I think you might of realised by now that I am a yarn snob, I only use natural fibres.
I would say 100% natural fibres, but I will stretch to a small percentage of synthetic fibre in a yarn as long as its not over 25%.
I spend a lot of time social networking and looking at pictures of crochet via Pinterest and Instagram.
I am sad to see the numbers of crocheters who seem to use synthetics and nothing else, who not only exclusively use synthetic but seem oblivious to the possibilities of using other fibre types.
At the moment there seems to be a trend to use a certain brand (which I will not name),
Recently on several occasions I have been e-mailed by crocheters wanting to know which colours of that particular brand do I use in my blankets......sigh.......
So rather than dwell on the over reliance of synthetic for crochet I am going to share my joy of wool.
Wool is warm, malleable and cuddly.
It can be soft, sophisticated and refined such as a expensive merino or rustic and full of character such a rare breed hand spun wool.
Some of the more rustic yarns still smell of sheep and have lanolin left in them, for some people this would be a bad thing, but I love the fact that I am working with an almost living fibre.
Part of my enjoyment of crochet is the yarn itself and how it feels in my hands, I love the warmth and texture and tones of colour, even the chemically dyed cheaper wool yarns have a depth I haven't seen in a synthetic yarn.
Incidentally I should add I don't use synthetics now, but I have done in the past and so have some knowledge.
There are several misconceptions about wool.
1 - Its expensive
Yes - Indie dyer/Specialist spun wool is quite a bit more expensive than synthetic yarn.
But there are budget ranges of wool that are perfect for blankets, which are slightly more expensive than the cheaper synthetics, but you could still make one of my smaller blankets for under £50.
Recently I have been exploring cheaper wool ranges to recommend for my blankets, the first 2 brands I have discovered are Drops and Cascade, both these companies have a huge range of yarns and colours that are well worth exploring.
However there are many companies who spin cheaper wool yarns, if you search Wool DK on Love Crochet, you will find a world of wool waiting for you to discover.
But if you want to treat yourself to something special, go and have a look at one of the following yarn companies, they all sell beautiful wool, they are all my friends and I love their yarn and thoroughly recommend all of them.
John Arbon Textiles, Skein Queen, Easyknits, Knitting Goddess, Fyberspates and Posh
2 - It is not machine washable.
Look for the superwash wool's, in the past I dyed quite a few for NDS and made several garments that were bunged in the washing machine time and time again.
However you will need to check the washing instructions or ask the manufacturer before you throw them in the wash.
3 - Wool is itchy/scratchy
Some of the cheaper wool yarns aren't as soft as they could be, but then so are some of the cheaper synthetics.
I have read comments on Ravelry from knitters/crocheters advising others that if you wash your itchy synthetic yarn with fabric or hair conditioner then it softens up!!
The yarn isn't getting any softer, all you are doing is coating it with a conditioner that makes it feel soft!
In my experience wool gets softer over time and synthetic gets harder.
I have several blankets made by my Granny about 30 or 40 years ago, she didn't actually buy yarn, instead she went to jumble sales and searched out the hand knits, frogged them and re-made them as blankets.
The synthetic yarns are rock hard and the natural yarns are still soft, obviously synthetic has come a long way in 40 years, but even still how are we to know what it will feel like in 40 years time.
If you are putting all your time and love into heirloom blanket, you still want it to be just as beautiful in 40 years as the day you finished it.
4 - Wool is produced by cruel sheep farmers who mistreat their animals.
Recently PETA have produced a disgusting video of sheep being shorn in a very cruel and barbaric fashion, I will not link it here as I find it so upsetting, but if you want to watch it you can find it easily on a goggle search.
There are "bad pennies" in every industry and PETA has focussed on one of them, the practises seen in the video should be outlawed and the people performing them should be prosecuted and banned from contact with animals.
However I live in an area where sheep are the main farming crop.
I've watched sheep being shorn on numerous occasions and have never seen a sheep treated in this way, I find it outrageous that all sheep farmers have been tarred with the same brush, it makes me very angry.
I could write pages and pages of venom aimed at PETA for producing such a one sided argument and the damage it will do to farmers who are ethical and do the right thing.
I have supported PETA in the past as I am an animal lover and believe in animal rights, but I also support my local farmers who are eking out their living in a difficult place and treat their animals with care and compassion.
I've also read articles on how animal farming destroys the environment and how we should only be using vegan yarns.
I have very strong feelings about so called vegan yarns, but I need to stop writing this blog post before it becomes too much of a rant and leave you with the following Bamboo link as a counter argument, it may be extreme, but its no more extreme than the PETA video!.