Posted in yarn

Yarn Review: Vanna’s Choice

So, this is my first yarn review and I don’t entirely know what makes a good review for this type of product. I’ve done my best, but if you notice something that needs to be addressed in future reviews, please let me know. I want to provide informative reviews for everyone to get the best sense of the product possible.

Vanna’s Choice yarn is an economic yarn that is 100% acrylic and made by Lion Brand.

Pros:
It’s cheap, it’s only a little more expensive than Red Heart Supersaver yarn, but it is MUCH softer. If you’re used to working with softer yarns, like those made of wool, alpaca, or cashmere, it’s going to feel very rough, however, for low budget projects and for beginners, I think it’s the perfect yarn. There’s a nice variety of colors and it’s in a worsted weight, so there’s a nice thickness to it. It holds its shape fairly well, given the price and it’s not at all difficult to work with. While you can technically work straight from the skein, I tend to roll my skeins into a ball before use. Vanna’s Choice doesn’t stick to itself and seems pretty difficult to knot up in any way. The yarn works well for what it is and is great for those that want to create a quick project.

Cons:
Well, it’s definitely not as soft as other yarns, even in the synthetic variety. Your color selection is also going to be much smaller and the colors that are available do require a certain preference. Those that are warm seem to be highly saturated, meaning that the colors can be rather in your face. The orange is really orange, the yellow is really yellow. The cool colors (blues, greens, purples) are most often of the “dusty” variety, meaning that you’re going to have a faded/muted looking color. Keep in mind, I’m mostly referring to what you will find at your local craft store. You can find a fuller assortment of colors on Amazon, but being forced to buy on like can be a big negative for some. The yarn does tend to stretch, but starts to lose its shape after a couple of significant tugs (at least in my experience, but my stash of this yarn was given to me by someone who had them for years and never touched them).

Should you buy this yarn?
If you are new to any type of yarn craft, yes! It’s soft enough to be wearable and there are some very pretty colors to create a lovely piece. I would also recommend it for those who need to do bigger projects on a budget, as I don’t think the yarn is bad quality for its price point and you can still make something nice with it. If you are looking for something luxurious, however, look for a natural fiber, you’ll get a nicer yarn (although it will be much more expensive).

Is your interest piqued? Check out the Vanna Yarn below to buy it from Amazon.

Posted in Projects

Finished Project: Johnny Slouch

I finished it!

It didn’t turn out too bad and all of the measurements are exactly what they are supposed to be! For my first ever hat and first time ever knitting in the round, I’m quite happy with it. There weren’t any further mistakes (at least as far as I can tell) and I think it turned out all right, what do you think, dear reader?

My gauge ended up being on point, but I want to advise everyone that, while it’s a nice hat, it fits loosely. Just a quick heads up for those that like a tighter fitting hat, I would recommend starting with a smaller needle until you finish the brim, then switching to the appropriate gauged needle afterward.

Posted in Fiber

What fiber is lighter than, yet warmer than, wool?

The answer is Qiviut.

Now, while I know this, I can’t help but wonder, why? Why is this hair warmer, yet lighter, than wool? It’s even said that the yarn is eight times softer than wool as well, although the exact original citation of that is unknown. Well, looking into it some, it appears that this is a wonderful example of evolutionary benefit.

musk-oxen-animals-on-snow-ovibos-moschatus

Qiviut comes from a musk ox (despite its name, it is genetically closer to a llama than an ox). These animals live in Alaska and Greenland and must survive the exceedingly cold climate. The musk ox’s follicle density is much higher than that of sheep or llama and the general contamination of either grease, created by the glands of the animal itself, or external contaminants, are extremely low. This probably contributes to the softness of the material and the warmth of the fiber. Existing in cold temperatures probably caused an evolutionary catalyst towards higher follicle density and the climate itself may also mitigate the risk of contaminants. All leading to an incredibly soft, lightweight, yarn.

musk-ox-animal-ovibos-moschatus

Apparently, too much sunlight can make the fiber brittle. Considering that the musk ox sheds in the spring, before which there isn’t much sunlight at all in Alaska, this may also be a contributing factor to the warmth, sturdiness, and softness of the fiber.

Sources:

https://modernfarmer.com/2016/05/qiviut-musk-ox-fiber/

Rowell, J. E., Lupton, C. J., Robertson, M. A., Pfeiffer, F. A., & al, e. (2001). Fiber characteristics of qiviut and guard hair from wild muskoven (ovibos moschatus). Journal of Animal Science, 79(7), 1670-4. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/218120081?accountid=14784

Qiviut. (2006, Sep). New Scientist, 191, 54. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/200441906?accountid=14784

Image Sources:

https://pixnio.com/fauna-animals/musk-ox-pictures/muskoven-animals-mammals

https://pixnio.com/fauna-animals/musk-ox-pictures/musk-oxen-animals-on-snow-ovibos-moschatus

https://pixnio.com/fauna-animals/musk-ox-pictures/musk-ox-animal-ovibos-moschatus

Posted in Projects

Midway Point Check-in: Johnny Slouch

I’m about halfway done already! Here’s what it looks like so far!

DSC_0006.JPG

It’s not great, and I have some gaping holes from where I messed up.

DSC_0011.JPG

BUT! I’ve learned a lot! I’ve learned that knitting in a round is a little more difficult than knitting flat, in that there is a tug on the needles that I’m not used to. I’ve learned to compensate for it some. I also learned that if there are only a few rows in between color changes, it’s best to let the yarn hang and pick it up again; rather than tying it off every time. I’ve also learned that my purling isn’t as consistent as my knitting, so that’s something I’m hoping to practice a bit more and get better at. If anyone has any tips for knitting hats, please let me know!

Posted in General, Uncategorized

Yarn List

So, I’m REALLY getting into all the different fiber types you can knit with. I had no idea there were so many! There’s almost too much to keep track of, because each section has several subsections. To help me keep track of them all, I’m creating a list. I’d like to knit with each type eventually, but for now, this list will help me focus when looking at yarn shops locally and online.

I’m trying to make this an exhaustive list, so if you see a gap, please let me know! Also, for the major fiber types, I’m hoping to write a post giving a close-up view about these yarns, where they come from and how they differ from each other. If there’s a specific type of yarn you’d like to see covered, don’t be afraid to leave a comment.

Animal Fibers:

  1. Alpaca
    • Huacaya
    • Suri
  2. Angora
    • English
    • French
    • Giant
    • Satin
  3. Bison
  4. Buffalo
  5. Camel
  6. Cashmere
  7. Cat
  8. Dog
  9. Guanaco
  10. Llama
  11. Milk
  12. Mohair
  13. Ostrich
  14. Possum
  15. Qiviut
  16. Silk
    • Bombyx
    • Tussah
  17. Turkey
  18. Vicuna
  19. Wolf
  20. Wool
    • Lambswool
    • Acipayam
    • Alai
    • Alpines Steinschaf
    • Arkhar-merino
    • Arapawa
    • Askanian
    • Bannur
    • Baluchi
    • Bardoka
    • Bergamasca
    • Bond
    • California Red
    • California Varigated Mutant
    • Cheviot
    • Cigaja
    • Clun Forest
    • Colombia
    • Comeback
    • Coopworth
    • Como
    • Corriedale
    • Cotswold
    • Dalesbred
    • Damani
    • Danish Landrace
    • Debouilliet
    • Deutsches Bergschaf

    • Devon Longwoolled
    • Dohne Merino
    • Drysdale
    • Elliotdale
    • Estonian Ruhnu
    • Faroes
    • Gaddi
    • Gansu Alpine Fine-Wool
    • Gentile di Puglia
    • German Whiteheaded Mutton
    • Ghezel
    • Gotland
    • Grey Troender
    • Gromark
    • German Grey Heath
    • Hog Island
    • Iceladnic
    • Jacob
    • Karakul
    • Karayaka
    • Kärntner Brillenschaf (Spectacled Alpine Sheep)
    • Kashmir Merino
    • Leineschaf
    • Lohi
    • Lonk
    • Malabrigo
    • Marwari
    • Manx Loaghtan
    • Masham
    • Merinizzata Italiana
    • Merino
      • Arles Merino
      • Booroola Merino
      • Delaine Merino
      • East Merino Sheep
      • Merinolandschaf
      • Poll Merino
      • South African Meat Merino
    • Montadale
    • Najdi
    • Nali
    • Navajo-Churro Sheep
    • North Ronaldsay
    • Northern European short-tailed sheep
    • Ouessant
    • Pitt Island
    • Polwarth
    • Polypay
    • Pramenka
    • Racka
    • Rahmany Sheep
    • Rambouilliet
    • Romney Sheep
    • Roslag
    • Rouge de Roussillon
    • Roux de Valais
    • Ruda
    • Rya
    • Sakiz
    • Santa Cruz
    • Sar Mountain
    • Scottish Dunface
    • Serrai
    • Shetland
    • Sumavska
    • Targhee
    • TEFRom
    • Tigaie
    • Tiroler Steinschaf
    • Tsurcana
    • Valachian Sheep
    • Waziri
    • White Polled Heath
    • White Horned Heath
    • Xinjiang Finewool
  21. Yak

Plant Fibers

  1. Bamboo
  2. Banana
  3. Corn
  4. Cotton
    • Egyptian
    • Peruvian
    • Pima
  5. Hemp
  6. Linen
  7. Paper
  8. Pineapple
  9. Ramie
  10. SeaCell
  11. Soy silk
  12. Sugarcane
  13. Tencel

Man Made Fibers:

  1. Acrylic
  2. Metallic
  3. Metal-wrapped
  4. Nylon
  5. Polyester
  6. Rayon
  7. Recycled

Novelty Yarns

  1. Boulce
  2. Chenille
  3. Core
  4. Corkscrew/Sprial
  5. Crepe
  6. Eisengarn
  7. Eyelash
  8. Fabric
  9. Ladder
  10. Nub
  11. Ribbon
  12. Slub
Posted in Projects

First Project Start! Johnny Slouch Hat

Alright! It’s time to start my first project on this blog! For this project, I chose the Johnny Slouch on Ravelry here: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-johnny-slouch

This is what the end product is supposed to look like:

Johnny Slouch Hat

(This picture was taken from the pattern page and belongs to Lori Cerny)

The pattern calls for Red Heart Supersaver yarn, but I don’t particularly like that yarn. It’s really scratchy. Instead, I’ll be using Vanna’s Choice yarn, it’s still 100% synthetic, but it’s softer than Red Heart Supersaver yarn is. I’ll also be posting a yarn review of Vanna’s Choice yarn later this month, so please check that out!

DSC_0001.JPG (All my stuff ready to go!)

I’ve never knit in a round before, so this will definitely be an adventure. I’m nervous, but even if I really mess it up, the worst thing that can happen is I have to unravel the project, right? Not so bad. I’ll be using my Knitter’s Pride Dreamz interchangeable knitting needles, the pattern also calls for double pointed needles, but I don’t have any. Let’s hope I can manage, and if I can’t let’s hope that the nearby Joanns is still open!

I chose to do this hat because it seems pretty simple, only two colors, they don’t change that often, it’s synthetic yarn, and there’s nothing really fancy in it. I’ve never knitted a hat before, so I really wanted something easy to cut my teeth on. While the hat looks cute on the mannequin, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll look like one of those prairie reenactors in it. I’m mean, it could look really adorable, or I could look like a moron. Although, perhaps that’s also a matter of personal taste.

I did my first gauge ever before this post (although I unraveled it, so no picture) and if I did this right, I have to go up three needle sizes. I’m either an insanely tight knitter or I did it wrong. I guess we’ll find out!

With this hat, I’ll be watching Breaking Bad. I watched it last year and absolutely loved it! However, it was during a time that I was having pain issues (which was later treated, everything is fine now), so I don’t feel like I really got to fully absorb the material. Given how small this project is and how short the pattern is, I don’t think it will take me all five seasons to finish the hat. I’ll probably make three total and throw one in my giveaway box; while the other, if it’s worth selling, will go to my Etsy store….which I’ll make…eventually.

Anyway, wish me luck and if you have any tips I’d love to hear them!

Posted in Books

Book Review #1: 350 Tips

Time for my first ever book review on this blog! Today, we will be looking at 350 Knitting Tips, Techniques, and Trade Secrets, by Betty Barnden. This is the second edition of the book, and as of this post, the most current edition.

Pros:
There is a lot of information in this book! Everything from yarn dying, to fiber content, to knitting techniques. It’s all here. My personal favorite was the information on pattern modification. I was about to start a new pattern and assumed that as long as the fiber weight was the same, the pattern would look close to the picture provided of the finished product. I hadn’t considered the way a yarn lays depending on what kind of yarn it is. Cotton is going to breathe more and lay flatter than wool.

There’s also an abundance of pictures in this book, full-color pictures of actual products, no illustrations. I’m a firm believer that for any visual art, instructions need to have a lot of pictures or contain a video (although this obviously wouldn’t be possible with a traditional book format). Barnden provides. Every section has pictures to go with it and everything is taken in a way that is really easy to see. The written instructions are clear as well. Within the scope of what’s provided everything is informative while also concise, so you won’t waste time sifting through pages of text trying to find what you’re looking for.

Every tip is numbered. This is especially helpful when some tips carry over to the next, there’s a logical progression within the tips that connect. There are also clearly delineated sections so if you don’t remember the number of the tip you were looking for, you’ll probably remember the section it was in. Not much of a words person? The sections are color coded, which I thought was a very nice touch.

350 Knit Tips 2

Cons
A great number of these “tips” aren’t what I would call tips. It’s like calling American cheese, cheese, I mean, it fits…I guess, but there’s something distinctly lacking there and I can’t help but hum “one of these things is not like the other” in my head. Plus, if I’m craving cheese it doesn’t really satisfy. I’m primarily referring the section that teaches you how to knit and purl in both English and continental styles. I mean, I guess it’s a tip, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for in this book. I can find that in pretty much any knitting book there is. What also really gets me about it is that it comes after a section talking about how to design a pattern. If I need instruction on the basics, anything about designing is going to be way over my head.

Another thing that isn’t great (although in this case to be expected), is that none of the information goes into particular detail. This book almost seems like a sampler of other books, which is actually kind of nice, but it doesn’t contain any “further reading” references that I’ve been accustomed to in other hobbies. It’s a nice book, but it isn’t the be all end all of knitting books, recommendations for other sources sectioned by topic would have been nice. I really wanted to know more about how to determine the best yarn swap when you want to use something different in a pattern. I got the basics, but I would have liked suggestions on more information of wool yarn vs cotton yarn etc.

Overall Opinion:
I think it would make a great gift for someone new to knitting. There’s little bits of information about a lot of different things, so it’s not very overwhelming; plus it also serves as a teaching book in some cases. For those more familiar with knitting, I’d say check it out from your local library and flip through it. There might be enough stuff you don’t know to justify buying it, but otherwise, you’d be better off getting more in-depth books are specific subjects.

If you want to buy the book, please click the link below!

350+ Knitting Tips, Techniques, and Trade Secrets: How to Be Better at What You Do


If you’d like to see if the book is at your local library, click here.

Posted in General, Uncategorized

Welcome To My First Post!

Hello Everyone!

So, I just started knitting in August of 2017, but I’m absolutely in love with it! I want to learn everything! Cabling, colorwork, how to use double pointed needles, anything I can get my hands on! Also, I want to knit 1000 different patterns. So far I’ve knitted about ten different projects, but I don’t really count them as they were all basically flat pieces of fabric.

So what exactly am I going to cover on this blog? Well, knitting projects (obviously), but I also want to post informational readings on techniques I’ve learned, pattern reviews, yarn reviews, book reviews, etc. Starting in the summer, I will be taking the master knitting certification from The Knitting Guild located here in the USA. I’d like to record all of this and this is the place I choose to do it.

The primary reason and driving force of this blog, my projects, will be accompanied by an additional review of whatever I watched with the project. I like to pair my project with a tv series or a movie and try to finish the project within the span of a series. Rarely are the two related or connected in any way, I just like to have a pseudo-deadline for myself. For the majority of the smaller projects, which can probably be finished in the course of a season, much less a series, I will be doing the project in triplets. One for myself, one to give to a friend, family member, or coworker, and one to sell. Sometimes, I may make an item with the specific goal to give it to charity. We’ll just see where we end up. If this blog gets popular enough I may host giveaways on here!

So, you may have noticed the “other arts” portion of the title. While I primarily focus on knitting, I’m also a fan of painting (in any medium), photography, embroidery, cross stitch, latch hook, and needlepoint. So there may be points in this blog where you find posts unrelated to knitting. I like to try new hobbies as well, some of the ones on my short list are crochet, silver smithing, and pottery. There are classes near me I’d like to get to someday if I can, I’ll be posting my thoughts on these new skills and classes here.

Okay, so now that we have the general set up of the blog laid out, and a warning of potential posts unrelated to knitting, what about me, the person typing this into a screen and out into the massively anonymous internet? My name is Lara. I’m in my mid-twenties and I have zero idea of what the f** I’m doing in life. I’m currently in a masters program for an area in which I hope to perform well enough to get by. I’m not really a career person, nor am I romantically inclined (never been on a date and no desire for one) my primary focus is skill building. Along with knitting, I’m learning Japanese and hope to pass the JLPT N4 this December (though you won’t see me posting much about that here.) And, I’m trying to build a database of free educational websites, partially for my career and partially for myself. I’m very achievement based, so you’ll see posts about me submitting items into competitions and always looking for the next certification I can get. In the distance, I can see myself getting bored with knitting once this is achieved and moving on to something else….but let’s not think about that for now. That’s a long way off and I’m deep in the thralls of new project excitement!

Onward, upward, ever forward! Please feel free to comment and critique anything you see as unappealing or you think could stand some improvement. I enjoy listening to feedback and talking with people. Until the next post, keep working toward your goal. Do what you want and not what you feel like