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View Full Version : ACRYLIC YARN: Mystery Meat??


ArtLady1981
05-31-2007, 07:22 PM
:waving:Hi all!

I love yarn. I especially love 'knowing the yarn' that passes through my fingers. Most of my Yarn Stash consists of wools, cottons, angora, alpaca, and blends of these yarns, etc. They are all yarns that used to be "worn by" a specific plant or animal! You can follow its transition to the 'yarn state-of-being'!

I am knitting down the last of my Red Heart worsted yarn...making a CRAZY QUILT AFGHAN for a granddaughter. As this yarn passes through my fingers...I wonder to myself...where did it come from? What did it used to look like before being stranded into "yarn"?

Is it akin to the Mystery Meat we call bologna in USA? They say you'd be shocked if you saw the creation process of bologna!

Would I be shocked if I saw acrylic yarn in its embryo stages?

I googled the words ACRYLIC YARN...and saw thousands of links to the yarn itself...nothing about its creation.

Well...this is definitely not a hot topic..but...I like to know my yarns...do you feel the same???

I think my favorite yarn is NORO Silk Garden, both for its fiber content and multitude of colorways. My favorite favorite favorite project of all time was a Sausalito Coat using NORO Transitions! Absolutely a heavenly project. Almost sorry when it was finished!

So, would you mind...adding your 2 cents or dollar's worth!!?? :grphug:
Do you know where ACRYLIC YARN comes from?

stitchwitch
05-31-2007, 07:25 PM
It's made by yard gnomes. :teehee:

Susan P.
05-31-2007, 07:30 PM
Acrylic is a man made product (in this case made into fibers) as opposed to a natural substance like wool or cotton. Acrylic we generally think of as a plastic but it's made from acrylonitrile and related chemicals. Acrylonitrile has a chemical structure a little like vinyl and again it is a base for the making of many plastics. This is one reason why some people find wearing acrylic materials too hot and sweaty however it is generally resilient and tough wearing etc. It can also be shiny which makes sense :-)

Susan P.
05-31-2007, 07:31 PM
Yard gnomes by the name Acryl. Nice to meet you Mr and Mrs Acryl, you're looking particularly gnomish today. :-)

Braden
05-31-2007, 07:37 PM
Acrylic and other synthetics are man made, so, generally they come from a factory. Most acrylics are scratchy, since it's basically plastic. Not to say that there's anything wrong with acrylic, those of you who prefer it.

And, there are some benefits, for one, it's machine washable, and often times cheap.

I really can't give a nice, biased opinion, because I knit exclusively with wool, but there's my two cents.

Lady Violet
05-31-2007, 07:39 PM
Acrylic is a man made product (in this case made into fibers) as opposed to a natural substance like wool or cotton. Acrylic we generally think of as a plastic but it's made from acrylonitrile and related chemicals. Acrylonitrile has a chemical structure a little like vinyl and again it is a base for the making of many plastics. This is one reason why some people find wearing acrylic materials too hot and sweaty however it is generally resilient and tough wearing etc. It can also be shiny which makes sense :-)


THAT explains why i hate the stuff! :ick: :roflhard:

ArtLady1981
05-31-2007, 07:42 PM
Thanks Susan P! I Googled that word...clicked a few links...and found this description of acrylic fiber...a direct copy/paste as follows:

Acrylonitrile is the chemical compound (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_compound) with the formula CH2CHCN. This pungent-smelling colorless liquid often appears yellow due to impurities. It is an important monomer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomer) for the manufacture of useful plastics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic). In terms of its molecular structure, it consists of a vinyl (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinyl) group linked to a nitrile (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrile).

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Acrylic fibers are synthetic fibers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_fiber) made from a polymer with an average molecular weight of ~100,000. To be called acrylic in the U.S., the polymer must contain at least 85% acrylonitrilemonomer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrylonitrile). Typical comonomers are vinyl acetate or methyl acrylate.
The polymer is formed by free radical polymerization. The fiber is produced by dissolving the polymer in a solvent such as N,N-dimethylformamide (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimethylformamide) or aqueous sodium thiocyanate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_thiocyanate), metering it through a multi-hole spinnerette and coagulating the resultant filaments in an aqueous solution of the same solvent. Washing, stretching, drying and crimping complete the processing. Acrylic fibers are produced in a range of deniers, typically from 1 to 15. End uses include sweaters, hand-knitting yarns, rugs, awnings, boat covers, a precursor for carbon fiber, and beanies. Production of acrylic fibers is centered in the Far East, declining in Europe and now shut down (except for precursor) in the U.S.
Acrylic is lightweight, soft, and warm, with a wool-like feel. It dyes very well and has excellent colorfastness. It is resilient, retains its shape, and resists shrinkage and wrinkles. It is quite varied in form and sometimes has an appearance similar to wool or cotton.
Acrylic has recently been used in clothing as a cheaper alternative to cashmere (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashmere_wool), due to the similar feeling of the materials. The disadvantages of acrylic is that it tends to fuzz (or pill) easily and that it does not insulate the wearer as well as cashmere. Many products like fake pashmina (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pashmina) or cashmina (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cashmina&action=edit) use this material to create the illusion of cashmere to the consumer.
Acrylic is resistant to moths, oils, and chemicals, and is very resistant to deterioration from sunlight exposure. However, static and pilling can be a problem.


In the vernacular of Paris Hilton: "Eeeuuuuuugh!" :shock:

Calamintha
05-31-2007, 08:07 PM
"Acrylic is lightweight, soft, and warm, with a wool-like feel...Acrylic has recently been used in clothing as a cheaper alternative to cashmere, due to the similar feeling of the materials."

What the heck was that person smoking? Acrylic is not warm and feels nothing like wool much less cashmere! I used to think Wikipedia was pretty reliable but I'm gonna have to rethink that. According to something I read in a Vogue book (I think), acrylic is a by-product of the petroleum industry.

ArtLady1981
05-31-2007, 08:10 PM
"Acrylic is lightweight, soft, and warm, with a wool-like feel...Acrylic has recently been used in clothing as a cheaper alternative to cashmere, due to the similar feeling of the materials."

What the heck was that person smoking? Acrylic is not warm and feels nothing like wool much less cashmere! I used to think Wikipedia was pretty reliable but I'm gonna have to rethink that. According to something I read in a Vogue book (I think), acrylic is a by-product of the petroleum industry.

Like I said: In the vernacular of Paris Hilton: "eeeuuuuuugh!" :shock:

I had to laff at the similarity they gave of CASHMERE! YEAH! What was that person smokin'??

debinoz
05-31-2007, 08:28 PM
I'm alergic to wool.... silk and other similar yarns are too expensive, so I'm stuck with cotton and acrylic.

cheesiesmom
05-31-2007, 08:34 PM
Well, when I think of plastic or acrylic, I think of Oil. And at the current $3.50/gallon of gas, wool, cotton, silk, cashmere, are all beginning to look much more desirable and affordable.

Frankly, I NEVER thought I would be a yarn snob, but these days I'm knitting sock almost exclusively and find that the 75%+ wool content for Superwash and 100% wool for merino is something I could never give up.

Yea for natural fibers. (If you can afford them and they fit into your life. If not, well then acrylics are good.)

Gladys, getting poked sitting on a fence (picket most likely).

ArtLady1981
05-31-2007, 08:40 PM
Hi'ya Debi! Yup, know what you mean... my DD is terribly allergic to a lot of animal fibers. I mean, she can't even touch them in a clothing store. I use cottons and acrylics to knit for her. :thumbsup:

Fortunately, there are many improvements in the quality and softness of acrylic, man-made yarns.

This Red Heart I am using for the Crazy Quilt Afghan is just about the bottom rung of acrylics. Eeeeeuuuuugh.

I think I purchased them from Herrschnerrs...for the colors. Did not get to fondle them beforehand. Got some very bright, cheerful variegateds...crayons, beach, citrus...to mention a few. Combined with the solids RED, YELLOW, EMERALD, TURQUOISE, etc...the afghan will be a happy looking afghan.

The girls fight over the Crazy Quilt Afghan I made for the oldest granddaughter, who is 7. This new afghan is for Laila, who is 4.

It is their TV blankie. :hug:

Inis
05-31-2007, 08:43 PM
I can feel the difference, too.

I'm using old acrylic yarn to practice socks - made my first pair last week. One was too big, and the other too small LOL. Oh well, I'm on to the second pair with more practice yarn.

I'll have to order some "real" sock yarn pretty soon. Suggestions?

Susan P.
05-31-2007, 09:58 PM
Calamintha (http://www.knittinghelp.com/knitting/forum/member.php?u=13670).. cashmina or pashmina or whatever it is IS very soft. I have been in clothing stores and ran my hands over it and felt the material and it is soft as..but no..not like cashmere as such. The fake (let's not use the word faux to mask something being fake :-) is unreasonable feeling - which I know is odd phrasing but has that almost 'too good to be true' feel. A friend bought a pashmina jumper and it actually went flat in sections after six months and began to look quite sad.

Susan P.
05-31-2007, 10:00 PM
Inis. I love cotton socks but depending on the weather I will go for cotton/wool blends or pure wools. I just find cotton so breathable and nice to wear but of course 100% cotton in socks is hard to find in stores and they can wear thin quite quickly.

zip
05-31-2007, 10:12 PM
I'm alergic to wool.... silk and other similar yarns are too expensive, so I'm stuck with cotton and acrylic.


I feel for ya. :( Until I was an adult, I was allergic to wool, goosedown, pet dander, dust, mold, tomatoes, grass... I'm certain there's more. I couldn't wear wool, sleep on feather pillows, have a pet, eat traditional spaghetti. I couldn't even swallow a potato chip without it hurting. I was a delicate flower and had to wear cotton and polyester because silk was too expensive for my family, too. The horror! ;) I forced myself to overcome it because I love dogs too much to live without one. I "outgrew" it.

Have you always had allergies? My sister developed them after she was grown. I think she merely caught mine.

suzeeq
05-31-2007, 11:12 PM
I used to think Wikipedia was pretty reliable but I'm gonna have to rethink that.

Anybody can put anything into a wiki, doesn't mean it's accurate.

sue

Susan P.
05-31-2007, 11:17 PM
I've been doing some research tasks for a media outlet and Wiki, whilst offering good inspiration, can never be taken as a primary or definitive source whilst in it's current format. How good info is depends entirely on the knowledge of the person in the community entering the data. I've seen some very accurate sections and some sadly misinformed ones.

debinoz
06-01-2007, 12:02 AM
zip:

My allergies developed around my mid-teens. Although I've always been allergic to grass and weeds. It was horrible when I was little and all the kids were running around barefoot in the grass and I had to wear socks and shoes. :crying:

I used to crochet alot in my teens and that's when I discovered the wool allergy. I just couldn't figure out why my fingers and palms of my hands had a rash. The finger I wrapped my yarn around even developed small blisters.

Ahh well..... we learn to live with things as they come.

kellycarr05
06-01-2007, 12:24 AM
There is NOTHING wrong with acrylic yarn.It may not be the best, but not all of us are able to afford much more than that. I save up for BIG sales or my freinds have given me yarn before. Mostly acrylic. I look at what I have and I am so thankful to be blessed with it. There are people who cant even afford what I have. Mystery meat is better than none!:knitting:

Braden
06-01-2007, 01:32 AM
"Acrylic is lightweight, soft, and warm, with a wool-like feel...Acrylic has recently been used in clothing as a cheaper alternative to cashmere, due to the similar feeling of the materials."

Yeah...right. :yadda:

mum2caden
06-01-2007, 01:46 AM
Works for me.. I can't afford wool. I can't even afford to have a stash. I use what I buy right away. Currently I have only enough yarn (ugly brown.. and yes acrylic) to knit one dishcloth and I am stuck with nothing for a while.

Yeah, I am just fine with acrylic.. I would take anything.

I can see why people want wool if they are going to spend hours (days... weeks... months!) on a sweater or shawl, but for other things? What is wrong with acrylic?

KnittingNat
06-01-2007, 02:04 AM
I'm allergic to synthetic stuff, so i prefer knitting with natural fibers.
Contiknitter - I'm with you on this one :teehee:!
I don't buy acrylic, but i have acrylic stash my grandma gave me, so i'm using it for the oddball blanket and a mohair-like very soft acrylic-polyamid for a baby blanket...

Susan P.
06-01-2007, 02:07 AM
[Mystery meat is better than none!:knitting:[/quote]

Unless it has botulism..then you are better with none! :-)

Susan P.
06-01-2007, 02:14 AM
What is wrong with acrylic mum2caden asks...

Well, as the political broadcasters sometimes say..the following is not necessarily the opinion of this station.... :-) so, what I am about to say is a summary of views...so..no-one please bite the messenger..

Some would question the chemicals, and the environmental issues to do with those, that are associated with or central to the production of acrylic.

Some would suggest that willingness to purchase acrylic products is, by default, supporting environmental degradation.

Some would suggest only natural fibres should be utilised on principle.

Is there some yarn snobbery? Maybe *shrug*

One does has to concede that processes in the production of cotton can also be problematic I believe (I would have to research) tho certainly they are less than for the making of man-made fibres.

Because of mass production and availability, acrylics are cheaper and there is a good point about cost for some. I'm sure many of us would like to see govt's better support and subsidise manufacturers of natural substances BUT then some could argue that sheep are not natural fauna of many countries either and look at increased wool production and flock numbers with a wary eye.

Any other points I've missed?

ArtLady1981
06-01-2007, 03:19 AM
I got to thinkin' a lot about the production of various yarns. I subscribe to a magazine called Wild Fibers (http://www.wildfibersmagazine.com/) It's proprietress takes her readers all over the world...I mean ALL OVER...and the subject of how the indigenous peoples make their yarns is just incredible! From the raising of the animals, who are treated like family...to the shearing and other methods of relieving the animal of its heavy coat...to the cleaning, natural dyes or no dyes at all, to the commaraderie of the spinning time...and then on to either knitting or weaving. All to support their family...and also to bless the far reaches of Earth with incredible yarns otherwise unattainable.

Side note: this magazine, Wild Fibers...rivals National Geographic for content and quality. I bought my first issue at my LYS. My husband devoured the magazine before I got to finish it. I subscribed, and also scored two back issues...and now it's a fight to see who gets into the latest issue first! Hey there knitters, it is worth every cent spent! Really.

Well, all that reading about natural fibers from the far reaches of Earth just got me to reflecting on the 5-yr-old Red Heart stash yarn I was knitting. I got to thinking "how did THIS YARN come to be??"
Honestly, I had never given it a thought before this...and I had no clue about its creation...or concoction.

That said, I will still use acrylics for baby and toddler things for gifts for friends. For my own grandchildren...I use natural fibers because my own daughters are willing to handwash, dry flat. When giving baby and toddler things to friends, etc. I just don't want to impose special laundering instructions on the young mother. Some young women do not have the time for knits that cannot be thrown in the washer and tumble dried. Been there done that...as a working mother of 5...me knows only too well how it goes.

Well I have clearly digressed from the topic.

Susan P: I appreciate the sentiments that you posted about some of the environmental issues that we face today and most specifically regarding acrylic yarns. Hmmm. Some very interesting info is being discussed.

I heard that our local grocery stores may quit with the icky plastic bags...and replace such with cloth bags that you pay a deposit for, and are expected to re-use. Some of my girlfriends are already volutarily taking cloth bags to the grocery. They are also using "green" hybrid cars. I guess that speaks loads about their environmental concerns.

Well, that's my 2 cents for tonight.

willowangel
06-01-2007, 07:44 AM
I like my acrylics. If you shop around for softer ones, then I've found they're great. I particularly like a kind I get that's really chunky - it's difficult to find really chunky yarns in natural fibers and these ones are lovely. My computer gloves are made out of them, they look lovely and everyone comments on how soft they are. So technology has come on a long way, and so have acrylic yarns.

There is the environmental impact, but - they're a by-product, made out of waste. So, when I'm a believer in using everything you can from something that was negative, so you don't cause more harm, then acrylic yarn fits in with that. Oil companies aren't drilling for the sake of our knitting habits, but if we can prevent some of it from going to waste and into the ground and the water, then all to the good.

mum2caden
06-01-2007, 08:19 AM
lol, I should make it clear.. I am no longer using plastic bags, I walk everywhere, take public transit if I must... i actually don't really use acrylic, but cotton. I was just whiny last night because I am out of yarn to knit with, hehe.

For me, the wool issue is more than a natural vs synthetic thing ... sheep are horribly mistreated to get the wool and I just don't really like to use it because I continually think of that.

I am actually on the fence about all of this for many reasons, both the animal cruelty to get wool, and the enviromental factor with acrylics. I am stuck with which is the lesser of two evils and I have to choose. But you add in the money factor and I don't really get a choice, you just can't knit everything with cotton!

I guess what I am trying to say is, everyone does the best they can with what they have. For those who can afford it, wool, silk, etc must be great, but for those who can't? Well you wouldn't want to make someone feel bad just because they have no other option.

To Artlady: Thanks for that link, someday when I can actually be done with school and can afford wool to knit with, I plan on having a source for wool where I know the animals are treated well, if I can at all help it!

Mommy22alyns
06-01-2007, 10:43 AM
I guess what I am trying to say is, everyone does the best they can with what they have.

:cheering::cheering:

(though I have to confess that I've become a sort of yarn snob since visiting here... it's y'all's fault!! :lol: )

feministmama
06-01-2007, 10:44 AM
Some acrylics can be soft. Like Caron Simply soft. Heck even microspun is soft. So I see lots of advantages to acrylic, allergics, cheaper price, more choices, more available and some other reasons people mentioned. Yes I love natrual fibers but they are very expensive (which I don't get since there are probably more sheep than people in some countries) so this can be a very political issue for some people. I try to have an open heart about the choices people can make about the yarn they can use. So let's have some compassion for those who acrylic is their only choice. :muah:

cookworm
06-01-2007, 02:03 PM
Well said, feministmama. I like natural fibers, but it seems that I'm developing a sensitivity to most animal fibers, so I probably won't be able to knit with them anymore since I can't wear them. There are only 2 LYS nearby ("nearby" being 45 minutes away anyway, and at these gas prices...well, enough said there!), and one of them closed. Neither of them has a great selection of yarn anyway, so it makes the drive really a waste of time.

I'm not sure why people highly criticize manmade yarns when many people wear some type of manmade fabric/shoes, etc. and don't think twice about that. Nylon is manmade, and so are acetate fabric, polyester, and lycra/spandex, to name a few; most people I know opt for fabrics containing either polyester, acetate, or lycra/spandex because they are easy care and require little "maintenance" (ironing, etc.). It just seems to me that nowadays, you can't win. If you opt for manmade fibers/garments, people criticize it for its "cheapness" and damage to the environment, but if you wear animal products (leather, wool, etc.), then you have animal rights activists speaking out.

For those that prefer knitting with natural fibers--and I myself do, but I can't always afford it or find a selection of what I need--that's great. For those that prefer knitting with manmade fibers, I'm not sure where all of the controversy comes from--if you yourself choose not to use it, then don't, but please don't criticize those that do. I knit with acrylics sometimes, and like willowangel said, acrylic yarn has come a long way--I've found acrylic yarns that are WAY softer than some of the big name pricey wool yarns. It doesn't make you less of a knitter because you use acrylics. Just knit--use anything! I saw a book where somebody knitted old plastic bags to make a recycled bag to make positive use of those old bags. You are a knitter as long as you knit--it doesn't matter what kind of fiber you use.

ArtLady1981
06-01-2007, 02:21 PM
I like my acrylics. If you shop around for softer ones, then I've found they're great. I particularly like a kind I get that's really chunky - it's difficult to find really chunky yarns in natural fibers and these ones are lovely. My computer gloves are made out of them, they look lovely and everyone comments on how soft they are. So technology has come on a long way, and so have acrylic yarns.

There is the environmental impact, but - they're a by-product, made out of waste. So, when I'm a believer in using everything you can from something that was negative, so you don't cause more harm, then acrylic yarn fits in with that. Oil companies aren't drilling for the sake of our knitting habits, but if we can prevent some of it from going to waste and into the ground and the water, then all to the good.

Willowangel! Thank you for your contribution to this Train! You make an excellent point!

ArtLady1981
06-01-2007, 02:25 PM
Well said, feministmama. I like natural fibers, but it seems that I'm developing a sensitivity to most animal fibers, so I probably won't be able to knit with them anymore since I can't wear them. There are only 2 LYS nearby ("nearby" being 45 minutes away anyway, and at these gas prices...well, enough said there!), and one of them closed. Neither of them has a great selection of yarn anyway, so it makes the drive really a waste of time.

I'm not sure why people highly criticize manmade yarns when many people wear some type of manmade fabric/shoes, etc. and don't think twice about that. Nylon is manmade, and so are acetate fabric, polyester, and lycra/spandex, to name a few; most people I know opt for fabrics containing either polyester, acetate, or lycra/spandex because they are easy care and require little "maintenance" (ironing, etc.). It just seems to me that nowadays, you can't win. If you opt for manmade fibers/garments, people criticize it for its "cheapness" and damage to the environment, but if you wear animal products (leather, wool, etc.), then you have animal rights activists speaking out.

For those that prefer knitting with natural fibers--and I myself do, but I can't always afford it or find a selection of what I need--that's great. For those that prefer knitting with manmade fibers, I'm not sure where all of the controversy comes from--if you yourself choose not to use it, then don't, but please don't criticize those that do. I knit with acrylics sometimes, and like willowangel said, acrylic yarn has come a long way--I've found acrylic yarns that are WAY softer than some of the big name pricey wool yarns. It doesn't make you less of a knitter because you use acrylics. Just knit--use anything! I saw a book where somebody knitted old plastic bags to make a recycled bag to make positive use of those old bags. You are a knitter as long as you knit--it doesn't matter what kind of fiber you use.

Hi Cookworm! Thank you for your contribution as well! You expressed some excellent sentiments! I agree with you...JUST KNIT...and that is what REALLY COUNTS in the long run!

I don't think any of our fellow knitters here at KH look down upon anyone for their yarn choices! I certainly don't!

The subject of yarn is a passionate subject. I guess it comes from our :heart:LOVE OF YARN! Anything we love we are :heart: passionate :heart:about!

Knit on Sister! And thanks again for your contribution! :muah:

knitasha
06-01-2007, 02:42 PM
I'm alergic to wool.... silk and other similar yarns are too expensive, so I'm stuck with cotton and acrylic.

Actually, you have plenty of other non-wool options.
Rayon (viscose) is great to knit with and has beautiful drape and luster. Soy, hemp, linen, bamboo and corn fiber are all plant based. Blends of these natural fibers with acrylic and nylon can be gorgeous and not particularly expensive.

Amy Singer's book, No Sheep for You, has information on knitting with these wool-free fibers.

Susan P.
06-01-2007, 07:25 PM
From earlier posts:

There is the environmental impact, but - they're a by-product, made out of waste. So, when I'm a believer in using everything you can from something that was negative, so you don't cause more harm, then acrylic yarn fits in with that. Oil companies aren't drilling for the sake of our knitting habits, but if we can prevent some of it from going to waste and into the ground and the water, then all to the good.

Willowangel! Thank you for your contribution to this Train! You make an excellent point!

-----

To be honest, I can't agree totally with the point. Well, I do and I don't. Number one I'm not sure that acrylics etc ARE made from byproducts only and would be interested to see a reference for that. I don't mean this question offensively but I pose this from the basis of information gathering. However, a major contemporary issue is cutting down on the use of fossil fuels. In other words we should be focusing more closely on ensuring byproducts are considerably lessened because the initial industry is lessened.

I think some countries do tend to have a cultural/societal acceptance of having large vehicle, multi car family units and when that is entrenched trying to bring people back to less powerful and smaller vehicles that run on solar or other means is difficult. Some people actively resist any concept of reducing what they have or doing 'it' differently.

I DO agree..entirely..that if an industry does have byproducts then using them in some manner or form for 'good' is important BUT..personally..I see that acceptance as short term and that those byproducts should not necessarily be accepted as such (because the initial industry as it stands should not be accepted).

For my part, I look across the world at the INCREDIBLE national parks and heritage we have. It saddens me to know that acid rain is eating away at so many european buildings and that the Black Forest and so on is under threat from the greenhouse effect and pollution and so on. The US has fabulous...truly fabulous..national parks..as we do in Australia...and I'd like to think my great grandkids will see them at least as they are now and not, eventually, just as holograms in some future museum that has to show what the environment 'was' and not is.

These topics are very emotive and evocative and it's always hard not to step on other's shoes so I apologise if I've caused offence - that was unintended. But as a former educator I used to watch individual teachers talking to kids about how to use say plastic soda bottles (recycling ideas) and whilst that IS important..in the longer term finding better environmentally friendly and safe options is more important. Short and long term visions need to walk hand in hand.

Do I use acrylics at times..yes. So, I admit that and would wear the allegation of hypocricy :-) I do rarely use them but I do. I don't buy man-made fibre clothes unless I am absolutely forced to. I buy cotton underwear including bras (tho sometimes you can't avoid a man-made fiber section on them). I advocate science research units that look to solutions for chemicals and other processing issues. I press for govt support of such research rather than sitting back and watching govt's support the fossil fuel industries. I try at least and meet my conscience and pay loads of penance for when I do make a purchase that I know has potentially threatened a beautiful old tree in Yosemite or a rare Bird Wing Butterfly here.

Sorry, I have soap boxed. :oo:

Susan P.
06-01-2007, 07:31 PM
Aside from sheep not being indigenous to come countries, I do not, honestly, understand the issue of using wool. It seems to have arisen from the mulesing issue (don't get me started on that as I know I will be politically incorrect :-)) but shearing sheep does not harm the sheep as such. I've been in a number of shearing sheds and on sheep stations or properties and I don't see what the problem is..aside from cloven hooved animals being a bad choice for some geographical terrains (Australia has one of the lowest top soils in the world meaning we are very prone to erosion and one can see what cloven hooved animals would do to some of our land after clear felling).

Hemp however is a great choice I think though I know little of the processing. I also saw a really odd yarn the other day and for the life of me can't recall what it was made from but I blinked cos it was unusual..but it looked incredibly interesting.

By the way, sorry about the blue font in last post. I followed on from ArtLady :)

mum2caden
06-01-2007, 07:39 PM
For me it is the mulesing issue..sheering them isn't so much an issue, though I am sure they get injured from that at times too.

I am interested to hear your take on mulesing, actually. I mean, maybe I am missing something, but I just don't believe it is necessary, and I believe it's just downright cruel.

However- I will admit, I have never seen sheep outside of small family farms where I know this isn't done to them..

Susan P.
06-01-2007, 07:39 PM
I do have compassion by the way on the basis of cost. To me these topics are about kicking ideas and understandings around. As I said in an earlier post, I believe govt's need to sometimes step in and subsidise an industry and if govt's cared that much about enviro issues they would do that. It wouldn't be so bad if the farmers were the ones making the large profits but often they're not.

Has anyone here ever knitted with the corn fibres etc mentioned? I was wondering about ongoing pest control (which is a naive question maybe LOL)

Susan P.
06-01-2007, 07:53 PM
mum2caden. Oookkkkk..but I hope this doesn't start a heated argument with anyone. I think this is one of experience and perspective.

As I've said, I've been around sheep country for twenty years or so and I've read a lot about mulesing and I've talked to a lot of sheep 'farmers' about the process.

Let me say that if there was a better cost effective way I would advocate it but currently there is not. The problem I feel with many animal rights activists is that they fail to actually get active on farms and considering the issues 'on the ground' and then work with farmers and researchers to resolve concerns. For example, I've read several articles from animal rights saying that farmers should simply inspect and wash animals where required for fly strike.

That is impossible and impractical. As you suggest, on small farms you can manage fine but on a large property with thousands of sheep across many paddock areas you simply cannot do second day checks. There are a significant number of tasks as it is. I have a friend who runs her own sheep property with three children. Whilst she does employ paid help for some roles she often has to dose a couple of thousand sheep on her own and so on. Fencing, dosing, paddocks work, another round of injections, lambing, hay or additional feed allocation and so on and on.

If you've never seen a sheep that's fly blown it is a truly awful site. Flies will lay eggs around the crutch area and the maggots literally burrow into the sheep's flesh. It is agony for the sheep and it is an agony that does not end. The infestation multiplies at an incredible rate and you wind up having to put the sheep down.

Mulesing is not pretty and I agree..absolutely..a better way needs to be done..even if you inject the area with a local anaesthetic that is fast acting (though you have to again consider what time delays mean in practical terms for a farmer). I have seen a mulesing done. A practiced operator grabs the sheep and it is over very very quickly, ointment liberally applied and all the sheep I saw were baaing and happily cropping minutes later.
As it currently stands this is better for a sheep than the potential of fly blow.

BUT..there are breeds of sheep that do not have wool around the crutch area and do not need mulesing at all and to me THIS is one issue that has not been advocated adequately..moving to other breeds.

Of course, certain sheep breeds cope with some environments better than others and one also has to remember that some sheep stations have been active for decades and have thousands upon thousands of dollars invested in blood lines and so on. Again, this comes down to a govt saying..ok..we need to work with you to move over to this other breed and/or we need to find an alternative to mulesing.

Susan P.
06-01-2007, 07:59 PM
Sorry for typos and spelling mistakes. Site=sight and so on.

I should also say that in swapping sheep breeds the consumer needs re-education about yarn and material quality etc. I know some knitters who only prize merino yarns and the merino needs mulesing. There is sometimes consumer resistance to new product but that's when large fashion houses etc can some to the party and market.

Some of the breeds that do not need mulesing are on properties that do do their own yarn spinning so it can be worth doing some net searches and supporting these folk and not thinking buying wool necessarily equates cruelty to animals.

I completely support choice but it may be good to know that you could in fact buy wool from independent people and know it was ok within your value frame to do so.

ArtLady1981
06-01-2007, 08:07 PM
Goodness, this thread is proving to be very educational! I had never heard of "mulesing"...but Googled the word and found out in a hurry.

It seems to prevent "flystrike". Post-mulesing has some discomfort...but...that surgical removal of areas around the tail protects the animal from getting maggots that eat away at their rear end. Maybe there are alternatives to mulesing.

Well, I don't know if "mulesing" is cruel or not. However, if it is cruel, then the circumcision of male babies and the ear piercing of babies and toddlers is, too. Certainly both of those practices have discomfort involved. Some subject their male babies to circumcision for religious reasons, some for custom, some for looks. In America, ear piercing is done for no other reason than cosmetic.

Thanks for all the contributions to this Thread! :waving:

ArtLady1981
06-01-2007, 08:15 PM
Hi Susan P! I soooo want to thank you for taking the time and energy to enlarge on this topic! You have added depth to our discussion, and I personally take no offense, and I don't think you have caused any offense to anyone. Your words are well-chosen to enlighten without recrimination! THANKS AGAIN! :thumbsup:

Susan P.
06-01-2007, 08:20 PM
Hi ArtLady..that was kind of you as in the past here on other threads I feel some have considered my comments offensive. I'm not sure whether it's been my manner (ex teacher don't you know :-) or the topic was emotive! :-) I DO work to offer a balance and concede issues and to me this is all a learning curve and I'm more than ready to rethink if someone can offer an alternative view or info.

mum2caden
06-01-2007, 08:25 PM
Well, I completely understand it, but I think, even if I just knew that they were getting an anaesthetic, then I would be okay with it.

I have never seen what happens when the animals do get the fly issues, but that doesn't matter- it may be absolutely terrible, but cutting them like that without pain meds is just as bad.

I just don't want to purchase something knowing that an animal had to go through that pain- when all they had to do was give them a pain med first.

I see it as the farmer/companies just being cheap and that really bothers me. It just shouldn't be allowed.

In any case, I am not in the PETA camp of thought- I am aware that sometimes things like this really are done for the animals best interest, but it is the way they are performed that is the bigger issue.

I have been trying to write this for half an hour while chasing after my two year old, so I am sure i forgot something I wanted to say, but i am sure you see my point. lol

**Oh, and I didn't find any of your posts offensive! :)

willowangel
06-01-2007, 08:46 PM
I know that Susan's post is not to be taken offensively, but I have to admit feeling a little hurt by some of the comments. I don't think that using acrylics and other man-made fibers should be seen as a betrayal of the environment. I think any industry these days is dangerous on any mass-production level. Bamboo havesting, cotton farming, wool-making - they all have their downsides. Granted, the oil industry's downside is an awful lot bigger, and I use cotton shopping bags, I use public transport instead of driving, I eat organic food, I recycle, I don't buy things from companies with bad human rights or environmental histories, and I try hard to keep an ethical lifestyle. I have an issue with using acrylic yarns being likened to driving an SUV.

When oil is extracted, it's in a mess of different types of hydrocarbon. It goes through repeat after repeat after repeat of different forms of distillation to end up with the layers all separated out. Each layer has hydrocarbons of different lengths. Some lengths can be used for fuel, some for lubricants, some for wax, and some are sent for processing as petrochemicals which are turned into plastics. These are the bits that can't be used for fuel.

Acrylic is made from a petrochemical called acrylontrile, and fibers are produced by spinning it in a solvent, then are stretched and crimped and modified to produce different sizes and qualities of yarn.

So yes, it is a by-product. That type of hydrocarbon makes acrylic. Either that or it's burned off. So acrylic it is. It may not be a great origin, and supporting the oil industry is rarely environmentally positive but we have an oil industry and can't ignore it. Everything has a cost, a true cost. Acrylic does, silk does, any yarn that's bleached in any way does. Large-scale or small-scale, there's a cost. And we can try to live ethical lives but we still have to live in this world. I'd love to make my own paper, my own yarn, my own glass beads, my own fabrics. I'd love to live totally sustainably. I know there's a lot more I could do, but to be fair, we all get yarn shipped from somewhere - unless we're spinning our own yarn from our own sheep we're supporting the oil industry somehow. The carbon emissions from planes flying your yarn in from all over the world are massive. It'll be packed in plastic, wrapped in tape (usually another petroleum derivative), transported by an oil-consuming vehicle.

What we can do is try and bring a little beauty into the world, make some of our own stuff to keep our brains active enough to wonder about where things come from and what we can do to help. We create to make the world better, our own or someone else's. If we can use natural fibres where we can, then fantastic, but feeling guilty for not using them shouldn't be an issue. We're helping it not go into the atmosphere, and, since the drilling will be done whether acrylic is made or not, we're helping acrylontrile not go to waste. It's hard to draw a line somewhere in how ethically you live. I use plastics, but I recycle. I eat chocolate, just not Nestle. I don't drive, but I do use a lot of electricity. It's always a balancing act, for all of us. We live in the real world, and there's too many of us, and we do terrible things. But we also do good things, and we try and be good people and we try to create and recognise beauty. I think that's as important as picketing oil companies and buying ethically. Sometimes we have to compromise on how we do it (usually people drive to their oil company pickets). But the message is the same.

Rant rant rant, sorry again - I do go on (my bebo page is a picture my friend made of me looking miffed with 'rant' in a ton of different fonts around my head). I just like a good debate, I think ;-)

Fi xxx

Susan P.
06-01-2007, 08:51 PM
mun2caden...trust me..when they get older and are 25 they start chasing you! :) But they don't suck on your yarn which is a good thing :-)

As said, one can always buy wool from the non mulesing variety and support the 'little person'. Did you see the story of all those Japanese people who bought lambs but had been told they were a type of poodle? Oh dear.

Susan P.
06-01-2007, 09:00 PM
willowangel. I'm sorry you feel hurt. Sometimes I've felt hurt here also..felt that my opinion as an Aussie (or sentiments about my own context) hasn't been welcomed by some. Sometimes when I've gone back and read a response to me I've seen balance there I didn't see on the first read. Sometimes I haven't :-)

I hear you and I am certainly not working to make you, or anyone, feel guilty. I put my hand up and said I sometimes use acrylic. I did say that it's half a dozen of one and six of another at times..that cotton processing can use harsh chemicals for example. I would want to know how other fibres are treated as equally.

I DO know it's a trade off and that in our world it's very difficult to do everything possible as an individual simply because we aren't the ones with the research and resource knowing and money/powerbase to influence. From all the posts I've read on this forum it is obvious that the majority of folks here..the vast majority..do what they can and I think awareness is increasing.

I do totally agree that what we do adds beauty but for me..and do know my background has largely been in research and that will affect and influence how I come at an issue..I want to try and make that beauty meld with the landscape. I don't always do that..again..acrylic or other elements are included..but, like you, I try to minimise.

I would not go and buy a big gas guzzling vehicle simply because that to me is my right and I want to compete and show off in my neighbourhood. I doubt you'd do that either. :-)

Phretys
06-01-2007, 09:02 PM
I think I read somewhere that the poodle/lamb story was a hoax. :D

One of the components of acrylic seems to be vinyl? We've already heard how vinyl/PVC can have negative health effects. Is that aspect of vinyl no longer an issue when it is formed into acrylic? I'm pretty much suspicious of anything made from plastics these days...

Debi

Susan P.
06-01-2007, 09:04 PM
Phretys (http://www.knittinghelp.com/knitting/forum/member.php?u=8562). Here they showed the story from Japan. One family didn't realise until they took their 'poodle' to the vet to have it's claws clipped LOL The vet had to point out it had cloven hoofs! From what was shown here and the details provided etc I believe the story was correct but as with many of these items..the urban myth can loom large!

Markette
06-01-2007, 11:15 PM
What a fascinating thread! And to think I almost skipped over it because it was about acrylic. Heh.

I grew up in sheep & goat country in west Texas, and my MIL is a sheep rancher, and I have never heard of mulesing. I guess she doesn't run that kind of sheep. She'll be in town tomorrow, so I'll have to ask her about it. She's always so patient with my 1001 questions. I know that they do let the tails drop because it helps keep th sheep from getting diseases. I got a little chuckle out of shearing being called animal cruelty. Trust me, it's a lot more cruel *not* to shear in the Texas heat!* They don't like it, but it doesn't hurt them. A good shear-er is quick and clean. It's quite something to watch.

Anyway, thanks for giving me something to read while the needles were clicking through the last rounds of the neck on my Somewhat Cowl -- I thought it would never end!

*Whether or not sheep should be kept in the area is a different question altogether, about which I know nothing.

mum2caden
06-01-2007, 11:32 PM
I just have to comment on the circumcision bit- boys get meds before they get circ'ed. Granted, they didn't always, but I don't agree with that either...

as for ear piercing- well I wouldn't do it to a toddler, but my parents did it to me and I don't care. Oddly enough, those are the only piercing that don't close over... everything else I have done will close over within a week, so I am actually glad they did it, lol.

Anyway- that was a completely OT post.. :)

Oh and Markette, I don't know if you meant me, but i don't think sheering sheep is cruelty.. if anything it has to be the opposite.. all that wool must be terribly hot in the summer months!

ArtLady1981
06-02-2007, 12:23 AM
Yeah, you're right mum2caden...my Post was really OT.
:pout: Dunno what got into me. My bad. Sorry.

Susan P.
06-02-2007, 12:58 AM
artlady.. I thought the parallel you offered quite appropriate and certainly so in terms of springboarding thought. Yes, they didn't always use anaesthetic for circumcision :oops:.

I don't think mum2caden was being critical :-)

I admit I don't like seeing very young babies pierced (tho I would understand if there were strong religious reasoning).

hunterjenn
06-02-2007, 01:32 AM
:psst: I think Mum2caden was talking about her own post being OT. :hug:

mum2caden
06-02-2007, 08:39 AM
Oh no- I think it was spot on.. it was just along different lines. Sometimes these things have parallels as such, it doesn't mean that speaking of them in this context is wrong.

I just meant I was OT, because I took it a little off from what you had been going for when I started talking about ear piercings, lol.

ArtLady1981
06-02-2007, 11:08 AM
:hug::hug:Hey, it's all good!:hug::hug:

KnittingNat
06-02-2007, 12:50 PM
I just have to comment on the circumcision bit- boys get meds before they get circ'ed. Granted, they didn't always, but I don't agree with that either...

as for ear piercing- well I wouldn't do it to a toddler, but my parents did it to me and I don't care. Oddly enough, those are the only piercing that don't close over... everything else I have done will close over within a week, so I am actually glad they did it, lol.

Anyway- that was a completely OT post.. :)

Oh and Markette, I don't know if you meant me, but i don't think sheering sheep is cruelty.. if anything it has to be the opposite.. all that wool must be terribly hot in the summer months!

I'd like to comment on the circumsicion bit - those that are circ'ed by the Jewish orthodox tradition (in Israel - most of the rituals are performed by the orthodox way) don't have any meds before. The mohel (the person that performs the ritual, NOT a doctor) is giving the baby a little wine, so he gets a bit drunk. Only those that perform that with a doctor at the hospital are getting meds. Me and my hubby agreed that if we ever have a boy, we'll have it done in a hospital by an M.D. only!

I know it's OT, but just wanted to correct (not offensively, i hope). I'm totally against these kind of things without meds.

mum2caden
06-02-2007, 01:53 PM
You are right- but honestly, that is a religion thing, and I don't think you can compare religious rules to that of animal welfare.. However, if you compare just the surgery itself, relating to human removal of skin and animal removal of skin.. well, yes, babies get meds.

Hope that made sense, lol That is why I didn't mention that, because I just feel the religious aspect makes it entirely different. (And I am completely against the no med thing too- human or animal...)

madametj
06-03-2007, 03:27 PM
I just have to comment on the circumcision bit- boys get meds before they get circ'ed. Granted, they didn't always, but I don't agree with that either...

as for ear piercing- well I wouldn't do it to a toddler, but my parents did it to me and I don't care. Oddly enough, those are the only piercing that don't close over... everything else I have done will close over within a week, so I am actually glad they did it, lol.

Anyway- that was a completely OT post.. :)

Oh and Markette, I don't know if you meant me, but i don't think sheering sheep is cruelty.. if anything it has to be the opposite.. all that wool must be terribly hot in the summer months!

i know they get vitamin K to stop the bleeding, but i'm not sure if they get anything for pain. i know they tend to scream real loud. :shrug:

mum2caden
06-03-2007, 04:16 PM
i know they get vitamin K to stop the bleeding, but i'm not sure if they get anything for pain. i know they tend to scream real loud. :shrug:

Well, my son is circ'ed and he definitely had pain meds, lol.

Oh, and he didn't scream at all- he cried when they took his clothes off, and was fine once they were back on- but he was like that until six months old, loved his warm clothes!