Yarn snobbery.

I’m now back from THE WEEKEND WITHOUT YARN [thunderclap, howling wolves, etc.], but still lacking a project. So here’s a random post I found in my drafts folder. As I recall, I’d just flipped from one argument on Ravelry about how acrylic melts babies, into another about how ‘fancy’ yarn was a waste of everyone’s time and we should all be happy with dishcloth cotton. It was a lot angrier before today’s edit. 😀

My feelings on yarn have evolved over time. When I started knitting for serious, I went to the Indoor Market and bought a bagful of acrylic. There was nothing else there, except for some limp dishcloth cotton. And the novelty yarn.

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Oh yeah. You bet I bought it. I used all of it.

I quickly discovered that acrylic isn’t terribly pleasant for me to wear. I apparently have super-special-snowflake skin that does not like unnatural fibres next to it. So I moved onto wool, and thence to alpaca. Now I’m pretty keen to try out all the fibres I can (I just bought my first angora mix, by which I’m quite excited). I want to make more stash-in-shape-of-animal-from-whence-it-came shots.

alpaca

I understand that other people might be against my preferred yarns on ethical, allergic or other grounds, and that’s fine by me. So I was all the more shocked when I saw the snobby, rude reactions some knitters (and crocheters) have to other people’s yarn choices.

Sometimes, they’ll give good advice. Don’t use x yarn for socks, you’ll never be able to wash them, or don’t use x fibre for a jumper, as it just won’t hold the shape. But sometimes…  It’s not enough to simply say ‘it’s not to my taste’, or ‘I prefer x yarn’, the offending yarn must be disparaged in terms of despising, or loathing. Ideally those that like it must be belittled also – ‘I can’t imagine why anyone would like Wollmeise, they’re only buying it because it’s fashionable, silly sheeple’, ‘I suppose acrylic is fine for beginners, but real knitters use real wool’.

Argh.

I know that the vast majority of knitters are ‘ooh shiny yarnz yay!’ and couldn’t care less about what other people are using. But I think it’s important to stress that the loud, over-opinionated few who try to impress their opinions on others are just plain wrong. And what do we do when that happens?


duty calls – xkcd

So now we come to the point of this post. I want to reassure the beginning knitter, before or after they stumble into a den of yarn snobs, that it’s ok. Really. Use whatever yarn you want. Don’t let the grumblings of a few over-opinionated chumps put you off. You might keep using acrylic til the day you lay down the needles, or you might decide you only ever want to knit yarn spun from the tails of unicorns. Someone will find fault with either decision; so ignore them, and use whatever you want.

LET’S ALL BE HAPPY AND EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER and pet yarn *pet pet pet*.

27 thoughts on “Yarn snobbery.

  1. Nice post, and wholeheartedly agree. I had a big hiatus in my knitting, and when I rekindled my love with the two sticks, I first bought a bag of acrylics.
    By now, I’m more in the unicorn tail fangirl club, which doesn’t mean I don’t ever use acrylics. It’s great for things you actually need to wash properly (babies, pets anyone?). It’s an inexpensive way to fool around with your needles and test patterns and stitches and such.
    And most importantly, there’s absolutely no reason to be judgemental one way or the other. Knit what makes you happy.

    1. Exactly. I’ve seen so many lovely posts with people proudly showing off their newly-made ridiculo-bright acrylic blankets and toys and so on that I just can’t bring myself to be snobby about it.

  2. I agree. Fiber is really a matter of opinion. I know some people who hate wool and can’t stand the feel of it on their fingers but love some of the softer acrylics out there.

    So many people on the internet fail to remember that an opinion is an opinion, not a fact and not an invitation to Web Fight Club.

    1. I sometimes think everyone should have to take a short introductory course to the internet, in which they are forced to learn that a) other opinions exist b) other opinions are not always wrong and c) the existence of other opinions does not mean that yours is considered wrong, so you do not have to defend your opinion to the death.

  3. Well said. I think if you find something you like, that works for your project, use it. And if you don’t like what someone else is using – always go by the rule – if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all 🙂

  4. Yeah, see I usually just go for the colors I find pretty and then the feel of the yarn against my skin. If it’s scratchy and itchy, I skip it. I can’t handle wool. I love it, but I can’t handle it so I tend to avoid buying any wool or mohair blended fabric and yarn. I just like to knit. If I can afford the yarn, and I like it, then I buy it. I totally agree with you on the “use what you want” advice.

    1. I am far more drawn by colours. I seem to find more of the colours I like in scratchy or itchy yarn, so I’ve started buying long-sleeved t-shirts just so I can get away with it!

  5. I absolutely love your post! I have a mix of yarns and fibers in my stash, but I have my favorites that many yarn snobs would shake their heads at. I say, knit with what’s you happy 🙂

    1. Thank you! Whenever I pick up an acrylic I do a little dance of ‘haha yarn snobs, you’ll hate me for this and I don’t care, neener’. Yes, I do get funny looks in shops.

  6. Hear hear.
    Tell you what, I also began to knit learning with acrylic. No sin in that. Furthermore, I was scraping for scraps each week to buy food, what more buying stuff for a new hobby? Acrylic was the most practical solution.
    Not everybody’s skin takes kindly to unicorn tail wool as well. To each her own, really.

    1. Quite. I’m glad this post has garnered some agreement, because I was so shocked when I saw people being rude about acrylic I thought I was doing it wrong. I could have been put off for life!

  7. Well said! While I am very selective about the fibers I select (aka fiber snob!), I would never criticize another knitter’s choice. The only time I say something is if the knitter is a beginner and working with the selected yarn has the risk of quelling her/his enthusiasm for the art of knitting.

    1. That is a good point – warning someone that dishcloth cotton will not make good socks (or will it? I don’t even know) is a very different matter. I suppose it’s in the manner of telling; educational vs offensive.

  8. You get similar comments from some handspinners: “Why would you ever knit with commercial yarn again once you’ve used handspun?” Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view), I still love commercial yarns as much as my handspun. Alas, pricey ones, too. Everything works for its own purpose. And sometimes you want a little instant gratification (shhh, please don’t remind me how much handspun I’ve stashed here).

    1. Yes! And hand-spun is not automatically better than anything produced in a mill. Different, yes. But not always better… particularly not when spun by me. 😉

      Also I’m all about assessing opportunity cost. Sure, I could spend n hours spinning the yarn. But what else could I do in that time? Something more fun? Earn the money to pay for the yarn?

  9. I so agree with you; knit with what you LIKE!!! I use acrylics and blends along with the ‘good stuff’. Not crazy about straight wool or cotton but have found several blends I just love, so I just can’t be snobby!

    I LOVE your legwarmer pattern, by the way, and am making it now!

  10. I too am late to the party – as always. Love the discussion. I’ve been knitting so long that I’ve seen the world go from wool being the only yarn available, to the proliferation of acrylics, and back to the wool will rule the world crowd. It all comes down to match the fiber to the project and the receiver of the item. Common sense. And after all, an opinion is just that. If I needed someone’s overbearing opinions I would still be married.

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