Monthly Archives: February 2007

Crystal Palace Panda Wool – A Review

I know I have been away for a little while and definitely longer than I had wanted to so I will be making up for it this week. 

This is my long overdue review of Panda Wool by Crystal Palace. 

Panda Wool in Candied Ginger Color Line at Little Knits Panda Wool is the wooly sister of Panda Cotton and it is a slightly thinner yarn with different fiber content of 46% bamboo, 43% wool and 11% nylon.  I was slightly puzzled when I looked at the label as it suggests needle sizes ranging between 1-2.5.  I have not seen size 2.5 on sock labels that much, if at all.  That is until I looked at the Crystal Palace bamboo dpn sizes – hint, they offer 2.5 and a 3.5 within their size range.

Given that I did not have 2.5 size needles and don’t like knitting with size 1 (I admit I am bad), I cast on with size 2 needles and got approximately 6.5 stitches to an inch.  Panda Wool has a soft hand and does not split while knitting.  Though while I was trying to knit and watch television (at the same time), I did occasionally snag the nylon that runs through the yarn.

Crystal Palace Panda Wool at Little Knits Panda Wool does not have the elasticity of Panda Cotton but I don’t believe that such elasticity was intended.  However, my stockinette stitch swatch had plenty give and bounced right back after being stretched out.  When I compared the two swatches (Panda Wool to Cotton), my hands told me that Panda Wool was smoother. 

Before blocking my swatch looked smooth and I did not think that it needed to be blocked for a sharper look.  I was wrong.  Blocking did make my swatch sharper and smoother and gave it almost a drape.  It also gave my swatch a halo, which I believe to be the bamboo blooming.

I feel it is important for me to note that the label of Panda Wool calls for hand washing.  So of course I threw my swatch in to the washer.  My swatch came out of the cold water gentle cycle just fine.  No loss of color and or shape after laying flat dry (no machine drying for hand knit socks for me – regardless of the yarn).  Then I threw my swatch in with warm water in gentle cycle.  Again my swatch came out fine.  However, please note that label recommends hand washing and most definitely no machine drying (I know I am repeating myself).

Crystal Palace Panda Wool at Little Knits The substantial feel of the knitted fiber, the smoothness of the yarn during knitting, and the multi-textured look of the yarn and the resulting knitted garment are the things I like most about Panda Wool.  As you too can see in the swatch photos Panda Wool has almost a tweed like look.  According to the nice folks at Crystal Palace the tweed like look happens when the different components of Panda Wool take the spray dye differently especially when the nylon component comes out with a lighter pearly shine.

Free Panda Wool pattern at Crystal Palace As usual there are free sock patterns at the Crystal Palace website for Panda Wool.  Ana, our store manager, also knitted a very cute pair of socks with her personal stash of Panda Wool, which she has kindly agreed to share with us.  I will post this pattern this week under the free patterns section and post a photo or two.

Hope you are all knitting with a smile.

Fulay (aka Sue)

Crystal Palace Panda Cotton – A review

We finally received our Panda line from Crystal Palace and since Panda Cotton came in first I thought I would give you a quick sneak peak of it first.  We did receive a much bigger selection of Panda Wool, which I will post tomorrow evening but as I said Panda Cotton first.

Crsytal Palace Panda Cotton Sample Balls at Little Knits Panda Cotton is made of 55% bamboo, 24% cotton and 21% elastic, which results in a soft and smooth fiber that takes the dye in unusually bright jewel tones for a yarn with this much bamboo content.  If you are surprised about this comment please see the subtle color combinations of the Trekking Pro Natura a wool bamboo blend sock yarn (not a negative, just an observation).

I cast on and knitted my swatch with size 2 needles and got approximately 6 stitches to an inch.  While knitting the yarn was smooth and soft to touch and did not split however, the 4 ply make did untwist and came apart at times, especially in the beginning.  This was a non-issue as my swatch got bigger. 

The elasticity of the yarn does not figure into the gauge (like with Cascade’s Fixation), or the knitting tension, but makes a lovely addition to the value of Panda Cotton once you are done knitting.  What exactly does this mean?  Panda Cotton will create well fitting socks, hats and booties without making the knitter go wonky with worry while knitting…is this going to be too tight or too loose; will I have to frog to correct the fit, etc. 

Panda Cotton Swatch Knitted by Little Knits The swatch photographed here is not blocked.  That being said once blocked my swatch smoothed out and stitch definiton was even sharper.  After blocking I also threw my swatch into a luke warm wash and washed it in the gentle cycle with a soft perfume free soap that I use for my children’s clothes.  My swatch dried up with no shrinkage and did not bleed or fade (note, I did not machine dry my swatch – it air dried after being flattened by hand onto a towel). 

It is my humble opinion that Panda Cotton is a sophisticated bamboo cotton blend yarn with a surprising level of elasticity and durability.  The closest compare is Cascade’s Fixation.  Panda wool is softer (not grainy or pebble like Fixation), and a finer gauge yarn.  Clearly the comparison ends there as Fixation has no bamboo while Panda Cotton has 55% bamboo content.  Please note, I am not saying that one yarn is better than the other simply comparing and contrasting.

A free Panda Cotton Sock Pattern In summary, if you are looking for a non-wool yarn that has more to offer than just a good-old cotton alternative Panda Cotton is your yarn.  The fact that Panda Cotton is machine washable and comes with free patterns designed for/by the nice folks at Crystal Palace are just a few more of the extras.

PS. I am using the rest of my Panda Cotton ball to make a hat for my 2 year old, which has turned in to a fun project.

Sending good thoughts your way.

Fulay (aka Sue)

UPS vs. USPS – We are switching and this is why

Hi All,

If you have shopped from us in the last couple of weeks you would have seen that our primary carrier is now UPS.  Though we still ship with USPS we do it only when you select it or request it.

We/I came to the conclusion that we had to make this change after a series of painful and sad experiences with USPS.  Previously, we primarily used USPS priority mail and always added delivery confirm services to our packages.  What we thought was a failsafe system has failed us and our customers one too many times hence, the switch to UPS.

Let’s admit it, we are all human and we all make mistakes.  I suspect UPS will make mistakes and damage a package or two or may be even loose a few.  But, and that is a HUGE but, they will stand behind their service and admit their mistakes.  They also insure packages up to $100 free of charge and allow us to increase this amount to a larger $$ if needed.  Again, I am not suggesting that UPS is perfect but better than USPS by a significant margin.

Here is an objective description of a recent experience with USPS.  As we do with most of our packages, we packed labeled and shipped a one pound box to Puyallup, WA – a 20-30 min drive from our store.  The package was shipped on January 22nd via priority mail with a delivery confirm.  USPS pick-up service came and picked up all our packages including the box in question.  The box was never scanned into their system therefore the package still looks like it has not been received by USPS.  And before I forget, the package was never delivered (as of February 8th).  USPS’ response, absolutely nothing!  No accountability, no package and after multiple calls and filing of the appropriate forms no response.

If you have shopped from us it is likely that you have called or emailed us to ask us why your package was showing as ‘not received’ by the USPS system.  Again, USPS has your package, it is in delivery but it has not been scanned or recorded in any manner so no one can confirm where it is or when/whether it will be delivered.  Often, you will get the same message from the USPS system couple of days after delivery.  This is frustrating for us and for our customers hence, the switch to UPS.

The above narrative summarizes our most prominent issue – we think sending packages out via USPS is like throwing them into a great abyss.  Again, I am sure that the UPS will make mistakes but one hopes and believes that they will be accountable and stand behind the small business owner. 

I hope you don’t mind listening/reading the words of a somewhat bemused me.

Onward we go – UPS don’t fail me now!

Fulay (aka Sue)  

My Tilli Hat

Here is the hat that I had mentioned.

Asymetric Hat in Tilli Tomas Aspen by Little Knits I knit this version on straight needles (well not quite as I always use my circulars like straights – you know what I mean). I used a 50 gram Aspen with Flurries as the trim and at the end a bit of Aspen was left. So I am quite sure that a 50 gram Aspen would be enough. I have not blocked the hat yet as I am working on quite a few other things and blocking is always at the end of my priority list.

The hat is knit in one piece and then seamed in the back. This pattern will be available under Tilli Tomas yarns as soon as I post the new colors of Aspen that just came in.

Hope you are all well and knitting with a smile.Fulay (aka Sue)