Tag Archive | yarn review

Help me choose!

My new review yarn came this week and I’m finally excited about casting on a new project! This is called Boca Chica from A Good Yarn, a yarn store in Sarasota, and I’ve got a super bright pink and a gray/pink variegated. Plus they included a couple of goodies!

Originally I’d planned to knit Delphia, a crescent shaped shawl with a big lace section. But then I remembered Straight and Arrow, which has some really fun striping and chevrons.

Delphia, on the left, is a lot of garter stitch and uses less yarn, so it would be a faster project and I’d have enough yarn left for a second, smaller project. But Straight and Arrow would put every yard to good use, and it’s a slip-stitch pattern so it wouldn’t be that much slower to knit. Help me pick!

Yak Sock Yarn: Bijou Basin Ranch Review

The wonderful people at Bijou Basin Ranch gave me another opportunity to review some of their yarn, this time the Tibetan Dream fingering sock yarn. Like the yarn I reviewed previously, this is a yak blend. (I mean, they’re a yak ranch. That’s kind of their specialty.) They have a wide variety of solids and stripes, but perhaps not surprisingly, I chose Purple Dragon, a gorgeous limited edition color dyed exclusively for Bijou Basin Ranch by MJ Yarns. And guys, okay, BBR is one of the best at first impressions! Look at this assortment:

 

Tibetan Dream is 440 yards, 85% pure yak with 15% nylon. Their website states that yak fiber is warmer than wool and softer than cashmere. I can’t say for sure that it’s warmer than wool, but it is warm, and best of all, yak fiber is hypoallergenic, so it doesn’t make me itch the way some wools do. And yes, it is indeed very soft! I chose a simple pattern for my socks with a ribbed leg and stockinette foot. The colors really are so pretty.

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It’s a very smooth yarn, a texture reminiscent of a premium pima cotton. I noticed it the last time I used their yarn and wasn’t sure which fiber to attribute it to, but it must be the yak. I really like the feel, but it is a little splitty, as cotton is, and it doesn’t feel quite as elastic as wool. However, I have worn and washed and worn the socks, and they’re wearing nicely. These photos are after a wear and a wash, actually. And they are indeed comfy to wear, as soft and smooth as they are!

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The yarn retails starting at $39.95 and goes up to $49.95, so it is more of a splurge yarn, for me at least. As much as I love my socks, I might be more inclined to use this yarn for shawls and wraps, especially gifts for special people. The yak does block out beautifully, making it an ideal choice for lace patterns.

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Thank you to Stitchcraft Marketing and Bijou Basin Ranch, who generously sent me one skein of Tibetan Dream (retail value $49.95) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

Review: Manos del Uruguay Cabrito

You guys already know I love yarns from Manos del Uruguay, right? I haven’t been shy about it (you can see posts here and here though I’m sure there are others too). When they offered me a skein of their brand-new laceweight kid mohair blend, I didn’t even have to think about it. Honestly, it didn’t even matter what yarn they sent me; I’d have been happy to try it out. Since Cabrito is a laceweight that pairs well with others, I got to choose a skein of a second yarn too, and I picked Fino, a light fingering merino.

img_2499I forgot to take a nice photo of the skeins when they arrived because I was so excited to cast on. Look at those colors!! It was hard to choose, since the Cabrito comes in so many beautiful space-dyed colors. But I chose the Cabrito in Locuro Fluo (which is coincidentally also the same colorway as my Rainbow Shawl so clearly it’s my favorite) and the Fino in Peacock Plume. The Cabrito is about 230 yards and is 80% kid mohair, 20% polyamide. It’s as light as cotton candy and so flipping fuzzy that I was in heaven knitting it. I chose a simple scarf called Orbit so the yarn could be the star of the show.

I loved how the peacock Fino was a vibrant turquoise but the colors of the Cabrito still took center stage. The two yarns played really well together, though the few times I had to tink, the Cabrito stuck to itself a little bit. But overall it was a mindless treat to knit, feeling soft and warm in my hands during a cold winter.

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I ran out of Cabrito before the end of the pattern, but I was expecting that, and finished with an eyelet panel of just the Fino, and I’m happy with that. You can see my project page on Ravelry here.

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The finished shawl is as light as air and gorgeously colorful; it’s versatile enough to wear with so much of my wardrobe. Except…sigh. That soft fuzzy halo that made it so delightful to feel in my hands as I was knitting? Because parts of my skin are super sensitive, it itched my neck when I wore it against my skin. It wasn’t immediate and it wasn’t dramatic, but after I’d had it on for maybe 30 minutes, I could feel that subtle little itch and had to take it off. I know it wasn’t the Fino because I have another shawl in just Fino and don’t have any issues with it. So if you already know you’re sensitive, just plan to make something that you won’t wear right next to your skin. I’d love to use this in a sweater, because then I could just wear a shirt underneath like I do all my wool sweaters, and I’d be happy and toasty!

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Manos is still one of my favorite yarn companies, partly because of their lovely yarns but also because of all they do to make sure their yarn is Fair Trade Certified and to support the women artisans in Uruguay.

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Thanks so much to Stitchcraft Marketing and Fairmount Fibers, the North American distributor of Manos del Urugay, who sent me one skein of Cabrito and one skein of Fino (retail value: $50) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

Review: Andean Sun Alpaca

Does anybody else love alpaca? I’m guessing a few of you do. It’s one of my favorite yarns to use in winter, so when I was offered the chance to review some bulky alpaca from Andean Sun Yarns, I jumped at the chance. It’s available in packs of three in six colors, and I chose medium gray so it would go with almost everything.

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Honestly, I’d never heard of Andean Sun Yarns, so I had no idea what to expect. But guys. OMG. I’m a convert. If you love super soft alpaca that feels like a warm furry marshmallow (think squishy, not sticky!), then this is your yarn. In the past, I’ve used and loved Plymouth Yarns Grande and Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky. This yarn feels even better. I’m not sure why exactly, but I think the Andean Sun alpaca felt a little denser, a little more substantial, and just a tiny bit fuzzier. Can you see a hint of that marvelous halo??

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The yarn arrived on a Saturday and I cast on for the Bandana Cowl that same day. I was done by that night, partly because I was lucky enough to have a whole lazy knitting day, but also because I didn’t want to put the yarn down. Each skein is about 50 grams/54 yards each, and I used about two and a half skeins for the cowl. The yarn slid easily from the little skein, there were no knots, and it tinked nicely when I inevitably messed up.

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It felt so good in my hands. Plus, it washed and blocked wonderfully, still super soft and with a lovely relaxed drape. My only caveat is that I want it in more than six colors! And I have to say, I’ve wanted to make the Bandana cowl for SO long, and always put it off because I didn’t want to mess with short rows. Remember, I don’t like short rows. Except they were easy and quick in this pattern with the bulky yarn, and I didn’t mind them at all, and now I adore this cowl!

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Andean Sun Yarns is a small, independent family business with roots in Peru and the US that’s been around since 2001. As near as I can tell, they don’t stock in yarn stores, which is too bad because if you felt it, you’d probably buy it! But you can get it from their website (and get 25% off for subscribing to their newsletter) or from their Amazon shop (with free shipping).

Thanks so much to Stitchcraft Marketing and Andean Sun Yarns who sent me the three-skein bulky alpaca kit (retail: $31.98) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

Review: Appalachian Baby Organic Cotton

Last year I got to work with Appalachian Baby Design to review their Organic Cotton yarn, so when another opportunity arose, I accepted with pleasure. This time they offered a pattern as well, so I chose the Boho Baby Blanket, knowing I have a friend expecting a baby late this spring. I’m not usually a fan of knitting blankets, but I make an exception for new babies. They are totally knit-worth small humans, so they get blankets!

I could choose between pink and silver, and indigo and silver, and I chose indigo, thinking it might be the more versatile color. The yarn came beautifully packaged in a gauze bag, along with the pattern printed on sturdy cardstock. It would certainly make an attractive gift! The kit came with four skeins of indigo and two of silver, and one of my favorite things about this yarn is how easy it is to find the center-pull end! (It may not seem that important, but truly, it is.) The pattern was clear and well-written, and I quickly memorized the pattern repeats.

Though I’d originally planned to space out the knitting over two months, this soon became my nightly TV knitting project. I didn’t have to think about the pattern, and the yarn was soft in my hands, so it became kind of soothing. The yarn was rather splitty, but I find that to be true of most cotton yarns, so I could just roll with it.

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The yarn is a 4-ply sport weight, with 194 yards per ball, and I used almost all four indigo balls and about one and a half of the silver. My final product had the correct dimensions, but I only had 13 repeats of the pattern instead of the 17 that were written. Gauge, y’all. Thank goodness it doesn’t matter that much for a blanket!

My finished blanket went in the washer on cool and delicate, then in the dryer, and it came out even softer. I love using easy-care yarns for baby gifts! I also love using yarns without harsh dyes: Appalachian Baby uses a low-impact, earth-friendly dying process that I feel good about using for a baby.

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I just love the wavy chevron stitch! What a perfectly cozy blanket for a new baby boy, right? I probably should wait for a baby shower, but I wish I could give it to her now. If you need some soft cotton for a baby gift, be sure to check out the Appalachian Baby assortment!

Sending a special thank you to Stitchcraft Marketing and Appalachian Baby Design who sent me The Boho Baby Blanket Kit (retail: $73.00) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

 

New yarn from Manos!

Manos del Uruguay is one of my favorite brands, has been for a while now. I’ve used the Maxima and Alegria with great success. Their colors are gorgeous, the yarn is soft and wears well, and it’s all certified Fair Trade. Plus the yarns are made by artisans in cooperatives located throughout Uruguay, and each skein is signed, so you know who made your yarn and which village it came from. That makes it so much more personal for me, and I feel like I’m doing a good deed just by buying yarn.

So, when given the opportunity to review a new yarn from Manos, of course I jumped at the chance. Feliz is 70% superwash merino, 30% modal. Modal is a man-made fiber from vegetal pulp, and I was familiar with it from my past life in retail: I knew it was smooth and had fantastic drape. I could only imagine it would be equally delightful in yarn. It’s available in several of the gorgeous Manos hand-dyed colorways; I chose Wildflowers.

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Doesn’t it make you swoon? Yum, it does me! I cast on almost as soon as they sent it to me! It’s listed as DK on Ravelry, and has about 350 yards per 100g skein. Fairmount Fibers, their North American distributor, was generous enough to send me two skeins. I selected a pattern called Late Harvest, which was written for a different sport weight Manos yarn. It has a really unusual slip stitch pattern.

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Guys, I love this yarn. It felt like premium merino, all bouncy and supple, but even smoother, almost silky. There’s almost a hint of a sheen to the yarn. I didn’t have any issues with splitting, and it tinked back nicely when I made the inevitable mistake.

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It was a happy yarn for me, a happy knit. It felt soft and comforting in my hands, it slid smoothly on the needles, and the colors were perfect for the pattern. I keep coming back to the smoothness, because honestly, I prefer that to the fuzziness you get with some yarns. I can’t wait to see how it wears long-term, because if it doesn’t fuzz and pill as much as all-merino yarns, it will make some truly fantastic sweaters! Plus, I’m sensitive to some wools against my skin, and this feels like a yarn I might be able to wear without a layer underneath.

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Even though it’s mostly superwash merino, it does say to hand wash, which I did. It blocked out beautifully without much work, and the water was still clear after the soak, so the dyes didn’t bleed. I didn’t even pin it, just laid it out and nudged the edges into the shape I wanted, and now I’ve got a big, gorgeous shawl that will go with so many things. You can see my Ravelry project page here.

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You can see Feliz in all the pretty colors on their website, including their special 50th anniversary color, Cincuenta. It looks like Feliz sells for around $26 a skein, which seems perfectly reasonable to me. I’m happy to pay that for yarn that looks good, feels good, and helps women support their families!

Many thanks to Stitchcraft Marketing and Fairmount Fibers, who generously sent me two skeins of Manos del Uruguay Feliz (retail value $52) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

Yak Yarn! A review

When I think of fiber for knitting, obviously wool is the first to come to mind. Then silk, alpaca, cotton, nylon, acrylic, bamboo…there are so many options! But I confess that I had never thought about knitting with yak fiber. So when I was given the chance to review the Lhasa Wilderness from Bijou Basin Ranch, and I saw that it’s 75% Tibetan Yak and 25% bamboo, I thought it would be a great way to broaden my horizons, and maybe yours too!

I’d heard of Bijou Basin Ranch before, but never knew that it’s a small family-owned yak ranch in Colorado. I mean…yak? For yarn? Who knew?? Not me, anyway! They have registered, full-blooded Tibetan yaks and they harvest their coats once a year. I had to google “Tibetan yak” to see what they look like, and they are impressive animals!

Anyway, enough about animals: BBR supports other small businesses by using indie dye houses for their yarns. I chose a colorway called Fantasy, dyed by Colorful Eclectic, and I was so excited when my package arrived! It was beautifully put together with several extra goodies, including a mobius scarf pattern, a handy To-Do list, a sticker (which I immediately put on my Ikea knitting cart) and a pretty stitch marker. The presentation made a great first impression. To me, it shows that they really appreciate their customers.

The colors were lighter than I was expecting, based on the photos on the website. I thought the pink would be a darker fuschia; overall it seemed a bit watered down from the colors I saw online. But I know that colors can vary with hand-dyed yarn, and can look different in person than online. Plus, it is still beautiful, and so soft! I don’t know what I was expecting from yak, but it felt very much like a premium cotton, only even softer. It’s very smooth, feels silky running through my fingers. I’m guessing the bamboo is what reminds me of cotton, and the yak provides that delicious silky softness.

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Though they generously sent me a pattern, I chose a shawl/cowl pattern that I knew I’d wear more often called the Lace Eyelet Cowl. It calls for fingering weight, and while Ravelry lists the Lhasa Wilderness as Sport, it’s definitely a light sport and can be substituted for fingering without much trouble. My 250-yard skein was plenty of yarn and the knitting sailed by without a hitch. The yarn knits a bit like cotton, so it did sometimes split more easily than wool, and there’s less give when you’re working lace like k2tog, but neither hindered my knitting at all. And then it was done, and I washed it and pinned it out, and…BAM. Amazing! 

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The lace opened up so beautifully; is it fair to say it bloomed? And you know how cotton and silk yarns have a wonderful drape? This is the same! It lays perfectly, and is nicely lightweight and breathable. Plus, I think it will hold its blocking really well too, so it won’t need much attention as long as I keep it clean.

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In a nutshell, this is wonderful shawl yarn. Though it feels like a strong, durable yarn, I wouldn’t use it for socks or garments because of its similarities to cotton (less stretch) and because it’s hand wash/dry flat. But I would absolutely make more lace shawls, and they have a wide variety of solids, semi-solids and variegated colors to choose from. The $22 price tag is more than reasonable, in my opinion, especially when you can get a gorgeous project from just one skein.

What do you think? Ready to try some yak??

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Thank you to Stitchcraft Marketing and Bijou Basin Ranch, who generously sent me one skein of Lhasa Wilderness (retail value $22) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.