Budget, Experience, and Climate Considerations

I see on the board where others are allergic to wool. I haven’t chosen to work with it since it itches me a bit, plus I live in Mississippi, which is like a sauna most of the year. Even in the winter if it’s freezing in the morning, a wool sweater will, on most days, cook you once the temp goes into the 50s.

Another factor in my knitting life is that my budget is more suited to Red Heart Super Saver and Sugar-n-Cream than higher-dollar yarns. I also feel like it’s foolish to buy expensive yarns since I’m still mastering the basics. Of course, many patterns I see are designed to made with the nicer yarn. And if I use a different yarn, the gauge will be totally different.

For these reasons, I’m starting on dishcloths rather than hats and scarves. Very few people wear them down here. I am going to attempt an acrylic cap for my FIL in a camo print since he’s an avid hunter.

I guess I’m asking this: have any of you been down this road? I think I need to make a basic WW or acrylic cotton summer tank top rather than with Paton’s Grace at this point. Does anyone have any basic patterns using acrylic or cotton? Or do I just need to do the math on a pattern by using a gauge swatch then press on? Any other Deep South humidity/heat survivors for whom snow is something you only see on Christmas cards and the news? Well, I did see some in January when I got stuck at O’Hare Airport, so I have to respect those of you who live in the north!

I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.

I woudn’t suggest acrylic for wearables. It has no absorbancy, and will therefore feel like you are wearing a plastic bag. Cotton is a much better choice. You will find that using something like Grace, rather than S&C sport, will give a much nicer finish to your garment. The difference in the enjoyment of making something with a yarn that you love the feel of, rather than something “cheap”, is well worth the difference in cost. When you think of how much time you are spending working on something, make it as enjoyable as you can. Personally, Grace is my DK/ sport cotton of choice… reasonably priced, and feels like silk between the fingers.

If finances are a consideration, I certainly wouldn’t shy away from using an acrylic yarn that was within my budget. Especially if the alternative is not attempting to knit a tank. Grace sounds like a lovely yarn, but at $4+ a skein it is more expensive than Sugar and Cream. I’ve done placemats in S&C and I don’t think I’d like it for clothing, but there must be something else you could use. You should probably check out your yarn stores/online to see what is available in acrylic. I’m working on a baby sweater in Plymouth Dreambaby which is acrylic but is machine wash and dryable. That is a major consideration for me in making baby/children items. Plus, this is a soft, lovely yarn that is great to work with. Very little splitting, knits up evenly, etc. I purchased it through an on-line auction and it was quite reasonable. There are acrylics and there are acrylics.

When I was growing up both my mother and grandmother knitted and crocheted for us; scarves, mittens, hats, cardigans. They would never have considered using anything other than the stuff you could find at Woolworth. They knitted for practical purposes, for economic reasons, for pleasure and to “while” away those long winter evenings. And they couldn’t have been more proud of their FO’s if they were cashmere.

If I were you, I’d look for a yarn that fits my pocketbook, the climate I live in, and makes me happy to work with. Today it might be Redheart but someday it could be Rowan or Debbie Bliss. Even acrylic will make you a more proficient knitter. I wouldn’t worry so about the medium; just keep on knitting.

:thumbsup:

cgd,
I totally understand where you are coming from! Living at home with my disabled mother, cost is always an issue. I have been using Sugar and Cream to practice and learn new stitches. I make lace or cable bordered dishcloths in varying colors. I box them in coordinating bundles of 5, then wrap in wrapping paper that matches the color of the discloths inside. This way, when I have an “emergency” where a housewarming gift or such is needed I have it ready to go and know by looking at the outside of the box which color discloths are inside. I am getting lots of practice, learning techniques and covering my butt all at once! Plus friends and family love the homemade touch.

I did want to mention a yarn I found that I like a lot. Its TLC Cotton Plus.
http://www.coatsandclark.com/Products/Knitting/Medium+Yarns/TLC+Cotton+Plus.htm

It is a cotton/acryllic blend. I find I really like the way it feels as well as the drape. Its both comfortable and economical. It comes in an array of colors. I find it at my local A.C. Moore, but I am sure its nationally carried.

I live in Maryland so I don’t have the sauna effect you describe, but I am HOT all the time. I would leave the heat off for most of the winter if my Mother would tolerate it, and most of the time you will find me on the couch knitting in as few clothes as I can manage and still be decent.
Even as hot as I am, I find this yarn is comfortable-definitely better to me than pure acrylic which causes me to sweat puddles.

Hope this helps. And when in debt :doh: I mean doubt, remember www.elann.com

Thanks for the replies. I knew I’d get some good food for thought here. I just hesitate to spend money on the nicer stuff til I get better. I’ll check out the suggested yarns and just keep on knitting, even if it’s with Red Heart or SnC for now. I like SnC because it reminds me of handmade cotton things from childhood.

I really like the practical aspect of knitting, as cheesiesmom said. The same was true in my family, though it was more sewing than knitting, with a bit of crocheting thrown in. I have quilts that grandmothers and aunts made when it was necessary for families to make their own clothes and covers, even if wasn’t fancy, maybe even because it’s not fancy (they are pretty though). The SnC cotton yarn brings this feeling back to me, so it feels good in my hands even if it’s not as soft as other yarns.

I’ve worn store-bought 100% acrylic sweaters because of the low cost and easy care and because we don’t need so much warmth here and like them. I may just try knitting one on the cheap so I can learn how to size a sweater with a view toward experimentation rather than wearing. When I get better, I’ll definitely look into the acrylic/cotton blends as I know y’all are right–I will want to use better materials. But I have a LONG way to go before that day comes!

I appreciate all your viewpoints on this and will knit on!

it looks like you received good suggestions here…i previously lived in Louisiana so i can’t imagine doing the knitting i do now with those temps! :shock:

One thing that jumped out at me in your post though is that you might want to consider the kind of hunting your father in law does before knitting a Cammo hat! Sometimes safety orange is just a better option ya know! :thumbsup: unless of course you don’t like your father in law :rofling:

I think that for those of us who have a little time to shop, wonderful quality yarns in great fibers can be had for a VERY reasonable cost. it’s a matter of looking for sales online and researching.

I think you might want to consider some yarn blends. Cotton/microfiber acrylic… cotton/linen, cotton/rayon, that sort of thing. Cotton by itself can be kind of unappealing and has no elasticity (plus it grows throughout the day). But, there are tons of wonderful cotton blends!

I highly recommend haunting sites like elann, knitpicks or just looking for sales at places like herrschners online or the online “garage sale” at WEBS. You can really find stuff for a steal! I just got some Debbie Bliss alpaca/silk at a site for FOUR BUCKS a ball… that’s 50% off!

Elann has some WONDERFUL summertime yarns for very cheap.

Also check out this forum on knittyboard - folks post about great deals they find.

I can definitely relate to not wanting to knit with nicer stuff until you feel the quality of your work is up to it. But, I also submit that if you feel ready to tackle a piece of clothing, your whole experience (knitting the piece and then wearing it) will be totally different if you carefully choose a yarn that you really like and will suit you and your climate.

I frequently want a good deal, but I really don’t buy the stuff at WalMart (Caron’s, Red Heart, Lily) simply because you can find stuff for around the same price online, on clearance. When yarn stores clear out discontinued yarns, there’s no limit to how low the prices can get sometimes.

Cindy, I know the weather you live in all to well, having lived in FL, and southeast GA in the past, as well as the summers in DE, all of them hot and sticky. I would stongly suggest you check out ebay for the reclaimed/recycled yarns for sale there. I just bought a batch of butter colored, worseted weight, silk blend yarn, 928 yards for $19.28 including shipping. It is a 3 ply yarn, 2 nuby silk, 1 rayon, or 55% silk & 45% rayon. That would knit up a sweater very comfortable to wear in your neck of the woods. She had several other batches of “recycled” yarn availble the last time I looked, including sport weight cottons, worseted weight linen blends, another large amount of a silk blend. The seller’s name is yessiam04, I’ll be more than happy to let you know what I think about the yarn I bought from her as soon as it is deliveried. I am seriously thinking about recycling the yarn from some sweaters I haven’t worn since Moses was a baby. Of course that will mean buying a swift( since I don’t have any ladder back chairs) and a winder. One other thought, check out the thrift shops and estate sales for yarn and other knitting supplies, you never know when you’ll get lucky at one of them.
Linda

I think you should attempt a scarf. You can make some pretty nice ones even though you live in hot weather. Just wear them as an accessory(maybe make them a little bit thinner than the average scarf, and a little bit shorter).

One cheap acrylic yarn that I love to work with is Caron’s simply soft. It’s a 100% acrylic yarn. Cheap, a lot of nice colors to choose from, and is very soft!

There’s also a cotton yarn called Peaches and Cream that can be found at walmart. It’s a 100% worsted weight cotton yarn that’s around $1.50 for about 2.5oz.

I’ve seen TLC cotton plus yarn and I’ve been wanting to try that out. I can’t seem to find it though. :rollseyes:

I’d say just check your local craft stores for any deals. If you look around, you could probably even find yarn in your dollar stores(I found multiple types of yarn at the dollar stores) or even check thrift stores. I found a whole bag of 100% virgin wool for only $1.50 at the Good Will.

One thing I forgot about was the discontinued, and close out yarns, I just bought 10 balls/skeins of them at Walmart for my granddaughters to knit with. I found them on a small end rack near their regular price yarns. They had a nice selection of fashion yarns to choose from on that rack. I also forgot to mention Tuesday Morning is now carrying some closeout yarns, and their prices are fantastic. I bought some Lions Brand Homespun yarn for $2.50 a skein, it’s normally $5.99, and the one I shop at had even more of the novelty/fashion yarn.
I hope you have better luck finding nice, and affordable yarn.
Linda

Brendajos, I hear you about the orange, and yes, I do like my FIL! There are actually orange stripes on this cap, plus he wears an orange vest. Also, his deer camp doesn’t allow alcohol, which goes a long way toward guaranteeing his safety :smiley: (I have no moral thing against alcohol, but it doesn’t mix with guns and testosterone–yikes!)

Jenelle, I did crochet my mother a cap and scarf for Mother’s Day using Caron Simply Soft. It does feel wonderful, and she liked it. She’s in Alabama, also humid, but her town is further north in the foothills, and likes caps now that her hair is a bit thinner. I’ll give knitting a go with it. The TLC was mentioned before, and I’m thinking of ordering some from on-line as joann.com has it. There’s a nice tangerine color. Now I’ll need to figure out how much to use for a tank top. I’m thinking 6 or 8 skeins.

Mrs. H., Kristimetz, and all of you, thanks for the links and tips to the bargain yarn. I tried to visit my LYS last Friday but got in a car wreck on the way (I’m OK and the car will be). After all that, I managed to get there at 3:30, but they’d already closed (not supposed to close til 4). Their hours are very short and I have to work for a living, so getting there isn’t an option sometimes. I’ll have to investigate ebay too–I should have guessed they’d have yarn since they have everything else under the sun!

I have to echo KristiMetz and really recommend Knit Picks yarns. I started knitting back in February and most of my knitting has been with their yarn. I really have to say it’s the best regarding price and quality!

Something I have seen posted here numerous times is to go to Goodwill or other thrift stores and buy a sweater and then undo it and use the yarn for whatever you want to make. You can get some really nice yarn this way for three or four bucks!

What tank top are you thinking of doing?

:shifty: whew!

Just something very basic as I’ve never sewn or done any wearables other than hats and scarves.

I’m such a ditz-head–I’ve been saying Sugar-n-Cream all this time, and I’ve actually been using Peaches-n-Cream, the one you were talking about that we get at WalMart! It makes great dishcloths. I wonder if it would work for a first tank top . . .

Cindy, I’m going to vouch for Knitpicks yarn, too. I use it almost exclusively, because the quality is good for the price. It isn’t the BEST yarn in the world, but if you woul dlike to treat yourself to something luxurious, but don’t have the budget, their “high end” yarns (like Ambrosia and Panache) feel FABULOUS, and it won’t break the back to knit yourself something small using them.

Remember, too, you don’t have to knit clothes!!! You can knit pillows, table accessories, seat cushions, even curtains. And bags of course :slight_smile:

If you’re allergic to wool, have you tried other natural fibers like alpaca? What about blends? It might also just be chemicals in the wool… if you have a chance to try organic wool, you might discover a difference. And wool, really WILL keep you cool… if you get a light weight wool. A super bulky chunky bloucle wool yarn tank top you fry you! But a DK weight wool-blend might be just the thing. Wool will wick away moisture in ways a cotton or acrylic can’t, keeping your body less damp, and therefore cooler.

Hildegard, where do you buy Knitpicks?

well i am not hildi but you can see their link at the top of the page here. if it isn’t there just refresh until it comes up. otherwise it is www.knitpicks.com if you buy through the link on this page Amy gets a kick back! :thumbsup:

A big DUH for me!! I don’t pay attention to the popups much, but I see it up there now. Thanks, Brendajos!