So many people choose yarns on the basis of machine washability. For children (and sometimes men) that's absolutely necessary. For my selfish knitting, I actually like the special maintenance of animal fibers. My handknits are too precious for the brutal washing machine.
We live a modest life. My husband's military salary is our only income. We decided that I should stay home and keep house. We aren't poor, but we don't waste money. When I have something nice, I take good care of it.
Like polishing shoes or waxing skis, removing pills and blocking wool are mindless and meaningful tasks I've learned to love. When I pull a heavy, lavender-scented sweater from the sink and wrap it in a towel, it reminds me of bathing a baby. It's not a chore. It's a reminder of how blessed my life is--how much I have if I will care for it.
The sweater is a top-down raglan knit last year in Paton's Classic Merino Wool. It's not fancy, but it smells sheepy and it's affordable. It was my first attempt at a knitted hem. The neck and wrist cables were knit separately and sewn on. The pill shaver is from KnitPicks. It's brilliant.