Friday, March 24, 2017

Lion Brand Color Waves Yarn Review

4 of 5

This is one of the prettiest and most fun yarns I've had the pleasure of working with. Sadly I wasn't paying attention and missed the wool component and so I paid for it and my poor hands peeled and were unhappy... so if you have a wool allergy like I do, 20% content is enough to make my hands itchy and complainy.

I tested color pooling this winter and found that this yarn really is fun to use for this... and also makes pretty dragonscale/crocodile stitch gloves and fluffy wonderful hats.

Color: There aren't a lot of yarns like this on the market, not really. I love the color changes and while I had a lot of correcting to do for the color pooling, I haven't found a single machine made or hand dyed product that doesn't require that. The colors are vivid and pleasing and the Playground colorway pictured here is fun no matter how you mix it. All four colors I have used are delightful, though Playground was the only one I managed to get good pooling from. One down side... there were undyed spots (sort of like the dye drips on other yarns I have reviewed only these were lacking in color instead) in 3 of the 4 colorways I bought and in each skein of each of these colorways that I have used thus far. Not huge, and not in the same spots in each skein, so I felt like they were flaws and not planned happy accidents. While I kind of dig the more rustic appearance that this sort of accident has on my projects it still dings the yarn down half a point because for those of you who care about this sort of thing need to know that I had this irregularity consistently.

Feel: This yarn is so soft that I'm sorry I can't pet it. Lovely feel and consistent weight so that there's a lovely fabric made from it even in moss stitch. Lovely fabric wants to be warm, and for a lighter yarn it is kind of bulky so I'd even say it has good structure.

Flexibility: I honestly have only used this yarn for color pooling scarves, simple and more complex gloves and hats. I would think it would work well for heavier weight clothing items like poncho's and would be spectacular as a blanket, though I would recommend against baby items and stick to children's items just because the wool was enough to nab me and you wouldn't want to discover an allergy accidentally.

Cost: $6.00 for 306 yards direct from Lion Brand and $3.99-4.99 from Herrschner's (I have said that it's amazing that you pay less to the re-seller than the manufacturer sometimes. I'm always blown away.) Watch for sales. Because the skeins are smaller and this yarn really wants to become larger projects this dings the yarn down a half point because it would take time to find a deal good enough to make a large project from this yarn.

Applicability: I feel like this is a fairly universal yarn. As a light weight (3) yarn it feels more substantial and was nicely made so that it is a reliable product. It does have dye lot numbers so make sure you purchase at least 1 skein more than your pattern recommends. Beginner to expert, I think this yarn would be really easy and lovely for anyone to use.

Overall I really like this yarn and will finish the skeins I have and will even consider custom orders using it. I wont go out of my way to buy it again, though, because I don't like having my hands hurt... it isn't the yarn's fault... and still.

Deborah Norville Everyday Soft Prints and Solids

5 of 5

Like the Serenity Garden yarns, the Everyday Soft Prints and Solids are at the very top of my list of yarns when I am contemplating a project. Seriously. I actually ask myself if this new thing will work with the yarn instead of the other way around. I love it this much!

Color: I find the colors to be bold bright and consistent in the solids and to be absolutely dreamy in the prints. I have no idea where they get the NAMES for the colors and it doesn't really matter... the COLORS... I swoon. I love them so much that I actually sit and look at them and am always happy inside when I am working with them. Yes, weird and also yes gorgeous.

Feel: This yarn is SO soft. The drape is hard to give structure to, I will warn in advance. Pussy hats will droop a bit and that's just fine because in every other way this yarn is amazing. This wants to be a lovely scarf or gloves. This yarn wants to make a sweater that clings lovingly and gorgeously to your curves and lay against your neck and invite you to pet it. I'm not kidding. Wrap baby in this yummy stuff and mommy will want to snuggle, too... better, make mommy shrugs and baby cocoons that match and everyone can be pleased as punch! Even men love how supple and lovely this yarn feels and beanies are delightfully soft and warm.

Flexibility: The only negative is that this yarn isn't easily structured because it wants to lay down and be cuddly. This makes awesome fluffy stuffies but isn't as great for amigurumi and, as mentioned above, it's not as great for the pussy hats that are very popular right now. Otherwise I haven't found a project that this yarn is not absolutely divinely matched to. I mean that. Blankets, gloves, floppy dolls, fingerless gloves, beanies, baby cocoons, shrugs and shawls and ponchos and scarves. This yarn wants to come and play with you whatever you're doing. I haven't tried it as bags because of the structure thing and I don't view it as a negative.

Cost: This yarn isn't cheap. It isn't a budget breaker and it isn't cheap. Because it is so lovely and can be gotten on sale I won't ding it for this... and be warned. Premier yarns charges a lot for their own products. The skeins aren't big, either. At the Premier site you will usually pay $4.99 for 203 yards and at Herrschner's it's priced right now at $3.79 each. I watch for sales and have gotten this yarn for as little as $2.50 a skein, which is a steal. I mean it... just using this yarn raises the sale price or gifting pleasure hugely because it feels like a million bucks.

Applicability: This is a simple yarn to use. I wouldn't recommend it as a beginner yarn just because it isn't always as cheap and there are dye lots, so if you underestimate the number of skeins you needed you may not be able to match it readily on the second purchase. Because it is so soft, however, I would recommend it to someone trying out a new baby pattern and would just suggest you buy one more skein than the pattern recommends just in case.

Overall you can tell I'm a drooling fool for this yarn. The colors. Like Serenity Garden and some of the others I just really love whatever Turkish devils are designing and manufacturing this delightfully soft and incredibly beautiful stuff. I would move there and work there just to touch it every day. Really. I would.

Review Red Heart Super Saver Yarns

3.5 of 5

I really hate it when something I use a lot of is really less than the perfect product. And I know it and keep doing it anyway. I have my reasons and will try not to be vague about them below.

The biggest sell points of this product are the no dye lot color and super regular quality... I mean... OMG... this is HUGE in a world of amigurumi and millennial baby room design where matching colors and reliable multi-skein purchase is a must.

Color: No dye lot colors in so many varieties that you just cannot go wrong. I love the colors and the reliability of them. Everyone sells them and they're always true and just what you wanted from one skein to the next. Even the jumbo rolls pull out mostly easily, and this is a big deal. While I love using my yarn roller and turning my skeins into pull out cakes, it's nice to be able to pull a skein off the shelf and just use it without screwing around with it as happens with the Caron Pound of Love skeins and some other brands.

Feel: The feel of this yarn right out of the skein is flatly horrible most of the time and only alright the rest. Of literally dozens of colors that I have used in the last 20+ years I have only had a few skeins of this yarn that felt nice to the touch in any notable way and it is ALWAYS notable because it is out of the ordinary. Usually Super Saver is stiff, hard to soften without washing and tends to become bulky when crocheted even with the recommended size crochet hook. It can also become strangely felted in areas and stay lovely in others over time as though the composition of the yarn is occasionally just slightly different. The drape is awkward and (I know, I'm gonna get in trouble here) often ends up becoming like the weirdly shaped granny sweaters you got as a kid for the holidays... looks ok but when you wear it something is just off and heavier or puffier than you would like.

Flexibility: I sound very complainy and I am... while Super Saver is great for blankets and amigurumi and other stuffies I find that it really isn't a good baby yarn and while it makes nice slippers it just isn't as yummy to wear or as pretty when made into clothing as other brands of yarn. Hats and scarves are middle of the road and some patterns are actually pretty using Super Saver while others suffer the stiffness and bulkiness.

Cost: I think this yarn ends up being every bit as economical as the name implies. I can sometimes get a skein for as little as $2.50 for 364 yards (solids, as always, variegated is shorter for cost savings) by watching sales and buying it in bags of 3 or 6 skeins... and the jumbo rolls for as little as $6.00 for 744 yards (solid colors.)

Applicability: This is the best user friendly yarn on the market. I always recommend this for beginning fiber artists of all types. Whether you want to crochet or knit or craft with regular yarns Red Heart Super Saver cannot be beat. Tons of colors, standard weights and reliable quality time after time.

Like I said, I hate it when I have to be straightforward and honest about a thing I use and know isn't necessarily the bestest. For the cost and the reliability there is no other yarn that comes even remotely close to Red Heart Super Saver yarn... period end. It isn't the softest and isn't even my second choice for shawls, ponchos, scarves or hats I have to admit that every one of my most favorite amigurumi and stuffies and a dozen really gorgeous blankets have been made from this awesome reliable and durable yarn.

review premier sweet roll yarns

4 of 5

This is a very workable yarn. I have read reviews that listed it as not very soft and I disagree completely. Of the 8 colorways I have purchased of this yarn all of them are soft and drape well and feel good. Fluffy, good vibrant colors and occasionally speckles of other colors throughout so that there's a feel of rustic goodness that is hard to find in other yarns. Not one of them is stiff or irregular the way that Super Saver yarns can be or loosely spun the way that the Big Twist yarns tend to be.

My review of Red Heart Super Saver yarns, for instance, says what it needs to about the feel of a yarn and my review of the Bonita Dream Baby yarns mark me as a sucker for the speckled "accidental" blending and marking of color like watercolors and mixed media art. You already also know that I love and adore Premier yarns, in particular I love Deborah Norville yarns, and in general most Premier products.

So... Sweet Roll.

Color: The color is actually great... lush and vibrant with occasional little spots and dots that might be accidental and do not seem to be as they occur in all rolls like planned accidents of spotted color. Annnd... color breaks are icky. I love the color and have other issues covered later.

Feel: Soft and fluffy and well spun so that there's no strand separation as you're going along. This is an awesome weight and thickness and works up big and beautiful and cuddly. Soft enough for baby and delicious for anyone.

Flexibility: Big girl clothes, baby blankets, toys and even hair ties. This is an incredibly flexible yarn.

Cost: If you purchase it on sale this is a great yarn at a reasonable cost. If you buy it from Premier it is more expensive at regular price than it is from re-sellers. I am not sure why this is almost always the case, and it is. Premier yarns are just cheaper everywhere but the manufacturer. Herrschner's gets this yarn so deeply discounted that they can always offer it at a cost less than the manufacturer and regularly put it on sale... Premier has it only occasionally on sale. The difference is $4.99 for 245 yards (5 oz.) on the Premier site on a daily basis vs. about $3.33-.50 per roll at other sellers or on sale at Premier. It isn't a big roll.

Applicability: Here we lose a point. The idea of self striping yarns is that they self stripe... the problem is that these yarns (by design, I mean, I do KNOW that this isn't a "fixable" problem... and it is still an issue) come off the machine at different points in each colorway so if you're trying to avoid lots of tying this really isn't any more effective than any other yarns. I had to cut and tie and continue often in order to keep the stripes aligned in my work.

Overall I love this yarn and am torn... I've bought a few and am playing with them and will have fun using them but likely will not buy them again.

In the future I think I will continue to sew in my ends and do a lot of tying and just stick to the Deborah Norville Everyday yarns which are equally soft and supple and well spun and come in so many colors that I could combine them forever.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

intersecting inspirations... Jenny and Me

Look at the Flowers and this... flowers in the scrub Yellow by Stephen Herron
rough draft 1

Helen shivered in the warm night and tears shone silver as they coursed down her moonlit cheeks. The sickly greasy smell of lighter fluid made her stomach lurch and she sobbed a sad hiccoughing moan that seemed to catch in her throat and made her feel like she was drowning.

The grass tickled her feet and stones underneath dug at her kneecaps painfully and she focused her mind on the flowers, trying not to think about anything else. The dull throbbing pain in her girl parts and hot slick blood itching as it cooled and dried on her thighs was a Bad thought that brought on the tears and would bring back the hitting and she didn't want more pain than she already had. This pain was too much already.

The flowers, they were clean. Perfect. Yellow, even in the moonlight. Two domed heads leaned together as if they whispered secrets. Pretty perfect yellow flowers comforting and giggling like girls in the schoolyard.

He's going to kill me now. She whined in her own mind and shivered again when she heard the man's boots rustle the grasses behind her. He's used me and abused me and now he's going to kill me and I don't even know his name.

All the fight had gone out of her when he'd finished raping her and had seemed to go away. It had been quiet here and she'd cried and rolled onto her side, pulling her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. When she'd opened her eyes Helen had seen the flowers and had to blink them into focus. Two pretty yellow daffodils leaned together as if they shared a thing between just themselves.

Like me and Jenny. Her mind grasped that long ago memory and she felt a little less miserable. Her cornsilk hair hanging down with my puppy brown hair making a screen so we could talk about the kittens in the barn and how Mama Jo always smells of smokes when she comes back from her walks in the evening even though she says she gave up her bad habit for healthier ones. We talked about boys and about magic and about how maybe it was a good thing that our real families had been so bad just so we could find each other. 

Jenny was the best sister she could ever have gotten, even if they hadn't shared a mother until Mama Jo. Jenny was going to miss her, she thought and drove her thoughts deeper into the memory.

"You two snuggle together that way giggling and whispering like those tangled trees on the old Jamison farm." Mama Jo teased from her place on the porch. She was a kind woman, caring for lost children the way that some cared for lost pets. "Go... the pair of you go and stretch your legs before you take root out there and I have my own pair of tangled trees right here at the house."

Jenny had been sick and her parents couldn't care for her and so she'd come to Mama Jo's house and that was all she knew. Jenny had lived with Mama Jo for three years before Helen came to share their house after the Bad things with her mama and newest uncle had been so Bad that Miss White had seen blood on her favorite Pony leggings and she had been taken from her own mama and given to Mama Jo.

Jenny had stayed sickly but was grown now, just like Helen and the pair of them still curled together tightly, heads bowed together and long hair flowing over their faces to form a waterfall behind which they would talk. Now they talked about men and work and how hard it was to live without Mama Jo's quiet teasing and clean house and simple rules. How nothing was ever as good as the sweet smell of their breath and freshly cleaned hair as they whispered behind the curtain held each other close.

"Go before you take root out there and I have my own pair of tangled trees right here at the house."

Pretty perfect yellow flowers. 

He hadn't been gone for good, though. He had returned and was angry with her and kicked her and told her to get up and turn away from him. He had squeezed lighter fluid from a tiny can onto her back and had called her dirty names. Bad names for women who liked the Bad things he had done to her.

And Helen had sobbed aloud and rolled up onto her knees even though the grass tickled and the rocks bit. And she had kept her eyes on the yellow flowers. She had known then that he was not one more Bad thing to live beyond and share. This was in fact the last Bad thing.

Helen reached up and pulled the scrunchie from her hair, mindless of the man in the grasses. Her soft brown hair fell down over her face and she breathed a sigh of relief. Safe. Just her and the flowers. Let whatever would be happen outside of the curtain.

"I won't be goin' to jail for no dumb damned half-wit lousy piece of ass." The man's drunk voice was the last thing she heard before the pain was so great that she was carried away by the whoosh and searing flames of it.

Jenny and me behind the curtain in the warm sun... Jenny and me... pretty perfect yellow flowers. Jenny.
Jon stood on the low rise with the old tanks behind him and watched the walker at the bottom of the hill for a long time.

"I've never seen one of them do that before." Alex said and shouldered his pack as he joined Jon at the fence.

"Me either. Usually they wander because that's what they do. This one seems stuck to this place."

Alex shook his head. "I'm not climbing over to kill it. We get to do enough of that all day anyway."

"Me either." Jon said and sighed. Walkers walked. That's kind of what they did. In this awesome living dead parody of the old world everyone had a job and the walkers walked.

Except this walker that knelt on the ground and rocked forward and back, head bowed and hands clasped together in her lap. She looked like she might be praying or weeping. At her knees were weeds and flowers that had grown up all around her and while walkers all around were grunting and groaning and trying to feed on the living this single walker just stayed where she was.

Jon shivered in the bright warm day and bent to pick up his own pack, rocking slightly to his right as he did so that the momentum carried his heavy burden over his shoulder and flumped it soundly onto his back as he straightened. "That is creepy as fuck."

"I agree." Alex turned and looked out across the concrete pad they were planning on turning into home. "She's out there and we're in here and as long as it stays that way I think I can live with it."

Jon snorted and shook his head at the younger man. "Yeah. Me too."