View Full Version : Acrylic Yarn...

02-11-2006, 11:04 AM
I walked through Walmart and Michaels yesterday, feeling of all the yarn. I wanted something soft for a baby blanket and the selection isn't big around here.
The one I settled on was Caron Simply Soft which feels lovely to me but I noticed that it's an acrylic yarn and I feel like acrylic yarn gets a bad wrap...I got to wondering, how many people use acrylic regularly? I love a great ball of yarn, but I can't always afford the expensive stuff.

02-11-2006, 12:02 PM
For a while I only associated with squeeky knitting (it's what I used to learn to knit on bamboo and metal needles - boy it was noisy work). I really started to hate acrylic, but recently I have found some lovely yarns that are acrylic, softer than natural fibers and more practical for the receivers. My brother, for example, would NEVER hand wash an item on purpose. Most new parents do not need to worry about special wash instructions for the beautiful blanket you made for baby. Having said this, I did knit a hat for a friend recently, bough the yarn (an expensive 'Italian' acrylic) that actually had instructions for it to be hand washed only!!!

02-11-2006, 12:28 PM
I use simply soft for all my baby blankets and kids stuff. Acrylic is washable and that is the number one reason for me to use it. Kids are messy, their clothes rip easily and they tend to lose things. So good ole cheap acrylic is just thing for kids in my book. Simply soft is good. And they have bright colors too. Microspun feels good in the store but a painin the boo-tay to work with. I've also heard it makes you sweat. :shock: I stay away from the Red Heart varieties that feel like aspestos. THey do make some baby yarns that maight be good. Plymouth Encore is pretty soft and comes in a TON of colors. So yeah don't write it off outright. Use Knit Picks for cheaper wools for adults and yourself and cheaper acrylics for kids. That's my .02 :thumbsup:

02-11-2006, 12:37 PM
I don't generally use 100% acrylic anymore, but I do use Encore for any kids' clothing or anything that I want to be machine washable. Acrylic has its place, for sure, but there are so many other great yarns out there that I want to use.

02-11-2006, 01:37 PM
I think acrylic and cotton are very practical fibers because you can generally machine wash and dry them.

Unless it was something extra special (like a shawl), I would prefer not to give stuff to people that requires special washing.

For me, I don't mind soft acrylic, although the scratchy stuff is easier to knit with. ;)

If money was no object, and caring for items was no object, of course I would choose natural fibers. But, for something cheap and easy to care for, acrylic can be a godsend.

02-11-2006, 02:17 PM
well cool...I'm glad to see I'm not going to be cast aside by the knitting world for knitting with acrylic...I'm really liking this simply soft and I agree about redheart--it is really really scratchy. It still has it's place though...

02-11-2006, 02:41 PM
The simply soft stuff is great - homespun and the red-heart version baby clouds, if you don't knit too tightly do very well too. I don't like the red-heart worsted, but I don't mind the wool=ease worsted at all.

I think you need to tailor what you are using toward your end user. I agree, a new parent does not want a hand wash blanket. How many of us have seen those acryic knitted or crochet blankets that our kids literally loved and used to rags? They don't consider them scratchy at all!

02-11-2006, 05:20 PM
I don't mind wool/acrylic blends, but generally stay away from acrylic. I'll use it when making blankets, b/c they need to be machine washed. But for clothing, scarves, etc., it's generally wool or another natural fiber for me.

02-11-2006, 11:14 PM
I make almost all my stuff for kids out of either that or cotton. It is soft, affordable (with great yardage) and has a pretty sheen to it.
Having used Ingrid's washable yarn of choice (Plymouth Encore) I have to agree that I like it, it's really soft and feels great to work with, but I just can't afford the 5.75/ball (altho it is worth it!! :heart: )
If you have an AC Moore nearby, Red Heart started making a softer acrylic that is kind of a mix between Microspun and Simply Soft - but it's slightly more expensive with less yardage than Simply Soft.

02-11-2006, 11:26 PM
I use acylic and cotton basically. I have no yarn stores that sell anything else other than these both.

I have alot of acrylics that are veeery soft, very good for garments and such.

And I don't feel like spending 7$ on a 50yrd hank of natural wool when I could get something else for more that less than half the price! :oops:

02-11-2006, 11:45 PM
I must say i've never used acrylic to make a FO, my mum taught me to knit and she didn't have acrylics in her stash (but she did have a silk/linen blend destined for a sweater that i used to make a scarf with, which i had no idea was so expensive until mum saw me wearing it - she forgave me tho) (i think... :thinking: :shifty: hmmmm)
however, i am curious about the caron simply soft, it does sound nice and i don't really have the budget to knit big things out of the yarn i like

02-12-2006, 01:53 AM
i just bought simply soft for a hat and it is dreamy

02-12-2006, 10:05 AM
Personally I love to knit with natural wool. Some projects just dont look or feel right in anything less. (knitpicks has great prices)

But I have to agree with the rest of ya - acrylics are great for most projects. They cant be beat for softness (most) and easy care. Also availability is a big factor. I know I can always get more yarn of the right color if I use the readily available acrylics. But the wools? Its a nearly impossible to buy more if you dont get enough the first round (happens to us all) and I have a good long drive to nearest yarn shop. I dont want to spend 2 hours of my day to find I cant get what I need.

02-12-2006, 10:51 AM
My Mom crochets all of her stuff in acrylic (she just got some wool last night for the first time to crochet and felt a purse), so that's what I use for knitting and I like it, once it's washed once it's not scratchy at'll. I've had some blankets she made for us out of it for years and I love 'em and so do my cats. I'm glad they're mostly made out of a the Red Heart 'cause of it had cost anymore I would prolly cry when my cats played on them and got claws caught in 'em.


02-12-2006, 04:24 PM
Ok. at the risk of sounding like a total yarn snob, I have to say I generally wouldn't touch the stuff. I am a major wool fanatic and love the way it keeps me so warm and comfy. There is no doubt that I'm majorly lucky to be able to afford the wool, but I'd rather have less wool than more yarn, generally.

Having said that, I in NO WAY transfer that snobbishness to other knitters. If you want to knit with part wool, part acrylic, all acrylic, heck, all YAK hair, go for it. I just love to see people enjoy knitting.

I've only met one acrylic I like, and it's a lovely, soft yarn at Michael's. Maybe I should buy a couple of skeins and see if I like knitting with it before I dismiss wool so easily. I just hate Red Heart stuff - not my taste.

So there ya go.


02-12-2006, 04:27 PM
Alison, I'm curious. What do you use for all the baby things you make?

02-12-2006, 05:30 PM
...and what is this lovely soft acrylic at Michael's?

I would :inlove: love :inlove: to knit with all yak hair....

02-12-2006, 06:12 PM
So, before I was converted to eBay, I was busily knitting whatever people gave to me out of their old yarn stashes, lots of acrylic. Now I am swimming in huge spools of alpaca purchased inexpensively and deliriously happy with my FOs. It's so soft and warm and lovely. It feels like cashmere for 1/5 the price (often less than wool, certainly less than I would pay in any store). I'm working a project now in pure alpaca fiber for $1.85 per 50g length including shipping!!! (purchased in bulk, waited for the right lot).
notes on eBay: always use sellers with a strong feedback rating, scrutinize the shipping cost and use the advanced search option to see how much similar items have gone for over the past 6 months to get a fair price!!

but for easy wash items I may return to acrylic. Modern Science is a wonderful thing!


02-12-2006, 09:38 PM
I still use acrylics.. I do like the Encore DK cause its in my budget so when I go to the LYS thats usually what I buy... My grandmother crochets and only uses Red Heart... I want to make lap afghans for the grandmothers this Christmas and I may use red heart... it just depends with me if I can get to the LYS :cheering: if I can only go to wally world thats ok too... :thumbsup:

02-12-2006, 10:36 PM
Alison...where did you go...we are waiting in suspense to find out about this soft acrylic at Michaels...do tell....

02-12-2006, 10:52 PM
A lot of the cool specialty yarns that are so fun to make kitschy scarves with are 100% acrylic (or some other oft-maligned synthetic yarn), like Crystal Palace Splash. So I do plenty of knitting with synthetic fibers.

BUT...what held me back when I first started knitting from really enjoying myself was picturing the look I had to plaster on my face when my grandmother would present me with a horribly scratchy, misshapen sweater she had knitted. It made me sad that all the work I was putting into my creations would ultimately result in generally non-plussed reactions. Once I discovered my LYS and all the beautiful natural fibers that would knit into garments and accessories that people would WANT to wear, that's when I became an addict.

02-13-2006, 12:34 AM
For all those who are holding their breath about the soft yarn at Michaels', I will go tomorrow and check it out and get back to you. Sorry to be such a yarn tease! :roflhard:

Ingrid - for my baby longies, I use Malabrigo yarn. INCREDIBLY soft and scrumptious, though it does pill a bit. But my little girl seems very happy in it. For baby socks, I use Art Yarn supermerino, which is a nice washable yarn that knits up nicely. For a hat I'm making, I'm using Debbie Bliss baby Cashmerino, which does have 33% microfiber in it. It knits up beautifully, though, and has a lovely drape and touch.

I'll probably use more of the Baby cashmerino for a sweater. Oh yeah, and I ordered 4 skeins of Sheepsdown from EZ/Meg Swansen's site to make a baby blanket. It knits up at 2.5 stitches per inch :shock: :shock: and s a little rougher than I thought it would be. However, decent washing in Eucalan, plus some blocking, should produce fine results. I'm considering using the yarn for a sweater for myself, however, and finding another wool for Miriam's blanket.

Now I'm kind of curious to try alpaca yarn. Does anyone else have any experience with it? How does it wear? Lots of pilling?


02-13-2006, 12:38 AM
Alpaca is wonderful! Soft and warm, just lovely to work with. I haven't done anything but a scarf and a bag (shaped like an alpaca), so I don't know about wear, yet. I do have some lovely, gorgeously hand dyed alpaca that I will be knitting up after I'm done caressing and admiring it. So, so soft. . . .

02-13-2006, 08:57 AM
Now I'm kind of curious to try alpaca yarn. Does anyone else have any experience with it? How does it wear? Lots of pilling?

I :heart: alpaca. I haven't had a lot of pilling problems - sure, it gets a little sheddy, but no worse than good-quality merino.

I find it wears almost like cashmere. It is wonderfully soft, but it doesn't hold a great shape, so I wouldn't try anything highly tailored with it.

02-13-2006, 10:01 AM
Economics and limited access to a LYS (just to fondle the yarns :shock: ) keeps me using acrylics. Some are scratchy and icky (yes, like Red Heart--but it does soften a bit after washing) and I try to avoid those. But most work well for my project. Maybe when I win the lottery I'll be able to purchase more acrylic-less yarns. :cheering:

02-13-2006, 10:23 AM
I voted "wouldn't be caught dead" but I SO wanted to vote for the MIL one only because it is so funny :roflhard: :roflhard: But I would never knit anything for my MIL anyway, so she wouldn't even get acrylic from me. Of course my real answer is that I knit with some acrylic wool blends for kids' wear and will use acrylic for oddball little things like the nose of a hedgehog. :)

02-13-2006, 11:51 AM
As a new knitter, I've only used acrylic so far because it's cheap and I don't want to use something more expensive until I know what I'm doing. That said, the one time I did some practice knitting with some wool at my mother's, my eyes stung the entire time. So although I have no problem wearing wool, there might be an allergy problem with knitting with it... I have yet to find out. Some have suggested that that particular wool might have been treated with something and that if I washed it it wouldn't cause the problem...

I'm using Red Heart for this scarf for my husband that's developed out of my practicing 2x2 ribbing and it doesn't seem scratchy to me (and I'm VERY sensitive to scratchy yarns...). Maybe it's because I don't have experience with other yarns yet! :rollseyes:

02-13-2006, 12:10 PM
I use mostly acrylic. I've been making tons of baby blankets and afghans. The main thing for me is that I can find it anywhere. Expense is too, since I am feeding the addiction of knitting I can't spend a fortune on it.
I don't buy red heart, but caron is usually good. I usually touch everything when picking it out, to me different colors have different feels, even if brand is same. Machine washable is huge factor in everything I buy. I just don't have time or patience to hand wash.

I would like to try a booga bag in future, though.

02-13-2006, 03:12 PM
Great question!

I chose "I use it often and I like it just fine"...I mostly use it for baby items, like blankets and hats, although lately I've been using 100% wool for my kids hats (Lion Wool and Bernat Lana(merino, nice and soft!) which I can get at Hobby Lobby pretty easily).

I usually try to use at least a blend, like Lion brand Wool-Ease, (nice and affordable) because I can wash it-for my kids things that is really necessary! LOL. I like Plymouth Encore's color selection better, but LB's is a little more affordable for me.

That being said, I know there's a secret yarn-snob hiding inside, and if I could afford it (and washing practicality aside) I would definitely choose natural fibers over acrylic...I love the thought of using something natural, that's been used for centuries, and has such a lovely feel in my hands while I work... I even think about the sheep or animal it came from :D (can you tell I got Bamboo on the "what kind of needle are you" quiz? he he)

02-13-2006, 03:46 PM
I had to make a comment when I saw people commenting on Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino. You can get SO hooked on this stuff. When I started my preemie outfits to donate to the hospital, I wanted something really soft, and, of course, being at my LYS, I picked this stuff. Now I can't get away from using it! Although last time I worked it out math wise, I think it would cost the same. (Now I am curious, so all of you will know too!!...hang on)

2 outfits out of Debbie Bliss (an outfit consists of hat, booties, and sweater)
3 balls (400 yds) 30 dollars (cdn prices)

2 outfits out of Bernat Baby Softee
1 ball (400 yds) 5 dollars

Ok, so I was wrong. But I can't justify the baby softee cause it just isn't soft enough!! At risk of hijacking the thread, what do you all think? Is it better to go more expensive for this sort of thing? And what about the sensitivity of the babies' skin?


02-13-2006, 05:08 PM
I'm not afraid to sound like a snob. Call me what you will, but Acrylic yarns are garbage (with the exception of a few blends). Michael's is also garbage, you can't buy anything nice in that jip-joint even if your pockets were stuffed full of cash. Also, why give your money to those corporate slime balls? If you spend your money in local shops they will still be there when you need them. Donít allow the corporate giants to run the local shops out of business!

If you are on a limited budget, go to your LYS and rummage through their discontinued/sale yarns. That way you can find something nice, but not hurt the check book too badly.

Your time is valuable, why spend hours upon hours knitting a project using cheap yarn? A hand made garment should be nicer than what you can just go buy at a store!

Look at it this wayÖ

Letís say it takes 40 hours to knit a sweater.
Letís say your job pays $10/hr.
That means there is $400 worth of labor that has gone into your sweater.
Now you have a $400+ sweater made out of Acrylic. Does that make sense!? :??
If you want cheap machine washable clothes, then why not just work the 40 hours and take your $400 to JC Penny? You will end up with a lot more than a single acrylic sweater.

Now, what if you consider your labor to be worth more than $10/hr. Say you feel you are worth $25/hr. Then you have a $1000+ Acrylic sweater. :shock:

Friends donít let friends knit with cheap yarn!

02-14-2006, 02:33 AM
On the alpaca question - I had a poncho made of alpaca. My mother gave it to me. She wore it throughout the 60s and 70s. I wore it for another 20 years. I finally gave it to someone else. It was still beautiful and not in the least thread bare. Even though I wore it like my primary coat. (and its chilly in Colorado) Well worth the money spent on alpaca!

02-14-2006, 10:01 AM
I don't like cheap acrylics, but I love working with the really good stuff.
I don't like cheap wool either.
The LYS has some of the crummiest wool I have ever touched.

02-15-2006, 08:51 PM
Well HORRORS of HORRORS, I am allergic to wool! So even if I am knitting for someone else, the best I can do is use a blend. Can you believe that? What kind of hideous joke is it to turn me into a knitting addict and I can't even use most of the best fibers! UGH!

02-15-2006, 10:18 PM
I didn't vote since my answer really isn't there. I think acrylics have their place. I prefer wool and other natural fibers for most of the things I made but I would never put my children in a garment made from a good wool or other natural animal fiber. If my kids are in it, it must be washable. I prefer to use a superwash wool or wool blend but will use some of the nicer acrylics.

02-15-2006, 11:08 PM
There doesn't seem to be a huge amount of acrylic yarns available here, just a few brands. Most yarn in the shops is either wool or some other type of synthetic (nylon,polyester) or a blend.

The cheapest yarn is acrylic and I do use it for small projects and my daughter (71/2 yrs old) practices knitting with it. The children also like really colourful yarn and so when I let them pick out yarn for me to make jumpers for them they chose courtelle acrylic which was multi-coloured.

There are some really nice wools yarns available but I don't want to attempt making an adults jumper in a really good yarn until I am more confident.

The most expensive yarns I have seen in the shops are actually synthetic novelty types. Some of these still need to be handwashed too.

02-15-2006, 11:12 PM
Well HORRORS of HORRORS, I am allergic to wool! So even if I am knitting for someone else, the best I can do is use a blend. Can you believe that? What kind of hideous joke is it to turn me into a knitting addict and I can't even use most of the best fibers! UGH!

Have you looked into Alpaaaaaaaca?

02-16-2006, 12:51 PM
I haven't. But I should. I am actually allergic to a lot of natural fibers. I can't get anywhere near down either. UGH! I can however, use blends. I don't have a problem with most natural fibers that are blended with acrylics. I think I will try out alpaca. It is funny, but I have to buy a skein, and either sleep with it :shock: or knit it up into something.

02-16-2006, 04:56 PM
I haven't. But I should. I am actually allergic to a lot of natural fibers. I can't get anywhere near down either. UGH! I can however, use blends. I don't have a problem with most natural fibers that are blended with acrylics. I think I will try out alpaca. It is funny, but I have to buy a skein, and either sleep with it :shock: or knit it up into something.

I'd sleep with my alpaca yarn if I wasn't afraid of it unravelling! :roflhard:

02-16-2006, 10:36 PM
I am a 60s throwback, earth-lovin, tree-huggin', natural livin', hippie mama ... so I pretty much only knit with natural fibers. :XX: Yes, even for my kids. And I prefer to use yarns that are as close to their natural state (untreated, minimally processed, organic, etc.) as possible, though I don't always maintain that standard. So wool, cotton, alpaca, cashmere, mohair, bamboo (absolutely :heart: it!), etc. make up the majority of my stash. (I do have some blends, especially sock yarns with a nylon content.)

I try to dress myself and my family in natural fibers, use natural fibers in my home, avoid chemicals in our home and body care items, eat traditional foods (i.e. whole foods, not chemicals or anything engineered or hydrolized or hydrogenated, organically grown/grass fed as much as possible) and generally live a simple, natural, low-impact kind of life. So, for me, natural fibers fit into my idea of healthy living (healthy for me and my family, and healthy for the planet).

Also, I think MrTea brings up a valid point. If I am going to invest my time in a project, I want that project to be worth taking that time away from other things in my life. Does that make sense? For me (just personally speaking here, so just FOR ME), synthetic yarns don't fall into the "worth it" category. They don't make me happy, I don't like the idea of using them, don't like the actuality of working with them, don't like the idea of someone I care about wearing/using them. (Your skin is your largest organ, remember? And you can absorb all kind of stuff via your skin, so wouldn't it be better to wear natural fibers, sleep under natural fibers, than it would be to wear something petroleum based, made out of plastic, yucky?!? I think about these things when I'm knitting. :))

As Alison mentioned, this is just MY take on things, and I don't feel that it is my place to impose that on anyone else. Doesn't mean I won't suggest alternatives, but I'm pretty much live and let live when it comes to yarn (and a lot of other things, too ;)).