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 ^^/

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