Yarn Snobbery: Justified?

Yarn-Snob-Pin-IvoryIf I’ve learned anything hanging out with knitting types is that there are varying levels of yarn snobbery.

I’ve met them before: the true, honest-to-god-, in the wild, classic yarn snob.  These are the people who only knit 100% natural fibers, usually with the highest price tag, and shrivel at the notion of touching any man-made fiber.   I’ve actually had a classic yarn snob say to me with a straight face that they were allergic to acrylic yarns and meant it. I’m not saying that an acrylic allergy is impossible but the gut hunch in this situation was this person felt the need to justify their fiber extravagance with a statement that many wouldn’t go out of the way to question.

There’s another classification of yarn snob; the acrylic snob.  Yes, they actually exist, and usually stand aghast in a local yarn store when they see the price of high-end yarns.  These folks love their yarn work, but they can’t justify the cost of pricier yarns for a myriad of reasons.

Both sides of the snobbery fence can make beautiful knitted or crocheted projects out of their materials of choice; and often stand in judgement on one side of the fence or the other.  The classic snobs are seen as pretentous the acrylic snobs are accused of beign cheap. Is it really worth it to park firmly in one camp or the other?

That answer is NAH!

I’ll admit that I’ve railed against certain brands of mass-produced commercial yarns (cough cough Red Heart cough cough) but even it has its purpose in the crafting world.  Most beginning knitters and crocheters begin with these types of yarns.  I fall into that category, dozens of projects were hooked in my childhood and teenage years.  Honestly, chain craft store yarn was really the only thing available to me for a very long time, and I really didn’t know any better.  I learned to knit in my 20s on the same yarns, and then I eventually wandered into local yarn shop and my knitwork began to change dramatically, and went through a few solid years of classic yarn snobbery.  It was lacework that forced me down the classic snob path, and I still won’t use a anything but a natural fiber for the thinnest of yarns, personally, I think it’s a risk to do fine lace work and then not have it block out correctly because of a too high man-made fiber content.

Being a classic yarn snob is expensive as hell though, and I evolved into a yarn connoisseur by necessity and a great deal of crafters fall into the connoisseur category.

Connoisseurs have learned the pros and cons to different fiber types and blends of those types.  An 100% acrylic yarn can’t be traditionally blocked and may not be the best for a garment, but an acrylic yarn with a 20-30% natural fiber content will block beautifully most of the time instead of dropping $150+ for higher end natural yarns for a sweater.  We’ve learned that there are some projects that an inexpensive acrylic yarn can really be the best choice, especially for items that could really end up taking a beating like toys and some afghans.  We’ve learned that the super squishy soft cashmere and wool blend would be gorgeous for that baby sweater for a friend but know that it would realistically be a burden on a new parent to have to hand wash it so it’ll end up worn once and put in a drawer, so we find a soft, washer and dryer friendly yarn instead. We all know that one craft-worthy friend that simply can’t wear animal fiber due to allergy or lifestyle choices, blends of cottons, bamboo, viscose, or other materials are acquired. Knowing fiber types and how they function and are made go a long way, and is absolutely worth taking the time to learn, and help others learn that walking down the middle path of yarn acquisition isn’t a bad idea.

While introducing crafty types to different yarns and manufacturing processes – they learn how to make an educated decision for their individual project needs.  But, what one ultimately chooses is entirely personal choice. Yep, totally personal choice.  Curling your nose and someone’s choice of yarn isn’t polite.

I personally prefer animal fiber or mostly animal fiber blends for myself.  I will admit that this preference isn’t the most budget friendly at times, but it helps if you have a talent for catching a good sale here and there.  If you take a good look at my horde though, you’ll find a pretty fair split between high-end animal fibers, and animal fiber and man-made fiber blends.  There’s even a fair amount of acrylics for oddball needs here and there.  It’s a balanced horde, and one I’ve sworn to work from for quite a while (well, unless someone asks me to knit them something specific as a commissioned project).

 

All in all, to each their own, it all really boils down to we’re making stuff for ourselves, and for others, and are having a great time doing it.

4 thoughts on “Yarn Snobbery: Justified?

  1. I completely agree with you! I may not like other people’s yarn choices, but I’m not the one that has to live (or knit) with them. I also don’t like being judged for a yarn choice for a specific project – sometimes acrylic is appropriate, and sometimes so is a luxury yarn like cashmere or angora. I wish those judgmental people could be more open minded, so I strive to be as open minded as I can.

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  2. Nan cook says:

    I agree also it is a personal choice. I also prefer animal fibers or blends. I don’t think I have ever judged anyone on their yarn choice though.

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  3. tonymarkp says:

    While I agree with a lot of the points you make, it all has to do, ultimately, with the gentrification of a folk art. People used to knit and crochet things out of necessity and to save money. Now it’s a luxury. The so-called “yarn snobs” that refuse to knit with anything else but all-natural fibers with special labels yadda yadda can afford to do so. Take their privilege and money away from them and you might see them either giving up knitting all together (I’ve seen a few who can’t knit much, really, they just do it because and their projects don’t turn out so nicely, but it’s true that most can knit pretty well) or actually dare knit with something else in the “lower grade.” You must admit that, in your post, you have essentially outlined a hierarchy of products in terms of price and fiber content, so that is how it is. In 1850 or so you’d be knitting using the cheapest, highest quality material available to you because if you didn’t your family would freeze to death in winter. Nowadays, you knit because you have extra time to be all hobby like, meanwhile there are people out there slaving away, barely making ends meet, and can’t afford even the Red Heart yarn. It’s all so fascinating, isn’t it, the yarn snob thing? Both historically and culturally. I mean, there are people knitting today who learned on their own and their parents have no clue about the craft. There’s something about that. It means hand knitting and other yarn crafts are pure hobbies for pleasure and are viewed in this way which in turn has produced the Yarn Snob. I, personally, am the Switzerland of yarn.

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