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Friday, March 24, 2017

One Down...

  Arg! I seriously need to do something about my internet speed. One of my goals when getting the new camera was to concentrate on making more videos, and I've been sticking to it. But when you combine might-as-well-be-dial-up speeds with the only format my camera records in (.mov), you get the worst uploading time ever. One video down, a bunch more to go...


rants, tutorial, video, how to, make plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, plastic bags, YouTube


  I've had many requests for a video to make plarn, and I've finally succeeded in getting them done. To make it easier for crafters to find what they're looking for, I've split these into two separate tutorials: The one available now is for the spiral-cut method. It's a little more detailed and  a longer video, so I thought I'd get that one worked out first. (Psst... You can use this method to create t-shirt yarn, too.)


Now the short video for the loop-method will be a quick job, right?


  Wrong. I hit "upload" at that time of day when my internet company provides me with slower speeds so everyone else can have their share of the web... Something I've never understood. I pay for a connection that's supposed to be a certain speed. Why do I start experiencing "interruptions" because I'm using it more than others? It's mine and I want it all! Seriously, I need someone to explain that one to me.


rants, tutorial, video, how to, make plarn, plastic yarn, recycle, plastic bags, YouTube


  I get the .MOV problem, though - It's not a compressed file, so it takes longer to upload. It takes about nine hours for me to convert a 10-minute video into an MP4, which horribly reduces the quality. Then, it takes another five hours to upload the compressed version to YouTube. For now, I'm just fighting with uploading the raw files.

  Making the video is getting easier with each one I do. Can you believe I would actually get nervous and start shaking just because I'm talking to a camera? I'm getting over that and learning how to improve my tutorials. And I'm learning how to edit them better so I can include more information. But the one thing I haven't gained knowledge to is: "How can I improve my YouTube uploading speed without paying for a better connection?"

  Google that phrase and you'll be directed to the program that's supposed to help... The program I downloaded, spent hours learning, and discovered it takes nine hours to convert a file into a format that ruins the quality and still takes hours to upload. *SIGH* Seems like less work to just wait for the .MOV to upload. Anyone have a better idea?


Okay, thanks for listening. I just needed to get that off my mind. Now here, have a video:




Happy Crocheting!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mess or Masterpiece?

  Today, I need your help making a decision. I started a new project that has left me both eager to continue and doubtful of whether I should. And I know, I'm not supposed to be starting anything else. But you know how that goes!

  In a recent yarn review, I mentioned another yarn from my stash. Once upon a time I started buying this yarn while it was on sale, planning on making a blanket. (This isn't part of the "From the Stash" series, btw; this one is purely my fault.) The sale ended before I scored enough skeins for the project. Mentioning the yarn in that review made me start thinking, and I went to dig it out of the mess.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


  I like to play with yarns that have variegated or multi-colors. I love seeing the different ways the color can play out; trying new ways to get designs from it. Do you ever do that? It doesn't always end in a successful pattern, but it's something quiet for me to do when I'm bored or tired of everything else. Just pull a few yards from the skein, make some stitches, rip it back, try again with different stitches. None of it ever has a purpose other than to amuse me.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


  In that review, I highlighted the durability of Impeccable yarn. The pile you see has taken ripping back a lot of times now, and it's no worse for the wear. Perhaps this color would be difficult, but I think this would be a great yarn for beginners to practice with. It rarely splits, rips back smoothly, and it's easy-care for the finished project, too.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


  But, let's not get sidetracked any longer... This isn't a yarn review, I'm here for an opinion! This time, my playing around produces something with potential. I made something that I think I like. It's just a little swatch right now, and I would like to create it in full and write a pattern. But it's just one of those things I can't make a decision about. I thought I should bring my problem here for your help.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion

  I will say that if I do continue with it, then I'll be selling the pattern on Ravelry. It won't be free here. BUT! If you're a Ravelry member and you leave a comment here to help, then I'll gift you the pattern when/if I get it done (it will be a scarf). And remember, that's if I get it done... I just can't make up my mind whether I've created a masterpiece or a mess.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


  It's a pretty interesting design that I hope you'll enjoy working. It starts with the middle first, made as one long "chain" of textured stitches without a true beginning chain. The rest is created in the round as a border. I think it's fun to watch it go from "what is that?" to "ooo, lacy scarf". At first, I looked at my design and loved it. But the more I studied it, I thought it looks a little messy from different angles.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion

  So the questions are: Does it look like a mess to you? Do I continue with the pattern? I'll possibly be changing the ends to something less-pointy. Maybe I'll leave it like it is. Would it be cool to add some fringe to the ends as-is, or would it look like curtain tassels hanging in a group from the point? Maybe no fringe at all, because the design is pretty bold as it is. I know, I know... Somebody is going to tell me it's my opinion as the designer, and I should create what I want... This is one of those times I just can't decide what I want. I'd love to hear your opinions.

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion


 The promise I'm making to you may be a little weird... What if you leave a comment telling me you hate it, then I make it anyway? Am I supposed to stick to my word and gift you a pattern you don't like? *Sigh* Yes, it will be a hard promise to fulfill in that case. But if you do want to see this pattern finished, then don't forget to leave a comment on this post with your opinion! Having you all here in one place will make it easy for me to track everyone down when it comes time for your gift. If you don't have a Google profile and want to leave the comment anonymously, you'll need to drop your Ravelry name in the comment.



Happy Crocheting!

PS - Can you believe the hook size I'm using to create this with worsted weight yarn? The stitch clusters get too tight with a smaller hook, so I had to go this big. I was afraid it would cause the stitches to be too loose, but so far it's only caused a fast-working pattern. I may even break out the big plastic hooks and see if I can go one size bigger for a super-speedy project. But that all depends on your opinions!

yarn, Loops & Threads, Impeccable, WIP, work in progress, scarf, opinion

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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