Never say the big acrylic companies are feeling the pinch, because they've got a massive presence in the market (and I know knitters who only ever knit with acrylic -- although you might see this more in crocheters, because what better to make a granny square with than acrylic?) but I'm seeing a lot of, well, nicer acrylics lately.
The Red Heart boutique lines I noted a couple of weeks ago, regular Red Heart is getting softer, Bernat and Caron...all of them are starting to mill up softer and softer acrylics that wear well and don't pill as much. Knit Picks has a fabulous acrylic in its line-up, a new yarn that's very durable and soft in the hand. We won't even talk about the fabulous that is the Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn! brand.
I'm not complaining, mind, I'm just noticing the trend. I've been knitting for, golly, over 5 years now and I've never seen such a bounty of acrylic. Take these, for instance:
Lion Brand Vanna's Choice Tweeds in Midnight
and Patchwork Gray
I gotta say, this stuff is softer than expected. I've got wool tweeds and I won't make anything for myself out of them due to the scratch quotient, but this stuff...yeah. I want to make myself a striped scarf using both skeins. Both colors appealed to me deeply, but I didn't have enough left on my birthday giftcard to get enough for a long scarf in each, so I thought Stripes! and went with the feeling.
These new acrylics are soft, durable and offer nice economy. Plus, if you use it for a sweater, you don't have to worry about stretch. Well, excess stretch, knit a rib and it will stretch, it just won't start to droop from the weight of the yarn. You know what I meant.
I'm pretty happy about the new direction acrylic seems to be going -- I love my luxury yarns, don't get me wrong, but sometimes I'm stymied about dealing with them because I am not a fanatical handwasher of garments. I've been contemplating knitting sweaters, and I will admit that part of my hesitation about casting on was that the yarn I initially bought was wool. As in handwash only wool. Now that I've got a bunch of acrylics lined up for the purpose, part of my hesitation is gone.
Only part. I'm not fool enough to pretend the concepts of gauge and final fit aren't keeping me up at night.
And I'd like to ask every reader (not that there are tons of you, but I figure I can start small and hope it snowballs) to do me a massive favor. When you meet someone new, take a moment and check your assumptions about them. See them, accept them and then chuck them out the window. Take the time to look at the people you meet with Baby Eyes -- eyes that haven't seen a lot of the world and take the new as it comes. Respect them enough to allow them to be unique and different and not as they appear at first glance, and appreciate them for it.
If we'd stop expecting people to act a certain way/be a certain way/think a certain thing based on first appearances, I think humans as a whole would be a lot happier.