Brand: Magic/Magic SURF
Contents: 100% wool
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.
Brand: Everyday Rengarenk
Contents: 100% acrylic
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…
Brand: Always Magic
Contents: 75% wool, 25% acrylic
Unfortunately this very nice yarn is no longer available. I found only a few pictures left on shops’ websites:
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:
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.
Brand: Puro batik
Contents: 100% acrylic
…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:
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.
Brand: 7 Veljesta (Raita)
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):
I have checked out two colour sets, brown/cream/gray and eyesore orange/purple/green/blue. See top-left on this photo:
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.
Contents: 100% wool
Colours: LOTS. Solids.
Thickness: 135/50 (270/100)
I really like this one. It is a tad bit thinner than I prefer, but it’s still very nice. I have dark-teal one (191) and aqua (369) and boy do I have plans for them :) If I can, I’ll order some similar or the same in black and make myself a truly eye-popping shawl.
As to the yarn itself, it’s nice to touch, very little fuzz and easy to undo. Crocheting it is a pleasure.
As always with Novita, I’m quite sorry that it’s not distributed widely in Europe. It’s becoming one of the main reasons to possibly visit Finland again, actually ;)
Would buy more? Sure.
Would suggest for beginners? Well, yes, with the proviso that it may be too thin for some (especially ones with less patience).
Haven’t tried knitting or millknitting it – it’s just perfect for crochet for me, though.
Contents: 100% wool
I’ve described my shopping sprees in Finland (and Estonia and Lithuania) last year here and here. And I must say I still didn’t manage to use up the stash I bought at the time, it really was a lot. However I’m still sorry I didn’t buy more. That yarn – each kind – is so nice and absolutely and completely not buyable in Poland. Sniff.
And I have bought wool. In fact, several different balls. Name is “Puro” and it looks like this:
This is, as far as I remember, 10 x 50g of one colour, which I have already partly knitted, making the start of my son’s sweater. You see the way the colours change? Loved it on sight. And there were other hues, like the bottom row here:
The “flame” four have since became a scarf and the two on the right – my new gloves, just last week.
So, the yarn. It’s really nice to work with, really nice to touch. Pure wool, so none of that ugly “squeak” you hear when working with acrylics, and very, very light. And comparing to what I could get back home – real cheap. 3,40 euro per 50g, and the brown-gray one was actually on sale, 50%. Couldn’t leave it in that shop, could I? It wanted me to buy it.
- Really great colours (see the gloves!). Unfortunately the producer now shows only one kind on their webpage. Looks cute, but really, only one? Not fair. If you can find it in some shop, check the colours yourself. Google images search for Novita Puro.
- Light. Very light.
- Warm. It’s wool after all.
- Soft, no lumpy hard pieces, no parts spun too tightly, very nice to knit.
- Ok, I’m weird, but… it smells nice. Some wools have unpleasant smell, but this one reminds me of something soft that you could just wrap around yourself and go to sleep. Really.
- Well, colour range seems to be limited now.
- It is slightly uneven in thickness – some parts are more stringy (but the spin is even).
- It isn’t that nice to crochet – as the yarn isn’t spun very tightly, it is easy to put the crochet hook into it and pull it apart. Knitting needles, especially the wooden ones, are much safer.
- Has fuzz. Lotsa fuzz. Hard to undo, even knitting, not to mention crochet. Not for beginners.
Would I buy more? I wish! I wish I had enough to make a full total blanket of it. But, for the time being, I have my mitts, and now I’m knitting a pair for my husband. I really hope that by the time I have a chance to go to Finland again, they will have more colours available again.
Choosing too ambitiously your first project in a specific craft may lead to problems with completing it, dissatisfaction with the activity and giving up. Sometimes up to long dislike.
How not to give up on knitting after first attempt?
1. Pick an easy project. Scarf is always a good idea. It can be done in easy, straight stitches, is always needed and you can stop anytime you want and still have something usable (even if it’s only a placemat).
2. Pick nice, thick wool with no fuzz and easy to undo. Preferably one that isn’t too costly.
Why no fuzz? Fuzz makes it harder to undo, and you will be undoing a lot in your first project. Wool usually has some fuzz, so keep away from it for the start. Cotton is usually good and smooth, but doesn’t come thick enough to make it a quick work.
Thickness again. Your yarn should be thick enough for you to see a result quick, and not work for hours just to have 2cm. I’d say 200m / 100g is a good idea (my personal favourite for most winterwear – made gloves, scarfs and a sweater with this one, also several pairs of socks). Don’t pick yarn too thick, as it will take more balls to complete a reasonable size.
So, pick a wool/acrylic, cotton/acrylic or other mix, or pure acrylic. Check them yourself in a yarnshop – does it feel nice? Will you like touching it for the next week or two all the time? Check if the thread is tightly spun or comes apart (easy to put the needle inside and spoil the yarn). Some yarns have additional information on the label (ie. preferred needle size or washing instructions), look for it. Don’t buy yarn that has no content given, ever.
To make your first project more interesting, pick a yarn dyed in different colours. Doing a drab brown or gray scarf will not make you any happier, and crafts are about being happy! So maybe pick one of these:
(links to Polish shops or producers’ websites, but you can probably google them in your local webshops, too, or take this list and go to a normal shop and ask)
Yarn Art Flamenco (special yarn to make boa scarf, comes with directionc, one ball, one scarf, VERY thick!)
Alize Dantela (Comes with directions on how to make a scarf, one ball makes one scarf, very thick!)
Eden (same as above, but no directions)
Alize Bamboo Batik Design (230 m/100g and has pretty colours)
Big Delight Drops (wool, but only a little fuzz, and has such nice colours)
Cotton Bamboo Batik (120m/50g)
Always Magic (mix, very nice to work with, knits quickly – made 3 pairs of socks and 2 pairs of mittens with various colours of this one)
Elian Merino (very nice to touch, 100% wool but only slight fuzz)
Other YarnArt yarns you may want to try out:
Magic Fine (a bit too fine, but the colours!)
Merino Garden (same as above)
Finnish Novita yarns you may consider if you can get them:
3. Don’t force yourself to finish. Don’t promise that scarf to anyone and end up hating it because you must complete it. Don’t pick a deadline. Just knit when you want.
4. Cast on (find a youtube video on casting on and try out different methods) 20-30 stitches maximum, this way you won’t get the feeling that your rows are unending.
5. Don’t try anything fancy. Just knit. No cables, no complicated stitches. Just. Knit.
As lately I’m having a bit of a block as far as jewelry is concerned, I focused on decoupage. Having obtained some pretty nice papers, I have already covered a tray, several boxes, two money boxes and a mirror frame. At this moment it’s a bit like looking for new items to cover as I have so many pretty pictures to stick on stuff.
In these few days, I have learned (sometimes in the hard way) several simple truths about this way of decorating items:
1. Sand wood before painting. If it’s too rough, no amount of paint is going to make this thing look smooth.
2. Don’t paint both sides of an item at the same time, or you will be left with absolutely no way of putting it aside to dry. May sound funny, but try laughing when you have painted whole hairbrush very carefully and now the only part that you can hold is the ‘brush’ part (and there is almost no way to make a hairbrush lay straight supported only in one point)
3. If an object is varnished and you want to paint it, sand the varnish off. Or you paint will come off in flakes. A friend suggested that using a primer is the way to do this. It is, I agree. Just read the description to see if you’re buying the right kind of primer. But if you have any repressed stress to get rid of, sanding the thing off with a bit of sandpaper or rotary tool may be a good outlet :)
4. A “fan” brush is a verrrrry good friend of anyone who needs nice, flat surface of quickly-thickening varnish.
5. Water. LOTS OF IT. A huge bowl, big enough to immerse the brushes whole. Changed often. Otherwise you will have wooden sticks with lacquered/acrilic-dried blobs on the end.
6. Fabric softener does wonders for partly-stiff-dried brushes. Sometimes you may have to, unfortunately, shave a few hairs from a paticularily unlucky specimen.
7. Vacuum cleaner is your second best friend, just after the breathing mask. Or pneumoconiosis may be the first thing you hear next time you visit your doctor. Or, at least, a severe case of bronchitis. Lots of small wood and paint particles will fly around when you get to sanding your items and you really don’t want a layer of acrylic dust to cover your respiratory system.
8. Unfortunately (as concerns the above), sometimes sanding a painted surface is just a must. Some types of wood and ways of cutting make it well-nigh impossible to sand them properly when they are raw and clean. So it takes a first, very thin layer of paint, to make these before-invisible small splinters to stand up and be ready to be sanded off. But, of course, with the paint that covers them.
9. Also, when decorating a picture or mirror frame, don’t forget to check whether it is already prepared to hung in one direction or another. If it already has a nail-hole predrilled you may find yourself with roses that grow downwards. I did.
10. As per rule, whenever you want paper to get translucent from the napkin glue, it wont. If you wish it to stay opaque, it will get nicely transparent. Really.
So, without further ado, the effect and sources of above meditations.
I mean, to young crafters. Of any kind.
1. Don’t buy too much.
In what we call in Poland “straw zeal” (słomiany zapał) – which is when you like something keenly and suddenly lose the interest – you can spend way too much at the beginning and be left with way too large quantity of odds and ends. Sometimes you will have more leftovers than materials you had actually used for any project.
Buy no more than you can predict to use in the first project or practice sessions.
This will save you:
* storage space
* grief, if the craft you’re trying isn’t as much fun as you expected and you don’t have any other use for the materials or tools
2. Don’t invest in high-level tools at first.
Of course, trying to use dad’s huge nail pliers for your delicate 0,3mm wire or large-scale drill for detailed woodwork isn’t the way. But you don’t have to buy your first set of pliers for 160 bucks. Go to your friendly local Lidl on “hobby day” (or any kind of home improvement store anytime at all) and ask for basic set of cutting, round and chain-nose pliers for hobby/jewlery purposes. Craft stores may also have something to offer to beginner crafters, but remember – the salesperson may try to convince you to spend much more than it’s worth for beginners set. My first set, a few years back, was 4 pliers (the three above + bent ones) and I spent equivalent of $6 on it. It worked pretty well and I even could give them to another – much more talented – jewelry maker, when I got a new set.
So, if you are keen on beginning something new, a new craft or hobby, think VERY carefully about supplies you want to buy. In case of polymer clay – don’t freeze your cash in special-for-fimo blades, or brandname surface covers. Buy snap-off blades (replacements for this type of knife) or use razor blades and get a large, smooth, ceramic tile (left after kitchen or bathroom do-over).
3. Start small.
You don’t have to have all kinds of tools at once. No, polymer clay working doesn’t really REQUIRE a bead roller, wavy blade and pasta machine. Beads may be rolled manually, wavy blade is needed for specific techniques and pasta machine can really wait until you make sure you want to put your money in this area. You don’t need the largest available standing loom. Get one which is 30x50cm and I assure you, it will be big enough for you just to try your hand at making rugs or other weaving.
4. Choose your first project wisely.
If you pick a project that uses lots of resources and time, you may easily become disappointed with the whole idea. Also, if you choose a project way above your level of experience,
Polymer clay? Simple figures, no mixing media, maybe a small millefiori cane (flower ones are the easiest comparing to effect).
Beading? Leave that tiara pattern, make a bracelet. Come on, this is just for start.
Weaving? No, not a whole *carpet*, start with a rag rug or coarse wool mat.
Crocheting or knitting? Scarf. A long one, a short one, but a scarf can be used and be useful even if it’s not as long as planned. A hat or a jumper has to be properly finished, and that takes time. Scarf you can give up on finishing any time you want.
The same goes for every craft – quilting, cross-stitching or mosaic. Pick wisely the first project to make sure you feel comfortable with your tools and materials and with the whole technique as itself.
Now, why am I writing this? Because I have vast experience in how “storage problems” may look. They look like 8 or 10 cubic metres of STUFF gathered in my living-room. Includes paints, crayons, pastels, beads (and really lots of them), wires, 3 boxfulls of knitting wool/cotton/acrylic, thread, needles, pins, jewelry findings, DREMEL drill and its bits, polymer clay (around 2 litres of various types), pasta machine, boxes of boxes of organizers and 2 boxfulls (see above) of craft books.
Now, if you don’t want to became swamped by your own collection of interesting and disturbing craft leftovers, you should either buy reasonably (which is usually a problem, as most of crafters are related to magpies and hamsters – “Ooooh! Shiny! And I’m going to take it and stuff it in my nest!”)) OR, having hardened against the pain of parting with your storage contents, try to sell some doubles on eBay.
Give me your own ideas and experiences on effects of craft shopping sprees – what was the most useless and outrageous thing you brought home just because it looked pretty and SOMEWHAT useful? Huge, shiny, pink bead? A tool you can’t use? Useless organizer box nothing fits in? A ball of wool you’re allergic to? :)