, I learn more and more from the yarn experts. For example, they suggest choosing a blended yarn with at least twenty-five percent of each thread, whether wool, acrylic or cotton.–at ten percent content you won’t get the benefits and/or attributes of the yarn. Often when you try a new project, you cannot find the yarn mentioned in the pattern, let alone the color combination that you want. Why is it so difficult to make yarn choices?

Acrylic is cheap, but it is also hot and doesn’t breathe. It pills and often doesn’t come in anything but worsted weight (#4). If you want your clothes to have better drape and just plane look better on you, than you need to go to a thinner yarn. Even when a yarn is blended, I refuse to pay a premium price when 50% or more of it is acrylic.

Most people go to the big three U.S. chain craft/hobby companies for their yarn. Have you noticed they are introducing more blends, even though acrylic still prevails? Independent yarn shops, that cater more to knitters than crocheters, must be making some in roads if the Big Three are making changes. I’m at the point even as a crocheter to pay a little more to get better choices. To make something and have people admire it is the ultimate compliment. That is difficult to do with heavy, worsted weight yarns.

Baby weight yarns (#3) would work, except that they are also 100% acrylic. In addition, they come in a lot of pastels that are great on babies, but not necessarily the first choice for adults. Sock weight yarns usually contain 25% nylon, which is very durable and warm and a perfect choice for socks, but not for breathable vests or sweaters.

The lighter the yarn weight the more yarn you will need­the more yarn, the more cost, the more cost, the more frustration. At what point are you being foolish for buying $80 worth of yarn and investing countless hours to make something that you might find in a store for less? If you can find yarn that costs you less than $80 for whatever you are making, are you willing to spend that much or more to make yourself something special? That’s assuming the yarn shop has enough of what you want in stock.

How about a 50-50 blend of a synthetic and a man made? Something with the lightness and elasticity of wool, but the strength of nylon? Something that doesn’t itch, doesn’t wrinkle and you aren’t afraid to eat with it on? How about something I can throw in the wash, like all my other clothes? I’m willing to spend a little more on better quality yarn, if it comes in a variety of colors, it doesn’t shrink and it will hold up over time.

Alas, that is why acrylic is still popular and why many yarn crafters make quick turnaround items with it. Nicer yarns require a greater investment that is difficult to justify to buyers, who are used to inexpensive, mass-produced clothes made of polyester and acrylic or cheap handmade items at craft shows. It’s a tough problem without an affordable solution, as yet. The closest company to answer all these concerns is a place called Yarnia. It used to have a storefront in Portland, but is now only online. The shipping costs (and an over abundance of stash yarn) are preventing me from purchasing just now, but I will keep an eye on them for future large projects and encourange you to take a look. The frustration in yarn choices continues.

To Do in Littleton Colorado

To Do in Littleton ColoradoBack in March my husband and I stopped in at what used to be a tea shop at 5610 S Curtice Street in Littleton. We were seeking something to do close to home and there is a lot to do in Littleton Colorado.

The renovated tea shop is has had a few walls removed with updated lighting and less fru-fru tables and chairs. Gracefull Community Cafe serves affordable meals. There you can have a healthy $5 breakfast or $8 lunch. If you think you are getting a deal, you can pay it forward and give a little extra for the next person, who may be on a fixed income. Don’t be shy, the food is good and there are many other good things to explore in the area. They close at 2 pm. Littleton is a happening place with lots of fun shops and eateries. I recommend the chai-flavored chocolate at the Chocolate Therapist. Better yet, join up for one of their taste testings and see which flavor you like best.

Elsewhere, you can check out Littleton’s City Events & Meetings on their website calendar. Drive through Main Street downtown and read the overhead banners to see what is happening each weekend. If you have time or find yourself waiting for a table, check out the General Store. It has lots of unique gift ideas that could take you a while to look through. Luckily they are open late, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

Bemis Library, the Littleton History Museum, Hudson Botanical Gardens (that you can bike to), and the Depot Gallery add a little something for everyone, whether indoors or out. The 6  plays per year held at the Town Hall Arts Center are quite good and reasonably priced. Look for the book sales at Bemis throughout the year and musical summer guests at Hudson Gardens. The latter also does Christmas lights that are fun if you’re suffering from cabin fever or the blues associated with holiday shopping There is even putt-putt golf and across the busy  street of Belleview enter another jurisdiction/town to cool off at Englewood’s Pirate’s Cove and Belleview Park’s train ride and petting zoo.

Hiking and Exploring the Las Vegas Area

Hiking and Exploring the Las Vegas Area

Ice Box Canyon

Since neither my husband nor I have ever been, we went hiking and exploring the Las Vegas area. As if we need an excuse to do some hiking, we were able to visit both Red Rock Canyon (not to be confused with Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheater) and in the Valley of Fire State Park. The most fun part of the trip was hiking in Red Rock Canyon and the superb cactus garden at the Ethel Mars Chocolate factory in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson. Henderson was already on my list, because one of my spice book customers Sheffield Spice Shop has a spice shop there. I found some new blends (the fajita seasoning really enhances turkey burgers, Cheryl) and found the perfect light-weight, metal water bottle.

We got up early one morning to beat the heat and the crowds and scrabbled along the rocky trail to Ice Box Canyon in Red Rock Canyon Park. It was an out and back hike totaling 2.5 miles, but climbing around the boulders was plenty of exercise and like a playground for adult kids. Although there is no longer a waterfall in the canyon, we were able to admire the smooth rock formations that had been carved into the cool ending point of our trail. Just the shadows themselves hint at a waterfall.

My husband later tried his hand at the atlatl, an ancient hand-catapult for throwing spears further. The local park service folks were giving a demonstration.

As far as the city of Las Vegas and its accompanying gambling, we loved the Bellagio fountain performance on the strip and, of course, the people watching. Putting on a mask and costume gives one a little more courage to let the alter-ego escape for a moment of unfettered freedom. Those not wearing masks can freely play the voyeur.

Fremont Street was much seedier, a bit creepy and from a safety aspect not to be seen solo. We did enjoy the two-decker Container Stores in actual truck-like trailers there and the overhead zipline. People watching reminded me of going to a strip show at Halloween. You couldn’t escape the smoke in either gambling location, though. The airport was about the only place to gamble smoke-free.

Like Phoenix, Las Vegas is in the dessert with few trees other than palms planted there over the years. Denver’s semi-arid climate is much more lush, but the cactus garden in Henderson was worth the visit for any nature lover and a quiet oasis from the gambling fever. Say hi to Cheryl Sheffield if you go there and check out my spice book.