The answer is pretty obvious – natural fibers are going to always be better than synthetic ones, right? Of course. Before we write off acrylic yarn completely though, let’s talk about the pros vs. cons.
Natural wool fibers can not be dismissed. This stuff has been keeping multitudes of animals and people warm and dry for eons. If you’re looking to knit some hard core work clothes, 100% natural wool is definitely your better option. It can and will likely last a very long time, and stand up to the elements. As long as wool bearing animal farms keep producing healthy stock, it is a renewable resource. Also, the wool market has grown to include more than just sheep. Wool producers have turned to alpacas, goats and rabbits as well as yaks. Now really, what could be cooler than a yak farm?
Be aware however, that it does not wash easily, and is quite expensive. Depending on the wool itself, it may not feel so great next to your skin.
Acrylic yarns come in all varieties of textures, weights, colours – I have yet to meet a yarn I don’t love. They are 100% washable, dryable and wearable, and that makes them more than ideal for children’s clothes, hats, mittens, socks and anything else you need to wash often, without having to rely on washing by hand. Don’t get me wrong, washing the laundry by hand is totally something I want to spend my time doing. Ok, so not really. Acrylic yarns are more affordable than real wool, and can be manufactured to be soft enough to be against the most sensitive skin.
So acrylic yarns get a bad rap because, they’re well, synthetic. And wool is frowned upon for being unwashable. Consider though that acrylic yarns can now be manufactured using recycled synthetics, which is a win all around, and natural fibers can be treated to make them washable. Another win.
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