Weekly Topic #1 "FIBER SNOBERY"

Gentlemen, (and lady lurkers)

Martin put me up to this, so here goes!

Here is a question to ponder....Is there something about  fine, high-end natrual yarns and fibers that does, in fact, enhance the knitting experience....or is it just as pleasurable to knit with man-made fibers? The real question...are you a fiber snob and why????

Talk amongst yourselves....and then let us know


Oh thanks a lot. I have been very, very lucky to have been given Noro silk garden, Manos del Urugay and Annabel Fox from a parent at my school. That got me started looking at luxury yarns on eBay. Oh dear my secret is out. I did buy some pashmina at Purl for a cowl that I knit for a friends 40th birthday. I was too embaressed to say NO at the cash desk, even though my heart and bank balance were quivering. But, I have to say working with quality yarn is a pleasure. Debbie Bliss cashmerino is super on the hands. I'm knitting a scarf for my dad out of 50% wool and 50% hemp. That is quite rough and dries my hands out.
I did enjoy working with acrylics in my early days and the cost did not hurt when I made beginners mistakes.
I am enjoying working with a soy/wool mix at the moment that was sent to me by the cnmpany to make my yoga bag. They now have the copyright of my design.
So I guess that I am saying I am a fibre snob. Sad but true. It goes with other qualitities in my life. Champagne taste and beer money 

Knit away, knit away

"They say best men are moulded out of faults; and, for the most, become much more the better for being a little bad." William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Billbear's picture

I am a newb at knitting and have just finished my 4th project (yes, another scarf but have the supplies for a hat!) so to date I have worked with acrylic, just plain wool :-) , wool/cashmere, and wool/acrylic mix.  I have some wool yarn that I bought 'cause it was cheap and used it to show a friend how to knit and man it sucked.  It is a two ply that is not plied very well.  So it appears to me that not only does the fiber itself make a difference but the way it is readied for use.  This leads me into the next thing......where the fiber comes from.

Not to derail this thread but since Kevin brought it up I am going to put my two sense in on the subject.  New Hope Knitter (poster on here) and I messaged each other the other day about the idea of knowing where your yarn comes from specifically if it is from an animal and that there is a certain sense of something, I don't know what to call it yet, that comes from meeting the animal that provided you with fiber.  I have only been to local farms to visit animals and have not used local fiber but it is something I want to do.  Certainly this is not something we can do all the time, especially if you live in a city like NYC.  Maybe the fiber arts community needs to become pro-active in ensuring as best as possible that animals are properly cared for,  I don't know. Certainly the cost of something like that would be passed on to us the consumer, and even when things are labeled one thing what does it really mean?  It may sound a little New Agey but I think so many people forget about the process and only focus on the end result, and while it may be a lovely Alpaca sweater is it less lovely coming from an animal that has been abused?

madhatter7zero's picture

I am by no means a fiber snob.  My favorite yarn to knit with is Red Heart Super saver.  Wool is cool too, but I still like my red heart yarn.  I don't like fuzzy yarns too much but will knit with them to make gifts.  I think I get just as much pleasure from knitting with my red heart yarn as I do with any other yarn... actually I think I probably get more pleasure with my red heart yarn than with any other yarn... maybe I'm a natural fiber snob?  LOL

Visit my craft journal at http://david34.blogspot.com

Elad Fox's picture

Well, I enjoy the natural fibers myself, especially really nice cotton and alpaca. I've been knitting both together for a nice combination. I am easily overheated and find the soft warmth of cotton perfect for myself but am enjoying knitting with every kind of fibers, but on a personal level when shopping for myself I always go natural.


We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.
Marcel Proust (1871 - 1922)

ChazH's picture

I'm definitely not a fiber snob.  I have enjoyed knitting and crocheting with acrylic for many years now.  I suppose that's my very practical side talking.  Acrylic is easy to take care of, durable and warm.  On the other hand, I truly love to knit with wool, and find that it gives me over to thinking about the history of knitting and the many garments (swim trunks--ugh!) that were made from wool or cotton because there was nothing else.  I love the feel of wool on the needles. It must be the lanolin or something because there's nothing else like it. So smooth.  I've also knitted with cotton, linen and several blends, all of which have been lovely.

I can definitely say that novelty yarns have never proven to be worth the trouble for me. I find it hard to see the stitches on the needle, especially with eyelash and nubbly yarns, and often wind up splitting the ply, skipping or inadvertently making extra stitches.  Although they can make some very attractive things, I just don't have the patience to drudge along with them.  So, maybe I'm an anti-novelty yarn snob? 

I guess I am something of a fiber snob, but I became one after knitting a very complex Aran sweater in acrylic and watching it sag and stretch into an unrecognizable mess. I have come to hate the feeling of acrylic fiber. It feels plasticy and sticky in my hands. I have used some fibers with man made ingredients as part of the yarn, and that seems to work ok.

Unfortunately, my significant other is allergic to wool, but we are blessed with many other natural fibers today. 
I recently read an article about merino sheep which said that they have been bred to produce so much wool that if they are not regularly sheared, the weight of their coats will break their backs. I like thinking that it is a great relief to these animals to offer their gifts to us for knitting. 
Bill's picture

I'm very fond of Mohair...loopy or fuzzy..

but I'll mix any fibres to get the look I want... I usually knit with several yarns at once...

Over twenty-five years, I have knitted with many fibers: wool, nylon, acrylics, alpaca, cotton, etc. I find that many less expensive fibers knit up as well and as are as much fun to work with as the more expensive fibers. One should not be afraid to experiment and try a new fiber that hasn't been on the market before. But, by all means, keep a diary! And rate your yarns.

 The biggest thing that I consider about a yarn is what I want to make out of it. A child's sweater requires machine-wash (and maybe machine-dry) yarn. But a shell for my wife demands fine yarns and a luxury look. She doesn't mind hand-washing something that she really likes. On the other hand, I want wool socks with machine-washable qualities and resistance to pilling and felting. (Superwash wool is one of the greatest advances I have seen over the years.) But it's not essential to machine-dry my socks.

One last point: If you try a new yarn and don't like the way it knits, don't work with it. Try something else. The yarn makers keep coming out with greater and better yarns each season. Be sure to check out the fibers and try new yarns. And have fun with your knitting. That's why I continue to knit.


Randal Carter