Yarn Thoughts: Crochet vs Knit. Acrylic vs Wool.

Since I am a skilled knitter and crocheter, I follow both types of accounts on Instagram. I also look at both types of patterns on Ravelry. And watch videos from both types of crafters on YouTube. One thing I’ve noticed is that knitters favor wool, while crocheters favor acrylic, across the board. I’ve often wondered why, and when you do a Google search, nothing turns up. As I was typing up last week’s post (Yarn Thoughts: Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn!), I think I came up with a few reasons this might be the case, and I want to get my thoughts out in case anyone else has every wondered this too.

Crocheting is faster

For most people (I know because I’ve seen it stated on many forums by others who know both crafts), crocheting is faster. This is why a lot of people crochet blankets, but not that many knit them. A blanket is a big enough project as it is, and you want to be able to actually have a chance at finishing it.

With that said, because as a crocheter you’re able to make your projects so much quicker than a knitter (and therefore one could argue that you’re making more projects), you’ll go through more yarn. Since you’re using more yarn, you need your yarn to be less expensive.

Crocheting uses about 30% more yarn than knitting

This is a very similar argument to the previous one, and something I’m not sure a lot of people know. But it’s true: crocheting eats up more yarn than knitting. This is likely due to the fact that crochet stitches have varying heights, and even the smallest one (single crochet) is quite a bit taller than a knit stitch. So again, you’re using more yarn, and therefore likely want a cheaper yarn since you’re going through it faster.

Knitting has more opportunity for beauty

This is probably a controversial statement, but I stand by it. And I’m not even saying that crocheting isn’t beautiful. It definitely can be (in fact, I’m working on a crochet blanket right now that I absolutely adore – I’ll be sharing a link to the pattern and photos of my project next week). But there’s very little that can compare to a cabled knit sweater. It’s the envy of everyone. It’s the reason I wanted to learn to knit.

Knitting is beautiful.

Crochet is (usually) more utilitarian.

And if you’re working on a more beautiful project – the whole point of which is to be stunning – you want a nicer yarn to show off all those hard worked stitches.

Sweaters are more personal (and showy) than blankets

Sweaters and blankets take a similar amount of time (in my experience), but a sweater is likely to get more “face time.” What I mean by that is that you’ll wear a sweater out and about, but a blanket is relegated to your own home. There’s nothing wrong with this; it’s just the nature of the two different items. But because you’re going to be showing off a sweater more than you will a blanket, it’s another reason you want a “better” yarn.

Wool yarn is blockable

To understand the point behind this point, you have to know what blocking is. Put simply, blocking is the wetting of your finished item, which you then pin out into place (at the proper measurements) and let air dry. By doing this, it helps to even out your stitches, which is especially beneficial if you’re working cables or color work (fair isle). You see, when you’re making those types of projects, the combinations of stitches – either knit and purl, or multiple colors of yarn – can kind of bunch up together a bit. This isn’t a problem, and it’s not your fault. It’s just the nature of those stitches. By blocking your project afterward, you get everything to lay out a lot nicer and look more professional.

When you block a project made with wool yarn, those natural fibers will “remember” their new, post-blocking position and keep that shape until the next time you wash it. Acrylic fibers don’t do that as well. I’m not saying that an acrylic project doesn’t benefit from blocking, but it’s not near the difference as you get with wool.

So there you go. A few reasons that might explain why crocheters are more likely to use acrylic and knitters are more likely to use wool. Do you have any other ideas as to why this might be? Do you have a yarn fiber preference? Let me know in the comments!


Yarn Thoughts: Hobby Lobby’s ‘I Love This Yarn!’

Most of the big box craft stores have their own line of yarn. A lot of people compare these yarns to Red Heart Super Saver, because that’s the “original” budget yarn. And it has a bit of an unfortunate reputation (for good reason, in my opinion). The other stores’ yarns are a lot newer, and a lot has been learned in the production of acrylic yarn over the decades. At JoAnn, it’s Big Twist, and at Michael’s it’s Loops and Threads. At Hobby Lobby (the other nationwide craft store that most people have likely heard of), it’s called I Love This Yarn!, and that’s the brand I want to focus on today.

I’ve only made two projects using the Hobby Lobby brand (a sweater for Grasshopper and a sweater for Ballet Boy). I really liked the yarn when I was working with it while making Grasshopper’s sweater. It’s a reasonably soft yarn, and I bet it would crochet up really nicely (I’ve only every knit with it). As I mentioned in the post I wrote about Ballet Boy’s sweater, even though the yarn is really pretty, it’s rather heavy when you knit it up. I can’t really understand why, because it’s a pretty standard feeling worsted weight yarn before it’s knit. And I’m not even sure that calling it “heavy” will make sense to an average crafter. But for me, there’s really no other way to describe it.

Despite that heaviness (denseness, maybe?), the printed yarn I’ve worked with in this brand really is very pretty. I really like the marbled effect that it gives to a project, especially something with so many inches of plain stitches. Obviously you wouldn’t get this with a solid colored yarn, but what you lose in marbling you gain in extra yardage. I personally find it worth losing a few yards for the more beautiful finished project, in the case of something like a plain sweater. If I were making a crocheted blanket or a sweater with cables, I would opt for a plain color over the print, though (but also – a different yarn altogether, at least for the cabled sweater).

So let’s talk about that last statement: that I would choose a different yarn for a fancy, cabled sweater. That heaviness I described (or didn’t, really) makes me not want to knit another sweater in this yarn. I sort of felt it with Grasshopper’s sweater, but he was so heavily involved in the process, and loved it so much even before it was completed, that I didn’t really process it mentally that well. But now that I’ve made a second sweater in the yarn, I’m realizing that “I Love This Yarn!” is not actually that much better than any of the other discount yarns. The Mickey Mouse sweater I made for Bumblebee a few months ago was made using Big Twist from JoAnn, and I didn’t really like the way that one turned out either. What I’m finally learning through all of this knitting (what I’ve known all along but am finally willing to admit, rather) is that sweaters really need a higher quality yarn. While the budget yarns are good for a lot of things – and invaluable if you have a wool allergy or very tight finances – I don’t think I’ll ever make a sweater with one again.

That said, if you’re looking for a budget yarn that is great for sweaters, I recommend Lion Brand Jeans. I’ve made many (4, I think) sweaters using that yarn, and been thrilled with every single one. It’s just a little bit more expensive than a true “budget yarn,” and so much better quality.


Yarn Thoughts: Yarn Bee 44th Street (and what I made)

I’m starting a new series using my primary interest as inspiration: yarn. I’ll be offering my thoughts on various yarn that I use, both good and bad. Each one will include project(s) that I’ve made as well as my thoughts on the yarn itself.

For my birthday in July, my father-in-law got me some yarn (perfect gift!). The first thing I did was look at the label because it wasn’t yarn I’d ever seen before and I loved the feel of it from the very beginning. It’s from Yarn Bee (Hobby Lobby’s brand), and the line is called 44th Street.


Let’s start by looking at the label. It’s listed as a 3 weight yarn (or DK), and there are 540 yards and 100 grams (3.5 oz) per ball. It’s sold in cake format (a cylinder shape), which is my very favorite. The fiber is 70% acrylic and 30% polyamide. A quick Google search tells me that polyamide is basically a type of nylon. The yarn is available in 10 colors and costs $4.29 (US) when it’s regular price. Of course, being Hobby Lobby, it goes on sale frequently. When I needed more to finish my project (more on why in a minute), I was able to pick it up for $3 apiece.

IMG-5888Because yarn cakes are flat on the top and bottom, they sit easily on the floor beside you while you knit or crochet, with little bouncing around.  As far as artificial fibers go, acrylic-nylon blends are some of the softest yarns you can buy in my opinion. 

When I first pulled the yarn out of the gift bag, I was super excited. It was in the middle of a party (I threw a surprise party for my husband’s 40th birthday, and because our birthdays are only two days apart, my FIL brought gifts for both of us), and I was basically useless after that! I don’t go to Hobby Lobby very often (it’s only in the last couple of years that they started opening stores out west where I live), so I’d never tried any of their yarns. I’d heard a lot about them, but never tried one. And when I pulled the 44th Street out of the bag, I was immediately in love. I couldn’t wait to knit a sweater for myself using the yarn… which brings me to the next part of my review: How does it work up?

IMG-5890The first thing I noticed when I actually started pulling yarn up from the cake to start knitting (the day after the party) was that it was very thin, even for a 3 weight yarn. It felt more like a 2 weight yarn to me. I was willing to admit that maybe I was wrong because I rarely use anything but standard worsted weight yarn, but I have used other DK yarns in the past, and this felt a lot thinner than those to me. I started knitting anyway, but just with a test swatch. I know what my gauge is when working with worsted (4 weight) yarn, but not so much with the DK. So it was really important to know that whatever I made was going to fit – it’s no fun to spend a month making a sweater and then not be able to wear it in the end. I knew that I wanted to make a sweater for myself with this yarn, so I chose the Strange Brew pattern (the same one I used to make my kids’ sweaters earlier this summer). I opted to work bottom-up, which meant that I could start knitting a sleeve straightaway and not bother with a standalone swatch. Once I got a few inches up, I could stop to measure; if it was the right gauge then I was good to keep going and I’d already started the project. If not, it wasn’t so much knitting that I’d wasted loads of time – and yarn.

Turns out, my gauge was much too tight for the sweater project, even using knitting needles much larger than what was recommended both in the pattern and on the yarn label. Sad. So I decided to make a series of shawlettes with my yarn instead. There were several patterns on Ravelry, and I had enough yarn to make four of them. But that’s not what I wanted to make, so I was unhappy with the project even though there was absolutely nothing wrong with what I was making. I looked at other people’s opinions of this yarn (the consensus is that it’s too thin to be classified as a 3 weight) and how they overcame the “problem.” The answer was to hold two strands together and knit as if they were just one. So ripped out the shawlette and tried this method. It’s one I’ve used before, but only to make a marled effect with the yarn, not simply for making it thicker. I started a new sleeve, this time with two strands together. I measured it when I’d gotten up a few inches, and to my excitement, the gauge was right! I was off to the races with my sweater.

IMG-5887Because I had to knit with two strands together, I went through twice as much yarn as I would have otherwise. This meant that I needed to go back to Hobby Lobby and pick up more yarn to go with what I already had, but because they were having a 30% off sale, I was able to get all of the supplemental yarn needed for $15 (and I have quite a bit left over).

The colors I used were camel (for the main body), shale (the dark brown), and ruby (red).

Final thoughts? I really liked this yarn a whole lot. It’s a little disappointing that they label it a 3 when it’s clearly not. That distinction really matters when you’re trying to plan out a project. But knowing what I know now, I can work with the knowledge I’ve got. Some projects would be just fine with a single strand of this; others will use two strands together. Either way is A-okay with me.

Bottom line: Would I buy this yarn again? Definitely, especially when it’s on sale.


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