The other day I ran into V., a student and knitting buddy of mine.
She's always up for new and interesting projects, and is participating in a craft swap with a co-worker. Her co-worker is a skilled potter, and is making some custom items for V. In return, V. is knitting sweaters for her co-worker's two young children - a baby and a two-year-old. The co-worker had tried knitting in the past, but decided that it wasn't her thing. So she dug out the yarn from the inevitable half-finished project and asked V. to use that for the sweaters.
Thing is, the yarn is Lopi. Dark green Lopi.
Lopi is less common, it seems, than it used to be. There's only a couple of the stores in the city I know of that carry it. And I know of knitters who have never heard of it, and have certainly never knitted with it.
Suffice it to say that Lopi is about the worst choice possible for a baby sweater.
It's not washable.
And - most important of all - it's not what exactly you'd call soft.
Me, I'll wear any fibre (well, except for alpaca, apparently), and I'm not prone to itching. But prolonged exposure to Lopi makes me even me itch.
Now, in all fairness, it's a jacket yarn, rather than a sweater yarn. I wouldn't hesitate to use it for an adult. Well, ok, as long as I know it's not going to be worn next to the skin, and I know the adult will hand-wash it, and owns a good lint brush.
But for kids? No way.
The problem is that the Co-worker told V. how much she'd loved the yarn when she chose it - and V. is a nice sort who doesn't really want to insult.
We discussed some coping strategies. Jackets? Felting it? An extended soak in cream conditioner?
And landed on the simplest of all: "Hey, Co-worker, this yarn isn't machine washable. I wouldn't want you to have to worry about hand-washing these lovely sweaters I'm about to knit for you. How about I find you something that doesn't require so much maintenance?"