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Category Archives: My Reviews

Garter Rib Baby Blanket – A Pattern Review

As I recently blogged, I was in need of a baby blanket for a friend and I decided that, unlike many others I have made, I wanted to try knitting it. I found my way to Ravelry, as many of us do, and zeroed in on a pattern.

This review is of the Garter Rib Baby Blanket written by Orange Flower Yarns. This pattern can be downloaded for free on Ravelry.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

Knit & Knot in Bettendorf, IA

knit1Last weekend the family and I adventured off to Iowa in a trip we like to call “Let’s go to Iowa because we’ve never been.” For the sake of length, I’ll call it the LGTIBWNB (or I’ll just not mention it again). As part of the trip, I was treated to a trip to a local yarn store in the Quad Cities called Knit & Knot. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Purl Essence Yarn – a user’s perspective

purl essense yarnI headed to Joann Fabric to find some yarn to make a couple scarves someone ordered from me. As I went up and down the aisles, it became apparent rather quickly they had brought in some new stuff. Exciting!

I decided to make the scarves out of a yarn called Sincerely by Purl Essence.

This is my story.

*insert intense Law and Order type sound* Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 23, 2015 in My Reviews

 

[Pattern Review] Baby Yub Nub

This pattern review is for the crochet pattern “Baby Yub Nub” written by Kristen Stevenson. A link on Ravelry can be found here.

The pattern is written as infant size and, as you can see by the image, I was in need of toddler size. I made a decision to stick with the suggested yarn size, worsted or aran, and simply go with a larger hook. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure if only changing the hook size would be a good plan to upsize the garment mostly because I crochet rather tightly. I was prepared to make a second just in case it didn’t work. I ended up making a second – and ironically enough, the first one fit just fine. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2014 in My Reviews

 

Fortune Cookie Pattern Review

LoveHearts Pattern (c) June GIlbank

With Valentine’s Day looming, I made a decision to make something small and different for the man, the kids, and my coworkers. I saw a cute pattern for crochet fortune cookies on Ravelry and made the decision THAT is what I was going to make.

For the Man and my kids, the fortune cookie was just a small piece to their Valentine’s Day – for my coworkers, I left them a crocheted fortune cookie and a piece of chocolate.

The pattern I’m reviewing is lcoated on Ravelry and is also on Yarnovations, where the Ravelry link takes you. The pattern includes instructions for the fortune cookies and a jar wrap. This review is ONLY for the fortune cookies. I did not make the jar wrap.

First and foremost, you don’t need to know much more than how how chain, slip stitch, and single crochet for this pattern, making it a good pattern for new crocheters. You do crochet in the round without joining (crochet in a spiral) so a beginner would have to decide if they were comfortable with this or not before taking on making a fortune cookie.

The pattern is very simple, consisting of a total of 6 rows. I think for the more expert crocheter, it is a pain to try and forget that when you increase on this pattern, you increase but still only do 18 stitches rather than the full increase round. You see this on rows 4, 5 and 6 –  you want to add more stitches to do full repeats, but you have to remember to stop at 18 stitches, regardless of it being a full round or not.

The pattern suggests you fold the cookie in half and stitch around it and THEN you put the fortune in. I found it much easier to slide the fortune in and stitch the circle into a half circle with the fortune already in place. If you try to stuff the fortune in after you make it a half circle, the fortune gets wrinkled up a bit – I wanted mine to look a bit more pristine, ya know – as if they came straight from the fortune cooking making factory.

There is no real instruction on how to stitch up the cookie into a half circle OR how to stitch it into the shape of a fortune cookie. I think the pattern author was assuming people knew how to make the shape. I ended up whip-stitching the cookie closed in about the top 1/3 of the half circle shape – I left a decent hole on either side and, as I said earlier, I did the whip-stitching around the paper rather than putting the paper in afterwards. I then, instead of finishing off, passed my super long tail used to do the whip stitch down to the middle where I bent the cookie, shaped the edges using my fingertips and stitched the 2 sides together to the cookie shape (with the ends pinched onto my thumb and index finger).

I can at least say I know why the pattern writer didn’t explain it in the pattern. I just tried to in the above paragraph and realize that I just spoke a foreign language even to myself! Maybe they left that part out because it really is too complex to tell people how to do it – but perhaps a picture would have helped. I don’t know.

I think the most complicated part of this pattern was coming up with quotes to go into my cookies. The pattern page from Yarnovations includes several fortunes but I wanted cookies with quotes about friendship. It took me some time but in the end I had them printed and in the cookies.

On Valentine’s morning, my coworkers were very impressed at the little cookies. Some people didn’t even pull the fortune out because the way I did it, it was VERY difficult to get the fortune back into the cookie. One of my friends at work is on a mission to find out what every cookie’s fortune is – especially when she found out I didn’t duplicate any of them.

In the end, I’d say I give this pattern 4 balls of yarn because it was easy and the ending result was very much appreciated. I would have given it more if there would have been more instruction on finishing up the cookies, especially the part where you stitch it to look like the cookie shape.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in My Reviews

 

A Review of the "Have a Heart" Shawl

(c) Red Heart

I did a review on Monday for the Magic Crochet Wrap – and unfortunately, with such a bad result from that pattern, I was in need of another – you see, I wanted to make a wrap, poncho, or shawl for my youngest daughter. She’d been wanting one for a while … and when the Magic Crochet Wrap didn’t work out – I was on the hunt again.

I decided, on a fluke, to go back through this bin of “freebie flyers” I pull from when yarn shopping. I came across the freebie for a Red Heart pattern called “Have a Heart Shawl.” It was cute – and I was in need…. so this was the pattern I chose.

I genuinely had no idea how it would turn out. I liked the image, but I didn’t have red yarn… and I’m pretty sure Squirt didn’t want a red shawl anyway. I dug through my stash and I had a couple skeins of Red Heart Super Saver in the color Buff. I had remembered buying it because it was on clearance. One quick check of the pattern and I knew I would have enough for the body and part of the edge – that was enough… I didn’t have to do the full edge to get the full effect.

I set out to crochet the shawl.

Honestly, it was a very quick crochet and relatively fun (outside of that hdc ch 1 row – UGH). In the end, I’d say it took me no more than 8 hours to work up. For me it was three separate sessions of crochet of just a couple hours each. The stitches and stitch patterns were relatively easy to follow although I did find it necessary to count each row, which is odd for me but if I thought it necessary, maybe you would consider it if you chose to make this shawl.

I didn’t have any issues in reading the pattern. Everything seemed very standard. I will admit that when I got to the edge, I was happy I had already decided not to do the full edge because those instructions seemed a bit shady – I didn’t work through them, only read them, but I know I would have had to re-read them a few times before they “clicked.”

So, after a pretty good run with my crochet hook, I ended up with this Buff version of the Have a Heart Shawl.

On the other side of that head is a HUGE smile. She really liked it.

What I did add was a tie to the front (two chains joined in on opposite sides so she could tie it closed).

From the picture on the pattern flyer it looked like I wouldn’t need this, but perhaps I should have used a larger hook (considering I did use the same brand of yarn suggested on the pattern) so that the shawl would overlap more. Of course, had I done that, the shawl would have been much too large to fit my daughter – granted, I could always just modify the pattern counts to come up with a smaller version.

But I really didn’t want to do that.

So, in the end I have to say that I did enjoy this pattern. It was a good crochet. I could watch TV while running down the rows, but I did have to pay a bit more attention when switching stitch types from one row to the next. I also know that just from reading the instructions on the edging that I would have really had to think it through and possibly struggle with them a little. As I said, I was happy I had already resolved to not do the edging to the pattern due to not having quite enough yarn – it was at least a good excuse to not have to decipher the pattern.

My rating? I would have to give this pattern 4 balls of yarn out of 5.

Thank you, Red Heart, for a solid pattern. I have satisfied my quest to crochet a wrap for my youngest daughter because of you.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 8, 2013 in My Reviews

 

Review of The Crochet Magic Wrap

(c) Lisa Gentry on Ravelry

This review is for the Crochet Magic Wrap.

It shows as a free pattern from Coats and Clark although you can grab it on Ravelry for free (here).

This is one of those very difficult reviews because I did not have a good experience but based on the reviews from others who have made the wrap, it seems like its a 50-50 … either people loved it or they just thought it was so-so.

Of course, these things are all very subjective – but then again, a review is pretty much just that, right? An opinion?

But my goal is not to tear down a pattern that someone out there may enjoy. I want to be as objective as I possibly can before writing off the pattern completely. I want to claim fault to all the contributing factors I created and point out the issues with the actual pattern. That is about as analytical and fair as I can be.

So, things that I think are my fault in having a bad experience are the yarn choice, the hook choice, and my intended recipient.

First up – the yarn. The yarn is a pretty bulky yarn which is a step away from the suggested yarn which is an 8 ply. I know when you deviate from a yarn that is the same or similar, you should expect different results. This is to be said for EVERY pattern you decide to work up. Second – the hook. Because the yarn is bulky and I crochet tightly, I really should have gone with an L hook. I stuck with the J which is totally my fault. I accept that as my own. If I had gone with the L I would have easily accommodated for my generally tight gauge and the yarn.

Fault 2 feeds into fault 3 – I didn’t want to make it so big that it wouldn’t fit my youngest daughter. She is the size of a small woman so I didn’t want to get too crazy with the bulky yarn and a larger hook – I was being lazy in that I didn’t want to calculate out the multiples (which really isn’t that hard) and adjust. I didn’t want to swatch. DOH!

Those three reasons alone helped feed the majority of my bad experience.

Not to mention i wasn’t a fan of staring at a swirl of purple and pinks for hours on end.

What did I like about the pattern? I would say I liked the “collar” which really was more of an edging turned into the semblance of a collar based on how you wear it. I really liked the flow of that and how it gently expanded into a lacy flare. I did like that.

So… the pattern – removing these major factors from my experience – what is left?

I believe the biggest issue with the pattern was the instructions on joining the rectangle/oval to create the armholes. It was very unclear for me. I consider myself a rather experienced crocheter and I had to seek help by messaging people on Ravelry to find out how they did it. One of the people that responded gave an answer completely unlike any of the others, so I know in the end, their wrap was joined wrong. Another individual responded and supported the notion that the instructions were not clear – apparently when she did the wrap it was during a crochet-a-long and many folks had the same question I did.

Now, while the instructions for the rest of the piece were relatively clear, the pattern was marked as “easy” and I would have expected the instructions to be written even clearer than I thought they already were. Obviously, it had to be somewhat unclear because while I was searching for someone to answer my question about joining, I saw several pictures where the “pre-join” shape was VERY off-base. Perhaps the difficulty rating of the pattern should be pushed up one notch?

In the end, I was left with an item that was stiffer than a board, had very little flow, and was way too big for my youngest daughter. While the wrap technically fits me, the shape of the garment is not meant for any woman with a little (or a lot of) extra weight – especially if they are tall…. like me.

It just wasn’t something that ended well on my end. But like I said, many of the factors were of my own doing, not the pattern.

Now – before I share my rating, I think if I ever wanted to make this again, I would adjust to a much thinner yarn (perhaps sport weight), increase the foundation chain, and work with a hook 2 sizes bigger than the recommended hook for the yarn weight. This would force the garment to flow more than it does when working from the pattern.

If you are wanting to make this garment and are trying to adjust to whatever yarn you have selected, just know the foundation chain is basically the width from armhole to armhole – hold it across the back of the intended wearer and go from there.

While there was a lot for this pattern that didn’t work for me, I can’t let all of that fog my judgement of the pattern. Some people are smaller and like a shapeless wrap. Some people would actually pay attention to their gauge and the yarn….. BUT in the end, the clincher for my rating was that the last part of the pattern was not written clearly. If you are going to mark a pattern as easy, then you have to ensure that all instructions on that pattern are clear enough for any beginner. I do not feel the entire pattern was written with the beginner in mind.

Based on that alone, I would have to rate this pattern as a 2.5 balls of yarn.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 4, 2013 in My Reviews

 

My New Swift from The Knit Store on Etsy … A Review

(c) TheKnitStore on Etsy

This blog post is to serve as my review of my new swift, purchased by my mother as a Christmas present to me.

The item was purchased from TheKnitStore on Etsy.

The reason I have decided to do a review on my blog is because I cannot write feedback for TheKnitStore because my mother is the one who actually purchased the swift.

First, it is important to know that this swift was actually recommended to me by one of my friends from my yarn group. This means that through word of mouth, this seller has really achieved customer satisfaction. My friend really likes her swift and suggested it to me – the cost was just right and it works like a gem.

The swift comes unfinished and untreated and all screwed together in a long stack of wood. The small rods used to hold the yarn are detached from the unit and in a bag. You even get extra pegs, which is very nice! I will say that while the instructions provided were nice, it didn’t directly show me how to get the swift unscrewed and set up so I could start swifting (is that what you call it? *laughs*). I fumbled with that a little bit but through logic and general accidental luck, I had my swift set up. It really wasn’t that hard, just don’t look for the instructions to be as explicit as necessary for the swift newb (such as myself).

Once it was set up, it made sense to me and I have taken it down and put it back up a couple times.

The price was $19.95 USD plus $9 shipping. I really don’t think the shipping needs to be that high considering the packaging wasn’t that extensive. Now, I’m not saying the packaging needs to be more extensive than it was – it is just wood, but I think the shipping was a little high. Now, in the grand scheme of things, the overall cost really isn’t as much as other swifts – so for $30, it is still very nicely priced.

The main reason that this swift is cheaper than others is because its not finished or treated wood. Its just raw pine wood. Of course, some people may turn their noses up at this; however, I don’t plan on swifting in adverse weather – in fact, if my swift sees anything more than the craft room and the dining room – well, I’d be shocked. I don’t plan on throwing water on it or any other liquid… and I definitely don’t plan on leaving it outside on the ground – so unfinished wood is fine with me. I suppose if you are an extreme swifter (if there is such a thing) then finished and treated wood may be more of a necessity.

Now, while the wood is not treated or finished, it doesn’t mean that the product itself isn’t finished. TheKnitStore was very careful in crafting this item because it is very smooth. They did not slap it together and call it done – the knew the wood would need to be as smooth as possible so it doesn’t catch on the yarn or snag delicate fibers. I wound several hangs of yarn on it and not one snag resulted.

So – I give this swift 4.5 balls of yarn out of 5 balls of yarn!

If I could leave feedback on Etsy, I would. I think they have a great product and I would definitely recommend TheKnitStore to anyone for all their swifting needs. Their website is located here.

 
 

Pattern Review: Yellow Puffs Baby Cocoon and Beret

This is a review for a pattern found inside the Leisure Arts book called “Dreamy Cocoons.” This is not a pattern I can link to directly and I can only link to Amazon because it is a book you have to buy.

Here is a link to the pattern book on Amazon.

The pattern that I chose is called Yellow Puffs and starts on page 18. The pattern itself was meant for 0-3 month old babies and was suggested to be done in yellow. If you go to the Amazon link and look at the “back cover” image, you will see the yellow cocoon, which was the one I chose to do.

In the spirit of how well I’ve always followed patterns, I did it in pink with a dark pink trim.

I have to admit, this was a pretty quick crochet but only because about halfway through, I realized that I was only yarning over 2 times to create the puff instead of 3. DOH! I considered pulling it out and starting over, but considering my time crunch and the thought that the yarn I was using was a little thinner than what was suggested, I went with it – and I’m glad I did.

I personally think that it looks closer to the picture having not done as many yarn overs for the puff. They are smaller and more dainty, which to me is a better look.

All in all, I would say it took me 3-4 hours to finish both the cocoon and the beret. I ended up coming out close on gauge although I have to say, I don’t think this cocoon, as written in the book, is for 0-3 months. It definitely leans closer to 3-6 months. You may say “well, Cris – its because of your yarn change and hook change and even the change to how you did the puff stuff” … and to you I say… I own a measuring tape.

My cocoon was 1 inch longer than the final measurements shown on the pattern, which with length, it really isn’t an issue. What is different is that my circumference at the top is 1/2 inch smaller than what the pattern says will be the final outcome – so mine is smaller and STILL looks too big. That means had I completely hit gauge, I’d have something much larger than I do already. Even the beret looks big.

That’s a bit disappointing excluding the fact that I did make a baby cocoon for a baby born in June, so the fact its larger means she won’t start using it until September (3 months mark) and that would be perfect weather for it. So – that’s a saving grace, I suppose.

Just like I am good at taking yarn and color suggestions, I didn’t edge it the way the pattern said. Ya know – I just don’t like reverse single crochet on most things so I tend to not use it. And, of course, this pattern asked for reverse single around the edge of the cocoon and the beret. I ended up using my favorite ch1-sl edging. I do think that if I were making this for a boy, I would go with the reverse single crochet.

Something I did find is that there is a better way to join puff stitches in the round so they don’t stick out. I did not use my method on the cocoon and I can clearly see the leaning tower of pisa.. I mean – the seam. I used my method on the beret and its practically invisible. I would have expected a published pattern, one I paid for, to use a better join method to be more seamless rather than a standard join that is more obvious than.. well, the seam I got on my cocoon. I don’t think the new parents will notice, but I do and it bugs me. I really think that if the designer of the yellow puff pattern had spent a few more days looking at it, they would have found a more seamless join.

The book itself cost 9.95 from Hobby Lobby and I probably would not have bought it if I hadn’t found it on sale. I do like that all the pictures are in full color (and there are some pretty darn cute babies to look at).

Now, considering I have not made any of the patterns in the book, I can’t rate the book, but I can rate the Yellow Puff pattern inside the book as a 3 ball of yarn out of 5 kinda pattern.

I would make it again but with the modifications I mentioned above. I would not make it to pattern in the future and it makes me think that I will be modifying some of the other patterns inside it as well. I think what these patterns have going for them is they are “trendy” right now to make, they are relatively quick, and the general structure of each remains the same – so its easy to switch them up on your own if you are an intermediate to advanced crocheter.

 

Pattern Review: Rainbow Ripple Baby Blanket

Finished June 24, 2012 (c) Cris

This post is a review of the pattern Rainbow Ripple Baby Blanket created by Celeste Young. Celeste has made this pattern available through Ravelry so you must be a member to view the link.

Pattern Link: Rainbow Ripple Baby Blanket

I was faced with needing to make a gift for a baby shower. Now, I admit – I haven’t gone to a baby shower in quite some time and the last one I went to, I was asked to paint a picture of a giraffe. But – that has no place in today’s review.

As I fumbled around Ravelry looking for the perfect pattern, I found Celeste Young’s Rainbow Ripple Baby Blanket pattern. It was free and the picture on the main pattern page was quite stunning.

Now, I’ll admit, I was limited in color because I had already made a baby cocoon and matching beret, so I was looking for a way to use up my yarn. Because of this, I did change up the colors a bit and did not complete the suggested color changes in the pattern. But, what I do think, is that the pattern is forgiving as far as that is concerned – if you have 20 colors, you can easily change them up and the pattern isn’t affected at all. I think that was another appealing aspect of the pattern listing on Ravelry – many pictures are posted and the colors are all different. People really used their imagination so I knew it would be a great pattern to use my own colors with.

The yarn that I had was Lion Brand Pound of Love in three different colors: white, pastel pink, and bubble gum.

I decided to start white and create a sunburst type pattern outward, hugging the gradually increasing thickness of dark pink with one row of light pink.

I think the outside picture above captures the colors more accurately but I wanted to show the entire star burst shape with the picture to the right.

I would like to say that I did this pattern and did not block it – the shape came out that good. This is due to Celeste’s shells creating the points. now, I won’t tell you what her pattern says, because that is why the pattern is at Ravelry – if you are curious… go look!

I did choose to modify the finishing row and only use a row of single crochet simply because I did not want a thick row. I felt that having a thick row at the end would make it look unfinished. Obviously, I didn’t do a second blanket to test that theory, so I cannot hold my personal opinion against the review of the pattern.

I will say I was hoping it would be a faster crochet. The notes on the pattern state that its a “go to” pattern and works up quickly. I would say that I slightly disagree with this. It isn’t slow, by no means, but I think the cocoon I made worked up much faster so while this pattern works up good and only takes a few days, it isn’t something you would knock out in a couple of hours…. well, I couldn’t – I’m sure there are plenty of other people out there that crochet MUCH faster than me.

With that said, I will say that this is a pattern I will do again. I’m already planning some colors for another to give as a Christmas present (oh family and friends that read this – could it be for you…. OHHH you don’t know! could be! won’t know till Christmas!). I really like that it laid flat ‘out of the box’ so to speak so I didn’t have to hassle with blocking.

Because of all of this, I would have to give this pattern 4.5 balls of yarn on a scale of 5 balls of yarn.

I really like it and think it is going to make a wonderful present for my co-worker and his wife. Thank you for the wonderful pattern, Celeste!