Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Yarn review: Caron Simply Soft

I would like to start by apologizing for the dark pictures. At the time they were taken, it wasn't possible to take a picture that was bright and also showed the true color of the yarn. 
(This is an example of what happened when I tried to take a brighter picture. This picture does not accurately show the color of this yarn. It is nowhere near as bright as it show up here.)

Okay, now lets get on with the review. As you can see below this review covers Caron Simply Soft. Pictured is Craon Simply Soft in Dark Sage. This is a 100% Acrylic yarn. This yarn was used in a Hooded Cloak (yes, the same cloak from my previous post) for my niece. I like to use the 100% Acrylic yarn when making clothing or toys for children as children tend to be messy and hard on their things and it is generally cheap and easy to clean. 

I picked up a few skeins of this yarn at my local Wal-Mart for $1.50 each. These usually sell at our Wal-Mart for just under $3. Caron Simply Soft is usually my yarn of choice when looking for something strong, soft, and vibrantly colored that is still on the cheap side. While Red Heart Super Savor tends to be a bit cheaper and comes in a wider variety of colors, it just does not compare to Caron's softness. 

This yarn is easy to use, soft on the hands, and does not split as easily as other yarns. While it is soft, it is still solid enough to distinctly show stitches in a finished project. 

(The Dark Sage is one of my favorite Craon colors. It is a deep "forrest" type of green. While it isn't bright, the color is deep and beautiful.)

If there are any cons, they ultimately fall with the same thing that provides many of this yarns pros : it is 100% Acrylic. This means there is no water absorption and when wet, all softness goes away. If you are planning a project that will need to absorb liquid, this yarn is not for you. If looking for yarn for things like washcloths or washable Swiffer pads, look for a 100% cotton yarn. 

On a scale of 1-10, I would give this yarn a 6. While it is not an expensive, luxury yarn it is one of the best yarns you can get for the cost. It soft, comes in beautiful colors, and durable enough to stand up to use by children and repeated washing. 

Happy Hooking, 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Importance of Counting Twice

From the beginning of my crochet journey I have had a love-hate relationship with counting. While I would love nothing more than to never have to worry about the number of double crochets in a the start of a pineapple, this wish is simply impossible in the world of crochet.

More seasoned hookers can often get away with not counting every single stitch in every single row of a blanket. However, even the most veteran among us cannot escape the need for counting or the consequences when counting goes horribly wrong.

To stress the importance of counting twice (or in my case, often three or four times) I have two great examples.

The first example takes place a few short days ago:

Having recently finished an adult sized hooded cloak for my mother's birthday, I decided to make my niece one as well. I spent the better part of an evening converting the pattern to a child's size as I went along. Using my daughter as a sizing guide, I worked out spacing for the buttons, proper width,  and exactly how long to make the arm slits. When making the slits for the arms, the project is worked in three different panels and then brought back together at the end of the slits to finish working the length of the cloak. It was a few rows into the length I noticed something had gone terribly wrong!
I had only a few rows left!
I was almost done!
In, what seemed like, the biggest disaster in recent history I noticed that instead of being nice and evenly spaced, my arm slits were in two different places! Thanks to my rush to finish I had only counted once and unless my niece has an arm growing out of her spine (she doesn't, by the way) this simply wasn't going to work.
Needless to say I was furious with myself. More than that, I was furious at my project. I was so furious at it that I proceeded to stick it in a bag and refuse to think about it for several days.
I have since moved on from my anger with the poor bundle of innocent yarn and continued with the project. (And by "continued" I mean started over completely with a new color of yarn and some adorable new buttons. The hurt was still far to fresh to go through the heartache of pulling out all of my hard work. The offending original remains hidden for now.)
(A look at the first few rows of the offending cloak project version 2.0)

Example number two lives in the land of Christmas two years past:

As usual I had many projects in mind for Christmas gifts so as usual I waited until mid November to start them. (Please learn from my repeated mistakes. For Christmas,  start in January. ) Again, in a rush I only counted once. This time the gift was a beautiful oval, pineapple doily for my husbands grandmother. About 1/2 through I noticed something wasn't working out so I looked back through the rounds to discover the mistake all the way back in row 2! One missed double crochet deleted an entire pineapple which threw off the entire shape of the doily!
Again, the usual anger and hostility flared up but this time I didn't have time to let it sit. I pulled out the 23 offending rows and started over angerly mumbling and mentally abusing myself the entire time. Even triple counting I finished the doily in record time though it cost me the full use of my hook arm for a few days. (Again people, learn from my mistakes. January really is your beat bet for Christmas gifts.)

Moral of the stories: Counting can save you the loss of your hooking arm. (As well as needless anger, project loathing, and mental self abuse.)

Count twice and then count twice again.

Happy Hooking,

Friday, August 15, 2014

More Coming Soon...

I've decided to start this blog to go along with my first blog page http://stormflycrafts.blogspot.com/. When I first started the other page, I had no idea that it would gain the interest that it has. Currently, the counter sets at just over 80,000 views world wide. This is amazing to me.

While my original page focuses mainly on how-to and crochet pattern posts (I will soon be branching out to include other crafts I enjoy as well) my plans for this page are slightly different. With this page, I plan on sharing the day-to-day journey crochet brings to my life. I have also been looking for a better platform to share my experience with crochet patterns for which I do not hold the copyright. These patterns are often beautiful and worth sharing.

I also plan on starting a Facebook page to go along with this page. More info will follow on that as it becomes available.

A Little Background Info:

  • I am a married, mother of two beautiful little girls and from time to time you may see them modeling current projects or read about them as they tend to be an intricate part of my crochet journey. I am also a full time student so please be patient if it takes me a while between posts. 
  • I have been crocheting from a very young age. As a young child, I spent loads of time with my Great Grandmother who is an avid Doily crocheter. From about the age of 5 (from the point she decided I was old enough to learn and needed something other than toys to occupy my time.) she began teaching me the art of Crochet. 
  • 20 years later, I have moved on from doily crochet. While I still pick up the thread and crank out a doily or two from time to time, I love working on other types of projects that tend to be more interactive; mostly this means clothing, blankets, toys, etc.
  • 20 years later, I am still finding new techniques I have never seen. I still share each new type of project with my Great Grandmother and she is always excited to see how versatile my crochet skills have become. Of course, there have been projects I would never share with my Grandmother as she is from a far different generation and would likely be traumatized by some of the projects I have come across on my own as well as in requests from friends. 
  • I love to go off-pattern and see what I come up with. This often leads to wonderful new projects and patterns I come back to time and time again. Many of these projects have ended up being posted, for free, on my first blog page. 
  • I love to answer questions from beginners (as well as more seasoned crocheters.) If you have any questions, please feel free to comment on this post (or via Facebook when that route becomes active) and I will be more than happy to offer advice.

If you are still with me at the end of this, rather lengthy, initial post I hope you will stick around and enjoy the journey with me. This page will include triumphs, struggles, tips for beginners, product reviews, links to other helpful pages, wonderful patterns, and above all else, fun.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned as there will be much, much more coming soon.

Keep hooking,

Edit: Update in regards to the Facebook page. Instead of just a simple page, I decided to start a crochet group instead. It is a closed group (mainly so I can deal with any member issues as they arise) but anyone is welcome to join. Simply click on the join group button at the top and I will get you added as soon as I can.
To find the Facebook group, simply click on the link at the top of the page or click here.