Monday, March 20, 2017

Soft & Shiny Review

  Ever since I picked up a skein of Loops & Threads Soft & Shiny on a whim, I've been waiting for the perfect project to test it out. It looked like a super-catchy yarn to frog, so I didn't want to go playing with it for no reason. The project has finally been put to the works, and after just a few squares I can confidently give you my opinion about working with it.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  To be nice, the first thing I can mention is the feature that caught my eye: It looks so soft and shiny. Especially in this grey color, the yarn has an almost-metallic sheen to it. The result when worked up reflects light to give the solid color some dimension. The name of this yarn is no lie! It is definitely both soft and shiny.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Unfortunately, that's where the good points stop. After my fiasco with Facets by the same brand, I noticed some similarities with this lighter-weight yarn. (I don't usually compare yarns in reviews, but I will be doing it this time.) The spin seems to be a little loose, making it prone to splitting. And the fluffiness of that loose spin gets caught on itself, indeed making ripping back more of a pain than it needs to be. Yup, very similar. What I wonder is - Will it be the same disaster as Facets when it comes to washing?

  Typically, I'll start with whatever hook size might be recommended on the label. For this 100% acrylic worsted weight (4) yarn, a 4 mm hook is called for. After struggling with splitting just through the beginning chain of five, I switched to a larger hook. This made the problem worse and I found some luck with using a smaller 3.75 mm instead.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  I'm a little doubtful about that "worsted" part... It looks like worsted. It feels like worsted from the skein. But once it's on the hook, it works up more like DK (3) weight. I'd call it a light-worsted. That loose spin seems to give the yarn room to squish down and become smaller than it appears. I tested this square pattern with the usual acrylic worsted I use and the same hook size. The motif turned out to be almost an inch bigger than the ones I'm making with Soft & Shiny!

  I don't want to bring the other yarn into the picture because it's in no way similar to what we have here and not really fair to compare (it's one of my two favorites so if you know me, you know it). However, the results proved that this is surely a light-weight worsted weight. The pattern turned out stiff as a board when worked up in that other yarn with this small hook; the open chain spaces were barely visible. Soft & Shiny produced a delicate square that didn't compare to any of my "everyday" worsted weights.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Now, my friends, let's bring in another yarn... This yarn's competitor needs to be put to the test. I have to be blunt and say there's no doubt this yarn is a pure knock-off of Caron Simply Soft. That's why I bought it. Again, from the skein itself: Soft & Shiny feels softer and looks shinier than Simply Soft.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  And remember - We're talking about from the skein, not when worked up. Both yarns appear to be the same weight. Holding a strand of each at the same time, you couldn't tell the difference other than from softness... Well, you can feel that Simply Soft has a much tighter twist than Soft & Shiny.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Now, forget the feel; let's get technical. The actual width of Soft & Shiny (grey) is a little thicker than Simply Soft (blue). However, Simply Soft has more wraps per inch (wpi) than Soft & Shiny. When you get down to the nitty gritty science of yarn, these two don't compare one bit! Simply Soft might look like the lighter weight yarn to the eyes, but Soft & Shiny is less dense when it comes to fiber content.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  The loose spin may give the appearance of a thicker yarn, but keep in mind that it's just empty space between the fiber. That empty space compresses under tension, so you don't get the same results as with a tighter-spun yarn. Same hook; same pattern again:

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Working the motif again with Simply Soft produced closer results than my other worsted-weight yarn. Close, but still not the same. I quite fell in love with this combination of colors while comparing Soft & Shiny to its competitor, and had an idea to use them together in a project. Now I know that if I attempt it, I'll have to change hook sizes to get the same gauge from Simply Soft.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  Comparing texture once worked up: They look exactly the same (other than gauge). Both have that slight bit of fuzz, but Soft & Shiny wins at being softer. I've had plenty of experience with (machine) washing and drying Simply Soft in the past, never having any problems other than a few loose ends popping out. I'm skeptical that Soft & Shiny will turn out the same. Then again, perhaps that opinion is influenced by it's similarities to Facets.

yarn, review, Soft & Shiny, Loops & Threads, Michaels, acrylic, worsted weight

  As for that project with these colors combined: I found (almost) the same blue available from Soft & Shiny. Even though I do have a desire to be able to wash and wear these yarns together to put them to the ultimate test, I'm not sure I want to fight with scoring the correct gauge out of two different weights. Although my original opinion was to leave this yarn behind me and never buy another skein, I just might have to get some of that blue to finish the pattern.

  And if you ask why I'm so eager to turn my back on Soft & Shiny, I'll tell you the honest truth: Price $$$. Loops & Threads yarns can only be purchased through Michaels stores. Caron Simply Soft is available there and at Walmart (sometimes, ugh), Joann, and from multiple online sources.

  Disregarding the price from other stores, I compared cost just at Michaels. Soft & Shiny is currently $3.99 for 6 oz/ 311 yards. Simply Soft has now been reduced to $2.49 for 6 oz/ 315 yards (smaller skeins in Heathers). Simply Soft is known for splitting as it is, and Soft & Shiny is ten times worse with a gauge that doesn't match any other yarn. Should I ever pay more for a bigger headache that's available in less colors? I think not.

Happy Crocheting!

PS- I do always feel bad when I have to give such a harsh review, but it's the truth. Since this is now two yarns in a row from this company that I'd rather not use again, I would like to steer you in the direction of some of their good yarns:

  • A great replacement for Facets is Charisma. It can't really compare in texture or colors, but you get a great fast-working bulky (5) acrylic that holds up well to washing with a slight amount of fuzz - And no "cotton candy" pull-apart spots. Still a bit prone to splitting, I find it best to work with a smaller hook than recommended. The downfall is that Charisma's 3.5 oz/ 109 yard skeins disappear quickly into a project. But to combat that problem, the price has now been reduced to $2 a ball.  (I currently have a WIP using a bigger hook than recommended - I've found that making a conscious effort to loosen my tension helps with splitting, and you can stretch the yarn a bit father with a larger hook. Win!)

  • Looking for a worsted weight like Soft & Shiny? (But obviously not the same gauge, lol.) Impeccable might not have that fuzzy kind of softness, but it has durability to make up for that. Available in a large assortment of solids and interesting variegated shades (most of which are usually unavailable in my local store), this is a yarn you just can't go wrong with. It works up well without splitting and takes washing like an old-time rug yarn, but lacks the prickly stiffness of something so durable. And on top of all that softness, strength, and broad color palette, now this yarn is also only $2 per 4.5 oz/ 277 yard skein!? (I think I just found the right colors for a long-envisioned project, too.) Okay, see you later! I have to go shopping now.


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