Mayflower ( has spoken up in defense of acrylic yarns, and expressed a desire to reach through her monitor and slap yarn snobs. Well, I’m opposed to snobbery in all forms, but I also don’t think people should knit beautiful complicated sweaters in 100% acrylic, and here’s why:

This nice little Viking-cable slipper was knitted in Red Heart yarn. It looked great when I finished it, but now, a year later, it has lost its looks and has little pills and puffs where the fiber has started to go to pieces. This is okay, because these were #2 son’s last-year slippers. He has outgrown them, and there is no one smaller than him to pass them down to.

Compare that with this detail from a dress I made for #1 daughter in 1985. This is a wool blend, not much more expensive than a 100% acrylic, but it washes so much better that now, almost 20 years later, after many washings and wearings, it still looks good.

I intend to send it to #1 daughter if she ever has a daughter. And she wore one of my little wool dresses that my grandmother made for my third birthday, too. So it is not snobbery, but good sense, to use wool or wool-blends when you knit something special that will be worn and washed a lot. Save the acrylic yarns for things which will not be washed much (nice bright chair throws and afghans, perhaps) or which will not need to last very long (stuff that will be outgrown soon and not passed along).

End of lecture.

You may have noticed that I don’t use people’s real names here. I use their xanga names, or the nicknames they have developed naturally at work or in the family, or sometimes a code name based on their middle name or something like that. Anyone who hasn’t earned a nickname of some sort probably won’t come up in the discussion. This provides the cast of characters, from “A” to “Zimbabwe Griddle,” and no nickname is used with unkind intentions.

But a new nickname developed over the past weekend. The new person is “Drool.” Now, the nickname is not based on drooling, and is in no way derogatory, but it seems likely that the person so named would not really like the sobriquet. Would you? I didn’t think so. Unfortunately, once someone has developed a nickname, it is almost impossible to change it, even if you try really hard. It is also almost impossible to ensure that the person so referenced will not find out about it.

I thought maybe we could spell it differently. “D’Rule,” for example, would offer a sort of hip-hop look that wouldn’t make people think of dripping saliva. Cleverboots suggested a Celtic spelling: “Dhruile” would have a Gaelic flair, wouldn’t it?

Continuing in this spirit, I offer you a simple Irish Christmas song, “That Night in Bethlehem”:

and the better-known “Wexford Carol”:

These two songs are traditional Irish pieces, both beautiful and very suitable for processionals, which is to say they will be just the thing if you are going out caroling. Alternatively, if you are attending celebrations of the Winter Solstice, you could play them on your penny whistle and be right in keeping. The Boys of the Lough and the Chieftans have recorded “That Night in Bethlehem” in Irish, and there are many many recordings of “The Wexford Carol” available in English. John Rutter has done a choral arrangement for it and included it on “A John Rutter Christmas.” I read that it is more properly known as “Enniscorthy Carol,” but I leave that debate for someone else to consider. The site for “That Night in Bethlehem” includes the original language, but I know enough about it to realize that I can’t guess from the spelling how to pronounce it. Therefore, I intend to sing them in English.

Why two songs? Well, it is the beginning of winter, and I know that I need at least two songs to give me the courage to face it. Mayflower is going to San Diego, where she will not need any courage for the winter, but the rest of us may need to spend a lot of hours by the fire with our penny whistles.