Morgan Scott Peck (1936–2005) was an American psychiatrist and best-selling author who wrote the book The Road Less Travelled. He once declared “Share our similarities, celebrate our differences!”
We daily experience similarities and differences in people and their preferences in our little yarn shop. There are customers that make a beeline for the shelves packed with Mirage, Charity and Family Knit. Then there are the customers that only knit and crochet with pure natural yarns and would not be caught dead with acrylic yarn in their basket!
So: what is the difference between natural and synthetic yarns? Why do certain projects with a certain type of yarn?
Natural yarns can be from animal or plant origin. Animal fibres such as wool, alpaca, mohair and cashmere retain heat exceptionally well and are perfect for winterwear like sweaters, beanies and scarves.
Cotton, bamboo, hemp and linen are examples of plant fibres and are suitable for garments, accessories, hats and décor items.
Synthetic yarns are “man-made”, for example acrylic, polyester, nylon (also called polyimide) and spandex.
Different situations call for different approaches. You probably would not want to wear a pure merino sweater when you live in the Bushveld, whereas that same sweater will be considered your best belonging in winter in places like Sutherland and Bloemfontein! Shawls and scarves in bamboo present with a beautiful drape; cotton is durable, does not stretch and gets softer with every wash. Socks are often knitted in a blend of merino wool, for heat and polyimide, for stretch and shape retention.
Bottomline: to each their own.
I am positively sure that Morgan Scott Peck would nod his head in approval of our similarities and differences. We knit and crochet with natural yarns to celebrate nature and earth in its purest form – we knit and crochet with synthetic yarns because it is affordable, durable and can be washed in a machine!
What similarities do we celebrate? We knit and crochet because it makes us feel good. It reduces stress and anxiety and promotes mindfulness through repetitive movements. We bless others with gifts from the heart and tend to the needs of the less privileged. We knit and crochet because we have to. That’s all.