Review: Tchibo knitting loom

I’ve only just remembered that I’ve never written anything about my attempt at using Tchibo straight knitting loom. It was a disaster. I actually went there and returned it (got all my money back, good Tchibo policy here).

Why?

It was soft and flexible. VERY soft. When I put the first round of yarn on it, the sides bent into the middle. Whatever I did, I couldn’t make any kind of consistent knit, it all came out as a bunch of very very loose loops.

Look from the top (see how it bends into the middle?):

ZGS

Look from the side (only a few rows, but even when I made some more in hope of this getting a bit tighter, no luck):

ZGT

But as you can see in the second photo, it’s all fault of very poor construction – the frame itself is hollow and walls are very thin. The plastic bent under slightest pressure, including loosely threaded yarn.

In summary: when buying a knitting loom, make sure the frame is solid (wood is good!). PRYM round looms I’ve tried out are very sturdy. I’d like to find a straight one of the same class. Possibly with pins much closer together.

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Yarn Review – Red Heart Super Saver

Brand: Red Heart Super Saver Worsted

Colour: dusty pink, cream, pastel olive (others, too, but I tested only these three)

Content: 100% acrylic

Thickness: 333m/198g

Country of origin: USA

Suggested needle size: 5,5mm

A coworker decided to destash ;) She presented me with her 4 skeins of never-touched yarn – 3 Red Hearts and 1 Carron Simply Soft. I started with the RHs, all of which are more or less pastel-ish, although the pink, when concentrated in one ball, is rather striking. I hope that mixed with others it will work nicely.

First thing I noticed is that, unfortunately, this is one of the yarns that squeak. Squeak squeak squeak every time you hook it or knit it or even mill it. Perfect for the knitting mill and would probably make a great knitted blanket or a hat&scarf set for someone who can’t stand wool. This being pure acrylic, no scratch. But a squeak.

I’ve milled the cream skein, but gave up on the blanket idea when I counted how small it would be, even if I used both pink and cream (only like a 1m x 70 cm rectangle, or so). So I undid it, and it cooperates with no fuss and no fuzz, at the same time giving a bit of resistance which is always nice as it means your work won’t just undo whenever you drop a stitch.

It crochets nicely and the grannysquares for my purple/pink blanket are getting done in record time, but again, that squeak. I hope in the whole blanket it will be balanced by other, quieter yarns.

The structure is very even, 4 tightly twisted threads, don’t come apart easily.

Pros: undoes nicely, colours are good, easy to pull the “inner end” out and work from both ends or with double thickness, perfect for beginners.

Cons: SQUEAKS. Not to be used alone if you want to wear the finished work.


Yarn Review – YarnArt Magic (SURF)

Brand: Magic/Magic SURF

Producer: YarnArt

Country: Turkey

Contents: 100% wool

Thickness: 200m/100g

Colours: mixes

Suggested needle size: 5,5 (I use anything from 3,5 hook to 6mm hook/needles, depending on intended outcome)

The colours. That’s what won my heart. The COLOURS. Have a look at the producer’s website and try telling me you didn’t just drool over the colours. I love all of them, especially 600 (have a pair of socks knit with it), SURF 441 and 446 (waiting their turn to be turned into scarves) and 601 (I’d sooo want to knit a sweater with this one).

The yarn is very, very even, with slight fuzz. Undoes with effort, leaves lots of small threads/threadballs on the undone yarn. Slight scratch, but I can tolerate it even in a winter hat.

No discernible strands, but in places when one colour blends into another you will see the “tail” of one colour twisted with the next one (see producer’s photo for 592 or 602). The gradient change is quite long and single colour also lasts long. In socks it makes for ~5cm per colour + soft colour change.

The colour saturation and combinations give effects very close to DROPS Big Delight (I used a bit of Magic in my Big Delight poncho when I miscounted and run out of the main yarn half a row before end). Can be easily mixed in the same work/substituted.

Needles? Yes. Crochet? Totally. Knitting mill? Perfect, makes lovely hats and scarves, with these colours you will be visible from afar this winter :)

Would I buy more? I already did! Lots and lots, waiting for their time, lying quietly in the box.


Review: PRYM Knitting looms

As I’m searching for the alternatives to simple knitting (for fun and/or future reference) I’ve bought a set of PRYM knitting circular looms. These are static tools, like a ring with little pins, on which you can knit a tube or a flat panel. More or less like on a knitting mill, but:

* much more portable

* WAY more resistant to thicker wool

* more options as to width/stitch count

* more manual operations needed

* possible to use some actual stitches, not just flat knit

* for cons, of course, MUCH slower (see “more manual operations needed”)

What does this look like? Amazon (very small foto) or Wloczka Sklep (where I bought them). For some reason, sometimes it’s also sold, with the exact same colours, as Darice easy knitting round loom set (Amazon). Mine has a pink needle, not a blue one, but even needle shape is exactly the same (and the blue needle is on the box of mine).

Now, for some details.

1. If you use yarn of more or less standard easy knitting thickness – my fav is 200m/100g – you will get a very, very loose knit, with wide gaping spaces between stitches. May be useful in some cases, but I don’t really like this effect.

2. If you use much thicker yarn (100/100 worked well), the effect is not so loose, but the final product will be awful thick. Winter hats, here we come. Also, very, terryfyingly thick socks.

3. The sizes of the looms are a bit weird. The descriptions on the net say that the smallest one is for baby hats. Yeah, sure, for newborns… or dolls. Or, maybe, for grownup socks (if you don’t expect a turned heel, because the instructions don’t cover this). I think with thick red yarn you could produce an astounding amount of Christmas stockings ;)

I wanted to loomknit a hat for my 8 yrs old son, as he got a nice, olive-green autumn jacket and lacks a hat that would go with it. The second size loom didn’t work, he complained very loudly about the hat being way to small. It may be due to my heady-handed way of casting on the loops, but looks like the second loom is more for toddlers (or grownup tights ;)).

Today I’m going to try the green loom, which is size 3, and see if I can get anything useful done.

 

Meanwhile, a summary:

+ very sturdy

+ will allow you to use yarn as thick as you can get between the pins (the mill has limit at around 150m/100g)

+ portable

+ flexible as to how wide the flat panel can be

+ more than one size in the set

– needs to be used with thick yarn (or multiple strands)

– promises much more than is delivered (no way I could make the promised baby booties on it – no baby is big enough)

 

In hindsight: I wouldn’t have bought it again, I’d rather go for the sock loom (PRYM site) but as I have it, i’ll find use for it. I just don’t have that much thick yarn to use up :)


Yarn Review – Himalaya Everyday Rengarenk

Brand: Everyday Rengarenk

Producer: Himalaya

Country: ?

Contents: 100% acrylic

Thickness: 250m/100g

Colours: mixes

An example of yarn that is just not for knitting.

In short, it’s slippery. It’s so slippery that the second I took the label off, the ball fell apart – the strands don’t stick to each other as in wool, or even most acrylic threads. It’s so soft and friction-less that knitting with it is a challenge – it keeps falling off the needles.

No much better in mill knitting – kept skipping stitches, making ugly errors, quite visible.

The only way to use it was crocheting, and it turned out to be perfect – soft, nice to touch, very well working (hook 3mm). Made a big colour improvement in my blanket.

Would I buy it again? Yep. Now that I know it’s crochetable ;) and not knittable, and I know it has some exquisite colour sets, I’d definitely buy it next time I’ll be crocheting something needing cute colour accents.

Recommended for beginners? Not really. It has no fuzz and work can be undone very quickly, but it being slippery may be an obstacle for less experienced crafters. It undoes itself with surprising speed…


Made with the knitting mill

As several weeks ago I bought a knitting mill, I’ve had some time to test it and check what it can be used for. Don’t get lured in by the ads – not EVERYTHING can be made with it. Not every type of yarn can be used. Sometimes it’s a pain. But in some cases it’s the best solution EVER.

1. Scarves

(some random purple yarn combination that was waiting its turn)

20130625_195018

2. Winter hats

(YarnArt Magic Fine; my son made most of it; perfect yarn for mill knitting)

Magic hat

3. Anything you can put together from flat square/rectangular panels and tubes. Ie. simple sweaters, kimono-like gowns.

Here’s a proto-sweater. It definitely has to have shorter sleeves and the bottom redone, but hey, it was the first attempt. 50g for each part (front, back, each sleeve), total is 2 x 100g ball of wool (Big Delight “Marina”). I will undo maybe 5cm of sleeves and make proper cuffs and use the leftovers to finish the neck park. Maybe even make it on the mill, too, and sew at the top. Fits a wiry 7-year-old.

blue brown sweater

What it is a definite help with is re-used yarn. I have taken apart a scarf I crocheted for my husband several years ago. As I’m a bit heavy-handed (literally!) with crocheting sometimes, it was, basically, stiff as a plank and more or less as useful as a scarf. Also, short. So I undid it, producing heap of wooly dust motes and several balls of very curly green and brown yarn. I tried knitting it, stupidly without washing and straightening it first. Pain. However the mill deals with it wonderfully. The fact that its construction helps to tauten the incoming yarn nullifies the curly effect. I knit this scarf as a looong tube, simply changing brown and green balls as needed.

The outcome is more fluffy than items knitted from straight, fresh yarn, and it’s just lovely to wear. Actually, out of the old scarf plus one mistaken ball from a different leftover wool, I managed to knit two very long, warm and soft scarves now. The shorter one is here:

Green brown scarf

Here is another scarf, this one made as a flat panel. Due to the fact that the outcome is all stitched to one side (as if a normal knitting was done in knit/purl/knit/purl rows), it rolls “inside” by itself. Making it actually less flat than the tube scarf.

After this one, I think, all next ones will be tube scarfs. Turning the handle in the other direction is not comfortable, and having to stop at each row end and manipulate the yarn is too distracting. And the outcome isnt’ THAT pretty.

Magic scarf

Even though the mill won’t do ribbing, cuffs etc, I’m just going to buy myself a set of 8-10 DPNs to cover these parts. The milled items can be done almost without looking (just with checking sometimes if I haven’t knit something too long), so I can watch a TV show and just turn the handle. I can spend some attentive time on finishing the work properly :)


Yarn Review – Rozetti Always Magic

Brand: Always Magic

Producer: Rozetti

Country: ?

Contents: 75% wool, 25% acrylic

Thickness: 180m/100g

Colours: mixes

Unfortunately this very nice yarn is no longer available. I found only a few pictures left on shops’ websites:

Cream/beige/mustard/grey/brown

I found it very good in both knitting and crochet, works up quickly and has great colours.

Here are socks I knitted for my niece and nephew:

SkarpetkiAlwaysMagic

Pros: very nice structure and great colours, yarn doesn’t unravel and it doesn’t easily come apart by itself. Doesn’t scratch. Easy to undo, if needed.

Cons: Well, hard to buy it now. But if I found some, I’d definitely buy, especially the green-blue-brown mix.


Yarn Review – Novita Puro Batik

Brand: Puro batik

Producer: Novita

Country: Finland

Contents: 100% acrylic

Thickness: 200m/100g

Colours: mixes

…and what mixes they are! Just wow, really.

Back to the beginning. I’ve bought green (no longer listed) Puro Batik in Finland last year and it was just lying around for a year and something, waiting for mercy. Finally, I knitted a pair of socks for my son, as he wanted green ones. And it’s soooo nice. Normally, well, 75% of cases, acrylic has this structure that makes it “crinkle” when squished. Well, this one is perfectly silent. It didn’t squeak against my needles, either. It had a very natural feel when I worked.

The finished socks look like this:

Socks

He loves them :)

Now, you see how the gradient-stripes come when knit in small rounds.

Pros: softsoftsoft. Soft. And has great colours. and my fav thickness. And it’s all acrylic, so less chance of someone getting allergic reaction.

Cons: None, really. Apart from the fact that it is, more or less, completely unavailable anywhere outside Finland and Estonia.


Yarn Review – Novita 7 Veljesta (Raita)

Brand: 7 Veljesta (Raita)

Producer: Novita

Country: Finland

Contents: 75% wool, 25% polyamide

Colours: Mixes of coordinated dyes (way of mixing depends on type)

Weight: All “7 Veljesta” are 100/200 (exactly this or 150/300):

Linnut

Nostalgia

Polkka

Raita

Tweed

I have checked out two colour sets, brown/cream/gray and eyesore orange/purple/green/blue. See top-left on this photo:

IMAG0576

Absolutely perfect beginner’s yarn. Works up quickly, being 1/2, next to no fuzz, and combinations of colours look really nice. Example from the producer’s page. I’d love to try some others sets – maybe the ones currently listed on Raita subpage, especially the green one, and also Polkka, green and blue ones.

Now the brown one is being used as source of tons of granny squares, and the eyesore one is now my spaghetti scarf.

Would I recommend it? Hell, yes. It is a bit scratchy, but working with it is perfectly nice. I wouldn’t make a hat with it, I suspect I would scratch a hole in my forehead, but socks would be nice, and everything like afghans or other home decoration items, too.


Yarn Review – DROPS Paris

A friend asked me to knit her a hat with cat’s ears. As her skin reacts badly to wool, we were thinking about buying some acrylic, but finally settled on nice, thick gray cotton – Drops Paris.

Brand: DROPS Paris

Colour: Gray

Content: 100% Cotton

Thickness: 75m/50g

This is cotton. It’s soft. Soft.

Works well with 3 and 4 mm needles, probably even more comfortable with thicker ones (producer suggests 5). Better metal than the soft plastic types (on these it sticks slightly).

The yarn is made of multiple tiny threads (click the pic to see closeup on shop’s page), which may cause certain issues with too-sharp knitting needles. Namely, you can easily part the yarn’s threads and get an ugly loop somewhere. However, with standard, round-tipped needles you should be ok.

The knitted result is soft, even on too-small needles, but at the same time it’s not as heavy as some other cottons I’ve tested. If it wasn’t for my impatience in knitting, I would totally buy more and knit myself a sweater. Maybe I will knit one for my son – much less knitting here ;)

Knits up nicely on the knitting mill.

Would I buy more? Already answered. Definitely. Gonna buy “dark jeans“, some 10 balls or so. Probably. As soon as I manage to count how many I really need.

Advice: Not for beginners, make sure your needles and hooks are not overly sharp-tipped.