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 teaching others about good yarn??

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ikkivan Posted - 07/27/2014 : 2:19:32 PM
I'm not quite sure where to post this question, so thought I'd start here ...

I'm having little to no luck trying to introduce women in my church's knit and crochet group to yarns beyond Red Heart Super Saver; I've even made gifts of some really nice "luxury" yarns to each of them to no avail. Oh, they'll make something with the gift yarn, and then go right back to Wal-Mart for more SS for their next project.

One fairly new knitter purchased a really nice book of scarf patterns and has been knitting up a storm for gifts, all out of SS. She brought the most recent scarf to show us and I was just appalled; she did this gorgeous job of a time-consuming, complicated pattern, but it was out of you-know-what at a gauge suitable for a hot pad. Scratchy and stiff, with no drape at all. I don't know how it could even be tied, if the wearer wanted to knot it. This lady was so proud of the scarf, "Look at this," she said, "didn't it turn out just great?" All I could muster was to gush over the gorgeous stitch pattern and how well she had done it.

I decided to make a scarf for "show and tell," saying she had inspired me to make some scarves, which is true, actually. I chose a basic, very simple pattern (mistake rib, not to show off) in a soft, sensuous, drapey merino/tencel blend, hoping the very different feel of the scarf might trigger some questions about differences in yarns and suitability for different projects.

Nope, no reaction. I think I will give up, unless any of you have some tips for me. Is it possible to get across to others that their precious time is worthy of some precious materials?

Donna, with intentions always bigger than her available time. (OkieDokieKnitter on Ravelry)
17   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
stitchellen Posted - 08/28/2014 : 3:57:26 PM
One thing I have learned in my eight decades on this earth is that I can't "teach" someone anything that person doesn't want to learn. To make it your mission to change the yarn selections of a group of needleworkers seems to me as futile as trying to convince all of them to buy the brand of cosmetics that you like without any indication that they welcome such advice. More subtle teaching by example may eventually win a few converts, but offering unrequested advice often is counterproductive. Beauty is in the eye . . .
Luann Posted - 08/20/2014 : 10:20:12 PM
I have nothing to add here other than to say that I love you all so much, and the mental image of Donna and her grill-starter testing yarns is going to have me smiling for days.

Knit and let knit!
ikkivan Posted - 08/15/2014 : 2:24:55 PM
I do want to be sure that folks understand that wool WILL burn ... if I hold the grill-starter to it long enough, it will finally all burn up, but I have to work at it a bit. But if I move the wool away from the flame source, it just sort of dies out and leaves a black, sooty/ashy spot.

Another thing I am not so sure of is whether or not different types of dyes and the saturation level in the yarn has any effect on how the wool may or may not burn.

What's so bad about many synthetics, especially when there is also a "pile" as in the fleece, is that when they are exposed to flame, they just go up in a flash.

Some of the "baby" yarns made of synthetics are so soft and lovely; I'd love to see a development for making them flame retardant that doesn't also make them toxic to handle!

Donna, with intentions always bigger than her available time. (OkieDokieKnitter on Ravelry)
azblueskies Posted - 08/15/2014 : 12:10:06 PM
That's great, Donna! My daughter doesn't want anything she can't wash and dry for the kids so I've been using superwash and just assumed it wouldn't be flammable but then I read this thread and started doubting my assumption. Thanks for testing it. I was so tired when I got home last night that I didn't remember to try it.

Reminder to myself: PROVISIONAL cast on for EVERYTHING except toe-up socks.
ikkivan Posted - 08/14/2014 : 5:27:15 PM
Well, I just went outside with some superwash merino and lit it, and could tell no difference whatsoever between it and the "regular" wool I have tested in the past. It is my understanding (which may be wrong, I admit) that the SW treatment primarily removes the tips of the scales on the fibers so they cannot felt together ... if anything, I would think that would REDUCE the flammability factor by removing some of the extra "fuzz." I always understood that synthetic fleece is extra flammable because of the fuzz/fluff factor.

If anyone has any new info about this, I really am interested, because I use SW wool all the time now for baby stuff. I guess I feel resigned to making some compromises. In general, I suppose babies nowadays (at least in many countries) aren't exposed to open flames the way they may have been a century ago, but still ...

Donna, with intentions always bigger than her available time. (OkieDokieKnitter on Ravelry)
Ceil Posted - 08/14/2014 : 3:11:13 PM
It probably does, but it may burn more slowly than acrylic. Test it and let us know!

(Ravelry: ceilr)
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
azblueskies Posted - 08/14/2014 : 12:28:31 PM
Is superwash flammable? One source says yes, one says no. Maybe I'll have to light a match to a piece of it to find out for sure.

Reminder to myself: PROVISIONAL cast on for EVERYTHING except toe-up socks.
kkknitter Posted - 08/03/2014 : 05:22:37 AM
Interesting topic Donna. I belong to two knitting groups and--come to think about it--the only time that I see acrylic yarn in use is for baby clothes--especially blankets. In the future I will point out that acrylic is highly flammable and not a good choice for a baby gift.

ikkivan Posted - 07/30/2014 : 06:57:33 AM
Anderknit ... I feel your pain. The local nursing home for which we sometimes knit/crochet lap robes has specified synthetics only. I sometimes think the concern is greater for laundering ease (as they see it) than safety. Sigh.

Donna, with intentions always bigger than her available time. (OkieDokieKnitter on Ravelry)
Ceil Posted - 07/29/2014 : 9:54:58 PM
Originally posted by ikkivan

Most of these women are senior citizens, and most crochet rather than knit,...For most of these women, I really don't think money is that much of a problem; I think it is just what they are "used to doing."

Sounds like you've hit the nail on the head! Change is not going to come easily.

Now see if you can go to the KR Retreat this year to get fired up!

(Ravelry: ceilr)
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.
anderknit Posted - 07/29/2014 : 6:12:51 PM
So frustrating! I know a local group that knits hats for a hospital NICU, and THE HOSPITAL has specified that will not accept hats knit from "wool or other animal fibers". Their rationale has to do with shedding. I find that just ... sad.

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.' "
Jane Posted - 07/29/2014 : 06:46:50 AM
Thank you for talking to them about it, even if it fell on deaf ears. And you're so right about the helmet liners the same women in my group who were all about the helmet liners needing to be wool didn't make the connection. AAARRRGGGHHH!


Betty deserves everything and more: Make a Donation
My Website: Not Plain Jane
My Ravelry Store: Jane Cochran
ikkivan Posted - 07/29/2014 : 06:35:56 AM
Jane, my group is sick of hearing me talk about the advantages of wool ... I have been telling them these very things for years. I believe I posted here on the "wish list" forum about the fact that, while ready-made baby/toddler garments are treated to make them flame retardant, "baby" yarns are not (not that most of us want to put those chemicals on our babies).

This flammability issue really hit home some years ago when I made the military helmet liners and read the requirements for those (100% wool only plus an explanation of WHY) ... I'm a believer.

These women make the baby hats of wool ONLY when I give them the yarn, which I do quite often. Sometimes they offer to pay me for it and sometimes they don't, because they see it as MY requirement, not theirs.

Donna, with intentions always bigger than her available time. (OkieDokieKnitter on Ravelry)
Jane Posted - 07/29/2014 : 05:58:17 AM
I've experienced a bit of this at a knitting group I attend occasionally, which is a mix of women knitting with what I think of as lovely yarns even when they're not "my" kind of yarns, and women who are of the "the bigger and cheaper the skein, the better" school.

One of them crochets acrylic hats for all the babies born at our local hospital, which is wonderful, but I know that those pretty little blue and pink hats, made with love, are incredibly, dangerously flammable! I wish I could share this quote from Stephanie Pearl McPhee's blog a few years back, but I don't know if it would make a difference:
Another advantage... is that wool is flame retardant. I hear a lot about people knitting acrylics for babies, especially baby blankets, because they want them to be washable, inexpensive and durable. Those are good reasons, but this is what a [less expensive] wool like this is made for. Wool is self-extinguishing. That means that it will burn rather reluctantly if exposed to flame and that as soon as the flame is removed, it goes out. That means that if a thing knitted of wool were in a fire and on a person, when that person moved away from the fire (or in the case of a baby, was moved away, since they can't move themselves) the knitted thing would stop burning. Fire blankets were originally made of wool for this reason.

Acrylics, on the other hand, catch easily, burn quickly and at a high heat and continue to burn if you move them away from the flame Most catastrophically, if an acrylic on a person is on fire, it will melt into the burned skin, compounding the injury a very great deal. Infant sleepwear and blankets are made of only synthetics specially treated to be flame-retardant for this reason. Acrylic should never, ever be used on a baby or child when they are alone or sleeping. Save it for a sweater they will wear when grown-ups are around.

Donna, you might not be comfortable confronting your fellow knitters with this defense of wool -- I wasn't. But it's the best reason I know for thinking about what you knit with.

And P.S. This is why I love the knitters of KR. We ask thoughtful questions, and our answers are always food for more thought!


Betty deserves everything and more: Make a Donation
My Website: Not Plain Jane
My Ravelry Store: Jane Cochran
ikkivan Posted - 07/28/2014 : 07:02:42 AM
Thanks for the feedback and ideas; I doubt that I'll ever REALLY give up, but it does become frustrating.

Most of these women are senior citizens, and most crochet rather than knit, except for the one scarf knitter I mentioned. We've had a few "learn to knit" projects (Wingspan scarf was very popular) where I taught them AND gave them nice yarn and needles, but after finishing that, they returned to crocheting. They describe themselves as being VERY experienced with crochet, but I have learned that this means they have been making granny-square afghans/baby blankets for 60 years and nothing else; while they are certainly experienced at that, they have no concept of gauge. Their first "exposure" to understanding why gauge matters has been with some baby hats for our local birth center; a few tried knitting them, but gave up and reverted to crochet.

I am in a non-knitting area and Wal-Mart is the LYS (and it's not in our town, but a neighboring town)! I have taken MANY catalogs to give these women (WEBS, Patternworks, JimmyBeanWool, Knit Picks, etc.) and they have always been snapped up. I tell them to take them home for ideas about projects they might like and to see just how many yarns are out there. I have offered to help with a group order so we can share (or even avoid) shipping cost.

For most of these women, I really don't think money is that much of a problem; I think it is just what they are "used to doing."

Our little district fair is coming up in August and I have been encouraging them for YEARS to enter that ... so far, I'm the only one who does, and usually the only one with any knitted goods. There will be absolute stacks of crocheted items, and no matter what they are (baby sets, afghans, dishcloths, tote bags, etc.), they all look like variations of granny squares to me.

It's lonely out here ... sigh.

Donna, with intentions always bigger than her available time. (OkieDokieKnitter on Ravelry)
marfa Posted - 07/28/2014 : 05:49:11 AM
How do.

Donna, this is an interesting question & one reminds us that taste is in the eye of the beholder. I have a few tho'ts, some ??s. a couple of points that Ceil made that I have a differing take on & some personal experiences.
^^ Is money an object for these women? Do you have a cool LYS where they could see some fabulous basic yarns? I am thinking of Cascade 220, Lamb's Pride or Shepherd's Wool (this is a wonderful yarn!). Shopping habits can be changed & sometimes not. If there is a LYS, would a road trip be worthwhile? These folks are knitting & they are thinking of others when they knit. Those are beautiful things.
^^ I believe that teachable moments can happen every day & sorry, Ceil, I believe that a church group can be like any other except that it takes place in a church ^ .. ^ I am often knitting when I attend some groups at our church where my partner is quite active. One of the women who does a lot of crafting uses yarn that, to paraphrase Elizabeth Zimmerman, could cause a hole in the ozone layer should it catch on fire. All that synthetic content, ya know.
^^ Might there be a TV & a DVD player for use at your church? There are some cool DVDs (again, Elizabeth Zimmerman & Meg Swanson!) That could be cool way to have those teachable moments.
^^ Any pals who could come with you to the group? For example, anyone you know who has made that switch?
^^ Two local pals have taken up with yarn since I began to take it to our quilt evenings. One has been crocheting prayer shawls & while her idea is a lovely one, the yarn she uses is pretty awful. The other one uses a more expensive type of acrylic yarn but for the most part, it is not just plain wool. I am still hopeful for them & plan to offer some of my yarns to the crocheting friend.
^^ Total wash 'n wear items work for some folks & they may be thinking of the recipients of the gifts who may not take the time nor have the time to hand wash items.

Wow, I guess I had more than a couple of tho'ts.

Ceil Posted - 07/27/2014 : 4:25:50 PM
It sounds like these folks are relatively new knitters? It sounds like they still have to learn about gauge, let alone what the rest of us would consider nice yarns.

It can take a while to get past the expense-of-yarn idea in favor of great fibers. One of my relatives has been knitting at least as long as I have, and she still uses SS and other acrylic yarns.

The big word for me in your post is FEEL! As a musician, I am constantly talking about what music feels like. A lot of people just plain don't get it. It looks like you are seeing the same thing here. But if they have to continually guess about feel as an entity, then you will also keep scratching your head.

Unfortunately, a church knitting group is probably not the place to transport into a teaching forum. (Oh, the odd comments I've gotten walking into our church group wearing a hand-knit sweater: "Oh, you're one of THOSE!") They are probably there for the fun of it, even if what they turn out looks and feels less than fun for you. The only thing you can do is be very present and to the point when someone asks a question related to any of this like, "How come your scarf molds snugly around your neck, when mine behaves more like a 2x4?" But I wouldn't hold my breath.

Anyway, you CAN pray about one person who might approach you wanting to know what you have to share. That might be enough to get some momentum going.


(Ravelry: ceilr)
Time is never a factor when joy is involved.

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