Monday, December 10, 2012

When bad things happen to good products

I've been buying Red Heart acrylic yarn for four decades, give or take.  It's my go-to yarn for crocheting baby afghans, which I do in quantity, partly because it's totally machine washable.  I've bought it by the bushel, in many different colors, and enjoy the flexibility to mix and match from different skeins in the same project.

In the last couple of years I haven't been doing as much crochet as I used to do; I've been making a lot more hand embroidery projects that occupy my TV watching and family conversation time.  But I have noticed that the occasional skein of Red Heart seems to be stiffer and scratchier than the yarn I'm used to.

Last week, though, I got a stark object lesson in the degradation of one of my favorite brands.  My friend had bought a couple of skeins to knit a sweater for her grandson, and when it was time to sew the pieces together, to her dismay, here's what the sleeves looked like:

The bigger one was stiff and scratchy, while the smaller one was softer.  Although she hadn't noticed it while she was knitting, when we compared the two yarns we could tell the difference by feel.

Ironically, this yarn is sold under the rubric of "No dye lot," so you can theoretically buy multiple skeins of the same color and not have to worry that they won't match perfectly.  Well, the color was the only thing that did match in this project.

Caveat emptor.  Red Heart has tainted a previously fine product.  If you buy it, give it the feel test, especially if you're buying more than one skein.  If you have a choice, go for the softer "original" version.  The stiff, scratchy yarn isn't quite as nice.


  1. I agree with you completely. Something has changed with the yarn over the years. I would love to drop them a line and see what they have to say!

  2. Oh, bad news! Red Heart has always been my baby afghan yarn.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  3. A friend of mine cautioned against using Red Heart ruffle yarn...and pointed out the difference between the Patton's version and Red Heart...Red heart was obviously not the quality, the little loopy parts (picot?) that you knit these scarves with were deficient in the Red Heart. Too bad.

  4. Thanks for letting me know. I'll watch in future.

  5. I think there are a lot of products that have changed and we accept it as inevitable. Last night I took the last stitch in a wool scarf I crocheted for myself. I used a vintage Stanley Berroco Quelinda. The first end was one skein white, then 2 skeins variegated, white, variegated then one skein white. when I got to the end...there was exactly the same length little tail left over that was on the starting end and each section was exactly the same without counting rows. I don't think there is any yarn made today other than handspuns that would be this exact. Sadly, it is a sign of the times.