Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: Manos Del Uruguay Franca Yarn

Today I'll be reviewing Manos Del Uruguay Franca yarn. Disclaimer: I received this complimentary yarn in exchange for a review. I am not being paid to write this review and everything shared here is my real opinion.

I'm always excited when I receive yarn in the mail. What fiber lover doesn't enjoy that first squish of a new acquisition? However, when the parcel with Franca came I wasn't prepared for the delightful poof that would pop out.

Seriously. It was the biggest, softest poof of yarn ever. And so colorful! The colorway is Granada and it reminds me of a tropical drink. Franca is 100% superwash merino. Superwash! Yarn this soft and exciting that you can actually wash? Sweet! Also, the yarn label included information about this yarn's fair trade status. Manos Del Uruguay seeks to improve the lives of Uruguayan women and their communities. The label was even signed by the artisan who dyed my hank!

Franca is a pure delight. It's everything that's fun about yarn: colorful, soft, squishy, fun to work with. It's a lot like roving without the hassle. What to make? I pondered my project as I wound the hank. By the by, I put the whole hank around my neck first like a scarf just because I could :p

That is one formidable cake of yarn! I was worried that its thickness would affect winding but I had no trouble at all.

Okay, now, what to make? I finally settled on a simple stitch since the yarn rather speaks for itself. It's colorful and bold without needing a complex stitch pattern. I wanted my item to have some movement, so I chose the tall triple crochet stitch. I used a 9mm hook since it's the biggest that I currently own, but this yarn could go for a 10mm or even a 12mm as well. Ready to see what I made? It's a snuggle-worthy neck warmer! It only took me a little over an hour and used up not quite the whole yarn cake.

Yay! So let's recap. This yarn is soft and fun to work with. It works up quickly. You can wash it. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Instant gift! It's perfect for whipping up nice holiday or birthday gifts. You get to have fun and the giftee gets a beautiful, easy-care gift. Slender scarves, hats, neck warmers, and cowls would all be good projects for this yarn. With several other temptingly pretty colorways, I may just have to get some more!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Remix Friday: Ghadah Blanket

Crocheters, really fiber lovers in general, are some thoughtful and generous folks. I have seen so many crafters go out of their way to bring something special and personal to a handmade gift. When Mana made a blanket for a special baby she didn't stop at the pattern... she took it to a new level of awesome with this creative Remix.

The Crocheter
My name is Mana (Manahil, actually), and I’m 23 year-old, from Saudi Arabia. After graduating high school back in 2007, my aunt gifted me some crochet hooks and yarn, and I didn’t know the slightest thing there is to know about crochet back then. I asked her to teach me and she showed me the basics. Then, I pretty much did the rest on my own!

The Original Pattern
Personalized Baby Afghan by Kim Guzman 

The Story
I loved the pattern from the first time I had seen it on Ravelry, and I always thought it was too special to make it for just about any baby!

In August 2011, one of my closest friends, Ghadah, passed away in a terrible car accident. It was truly a tragedy! Then two years later, her sister who’s also a friend of mine, gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl I know, and they decided to call her Ghadah after her aunt. It was the best news I heard, and right away, I knew that blanket was going to be made for her!

The Remix
I wasn’t too crazy about the heart border, so I decided to change it, but I wasn’t too sure of what else to make! I thought of afghan squares, and I had few designs in mind, but nothing really clicked, until I stumbled upon a picture of the Fantasy Blanket on Instagram, and I thought “yes, I want something like that!” also, the Mixed Stitch Stripey Blanket was another pattern I took inspiration from.

Crochet is... I can’t think of three words, I can only think of one... ART! Crochet is art, to me.

What a kind and heartfelt gesture. The blanket is beautiful! Well done, Mana. You can connect with Mana as “manakhq” on Ravelry, Instagram and Pinterest. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Crochet Short Story Series: A Hook's Tale

This is the first in a series of crochet-related short stories that I plan to write just for fun. I hope you enjoy it and that it brightens your day. Thanks! <3

The kind woman wasn't quite sure when she had lost it. It -- her favorite crochet hook -- the one she had found in her mother's basket when she was 9, the blue one with the scratched handle, tried and true 5mm... was lost. She had searched the folds of the couch. Her purse offered only crumpled receipts and gum wrappers. None of her project bags harbored the missing hook.  Who can go without a 5mm hook? No one, of course. With a sad sigh of resignation, she made a plan to visit the yarn store to pick up a new one the next day.

Across town, near the deli with the perfect pastrami that the kind woman enjoyed, a blue flash caught the freckled girl's eye. Being 3 she was quite close to the ground, and the blue hook in the crack of the sidewalk was in perfect snatching range. What was this thing? A magic wand? A strange worm? She'd better take it along. "Ok, let's cross the road now," said the happy father. The freckled girl and the happy father were on their way to the park for a fun afternoon. When they arrived and she saw the colorful playground, she got so excited that she forgot all about wands and worms and let the hook fall into the grass.

The lost dog was on his way home. After busting out of the back gate this morning he had gone on a wonderful adventure throughout the neighborhood. He'd run, he'd sniffed, he'd been petted by kind strangers in the park, and he'd marked all of the most important trees... but now he missed his person and his favorite stuffed duck. On his way home the lost dog spotted the hook. What a great stick! He picked it up in his mouth and continued on. Some time later, almost home, he saw a familiar face running towards him yelling his name. His person! He dropped the crochet hook in the street so he could fill the moment with happy barks and loving licks.

At 7:48pm the hook became lodged between the grooves of a truck tire. The truck belonged to the nervous man, on his way to a second date. The date was at 8:00pm and he didn't want to be late. The first date had gone so well! His palms were sweating on the steering wheel. Luckily, he reached the strip mall parking lot at 7:55. He saw another nervous man already seated at a table by the front window of the sushi restaurant. They smiled nervous smiles at each other. At 10:00pm (they had talked until closing time) the no-longer-nervous man reluctantly said goodbye to his date. He got in his truck to go home, already planning date three in his mind. When he drove away, the hook stayed behind in the parking lot. 

The kind woman was out of coffee, but it was just as well. She needed to get a new crochet hook today and a fancy coffee from the little cafe in the strip mall would be a nice treat on the way. She drove her down the hill, around the corner, and up the road. She reached the parking lot. On her way into the cafe she stepped on something hard. It couldn't be! It was her hook, the blue one, the one with the scratched handle! She'd know that hook anywhere, even though it had a few new scratches now. The kind woman laughed at the strangeness of finding her hook here. Could she have lost it when she met her co-worker for coffee? It must be so. Excited and relieved, the kind woman ordered a latte. She sat in a comfy coffeehouse chair, pulled some yarn out of her bag, and got to work with her hook right away.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Review: Mountain Colors Twizzle Yarn

Today I'll be reviewing Mountain Colors Twizzle yarn. Disclaimer: I received this complimentary yarn in exchange for a review. I am not being paid to write this review and everything shared here is my real opinion.

First off let me say that this yarn is just lovely. I am so happy to have been introduced to it. Twizzle is a worsted weight merino wool and silk blend that has a fun twist pattern to it. The colorway I received was Harmony Mist, a combination of blues and greens that gave the yarn an altogether turquoise look. Have a gander!

So pretty! The yarn is delightfully squishy and soft, even more so when worked up. I decided to whip up a little double crochet and shells hat with it to see it in the round.

Thanks to the great yarn this hat turned out soft, squishy, and flexible. Very nice! I really like the heathered look of the yarn. I was excited that I had enough yarn left over to work it up in rows as well. Here's an ear-warmer I hooked up in alternating back and front loop half double crochet.

I think I like the pooling a little bit better in rows than in the round, but just by a little. Pooling is what happens when the colors of a multi-colored yarn group together in the finished product. Even after both of these projects I still have a little yarn left. What do you think I should do with it?

This yarn is totally a new favorite of mine. The colorways are pretty, the yarn has a great texture, and it works up smoothly. I unhesitatingly recommend Twizzle for your next project.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Remix Friday: Laptop Bag

Another Friday, another Remix! I know, sometimes it's almost unbelievable how many creative people there are in the world who bend the rules and make totally unique projects. Today's Remix is no different. It's colorful, creative, and best of all functional. Check out how Marina took a granny square pattern in a new and different direction.

The Crocheter
My name is Marina, last year from Hamburg, Germany, now I live in a very small village near the north sea. My two kids are grown up. I'm married and we live with a little dog and a great garden with vegetables. Sometimes I get pleasure to knit or crochet and then I'll think of something.

The Original Pattern
Sunburst Flower Granny Square by Kasa Amend

The Story
Last year I was traveling a lot and my laptop needed a discreet pocket. 

The Remix 
This bag is invisible because it looks like a pillow and it is soft. It is very simple to make. Crochet 35 squares, two loops, and two buttons. 

What a pretty way to keep you laptop cozy! Thank you for sharing your creative idea with us today, Marina!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Moonbeam Necklace

I don't know if you could tell by my logo, blog, and brand name... but I love space! I think space is just fascinating with all of its planets, stars, nebulae, pulsars, black holes, dark matter, and everything else. Remember when I told you about the awesomeness that is Kreienik Reflective Yarn? I made a necklace pattern with it! It's just so luminous and starry.

I knew I had to name it something space-y. What space object is closest to home, our little grey neighbor who pulls the tides? The moon! Now you can make your very own...

It goes on right over your head. No clasps needed! The necklace has special properties. The thread looks beautiful during the day but it really glows spectacularly in the dark whenever it's hit by light. So classy, so special. It reflects light just like the moon!

Isn't that cool? I love it, and rest assured that it's ever so much prettier in real life. Do you want to make your own? The pattern is available for $2 on both Ravelry and Craftsy. Although the pattern is simple enough that a beginner could follow it confidently, it includes many detailed process pictures to help you learn how and when to add the beads for the best finished product as well as tips on working with the somewhat tricky reflective yarn. Can't wait to see your Moonbeams!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Kreinik Reflective Yarn

Have you heard of Kreinik Reflective Yarn? This stuff is so cool! It's made of the same material that's found in the safety strips on exercise clothing. The moment I heard of it I knew I just had to play around with it.

Seriously, pictures do not do this stuff justice. It's so shimmery! I'm in love. Here are a few pictures of it in different lighting. It has a lovely, ethereal glow to it in low light.

So far it seems that knitters and crocheters are using the yarn as a carry along with other fibers for hats and other night-safe items. I thought of a different use for it, but you'll have to drop by for my next post to find out what I came up with. I'm so excited!

What would you use reflective yarn for?