As you may know, I’m a BIG fan of wool yarns. Especially alpaca!
The…you get the picture. I’m a fan.
But this doesn’t mean I won’t use acrylic yarns occasionally. It does have benefits.
But one of the biggest misconceptions about acrylic yarn is that it is consistent.
Because it is a man-made fiber, and people can control the manufacturing process, it is assumed the yarns within the same range are, well, the same.
They aren’t always.
And I easily forget this when I’m distracted by the colours too.
But let’s look at the benefits of acrylic first.
Acrylic Does Have Benefits…
- Huge colour ranges. HUGE!
- Long lasting.
- Hard wearing.
- Easy to clean and machine washable.
- Cheap, making them more affordable and more financially inclusive.
- Won’t be eaten by moth larvae.
…And Some Disadvantages
- Made from plastic polymers = oil.
- Doesn’t degrade.
- Not renewable.
- Doesn’t breathe = holds on to sweat and odour.
But there is also an issue with acrylic yarns that is widely believed to be true.
It may not cause an issue for you, but it does for some people. And I’m one of them.
The Forgotten Problem
During manufacture coloured plastic is heated and spun into teeny tiny strands. Those strands are then wound together to create the yarn.
Some colours, not all, seem to wind together thicker and denser than others. And this causes an uncomfortable (again for some) inconsistency.
I am currently working on a new blanket design that uses 15cm squares for the background.
I have chosen a dark pink, light pink, and white for these squares. All from the same brand and the same DK yarn.
So you would think that they would all knit up the same?
Both the white and light pink need 32 stitches on my 4mm needles. The yarn is soft and easy to use at this gauge.
But the dark pink?
This colour is heavier, thicker, and not as soft as the other two colours.
Using the same needles I only need 30 stitches.
Yes this will make sewing up the squares a little awkward. But that’s manageable.
The problem is that this tiny change in thickness, is causing massive stress on the joints in my fingers and wrists. That’s not good.
What Can You Do About This?
Since the yarn companies don’t seem particularly bothered about fixing this issue in their manufacturing process, you’re left with few options…
The easiest thing to do is to have a good look at the yarn when you are picking your colours. Choose colours that look to be the same thickness as each other. However this is restricted to in-shop purchases, not online. Plus you might really need that colour.
The other option is to work your swatch based on the thickest colour. Yes you will still need to adjust your stitch count for the lighter yarns, but this will atleast make the knitting as comfortable for you as possible.
Personally I would love to spend my knitting time working with 100% wool yarns. But I accept that man-made yarns also have their place.
However I reject the belief that acrylic yarns are consistent.
I haven’t used every acrylic yarn out there, so perhaps there are producers out there who have rectified this issue between colours during manufacture.
But whilst I’ve haven’t experienced every wool yarn out there either, this isn’t an issue I have come across amongst different colours of the same wool yarn.
Is this a myth that you were led to believe? Is this an issue that you’ve experienced in a project? Let me know in the comments below.
Best wishes, Sam xox
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