Friday, April 30, 2010

JL Yarns Bamboo Spica review (and an FO and new design)

{never take FO pics when you're having a bad hair day xD}
you know, it's really hard to take a picture of your own back. as you can see from the photo above of my finished Ribbed Lace Bolero. i blogged about this project in one of my last few posts and it's finally finished! i'm not sure if i like it 100%, i was hoping it wouldn't slouch quite so much in the back, but i'm also not sure i have the heart to rip it back and reknit it now that it's finished. i'm sure some of you know what i'm talking about ^.^

i've been away from my blog for a little while, partly due to being really busy with school and work, and partly due to being really busy with a new design i'm working on. and i know what you're going to say, "but Carla, you said you weren't going to start any new designs before you finished your WIP busting crusade." and trust me, that is still a priority for me, but i've had this design in my head for some time now and i felt compelled to get it out and onto my needles. especially since i just got 8 balls of Bamboo Spica from Julia's Yarns in color #304, and i've been dying to try out so i could post a review of it here on the blog.

Bamboo Spica is a 100% bamboo yarn, chained not plied, which i think makes it FAR less splitty than some of the other bamboo yarns i've used (i'm lookin at you Natrually Caron Spa >.>) usually splittiness is the #1 complaint for bamboo yarns, so that already puts this particular yarn ahead of the pack in my opinion.

this is also an incredibly soft Bamboo yarn, for the price i paid for it i wasn't expecting it to have such softness and such a lovely sheen and drape. and i think my favorite thing about this yarn is how well it blocks. i've never done a lace project with bamboo yarn, so i never really paid much attention to blocking bamboo, but for my current design in the works, blocking is a BIG issue. so i knit up a swatch in the lace pattern and blocked it before endeavoring to cast on:

{here's the lace pattern before blocking}

{and here's my blocked swatch}

as you can see from the pics above, this yarn blocks incredibly well. the lace has totally opened up, and even the section at the top that was knit in rib kept it blocked dimensions! i was really impressed with the blockability of this yarn, which makes it perfect for this new design. so with this yarn blocking makes a HUGE difference. if, say, you're knitting something in stockinette with it, but you're not quite getting the right gauge, you could definItely block this to stretch it to fit the guage you need as long as there's not too big a difference.

those are the positives, now about the color...

once again, the colors were true to the colors represented on the JL yarns website, but if you've been over there and checked out the color selection, you'll see that they don't have too many options. i personally didn't like most of the colors they had, they don't have any solids at all, and even this seemingly solid bluish-green i have is subtly variegated.

but the WORST thing about this particular colorway is that it stains your hands, and if you're working with bamboo needles like i am, it stains them too! the staining on my hands is very slight, and washes away easily, but the staining on my needles is a bit more dramatic. i'm going to have to soak my FO well and really try to get all that excess dye out of it before i attempt to wear it. i don't know if all of the colors stain like this, maybe it's just this particular color. if anyone else tries this yarn in a different colorway be sure to let me know if you had the same problem with staining.

however, i did get 50 gram balls of this yarn for just under $2.40 a ball (in a bag of 8), which is pretty cheap for a 100% bamboo yarn. so i can put up with a little hand and needle staining for such a great deal.

Overall, i give this yarn a positive rating. for me, the value pricing makes up for the other shortcomings, but if you're the kind of person that really hates stainy yarn, then this might not be the yarn for you. but it is very soft, very blockable, and has a gorgeous drape that i'm guessing is going to look really great in my new design. on a scale from 1 to 10 i give this yarn:

Quality Relative to Price: 9

Overall Quality Unrelated to Price: 7

Color: 4 (for staining and limited color options)

Ease of Use: 8 (for minimal splittiness)

bottom line, as with the JL Vinca, you get what you pay for. whenever you find a small yarn company that produces commercial yarn, it's probably not going to have the same quality as a bigger label such as Rowan, or Classic Elite. you just have to weigh the pros and cons and decide whether the cons would put you off so much as to not want to use it.

all of the yarns i ordered during my big yarn binge a few weeks ago have now arrived, and i'm going to be slowly trickling in the reviews as i use them. my next review will be a double review of 2 of the Pierrot yarns i ordered and have used, Zakka and Cotton Neat. now that i've finished the projects i was working on with them i'll be able to do a pretty comprehensive review of both.

which leaves only one thing, my new design. i'm sure you could figure out from the pictures of my swatches above that it's a lace project, with a picot edge. this is a very exciting design for me because it's my first attempt at designing a garment. i don't want to give away too much now, so i'll leave you with a picture of my progress so far

{mystery design in Bamboo Spica}

have a great weekend everyone ^^/

Friday, April 16, 2010


i've taken a little break from my WIP busting to work on a few other quick and painless projects with some of my new yarns. i recieved a shipment from Pierrot Yarns today, and wasted no time working with the Zakka Acrylic yarn i ordered.

this little beauty is what the Japanese call a "tawashi" which, as i'm sure you can guess by the word "wash" in the name, is like a little dish scrubby. but of course the Japanese are not content with the same plain old circular scrubbies we americans use, they have to do oragami with yarn and create these wonderfully interesting, yet simple patterns for their tawashi.

i must say that i love love LOVE Pierrot Yarns. the pattern for this tawashi and literally hundreds of other free patterns can be found on their website; everything from shawls to sweaters to home projects which they call "Zakka." and although right now most of their patterns are in Japanese, they're currently working on translating some of them into English. last i checked they had 8 English patterns up and they say they will be adding a few more each month.

this was my first time attempting a Japanese pattern, but i have to say it was really easy. Japanese patterns are always charted out, whether they be knitting or crochet, so it's easy for non Japanese speaking crafters to follow them. i'm not sure yet but i like the colors so much i'm thinking of entering this lil guy into the Pierrot Yarns contest. the deadline is only 5 weeks away aned there were other things i wanted to enter but i'm not sure i'll have the time to get them done. you're allowed up to 3 entries, so if i can't get my other projects done in time i'll definItely enter the tawashi.

and speaking of which, the other quick project i've been working on for the Pierrot contest is a Ribbed Lace Bolero by Kelly Maher. this is a really well written pattern that is meant to be customized to your exact measurements. i can tell Kelly really put a lot of time and effort into this pattern and i'm so impressed with how simple it is to knit, despite how complex it looks.

{© Kelly Maher}

i'm using Pierrot Cotton Neat which is a super soft 100% cotton yarn. i wasn't sure if i was going to have enough to complete the project, since i'm making it a bit bigger than the original version, so i didn't save my swatch or block it. i'll do a full review of the yarn once i've washed and blocked my FO.

{my Ribbed Lace Bolero progress so far}

i just started this 3 days ago and i'm already about 75% done so it will probably get done this weekend.

and speaking of weekends, i hope everyone has a great one, i'm off to get some serious work done on this bolero because the weather has been so lovely lately i can't wait to wear it!



Sunday, April 11, 2010

JL Yarns Vinca Review

Goodevening everyone ^^/

i hope you've all had a fantastic weekend. i myself just kinda lazed around the house mostly, and knit up a storm with my newly acquired yarns :)

the first of last weeks yarn purchases to arrive was my order from Julia's Yarns. I ordered a substantial quantity of their sock yarn called "Vinca" in 2 different colorways, #815 which is a mix of blue/green/purple/pink/yellow, and #814 which is mainly blue, pink and purple.

{color #815}
as i said in my last post, this yarn is 75% superwash wool and 25% Nylon and really doesn't get the greatest reviews on Ravelry. before i bought it i checked out some of the projects that were made with Vinca and i read a lot about splittiness and about repeats in the color changes being hard to find. but since the yarn was on sale for roughly 4$ per 100g (which is basically unheard of for superwash wool) and because i think the colors are dreamy i decided to order some anyways.

{color # 814}
so when the yarn arrived, the first thing about it i noticed is that the colors are very true to the colors represented on the JL Yarns website which is always a plus. there's nothing worse than ordering yarn online only to have it show up and be a totally different color than you were expecting.

the second thing i noticed is that it's not the softest yarn in the world, it's probably comparable to Lion Brand Sock Ease and other big box superwash wool sock yarns. basically, it's no Malabrigo, but for the price, i never expected it to be.
so i decided to swatch with color #815 and as i've said before, while swatching i didn't find this yarn to be splitty AT ALL, which is the biggest complaint i was reading from Ravelry members. although, i've since cast on a large project with this yarn and i have found it to be a little splitty at times, but nothing like i was expecting based on the Rav reviews. also because of its slight scratchiness, obviously it's not the nicest yarn to work with, but i didn't find it altogether unpleasant or unbearable.
I knit my swatch on size 2 needles, not the size 4 recommended on the label because, well, size 2 is my go-to size for knitting socks, and seeing how this IS a sock yarn i didn't want to break precident xD my guage before blocking was 34sts x 41 rows. after blocking i got a guage of 33 sts x 44 rows, so althogether not a substantial change in either. the change could also be due to miscounting on my part since the stitches are very small and the 2ply color changes make the stitches a bit harder to see. overall though, i'd say blocking doesn't make that much difference in guage for this yarn.

{my finished and blocked swatch}

as you can see from the picture, this yarn blocks wonderfully. pretty much all the curl has gone out of the swatch and it will lay mostly flat without being pinned down. so that's one great thing about this yarn. and another great thing is that my swatch softened up a LOT after blocking. really the difference in softness is night and day. i could definItely wear this yarn next to skin after blocking, which is great for the project i just cast on with it.

{close up to show the 2ply color effect}

all in all, i personally would give this yarn a good rating. it may not be the best for someone with sensitive skin, but would be great for baby garments not worn next to skin and for durable socks because i find that scratchier sock yarns tend to hold up better than the softer ones. on a scale from 1 to 10 i give this yarn:

Quality Relative to Price: 8.5

Overal Quality unrelated to Price: 6

Color: 10

Ease of use: 7

bottom line: you get what you pay for. but if you're looking for a decent beginners sock yarn that has great colors and durability, then this might be a good choice for you.

i hope you all liked my review, next up will be the Julia's Yarns Bamboo Spica sometime this week so be sure to check back for that. and i've also recieved part of my order from Herrschners so be on the lookout for a review of Gedifra Korella or Rowan Milk cotton sometime soon too.

have a great week everyeone, and keep on clickin!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

yarn diet and a yarn contest


i've gone a bit wild over the last few days ordering yarn. credit is truly a curse i tell ya. but the sales i found last week were just so unbelievable i couldn't pass them up.

my first order was from Julia's Yarn. i stumbled across this little gem of a yarn store while perusing the forums on Ravelry and i am in LOVE with their colors. Julia's is a small, family owned yarn company that really doesn't get great reviews on Ravelry although i can't imagine why. I ordered their Vinca sock yarn (75%superwash wool/25% nylon) and their Bamboo Spica (100% Bamboo) from their end of march sale, and i've gotta say that the Bamboo is probably the softest Bamboo yarn i've ever felt. I've just started swatching with the Vinca sock yarn and so far i don't find it to be splitty at all, which was the number one complaint i read on Ravelry. I have yet to knit with the Bamboo, but i've decided to knit up a swatch of each of my new yarns and post a little review here on my blog sometime this weekend.

for my next order i headed on over to Herrschners internet store after being tipped off by a fellow Raveler about their sale on Rowan Milk Cotton. i have been wanting to try a milk fibre blend yarn for quite some time now, and Herrschners just so happened to have them on sale last week for only $4.79 a ball!! the MSRP of this yarn is a whopping $12.50 a ball so of course i couldn't resist. they also had Gedifra Korella (a linen/acrylic blend yarn) on sale for only $2.79, which is over $4 off the suggested MSRP. i've also never knit with a linen blend yarn so i'm really excited to see how these two yarns knit up. and it's perfect timing too because summer is fast approaching and i'll be damned if i was going to spend all summer knitting with wool xD

the next sale i hit this week was at Pierrot Yarns, which is a Japan based yarn company that recently has established a website in English. to promote their new Yarn Contest (details below) they slashed the price of their best selling yarn, Soft Merino. the DK weight went for about $2.35 a ball and the Fingering weight only $2.10 a ball! but i took a good look around their store and it amazed me how inexpensive their yarns are. I've read some reviews on Rav in the Pierrot yarns group and the people that have used their yarns are in love with them. they say the quality is unsurpased. i think this might be the yarn i'm most excited about getting, even though it is wool, because from what i've heard it is a dream to work with and the colors are to dye for. Pierrot may end up becoming my new favorite yarn company xD

and lastly, i headed over to Wolles Yarn Creations on Etsy for her Easter sale. Wolle is a Ravelry member and a brilliant indy dyer who specializes in 100% cotton yarns with slow, subtle color changes. if you're on Ravelry you can click this link to see some of the projects she has made with this gorgeous yarn. and if you're interested, she still has a few colors on sale for 20% off, i'd hurry and snatch them up though because yarns this gorgeous don't stay on sale for very long.

so as you all can see i've spent WAY too much money on yarn this week and am therefore imposing a strict yarn diet for the next few months. although i've probably ordered enough yarn to last me though the next few years (yeah right, who am i kidding)

and i'm really excited about the Pierrot Yarns Yarn contest. this is a really cool contest that allows you to enter anything you've knit, crocheted or woven from Pierrot Yarns. you don't have to submit an original pattern, just as long as you use their yarns you can enter. and the coolest part is that all eligible entrants receive a $5.50 shopping credit at Pierrot Yarns, so everyone's a winner! i've just visited their site and the Soft Merino sale is still going on so if you're interested in the contest go check out their site right now because i don't know how long this sale is going to last.

well that's all for today folks, i'm going to be blogging my reviews of all the yarns i ordered when i receive them so be on the lookout for some great yarn reviews in the coming weeks. and i'm also putting the finishing touches on a few previously unreleased patterns that i'll be offereing for sale on my blog and on Ravelry so be sure to check back for updates.

happy shopping ^.^