Just sayin...

I've been a member of MWK for 2 1/2 years now and have never ranted about anything or jumped onto a single soap box. Many of you who've gotten to know me realize that I'm a firm believer of deflecting as much negativity as possible and challenging oneself to put out as much positive energy into the universe as one can. However, that being said, I've got some wet sand in my underwear and I'm in dyer need of catharsis!


I was at my knitting group last night and we had a new person show up. She looked to be in her early 70's maybe, and seemed very sweet, though a bit nervous. Several of us introduced ourselves and expressed our joy for her attendance. As we started to pull out WIP's, she produced a lovely off-white, cabled baby blanket in progress for her first great-grandchild. One of the women sitting across from her walked over, felt the blanket and asked in a belligerent tone, "Is that ACRYLIC!" As if that wasn't enough, one of the group members sitting next to her verbally expressed a similar sentiment in an even more ominous tone. The poor lady was staring up not really knowing what to say and looked completely taken off guard. I quickly hurried over to express how beautiful I thought it looked and how I, myself, utilize acrylic for baby projects because of it's practicality. I still went on to say I still owned an acrylic afghan my grandmother had crocheted for me and it looked good as new despite me carrying it around like Linus when I was a tike.

I've heard people criticize knitters who use acrylic on Ravelry, here, various knitting blogs , etc., and frankly I'm sick of it! Let's take a look at this soon-to-be GG. She probably lives on a fixed income and doesn't have much money to spend on extras. Her daughter dropped her off because she no longer drives at night, so she undoubtedly has an accessibility issue for purchasing yarn. I'm sure she picks up yarn at a local department or hobby store due to these issues. She knows it's washable and dryable without shrinking or felting--a convenience she couldn't have as a new mother herself but probably often wish she had. New moms/dads often have difficulty finding time to sneak a shower, much less trying to hand wash baby items! Newborns (despite their size) produce copious amounts of dirty laundry in addition to parents spending time conquering feeding times, dealing with lack of sleep, sterilizing bottles, changing diapers, etc.

I like high quality natural fibers as much as the next guy, but there are times I use acrylic to knit for my nieces and nephew. First, they seem to grow out of things faster than you can blink an eye. Second, they're little pigs without making any effort of keeping food, markers, Kool-Aid and Lord knows what else off their clothing. My sister and BIL both work full-time aside from volunteering, coaching soccer, car pooling kids to dance lessons, cooking meals, doing laundry; the list just goes on and on. If I knit one of the kids something that needed to be hand-washed my sister would go all Ike Turner on my ass and put some stink on it! I also use acrylic, as requested, for knitting blankets going to the local rescue shelter, preemie hats I make for the NICU at my hospital, for making sweaters for dogs and for swatching patterns for designs.

I would bet that at least 60-70% of us knitted our first project in acrylic worsted. It's easy for a new knitter to see their stitches, it comes in a ton of colors, you can frog it 25 times and it's still able to be knit with it, it's inexpensive and accessible. I love when people say, "Ya know...it's plastic!" Well, no sknit Sherlock! Is that what acrylic means? Don't get me wrong, I love organic materials and try to be green whenever I can. I realize creating petroleum based polymers isn't the greatest for the environment, but do you always purchase milk in a cardboard container? Do you only buy eggs in a pressed paper carton? Do you refrain from using a vehicle or car pool as much as you can? We all pick and choose which ways we're going to participate in the green movement. One's own choices aren't necessarily better or more valid than another's.

Lastly, we have much to celebrate for knitting's growth in popularity in our recent past. We should spend our time supporting knitters as much as possible trying to give them a sense of inclusion instead of being critical of their choice of materials and run the risk of turning them off to it. They're KNITTING! That's GREAT! If you don't want to ever get close to acrylic--FINE. If you would like to introduce a novice to the wonderful world of wool, alpaca, mohair--GROOVY! How about we try to comment on their even knitting, or lack of dropped stitches or learning a new technique! All I'm asking is this--try to empathize with a knitter when he/she posts or shares a FO and what they must feel like when their pride and sense of accomplishment have been lambasted by words of disdain for their yarn choice!


PaxKnitter's picture

Well said!



pjmma's picture

Perfectly put Millard, Amen :)

pjmma's picture

Perfectly put Millard, Amen :)
(Sorry about the duplicate posting, victim of lag!)

DavidAtlGA's picture


vsidart's picture

I agree wholeheartedly!
As much as I love natural fibers, they're not always the most practical.
I LOVE making BSJs, but how cruel is it to give a new parent with sleep deprivation a garment that must be hand washed and blocked?

TheKnittingMill's picture

Right? If you've never had children or co-inhabited with someone who's brought a newborn home it's hard to have an accurate prospective of what new parents go through. I have a couple of really good friends who adopted a newborn recently. These guys really have their act together and are very organized--then the baby came. I went over to their house after having their daughter for 3 days and they looked like they had been through a nuclear holocaust! LOL!

MMario's picture

And then it continues for 18 to 30 or more years

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

I sure could get on a soapbox about motherhood but I only have to say..never mind because it would just be a long discertation no one wants to hear anyways..



MMario's picture

I think you may be preaching to the choir, in the main...

The irony is that many of the same people who will diss acrylics will also rave about their soy/corn/milk/bamboo/seaweed yarn and how "green" and "natural" it is;

neglecting the fact that none of those are any more "natural" a fiber then is acrylic.

(okay - there is a very small amount of natural bamboo fiber out there, produced from bamboo leaves in much the same process used for flax, but it is a very, very, very small amount. most of the "bamboo" yarn you find for sale is the artificial fiber)

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Never knew that fact, Mmario. After all, the yarns you mention are processed out of something else. Thanks. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

DeceptiveCookie's picture

I've been hearing a lot of stuff about re-labeling yarns that have those on their labels... like I've seen a few of the bamboo yarns out there being relabeled as 100% Viscose derived from Bamboo...

MMario's picture

yup - truth in advertising. the new processes are greener then the old ones, and viscose is much "greener" then acrylic, but it's a long long way from "natural"

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

You made a whole bunch of great points, Mill. I try to point out to my knitting group members who diss Red Heart that back in the 50's and 60's it was a high quality, reasonably priced wool yarn that fit into peoples' budgets. Even when they went to acrylics, it was still a high quality product, at first...the baby sweater I designed and knit last Fall was in Red Heart acrylic baby sport weight and several of the "ooohhers and aaahhers " asked what brand of wool it was, based upon the feel. The difference? The yarn had been produced in the 1970's before "Quick and cheap" became the byword of the yarn industry as they gobbled all the competition up to corner the market and raise up profit margins. Therefore, it was better finished. I've had my share of naysayers because I insist on acrylic for baby items but I use the same arguments to justify it: Ease of care, how quickly kids grow, and all that. After all, even superwash can be ruined if thown into a super hot wash and high heat dryer. Expense is part of it, as well...I can't afford $10 - $20+ skeins of yarn on a regular basis, so I follow the wise old advice "Work with the best materials you can afford." Knitting should be inclusive, not divisive. Your post is a good reminder of that fact. Thank you so much for writing it. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

TheKnittingMill's picture

Well said Joe! I've heard people say that they don't believe babies are actually "allergic" to wool and just need to be desensitized, but it couldn't be further from the truth. I've SEEN severe allergic reactions in newborns at the clinic and we have to start the difficult task of trying to find out what caused it and if it was ingested or contact related. So, it's easier to surround baby with as many hypoallergenic items as possible until their immune system matures. Ironically, their B-cells (memory cells of the immune system) are crazy busy during the first few months trying to make this little humanoid impermeable to disease and attempting to "desensitize" them to something they may be intrinsically allergic to may set them up for much more severe reactions (even up to anaphylactic shock) down the road.

atravelingknitter's picture

You get that sand out of your underwear! I agree wholehearted! No one has a right to judge another.... Kindnesss is as Kindness does... Speaking of underwear, did you finish your boxershorts?
A Traveling knitter

A Traveling knitter

TheKnittingMill's picture

No, not yet. I was put out of commission for a couple of weeks due to an angry ruptured appendix but I started working on them again today. I'm so eager to see them finished! I'll keep you posted...(",)

atravelingknitter's picture

You get that sand out of your underwear! I agree wholehearted! No one has a right to judge another.... Kindnesss is as Kindness does... Speaking of underwear, did you finish your boxershorts?
A Traveling knitter

A Traveling knitter

rjcb3's picture

Hear! Hear!

The charity group for which I knit, also requires that the preemie and other baby garments BE made of acrylic so that they can specifically be washed in the hottest water and dried in a dryer on the hottest setting. As you would know, knitting for similar charities that I do, NICU doesn't have time, nor will they attempt to fiddle with hand-wash-in-warm-and-dry-flat.

My family's craft and yarn shop, years ago, was a distributor for Red Heart. Since Grama and Aunt Chris knit and crocheted the items that were in the shop, they might as well have had a good deal for the materials and then be able to sell off the materials for the customers that wanted to do the same thing. So, Red Heart was LOVING us for nearly ten years because we not only sold the skeins, but, we demonstrated what could be done with the product...

...and yes, I, too, learned how to knit with Red Heart acrylic.

After I learned how it's made, I have also since affectionately called it "plastic" and when I make an item with it, I'll call it just so, too (obviously not in a derogatory way, seeing as I used the material to make such things.) I'll wear my plastic socks and my plastic sweaters and my plastic mittens, and my plastic moebius, etc. etc. etc.

Please, please, PLEASE don't lose touch with this GG2B. I, for one, would now like to see what she's knitted, when she's done with it. Do you think she'll let you take pictures...if she returns?


TheKnittingMill's picture

I won't. I'm determined to keep her coming back to the group! The blanket was really beautiful. She was just making up the pattern as she went along. I love watching guys and gals who've knitted for decades! It seems SO fluid and effortless completely embedded into their subconscious and as autonomic as breathing. I'll take a pic for you guys and post it.

Nashrunner's picture

Well said. I have used acrylic for kid's stuff and continue to. It's smart. It wears like pig iron, almost won't stain, washes like a rag and keeps its shape. There are varying grades of acrylic also, and the good ones have a look and feel very similar to natural fibers. I don't mind using it at all. Common sense!

Bill's picture

I couldn't possibly knit with anything but cashmere, Qiviut, or silk!

(yeah, right!)

ronhuber's picture

Sorry to hear about the sand in your underwear. Gee, you're an articulate guy. I keep saying that it is not how, with what, or when you knit something that is important. It is the knitting that is important.

negativitysucks's picture

I love acrylic (especially Vanna's Choice by Lion Brand) when I make items for friends and family who I know won't take time for special cleaning instructions. It's fantastic for dog sweaters too.
I wouldn't use it on an heirloom sweater or a pair of socks, but there are some really good quality acrylics out there with great drape and a really nice hand. I do happen to think Red Heart is rather scratchy, so I don't often use it for anything, but when you need a particularly bright color or an amazing array of colors for a project, sometimes acrylic has exactly what you want at a great price.
I also know designers who use acrylic in the same way a clothing designer uses muslin. Making a mock up in acrylic to get the proportions figured out works better than a premium fiber because acrylic can take being knitted and reknitted without shredding.
For baby items, try Vanna's Choice Baby. It's incredibly soft and knits up like a dream without splitting. Great stitch definition too. And the most obvious benefit to acrylic is that when you store those knitted items for the off season, you don't have to worry about moths.
I really love knitting with natural fibers but there's always room for acrylic for many projects.

Hold your ground with the knit police. They know not what they do :-)

TheKnittingMill's picture

Vanna's Choice is the acrylic I mostly use too! I'm a big fan of Lion Brand's products. I love Wool Ease, and despite the small percentage of wool content you can still spit splice it. Many peers are skeptical about it working until they try it. They say you can't spit splice superwash wool either, but I do it all the time. Have you seen LB's Amazing yarn? The color gradients are...well... amazing!

Kerry's picture

Well said Mill. Now I am going to probably upset our women members by saying that over my long life I've noticed that women are harder or more unpleasant to other women than men are to women or men are to other men, or do I just not mix enough with men to make that statement. Just saying.

TheKnittingMill's picture

I agree! I've seen it many times working in a profession that has been dominated by women. It's been really interesting for me to observe the differences from our dialogue and reactions to a posted FO here on MWK versus the comments and dialogue on Ravelry where women make up the majority.

I love this forum!


I don't find it upsetting at all! Kudos to Mill for saying it straight. Women can be downright female dogs to each other without reason and when you throw hormones into the mix lookout for them darn claws. I prefer the company of men not because of "sexual attraction" but rather the opposite. There is no claws and fur flying over stupid irrational hormonal personalities. I am a servant of the Mother Goddess and a practitioner of humanity. Given that, I resolve myself to the thought that Men are more apt to be earthy than modern women. Modern women struggle to be accepted as a gender equal to men without taking into consideration that their strengths and weaknesses set them apart in a different manner of equality. My husband and I recognize our differences and respect them. Therein lies the balance in our relationship. If we were equals we would be battling always. After all isn't that the basis of all wars? You go Mill! Stand for the underdog!



bobshome's picture

We like you with grittty underwear!!
The ladies are simply full of self aggrandizement. I'm glad you went to the rescue. Perhaps GG does not even need a reason to be using her yarn of choice. After all it is HER choice.
Go GG.

clickety clack's picture

I'm knitting an acrylic/alpaca blanket right now....soft, soft soft....I used to stay away from acrylic and still take a double take with it but this combo works for me. All one needs to do is use common sense and see how the yarn feels and 'works up'.

PaulJMC's picture


Go for it. You're a good bloke Millard


In cielo non c'e vino...beviamolo sulla terra!

In cielo non c'e vino...beviamolo sulla terra!

"ya know...it's plastic"

I've been to several museum exhibitions on contemporary textiles and a good majority of really incredible "art/high-tech" fabrics made for the design industry are being made from nylon and polyester to create fabric effects that aren't possible with natural fibers. Take a look at textile designers such as NUNO, Angharad McLaren, Junichi Arai. etc. However, most of these fabrics are very complex weaves and almost invisible threads...and we are talking hand-knitting here. A lot of the polyester and nylon "novelty" yarns you see at the local craft store I will admit do turn me off. But acrylic yarn is what I used to learn knitting and what I use now to learn crochet. It's not stuff I bother unraveling to reuse later after I'm done practicing a certain pattern. But acrylic yarn is great to make dishcloths out of...

Tom Hart's picture

Applause!!Applause!! I feel well stood-up-for, Mill. Well, well said. I'm starting a rug right now for my sister. It's all Red Heart super saver. It's a rug for right in front of the kitchen sink. I would have preferred to do it in cotton. But Red Heart had the biggest color selection on the shelves. So that's what my sister got. Seems like it should wear well. I just hope it doesn't pill.

I say AMEN to you. Thank you for coming to GG rescue. I use acrylics or blends for 90% of my work. I have also read the threads on Rav, on the acrylic haters, but also have seen quite a few of them cry and complain about something happing to thier "snob" yarn. I try to match the fibres to the person it is going to. All my kids items are acrylic, just because of the "wears like iron" and wash and dry factor. Again, My Hat is off to you for putting GG at ease and I am sure you have made a friend for life.

murfpapa's picture

Another advantage I've found is that frequently there are no dye lots to acrylic. When you run out of yarn close to the end of a project, it's nice to be able to be able to run out and get another without too much worry that the color will be off. At least as long as I can remember whether the project is in snow white, eggshell white, antique white or some other shade.

Buzzboy's picture

Thank you for airing this. Depending on what i'm knitting and who it's for is what I determine what i'll knit with. I love wool but I have family members who don't know how or concerned about what or how they are to be taken care of. Especially the younger generation. I have made several afghans out of acrylic and they turned out beautiful. I am just excited to have new knitters/crocheters. I wouldn't care if they made an article out of paper. I do know that there are fabulous knitters who use cassette or video tapes to knit with. Keep it up buddy.


TheKnittingMill's picture

Thanks Dennis! Many of my family members or friends appreciate and/or request knitted items, but I learned a hard lesson long ago to save my higher end/natural fibers for those who either knit/crochet as well, are truly in the "know" or for myself. Most of the recipients of my knits couldn't care less about what type of yarn it's made of as long as it feels soft and don't have to fuss with anything that has to be hand washed or dry cleaned.

RickeScott's picture

You go!! And please put those yarn bitches in their place. Pointing out a person's insensitivities works, sometimes...

Thepook's picture

When I first started this wonderful craft, all I knew of yarn was what was available and cheap at Wally World. This consisted of Red Heart Super Saver. I could get A WHOLE POUND of yarn for like $2. WOO HOO!. Then I found my LYS and my love of natural fibers was born. I personally now cannot think of using Red Heart again, but I also cannot bear seeing anyone degraded for using it. This is something we love to do, and we do it how we do it. There is no knitting police waiting to pull us over for not using high end yarn, knitting a certain way or following the crowd. Plus the fact there are some FANTASTIC acrylic yarns on the market today: Plymouth Encore is my favorite go-to yarn for any adult worsted project; Dark Horse yarns Fantasy is an acrylic/nylon blend that is soft to the touch off the shelf and turns into butter when you wash it for the first time; Sirdar Crofter yarn is acrylic/wool/cotton that has a self fair isle pattern built in and makes great beanies (I've given them as gifts numerous times and get raves every time). So amen, my brother. Me and all your MWK brethren join you on that particular soap box and bring GG up here with us and let's give a rousing "You Go Girl!"

Mnjack's picture

Millard, Thanks for the "letting go" memo. When I first started knitting, decades ago, all I could get was Red Heart yarn and I didn't care, it made what I wanted. As my kids were growing up I kept them in sweaters.... all acrylic, they had to be washable and dryable. I made acrylic afghans, again so they could be washed, after the kids rolled around with the dog or cats in them.

Today I do use better yarns for certain projects ,but even now for an afghan that is going to be really used and not for show, I use a blend. I really prefer Wool Ease for afghans, it gives the warmth and yet can be washed in the washing machine and needs no blocking when it comes out.

I agree with you, let's support each other, talk about how great a person's work is and not give a rat's ass about what they used. There are enough people fining faults in others, let's not add the type yarn a person uses as another excuse to ridicule.

Pinecone's picture

Millard, thanks for posting this. I too used acrylic worsted-weight yarn for my first knitting project -- a pair of warm-up tights I wore in ballet classes and rehearsals. Money was tight at that time and I knew nothing of the fiber options available... and I could wash and dry them with the rest of my laundry.

I love MWK for the many acts of welcome, acceptance and support that are freely shared among members here. To me that is even more important than the invaluable help and advice that is routinely given. It is unfortunate when a gathering of people with a common interest cannot focus on and appreciate all that they have in common, but instead turn to targeting and attacking any perceived differences. Maybe the offending members of your knitting group should join MWK... sounds like they could learn a lot from us. Best, John

mwkbloom's picture

I knit my first project out of Red Heart. I don't know what happened to it, but I'm currently re-creating it --- out of the same colorway of Red Heart, of course!

gardenguy42's picture

Just going to add my voice to the chorus here. I knitted with nothing but acrylic for years because there was nothing else available in my small hometown in WV. I have 2 finished afghans right now sitting here in front of me that are acrylic (both Caron’s Simply Soft -- it is very soft! LOL) one knit and one crochet.

I make most of my own things out of wool because I dearly love working with it and how it feels finished.
But I do a lot of charity knitting and children/baby knitting and acrylic is the first choice for ease of care and stability. My mother has knit for nearly 60 years and uses nothing but acrylic.

It seems to me that anyone who would sneer at another’s knitter’s choice of fiber is experiencing a lot of insecurity and self-doubt. I love Lion Brand yarns too! LOL

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Kilted Knitter's picture

Your Are GG's Hero!!!
I am proud to know a man who stood up to a group of snob's and bitches!!
Good For You!!

rc_in_sd's picture

Mill, bless you for offsetting the petty meanness of those people. Most of us, as men exploring a traditionally female craft, have felt insecure and unwelcome in similar situations. One such interaction could have (in fact, most likely HAS) alienated any of us. For a woman anticipating a great-grandchild to be subjected to such judgemental bitchiness is appalling. I know you made her feel wonderful about her knitting. It doesn't take much kindess to overcome such negativity, and you're a champion for standing up for her.

michaelpthompson's picture

Right on Millard! Makes me just want to go out and knit something acrylic.

Actually, I am working on a long scarf in the colors of my local soccer team, in Red Heart.

"All knitting is just one stitch at a time."