Acrylic yarn? Ew. (I’m loving it.)

You’ve heard this story before – new knitter, doesn’t know what a decent yarn is, gets sucked in by the cheap, bright acrylic ones she sees at the shop and buys a bunch. She’s not very good a knitting, and then realises her mistake when she tries to knit with the new stuff and it splits like mad. Yarn gets stored away from view, never to be seen. The shame, the shame!


That was two years ago. I just couldn’t bring myself to throw this fibre away, despite knowing how awful it was (I’m that cheap), but it was taking up precious storage space. What to do? I pretended it was some exotic wonderful thing that was too precious to even touch, all the while asking the Gods of Decent Fibre to show me the way.


Enter an Instagram user asking for squares for a yarn bombing. Materials, technique and size were inconsequential, and after the event the squares would be separated again to make blankets for a dog charity. If you know me, you’ll know that animal charities are my kryptonite. I jumped at the opportunity to help, and I knew the best fibre would be that neglected acrylic stuff I had – it doesn’t need special washing, lasts forever, and would be ace at keeping dogs warm.

I was nonetheless cringing internally. That splitty yarn, ew! I still remembered what a nightmare it was trying to use it. I’d just have to suck it up.


Now here’s where I have to do a Mea Culpa – turns out the culprit was the needles I was using, not the yarn. Now that I use sharp pointy needles instead of the 80s blunt ones my mother lent me, this yarn was actually not bad at all. It was also squishy and rather soft. My world was tilting.
Needless to say, I became obsessed with finishing up all the balls I had.

The squares I knitted for the other charity have long been sent, but I’ve managed to make a few more, and now want to make a blanket that I’ll send to yet another animal charity. This will help me with this year’s resolution to do some gift knitting, I’ll get back stash space (not for long, I suspect), and I’ll get rid of acrylic yarn in my house (hey, just because I’m enjoying this doesn’t mean I’m not a yarn snob still.)

I only have a hank and a half to go. This is starting to remind me of my sock frenzy – no rest until all the remnants are gone. “Out, out, you damn spot.” (I’m quoting Shakespeare – owning up to acrylic is getting to my head.)

I hope the charity I choose has chihuahuas, because that’s all I think my blanket will keep warm.

Oh, and sorry for the terrible photos. The days are definitely shorter here so unless I remember to take pictures in the morning (right!) this is what I get. First World problems.

 So, what acrylic yarn stories do you have? Tell me I’m not the only yarn snob around!


20 responses to “Acrylic yarn? Ew. (I’m loving it.)

  1. No knitting here but I do have some yarn and stuff I bought early on that I need to get rid of. Your squares look lovely and it is interesting that sometimes it might be operator error that causes us not to like a material. So perhaps I should go back through and see if I can find a use for all that yarn I bought and haven’t used 🙂

    • Glad to know I’m not the only one making bad purchases, Ruth! It was certainly operator error that made me dislike this yarn, and now I’m glad I didn’t get rid of it. Let me know if you find your stuff any different now! 🙂

  2. I have good needles, but I still can’t bring myself to knit with acrylics. It’s a shame though, it has the best colors for kid’s clothing.

    • The needles I had were also good, they just weren’t for me 🙂 Not sharp enough! I look at KnitPicks and know they’re good quality, but they’re just too blunt and I know I’d split yarn a lot with them…

      Acrylics are great for children stuff indeed! You can just stick it in the washer and not worry about having a mini jumper afterwards… I have also been thinking a lot about using superwash wool for that, since it’s a nice compromise for me – still a natural fibre, but with the non-felting factor.

      • My favorite set is currently the sharp needle sets from hiya hiya. Not as expensive as signatures but almost as sharp. Still don’t like to knit with acrylics. It’s the sensation of the yarn itself. As for washing wool, I have a very good machine with a very good wool program, so I can wash most items without destroying them.

  3. Haha, I like to think that I’m self-aware = I know I’m a yarn-snob, but I do still have an evergrowing stash irrespective of fibre type! For me, its all about feel, If I like the feel of it, I’ll buy a few balls even if I don’t have a project in mind. Who knows when I’ll find it again?!

    There are some things I love to knit with acrylic, especially the super soft one that my local craft store stocks. Its smooth, warm, non-pilling, and washes well = good for projects that get loved, used and abused a bit.
    For myself, I’ll knit with the more luxurious, handspun, or single fibre yarns. I guess, because I know the difference?

    • I like that compromise, Claire! Self-awareness, with a hint of I-Don’t-Care 😀

      I used to buy yarn I loved for fear I’d never see it again, but now I make myself wait – if after a while I still remember it fondly and want it, then I’ll get it; if I don’t remember it, then it wasn’t important enough! Very useful when you only have a very limited space for stash (and love bright colours for knitting, yet wear only black)…

      What do you use acrylic yarns for, specifically? In case I fall into the ooh-it’s-pretty pit and need an excuse to buy? 🙂

      • Haha I know what you mean about black! My yarn stash is eyewateringly bright, but I live in neutrals and denim jeans 😂

        Yep, the ooh-its-pretty-pit is calling your name 😁 In my house, acrylic is mainly for gifts: hats and gloves for friends (and teenagers!) And blankets for animals and tiny kids. Things that can be used to death, slung in the washing machine, and carried on being loved. I keep to the super-soft acrylics so there are no scratchy bits, but from gifts I’ve given before, people seem a bit more shy of the natural fibres. Theyre worried about being able to wash it, so they don’t get used or worn as much. And unused gifts make me sad, I’d rather that they were worn until they fell apart, and then I’d make them another one!

        So now I put a little tag on all of them “Wear me until I’m dirty.” with the washing instructions on the back 😊

      • Hey, you might be making me see acrylics in a new light (how dare you) 😁 I never thought people would be afraid of wearing their knits for fear of washing them, how interesting – I don’t do a lot of gift knitting but this is definitely something to think about in the future. However, I’d still probably go for the superwash yarns first… Old habits die hard, I guess!

  4. Really ingenious way to use up your acrylic – the blanket looks gorgeous. Lucky chihuahua!! I’ve also got some acrylic – buried deep in my stash – and this Autumn I’ve decided to be decisive and deal with it …..but think I’m going to take the chicken way out and take it to a charity shop so somebody else can knit a blanket 😏😊

    • Haha, I’m glad I’m not the only one with acrylic shame in their stash 😀 Charity shops aren’t the chicken way out, you’re giving someone else the choice to make something out of it – I’m sure somewhere out there there’s people who like acrylic? (gasp!) 🙂

  5. I’ve rescued vile coloured acrylic from charity shops to use for experimenting and for charity knits. You’re right, the good thing about acrylic is it washes well, which if you’re knitting for charity projects is usually essential. I hate to think how environmentally bad it is though.

    • It is indeed awful for the environment, and it pains me that we use it so much – it doesn’t degrade well, so it’s like plastic to me. I didn’t mention that in the post, but it was definitely one of the reasons I didn’t just throw it away.
      If we have alternatives to silk, like bamboo, rose, soya or milk protein, someone should start working on eco-friendly acrylic!

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