Over the summer I was lucky enough to acquire a vintage skein of Red Heart Acrylic from my Husband’s Grandmother’s stash.
Lucky you ask?
Yes, lucky. Old Red Heart makes the very best scrubbies and dishcloths due to it’s nature. Modern Red Heart does fine, but it is much softer and gentler than the old stuff. And soft and gentle isn’t what you need when attacking a cast iron pan.
This difference in the product made me curious about the why’s of the old vs new Red Heart, so I did a little research. I found it very interesting and thought I would share my findings with y’all.
Apparently, many decades ago, the wild acryl could be found in vast herds roaming across the flat-lands of many a country. There are those that say that the acryl migration was stupendous to behold – a single herd sometimes taking days to pass by a certain point, like a giant multicolored rainbow on the ground. Their melodious evening cries filling the dusky air. So numerous were they that those that harvested them for their fiber did not shave them as we do sheep, but simply killed them, skinned them and harvested the coat entire.
For many decades this was the status quo, but no one could foresee the perfect storm of events that occurred in the late 1980’s. A confluence of events, heavily influenced by the fashion trends begun by Bill Cosby and large boxy sweaters designed to be worn over some abomination called leggings had both men and women clamoring for cheap, brightly colored sweaters. And the acryl herds were decimated.
Luckily the problem was identified before the acryl went the way of the passenger pigeon and the great International Acryl Conservation Treaty was brought into being in the early ‘90’s. Wholesale slaughter of the acryl was outlawed and responsible husbandry was mandated.
This lead to the acryl farms that are found today in the world, with the animals being cared for as the valuable creatures they are. No longer are they skinned, but they are carefully groomed to remove only the finer undercoat for spinning into modern yarn. It is this new technique, along with breeding programs to introduce more variety into their colors that yields the acrylic yarn we know today.
So this skein I found at my Mother in Law’s, well it is something special. While the Treaty bans sale of any acrylic yarn manufactured with inhumane practices, the yarn already in existence can be used. And this is pre-Treaty yarn that I now have in my possession.
Dating from sometime in the 1960’s it has both the under and guard hairs of a rare albino acryl. Due to the guard hairs it has a special texture that is not to be found in yarns today. These exceptional attributes of toughness and texture demand to be used in only applications that highlight their nature.
So there it is, now you know the whole story.