What exactly is acrylic and why do we use it so often in yarn arts?

A "manufactured fibre" is not found naturally, but is man-made. Wool or cotton would be examples of natural fibres; an acrylic yarn does not fall into that category, but rather is categorized with the synthetic yarns.

Acrylic is, by definition, a man-made, synthetic fibre.

Benefits of Acrylic Yarn
With so many different types of yarn, should you be using acrylic or something else? Well, there are pros and cons to all yarn types.

Some of the benefits of acrylic yarn include:

Widely available. You can purchase acrylic yarn at most yarn stores, particularly big box stores. It is also widely available online. Due to the vast production of these yarns, they also often offer a diverse array of colours, which is important to many crocheters.
Affordable. Although acrylic yarn prices can vary greatly depending on many factors, as a general rule they are more affordable than wool, cotton and other basic fibers for crochet.
Durable. This manmade fiber tends to last longer than a lot of other materials, so if you want to make durable items, then this could be a good choice. Note that this also varies from yarn to yarn.
Washable. You will have to read your yarn label to find out for sure if your acrylic can be washed and dried in machines but often this is indeed the case. This is great for people who want easy-care items.
Stitch definition. Some acrylic yarn has a really great stitch definition. That means that it is easy to figure out where your stitches should go, making it a good beginner crocheter's yarn choice. This is particularly true of light-coloured acrylic yarn. Of course, it may not be true of certain novelty yarns.
Non-allergenic. Many people believe that they are allergic to wool and other animal fibers (although this may not turn out to be true!). If that's the case, manmade materials like acrylic can be a good non-allergenic choice.

Should I use acrylic yarn?
Over time, most people who crochet find that they prefer one fiber over another but will also use different fibers depending on the items that they are creating. Acrylic yarn certainly has its place in crochet, and for some people, it's the only choice. It's something each designer and maker decides for him or herself!

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