I was boasting the other day about how lovely WP is because it’s not full of yarn snobs. I still think this is true because I have met nothing but incredibly understanding responses about my stance on this, and WP is by far the best community to talk about knitting in my opinion because it’s relatively drama-free. This (angry) rant isn’t directed at most of you, so I hope nobody takes it personally.
Today, I’m somehow running into articles across the net where people are casually discussing acrylics and there’s this one tiny little thing that keeps rolling by that makes me really, really mad. Maybe that’s irrational, because everyone is entitled to their preferences and opinion, but I think I’m mostly mad that nobody seems to understand the implications of so carelessly throwing that opinion around.
“I wouldn’t be caught dead with acrylic in my stash, right everyone?”
As if it’s something shameful, and terrible, and worse than anything else you can possibly imagine. What is it about acrylic that makes people say this? I mean, I understand that one prefers wool over acrylics for its qualities. I understand acrylics used to be shitty a couple of decades ago. Why feel the need to imply that having acrylic yarn in your stash is such a terrible thing that you’d want the ground to open up and swallow you whole though?
The message you are sending out when you word it like that is: “People who use, have and are proud of acrylic yarn are inferior and ought to be terribly ashamed of what they have.”
No, they’re not and they shouldn’t. I dare say they are more conscious and appreciative of what they have than you. There is ignorance in this statement that blows my mind. You do realize that there are a lot of knitters and recipients of knitwear who cannot touch your precious and superior wool knitwear lest they break out into rashes or actual anaphylactic shock, right? It’s called sensitivity and allergies. You do realize that not everyone is physically capable of hand washing and appropriately drying knit wear, right? It’s called disabilities. You also realize that not everyone is wealthy enough to spend €10 on a single skein of yarn and they have to make do with $20 for an entire sweater, right? It’s called poverty.
And even if none of these things apply, so what? Why can’t you just say “I’m not a fan of acrylic yarn” and leave it at that? Why does it have to be phrased in such a horrible, degrading and collectively insulting way? Shitty phrasings like that make other people feel like crap. You’re making them seem like less. You’re setting a horrible example for new knitters by teaching them to look down on others. You may even be discouraging new knitters who are trying to learn but aren’t confident to splurge on expensive yarn.
I have seen the effects of these statements in my own friend, who was not only ridiculed in a knitting group cause her allergies won’t let her touch animal fibers, but who got excluded and shunned for using acrylics. How ridiculous is that? People refused to help her with pattern related questions because she used acrylic yarn. That’s what those statements lead to. That’s what yarn snobbery is. And by continuing to say “I wouldn’t be caught dead with acrylics in my stash” you perpetuate this attitude and clique nonsense.
I am not saying you have to like acrylics. Dislike them all you want, I couldn’t care less. But it doesn’t cost you anything to be nicer about expressing that opinion to avoid making people feel like shit. I realize it probably never occurred to a lot of people that this is the kind of effect such a statement has, and that my anger in this may be off-putting. But it sucks being on this side of that statement. It really does. It sucks being told something is wrong with the way you practice your hobby that has no set standards, because someone feels superior for using wool. It sucks that this attitude takes a central hold in communities and it sucks that people get so swept up in it that it rules their ability to interact nicely with others.
Acrylics aren’t the devil. People who prefer acrylics, for whatever reason, are not lesser than anyone else for their choices. You don’t have to like them, but you also don’t have to be so condescending about it.
Next time you feel inclined to say “I wouldn’t be caught dead with acrylics”, it might be worth stopping yourself there and rephrase it to “I really don’t like working with acrylics”. It has the same meaning, but one of those statements doesn’t put down others around you.