Saturday, February 14, 2009

Going on a yarn hunt

I mostly shop for yarn by price, so I use acrylic more than anything else. I know there is a bit of a political divide around acrylic yarn, with the purists condemning anyone who stoops to the level of using synthetic, unnatural fibres for their precious creations.

Bunkum I say! I believe there is room for all yarns in your repertoire and it really depends on what you are making. For instance, when I make things for my grandchildren, I mostly use acrylic so their mother can machine wash them. If I am making garments using wool, I make sure she brings them to me for know how clueless these modern kids are!

And the decision to use acrylic over wool often comes down to what is available and what would look best. I made a lovely striped jumper for Zoe, then 3, using Patons Inca which is a particular ply that I couldn't replicate in cheaper yarns. It would have cost me around $60 to knit, which I considered excessive for a small child's garment, so I waited until Cassidy's at Jamison had their 30% off sale (which I haven't seen for quite a while) and made the jumper for around $35 if I remember rightly. That jumper can be passed down to Claire who is now 3.

When their mother Emma was about 2, I made her an aran style jacket using Cleckheaton 12ply pure wool. It has been passed down to her 3 siblings and Zoe has had a crack at wearing it as well! So this is proof that using pure wool has its advantages, as that jumper has seen around 20 years use over 5 children and will be kept as a family heirloom. On the other hand, I also made a jumper for Louise when she was 3 or so, using a Bernat yarn. I still have it, and although it has pilled a bit over the years and hasn't been worn by as many people, I would still pass it on to my granddaughters.

I have already had my whinge about the difficulties of buying cheap 100% cotton in Australia. I did an experiment with some of the All Sorts yarn that I bought from Lincraft, by crocheting a dishcloth. As I suspected, after using the cloth on the washing up last night, it was still quite wet today, which says to me that it isn't all cotton and probably contains acrylic. So, another little source of income is denied me, for now anyway. Did I mention that I am going to start selling hats and bags on Oztion? It's either that or get a second job which I don't want to have to do if I can help it. I have a few things made and crash tested already so I just have to pull my finger out and get listing!

So, what do I use acrylic yarn for and what are my favourite brands? Carnival from Big W is very versatile, especially their fairisle and camo ranges. I do find them quite firm, especially the Camo, which makes it very good for bags, but not so suitable for garments. The fairisle ones can be quite soft but I would suggest you check them before you buy, just in case they are too scratchy for you.

I don't get to Spotlight as often as I would like, but to be honest I don't think their range is much different to Lincraft. I use Lincraft brand yarns quite a bit, especially their Cosy Wool, which is pure wool and not too bad quality wise. I'm also use their acrylic which has a huge range of funky colours, great for baby and kids' clothes.

I haven't used Patons or Panda acrylics much, mainly due to the increased cost per ball. I'm not against paying a lot for a beautiful yarn that I will be wearing for years (the main reason I don't is that my knitting isn't in the expert class and would be a waste of good wool) but I don't see the point in spending twice as much for the same acrylic. I wouldn't mind trying Panda or Carnival soft acrylic though. I do draw the line at Panda Disco! Awful stuff!

These days I crochet hats, bags, scarves and am about to start doing Amugurami, because I think there is a market for funky little desk pals for all us working people. When I get started on my “seachange” what's life all about posts, I'll explore more about why I am trying to earn extra money and what I am planning (albeit theoretically at this stage) for the next phase of my life.

Here are some Australian links to the major yarn brands and free patterns -



Patons Australia


Panda Yarns

Carnival Yarns

So, until next time...keep on hooking!

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