I am by no means a yarn snob. Oh, I love a wonderful fiber, a soft merino, a lustrous mohair. And the spinning has focused me on them as never before.
But I certainly don't disdain acrylics, blends, and other more ordinary yarns. Some of them are fun. Some are practical. For charity knitting, I almost wouldn't use any other. The last thing a person needs when in pain, in want, in distress, is to have to worry about special washing instructions. Or to find a gratefully received handknit item destroyed by careless laundering. I don't want to add to someone's burdens.
Occasionally, I like the novelty yarns as well, for something silly or cute. Not everything needs heirloom staying power. In fact, when I had for a decade suppressed my lifelong interest in knitting, thinking other things more important, it was Fun Fur that brought me back.
My dear, wonderful sister-in-law came to me one day saying, "look what I've learned to do!" Passing the time with the other moms on the sidelines of children's sports, she'd been shown how to knit by one of her friends. She knit garter-stitch scarves one after another on giant needles in bright, joyous colors. She made one for me that I treasure. She'd forgotten that I'd knit baby booties for her first child, that at her baby shower she'd led her friends around my home, showing them the seat cushions I'd sewn, the lace tablecloth edging I'd crocheted, the afghan I'd knit. Later, when she eventually remembered, she was aghast. I was sorry at this; it's lovely to have something knit for you. Whatever the level of accomplishment, it's a gift from the heart.
Nevertheless, she showed me some of the other things she and her friends had been knitting. They'd been haunting the local crafts store, fearlessly and experimentally combining yarns, trying anything. With projects so quick the stakes weren't so high. One scarf in particular that she had made for a friend caught my eye. As best I recall, the yarn was a bulky chenille, black with a soft sheen, and floating above it was a warm, spicy chestnut haze of eyelash yarn. The scarf draped heavily around her friend's neck, and, paired with her thick curly brown hair, lent her an air of fin de siecle glamour.
I was lost. My sister-in-law had no idea. I was a long-domesticated canine listening in the night and hearing the distant call of the wild.
Simple as it was, I had never known knitting like this. I had never seen big needles, 13s, 15s, 17s, had never dipped into novelties, had never combined unlike yarns, had never approached knitting with such insouciance. I couldn't hold back any longer. I had to try it.
I bought large needles. I bought chenille in a deep dark color blend with tiny flecks of raspberry, and Fun Fur in black. I knitted a ribbed scarf for myself, knotted a fringe. It was flattering and dramatic. I knitted another for my Mom in a periwinkle blue blend with the Fun Fur floating above in a near color match. It was elegant.
A bit more play in this vein, and I started hungering again for traditional yarns and serious knitting. Finally, I surrendered. I embarked on an intricate Aran project, the most complicated cabling I'd yet attempted. I was back.