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 SWEAR TO MOTHER GOD, IF I HEAR ONE MORE KNITTER OSTRACIZE ANOTHER KNITTER FOR USING ACRYLIC YARN I'M GOING TO LOSE IT!!!
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!