Is it possible to be extremely proud of finishing a project while at the same time being immensely disappointed in the final results? Yes... Yes, it is, and you'll soon see why. Caron United yarn is now a discontinued product, so I won't have to warn you to not buy it. But for those of us with leftovers in the yarn stash, here's a warning on what not to make with United:
Isn't that such a lovely afghan? I started and finished it while we were still living at Dad's, but never got around to sharing it here. Being there with the Big Huge Afghan on the couch made me think I'd need my own version of a big blanket for my house. I knew there was a whole lot of the same kind of yarn in complimentary colors in my stash, but I doubted I could make the same pattern work with so many of the United scraps I had leftover from making blankets. So I got to work on something new and...
Oh. Oh no. Forget about my afghan... The blankets that were made to help create the World's Biggest Stocking... Which was assembled and then disassembled back into blankets... Which were supposed to be donated to the families of veterans... OH NO. It wasn't required that we use United yarn for the blankets, but it was recommended because part of the purchase price of the yarn was donated to the Children of Fallen Patriots foundation.
So that's what I used, and ordered way more than I needed for the four blankets I managed to donate. I originally planned to make twelve, which is how I was left with so much United in my stash. It inspired me to make my own blanket, and that led me to discover what an absolute disaster this yarn is. Well, I might as well show you already...
I'm having trouble getting my camera to focus, but can we all still see the problem well enough? I was confident using this yarn because it seemed to be just like Caron One Pound. I've used One Pound in countless projects and have never had a complaint with the results. (A complaint about the number of knots in a skein, yes, but no problems with finished projects.) One Pound washes and dries like a dream, and I stupidly assumed that United would be the same.
Delicate cycle, gentle detergent, and low-heat drying: It's what I do for most of my crochet projects when the yarn label says "machine wash and dry". (I do like to skip the dryer the first time because if it doesn't look great coming out of the wash, then the dryer will surely destroy it.) I noticed quite a few yarn tails popping out after the first wash, so I hung it over a laundry rack and worked on weaving them back in. Because of the size and weight of the afghan, I was worried that it would get stretched out of shape from hanging or at least not dry and get stinky... Oh, I wish that could have been the worst of the problems!
In fact, I was impressed that this huge, heavy afghan air dried while I was working on it. If only I could have had the foresight to always air dry it! After the next wash, it went in the dryer. And now it's really bad. There are big balls of United Fluff in most of the laundry. I'm still pulling it out of the dryer. I find it in my socks. Occasionally I spot tufts rolling across the floor like tumbleweeds. It got worse after the blanket required another washing.
Despite it looking like... (Insert your own description; mine's NSFW) Rip van Winkle still likes this afghan and wants it on his bed. Rip also has a history of destroying nice things. In my mind, this blanket was already ruined after that first use of the dryer, so I was fine with letting him keep it until it's final end. I thought it would just keep shedding until... I don't know, until one day it would disintegrate in the washing machine and disappear down the drain as if it never existed? Anyway, I'm not sure if this damage was caused by a snag while it was on the bed or if the yarn broke in the wash, but now my awesome creation also has a gaping hole in it:
It can't be proven whether Rip or the yarn is at fault for the unraveling, so I won't focus on that part of the damage. I could easily repair the hole if I thought it would be worth my time to do so. The main problem is that I don't think it's worth the effort because of the amount of... Pilling? I know that's the term we would normally use, but these are not pills. Instead of the small lumps that I know as "pilling", this long, stringy fuzz is twisting so much in spots that I think it might spin a new yarn from itself!
Now, I will admit to wondering if I had done something wrong. And I found my answer: Yes. Yes, I did do something very wrong. My mistake was in using Caron United to create something that will actually be used, laundered, and used again. In the following picture I've tried to focus on the black yarn to the right of the white stripe. It looks so much nicer than the rest of the yarn around it, right? Right. And that's because it's the Caron One Pound that I bought to finish the blanket when I started running low on yarn. It does have some fuzz from the rest of the yarns stuck to it, but you can see such a major difference in the fibers up close. One Pound is still soft and smooth, while United looks and feels like a mangy cat.
This makes me sad. This makes me angry! But I'm not mad about my own afghan. I'm upset because I used this yarn for a charity project! Did they not test the yarn before they recommended we use it? Did they not care that these blankets were supposed to be a symbol of sympathy and appreciation extended to families who had lost loved ones to the service of their country? I'm sorry to be so blunt, but I just don't think "Hey little Jimmy, sorry your mom/dad is dead, but here's a blanket to make up for it" is enough. "No little Susie, you can't actually wrap up in it for comfort because it was only made to be looked at. But don't worry! The ten skeins of crappy yarn used to make it means a whole $1.50 was donated to a college fund you might never see!" I want to beat my head on the desk. Repeatedly.
More f- words.
F-ing f- words yelled about how these f-ing f- words made us look like a bunch of f-ing f- words by encouraging the use of this f-ed up yarn.
I think I used United for some of my Scarf of the Month donations. I know I used this yarn to make Mom's Afghan. They were all special projects that were important to me, and it took an afghan I don't give a care about to show that it only takes a few washes to turn "thanks for the gesture" into "thanks for nothing". So was the price (about $3.50 a skein) worth the 15 cent donation that went to charity?
NO. Many of us still have and cherish a mom/grandma/great grandma's afghan that was made 30+ years ago with Red Heart Super Saver yarn that has held up for decades. At the time I purchased the 230-yd skeins of United, the price for 350-yd skeins of Super Saver (at Walmart) was $1.50. But I didn't want to use "cheap" yarn to make blankets for charity, I wanted to use something nice. And this was my lesson that price does not always equal quality!
I could have made more blankets for less price and donated the $2 difference to the foundation. And if that's all I donated was the $2 savings from just one skein of yarn, more money would have went to charity than from all 10 skeins of United used in one blanket. Their donation of 15 cents looks more like an afterthought than a heartfelt gesture when I put it in that perspective.
I can only hope that the little blankets which were meant to be a big "thank you" don't look like a big "f- you" instead. I feel like the knitters and crocheters who used United had the
Maybe that's just a paranoid thought in my angry brain, but I know for sure that I expect much better from of Caron yarns. I have used Simply Soft since I started crocheting... Yes, it does split and I really recommend hand washing it... Okay, so I've accidentally thrown some Simply Soft projects in the wash. GASP! Although they fuzzed up a bit, that yarn still didn't look as bad as United. And as for One Pound?
Here's some current-day pictures of the "baby blanket" I made for The Kid. I published the pattern for the Bobble and Chain blanket in 2012. It has been used and washed (and used, and washed) many times and it still looks fine. That's after being used by a kid. And sometimes a cat. Supposing I had only washed The Kid's blanket once per year (and eww, it was much more than that), then this baby blanket made with One Pound has held up for more washes than the afghan made with United. Plus, it was used by a kid... And sometimes a cat.
If I could, I would glare with teary eyes and point a shaky finger at Caron United while yelling "I TRUSTED YOU". Getting involved in this project made me spend more money than I could really afford. Promoting support for the cause threw me into some drama I didn't need: It started with angry messages from multiple people, and by the time I had moved onto another military-themed quest I was getting death threats including a violent, graphic description of how he would sexually assault me first. (If I recall correctly, it was just one guy that took it that far.) Because I made some blankets? I no longer support anything military-related because of this.
In hindsight, working on the World's Biggest Stocking project is one of the biggest regrets I have. When one of my harassers (I have a theory that "they" were really just one person with fake accounts) sent a message with my home address... My actual, correct home address... It got way more personal than I could handle. I kept a pistol and/or a rifle loaded and within arm's reach for over a month. What kept me going through that (besides stubbornness) was knowing I was doing something good.
I caved to the pressure anyway. I got scared; they won. But more than fear, there was disgust. It was absolutely sickening for this situation to play out; a "tough guy" taking his anger and hatred for the military out on a 100 lb. woman for crocheting some blankets... What has this world come to? Again, the one thing that kept me positive through that was knowing that I was doing something GOOD.
But what is left of that feeling now that I know my blankets probably won't last? Nothing. I'm so disappointed. I trusted the idea that a company wouldn't recommend a bad yarn for a charity project. Right? Maybe they didn't know how poor the quality of their yarn was at the time... Maybe they just didn't test it enough? That's still not a good enough excuse for me. Caron United was a cheap yarn sold at a not-so-cheap price and I think the company thought they could pull it off by calling it " for charity". The only thing more disappointing than that is the fact that I still have at least ten skeins of this junk taking up room in my stash.
I still don't care much about the afghan I made for myself... I can remake that any time with any yarn I want. But how can I make up for the projects that have already been donated to random people? I can't. If ever I decide to take on another charity project, I'll make extra sure that I test that yarn and test it again. And I'm sorry to repeat myself but I just can't fully express how disappointed I am in the quality of this yarn. Okay, rant over! There's not much more I can say, so I'll just end here with the usual closing of
...With better yarn?
Yup... Happy crocheting with better yarn.