You might be a lover of acrylic or a lover of wool, wool lovers often get labelled 'Yarn Snobs' So I want to outline some of the reasons it pays to be a yarn snob!
- Wool is better for the environment in so many ways you could almost write a university thesis on it.... there's the impact of acrylic fibres on our oceans (in a scandle so huge it makes microbeads seem insignificant!). There is also the impact of the sheep on land management, they promote biodiversity through selective grazing and plant fertilisation. No grown crop even hemp can boast that!
- Wool is an excellent moisture regulator, it helps keep the moisture levels of the skin just right pure merino underwear is now often recommended for eczma sufferers as it helps maintain a healthy skin balance Determining Effects of Superfine Sheep wool in Infantile Eczema
- Wool is an excellent thermoregulator, (thanks to the structure of the hair!) those phosphor bonds work just the same as the phosphor bonds in our own hair. The only thing different between wool and our own hair (which are both made from keratin and contain disulphide bonds which control the level of curl) is the thickness of each strand the smoothness of the keratin scales, the level of curl and the length of the fibres and also the amount produced.
A Human hair
Different fibres commonly used for knitting
- Wool is good for so many crafts those disulphide bonds I mentioned mean with heat (like when you curl or straighten your hair) you can change the shape of the fibre, and as long as the heat is below a certain temperature it will spring back to its original shape! Or you can deliberately felt the wool using friction with some heat to help it on its way (a bit like when creating dreadlocks in hair)
- Cost... but real wool is more expensive I hear you cry! When you look at the cost of purchasing an acrylic sweater in a high street sweater (or in my case charity shop) vs the cost of buying a few balls of acrylic yarn, knitting the sweater yourself doesn't give much of a saving compared to the length of time you put in. But when you look at the cost of buying some real wool and knitting a sweater compared to the cost of buying a pure wool sweater from the high street (or even from a charity shop) you will often find you make a saving. Both sweaters will take you the same length of time but one will give you more of a saving over buying than the other.
- But what about washing..... many pure wools can go in the washing machine on a gentle 30c wool wash without shrinking or felting, not all sheep breeds felt as easily. Or soaked in a no rinse wool wash for 15 minutes rolled in a towel and laid out to dry they will dry quite quickly. Acrylic also really benefits from the same treatment as plastic melts and stretches at high temperatures, leaving your beautifully knit sweater stringy and out of shape, not to mention shedding huge amounts of fibre into the wash. You can also iron a wool jumper, an acrylic one is more likely to melt