It's Itchy! A Tale of Two Yarns - 2KCBWDAY1

What does my tale of two yarns have to do with the title of this post? Well, a lot. My family is plagued by sensitive skin. You’ll find nary a fragranced body wash, lotion or clothes detergent in my household and this sensitivity also applies to fiber. Not just wool, but any number of things can cause itchiness, non-wool fiber like linen or even man-made clothing that has an unfortunate placing of elastic or a ruffle. And it’s like pulling teeth to get my daughter, while wearing a skirt, to put on the softest pair of tights in the dead of winter. Even I am susceptible to such skin discomfort, so naturally that means I have to be very careful when selecting yarn when knitting for my family and myself.

Enter the world of acrylic yarn. Acrylic is often frowned upon amongst knitters and I can understand why. It’s cheap, squeaks on the needles, doesn’t block well and isn’t very breathable. Plus, with the internet and off season sales at one’s LYS a knitter can find many ways to purchase natural fibers at a great price, so why not go for the better quality. Not to mention there is natural non-wool yarn a plenty but shall we go back to the $30 hat for my daughter? Non-wool yarns can get expensive as well, and the thought of a hat being balled up on the floor, lost, thrown amongst dirty clothes, or splurging only to find out that it still itches my mother (she’s the itchiest of us all), brings me back to less expensive acrylic as a great option.

But I digress; this is a tale of two yarns. I chose two from a company famous for acrylic, work horse, inexpensive yarn in a million colors and quite a few brands, Coats and Clark’s Red Heart line, wanting to focus on the two opposite ends of the spectrum because I loved one and hated the other and yes, I used the word hate.

Red Heart Soft True to the name this yarn is soft has a nice drape and subtle sheen. The stitch definition is pretty good and as with all 100% acrylic yarns you can just throw it in the wash (which is great for those above mentioned hats and other items that I’ve found way, way under the dear daughter’s bed, you know where the dust bunnies live or for a baby/toddler when you know the item is going to get grubby.)

Red Heart Super Saver Yuck! Just yuck! My very first yarn purchase outside of my LYS; having to purchase yarn from the store to go with my class projects (they pretty much only carry mid to higher end yarns as most LYS do). I figured was advanced enough in my knitting skills to buy my own yarn; I was going to buy something that wasn’t expensive and knit a scarf for a couple of bucks instead of fifteen, “I’ll show you LYS and your required yarn purchases!!!!” A skein in a purple variegated colorway caught my eye, I snatched it up and took it home ready to start my first non-class project. As I unraveled the yarn I immediately noticed how scratchy it felt, surely it wouldn’t past the itchiness test, but I cast on anyway. Yup, it squeaked, which I could have dealt with as I do now, but I was also using bamboo needles and talk about sticky! Those stitches would barely move down the needle and the yarn just felt too artificial, it was as if I could feel the plastic, the chemicals used to make the fiber and it grossed me out completely. I've heard that this yarn is great for afghans, that it gets softer after its washed, but I'll never know...I haven't picked up that skein since I frogged the two rows I knit with it. (But it was actually in my stash for notstalgia sake until recently.)

There are so many options if you’re looking for less expensive yarns, non-wool yarns, even if you frequent the chain stores you can find many acrylic blends with soy, silk or cotton that are pretty nice to use if you’re itchy like us. Not that I only knit with this kind of yarn (ask Jimmy Beans Wool). I’ve had the fortune to knit with more expensive cotton, I can handle wearing some superwash merino for socks, a few wool blends aren’t that bad for a few of us in the family and I’ve had the pleasure of knitting for others without any fiber-related issues, using wonderful, yummy and more expensive yarns. So even with some of my fiber-related challenges I can be amongst the knitters of this world in their adoration of yarn.


CrochetBlogger said...

Love your post for Knit and Crochet Blog Week (which I'm also participating in this year!) I used that exact color of Red Heart Supersaver to make a dress and I liked the basic idea of the dress but thought it would work better with a different yarn. Perhaps the bottom one in the picture of the Red Heart Soft would make a good substitute?

iggystar said...

It's possible that the Red Heart Soft would work very well. Or even another acrylic. It seems that Red Heart Super Saver is a favorite amongst crocheters. I'm just starting to crochet so I might have to ventrue back to it one day, but for knitting, I don't think so.

I wonder how Caron yarns compare to Red Heart Super Saver? My first crocheted afghat will be out of that instead.

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