Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long

My current projects are gifts, which means this is a great time to catch up on some backlog projects!

Rose City Yarn Crawl 2017 MKAL

This was the Mystery Crochet-a-long from the Rose City Yarn Crawl 2017. They do their mystery-a-longs as 4 clues, spread out over the time before the crawl starts, and I loved the 2016 Crochet mystery-a-long so I thought I’d do the crochet version again this year. Not as many people do the crochet version, but I enjoy the fun of wearing mine out and it’s a bit of a secret handshake for meeting fellow adventuresome crocheters on the crawl.

Unfortunately, while I actually like the finished piece just fine, I found the 2017 crochet-a-long to be largely a disappointment. Part of the mystery-a-long fun, for me, is learning new stitches and watching the design unfold. But in this case, clues 1-3 were pretty much the same, and even clue 4 was pretty much “now do the same thing only along the edges” instead of something interesting. It was boring and the mesh crochet required just enough attention that it wasn’t even a pleasant no-brain knit to do while watching tv. As each clue revealed, I found myself resenting the piece more and more.

I used my favourite crochet yarn for this, Teresa Ruch Tencel, which is really the only thing that redeemed the pattern for me. Also, I started a little late (on account of being in India before the crawl and wanting to make something actually fun on the plane instead of being irritated) so I got to see a friend’s piece at knit group (before she gave up and disgust and frogged it) and I used some of last year’s leftovers to put some stripes into the pattern to highlight the two rows that actually were slightly interesting. As a result, I got something with pretty waves of colour highlighting the scarf’s only design feature.

Rose City Yarn Crawl 2017 MKAL

I wasn’t too happy with it on the crawl, but was trying to not say anything too harsh on social media right then, because the poor designer put a lot of work into this, and I know from previous years that people tell the RCYC team that they want easier crochet patterns. I assume that’s because there aren’t that many experienced crocheters out there, so a lot of people who attempt the MCAL are relatively new to crochet. Still, now that some time has passed, I’m willing to say that as a more experienced crocheter, this was a very disappointing MCAL experience. I was expecting a pattern below my skill level, but a mystery-a-long without any mystery was a huge disappointment to me. This is an acceptable beginner-compatible pattern, but a lousy MCAL.

Still, disappointment or no, the yarn is lovely, my colour mod made it pop, and the lightweight tencel has made it a great summer piece for the office that didn’t leave me dying when I walked home during our heat waves. I’m never going to make another one of these, nor would I recommend this pattern to anyone else, but at least I can enjoy it as a 2017 yarn crawl souvenir that I’ll be wearing for years to come!

Rose City Yarn Crawl 2017 MKAL

Jury’s still out on whether I’ll bother doing the mystery crochet-a-long or not next year, though. I guess I’ll see how I’m feeling when it gets released!

Yarn Subscription preview, August 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags vs Yarn of the Month

Not pictured:
Beanie bags came with the usual bag (olympic themed), t-pins, a packet of soak, and some coaster patterns that I’m excited about because crochet mandalas are still all the rage.

YOTM came with swatch patterns and a copy of this pattern. It was printed with a printer clearly running low on ink, but legible if a bit more stripey pop-art than probably intended.

As is somewhat usual, Beanie Bags offers more, smaller samples than YOTM. The YOTM samples are both silk blends so probably a bit more fancy than the BB ones this month, although they’re a neat range of linen and cotton and blends. Love the colours in both.

There’s also a 3rd option in the smaller yarn subscription front! Jimmy beans has a “BIG beanie bag” that comes in at $25 and contains everything you need (except knitting needles) for one small project. I signed up to get 3 bags (May, June, July) and have thus far received one for fingerless gloves and two fairly different cowls (which I will take pictures of later, but you can see the first two here), the second of which was a brioche thing that I was really excited to try. Two of these I’ve already knit up because they’re perfect “grab and go” kits with the pattern and everything inside, and especially with the chaos of this summer, I’ve had need for easy kits, so it worked out pretty well. I’m not on an auto-renew, though, so no August kit for me!

Both beanie bags and YOTM continue to be a nice value for your money if you want to try little yarn samples, but it’s nice to have a slightly larger option too. It’s tempting to drop the two little subscriptions and have just the big one for a while!

Yarn of the Month Club, July 2015

Hello my poor neglected maker blog, long time no see! It’s been a busy few months, in good ways, in bad ways, in sad ways. But I have been making things, and maybe I’ll eventually take pictures of my wedding dress and maybe I’ll eventually frog that section of the cardi that wasn’t right and maybe I’ll take some better photos of the pokéball and get some cards printed to hand out. Or maybe I’ll get caught up in the new things I want to make for maker faire and disappear again. Such is life.

What I will do today is document July’s YOTM shipment, since I finished those swatches and finally got around to taking some photos of them.

Debbi Bliss yarn samples (YOTM)

These two yarns are pretty similar, with the black Cleo slightly thicker than the pink Loli, but both with a similar icord type structure.

Cleo by Debbi Bliss

4.75 sts/inch on US 8
62% cotton, 38% polyester
98 yards. Color: 60001

Front of swatch:
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Back of swatch:
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I really love this swatch: it’s pleasantly sproingy and black, which means it would make a lovely face scrubby for makeup removal. I may just adopt it for that rather than saving it for the swatch blanket.

Loli by Debbi Bliss

6 sts/inch on US 6
80% cotton, 20% polyester
120 yards. color: 61006

Loli by Debbi Bliss (YOTM Sample)
The colour pops are actually looser than the main yarn, which was a surprise!

Front of swatch:
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That’s definitely not the promised 5″ square, but I decided I wasn’t in the mood to re-knit it at the time because the needles I was using tended to snag.

Back of swatch:
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This blend is much more cotton-like than the Cleo, feeling more like a more stretchy cotton rather than like a lofty polyester.

Both of these yarns were pretty similar to knit: springy, liable to catch on the lousy needles I was using but no problem with good needles. I liked the swatch patterns (thankfully no mistakes in the swatch this time!) I gather from a bit of searching that they’re meant to be beginner-friendly yarns, which makes some sense.

They knit up quickly once I switched needles. I’d definitely consider using these yarns for kids toys or anything else where washability and durability was a priority. They’d probably be good for summer stuff or folk avoiding animal fibers, although they don’t feel particularly luxurious to me so I don’t think I’d make big projects out of them. Still, fun to try!

Yarn of the Month Club, January 2015

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

January’s Yarn of the Month package has some serious variety in it! Raffia, cotton-linen gradient, and a single ply acrylic-wool super-saturated gradient. These were all super fun, but I was most taken with learning to block raffia. So flexible and shape-able when damp!

Classic Shadow

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Classic Shadow
“This yarn has such beautiful colourways – it would be perfect at jazzing up a simple project”
4.5 sts/inch on US 8
70% Acrylic, 30% wool

Single ply, acrylic-wool, super-saturated colour goodness. I love the swatch pattern!

Front unblocked and blocked:
Yarn of the Month, January 2016
Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Back unblocked and blocked:
Yarn of the Month, January 2016
Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Those colours are great, although I will caution that they bled a little upon blocking. After a wash or two, though, I could totally see using this in a brilliant “screw all those pastels” baby project.

Good Earth Adorn

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Good Earth Adorn
“This yarn is perfect for lacy spring knitting”
4 sts/inch on us 8
47% linen 53% cotton

This is a really nice linen-cotton blend. I could actually see making a garment out of this one, even though I’m not the hugest fan of working with linen (the “so soft after many washings” is too long a pay-off for me).

I think the stitch pattern might make a nice dishcloth, though, and those things get washed a lot more than garments:

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

It wasn’t evident to me that it would be a gradient from the ball, so that was a neat treat. Here it is blocked:

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

And in kite form! 😉

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Yashi

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Yashi by Universal Yarn
“This yarn is challenging to knit and creates beautiful and sturdy projects”
3.75 sts/in on US 9
100% Raffia!

I’d been curious about raffia but I couldn’t bring myself to buy a whole ball to try it out. Thankfully, this is exactly the sort of reason I subscribed to Yarn of the Month so I was quite pleased to get such an unusual yarn! It feels weird to be knitting something that feels like paper, but I got used to it quickly. I honestly didn’t think it was that hard to knit after you got into the swing of things: the raffia is much more flexible than I’d have expected.

I didn’t like the seed stitch swatch recommendation because it didn’t really show off the neat flatness possible with this fiber, so I switched mine up with some bands of stockinette to show the difference:

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

The biggest surprise of using the raffia was learning that it can be blocked. (Thanks to the fine folk at Black Sheep at Orenco for telling me that!) It was super satisfying to block, as the damp raffia becomes flexible and soft.

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

I was surprised by how taken I was with the Raffia. I might have to see about making myself a hat or something!

Conclusion

An interesting batch of yarns, but the real winner for me was getting to try out the raffia. Who knew I’d like it so much? I should see if there’s still some in the sale bin at Black Sheep at Orenco…

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, January 2016

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

January 2016’s Beanie Bag was all about yarn construction. I got the purple version, which was really quite nice! This month’s notion was a shawl pin from Knitter’s Pride (I was so glad mine arrived intact — apparently a few got broken in transit!), there was the usual little package of wool wash from soak, a pattern coupon (I forget if I used this one or not), and of course the 4 balls of yarn.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

I just want to give a quick shout-out to January 2016’s bag: The snowflakes are so cute, and I was initially disappointed that the new zipper didn’t look as pretty until I realized that it also doesn’t seem to catch the yarn as much as the chunkier old ones. So score one for improved functional design!

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

There are 4 samples. You can read about them on the Beanie Bags website for Jan 2016, but in short they were:
20 yds of Alpaca Lana D’Oro
20 yds of Highland Duo
20 yds of Cloud
20 yds of El Cielo

The last one is exactly the same, including the colour, as a sample I’d tried from YOTM, so that was amusing. I used it very differently in this project, though.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

The pattern was a simple kerchief, like a big chunk of granny square since I did the crochet version because I like crochet colour changes better. I’m not sure what I’ll use it for, but that super-soft edge is really nice. I’d never really worked on a project with 4 completely different types of yarn before. Kind of fun, and something I would totally do again.

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Just to do a quick compare/contrast, here’s the Beanie Bag yarns beside my Yarn of The Month yarns. The YOTM sample (on the left) has a broader variety of unusual yarns to try (a single ply with bright colours, raffia, and a gradient linen-cotton mix), while the Beanie Bag yarns although different are intended to go together. It’s kind of interesting how the strategy is different. Also, in case anyone’s curious, I weighed the yarns and the Beanie Bags samples came in a bit heavier than YOTM in January, but it’s pretty close.

Also, I had forgotten that Jimmy Beans does a 5% cashback on yarn, and that this applies to the Beanie Bags and was auto-applied to this bag because I’d gotten to the threshold of $1, so I got this bag for $9 instead of $10. It might have been fun to build up a larger discount over time and then treat myself, but this is so much more convenient and practical and I never forget to use it. Handy! Between this and the fact that YOTM has had to raise their prices a bit to $9.50 (from $9.25), the prices are even more close than ever for people who keep a continuous Beanie Bags subscription.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

Overall, I don’t think I learned as much from this Beanie Bag as I have from others, but it’s still a very nice bag! I got a usable project (although I don’t know how much I *will* use the kerchief as it’s started to become itchy as I wear it to write this… and I’m not sure which yarn I’m reacting to!), a nice shawl stick, a great bag, and a convenient travel size of wool wash.

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, December 2015

Beanie Bags, December 2015

December’s theme was “superwash” and it included 5 samples in worsted weight. This seemed like a perfect time for me to practice my colourwork, since “do a small fair isle project” is on my craft goal list for this year, and I need practice with colourwork.

Beanie Bags, December 2015

In addition to the yarns, there’s some pom-pom makers, patterns for wine bottle cozies, a packet of Soak wool wash, and a coupon for a discounted pattern (which I forgot about before it expired, alas!)

I took quite a few photos of this bag, but honestly when I’m looking for info on a bag I often wish there were more pictures rather than less, so if you’re curious, I put even more pictures up in my curiousity.ca/things I’ve made album on flickr.

Here’s some photo spam of the yarns:

Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash

Beanie Bags, December 2015

This was the softest yarn of the bunch!

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash

Madeleinetosh Tosh Vintage

This has the subtle colour changes that Madeleinetosh is known for, although they aren’t super obvious in my photos of the little ball.

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Madeleinetosh Tosh Vintage

Lorna's Laces Shepherd

Beanie Bags, December 2015

This is a nice woodsy variegated with a looser, squishy ply.

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Lorna's Laces Shepherd

Rowan Pure Wool Worsted

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Rowan Pure Wool Worsted

A pleasant heathered yarn. I particularly liked working with this one.

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Rowan Pure Wool Worsted

Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Beanie Bags, December 2015

Another pleasant heathered yarn which was a great match for the Rowan.

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

My Fair Isle sampler

Overall, they all felt pretty similar, and it’s possible that difference in softness was a function of the dyes more than the yarn itself (although the different plying does make some difference). This was great for my purposes, since it meant they worked okay together!

Beanie Bags, December 2015

This detail shot shows you two important things: #1, the variation in colour in the madeleinetosh sample. #2, the lesson I learned about fair isle samplers, which is that you *really* need to work in some sort of border to anchor the colour changes. I’ll keep this in mind for the next time I do a colourwork sampler!

Here’s the whole piece:

Beanie Bags, December 2015

The patterns were taken from “Mastering Colour Knitting

I’m not sure how I’ll fit this long sampler into my blanket made of samples yet, but I think I’m at the point where I should start putting it together rather than filing all my samples in a binder!

Yarn Subscription preview, February 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

One more preview photo for today!

Yarn Subscription preview, February 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

These yarns have been sadly neglected in favour of Rose City Yarn Crawl stuff, but they’ll be coming up soon! I’m very much looking forwards to more teensy tiny sample knits.

Yarn of the Month is on the left, with that tempting stained glass pattern that might have me ditch the usual swatch patterns in favour of trying a two-colour affair. Jimmy Beans is on the right with the Eddie the Eagle-themed package. Apparently they yarnbombed the Sundance film festival in celebration!

Yarn Subscription preview, January 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

I took this picture back in January but apparently never actually shared it, so here’s a belated preview, if that makes any sense:

Yarn Subscription preview, January 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

Yarn of the Month is on the left, Beanie Bags on the right. Since I’m planning to block the YOTM samples tonight and nearly done with the project for the Beanie Bags, I’ll leave further discussion of the contents until the full reviews.

I had not taken a picture for February because the Beanie Bags package was delayed to the point where I was completely entrenched in Rose City Yarn Crawl knitting when it arrived, but I’ve taken a quick snap today that I’ll put up shortly!

Yarn Subscription preview, March 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

Both my subscriptions arrived on the same day, so here’s a quick preview!

Yarn Subscription preview, March 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

My Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag on the left is a collection of sport weight merino in pretty pinks, with the newer square bag like they did last month, a Soak wool wash packet and this month’s notion, which is plastic spiral stitch markers. I don’t have any of those so I’m pretty pleased!

My Yarn of the Month Club mailing has two larger samples without any obvious theme. The yellow is a neat wool/linen blend with an interesting texture. The white is a slippery, shiny wool/polypropylene/nylon blend that is unlike anything I’ve ever knit by feel alone, but it’s even neater than that because it changes colour in the sun! I’ll try to get some better pictures of it tomorrow when I’ve got more sunlight!

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, November 2015

I finally sat down and made a decision about what to make with my Beanie Bags yarn. So freeing!

First, let’s look at the package. The mailing envelope contained a single bag filled with stuff:
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The packaged contained 4 balls of yarn in the same shade of grey (although the light catches them differently in the photo below, they’re clearly the same shade in person), a plastic yarn needle, and a packet of soak fabric wash.
Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag, November 2015

Here it is all together with the card and packaged-by note so you can see the other side of the bag, which is fun too:
Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag, November 2015

Very cute! You can read about the yarns on the Jimmy Beans Wool website. The “learn a thing about yarn” theme here is blending. I’m familiar with doing custom yarns in this way since here in Portland we have Yarnia, an entire store dedicated to custom yarn blends. I visited Yarnia as a stop on the Rose City Yarn Crawl and while I wasn’t willing to wait for winding something custom, I was impressed by the huge selection of options.

As I said in my previous post, it took me a while to sit down and decide what to do with these yarns, since there were a bunch of possible combinations. I finally settled on a pair of two-yarn blends.

Shibui Pebble and Cima

I just want you all to admire how black and white the yarn ball photos look. I had a momentary freak-out when they downloaded from the camera because I thought something had gone wrong and I was getting a greyscale photo instead of the original, but no, I just took very monochrome pictures.

Shibui Cima and Pebble
Shibui CimaShibui Pebble

Cima is super soft, Pebble has nice texture. The combo gives you the best of both worlds! I grabbed a stitch dictionary and tried out a kind of leafy swatch. Here it is unblocked:

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015

This is “lace ribbons” on page 63 of Melissa Leapman’s “The Knit Stitch Handbook” if you’re trying to duplicate it.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015

The end result is soft, flexible, and has that texture. Very nice! The swatch stretches out and looks a bit more angular when blocked, but the flexibility and softness of the yarn remain.

Shibui Maai and Staccato

Maai is pretty similar to the chained alpaca yarn I used for my kitty hat (it’s Misti Tui) and my one complaint with that yarn is that it’s too soft and fuzzy show much stitch definition.

Shibui Maai and Staccato
Shibui MaaiShibui Staccato

This blend, however, is all “by our powers combined!” and it’s got reasonable stitch definition with a bit of a sheen, but it’s still soft and plush with a halo of fuzz.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015

The swatch is “tumbling blocks” from page 46 of Melissa Leapman’s “The Knit Stitch Handbook.” Chosen because it’s a knit/purl only texture so there isn’t too much help if the yarn can’t carry on its own. The photo is unblocked and only one side, but it basically looks the same blocked and on the reverse side.

Conclusion

Once I got around to using it, I really loved this Beanie Bag. I got to try a new technique and honestly, once I sat down with the stitch dictionary I didn’t have any trouble figuring out what to do. Just needed to get over the hump of indecision, I guess, and decide that swatches were the plan for this bunch. I loved the Shibui yarns and could see myself buying more of any of these, and it’s nice that I can turn around and just get them from the Jimmy Beans Wool website..

I’m not sure I can see myself doing a whole lot of yarn blending in this way, mostly because I can’t see myself building up a stash with appropriately matching colours for that. It seems to me that it would make more sense to take advantage of local store Yarnia if I wanted a blend, since they have a huge range of yarns and colours right there.

But I *could* see myself going out of my way to blend a yarn that wasn’t working for me, and now I’ve got a better sense of how a couple of blends work, so I feel like I learned a useful technique. Thanks JBW!

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

Astute readers may note that I’m doing the December YOTM review but still haven’t done the Beanie Bag full review. That’s because even though it’s January I still haven’t knit up anything with any of my Beanie Bag yarns. How embarrassing. Now, I could blame a busy holiday, but I the answer is much simpler than that: I don’t know what to knit. Without a recommended swatch just sitting there in the bag, and a combo of yarns to choose (remember, this was the “try two held together of different types!” package), the barrier to just sitting down and doing it is a lot harder. What needle size should I use? What should I knit? Which combo of yarns? Should I try the included headband pattern even though I barely ever wear headbands? This isn’t a “grab all the supplies and throw in purse” kind of project and apparently that’s a barrier.

This isn’t an unsolvable problem, of course, but since the idea behind doing tiny yarn samples was that I wouldn’t have a huge backlog of unused yarn, it’s a bit distressing to realise that not having swatch patterns in the bag makes such a difference. I’m approaching the end of my self-imposed “I’ll try this in 3 months and then decide” and I’m torn. I love the packages, they feel like a serious treat and I like the way each one has a theme that involves teaching you about fiber, and I like taking pictures of them, but if I’m not using them, I should probably give up and move on.

So expect some experimentation on that front soon! I’ve grabbed some stitch dictionaries and a set of interchangable needles and queued up an episode of Dr. Who, but there’s a percent chance that what you’re going to see next is a bunch of tiny octopi.

Anyhow, in the meantime, here’s the easy-to-use Yarn of the Month for December!

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

This month’s yarn was *super* posh. The black is fuzzy and soft, and the red is one of the nicest silk blends I’ve ever used. It was a huge contrast to the pleasant-but-unexciting superwash in my other yarn bag, which isn’t to say that the other was bad at all but wow did I ever want to play with these first!

The pattern

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

It’s a Santa hat! I think I might stop mentioning the patterns; I hardly ever use them.

Soavia

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

Soavia
“Really soft and smooshy with a beautiful sheen”
5.5 sts/inch on US 7
65% Wool 20% Kid Mohair 15% Silk
164 yds Color: 60

This yarn is plush and soft. You can’t tell too much from the photo, but it’s got a really pleasant halo and somehow manages a teensy sheen as well in person. It would make a positively lovely scarf or cowl, or anything worn close to the skin. It’s the sort of yarn you just want to sink your fingers into.

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

Given the halo, it’s pretty surprising how easy this is to work with (sometimes fuzzy yarns can be pretty temperamental). The stitch pattern with the long criss-cross thing really shows off the yarn. It’s soft even knit into tiny stitches, but those long ones are especially easy on the fingers. So very soft. It makes me want to do a bigger project with fuzzy yarns, even though it’s getting warmer and warmer here.

Roslyn

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

Roslyn
“Colourful and subtle and a workhorse yarn with great texture”
5.25 sts/inch on US 6
65% Wool 35% Silk
382.76 yds color: 06

This is one of the nicest silk blends I’ve ever worked with. It’s flexible, soft, and feels like it would make amazing clothes because it’s a bit lighter than many wools. It somehow feels silky without feeling too slick. The heathering and colour is fun too.

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

The stitch pattern is a pretty neat cable. Although I don’t think I got the sides quite even! Yarn was very easy to work with, the slight side-to-side difference is a me problem, not a yarn problem, and it might even block out.

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

I was surprised to see that this yarn’s regular price is $15/100g because it feels like a much fancier and more expensive blend. Thank you Cascade for producing such nice luxury yarns!

Summary

December’s YOTM was a real treat, even in the face of me working with the super nice yarns I was using for presents in December. I’d definitely use either of these yarns again, and Cascade at least should be a thing I can find around here so I can check out the other colours. Guess I’ll keep an eye out during the yarn crawl!

Yarn of the Month Club, November 2015

Not sure what I’d say what November’s theme was, but it certainly resulted in some pretty yarns arriving on my doorstep!

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The Pattern

A drop stitch shawl. Probably won’t make it into my repertoire because there are just so many shawl patterns in the world, but who knows, maybe it’ll be perfect for some specific ball of yarn?

El Cielo by Cascades Yarns

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El Cielo by Cascades Yarns
“This warm and ethereal yarn is excellent for large lace patterns.”
4 sts/in on US 8
89% superfine alpaca 11% Nylon
579.6 yds color 04

This is so soft and light! I always love alpaca, but this turns alpaca into something like mohair, and it’s amazing. It’s also teensy-tiny if you don’t count the fluff — it took me way longer than I expected to knit that tiny swatch!

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The stitch pattern gets a bit lost in the halo of this yarn, but with a bit of light or white behind it, it becomes a subtler, fuzzier version of lacework that I quite enjoy.

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Artliea by Borgo De’Pazzi

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Artliea by Borgo De’Pazzi
“This superwash yarn is soft and snazzy and super fun to knit up”
3.25 sts/inch on US 11
69% superwash 30% polyamide 1% polyester
79 yds color 89

This is basically two yarns sewn together: a slow variegated superwash and a shiny metallic ribbon:
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The ribbon works really well to add a bit of sparkle. This is thick and pretty easy to work with because the two pieces are sewn together rather than just plied. My only complaint is that it isn’t quite as soft as my alpaca, but I understand that I am getting ridiculously spoiled.

Yarn of the Month Club, November 2015

I think this one would probably be a really fun treat for a new knitter, since it’s not to hard to work with and the slow colour change and sparkle ribbon really add a lot to even pretty basic stitches. Even basic garter stitch would be pretty neat because the yarn showcases the up-down of the knit stitches and the horizontal nature of the purls.

Summary

Really great yarns for November! Although I liked the Artliea I don’t see myself buying more because I’ve been doing a lot of texturework that needs solids and tonals to really shine, but I could definitely see picking it up as a gift. El Cielo is one I’ll remember as a beautiful fuzzy lace option — I’d actually love to do a sweater from this but I think I’d start with something easier for myself before I could tackle this. Maybe a huge fuzzy shawl for my grandmother, though?

Yarn Subscription preview, December 2015 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

Quick peek at my yarn subscriptions for December 2015:

Yarn subscriptions December 2015

On the left is Yarn of the Month Club, on the right is Jimmy Beans’ Beanie Bags.

As with last month, Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags really wins on presentation. The bag is cute and just packed with pretty cards and offers and patterns. I think they win on sheer amount of yarn this time, too! Those circular things are pom-pom makers. This wasn’t obvious to me until I read their info page, but I’m kind of excited ’cause I was just thinking that my current system of cardboard tends to make kind of messy pompoms and that I could probably do better.

This month, Yarn of the Month Club wins on having the more luxe yarn with their theme of silk/wool blends (one’s silk/wool, one’s silk/wool/mohair). As you know if you’ve read my reviews, YOTM isn’t always so fancy, so it’s a particularly nice treat this month that it’s so different from my other samples! It’s hard to tell from the photo, but these are super soft.

Excited to try both of my subscription bags, but with the holidays and my holiday knitting, it might be a little while before I get to them! Although they are small enough to fit in my suitcase…

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

It’s Dec 13, which means I’m a little overdue for my October YOTM review. I did the swatches and I’ve had the pictures ready to go for a while, though, so it’s time to write!

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

October 2015’s yarns have a autumn colour scheme: brown and orange. The swatch descriptions this month also included the maker of the yarn, which I’d been looking up/guessing before. Hurray!

Pattern

Fall vines tablet cover. Simple and cute! The paper was so messed up that I don’t really feel like it’s worth photographing the picture, though.

Classica

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

Classica by Silvia
“This washable yarn is soft and shows strong stitch definition”
4.5 sts on US 8
100% Acrylic
229 yds colour: 121

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

This is a pleasant to work with, a workhorse acrylic yarn. Comparing with the acrylics I use for amigrumi, it’s a bit softer than Red Heart but not as soft (or splitty) as Caron super soft.

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

My experience with the swatch was ok as far as knitting went, but blocking had no effect on this yarn, so what you see when you knit it what you get with little flexibility. That’s ok for some applications, but as a recent convert to blocking, I have to admit I was pretty disappointed for it to have no effect.

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

Honestly, even though I liked the yarn, I’m not sure I’d buy it since it’s more expensive has harder care instructions than my cheap craft store yarns. That isn’t to say that it’s a bad yarn! It’s quite pleasant to use, it’s just a hard category to get a win in.

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

Big Hug

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

Big Hug by Euro Yarns
“This superwash jumbo yarn is squooshy and an easy knit”
1.25 sts/inch on US 17
50% Wool 50% Acrylic
40 yds color: 111

This yarn sample is *huge*. I took a bunch of photos trying to show how big it is, but I’m not sure I found the right comparison. The sample bag was probably more than double the size of a regular one, though!

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

This was super nice to work with: soft, fluffy, huge and quick. I actually wound up starting the swatch recommendation then ripping it out to create something I liked better, so I can tell you that it unknits pretty nicely.

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

My knit up sample could probably be used as a potholder, it’s so thick. I’m guessing it’s going to wind up as a heat pad for my teapot because we finally found the oven mitts and after months of having nothing but crummy potholders for taking cookies and cakes out of the oven, I kind of never want to use one again.

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

I’ve been busy doing gifts in fingering weight yarn since before this sample arrived, so the sheer size of it was a real treat. It has definitely rekindled my interest in working with some bigger chunky yarns!

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

Summary

Pleasant yarns to try, and I loved Big Hug enough that it got me excited about doing some more stuff with giant fluffy yarns!

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

September was blue for Yarn of the Month.

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

The Pattern

This month’s pattern is “UTurn Scarf” which is a fun mitered knitting scarf, good for self-striping yarns. I don’t know if I’ll try it or not!

Amitola Grande

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

Louisa Harding Amitola Grande
“This single ply yarn is subtle and soft”
4.5 sts on US 10
80% Wool 20% Silk
273 yds Color: 516

I love single ply yarn because it can be so soft and you don’t have to worry about it untwisting or catching threads in the same way. This is soft, squishy and quick to knit up.

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

The standout part of it is the nice slow tonal gradient. I really love these colours and they look great knit up in the swatch too. The swatch is an odd little “knit into the stitch a few rows back and drop” stitch ribbed thing that I wasn’t too sure about when I was doing it, but it looks ok when complete and the loosened stitches go nicely with the squooshy yarn.

Front:
Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

Back:
Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

I can really see using this for quick knits and with the pretty colours, it’d be great for scarves. Maybe a really nice present for a beginner knitter? I can see keeping some on hand for last-minute gifts, too.

Sisa

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

Sisa
“Squishy, braided yarn feels oh so delicious”
5 sts/inch on US 6
60% wool 40% Alpaca
137 yds Color: 09

This is soft, dense and seems warm. I do so love alpaca! I didn’t have much trouble with the smaller threads in the braid coming loose, so it was nice to work with.

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015, Sisa yarn

You can’t always see it because the yarn it overall so dark, but it does have some very nice heathering in there with glints of purple.

The swatch pattern is cute, if a bit hard to see because of the darkness. Really shows off that stitch definition as a texture, but the dark makes it not show up so much in photos.

Here it is front-lit:
Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

And back-lit so you can see the holes:

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

This screams sweater yarn to me, since it holds up for interesting stitch patterns but is still soft against the skin. It’d probably be nice for colourwork, although it’s hard to tell without trying. I could see it making a nice hat too, but it doesn’t have nearly the thickness I want for my scarves unless it was double-knit. Still, very nice and something I wouldn’t mind using in larger quantities! Maybe this would be good for the next baby sweater I do?

Summary

Two great yarns this time! I could see buying both of these myself for specific projects, and Amitola Grande especially as a gift because of the colours. Definitely happy with my subscription for September!

November 2015 yarn subscription preview

There’s a new small yarn subscription service in town! Jimmy Beans Wool has a new subscription service they call “Beanie Bags” which is fairly similar to my existing Yarn of the Month Club subscription.

Here’s the yarn portion of both of them for November:

Yarn of the Month yarn compared with Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bag yarn (November 2015)

I’m excited about my mail, so you get a preview today that jumps my posting queue. (August and September’s YOTM posts are queued and October’s swatches are on the needles, though!)

A brief comparison

Price:
YOTM is $9.50. BeanieBags is $10.00

Contents:
YOTM is 2 (or sometimes 3) samples of yarn, with a paper including a pattern and swatch suggestions.

BeanieBags is 4 much smaller samples of yarn, some small notions or other includes, a bag, and a postcard with sample info and some links to their website. (Also this cute Small Yardage group on Ravelry for more ideas of how to use your teensy samples!)

(You’ll have to wait ’till my full review for pictures of the full Beanie Bag kit.)

First impressions

The Beanie Bag is much more polished, with the pretty printed postcard and the bag. If I were gifting a subscription to someone else, this is definitely the one! (That’s part of why I justified trying out this subscription, actually.) The little extras are a nice touch, and I like bags. I particularly like that these are white cotton canvas type material, so if I keep up the subscription and tire of having similar bags, I can always dye them.

I *was* kind of sad to get all the same colour yarns in my Beanie Bag, but having actually gone to their website that was an intentional choice specific to this month’s yarns: the yarns are meant to be mixed and knit together. So that makes more sense now, and it’s a neat new thing to try!

I’m still pretty fond of Yarn of the Month, though. I’ve gotten interesting samples from them and I *really* like their approach of “make some 5×5 swatches every month and by the end of the year you’ll have a blanket” which is a pretty practical way to enjoy all those yarns. (My Beanie Bag doesn’t appear to include explicit swatch patterns, just blending suggestions this month. I’ll figure something out from my library, I think.)

Even if you aren’t doing the swatch blanket thing, I do think YOTM still gives you a more useful amount of yarn to play with and get to know. Generally speaking, I get enough for an edging on a hat or scarf or similar project accent, so even if I wasn’t swatching I feel like this is enough yarn to use as part of the types of projects I do. (These teensy balls look good for small colourwork, but my stash doesn’t really have enough to support that yet.)

And, of course, YOTM is somewhat local to me, and a small business to boot, so I feel good about supporting it.

Summary

So far, I like both but for different reasons. YOTM walks the line of novelty and practicality so I don’t feel like I have random teensy yarn projects piling up around the house, while Beanie Bag has a polished product with more to coo over.

The plan is to do a 3 month stint with Beanie Bags and then decide if I want to choose one or continue with both, or think about it for another 3 months. We shall see!

Yarn of the Month club review, July 2015

Apparently purple and fuzzy was the theme for July:

Yarn of the Month Club, July 2015

The pattern: Breezy Shawl

This is a cute little shawl with some little criss-cross cable going across the back in an otherwise mesh-like fabric, all see through. I might make it, but probably not with the recommended yarn.

Mongolian Cashmere

Yarn of the Month Club, July 2015

Mongolian Cashmere
“So soft and silky and lux”
6 sts/inch on US 1
100% Cashmere
400 yds color: Iris

This was my first time knitting 100% cashmere and wow. So Very Soft. This is silky soft with a little haze of fuzz and it’s a treat to work with. I’m starting to see why my friend M was so obsessed with finding 100% cashmere on the yarn crawl instead of a blend, now. At $45/2 oz, it’s pricey for a sweater, but oh, what a sweater it would make.

Yarn of the Month Club, July 2015

I’m not as big a fan of the swatch pattern on this one: it’s chunky and seems like a waste for this luxurious yarn. Plus, I had a lot leftover as you can see, so it’s really tempting to frog (unravel) it and try something that will showcase it better. I just haven’t figured out what that might be yet!

Jaggerspun Heather 2/8

Yarn of the Month Club, July 2015

Jaggerspun Heather 2/8
“Strong with an aura of fluff”
7sts/inch on US 2
100% wool
280 yds Color: Columbine

This feels nice in the ball, but I don’t like the scratchiness of it in the swatch. It’s super fluffy as promised, and probably pretty warm, though, and there’s lots of colours in the heather which makes it pretty neat up close.

Yarn of the Month Club, July 2015

This might be nicer in a stockinette or cable pattern, but with so many yarns in the world to choose from “a little scratchy” is enough reason for me not to revisit this one. Still, it was good to try it out and pleasant to work with.

Conclusion

The amazing cashmere yarn is enough to make this YOTM sample selection for me, and the other yarn isn’t bad it’s just hard for it to shine in comparison. I do wish this month’s mailing had come with better swatch suggestions, though!

Yarn of the Month Club review, June 2015

I knit all these samples right away, got them blocking… then had houseguests, bought a house, and generally didn’t write this blog post. But the package for July arrived today, so I guess it’s time!

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

June’s theme seemed to be “Linen” which seems like a decent summer theme. I hadn’t really felt linen until recently, only heard about it in stories, and it sounded soft and light there. But linen yarn, when you first get it, is usually sort of stiff and hard. I gather it gets soft with age, and I know it has lots of great properties, but I haven’t gotten over this faint feeling of disappointment every time reality clashes with the imaginary linen in my head. Maybe working with it more will help, though!

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

Note: I’m using the new flickr sharing code, which uses javascript to add a header/footer after the image is loaded. I can’t decide if I like it aesthetically or not, and it seems to leave the page loader spinning forever, which I definitely don’t like. But I figure I’ll try it for this post anyhow. Comments welcome!

The pattern: Garden Party Headband

Ooh, a crochet pattern! It’s a cute little scalloped thing and something I might actually try, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Linus

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

Berroco Linus
“Delicate and textured fabric for breezy garments”
5 sts/inch on US 8
50% Acrylic 20% Linen 18% Nylon 12% Rayon
159 yds color: 6812

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

So right after telling you that linen is stiff, I’ve got to say that this totally isn’t. It’s a delicate little ribbon of fabric that knits up into something that feels strangely like a kitchen curtain to me, light and yellow and letting lots of light through.

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

I enjoyed working with this, even though you have to be careful where you put your needles so as not to tear the delicate threads in the center of the ribbon.

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

The pattern chosen is definitely not square, and doesn’t stay square even after blocking. The photo above is after blocking, the photo below is in-progress, and you can see that there’s a definite lilt in both. I’m sure it won’t matter for a blanket square, but worth noting if you were making a breezy summer scarf with this swatch pattern. Although honestly, a little tilt would probably just make a scarf look more modern, anyhow.

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

Overall, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, and I think this experiment has made me feel more interested in trying other ribbon yarns or lighter linen blends that aren’t just the typical linen/cotton.

Audra

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

S.Charles Collezione Audra
“Indulgent and silky with strong stitch definition”
5.25 sts/inch on US 4
76% Linen 12% Silk 12% Viscose
205 yds color: 04

This is a really weird yarn, with that core of stiff linen combined with silk and viscose. I’m not sure about the colourway, which is 3 separate strands of grey, off-white, and peach wrapped together.

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

That said, it was kind of fun to knit with. The stitch definition is amazing and the swatch interesting enough to showcase it. Although I was worried about it initially, it wound up blocking pretty close to a 5×5 square.

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

Verdict? I would be happy to work with this yarn again as long as I could get another colourway. But I’m honestly not sure what I’d make with it, given how stiff it is. Maybe if I trust in it softening up it would make a great summer lacy overlayer thing — it certainly holds a pattern pretty nicely.

Creative Linen

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

Rowan Creative Linen
“Undemanding work horse of a yarn which is easy to wear”
5.25 sts/inch on US 7
50% Linen 50% Cotton
219 yds color: 643

This is a hefty linen/cotton blend where I feel that the cotton feel dominates, so it feels sturdy but not quite as stiff as some. It was lovely to work with, and really shows off the swatch pattern.

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

I’d say that their assessment of it as a wearable work horse yarn seems reasonable.

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

I’d consider this as a possibility for lighter toddler knits and for amigurumi toys for kids where you know there’s a good chance they’re going to get chewed on a lot. I’d probably wear it myself, although I think given the climate where I live, it’s unlikely that I’ll be knitting too many cotton sweaters. I could see doing dishtowels with it, which is more likely to happen. Especially with the swatch pattern included.

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

I really love that swatch pattern, although the reverse side is pretty boring.

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

In summary, this is a cotton/linen blend that I’d consider adding to my arsenal.

Conclusion

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

These swatches took some serious blocking to try to get them to 5×5 squares, and they didn’t even quite make it. I was glad I’d finally invested in some blocking mats so I had a more sturdy surface for pinning them!

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

They were all different experiences and showcased a pretty wide range of linen options, which was pretty neat to me as someone who hasn’t worked with linen much. Plus, I quite liked a couple of the stitch patterns which were also new to me.

Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

Overall, quite happy with this month’s mailing!

PS – I took a lot more photos than usual for this month’s mailing and didn’t use them all. If you’d like to see the swatches pre-blocking with rulers and such, here’s a link to the full yarn of the month collection.

Yarn of the Month Club review, May 2015

Apparently the Yarn of the Month club is *not* a secret society after all: there’s a Yarn of the Month Ravelry group. I am so pleased to know it exists, and mystified as to why I couldn’t find this when I was searching for information before subscribing.

May’s Yarn of the Month Club package was all about the cottons and the ocean colours:

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Very pretty yarns, all told!

The Pattern: Seaside Tee by Sarah Lucas

Ravelry link for Sarah Lucas, but this particular pattern doesn’t seem to be on Rav.

Here’s a picture of the pattern page:
Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

I’ve redacted much of the actual pattern, but I wanted to show you the state of the mailing since I’ve talked about it a few times. The cut across the top is my fault (overzealous in opening the package!) but those sheets of paper really do get crumpled up in the mail, don’t they?

Anyhow, this is a cute baby pattern with a picture of a cute baby. I like the wide neckline and use of the patterned and solid yarns. I don’t think it’s going to the top of my to-make list since I just made a baby sweater, but it’s a nice thing to have in hand. I wish it had a link in Ravelry so I could dump it in my queue more easily!

Eco Baby Prints

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Debbie Bliss Eco Baby Prints
“With these beautiful liquid colours you can practically smell the beach”
6.25 sts/inch on US 3
100% Cotton
135 yds color 56010

I really love the subtle colour of this one: it’s a very watercolour blue tonal. The yarn is a soft cotton, a bit easy to split but not unmanageable.

The problem here was mostly in the swatch pattern:Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

If you do a bit of math, you’ll see that row 1 grows: there are two yarn overs adding two stitches, but only one k2tog. Row 3 doesn’t fix this, so if you knit it as is, you’d wind up with an ever-growing trapazoid instead of a square. Not great.

I though at first maybe the sl1 was supposed to be passed over the following k1, which at least gets us back to even, but that doesn’t really give you something that lines up. I tried it anyhow to see if it was interesting but it didn’t really do it for me:

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

So I switched it instead so the sl1 became an ssk so that everything lined up, and I got something much more what I had in mind:

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

One remaining complaint, though, it didn’t quite produce a 5×5 square even after blocking. You can see above that it’s almost done but not very close to square yet. I took the photo below at a bit of an angle so it wouldn’t be so obvious, but the finished piece is 4×5 instead of 5×5. Oh well!

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Isn’t the corrected stitch pattern lovely? I’m pretty sure I got it right, since here’s the swatch photo on their website:

Eco Baby Prints swatch from the YOTM website

Eco Baby Prints swatch from the YOTM website

Overall, I love the colour of this yarn and found it pleasant to knit with even when I was a bit frustrated, so it’s something I’d consider buying if I needed a pretty cotton.

Prima Kuri

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Mirasol Prima Kuri
“A solid worsted summer cotton”
5 sts/in on US 6
100% Cotton
208 yds Color: 18

This is a much thicker yarn than the first, but still pretty soft because of the many small strands in the loose twist. As usual, the upside is soft, the downside is splitty here. This seems like a nice workhorse cotton that really shines with textures.

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Just look at how well it shows off the cable of the swatch. Deep texture, nice crisp holes even before blocking.

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Cables and cotton aren’t something I think about together much, since I associate cables with making something thick and warm, and cotton with not being a great insulator. But if I were to make a sweater out of cotton or wanted to add a texture to a summer piece, this yarn would be a great choice.

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015
Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Also, I really liked the swatch pattern and not only because unlike last month’s, it didn’t remind me of nostrils. 😉 As you can tell, this one also wasn’t very square, partially because I didn’t try to stretch it much in blocking. It clocks in at just over 4.25×5.5.

I’m not desperate to make a bunch of textured cotton things so I don’t think I’ll run out to buy this yarn, but if I ever do get the urge, at least I know a yarn that will work!

Cotton Soft

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Mondial Cotton Soft
“Soft and funky colours”
7 sts/in on US 2
100%Cotton
196 yds Color: 0876

First, a few more shots to show you the colours in this ball:
Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015
Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Isn’t that neat? This is another soft cotton, and again, it’s a “many tiny strands in a lose twist” deal, but I found this one a bit more manageable than the others. But obviously what really makes it stand out is that colourway, which is a really neat self-striping pattern that totally evokes beaches.

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

I do wonder exactly what this yarn is intended to be used for, though, given how perfect the stripes look in my 5×5 swatch and that’s a pretty thin width for any real project. Do people knit cotton socks with it, maybe?

Oh, also, I deviated from the swatch recommendation here, sort of. I actually did the swatch as written, but they claimed row 1 was RS and row 7 was WS which, if it was true, would have made this bands of stockinette and seed stitch. But what was written went knit side of the stockinette to seed to purl side to seed and then repeat. I thought this was fun, so i did it that way.

Conclusion

A great batch of samples this month, especially due to the colours!

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

As always, I like that this is introducing me to yarns I hadn’t even heard of before doing the sample: Mondial is an Italian brand, Mirosol is spun in peru. And while Debbie Bliss a name I know because it’s so easy to find here, I hadn’t tried this yarn out, so it was still fun and new to me!

Plus, I don’t know about the rest of you, but as someone who used to get most of her yarn from Michael’s where they only stock one brand of cotton, I’m pretty excited to broaden my cotton horizons.

In summary: I’m feeling very happy I renewed my subscription, and can’t wait for the next mailing to arrive!

Yarn of the Month Club review, April 2015

This is my third yarn of the month club envelope, which is significant because I only paid for 3 months up-front and promised myself I’d make a decision thereafter. Only two samples once again, but I liked them!

The samples for April 2015:
Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

Pattern: Spring Showers Hood

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

This is a cute little pattern that I’m tempted to make just to see if I’d use it. I’m not much for cowls, but I like hats, so maybe? No author given, no reference to it in ravelry, so I guess it’s just a YOTM special.

Tenzing

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

Tenzing
“This is a great blend. The merino gives it bounce and the yak adds just a little haze.”
6.25 sts/inch on US 3-4
85% Merino Wool 15% Yak
153 yds Color: 13

I love this yarn. Soft but shows off the stitch pattern nicely. I’ve definitely pet yak-blend yarns before, since J has a particular fondness for Blue Moon Fiber Arts’ YAKSI Fingering in Tardis Blue, but I hadn’t knit anything with yak in it myself. This was definitely a treat!

Look at it, even before it was blocked:
Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

I liked this stitch motif for the swatch, which makes a nice zigzaggy cable across the top of each rib. It’s nice and stretchy, but a little more solid than a regular rib because of the teensy zig-zag cables. I may have to find a way to use this in a pattern!

And here it is blocked:
Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015
Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

I wouldn’t mind picking up some more of this, and I’m definitely interested in trying some more yak blends now, even if they are pricey!

Azalea

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

Azalea
“Soft and strong cotton”
5.5 sts/inch on US 6
100% Printed Cotton
262 yds Color: 207 Monet

This is a really nice soft cotton. Not fuzzy the way the yak yarn is, but easy to bend and knit. It tends to unwind a bit; the loose twist that helps with the softness doesn’t do you favours in the “staying together” department, but I think the balance in that tradeoff was ok.

What I don’t like about this yarn is the way the colourway looks when it’s knit up. It looks ok in the ball. Interesting, at least. But put it together into a stitch pattern and it seriously makes this look like a grimy paint rag:

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015
Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

I’m not a huge fan of the “bluebell rib” swatch pattern provided, as it once again looks like a bunch of nostrils to me, and I think I probably should have flipped my yarn overs so that both holes worked out to be the same size, but I decided to just run with it rather than re-knit.

I don’t think this colourway does any favours the bluebell rib, unless you figure providing camouflage so you can’t see stacks of noses in photo is good. It’s a bit easier to see the shapes in person than in the blocked photos below, but it’s still not great.

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015
Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

I think I actually like the reverse side better in this case! But I did enjoy the yarn even if I think the colourway is too much and the stitch pattern is too nasal. I would consider buying this in another colour if I had a project that could use a soft cotton.

Conclusion

Even though there were only two samples this month, these two were both really fun yarns to try out and they weren’t very much like other yarns I already have, so I’m pretty pleased! I definitely feel like I got more bang for my buck than last month.

So in the end, I’ve decided to continue the subscription. It’s $9.25/month for a fun little surprise in the mail, and I’m not having trouble making sure I knit the samples every month at least so far. I was worried these might pile up with all the travel I do, but in practice I really like having quick knit projects when I want a break from my bigger works in progress, or as a palette cleanser while I decide what to work on next. It’s actually kind of changed my attitude towards swatching, too, since I can just add my other swatches into the pile I’m building up from yarn of the month samples.

All my samples are going to make one *very* strange blanket, though.

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

Yarn of the Month Club review, March 2015

Well, no one’s come after me for spilling the secrets of the Yarn of the Month Club, so I guess it’s time to post another review. This is for March, so I guess I’m not surprised that there’s some green yarn.

Here’s the two samples:

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

With this came a Beanie Cap pattern and instructions for two squares using the yarn.

Pattern: Beanie Cap

No author given for this, probably because it’s too simple to claim ownership of it. It’s a basic toque with a k2p2 ribbed edge and stockinette body, a nice staple to have in one’s collection but probably not something I’ll be knitting up immediately.

Here’s the yarn in their baggies, so you have the names:

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

Let’s talk about the white one first…

Moments

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

Moments
“Fun and funky fur”
7 sts/in on US 5
100% Polyester
98 yds Color 471 or 470

This is a pretty typical fur/eyelash yarn. I’ve done enough variants of fluffy yarn that I’m pretty comfortable with it, and it was nice that this wasn’t of the sort that sheds. I’d be kind of disappointed in getting this since it wasn’t exactly a new fiber experience for me, but I did learn something due to the swatch pattern:

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

The swatch has every 4th row as a sl1 p3 pattern, and it *really* tightens up the piece (which is otherwise garter stitch). That’s a good technique to know if I ever do a scarf out of an eyelash yarn again!

The swatch pattern leaves faint lines across the piece. I couldn’t seem to get them to show up in my photos, since the light characteristics of the yarn mean I’d have had to be more selective about my lighting, but you can feel them under the fuzz and I kind of like the effect.

Rübezahl

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

Rübezahl
“Soft and superwash – a workhorse of a yarn”
4.25 sts/inch on US 7
20% Wool and 80% Acrylic
447 yds Color 57 or 73

This is a wool/acrylic blend that didn’t really work for me. It’s got too much acrylic to block very well, and the “leaf” pattern of the swatch suffers for it, although it does result in the back looking especially like nostrils to me:

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

(Sorry about the excessively small depth of field; I forgot to switch camera settings)

Frankly, I think it does better as a nostril pattern than it does as a leaf, with them all running together like that, but it’s an old standard, I guess.

Pattern aside, I’m not sure what niche the Rübezahl yarn fills: it’s got too much wool to be useful for folks who can’t handle animal fibers, and too much acrylic for you to experience the greater flexibility in a wool fiber. I guess at least it has nice stitch definition, and it seems like it might be warm and hard-wearing for stuff like slippers?

I am, however, very pleased that I remembered how to do an umlaut on my mac, so there’s that. 😉

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

Here’s the finished piece being held down by pins for blocking, but frankly it rebounded back to look almost like it did unblocked.

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

And here’s both of them so you can see it unblocked:
Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

You can also see there that the white swatch is really not square. Oh well, it’s going to be hilarious when I put these squares together in a blanket because of the density, so why not the shape as well?

Conclusion

I’m not going to lie, with only two samples and one of them pretty meh, I’m not very impressed with this month’s offerings. But I still enjoyed knitting up the samples for the purpose of trying new stitch patterns, and I learned a useful thing about making eyelash yarn knit up more densely, something that I think will be useful for scarves and hats in the future.

If this had been my first sample, I’d probably be on the verge of giving up, but since I enjoyed the first one, I’m willing to be optimistic. I only bought a 3-month subscription, so after next month I’ll have to decide if I want to renew!

Yarn of the Month Club review, February 2015

This month, I joined a yarn subscription club that No One Talks About on the Internet. So of course, I’m going to talk about it on the internet. I hope I’m not breaking some unspoken rule by telling you about it. Oh heck, who am I kidding? I’ll probably be pleased if I broke some rule. Knowledge for all!

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

First, though, let’s back up to how I wound up joining this club. I’ve been intrigued for a while by the idea of yarn subscriptions.

On the plus side:
+ Surprise yarn!
+ Trying new things!
+ Learning about new dyers and mills and whatever!
+ Getting some patterns to inspire me!
+ And having enough yarn to complete the projects!

But on the down side:
– Most of the boxes are moderately expensive. Around $40/month is pretty normal, and you can pay much more.
– … so if you hate what you get, you’re going feel like you’ve wasted a lot of money
– I don’t think I actually use 2+ skeins of yarn every month, so it’s going to start to pile up

Some pricing:
Knitcrate has 6 subscription types, ranging from $22.50 for 5 minis/month to $65/month for indie yarns. Likely subscription for me would have been $55 for an intermediate/advanced box.
Yarnbox: $35.95/month, more for the luxe version (presumably)
There are lots of others, but those were the two that came up the most.

In the course of doing some research about options, I encountered Yarn of the Month, which sends out little teensy yarn samples instead of full skeins. Because it’s only a taste of yarn rather than a full meal, it rings in as a $9.25/month subscription (less if you get a few months at once). That hits that sweet spot on subscription boxes for me, where it’s easy to write off a bad month and won’t result in rapidly growing pile of stuff in my life. I’d miss out on some of the advantages, in exchange I’d basically wipe out all the disadvantages I listed, and instead miss out on extras that fancier boxes throw in. (That’s actually kind of a shame because I haven’t been knitting long enough to acquire a lot of the small tools that show up as extras!)

What finally pushed me to the decision brink was the assertion that you’d be able to do little 5 inch swatches from your teeny yarn balls, and put them together to have a blanket at the end of the year. So it wouldn’t even be a pile of craft clutter when I was done admiring them, and I’d be motivated to actually *use* the yarn. Awesome!

The problem is, I couldn’t find pictures of the yarn, the swatches, or even many people talking about this club. It was a giant social media void. I could find pictures for yarnbox, pictures for knitcrate, pictures for random yarn of the month clubs on etsy… but only a few forum stale threads for Yarn of the Month.

What to do? I contemplated for a bit, then figured I could afford to try it out and see what happened. But in the interest of helping others, I was darned well going to post some pictures when (if?) I actually got a shipment!

So here’s a review. Hopefully the lack of posts about the yarn is a lack of social media marketing rather than a sign that I have paid money into some sort of mysterious yarn cult that will be upset at this breach of unspoken social etiquette.

First, let me show you the yarn again on a different background to give you a sense of colour:
Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

I guess February was kind of red themed for valentine’s day.

Not pictured: the February Socks pattern from Birgitte Zeuner and instructions for 3 square swatches. Frankly, they’re printed on thin US letter paper and just not that attractive as a photography subject after being mooshed through the mail. Totally legible, but I might have invested in stiffer paper if I were running YOTM.

February Socks by Birgitte Zeuner

The February Socks pattern looks cute enough. I would have liked better pictures, but obviously I can find them on Ravelry so that works out.

Unfortunately, having just finished my first pair of adult socks, I’m not actually that excited about starting another one, so I think this is getting shelved indefinitely. I’m going to have to find a binder I can put these in! Maybe I’ll find a friend who’s super excited about this and I can pass it on, though.

Angora Lace

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

Angora Lace
“Luxurious with a delicate bloom”
6.5 sts/inch on US 2
50% Merino Superwash 20% Angora 30% Nylon
462 yds Color: 102

This is soft and lovely in the ball as one would expect for Angora, and quite pleasant to knit with. It’s not fluffy and doesn’t seem to shed (ask me about my experience knitting pure angora bunny fur sometime) but instead just results in beautifully soft yarn. It’s tightly wound enough that it doesn’t split on those little size 2 needles, and it held up to some unknitting as I tried to end my swatch as close to the end of the ball as possible and mis-calculated.

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

It’s not the easiest thing to photograph since it is subtly fluffy and catches the light a lot, but that’s only annoying for the purposes of this post and not in general. (Actually, I’d totally be into anti-photography yarn… I should work on that with some retroreflective stuff.)

The swatch pattern provided uses double-wrapped knitting stitches, a technique I hadn’t tried but a video tutorial wasn’t too hard to find. I actually usually prefer non-video tutorials, but this one is short and clear. You put the needle through as if to knit then wrap the yarn twice instead of once around and knit those, leaving two loops on. then when you come across it in the next few rows, you don’t bother trying to keep those doubled but instead slip stitch through them, leaving you with one longer stitch floating over the fabric.

Here’s one regular vs one weirdly processed photo to show you the floating stitches:
Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

The finished piece is super soft and pretty light. I suspect it’d be pretty warm, but it’s hard to tell with just a swatch!

Saki Bamboo

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

Saki Bamboo
“Soft and yummy with great stitch definition”
7 sts/inch on US 0
50% Merino Superwash 25% Nylon 25% Rayon from Bamboo
230 yds Color: 203

This one feels great in the ball, all silky smooth, but I found it actually a bit odd to work with. While I’m knitting it, it has that sort of squeaky/roughish feel that I associate with some acrylics, even though the finished piece feels nice.

I was so pleased when I figured out the swatch pattern:
Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

I’m thinking that I might see if I can incorporate this into the hem of a baby sweater in the near future. I’m not sure I’d buy this yarn, though. It wasn’t hard to work with and it does as promised have great stitch definition, but with so many yarns in the world “feels a little weird to knit” is enough to drop it off my personal to-buy list. I’ve never knit with bamboo before so I don’t know if that’s a function of the fiber or if I just didn’t love this particular blend, but I suspect the latter so maybe I’ll try some other bamboo blends out.

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

And finally here is is, blocking on my chair, so you can see the repeats better:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

The finished, blocked piece is smooth and very light, so it might be a great for summer knits. To be honest, I like the stitch pattern best when it’s a single row, but the swatch was still fun to do!

Saki Silk

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

Saki Silk
“Beautiful, subtle sheen and drape”
7 sts/inch on US 2
55% Fine Merino 25% Nylon 20% Silk
440 yds Color: 305

Silk blend yarn is one of my favourite treats for myself. I’m not sure that the stitch pattern really showed off the drape at all, though:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

It’s kind of a bumpy rib pattern with twisted stitches. It’s quite dense and doesn’t drape at all! What’s neat about this pattern is that it’s very reversible and feels completely different on both sides.

The bumpy rib side:
Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

Much smoother back:
Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

The smooth side is where this yarn really appeals, since it’s got that little bit of silky slippery-ness.

I would strongly consider using this to replace ribbing on worn items like sweaters and mitts, since I like the look of the one side and the feel of the other.

The one thing that this pattern does show off is the yarn’s stitch definition:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

Overall, I liked working with this yarn a fair bit: it’s soft, easy to work with, doesn’t snag too much, and the results are reasonably striking. I do wish I had a way to see if I actually like the drape, but I enjoyed the swatch pattern so much that it’s hard to really mind.


So in conclusion…

Do I still want a fancier, more expensive, larger yarn subscription?

Heck yeah, they sound lovely. But while I can afford more, this seems like a good balance of price and quantity for me. I think I’ll aim to spend money in my local yarn stores (there are so many here!) rather than risking it on a larger subscription at the moment.

Am I happy with this month’s box?

Heck yeah! I *loved* making the swatches. I’d never done any of those stitch patterns before, and I’m glad to add to my repertoire. And I’m glad to have tried all the yarns, although I’m not sure I’d run out and buy more of any of them unless I had a specific project in mind. But I really like having samples of them all so I can tell if they *would* fit a given project.