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.


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