Thursday, August 24, 2006

100% Virgin Acrylic

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My New Fave
I have an affinity for acrylic yarn. Yes, mohair, cashmere, certain wools, Egyptian cotton are all soft to the touch and a dream to work with, but I was raised on crunchy acrylic. When I learned how to knit in the early 1960's, acrylic was king! It was new, revolutionary, a scientific wonder and indestructible. It was also easy to machine wash and dry, and lighter in weight than wool for the Southern California climate. It came in lots and lots of pretty colors. It was many good reasons to love acrylic yarn. There were versions of acrylic with fun names like Sayelle, Orlon, Nylon, Acetate and my two best friends, Poly and Ester. Hey! Remember the singing group, The Orlons? In my opinion, The Orlons were always superior to the group called The Cashmeres!

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The Orlons
Over the years I've been seduced by fancy and expensive natural fibers, but I always come back to good ol' reliable acrylic. Why spend tons of money on natural fibers when you can have just as much fun with acrylic? The new blends are really wonderful. Coats and Clarks has come up with a new RED HEART SOFT YARN! It's incredible! It's very much like Caron's Simply Soft, but comes in tastier colors.
I mentioned in yesterday's post that I was at the Burbank Michael's this past weekend. This Michael's, located at 1551 No. Victory Place is fully stocked right now. The reason I was in Burbank was to attend Christine's Yard Sale. Christine and many of our fellow knitster friends got together and held a group yard sale. I bought a few books and it was an excellent excuse to be in the vicinity of the Burbank Michael's. You see, here on my side of the hill in the Big City, the only Michael's we have is in Santa Monica. I don't like being negative, but the SM Michael's is old, crummy, no one ever helps you and the shelves are sparse. You have to travel to the 'burbs to get a good selection. Also, the big box mall where the Burbank Michael's is located also has a Krispy Kreme, Shoe Pavillion, Starbucks, Marshall's, Target, Lowe's, Linens 'n Things, Sportmart, Staples, Best Buy, etc. It's one-stop shopping at it's finest.

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Christine's Yard Sale Group in Burbank
Back to the wonders of acrylic. My friend, Regina, posted this whole rant about knitting yarn vs. crochet yarn and the Super Yarn Marts of our past. One of the points that she makes is that the Super Yarn Mart was the ONLY place where we could find a variety of yarn to buy. Oh sure, you could find a few skeins at Woolworth's, Sears, Fedco and even the May Company, but Super Yarn Mart was the best. They even imported yarn from Europe! There were locations all over the Southland. The aisles were wide, the stores were huge. There were samples of afghans, sweaters, baby clothes hanging from the rafters. They gave you these patterns for free. Everything was pink. All of the ladies that worked there were old, wore lots of lipstick, drank coffee all day and smoked in the store. Ahh, yes...those were the days of acrylic heaven.

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The Most Wonderful Yarn Store on Earth

So, don't be such a yarn snob. Try some of the new and improved acrylics! They're faboo!
Ana of BananaKnits just sent in this photo of her vintage Super Yarn Mart ruler! Thanks, Ana!

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At 2:35 PM PDT, Blogger Sachi said...

You know, there are some really great acrylics but I still can't bear to use the original Red Heart. Although, OMG, the TLC is to die for!

At 2:38 PM PDT, Blogger Ana Petrova said...

Oh just seeing that logo warms my heart!

I loved Super Yarn Mart!

You know there was one in that same block as the Stitches from the Heart store is now. I think it was where the map store used to be.

Oh my time does fly when you're having fun!

At 7:50 PM PDT, Blogger Pam said...

I think alot of us "grew up using acrylic" and didn't know of any other options, (at least for me in a small town in Minnesota) it was the old Ben Franklin store and there were 2 choices. I use acrylic yarn for stuff I make for my boys cuz it 'wears like jeans', wash after wash, still looks good!

At 12:11 AM PDT, Blogger littledevilworks said...

Wow. You made me so nostalgic... I used to go to Super Yarn Mart when I was a kid with my grandmother (an avid knitter) and she'd always let me pick out yarn. In those days I used to do needlepoint with plastic canvas. Today, I have boxes and boxes full of acrylics that I use for sturdy washable blankets, and hats and scarves to send overseas. And I HATE the Michael's in Santa Monica... the one in Torrance is pretty good!

At 3:16 PM PDT, Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

I kina hate the Michael's in SM, but they've recently remodeled, so at least they're trying?

I have to pick up WeeMonkeyGurl from a party in the Valley. I'm hoping its the Valley of which we spoke, so I can check out this new (for me) Michaels!

At 3:23 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't there one on Olympic & Fairfax and also on Barrington near Olympic? I have to admit that I am a bit of a yarn snob but regardless of that I HATE Michael's in SM too. If I ever find myself in Burbank I'll have to check it out. Love your washclothes.

At 5:57 PM PDT, Blogger Susan Wike said...

I love acrylic yarn and until I read your blog was kind of ashamed to admit it. My fave is Simply Soft by Caron. It's lusciously silky!

At 9:19 AM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Locations of Super Yarn Marts! If you take the photo of my SYM bag and enlarge the left side, you will see all of the SoCal locations. The SYM on Olympic and Fairfax later moved to La Brea, just south of Wilshire. I don't remember the one on Barrington and Olympic, but I do remember the one on Gateway near Barrington, south of Pico. Do you remember the Super Yarn Mart in your neighborhood? Comments, please.

At 10:43 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember going to Super Yarn Mart with my mom!
She was a macrame nut in the crunchy 1970's.
As far as acrylic goes, yes, I'd agree that there are some unbelievable yarns/blends out there--my most recent fave is TLC Cotton Plus(?).
I've often chosen acrylic blends to make things for babies because of its easy care,
but the Yarn Harlot brought up a point about acrylics being flammable.
Hey, as long as no one hands a baby a lighter we should all be OK. What are your thoughts on this point?

At 4:49 PM PDT, Blogger debi said...

that is fantastic - i used to ride my bike(hand me down purple schwinn stingray with the flowered basket, you know the one)to the super yarn mart on victory blvd right by woodman in van nuys.

At 3:00 PM PDT, Blogger tb said...

I've never experienced a Super Yarn Mart, but I still have yarn from Woolworths that I bought in 1988! It's acrylic and will be an afghan someday. :) You'll have to tell us if this new Red Heart Soft pills and mats the way Simply Soft does. Simply Soft is beautiful and a pleasure to work with, but for me it doesn't wear well.

At 5:33 PM PDT, Blogger LadyLinoleum said...

I *heart* Super Yarn Mart! Those were the days I tell ya!

I'm with you on the SM Michael's. It's really not a great store. I go to the Michael's in Tarzana. Big trek on the 101, but it's always stocked.

At 10:56 PM PDT, Blogger mathomhouse said...

Gosh, this takes me back! I Googled "super yarn mart" for a meme I'm answering, and this was the first hit.

I used to go to the Super Yarn Mart in Covina a lot. I have vivid memories of the store -- the wide aisles, the register in the center with the "old" ladies (must have been in their forties!), the huge selection. Still have a fair amount of their house-brand yarns in my stash, too! And one of those rulers, somewhere.

At 9:25 AM PST, Blogger Unknown said...

I would like to know if anyone has a certain pattern and be willing to share? It is for SYM freebie #131, a baby sweater crocheted sideways. If so I do thank you.. And if you can't I do understand..


At 11:16 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i used to teach knitting and crochet at the super yarn mart on victory by woodman in the san fernando valley in the early 1990's before it closed. i know i have a TON of their free patterns somewhere. does anybody know if the copyrights are still intact on them? i need to find the pattern for the crocheted toilet tissue doll cover. i know i know tacky, but it's a joke. does anybody have something like that?


At 6:43 PM PDT, Blogger Anette said...

There used to be a store on Lakershiem in North Hollywood. I started to crochet about a year and half ago and wish the store was still there; especially with price of yarn these days.

At 2:37 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh how great to see so many ladies who loved Super Yarn Mart. I managed the one in Huntington Park for over 10 years. Did any of you ever shop at that one?? say 1970 to the 80's. And I was not an old lady then, I left just before Mr Gold let the stores close because of new regulations on business to upgrade so as not to pollute the envirement. I had heard it would have cost too much to do that so he closed the plant and the stores.

At 2:41 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Hi Anonymous in Huntington Park!

I was never at the HP branch of SYM, but I'm sure it was great! Thanks for the info on why Mr. Gold closed the stores. That was a sad day for many of us.

Ellen B.

At 5:04 PM PDT, Anonymous Kathy said...

I learned to knit in the 50's and the ONLY place to get yarn was SYM on Victory (or was it Vanowen?) in the Valley. I don't want to say I keep things a long time but, I just knit a pair of slippers using the last of my ACRYLIC yarn with SYM paper wrapers. Oh my!

At 5:09 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Hi Kathy!
I still miss the SYM!!! I, too, have some vintage acrylic with the SYM ballbands. One day I'll have to gather them all together for an old timer's photo shoot!

At 10:08 AM PDT, Anonymous raytheragman said...

For years I had a fabric store in Lakewood, New Jersey and a large part of my clientele came from the Ultra Orthodox Jewish Community and these folks are challenged by kosher laws that make many, many fabrics out of bounds. I didn't know the community all that well. Trial and error brought me into contact with soft acrylic knits that were beautifully colores and marvelously similar, except in weight, to the feel of cashmere (cashmere that was certified kosher was too expensive for me and I carried duchesse silk. Cashmere could be corrupted with used yarns.) Long story short, acrylic yarns and knits sold well and brought me a lot of good will.
Raytheragman at is selling a terrific variety of acrylic knit mufflers. I am giving them away as Christmas gifts and I'm on SS.

At 12:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Is there still a Super Yarn Mart in the LA area? I am out of the country, but family in Pasadena are coming our way and could make a stop. We are in need of lots of acrylic yarns for charities.

At 12:03 PM PST, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Dear Anonymous...sorry Super Yarn Marts are long gone from the Los Angeles area. Your best bet would be to try a Michael's Crafts or Jo-Ann's Fabrics for acrylic yarn in Pasadena.

At 10:43 PM PDT, Blogger Kai said...

Thanks for your posts! We've come a long way to the second Yarn Crawl L.A. but nothing beats super yarn mart or the wonderous assortment of yarn it offered back in the day! And thank you for the pictures of those beautiful pink bags!

At 6:37 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Does anyone remember the Super Mart! yarn stores in the Los Angeles area in the 50's and 60's??

I'm trying to gather any info I can!!

Thank you!!


PS stores were in Huntington Park, West Los Angeles, Inglewood, Long Beach, Santa Barbara, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Pomona, Pasadena and Los Angeles (Main and Fairfax)

At 11:28 AM PDT, Blogger BeagleChase said...

gosh, i was just telling my sister-in-law about Super Yarn Mart!!! i remember as a teenager in the '70's going with my Mom and Aunt, i think to the West Covina store. my Aunt lived in Norwalk....we lived in Phoenix, and every time we came to visit my mom would bring an empty suitcase for YARN!!!!!
when i moved to SoCal in the '80's i loved to shop at SYM!!! i still have Sparkle Spun yarn in my stash!!!!

At 2:20 AM PDT, Blogger Theresa said...

Can anyone tell me how old sparkle spun yarn is? I was gifted one skein of 052 earth glow. I just finished a beanie with it.. super soft!

At 11:23 AM PDT, Blogger BeagleChase said...

hey Theresa....i'd have to say at least 40 years old?? i still have sparkle spun in my stash that i got around 1982-83.... from what i understand they closed in the '80's.... was the most awesome yarn store ever!!


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