Confessions of a Yarn Snob
I am a member of the Baha'is on Ravelry group, and it was suggested that we as a group make things to donate to charity during fast which is the 2nd through the 21st of March, I started early. As I have been shopping the stash and designing the sweater I have been thinking about making things for charity, and why people do it and how they do it.
I don't make things for every charity I hear of, mostly because making something out of synthetic is not my idea of a good time. I like natural fibers, and I have been thinking about why I refuse to make things to give away out of the "Walmart" (insert name of favorite big box store here) yarns. First I only work with natural fibers.
What is it about the natural fibers that I prefer over synthetics? I like that way they feel, this one is purely subjective but I work more steadily if I like how something feels, and so get more done, since I don't have to force myself to work on the project.
I work for charities that claim to be set up to keep people warm in harsh situations, how do synthetics work to retain body heat when damp or wet? They don't! They conduct heat. Since the insulation factor reduces drastically when wet, would I give a homeless person a blanket made of synthetic? I don't think I want to be involved with that particular project. How does wool work when damp or wet? It still insulates well. So if a homeless person gets rained on, they stay warm. If a small child wets the bed in an unheated orphanage or home, they stay warm. If the blanket is washed improperly and fulls, it gets warmer than before.
If one uses an open flame, (fire in a oil drum, fire place, oil space heater, fire pit in the middle of a tent) to heat or supplement the heat in a home, there is some degree of danger of fire. What happens if a synthetic catches fire? It melts, it sticks, and it continues to burn. What happens if wool catches fire? It stops burning as soon as the flame is removed, it burns slowly. The original fire retardant suits used by fire fighters were wool. So given poor conditions, and a larger chance of fire, I don't feel that synthetics are the way I want to go.
Then there is cost, the "I am on a budget and I can't afford the good stuff to give away" argument, contact the charity involved, most of them have people who will donate yarn because they believe in the charity, and want to help. but don't have time to knit even thought they can afford the yarn. The mohair that I am using with the alpaca is a donation, Someone posted on one of the lists that I am on, that she wanted to reduce her stash and would send it to anyone knitting for charity, I wrote back and ask for natural fibers because that is what the charities I knit for want and she sent me a big box. She even paid the postage. The rust mohair, is combining with the rust alpaca, to make a much more interesting yarn, that knits on larger needles, (therefore faster), 6's instead of 2's, and it is making up to be much warmer than any thing I could wear, but will be great for what it is designed for.
So it is a win- win situation. I get something that I would not knit up, (the alpaca is a color that I don't wear, and is kind of dull) and something that was intended for charity work, the mohair, out of my storage, moving it on to someone who can use it, and a child on a reservation gets a soft, warm, pretty sweater, which will be good for either a boy or girl.
I don't give anything to a charity that I would not give to one of my children or grandchildren. It is just that way I feel about it. So if I would not use that yarn for family, I won't use it for someone else's family.
So there you have it the ramblings of why I do what I do, and why I will not feel bad about saying "No, I don't think I will support that particular charity with hand knitting." And I am glad I have thought it through and justified my feelings to myself. Your Mileage may vary, and that is absolutely OK.