Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review - Hometown USA from Lion Brand Yarn

I've done a half-dozen hats with this yarn and it's time to give a review. Hometown USA is a super bulky yarn found at craft stores.

It's 100% acrylic... which is ideal for me and mine - due to wool allergies and being easy care.

I LOVE the colors. I LOVE the price. And I LOVE the softness of the yarn. I do. It's a reasonably priced yarn and it's a joy to work with albeit with the typical non-stretchy nature of all 100% acrylic yarns.

I'm only slightly disappointed that the skeins are a little small - only 81 yards per skein which isn't quite enough for two of my Brioche hats.

BUT, there's a caveat. I've twice come across a skein where there had been an issue. The first one simply had a single ply out of several that had broken. I just made sure that I lined up that strand and knit it with it's partners and trimmed the ever so slight little ends that poked out. No big deal. Then the second skein that had an issue had fluff plied in with the plies, broken plies, pieces of fluff just 'stuck' to the plied yarn... I thought about cutting out the three to four yards of bad yarn... but with super bulky it's a pain dealing with working in ends... instead I pulled out the loose fluff, did the best I could with broken plies within that section and just kept going. It's in a crocheted hat, with lots of double-crochet, so the issue is really not that noticeable. But if it had been in a knit stockinette section? I wouldn't have had a choice but to cut it out as it would have looked horrible. Both of these issues were not visible from the outside of the skein... and if it had just been a broken ply? I wouldn't have cared. But the second skein was pretty messed up. If I continue to use this yarn and continue to find these issues? I would probably stop buying this yarn.

In the meantime, it's the only super-bulky, 100% acrylic yarn with a smooth ply that is affordable for a lot of my charity knitting, so I'm still planning on continuing to buy it and use it for those purposes.

The sad thing was that I was looking for something just like this to make an afghan... and my son was asking for a super-soft super bulky wear-around-the-house sweater for next winter... due to the issues and the small skeins? I don't want to buy a couple of dozen skeins for a big project and risk it. So, I'm still on the search for a replacement for the Wool-ease that I can no longer use.

FYI - no one is offering me anything for this review. I have not received anything free nor been paid for offering my opinion.

May mid-month progress

First, the two scarves - these are made with 'special' (read this as not my favorite) yarn. A simple chain stitch (not so simple due to the blankety-blank nature of said 'special' yarn).

And voila - a frilly (not my style), ruffly (not my style, but at least not SUPER ruffly) scarf.

Perfect to donate to the west coast charities that donate these to women who have been rescued from the sex slave trade or from domestic violence. Something to help them feel worthy. That's something I can get behind.

A second Crocheted necklace - also a simple chain stitch - multiple strands, knotted 'just so'. Another specialty yarn, this one not as bad as the first. I so-so like it, might give it to my niece when I get to go see her this summer... might hang onto it. I had hopes for purple... but was feeling really sick by the time I had made it to the LYS that carried this yarn... and it's a lot more pink than purple. But, it's a nice necklace.

A macrame bracelet - this didn't turn out very well. I do think macrame tied to using suede cord can make an awesome bracelet that would be very wearable. But, this one just didn't turn out very well. I ended up recycling the cord and button after I finished it, as I just wasn't pleased with the end result. It might be partly the colors, but mostly my lack of tension and not getting the end quite right. I wish I had darker colors for the suede I have. But, hey, this was ultra-discounted at a going out of business sale of an LYS, and at the time, I had no idea what I would ever make with it. I will probably try some other macrame with it in the future.

Dyeing a skein of ugly-to-me pink cotton yarn.-- not going to do this one after all. The prompt was to do something with a dark purple... and dying this yarn to purple might still be in the future. But, I didn't manage to get to the stores to buy the dye and my wrists are a little healthier now than they were at the beginning of the month... so instead I used already existing purple super bulky to create another charity hat (just like tons of other charity hats). When my wrists were just so-so, this is such a treat to do some mindless knitting. Though, I think that I'll probably start focusing in the future on doing more with worsted weight scrap-yarn... it takes longer, but those hats are fun as well (love doing the reversible) ... but for a super-quick, get it done with minimal work, this is the pattern I just keep coming back to. (for folks not aware - it's the Elizabeth Zimmerman Brioche Watch Cap pattern).

Quidditch came along while I wasn't looking and peaked my interest... the first event was non-crafting.. to just use Ravelry to clean-up or manage either queue or favorites, etc. I cleaned up my queue a ton removing things that were no longer as inspiring as they were when they were added, re-organizing my tabs as the tabs I had weren't all getting used.

And then, the 'heat training film'.... squeee. It was for charity knitting (hmmm... can't imagine why that would appeal) and either making up to five squares or five hats.... bet you can guess which of those I picked.

Two of my favorite Brioche hats, and three crocheted hats. Sometimes crochet bothers my wrist more... so I tend to avoid it. But these are powerfully fast to make (20 minutes) versus the 2 hour brioche hat pattern. So, I whipped out some more super-bulky (had to be fast, right) hats.

My target goal is 50 charity hats in 2013.... and these six last hats brings my total to 16. A little low for the year, but remember, I spent seven weeks without being able to do any crafting at all. I'm sure I'll catch up with my productivity pretty quickly.

In progress...

My dead fish hat. Doesn't look much like a fish just yet, you can see the lips and the stripes on the body... I am working on the decreases to the tail - then there are the fins and eyes to add... I'm really enjoying the whole, grab a random color from the scrap pile to throw in and might be doing more 'scrap' hats this summer.

Not started yet - Know Your Mushrooms baby blanket... need to wait until 5/26 to start it. Figure that gives me plenty of time to work on my Dead Fish Hat.

Not worked on yet - My little half-done dragon. I'll pick him up as soon as the dead fish hat is done... though it might be June before he's done-done.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Chain Stitch scarves

Swift and quick... and feasible (ish) with one wrist in a splint. Though, my left wrist is a little sore again today. So, I might end up wearing both splints for a couple of days.

I probably have enough of the net yarn left to make one more, but will probably save it for another sore-wrist day. These plus one I worked on a bit ago will get mailed off to an agency that donates them to women's shelters that focus on helping the abused and/or women who have been rescued from the sex trade.  I'm personally not the kind to wear a frilly/ruffly scarf, but it is pretty and hopefully it'll help make a woman feel a little special when shes had too little of that in her life.

Friday, May 3, 2013

May plans - abbreviated

So, my wrist is still in a splint. For at least two more weeks.

So, I'm planning on a lot of simplified/abbreviated crafting work for this month.

First, I have two scarves I plan to make with the Netted yarn that is about four inches wide. It'll take about 80 single crochet stitches and suddenly, you have a scarf. Even with a wrist brace, I think I can manage that.  The first will get turned into Charms - to craft something I would not normally make - I am not into curly, ruffly things - at all. Definitely outside my comfort zome. The second will fit into History of Magic - Craft something using your not-favorite materials. That net yarn? I will NEVER buy again. I have enough left over from my first scarf to make two more (all three will then find their way to a charity) and I will NEVER work with it again. I think it qualifies.

I've been dying to make a second Crocheted necklace like the one I learned how to make in January at the Knitting Retreat. It takes ladder yarn, which means I need to make a trip to get some. But, it's super simple and once again, single crochet (and not much else) for the win!  I'm hoping to give it to my niece as a gift when I go down to see her this summer. Though it's debatable. I migth keep it for myself. This one is going to get turned in for DADA - craft something you can hang on a hook. I'm picturing a turn in photo with my necklace hanging on a hook, seems pretty straight-foward.

A macrame bracelet, similar to friendship bracelets, but made with two tones (or three if I can find the third one) of suede cord. I bought it ages ago at a going out of business LYS sale... thinking that for $1 a ball, I ought to be able to figure out something to make with it. It makes great bracelets. I hadn't originally planned this one  - but Herbology prompt to get to do macrame (a passion I had when I was a teenager) called to me.

Dyeing a skein of ugly-to-me pink cotton yarn. I really hate bright pink and have NO IDEA why I bought a big skein of it. But it's 100% cotton, so it should take an acid dye - I'd love to make it dark purple (my go-to-love-this-color) and a good fit for the Potions class. They prompted folks to make something that reminded them of an ingrediant in the Drawht of the Living Death potion - and I'm thinking the juice from a sophophorus bean ought to do the trick!

I'm thinking I can try to complete these small, fast projects during the next two weeks while wearing a brace without too much difficulty (and well, if they are too hard - I can always set them aside for post-splint finishing).

For one more class that I can knit in - I want to make a dead fish hat. I've wanted to make one for FOREVER. But all of my hat-wearing peep's would refuse to wear something that 'out there'. I got to chatting last fall about thinking it was too outrageous for a charity hat and got convinced that a homeless teenager just might fall in love with something like a dead fish hat. So, dead fish hat for the win!  Transfiguarion is asking us to make flowers or fishes with bonus points if it's REALLY a flower or a fish and I'm pretty sure the dead fish hat will get those bonus points. Plus I've been told they are super fast and easy and are great for using up leftover yarn. Triple win.

Since I can't knit for at least two weeks - I've decided against proposing an OWL this term. Even when I do get to start knitting, I probably need to take it a little easy on myself. So, I'm looking at doing an Order Mission. Brooms (proposals) can be started next week, but the actual knitting doesn't start until a good week after my splint comes off. I promised my son a Mario blanket - the Know Your Mushrooms pattern on Ravelry. That was before I realized that BIG crocheted blankets are probably not something I'm going to be able to do with my wrist troubles. So, I'm planning on converting it to knit. And knit? This whole blanket will probably take me about 9 months. I'm thinking that what I'll do is a small section of it - say lap-blanket sized with about nine squares (with 8 weeks/ two months to complete). That will be my Order Mission. Then next fall, I will probably propose an OWL for an afghan which will be about 12 squares (with three months to do them). Then the following winter term, I will probably do three more squares in some form or another to finish the 'bulk' of the blanket. Seam them together between terms and I've got a finished blanket in the end. We'll see. Hopefully they will agree that nine squares of intarsia pattern converting a crocheted pattern to knit pattern is Mission worthy.

ETA: ooh, can't forget. Given enough time between the fish hat and the start of my order mission? I'm hoping to wrap up that little dragon for littlest grandson... it can be my WIP the first for June if I can get him 'almost done'.