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.  😀

We Fell Out … But Is It The End? Me & Acrylic Yarn …

Everyone who knows me knows that I’ve always made space in my stash for the dreaded acrylic yarn.  Making space for acrylic is a sometimes hot button topic in the crafty world primarily because of the unnatural nature of acrylic and how it’s produced.  But one of the, if not the greatest selling points of using acrylic, is wash-ability aka the “many non crafters don’t care to hand wash so let’s use acrylic” reason.  Then there’s the price point.  Need I say more?  Added to those, it’s come a long way and is now softer than your grammy’s old Red Heart,  and there’s more variety than ever before.  So what’s the problem?

In my earlier, not so discriminating days as a knitter, the only thing I thought of was colour.  There was absolutely no concept of fiber, how to match particular weights with projects, none ah dat!  All I lived for in the early days was  … “ooooooo pretty!!”   Needless to say, I have a cruise ship worth of acrylic, and no tan lines or hot pool boy to show for it!  😀

Recently, I was commissioned to make some boot cuffs.  I picked a lovely pattern, then I got started.   By the time I got to the the second cable repeat, I smelled gasoline.  So much so, while I talking to my mom on the phone, she suggested that I called the super of my building to have him investigate.  Yes, that’s how much it smelled.  It’s a good thing I didn’t.  I kept smelling that gasoline smell, then my hands started to itch.  Then my face, then inside my mouth.  I got up to wash my hands then realised that it was the yarn that smelled like gasoline.  I’d actually thought it was the heating radiator in my apt. My mom thought I should toss that suckah asap, but nooooooooooooooo, I had to finish the project because I didn’t have yarn in the requested colour other than for this single skein.  So I plugged on, finished the project then ditched the rest of the yarn.   The boot cuffs turned out beautifully but I had to ask myself — when is enough, enough?    I don’t consider myself a yarn snob and I do believe that acrylic has it’s place, but honestly, after all that drama, I really just feel like sticking to natural fibers only or at the very least, acrylic blended with natural fiber.   If I do that, what do I do with the acrylic I have?  What do I do with the acrylic I have and like?

What’s your take?  Do you use acrylic yarn?  Do you think that the rest of the cruise ship load is worth keeping?

While you answer me, here’s a picture of the boot cuffs.  They turned out really nice despite me almost ripping my skin off from the itching.  😀

Boot Ready II

Boot Ready

Pattern: Up On Top

Designer: Bruggadung

My Ravelry Page: You Almost Killed Me!

Mods: None