These acrylo-virtues do not override several facts: the colours suck. It pills when you wash it. It makes you sweat, without really keeping you warm (unlike wool, that wonder fibre, which keeps you warm even when wet). And perhaps worst of all: it SQUEAKS when you knit with it. I LOATHE the squeak of acrylic as it grunts gracelessly across my needles.
I learned to knit with acrylic, way back in its glory days: the mid-eighties. Back in those days, before the internet, before fancy local yarn stores, before Knit Picks, Wool Time, Yarn Forward, before even Walmart*, my mom would take me "downtown" (which is being generous: my hometown has a population of 1100), to "Daphne's"...our version of a local yarn/fabric/general craft supply store. I remember going there with my mom before I even started school. They'd sit me up in this half-tube that ran along the side of the cutting table; this was a place to lay the bolt of cloth. I marvelled to see it again when I was an adult; that my ass could fit in that little space is a wonder to me now. But I digress.
Daphne sold acrylic yarn. All of my first projects were made with some version of Patons yarn. I still have the first fair isle sweater I knit (when I was 12!); the yoke pattern was of little boys and girls (resembling paper dolls) holding hands, with green fir trees for colour. It's a nice gender-neutral grey. My kids could wear it! I'm still proud of the accomplishment, proud of the determined little girl I was, learning to knit and purl, increase and decrease, do ribbing and even real raglan sleeves. But it's acrylic.
When I was introduced to wool, my world changed. You could say I am a yarn snob, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. The way I see it, if it's worth making, it's worth the best wool you can afford.
Enter Violet. The child who thinks a bug is biting her every time she feels an itch. If I put a pea under her mattress (or 20 mattresses), she'd feel it. You know the kind...sock seams, shirt tags, and bunchy elastic waists drive her crazy. After several flat refusals to where anything woolish, I made her a sweet cardigan out of Cotton Fleece, a lovely, very soft cotton-merino blend. Here she is, modelling the cardigan, after I'd wrestled her into it:
She loves it! You just can't tell because she's screaming so loudly.
This is the last time she wore it. Next I tried to knit her a vest, the Cobblestone-Inspired "Pebble". I casually suggested she tried it on (lest I scare her off with my intense desire for her to wear SOMETHING knitted); nope, no can do, mommy.
Everytime she sees me knitting, she asks what I'm making. She always follows my reply with "For meeeee?" So I've finally surrendered to what this girl needs.
She needs a mama-made sweater. In acrylic. I'm 4 inches into the back (colours chosen by her), and hating every minute of it. I hate the colour. I hate the yarn (which, incidentally, cost me $9...for the whole sweater). The pattern is cute. And I hope she'll love it so much that I'll have to peel it off her at night, coax her to pass it on to Margot when she outgrows it, and promise to save it for her babies. Even if it isn't wool. And even if my descendents think I was just some tacky acrylic-knitting granny, with no sense of the value of natural materials.
Because if she doesn't, she's not getting another damned knitted thing from me, ever.