yarn studies, revisted

I got some nice comments on my last yarn-related post, so I wanted to take a little bit of time to address a couple of things that came up and update you all on where things stand there.

First of all, I may or may not be allergic to wool. I’m not really sure, because I’ve never actually been tested to find out exactly what I am allergic to. (I probably should be at some point in my life, since they run rampant in my extended family and pretty much everyone in this state inevitably ends up with some form of seasonal allergies. But I haven’t.) I know that the wool beret I had in high school made my face break out in a line of hives, and when I touch yarn that’s got a lot of wool in it, I get this nasty deeper-than-skin prickly feeling in the palms of my hands for hours afterwards. But then there’s that 10% wool sweater I’ve had for years that I mentioned– I don’t know if it’s the blend, or if it’s been washed so many times, or if maybe this whole wool thing is all in my head and I’m a hypochondriac or what, but that one doesn’t bother me. (I’m pretty sure it’s not all in my head, though.) I’m at least sensitive to it, and it may be just the lanolin, because I was able to handle some sheepskin slippers that I got my mom for Christmas. And I tried touching an alpaca/acrylic blend and didn’t feel the urge to drop it like it’s hot. (I’ve heard the alpaca is way more hypoallergenic than sheep wool. And warmer.) So maybe I’d be ok with that, or angora, or whichever the one is that’s made from goat hair. (Is that cashmere or mohair? Or both?)

Secondly, I’m not entirely opposed to working with acrylic yarn. My handwarmers and both hats that I’ve made so far were from acrylic yarns, and I found both to be pretty comfortable both to work with and to wear. But I know it has a tendency to pill–I noticed that my handwarmers are already getting a rather fuzzy halo, like in that pre-pill sort of way, and I’ve really only worn them a couple of times so far. And some of my store-bought acrylic sweaters are horribly pilled and got that way pretty quickly. I also know it’s not the most eco-friendly option. Technically, I know that cotton isn’t the most eco-friendly option either, but it still seems somehow better to go for yarn that comes from a regrowable plant rather than, you know, plastic or whatever it’s made out of. (Unless it was recycled yarn. That’s different.) And I am trying to move more towards natural/greener options in my fiber choices where I can. So if I was going to knit an entire sweater, I’d rather it be from something natural that would hold up to washings and wearings. Even if it would probably cost me three times as much money to buy the yarn. 😛

Thirdly, I did get the book in. Pattern-wise, though it had a couple of things I liked, a lot of it was kind of…meh. But I did enjoy reading through the section on the different fiber options and the qualities of each and such. I’ll admit it, I was one of those nerdy kids who actually really loved the research parts of my school projects. Especially the history/literature ones. So I’ve been having a pretty strong urge to go to the local yarn store that isn’t a chain that I recently found out about, and buy a whole bunch of yarn to play with. I’m not sure how intelligent a choice that would be for me, because then I’d end up with all these random single balls of yarn that I wouldn’t know what to make with, but the urge is definitely there. As it is, I’m thinking that I might just go ahead and start off with each new yarn by knitting a swatch (even if I have to unravel it afterwards so I have enough yarn to use), and start recording/reviewing them on here. I know you can read reviews on Ravelry, but it might be nice to have my own little private encyclopedia of non-wool options that I can keep adding to. Especially as I start getting better senses of what I can substitute for wool. And if it helps someone else, too, all the better. Because I’ve already done enough nerdy Google searching to realize that there’s not really a one-stop place to find out what a whole lot of non-wool yarn options are.

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