Tag Archive | yarn review

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.

Delicious Yarns Review: Yum!

A couple of months ago, I was offered the opportunity to review Delicious Yarns‘ newest offering, their pairings of two complementary colors. I was going to skip this one, since I had so much going on, but of course I had to take a peek at the yarn. Oops! That first glimpse of the pink and orange sealed the deal: I needed to knit those yarns!

 

The first impression was charming, with that cute ribbon around the skeins and the tags like nutrition labels. Then I was impressed by how vivid and saturated the colors are; they’re gorgeous. I chose Pairing 1, and while the site doesn’t specify which colors are in each pairing, these colors are Raspberry Swirl and Burnt Orange Frosting. I also received the pattern for the Piece of Cake shawl, designed specifically for these pairings. I love the jagged teeth and that lace section the best!

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The pairings are available in Fingering, Sport, and Worsted. I chose the fingering since I’m all about shawls these days. The colors make this a perfect fit for my wardrobe. The yarn is crisp and smooth, making it a pleasant knitting experience and giving good stitch definition too. It has a little bit of spring to it, so the drape is a bit more firm, if that makes sense.

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The yarn is 100% superwash merino, hand-dyed in California, and each color is designed to create different patterning when knitted or crocheted. I especially liked watching the Raspberry Swirl shift from dark pink to light pink to white and back again. There are short sections where you work two rows of each color to blend the colors. That plus the short row sections make for a nifty effect when you stand back and look at it, almost wavy. It makes me think of candy, for sure!

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I only have two small caveats. One: as the tag warns they might, the yarns definitely bled when I blocked the shawl. They recommend steam blocking if you’re concerned about bleeding but I wanted to open the lace aggressively. Fortunately it didn’t seem to affect the white tones, but I’ll handle it carefully in the future. And two: the pattern had a couple of small errors. I was able to work past them pretty easily, but they did make me stop and think and scratch my head for a little bit. Still, I liked the yarn well enough that next I’d love to try their Speckles Chunky!

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The colors were absolutely the best thing about this project for me, and they have so many other delicious colors on their website too. Plus I can’t help but be enchanted with the “delicious” theme and the idea that each skein is one marvelous sweet treat! The fingering runs around $31 for 450 yards, making this comparable to many of the other high-end, small-dyer yarns I buy, and the high quality is comparable too. I really enjoyed knitting with this yarn!

If you’re tempted to partake, you can use the code DYBK2018 for 10% off all online orders through the end of November. And if you sign up for their newsletter here, you’ll get two free patterns plus a “sweet surprise” within a few weeks of signing up.

A very special thank you to Stitchcraft Marketing and Delicious Yarns, who generously sent me 1 pairing (2 skeins) of Superwash Merino ($61) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

Review: Zen Yarn Garden

What’s your favorite splurge yarn? Mine is now the Serenity line from Zen Yarn Garden! I got to test a 3-skein kit of Serenity 20 Fingering and OMG I’m in love!!

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I made Stephen West’s Dotted Rays – Speckled Fade shawl. This was one of my favorite pieces ever to knit, and I think it will be a favorite to wear too.

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ARGH it’s so gorgeous I can’t stand it! I really wanted the chevron edge, but I didn’t plan my yardage correctly and ran out too soon. I even had to use a bit of the creamy speckle for the i-cord bindoff when I ran out of the purple. And yet I don’t care a bit because it’s fabulous as is. I think most of you already know the brilliance that is Westknits, so I won’t spend too long on the pattern. It’s enough to say that I loved it and am already planning to make another.

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But the yarn? The yarn I must tell you about! Serenity 20 is a fingering weight that’s 70% superwash superfine merino, 20% cashmere and 10% nylon. I don’t think I’ve ever knit with a cashmere blend before, so I had no idea what a decadent experience it is. Soft? Oh my yes! The yarn was lush and full and squishy, and every time I picked it up, my hands were so happy. This was what I picked up at night as my treat knitting, because the combination of relaxing garter stitch in such a yummy yarn pleased me so much. It wasn’t splitty at all and behaved nicely when I had to frog a bit. It might be handwash only but it’s worth it!

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I love this color combination too. This is the Vivid Bundle, with Vivid OOAK, Vivid Splatter, and Scallions. They also offer the Jazzy Bundle with blues, grays, and cream. (Keep reading for a special discount code on these bundles!) But with all the gorgeous hand-dyed colors they offer, you could put together any number of combinations for the gradient and fade shawls that are all the rage right now.

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The finished shawl is big and has a comforting heft to it. The size 4 needles I used made it dense enough to be warm but kept the fabric at a soft drape. I find myself reaching for it on those cool mornings when I’m up early with the dogs. I know I say I love a lot of yarn, and I always mean it when I say it, but this yarn truly is special. It’s luxurious and decadent and kind of represents everything I love most about knitting: cool people (like the husband and wife team who own ZYG), soft yarn, pretty colors, and finished pieces that are a joy to wear.

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If you need some splurge-worthy yarn in your life, I’ve got good news: you can use the code BONNYKNITS to save 20% off either the Jazzy or Vivid bundle! Just click this little link here to start shopping. The code is good until 12/31/18, and they’re limited quantities, so don’t wait too long.

Many and most sincere thanks to Zen Yarn Garden and Stitchcraft Marketing who so generously provided 1 Vivid Kit ($91.80) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.

FO: Twizzlefoot Socks

This was a quick little pair of socks for me, because I was so eager to have them ready to wear! The Twizzlefoot is a new yarn for me, and when Stitchcraft Marketing asked if I’d like to review it, I jumped at the chance for two reasons. One: um, hello, I’m addicted to sock knitting and can’t get enough sock yarn! And two: the Twizzlefoot is from Mountain Colors, a yarn company based in Montana, and since the girl just moved to Colorado near the mountains, I thought these would make perfect socks for her.

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Except maybe not. Because I love them.

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I chose the Harmony Brook color, a beautiful dark blue-green with a bit of gray. It’s a hard color to describe, partly because it has a heathered look to it, with that subtle pale speckling. That heather effect is thanks to a strand of silk plied in with the wool and nylon! I think that 17% silk is what makes this yarn feel so darn good on my feet.

And I’ll be honest, I was surprised that they felt so good, because the yarn isn’t as smooth and silky soft as some sock yarn I’ve used. It’s 53% Superwash Merino and 17% Domestic Wool, and it feels like wool, with that fluffy texture that tells you it’ll be toasty warm. The problem is that sometimes my skin is sensitive to anything less than merino, and I was afraid I’d have that issue here. Thankfully, the blend seems to be well done, giving the sturdiness and warmth of wool, the softness of merino and silk, and the durability of nylon. These are going to be perfect cold weather socks.

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I really enjoyed knitting with this yarn. It felt twisty and springy, and I’m sure there’s a technical term or reason for it, but I just liked the bounce it had. It slid smoothly along my needles with no splitting. I didn’t have to frog any of it, but I’m thinking it might not be the best for repeated frogging; I’m afraid the fibers might stick to each other. The yarn is hand-wash only. I washed these in cool water with Eucalan and there was definitely some dye bleeding, so I’d advise washing them separately. Overall, this was a fantastic yarn, and I was excited to check their retailer locater: one of my LYS carries their yarns!

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While the girl may not get this particular pair of socks, this yarn would be perfect for her out there in Colorado, making a warm, soft sock with an earthier look and feel. You can see all the colors, and explore Mountain Colors’ other yarns, on their site here.

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A very special thank you to Stitchcraft Marketing and Mountain Colors, who generously sent me 1 skein of Twizzlefoot ($28) for free. I received no other compensation for this review. All opinions and photos are my own.