Because I taught myself to knit with thrift yarns, I’ve gotten involved in acrylics. And now I get to see how expensive knitting really is!
First off, I started with socks. Know this is akin to jumping into the deep end of the pool to learn how to swim, but socks were what I needed. My first years socks work, but are not the best and this year am continuing with socks.
From socks, have learned that all yarns are not created equal and there are things like EASE that have to be learned. Acrylics tend to be stretchier than natural fibers, and when knit loosely, stretchier again! So my knee socks from last year are saggy around the foot because I didn’t understand “negative” ease. Sock yarn, even if acrylic, usually has a less stretchy addition so it needs less ease. and the foot part of the sock should never be knitted loosely. I’m now knitting socks following the pattern for a whole size smaller than my foot and they stretch perfectly to fit. AHHHHHHHHHHHH
The plus side of acrylics is, they pretty much weigh the same, so never got involved with the yardage. It takes approximately 50 grams of yarn to do a (one) regular sock, with a 7″ tall ankle, and total 9-1/2″ from heal to toe. My foot actually, BTW, measures about 11″ long. Negative ease at work. To do a (single, ONE) knee sock, requires about 100 grams of acrylic yarn. It doesn’t matter whether I’m knitting that sock with worsted weight, Sport yarn weight, or fingerling weight. 50 and 100 grams. Obviously yardage would vary, but as I’m buying in the thrift and they’re rarely even labeled, weight measurement is okay.
But now I’m moving to knitting a sweater. Suddenly yardage matters. Most of the patterns seem to call for natural or mixed yarns. Now, as much as I’d love to have a silk sweater, or hemp, or even cotton, the truth is one needs a whole lot of yardage and natural fiber yarn is EXPENSIVE! and as still a beginner knitter, am not about to shell out $100 or more for a sweater than is an experiment! Natural fibers also weigh more than acrylics. So 100 grams of acrylic is a whole lot more yardage than 100 grams of cotton or wool. Now yardage matters.
Turns out, that worsted weight acrylics are about 50yards per ounce (28ish grams). So my 50 gram sock is not quite 2 ounces and just under 100 yards of yarn. The knee socks, at 100 grams are just under 4 ounces, so 200 yards. That means a skein of Red Heart Worsted Super Saver of 8 ounces (225 grams), does a pair of knee socks with enough left over to make a coaster. and that skein of yarn, from Walmart, is what, about $6 or $7??? That would make the same pair of knee socks in a silk blend (Oh wouldn’t they feel wonderful?!) cost about $40 or $50!
But back to my sweater. As a big woman, I’m knitting women’s large or Xlarge (men’s medium). Average yardage for such a WINTER sweater seems to be about 1000 yards, as a minimum! Again, the matter of ease. If I’m translating a pattern for natural fibers to acrylics, the acrylic will stretch more and can probably be knitted a bit tighter or smaller than in the natural yarn, so maybe less yardage. Still, 1000 yards is a lot of yarn. In that same Red Heart Super Saver, each 8oz skein is about 400 yards, so you need three of them for the project. A summer T would be two of those skeins. But if we switch to a nice wool for that winter sweater, suddenly we’re looking at $15+/skein and they are 100 gram skeins of only about 100 yards each! Now you need 10 (TEN!) skeins at $15+/skein and that sweater is now $150+! Maybe for a special gift for a special person (and I am such a person), but not for my learning sweaters!! Oh in the Way of inexpensive cotton yarns like Peaches and Cream? still $3.50 for a 50gram skein and that’s less than 100 yards, so 10 of them, more to account for shrinkage, still makes that sweater $35 or more!
Is it a wonder that most people seem to focus on baby knits!! and hence Yarn stashes! You buy when on sale and then hope to find a project for it.
Anyway, a month ago scored a yarn stash that did include, once disassembled from the crocheted afghan that had been started, 7 x 100 gram skeins of Bernat Super Softee Chunky acrylic yarn. each skein is 164 yards (100 grams = 3.5oz = 46 yards/ounce) so have begun my sweater experiment. The rest of the yarn in there is mostly worsted 8oz super saver skeins, some are 7oz – although there was a most outlandish afghan and supporting yarn in there that I gave away, too garish for me. Still, have already done two pair of socks and have enough for several pair of knee socks and some leg warmers. Will report on the sweater as it progresses. Began knitting one sleeve last night.
and will begin searching for natural fiber sweaters than can be disassembled for their yarn.