We honestly don’t understand this ‘conflict’. People use both, and other fibers, too, depending on the item, recipient, and use. When you want to stay warm, acrylic and wool are two popular options to keep you comfortable in any chilly, cold environment.
The pros and cons of each fiber.
Cashmere & Wool Pros:
- Cashmere and wool are protein based natural animal fibers. They both insulate naturally. Both retain body heat even if you are soaking wet. Traditional Fisherman Sweaters kept fishermen warm.
- Wool is also naturally flame retardant. It will burn but more of a smoldering sort of burn and will stop when moved away from the flame.
- The natural quality gives depth to color and creates interesting texture. When knitting it has nice give and warms up in your hands. It makes some stitches like cables look fantastic.
- Warm even when wet; wool naturally wicks away moisture keeping you warm and dry.
- Versital; very light weight wool is cool in summer because of its wicking properties, and warm in winter.
- Takes dye well and resists fading.
- It’s a natural, renewable resource.
Cashmere & Wool Cons:
- The drawbacks are that it can be itchy depending on the breed of wool and how it is spun and processed. Some people are allergic too it.
- Most wools need to be hand washed, unless you get a superwash version.
- Moths and insects like to chew on it.
- It can felt if accidentally washed, ruining the item.
- Generally cost more.
- Acrylic come in all varieties of textures, weights, colors.
- Easy to care for, can usually be machine washed and dried.
- Costs less than natural fiber yarns.
- Easy to find in stores.
- Doesn’t irritate or ‘scratch’ skin. Generally soft and nice to wear against the skin.
- Not as prone to moths (maybe..?)
- Acrylic is petroleum based. It comes from oil. It does not breathe the way natural fibers do. So while you may be warm in something acrylic it is because it is holding in your sweat. If you are soaking wet in acrylic you will be cold and not retain any body heat. So out in the woods it won’t protect you from hypothermia the way wool would.
- It is easy care for so people often choose it for kids things. However it actually is not safe for babies at all. It is not flame retardant, it melts when exposed to flame and can cause horrible burns.
- Cannot be dyed easily.
- Does not breath well.
- Will not resist water, or keep you warm when wet.
- Can be squeaky when you are knitting with it.
- Will not wick away moisture.
- Cannot be blocked, must be ‘killed’ with an iron in order to help shape the piece.
However - if someone were to offer me some amazing 100% cashmere or acrylic I’d probably go for the cashmere…