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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Yarn Review: Caron Simply Soft


  I have to confess that Caron Simply Soft is one of my go-to yarns. It has pros and cons, but is always a "simple" choice for a project. There are two negative things I'd like to cover; one is a problem I've experienced myself, the other is a gripe I've heard from many crocheters.


    Let's review the bad stuff first, but remember to consider the good points too, before you make up your mind. Here's my problem: Caron, you cause me much frustration. Why, oh why, does a giant tangled mess always come out of the middle of each skein? This has happened with every kind of Caron yarn I've used so far. I've come to expect with every skein to have my other half standing across the room with multiple strands of yarn through his fingers, impatiently staring at the ceiling while I untangle many, many yards of yarn. I love all the Caron products I've ever used, but I dislike having to untangle it for every project.





  That's my only problem. Now I feel like I should address the complaint I've heard from others, even though it isn't an issue for me: Splitting. Have you ever worked with Simply Soft? Do you have a problem with your hook going into the middle of the strand? Because the ply is very loose, this can happen easily. The best tip I can provide is to adjust your tension, because the harder it is to insert your hook into the stitch, the more likely it is that the hook will split the strand. I keep weak tension on this yarn, and rarely have an issue. Maybe it takes a little practice, but should you have to do this? Have you ever experienced the same problem with another brand? Is it worth the time, or do you chose a different yarn? It's definitely something to consider.


  Now that we got the unpleasant points over with, what kind of yarn is this, and what are it's good details? It's worsted weight, 100 % acrylic, machine washable and dryable. Not only is it a no dye lot yarn, but it seems to be colorfast too. In fact, I accidentally threw a project in the wash once with bleach, and it came out fine! Available in over 50 colors, Simply Soft offers a vast variety of choices. At under $5 for a six-ounce skein, it's affordable, although not as cheap as other acrylics. In my opinion, the soft, satiny feel is well worth the extra money. For more information about Simply Soft, click here to visit the manufacturer;s website. 


  On a personal note, this yarn offers me a special bonus. I have trouble using products with animal fiber, because I have very sensitive skin. With many natural fiber yarns, the project will have some fuzziness, often called a "halo". This can be a beautiful effect. Instead of developing a halo, most acrylic yarns will "pill", looking old and worn out. Once washed, Simply Soft begins to get fuzzy, but it has more of the look of a natural fiber halo, instead of pilling and ruining your work. This allows me to create projects with an effect similar to animal fiber, even though it isn't exactly the same.





  In conclusion, it may be a favorite of mine, but you have to weigh the pros and cons to decide to work with this product. Simply Soft creates beautiful, colorfast, durable projects. It's great for apparel, afghans, baby items, and more. But it is also a bit of a pain to work with. Have you used Simply Soft and had the same problems? Would you chose this yarn for a project because of the results, or decide to use another brand to avoid the hassle?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Free Pattern: Deca-Stitch Lacy Cowl 2.0


  When I made the original Deca-stitch Lacy Cowl, I noted a few minor difficulties in the pattern. First, being made with thread, it took longer to make than I thought it would. Next, it was slightly difficult to work the extended stitches into the beginning chain with even tension. Lastly, every row seemed to take forever to complete, because the extended stitches require more time to form.


  I wanted to recreate the project to make the beginning chain easier, and speed up the process of creating the cowl. By changing to a worsted weight yarn and adding a few rows of double crochet, I completed the new cowl in a few spare hours over the weekend.


  The result is a bulkier, satiny version of the original pattern that makes a bold statement without overpowering. The large open spaces created by the Deca-stitch produce an airy fabric still suitable for a summer accessory.


  Size before joining is 34" (86 cm) wide, 5 3/4" (14.5 cm) tall. Finished size is 6" (15 cm) wide, 16" (40.5 cm) long, as worn.






Skill level:








Materials:

Hook size H/8 - 5.00MM

Needle or smaller hook to weave in ends


Caron Simply Soft acrylic yarn, less than half a skein

  I used color Limelight, in honor of my good friend Don, may he rest in peace. His favorite color was Grabber Green. They don't sell yarn in engine paint colors, so it was as close as I could find. Hope you like it, Pops.



Gauge:
In 4" x 4" (10 cm x 10 cm)
2 rows of 10 deca-stitch, or 8 rows of 10 double crochet





Notes:
Pattern is worked in rows and joined into an infinity cowl when adding the border.
Use yarn tail to weave closed gap left when joining.

Click the stitch description for a step-by-step tutorial if you need any help.


Stitches:
Chain (ch)
Single crochet (sc)
Double crochet (dc)
Deca-stitch - Yarn over eight (8) times, insert hook, pull up a loop. (Yarn over, pull through 2 loops) 9 times.

Directions:

To begin, ch 88.

Row 1:
1 dc in 4th ch from hook, 1 dc in each of remaining 83 chs. (85 dc)

Row 2:
Ch 10 (counts as 1 deca-stitch), turn. 1 deca-stitch in each of remaining 84 dc. (85 deca-stitch)

Row 3:
Ch 3 (counts as 1 dc), turn. 1 dc in each of remaining 84 deca-stitch. (85 dc)

Row 4:
Repeat Row 2.

Row 5:
Repeat Row 3

To make border and join:
Turn, sl st into space directly after st (post sp), ch 2 (counts as 1 sc, ch-1). (1 sc, ch 1) in next 83 post sps. Bring work around to join, flip 1 time. (1 sc, ch 1) in each of next 84 bottom post spaces. Join with a sl st to beg ch-1. Bind off, leave enough tail to weave gap shut, weave in ends.

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