Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns

The Worst and the Best:   2KCBWDAY1
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The Prompt:  Day One:  A Tale of Two Yarns.
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

As Oscar Wilde famously said, "My tastes are simple:  I like only the best." Similarly, I love organic fibers and intensely dislike synthetics. To be more specific, I love alpaca, cashmere, very fine merinos, and yarns that blend animal fiber with silk, such as Noro Silk Garden. I truly loathe acrylics.

A Diatribe Contra Acrylic Yarn
This doesn't mean that I don't knit acrylic or acrylic-blend yarn. Every so often I make something for a friend who is allergic to animal fiber, or for a child whose parents want the machine-washability of acrylic. I generally don't enjoy knitting plant fibers like cotton or linen because of their inelastic nature, and often my wool-allergic friends desire something warm, like socks or mittens, for which cotton wouldn't be suitable. Possibly you are wondering why, if acrylics benefit some people, I don't I like them. It is true that synthetic yarns have improved in quality since the 1960s, when I began knitting. Back then they were really grotesque. However, when I knit an acrylic, I am again reminded of its drawbacks. They are, even in the 21st century
  • inelastic
  • shreddy
  • plastic-feeling
  • and they have a weird sheen. 
Having said this, I will proffer an illustration of something I knitted partly with acrylic:

Tom Turkey's tail feathers are from a scary L*** Brand acrylic I found at my favorite store, Ocean State Job Lot. I used it to make a pair of hiking socks for a wool-allergic person, all the time thinking how sad it was that I couldn't knit the socks in merino.

A Valentine to Alpaca Yarns, in All Their Permutations
There are so many beautiful natural fiber yarns in the world, and there are so many distinctive kinds of yarn, that I could rhapsodize forever about their fabulous qualities. Frequently I've shared with readers of this blog images of beautiful yarns I've found in my travels, so for the fun of it you can page backwards and gander at the photos. As my gentle readers may also know, I have a seriously huge stash of yarn, the existence of which H thinks is symptomatic of some kind of personality disorder. (Side-note: my recent visits to LYS in Los Angeles gave me an idea for organizing the stash that I will put into action gradually, with the hope of eliminating some of the chaos of my store-room.) 

As only one example of what I deem to be a completely lovable yarn, I'll draw your attention to a skein I own (one of two) of handpainted Misti Alpaca Baby Suri Silk.  The fiber content is 80% Baby Suri Alpaca, 20% Silk. Each skein is 218 yards. I haven't yet decided what to knit from it (it's DK weight), and would welcome suggestions.

Here's the crux of my argument--if you're going to invest all the time and effort necessary to knit something lovely, why wouldn't you want to use the best and most beautiful yarns you can find? There's a lot to be said for honoring one's handiwork with a complementary fiber.

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