On Being Honest …

I think all knitters go through what I’m going through right now though some get there way faster than me but hey … better late than never right?  LOL!   The thing is, it’s not that I didn’t know before what I’m about to share but I’m going to share anyway.   I’ve decided this year I was going to really take my knitting and craft learning seriously.  I want to craft better and that takes practice, research and honesty.   The first two things are self explanatory, you can’t get better at anything if you don’t practice and in order to keep up with trends, techniques and instruction, research (plus willingness to learn) plays a huge part.  But honesty … what’s that got to do with anything?  Let me explain …

I started a hat for a friend.  Her birthday is next Friday (2.27) and I promised her this hat since last winter.  I wanted to finish it by this weekend, make some bath scrub and put together a birthday basket of those in addition to some blueberry muffins I also promised her.  Knowing that I don’t have much time (why I wait until the last minute is another post),  I started the hat two nights ago.  I was on tap to finish everything but of course, like every good knitter, I decided to check my work.  It looked nice but on further investigation, almost all the cable crosses had gigantic holes close to them.  See Exhibit 1:

Know Your Fiber I

I know holes are normal with cable crossings but not this size — my pinky could fit through these!!!  But if I was honest before I started, I would have admitted that the yarn I picked was a mistake.  It had absolutely no stretch, no breathe-ability.  There was no bounce to the yarn so of course, there was no blooming or stretchability to help hide these holes.  It had to happen that way because the yarn is acrylic!  If I were honest, I would have admitted before I started that there was no way I could get what I wanted out of this “fiber” — quotation marks in order cause we all know acrylic is soft plastic.   And that’s what I mean about honesty.  If I was honest that my “fiber” choice wasn’t the best fit, I would not have now been looking for something that’s more appropriate.  A project that should have been done already has to be restarted.

Which brings me to my next revelation.  If you’ve read this blog long enough you’ll know that  I’ve always kept a place in my stash for acrylic yarn.  But as of last night, I’ve packed up most of it.  Between the allergic reaction in December and this current fiasco, I’m giving my acrylic a timeout or maybe even a big toss.   I still believe it works for some things, but increasingly, as my crafting improves, I find that I don’t want to work with it so much anymore.   There I said it.  I’m not a yarn snob, I don’t have to have every fancy schmancy yarn that’s out there on the market but I find that as my craft improves, I want to work with more natural fibers.  If I do work with acrylic, from now on, it’s going to be with blends — acrylic and wool or acrylic and some other natural fiber.  I have some blends in my stash and I’ve kept those from the chopping block.

I wasn’t sure what I’m going to do with all the acrylic I’ve amassed over the years, but tomorrow, there’s going to be a big toss out. I think the only non-blends I’ll keep are my Caron Soft, my Lionbrand Thick n Quick and my Knit Picks Brava.  Sounds like a lot, but it’s not.  It’s enough to keep me stocked after I give the rest away.   I’ll look on Ravelry for some charity that’s willing to take the giveaway lot but I’m done.  While super-wash wool has been getting a bad rep around yarn blog-sphere lately, that will be my go to choice for items (personal or gifts) where either the recipient might not want to hand-wash or it’s just not feasible.  As warm it might be, I will NEVER make a blanket in 100% wool or any fiber I have to hand wash.  Never.

In the meantime, I took a break from my acrylic saga and dyed these two beauties.   The fiber is 100% merino for both — the orange one done with acid dye and the light brown with natural dye extract from the Cutch tree.

Know Your Fiber III

I’d love to know what you all think about using super-wash.  While you talk to me in the comments, I’ll be trying to find a substitute yarn for my friend’s hat.  😀

20 thoughts on “On Being Honest …

  1. Amina February 23, 2015 / 8:49 pm

    By the way keep dyeing!!! Your dyed yarn is beautiful!!!

    • Nicky February 24, 2015 / 6:41 pm

      Thank you so much Amina. ❤

  2. Preeti February 23, 2015 / 2:48 pm

    I think that once you’ve donated or tossed the yarn that you are just never going to use, you will find purpose in the stash that you have remaining. What has worked for me is buying yarn with a project in mind rather than impulse purchases. This way I can be more selective in my search. If it’s for a baby blanket that’s going to be dragged around everywhere and washed a ton, acrylic blends are a super choice!

    • Nicky February 24, 2015 / 6:48 pm

      I think once I work down some of this stash I have, project purchases will be the way for me to go.

  3. QuaintrelleNoire February 22, 2015 / 4:24 pm

    The acrylic I bought I’ve been using to knit gifts. I don’t plan on buying anymore once I exhaust this stash knitting or giving it away. I don’t have any particular dislike for acrylic. I used to buy it a lot just because of requests for large projects like blankets and it gives the most bang for your buck pricewise.

    I’m not sure if I ever knitted with any superwash wool, I’d have to check the labels. I didn’t know anything about the controversy over it.

    • Nicky February 24, 2015 / 6:50 pm

      The superwash issue is the way the wool is treated to make it washable and avoid felting. The fiber purists find it as horrible and should not be used. They dislike it as much as they dislike acrylic. I guess I’ll never be a purist. LOLOL!

  4. Andi February 21, 2015 / 6:15 pm

    I say you do what works for you. If certain acrylics aren’t “helping” your knitting then they should be gone from your stash. Quite a few schools and charities accept yarn donations. Hopefully they can find a new home.
    As far as my take on superwash, I use it and will continue. Yes, there are quite peeps out there purging their stash of anything other than 100% wool. I am not one of them, nor do I plan to be for numerous reasons.
    Your dyed yarn looks stunning!

    • Nicky February 22, 2015 / 3:15 pm

      We’re so —><— with what our stashes should look like. I felt guilty removing some of the items from my stash but that eventually passed and I know I have a stash I really, really, really love.

      Thank you for the personally dyed yarn love. I enjoy doing it and am looking forward to learning and doing more.

      • Amina February 23, 2015 / 8:47 pm

        Please don’t feel guilty about your stash! Like others said, I think you are actually being very mindful of how your yarn habits/ preferences have evolved over the years. Mindfulness was your mantra last year and what I see really is a lovely someone coming to terms that you won’t use that yarn. There is a RAK group on Ravelry as well as knitting clubs at YMCA where people might be interested to knit for charity or themselves. Your gift will be much appreciated!!! Again repeat after me, I will not feel guilty about my stash 🙂
        (coming from a very strict religious background and catholic schools, guilt has been ingrained in me for years….I can’t add yarn stash in the guilt list…but I am slowly crossing things off that list… 🙂

        • Nicky February 24, 2015 / 6:42 pm

          I’m repeating — I will not feel guilty about my stash.

          I hear you about ingrained guilt … we could probably swap stories. 😀

          • Amina February 24, 2015 / 8:56 pm

            hahahaha! Good job! Plus many said you will find new uses in your current stash. Our preferences evolve over the years so it is okay to give yarn away to someone who will appreciate it!
            Oh yes….I am telling you guilt is horrible to carry around!!!!
            Off topic: Are you going to do another mood blanket for 2015?

            • Nicky February 25, 2015 / 10:38 am

              Amina … you trying to kill me with another mood blanket? 😀 😀 😀

  5. Tracey Tims February 21, 2015 / 1:44 pm

    Last summer I bagged up all my acrylic yarn and donated it to a nursing home. While I am not a fan of acrylic, there are those who are happy with it and I felt so much better than just tossing it.
    That being said, I do see a the benefits of acrylic for those who aren’t able or won’t hand wash natural fibers. I had to go out and buy a superwash yarn when I knit my Pappaw’s sweater since he needed to be able to throw it in the wash.

    • Nicky February 22, 2015 / 3:18 pm

      I ended up with a huge box of acrylic to be donated. I’ve kept the blends and some of the softer brands that I’m currently using for blankets. I am just happy that I can bless someone who will be able and willing to use what I’ve packed up. As for gift giving, like you, I’m staying with super-wash.

  6. Nicole February 21, 2015 / 11:35 am

    One thing that’s nice about wool is how little you have to wash it. I don’t usually worry about buying superwash, but just a nice-feeling wool. What I also like are blends with nylon. The yarns wash very nice even if you wash them in a washing machine in cold water with a low spin. Sweaters I have made and bought with wool/nylon keep their shape very well!

    In general, I find Knit Picks to have yarns that knit nicer than acrylic and yet still have competitive prices! And Andean Treasure is just softer and better than any fuzzy acrylic yarn…. So that is what I do 🙂

    • Nicky February 22, 2015 / 3:23 pm

      Thank you so much for your recommendation about the wool you purchase. I totally agree, KP has a very nice selection of yarn and I have a huge amount of their lines in my stash. Even their acrylic is decent. I’ve never used Andean Treasure but I’ll keep it in mind when I get off this cold sheeping effort I’m on. 😀

  7. dwj1978 February 21, 2015 / 8:43 am

    I mainly use the Caron simply soft and then I use acrylic blends. You gotta use what you love. Superwash depends on the brand. I didn’t love how Ella Rae came out in the wash but I usually like Berroco yarns. But maybe as you dye more you’ll find more blends you love.

    • Nicky February 22, 2015 / 3:27 pm

      I agree with you 100% — we should use what we love. I’ve only tried Ella Rae once but I didn’t have to wash it. I have Cascade and Berroco for two blankets I have planned.

  8. Mlissabeth February 21, 2015 / 2:17 am

    I’ll be honest and say that I rarely use anything but acrylic. I don’t buy much of my yarn, as it is donated for the charity projects I do. I can’t really afford the real fiber, unless it is on sale, and then not very often. If you can, do it. I know nothing about the superwash yarn.

    • Nicky February 22, 2015 / 3:32 pm

      Despite the last couple of experiences I’ve had other great experiences with acrylic. So my stash would never totally be rid of it, I’m just going to be more deliberate about the brands I use.

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