Friday, March 25, 2011

the quality of knitting/crochet, yarn, & etc...

I've been spending a lot of time in the chat rooms of etsy, and a lot of time in etsy (since 2006) and other online selling sites, and a discussion that has come up time and time again, among knitters & crocheters, is the quality of materials used in knitwear and crochetwear. This has also been a topic of countless discussions on ravelry as well. 

"Yarn snobbery" or "fiber snobbery" is about as taboo of a discussion as talking about religion and politics in mixed company. What defines a snob when it comes to yarn varies from one person to the next.

If you choose to not use a certain type of yarn, due to allergies or whatnot, that I can understand. There's nothing wrong with that at all. What I can't seem to understand, though, is simply going with a certain kind of yarn to make things simply because it's cheaper.

Acrylic, for example, tends to be (more often than not) cheaper than most other yarns. There are different qualities of acrylic, but at the end of the day, acrylic is acrylic, and acrylic is plastic. That's all that it is. So, why on earth would one make clothing from it? A sweater or scarf etc, made from acrylic, is the equivalent of wearing a plastic bag, and it keeps you just as warm. All it does is make you sweat, since it doesn't breathe. It's not a snob thing, it's just fact.

I've seen a lot of people on etsy make garments from acrylic, and their excuse is that acrylic is just the cheaper yarn to work with. Aren't you setting yourself up for failure before you've even started? I look even in my own closet, and I don't own any 100% acrylic clothes, even though much of what I have has been bought in department stores. Many of my shirts and undergarments are made from cotton. Even store bought sweaters are a wool blend at worst.

Yarn goes on sale all the time. Plus, if you already start with quality yarns, wouldn't that retail for more if you're planning on selling them? Or are we all comdemned to that Walmart mentality, where cheaper is always better? Do we not value our work enough to start with quality materials to make a quality product? If we're going to invest our energy into using a quality pattern, and we all know that handmade tends to be better quality than not, then why use inferior materials to begin with?

I'm not knocking acrylic yarns - I've plenty, but I believe it needs to be used accordingly. Acrylic is ideal for making toys. It's even great for making throws and afghans. Acrylic blend are great for making machine-washable garments. But to use 100% acrylic for clothing? I don't think so.

Even if you're not planning on retailing anything you've made - when you make something for yourself or to gift to someone, one would think you'd want to wear a quality garment. You don't have to spend a lot of money on quality yarns, there are some great ones that are priced inexpensively to start.

I use this as an example: A chef wouldn't use inferior ingredients to make dishes at his restaurant, a baker wouldn't bake with expired or inferior ingredients either, because (and pardon borrowing the slogan from a certain commercial) you can taste the difference quality makes. It's exactly the same in knitting and crochet.

Anyway, that's my vent, for what it's worth. I'm not even going to start with the ethicality of not charging for labour on selling sites when it comes to handmade, or infringing on trademark or copyright items when it comes to selling your work either, that's a different post for a different day. It would just be nice to see, when it comes to knitting or crochet as a whole, that people make an effort to start with quality yarns from the get-go.

You don't have to spend a whole lot of money to get good, quality yarns - just know which yarns are best suited for which projects is all.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Seven Year Itch (totally improvised!) sweater for myself!

I can't believe that I finally finished knitting a sweater for myself! Woo hoo!

Last September, DH & I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary - and one of the traditional wedding gifts for the 7th year is wool, so DH quite wonderfully gifted me a gift card to knitpicks. :) I bought some Wool of Andes yarn in Winter Night, used a cable design from Cables & Arans by Erika Knight for the sleeves, and improvised away.
 The whole thing is seamless in a sense - the decreases make it look like I've knit the sleeves in seperate peices, when in fact it was all joined together in a yoke-sweater fashion. I officially finished it very early Saturday morning (at 2:30am!) and it has been blocking for the rest of the weekend!