Tag Archive | yarn review

Manos del Uruguay Alma

I have a new shawl to show you, but the point of it is the yarn. A couple of months ago, Fairmount Fibers offered me a skein of the new Manos del Uruguay yarn, Alma, to review. I’m pretty sure you all know how much I love Manos yarns, so you also know I was eager to take this one for a test drive and see if it lived up to my expectations!

img_4519Alma is a single ply fingering weight yarn in 100% merino. It’s labeled superwash but they still recommend you hand wash and dry flat. The colors are all named after inspirational attitudes, like Humility, Generosity, Passion, and Sincerity. I chose Resilience to remind myself that I am resilient! Well, that and I liked the colors in the photo. They also designed the colors to pair well together, with complementary solids and multi-colors. Patience would have gone wonderfully with Resilience!

I noticed right away that Alma has the same soft fluffy feel as all the other Manos yarns I’ve used. It’s lightweight and airy, feeling almost puffy like cotton candy. It’s kind of plush, if a light fingering can feel plush. Maybe that’s partly because it’s a single ply? Whatever the reason, I love it. It felt warm and comforting in my fingers, gliding smoothly but not too hot or heavy in my lap as I knit. I chose to knit the Imagine When shawl by Joji Locatelli.

fullsizeoutput_22d7I chose this pattern because of the best part about Alma: the yardage! It’s a generous 546 yards per 100 grams, which means you have plenty of yarn to make a good-sized single-skein shawl. I knit the pattern with no modifications and ended up with six grams left. Honestly, I love everything about this yarn. It did have one knot in it, but that’s within normal standards, and it washed and blocked beautifully.

 

fullsizeoutput_22dbI’m not completely convinced I chose the right pattern to show off the yarn; I’m wondering if something more stockinette-based would have been better. But this was a fun pattern to knit — I guess I really am learning to appreciate short rows — and I loved having the yardage in one skein for a nice big shawl. The yarn retails for around $30 per skein, which I typically pay anyway for my good yarns, so I’d buy this one in a heartbeat. Especially since I can feel good about buying Manos yarns, which are hand-dyed by artisans and help support families in Uruguay! It’s available in yarn stores now, and you can find the closest one to you here, or find it online now.

Thanks so much to Stitchcraft Marketing and Fairmount Fibers, the North American distributor of Manos del Urugay, who sent me one skein of Alma (retail value: $30) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

Review: Boca Chica yarn

A while back, you all helped me choose a pattern for some new yarn. That yarn, which is a brand new base called Boca Chica from A Good Yarn Sarasota, was for a review, and I’m happy to report the shawl is done and blocked!

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This is a fingering weight merino wool dyed in gorgeous, bright colors, both solids and variegated. Boca Chica Key is an island in the lower Florida Keys, and the colors are all named for things found in the Florida Keys. I had to pick the hot pink, Duval Street, and the pink/gray variegated, Rainbow Reef, and I was impressed when my package arrived. Not only was the yarn beautiful, but it arrived with extra goodies! The gauge/ruler tool is a thick, sturdy plastic and has come in very handy already, and the bag lives in my car for those unexpected shopping trips.

After much pondering and discussion, I chose the Delphia shawl pattern and I think it was a great choice for these skeins. The pinks matched up perfectly, so the shifts from one colorway to the next were subtle. The first thing I noticed as I was knitting was how lightweight and airy the yarn is. I’m pretty sure that’s thanks to the fact that it’s a chainette yarn. With chain construction, the fibers have already been “knit” into a tube, which leaves air between the fibers and provides a lot of drape and breathability. Even after using almost both full skeins, the finished shawl is light and comfortable for spring and summer evenings.

This was a really fast and fun project for me. I liked the chain texture of the yarn, though I found it to split easily. I was using my Addi Turbo Lace needles with a pointy metal tip, so maybe that split the fibers more than another type of needle would. It didn’t affect my experience too much; it just meant I couldn’t do the lace portion without looking. And I LOVED the colors. They do recommend prewashing high-contrast colors, and I would agree with that. The water after my shawl’s bath was really pink, but I didn’t notice any fading or bleeding with the finished shawl. The gray was still perfectly gray.

The skeins are generous, with 480 yards per 4 oz, and retail for around $28 on their website. Even though it is superwash merino, they recommend hand wash/dry flat for best results, which is what I did. It blocked out wonderfully, with the lace opening up nicely and the picot edge all pointy and defined. Overall, I think this is a great yarn for spring and summer pieces. You can find it here: http://bit.ly/AGYbocachica

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Thank you to Stitchcraft Marketing and A Good Yarns Sarasota, who generously sent me two skeins of Boca Chica (retail value $56) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

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.