Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Scented Yarn is a Baaaaad Idea

An open letter to Lily Sugar'n Cream upon learning about their new line of fragranced Sugar'n Cream yarn:

"Introducing Lily Sugar'n Cream Scents. Your favorite yarn, now available in your favorite scents! As you knit and crochet with the yarn. the scent of your choice is gently released. Lily Sugar'n Cream Scents is created using micro-encapsulated essential oils, which are thought to reinforce harmony and well-being of body, mind, and spirit. From Vanilla, to Lavender, to Camomile, the capsules release gradually - as you knit and crochet, and later after your project is complete. adding a pleasant aroma in your space. Lily Sugar'n Cream Scents are perfect for scented sachets, gifts and special treats for yourself."

Dear Lily,

I just found out about your Sugar'n Cream Scented yarn.

This is a spectacularly BAD idea. There are more people in this country who are chemically sensitive to fragrances than there are people with diabetes! For all of us who are knitters and crocheters, you've just made it that much more difficult to go shopping in stores or even buy by mail or over the Interet, as the latter two purchases, though nothing scented was purchased, the yarns will have absorbed fragrance from being stored in the same rack--even just in the same room--as the fragranced yarn.

You should have done your research first and not jumped on the Glade-Febreeze "everything's got to be perfumed or there's something wrong with you" bandwagon.

Not So Sexy: Hidden Chemical in Perfumes and Colognes

What's That Smell? Hidden Fragrance Found in Cleaning Products

EPA Design for the Environment Program Criteria for Fragrances

Navigating through life is already hard enough for chemically sensitive people. You've just made it increasingly unsafe for people like me--knitters and the people we knit for.

Melissa Kaplan

If you'd like to write your own letter to Lily, here's the link to their Contact Us page.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

New Scented Yarn is a great idea! I have very sensitive skin and am also asthmatic and the yarn did not bother me at all. I knitted and crocheted with all of the scents and felt so good while doing so. I plan to buy the scented yarn all the time. Keep making more colors and more scents. Thank you.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

You, like many people, are under the mistaken impression that chemical sensitivity is an allergy or asthma, both of which can be controlled or remediated by the appropriate prescription or over-the-counter drug.

Chemical sensitivity is NOT asthma or allergy. It is an autoimmune response to a chemical that affects the body in a variety of ways, depending on the chemical and the patient. Symptoms I typically experience include rapid onset of migraines (which I do not ever have except from some chemical exposures), nose bleeds, loss of voice, rapid onset cognitive dysfunction, including increased difficulty in word finding and speaking, and crushing fatigue that may last for days. There are people who end up bedridden for days or weeks after a brief exposure to perfume (including "natural" essential oils), cleaning chemicals, printing chemicals (which cause blisters on my skin where the chemicals have touched, as well as bronchitis and loss of voice). Catatonia is not an uncommon reaction.

So, while it's nice that you have no problem with it, there are more people in this country with chemical sensitivity than there are diabetics (according to a Newsweek article published in 2000, since which time there is an increase in the recognition based on science that chemicals, even fragrances typically used in personal care and cleaning products (and that "new car" smell and all the other air freshening products) are in fact harmful and adversely affecting and sickening more people the more ubiquitous they become in our home, work, school, and public environments.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually the scented yarn that I've come across is very lightly scented. It can not be smelled just walking by - you actually have to pick it up and put it within inches of your face to smell it.

From someone who can not walk down an aisle of cleaning products without wheezing and sneezing - this product is a non-issue.

This yarn causes me less problems then being in contact with wool yarns. ( i.e. the scented yarn causes no itching, no sneezing, no hives - just a smell that's more natural than chemical)

That said - I won't buy this as I see no use for a scented yarn

11:38 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

"Lightly scented" is like telling someone in a wheelchair that "there's just a few steps" when they are trying to access a place you can go into and out of easily.

People who do not suffer from chemical sensitivity cannot smell chemicals that those who are can, and one does not have to be able to actually smell the odor of a chemical to suffer adverse effects.

A friend of mine was sympathetic to my CS but didn't really get it for years, until after she was exposed to an accidental high concentration of cleaning products at her workplace. Since then, she, too, is chemically sensitive, and, unfortunately, now 'gets' it.

I have another friend who, after returning to knitting after decades of not knitting, has found that she cannot knit with any yarn containing animal fibers or soy fibers. (Too bad bamboo yarns don't have the same 'give' that animal fibers to - that would make bamboo a perfect fiber--sustainable, takes dye wonderfully, with a lovely hand!) Another friend of mine gets rashes from anything containing polyester.

However, the sensitivity to animal, soy and polyester fibers is not a chemical sensitivity in that if you do not touch it, the fibers will not bother you: you can breathe normally in a room with them without suffering any adverse effects. With chemical sensitivity, just breathing air containing molecules of the problematic chemical, or in which is suspended particulates which have some of these molecules attached, is enough to cause a reaction.

"Health can be snatched away at the rate of parts per billion." - Nicholas Ashford

That's chemical sensitivity.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Marbel said...

I just came across the scented yarn for the first time. I actually googled it to write to Lily to express my disgust.

We saw a very cute color that was perfect for a project my daughter wants to do - but we can't buy the yarn.

Even if my husband did not have chemical sensitivities, I would not buy scented yarn.

The more of this junk there is out there for people to smell, the more people will have chemical sensitivities.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I accidentally bought some without looking. I'm going to have to change yarn stores and types of cotten. Not only did it set me to hives and wheezing, it smells rank.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Lydia said...

first off: I do not have any allergies, except to a common antibiotic for allergic reactions (I rash up).
Several months ago, I walked into JoAnn, to get the green Lily sugar n cream yarn (which I had bought a few weeks previously, unscented). I picked it up (assuming it was the same) and got all the way home (30 min). the next day, I went to pull it out to finish my project. I noticed it had a smell (that I did NOT like), but ignored it, thinking it had picked it up from other yarns. It still puzzled me why it had never happened before though. After I finished, my project, I went on to make a bear with the leftover yarn. Whenever my mom would sit by my work she would complain it smelled. Finally one day, she picked it up, and said LYDIA DID YOU KNOW THIS IS SCENTED? THAT"S WHY IT SMELLS SO BAD! I told her know it did not know. It made me so mad. There was no advertizing in any way other than the change on the label. I stopped buying their yarn till about 2 weeks ago, 3 of my friends wanted to learn to knit. I bought several balls for them. I did not pay attention to whether they still had scented ones, but the ones I got were not.

THANK YOU (!) for writing this letter. Even though I did not like the yarn, I never thought about people having allergic reactions to it.

Another thing I don't like is that they sell the 3 oz balls for the same price as the 4 oz balls. I think the 3 oz balls should be at least a little cheaper.

6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought the green (aloe vera) yarn because it's the only green that works for my project. I hoped the scent wouldn't be too bad. I was wrong-it's awful! It smells just like kitty litter (UNused, thankfully). I'm not super sensitive to scents, but working with this for the last day has made the back of my nose/throat sore.

I don't know how a company could think it's ok to add scent to yarn, of all things, especially in this day & age where so many people are aware of & sensitive to chemicals & scents. I was really hoping I could find the same colors in unscented versions, but I guess not.

I'll be soaking this in water & vinegar to remove the scent (I hope) as soon as I'm done with it.

Glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks this is ridiculous.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Is there a way to get rid of this scent? I am crocheting octopi for prematurely born babies and just finished a project, will the hospital sanitization get rid of it? Please let me know.

3:03 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Leia, it is unlikely washing or the sanitizing will get rid of it - they want the yarn to smell wash after wash after wash after... Sorry!

3:52 PM  
Blogger ChrissytheHyphenated said...

I am disabled by an extreme hypersensitivity to chemicals. I thought I could continue to use Lily's Sugar 'n Cream if I was careful to never buy the Scents line. Unfortunately, it appears they are none too careful about keeping the fragrance away from the unscented yarns in the factory, because I have just encountered the third smelly ball of allegedly unscented yarn.

I tried washing a ball of the "unscented" yarn in a lingerie bag to see what would happen. The stink transferred to other items in the washer and the yarn came out smelling even more strongly! I threw it away. Now I've got a half-made project that I've wasted time and money on. I can't decide if I should just throw it out and forget it ever happened or order more of the colors I need to finish it and hope the balls I get don't smell.

I'm so disgusted. AND I just learned that Lily's is made by SpinRite, which also manufactures Bernat, Patons, Caron, wonderart and Phentex, I am suspicious of these brands now also, since I have no idea if they're made in the same factory with the smelly Lily's.

I've also just had my third bad customer "service" experience with Yarnspirations, which apparently is a SpinRite company. ARGH!

3:40 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hang on. Why the hell should those of us that are sensitive to fragrances be required to medicate ourselves?! WE arent't broken... SOCIETY is broken.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went searching for scented yarn hoping to find some in lavendar or a mint that is made with essential oils. The purpose of the project is because I work at a head lice clinic and lice hate lavendar and mint, so hair accessories made with it will help prevent lice. Having this available to make scrunchies for my hair is a game changer because it means I don't have to spray on preventative and can remove the items after my shift and go about my day not smelling like anything. That said, I assumed I would have to mail order it - it seems like a product that should not be mixed in with regular yarn or it should at least be sold in protective packaging like plastic. The scent is friction based though, so the reason folks aren't noticing that they are getting scented yarn until they get home is because it must be moved or touched to release the scent.

5:47 AM  

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