Category Archives: Reviews

Yummy!

When I first saw Yummy by Universal Yarns it was on a hank with a test label that had no specifics about the yarn itself that is, no info on yardage, fiber content or gauge.  But I fell in love anyway. Yummy - Double Chocolate & Plum  I liked the tight spin of the yarn, the deep jewel tones of the colors, and the subtle silky sheen.

Yummy comes in big 4 ounce hanks (approx. 130 grams), with 370 yards per hank, which is more than enough for an average size pair of adult socks.  Yummy - A Classic This beautiful yarn is hand-dyed – label reads ‘pot dyed’ – by Turkish artisans and has beautiful color quality and depth.  And, a must for me when it comes to sock yarn, it is machine washable.  Please don’t let all this sock yarn talk limit you, Yummy would also work great for any lace weight project that can be worked with a hand-dyed multi color yarn.

Of course, every good new yarn deserves a good review and this is why we called Samantha, our no-nonsense reviewer and this what she had to say:

My first impression looking at the Yummy was all about the colors. Yummy - A Summer day in Istanbul  Rich and vibrant, the whole skein is saturated with colors ranging from a warm plum through a bright pink to a spicy coral.  The yarn made me want to pick it up and start knitting with it, just to see how it would come out.  I also noticed that Yummy was smooth, silky smooth with a tight twist and none of the beaded effect that some sock yarns have.  There’s no halo or fuzziness to this yarn, although in some lights it does appear to have a subtle sheen (EDITOR’S NOTE  – actual skeins received does have a very slight fuzz/halo).  The sample skein had no content listed, but it feels like a high quality merino.

I like socks that are woven fairly tightly, so I swatched it with a size one needle.  I used a set of double point needles with Canadian sizing, so it was actually a 1.25mm set.  I got 7.5 stitches and 10 rows to the inch and liked the smooth, polished look of it.  However, even by my standards this was not comfortable going and I switched to a 1.50 set of needles for the socks (there is no American equivalent, they are both loosely referred to as a size 1).  On these, I got 8 stitches and 12 rows to the inch.

Since my double point needles are quite pointy, I was amazed and delighted to find that this yarn doesn’t split at all.  I knit an entire sock without ever splitting a stitch, even when I was watching TV and not looking at my knitting.  It’s the tight twist that does it and boy, does it make a difference.  The finished product is smooth and with superb stitch definition.  Even my husband (a non-knitter), looked at the swatch and was impressed.  He couldn’t quite say why but finally said that it looked clean and sharp,” which it did.  Cables worked in this yarn would pop , as would any stitch pattern.  The downside of this, of course, is that any mistakes are instantly obvious – no fudging with this yarn.

Yummy stands up quite well to washing and blocking.  I used cold water and a mild soap to wash my sock, then rolled the pieces up in a white towel and gently pushed out the water before laying it out and nudging into shape.  Yummy Test Sock The yarn didn’t seem to get any softer, but it was soft to start with.  In truth, it didn’t really change at all – a plus if, like me, you don’t want to guess at how the final product will look.

The only negative I found with this yarn was while I was grafting the toes.  The tight twist on this yarn makes it tend to twist back on itself.  This isn’t much of a problem while knitting, but it created some problems on a darning needle.  I would definitely knit with Yummy again and I am anxious to see the rest of the available colorways.  I can already picture a sock with cable rib and little cables running down the sides… .

PS. I know, I could not do 10 posts in 10 days – major burn out as I have tons of new stuff that I have to photograph and share with you, which made the 10 for 10 deal impossible.  Sorry. 🙁

New Yarns…is Spring Here Yet?

I have been super quiet I know. But, I have so much that must be written that I plan to post everyday for the next 10 days! That is my challenge (well, that and a few other things including getting in shape to run a long race early next year). Will you count with me? Here is post #1.

Quick note, Seattle needs a notice that it is April 15th! We still have cold weather, rain, wind and the weather guy is calling for snow later this week. Someone please notify the weather channel, we need some warm weather here. I will even take 50 degrees and up, I would not mind some serious sunshine either. To be fair, we did have a great Saturday but it was as though someone was teasing us…it was here and then it was gone. Sunday we were back to the same routine. Bet my tulips wish they could go back in.

Just in case you did not notice, we have a new yarn line in at the store, Universal Yarns. We tried to pick a few of their many yarn lines that would be interesting for us all. One of their yarns, Classic Worsted Tapestry, has been up at our webstore for a while as quite a few of our friends and customers requested it and we like this self-patterning worsted weight yarn that comes in big 100 gram skeins. Dizzy – I am sure most of you know who she is 🙂 – has made socks with Classic Worsted Tapestry (as with quite a few of our customers), and she is now working on a top. This is a machine washable yarn that is soft and not itchy next to skin so it is also great for kids garments and accessories.

Classic Worsted Tapestry

Another new yarn from Universal Yarn is Poems. It is their take on Noro Kureyon. The yarn has approximately the same gauge but it is significantly softer and the colors are more subtle. I decided I would try this yarn especially given its price and the fact that it has a much softer hand than Kureyon. And then I requested one of my favorite yarn reviewers, Samantha, to take a skein home and to let me know her thoughts and this is what she said (thank you Samantha!):

Universal Yarns Poems

Universal Yarns Poems

I’ll admit, it wasn’t love at first sight. Not that I disliked it but, at first glance, the ball of Universal Yarns’ Poems in shades of brown seemed somewhat unassuming.

I remained unimpressed until I swatched it (4 1/2 stitches and 6 rows to the inch in stockinette on size 8 needles), but then oh my. I was absolutely captivated by the incredible softness, as well as the absolutely stunning shifts of color. Soft almond blending into the cocoa, espresso, and palest honey. The subtle blending from shade to shade, each one warmer and richer than the last. I was hooked.

I was also struck by how the movement of color reminded me a bit of some of Noro’s colorways. I dug around in my stash and produced a single skein of Kureyon and sure enough,the yarns had a lot in common. The balls were wound almost the same, as well as having the same yardage (~109 yards), same composition (100% wool), same recommended needle size (7 – 9), and even the same style of ball band. And, of course, long, gently shifting color runs. For fun, I decided to make a pair of fingerless mitts, one in each yarn, and see how they compared (I used the Dashing pattern from Knitty at www.knitty.com, in the smaller size. Gloves Made with Poems & Kureyon The pattern is knit on size 7 needles, so my gauge changed: 5 1/2 stitches and 7 rows to the inch in k4 p1 rib with the Wisdom; 5 stitches and 7 rows to the inch with the Noro). Here’s what I found out:

The immediate and most obvious difference is the softness. Poems is significantly softer than the Noro. It feels gentler on the hands while knitting, and the finished glove didn’t scratch or itch, even on the tender skin of the inside wrist. The Noro definitely felt rougher, and a bit scratchy on that same wrist area. Both yarns are thick-and-thin yarns, but there are differences there, too. Poems has subtler shifts in thickness, and they are less frequent. The thick areas are much less so than with the Noro, which frequently thickens so much that the yarn feels unspun and these areas show up obviously in the finished work, creating a rustic feel. Poems never gets this thick and the finished work is smooth without obvious texture changes.

Another difference between the two is the absence of vegetation and knots. If you’ve worked with Noro yarns, then you’ve almost certainly had the experience of pulling tiny bits of what appear to be dried grass out of the yarn, as well as areas that have broken and been re-knotted (not always at the right place in the colorway). Not so with Poems – I knitted almost the entire ball and found not a single foreign item or knot in it.

Poems seems to have a very slight halo to it, reminiscent of yarns like Lamb’s Pride or Mountain Creek , but less dramatic. Since it has no mohair, this is a bit of a surprise, but it adds to the softness and I didn’t find it to be a negative. This quality would tend to make it unsuitable for intricate cable work; however, for the large, simple cables of the mitt, it was perfect and showed off the detail just fine. The Noro lacks this fuzziness but the extremes of texture make it just as unsuitable for really fine cabling.

Overall, Poems is more pliable, drapes more nicely (at least when knit to this gauge) and knits up far more smoothly and evenly than the Noro. Researching colors, I found that it does have fewer colorways and the ones they have, while quite lovely, tend to be a bit less adventurous,none of the vivid and improbable combinations so familiar to Noro fans.

If you prefer a wilder knitting experience,extremes of texture, dramatic colors, a raw feeling to the fiber,you will likely be happiest with the Noro and find the Poems to be a bit tame. If, like me, you love the color gradations of Kureyon but prefer a softer yarn and smoother-looking product (with no plant life), Poems is the perfect solution,definitely a welcome addition to the stash.

Cashmere Heaven

I have been on a hand-dyed kind of mood for a long while.  I am very much into deep and rich yet subtle color variations that can usually be produced and reproduced only by some of the more experienced dyers.  So when a friend said yes to my request to hand dye our cashmere, Indie, I was very happy (really, I was – you should have seen me do the jig at the store).

I wish you were here to see the beautiful color combinations that have been coming in, including some of my favorites, this deep deep ruby like crimson with a color-on-color variation. Little Knits Indie in Lust for Life  If I could name this color it would be ‘Lust for life.’ 

Then there is the Ocean with deep sapphire like blues, sky and jean blue combinations. Little Knits Indie in Ocean  If you like jewel like blues this is your color.  There is also the lavender the plum  and of course the sea foam blues. Little Knits Indie in Lavender  They are simply lovely.  Then the yarn itself, soft soft soft, luxurious and heavenly.  So when Kersten asked me if I would like to hear her opinion of Indie I said yes.  Here is what she said:

Cashmere, schmashmere. It should be called crack-mere.

I decided to use Little Knit’s Indie for my first lace project.  Oh so very scrumptious and cuddly, its softness belies its strength.  After making it safely through one pattern repeat, on row 12 of the next repeat, tragedy struck. I blame jet lag, flying across Canada, and listening to too much French.  I had to rip out a repeat section (get this…) 8 times.  Little Knits Indie Swatch by Kersten    Fearing that the yarn would become frazzled, frizzy, and weak, I was afraid that the section would resemble cat-yak.  Ah, but it was not to be.  The yarn maintained its beautiful softness, strength, and overall exquisiteness.  After a few more rows, the catastrophe was imperceptible.Little Knits Indie Swatch by Kersten

Like any good cashmere, this yarn is warm to the touch and so soft, I can’t find words to describe it.  I love the feel.  If only I hadn’t made such a poor pattern choice! Little Knits Indie Swatch by Kersten  The pattern stinks, but the cashmere makes up for it.

This lace project is clearly becoming a labor of love.  The pattern, a candle flame lace, takes forever for each repeat. Little Knits Indie Swatch by Kersten  The only way I am able to concentrate for a length of time for that hard is when I’m flying coast-to-coast.  It has become my airplane project.  This explains why it’s taken me 9 months to get to where I am.  I will be an old lady when I finish.  Please no over 40 jokes.  They just aren’t funny since last summer.

100% cashmere, approx. 400 yards for 50 gram hanks, under $20 for naturals and $25.75 for hand dyed colors, the expectations have been set very high!  I saw the hand-dyed skeins of this yarn this past weekend.  Holy Cow!  I didn’t know such colors existed! Little Knits Indie in Plum  I can’t wait to see what other delectables Fulay discovers for the Little Knits fans!

Stitches West, Fiber Heaven & Two Good Men

The weekend before last I left a sunny Seattle for a trip to Santa Clara for Stitches West.  My first trip away from home and my first overnight trip away from my two little boys since they have been born.

Somewhat naively I expected sunshine and warmer temperatures, silly me.  We left Seattle at the crack of dawn (had to leave my house at 4 AM!), and landed in Santa Clara around 8:45 AM.  It was cold and raining.

Almost right away we headed to Santa Clara Convention Center.  The market had not yet opened.  There were lines that went on and on, which lead into the 3 doorways that opened into the Convention Center floor.  Right before the market floor opened the women closer to the doors started counting backward in unison.  I knew then I was in for an experience.

We walked in to find most of the rows easy to get through and I headed straight to my vendors.  After much walking around I ended up at the Malabrigo booth.  This is where I meat Tobias and his brother-in-law Antonio.  After a little while, somewhat timidly, I asked Tobias whether they had a skein of their mythical sock yarn.

Malabrigo's New Sock Yarn The ever smiling Tobias was kind enough to grace me with a sample skein of yet-to-be Malabrigo sock, a super soft 2-ply sock yarn that was kettle dyed in a monochromatic amethyst-lilac color line, very much in character with their usual lovely color work. 

Malabrigo Sock Test Skein The test skein weighs 3.5 ounces and has approx. 440 yards of fingering weight yarn and it is made of 100% superwash merino. I have yet to swatch this surprisingly soft yarn but while I type this I stop to touch my skein and the yarn feels like it has cashmere content.  The fiber has some bounce to it as well, when I squeeze the hank it springs back to shape, which makes me think that semi-solid color lines would work well for intricate pattern work.  Did I tell you that this yarn is really soft?  May be even softer than Malabrigo Lace.    Malabrigo Lace at Little Knits

Next step – One of our designers is going to knit with the Malabrigo sock and give us her unbiased opinion.  I myself think this lovely yarn is too nice for a pair of socks and would be ideal for a lace project.  I would love to wrap a stole/scarf/shawl made with this Malabrigo yarn around my neck and shoulders.

Going back to Tobias and Antonio, I did not have that much time and therefore, did not spend a substantial amount of time with them.  That being said, they are some of the nicest yarn-folk I have met. The men behind Malabrigo  They are sweet, accommodating, kind and very focused on their customers and of course, their product quality.  I was told to caption their photo with “two pretty faces” but I think two good men is much more appropriate.  More on the sock yarn later this month.

On the second day of my trip I made some purchases (ehem, not all will be disclosed here).  To be able to knit on the plane on my way back home I also needed needles (I did not bring any with me!)  This is when I decided it was time to purchase my first pair of glass needles, with some trepidation – glass needles, what happens when they break!?  NOTE – They have a life-time warranty. 🙂

Mismatched circulars I ended up purchasing one of the simplest sets from Sheila & Michael Ernst; I selected the tips for my circulars and Michael connected them to the cord right then and there.  At $30 a pop I was still a little leery especially given my smooth relationship with Addi Turbos.  My new needles looked nice and channeled candy but how would it be to knit with them?

I cast on at the plane 15 minutes after we took off and I was happy!  The needles allowed the yarn to slide off easily without being too slippery, tips were pointy without being too sharp and my favorite, the transition from the needles to the cord was smooth like butter.  My Glass Needles Absolutely no catching, none.  Another positive, the cord is slightly thicker than what I had come to expect from my Addis making it better for the consistency of gauge and for using my circulars in place of straight needles.  Finally, the dreaded circular needle cord coil – the kind you would have to soak in hot water to get straight – is a none issue for the glass needles.

For me the only disconcerting issue was the fact that once in a while when the tip of one of my needles rubbed against the body of the other, the sound and the feel was similar to that of hitting a flint with a sharp object to start a fire.  That I did not like much though I must admit 20 minutes into my knitting that too became a non-issue.

I like my needles and probably would have gone for a fancier set had I known that I would enjoy working with them this much.  They are an acquired taste – especially given their price – but given that majority of them are a one of a kind art-work and come with life time warranties they are well worth it.

I have a couple of yarns that I would really like to share with you but I think for now it is good night for me.  Hope you are all well and knitting with a smile.

Kureyon Sock, A Review

The long waited Kureyon Sock is here and it is everything I had expected plus some.

I actually had a skein of Kureyon Sock for the last month or so.  I knitted a swatch and then gave the rest to a customer of ours for a review.  I wanted to have an independent perspective on the yarn.  Below are my thoughts on the yarn and then his feedback.

Kureyon Sock is a single ply yarn much like the regular Kureyon line.  It is also spun roughly and has a slight thick and thin texture.  A close up of the Kureyon Sock Ply Each 100 gram skein has approximately 457 yards of yarn, which is sufficient for a pair of average size socks.  I have been asked often if the yarn is too rough and/or itchy and my answer to both questions is no.  However, if you are looking for a soft sock yarn or a super soft knitted sock this is not the yarn for you.

On the skein Kureyon Sock feels slightly softer than the regular Kureyon but with a twine like texture.  When I knitted my swatch with my skein (color #180), I started with US size 1 needles, which I found too small for the yarn.  So I switched to US size 2 needles and that worked much better.  On size 2 needles I got 6.5-7 stitches to an inch and I was able to enjoy the texture of the yarn much better.  Noro Kureyon swatch  

Both on the swatch and the sample sock knitted by our independent reviewer Steven, the thick and thin texture showed nicely and added a rustic look to the knitted fiber.A Close up of the Kureyon Sock

Before blocking my swatch had a slight overall fuzz, much like other single-ply wool yarn.  The swatch was softer than I had expected, definitely softer than the yarn as it was on the skein.  I blocked my swatch by soaking it in cool water and then gently pressing the water out.  The gauge or the size of the swatch did not change but it did get slightly softer.

Kureyon Sock before blocking The sample sock was knitted by Steven and I did not block it (the photo to the left is pre-wash).  I wanted to find out what would happen if I were to wash the sock.  While the yarn band recommends gentle hand-wash only I have read multiple posts on Ravelry that this was not a must.  So I threw the sock in with the heavy wash in warm water with jeans. 

I was surprised to see that our sample sock came out OK.  It did not shrink at all but the fiber became a little fuzzier and looked more like it was felted.  The colors held steady and none of the yarn came loose.  So I threw the sock in to the wash one more time and again nothing much happened!  I did not machine dry our sample sock both times I simply laid it flat to dry.Kureyon Sock post wash  

While our sock survived machine washing well I would not recommend this process for your socks.  I believe our sample sock did not change in size due to Steven’s tight gauge – he knitted the sample sock with size 1 needles, which did not leave an allowance/space for felting.

I also had my 2.5 year old wear the sample sock all around the house for a day (pre-wash).  If you know little boys you know that they can clock in quite a bit of mileage on an average day.  The sock held and with one day of use it did not pill at all.

Same color, same dye lot and a HUGE range What appeals to me the most about Kureyon Sock is the richness of the colors and the way color lines show on the knitted fiber.  Currently Kureyon sock comes in 12 colors that are same as the regular Kureyon colors lines.  However, given the yardage on each skein colors show a little differently on Kureyon Sock; one gets a wider range of colors for each skein.  I know I should not single out one color line but I cannot help myself, color #188 is simply dreamy.  I love the combination of deep moss greens, lilacs, deep lavender and finally amethyst like purple with occasional silver like beige.My favorite color of Kureyon Sock

In summary, if you like the regular Kureyon line you will like the Kureyon Sock line.  If you have never used the Noro line and you would like to try the Kureyon Sock be ready for a unique experience.  It is my humble opinion that with its new line Kureyon Sock, Noro will have a dedicated following.  One final note, if you would like to have a small sample of Kureyon Sock please let us know, we will include one with your next order.

With all that here are Steven’s thoughts:

My first experience with Noro Kureyon yarn was about a year ago when my wife knitted a beret for herself.   I was really impressed with the vividness of the colors as they came together in bold, textured stripes.  When I found that Noro was making sock yarn, I jumped at the opportunity to try it!  
Noro started making Kureyon sock yarn available in the US earlier this year.  The yarn composition is 70% wool and 30% nylon, which should add to the strength of the finished product.  One skein will easily be enough to knit a pair of socks for a man or woman.  
When I’m knitting a pair of socks, I’m not as concerned about color as I am about sock construction. I thought I would feel the same when I started this project. In fact, I didn’t even know what colors were tucked inside the skein of yarn. The center-pull yarn was a turquoise-like color. Nice enough. But as I continued knitting, I was really surprised how excited I got when the colors changed.  Burnt oranges. Deep purples. Bright yellows. Every color was amazing. 
Noro Kureyon yarns are essentially still hand-spun, which means that the width of the yarn is smaller for a while, then thicker. The inconsistency of the hand-spun yarn also adds to the attractive texture of your sock. This change in thickness bothered me at first.  When I got to the thinner part of the yarn, it would tend to pull apart in my hand.   (NOT what you want in the first inch of rib knitting!)  My tension was a little too tight at this point.  I had to adapt or the project would have ended up in the trash.  Unfortunately, this was also the hardest thing for my fingers to get used to.  The Noro website recommends that you knit gently.  This is good advice. KNIT GENTLY!
I had some concerns about the strength of the sock. The label recommends using needles that are size 2 or 3.  I used size 1 needles, resulting in a tighter knit stitch and a stronger sock. (Modify gauge accordingly.) I also decided to add a stronger heel flap than I might use on a machine-spun sock yarn.  (My heel flap was a simple but strong k1 sl1 repeat on the right side of the flap, p the wrong side. I also slipped the first stitch in each row to make the gusset stitches a little easier to pick up.) Another possibility might be to knit some sewing thread in with the Noro yarn on the heel turn and toe. This might be overkill, but I would rather have a pair of socks that will last a good long time than have them wear out in the heel!  
Overall, this was a nice yarn to work with. Most of my complaints were based on operator errors, not the yarn itself. Once I got used to the different texture and thickness of the Noro Kureyon sock yarn, things moved along nicely. I ended up with a sweet little sock that has bright and brilliant colors. It will make someone’s feet warm and happy!