Monday, 28 March 2011

KnitCroBlo Week - Day 1

The 2nd Annual KnitCroBlo Week is finally here! Are you excited? I sure as hell am. I’m no stranger to linking blog posts to form a little posting party, we do it on here every week with our WIP Wednesday and FO Friday posts. But KnitCroBlo is much, much bigger than that. Tami’s linky parties have up to 30 regular participants. KnitCroBlo should hit hundreds of blogs, right across the world.

Enough of the preamble! Let’s dive right in to today’s blogging topic: A Tale of Two Yarns. Which neatly ties in to last year’s Day 7 topic: What a Yarn.

Yarn. It’s a funny word, isn’t it? Growing up in the UK, I have a tendency to call it all “wool”, even though I now know that is massively incorrect. Of course “wool” is only yarn made from sheep fleece. Ravelry has opened my eyes to the huge array of materials yarn can be made from, both natural and man-made.

Budgetary concerns have kept me at the low-end of the yarn market so far. The vast majority of my projects made to date have been made from acrylic yarns (or blends with 50% or more acrylic fiber). There’s a lot of talk and opinion about acrylic yarns. I encountered the term “yarn snob” in the Ravelry forums, meaning a person who only uses expensive, natural fibers and turns their nose up at acrylics regardless. Then there are folks like me, who are happy to hook with the cheap stuff, and love it for its machine wash- and dry-ness. It’s great for baby stuff, and for amigurumi too. It comes in fantastic bright colours, which do not fade. It is warm. Very warm. And did I mention cheap?

My 100% acrylic of choice so far has been Sirdar Bonus DK. It’s £1.90 per 100g in Hobbycraft, and comes in a wonderful array of rainbow-bright shades. Where else could I find the eye-wateringly garish orange I used in my tiger striped starghan?

How else could I afford to attempt such an ambitiously sized project as my enormous granny rectangle afghan? I’ve had a go at calculating how much yarn I have used/will use for this project, it’s something like 2 balls of each colour, plus probably 4 balls of black by the time I am done. The total cost of this blanket is going to be less than £30. I couldn’t afford the yardage needed in a natural fiber.

one of these days I'll take a new photo of this

Not forgetting of course the number of small ami’s I’ve made using acrylics. Or the charitable crocheting I’ve been able to do using my lovely, cheap yarn.

I have been branching out, and made a number of projects in other yarns, notably Wendy Happy sock yarn (a bamboo mix) and the King Cole sock yarn (wool/nylon mix). But I am yet to step up to the heady heights of a pure merino, or cashmere, or alpaca.

I do have lofty yarn aspirations though. I hear a lot, in the Ravelry yarn forum, about some of the more popular “posh” yarns. The name Malabrigo comes up a lot, in particular the Malabrigo Lace yarn, 100% pure baby merino wool from particular sheep bred in Uruguay. There are over 13,000 projects loaded to the Ravelry database using this yarn. It has an average of 4.5/5 stars from user ratings. It is a very light weight, ideal for lace projects, as demonstrated by the many lace shawls knit using this yarn on Ravelry.

See how beautiful it is!
This pic belongs to Ravelry user LindaLovesLace

This pic is ElaynaKnits's
Gorgeous stuff. However, I am scared to try it, because I have also been reading that it felts really quickly, even with just light wear, and possibly even when you’re still working on it. My hands get very hot when I work on my crochet, so I’m terrified of spending upwards of £10 per skein on this yarn for it to be ruined even before I finish the project. Perhaps I will have to knit this yarn, instead of crocheting it. That might save me some problems.

There’s also the fact that “posh” yarns like this can’t be machine washed. Hand-washing is not something that  gets done very often in my house, and I don’t really have the space to lay things out to dry flat. So I don’t want to spend all that money on yarn to make an item that I will only use until it needs washing the first time, at which point it would get shoved to the back of a cupboard and forgotten about.

I have heard equally nice things about Knit Picks yarns, with the added bonus of more exclusivity in the UK, as only Great British Yarns stock it here. It’s also cheaper than the Malabrigo. But the Knit Picks Shadow lace yarn I’ve been eyeing up (only £7 a skein) is also 100% baby merino, so wouldn’t that have exactly the same issues as the Malabrigo?

There is so much to learn about these different yarns. I can see the only real way I’m going to find these things out is to take the plunge, buy some, and see what happens. I have a rather nice shawl pattern in my Ravelry queue, which I’m thinking the Knit Picks Shadow will be perfect for. Perhaps I will treat myself on my birthday!

Jane Austen shawl by yarnishness in Malabrigo Lace

Jane Austen shawl by Arianabeads in Knit Picks Gloss Lace

Don’t forget, this post is part of KnitCroBlo Week, search in Google for “2KCBWDAY1” to find and read the rest of the bloggersphere’s contributions to today’s topic!


  1. I agree there's definitely a place for acrylic, particularly for items that get heavy use and need to be easy care such as baby things. Also there's no way I'd be hand washing and pinning out a blanket, I wouldn't have the room if I had the patience and it would never dry in our house!

    Your projects in acrylic look great, I love Sirdar Yarn generally, particularly their snuggly DK and 4ply for baby things which is a blend of acrylic and nylon and lives up to it's name very well.

    I look forward to the rest of your blog week posts.


  2. I find Hobbycraft to be expensive but i do agree with the acrylic, its lush xxx

  3. I used to stubbornly call it all wool until I leanrt how many different fibres there are out there, yarn still feels very American though. Acrylic can be great, as you say it is cheap and machine washable, I do like natural fibres too, but still only admire some the really expensive ones from afar (one day, when I am not a student maybe!)

  4. I have used both the sock and the lace weight Malabrigo and neither felted, however I can see how the lace would, as it is less tightly spun than the sock. One of the good things about knitting shawls, is that they don't need washing very often and they tend to dry really quickly. I definitely think you will love Malabrigo, but I would probably try the sock weight first.

  5. For some yarns, Hobbycraft is very expensive. But I've not seen the "cheap" yarns much cheaper elsewhere. Although I did find another shop in town selling Patons Fab DK acrylic for £1.50 a ball, so perhaps my love of cheap acrylic will switch from Sirdar to Patons in the future!

  6. I shall have to do some more browsing of the Rav database, in that case, and see what comes up looking lovely in the sock weight instead! Although I'm sure I could use it for most of what's in my queue already. Not that I need more excuses to spend the day trawling the project pages on Ravelry!

  7. My boyfriend laughed at me the first time I corrected him and said "you should call it yarn, actually, not wool" and now he stubbonly refuses to use the word yarn and insists on calling it all wool. You're right, it does feel very American!

  8. Ah yes the great time suck that is Rav. We've all done it, wasted entire
    weekends looking for something and getting so distracted we lose track of
    what we were originally looking for!

  9. Hurray for the acrylic love! And what a great post to start off your blog week - still putting the finishing touches to mine. Looking forward to reading your other posts :)

    Much love,

  10. I confess to cheating a small amount - I wrote this post some time last week. I've already written and scheduled the rest, apart from Day 5 which isn't quite done yet. I'm just too busy to even consider doing them on the day every day!

  11. The giant star afghan colors look like you really like the Chicago Bears (go Bears!). I'm not too impressed with Malabrigo...not quite sure what all the fuss is about.

  12. Ms C@HappyElastic28 March 2011 at 17:24

    I don't mind people calling it wool, the downside is it makes it really hard to search for what you want on Ebay as it's all called wool!

    Love the big granny blanket.

  13. xxxmckingbirdxx28 March 2011 at 17:27

    The penguin with the santa hat is so cute I love it. And I loved the tiger blanket. So cute XD

  14. Hi, just found your lovely blog through KCBW, looking forward to your posts this week!

  15. I use my acrylic for amiguramis too. Yours are very cute! I hope you get to experience some of the finer yarns...alpaca is a particular favorite...

  16. I think it's so funny when people call it wool. I never correct them, I aint no yarn snob :)

  17. That is one awesome, starghan and rockin' granny afghan. One can't tell from your pics that they're pure acrylic. Whatever works for you, you know? I'm a big fan of Malabrigo's merino worsted but yes, it really pills. I've switched to its superwash. I find I'm a hybrid knitter, using yarns from all over the spectrum. I'm currently knitting up a baby blanket and had to go economical; the yarn's super soft to the touch and who knows if the baby will be allergic to wool as it's all acrylic and nylon. Good for you on standing by your yarn.


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