Saturday, January 10, 2009

Vendor Review: Knitting-Warehouse

Who likes to save money? I sure do, and these days, who can afford not saving money? If you find yourself struggling to justify your knitting (and other craft) expenses, this article is for you. In a quest to save money on a large yarn purchase I was planning, I discovered Knitting-Warehouse. I was very pleasantly surprised. 

To say that I bought a lot of yarn in 2008 is accurate. Most of my online yarn purchases were made through Knitting-Warehouse. Their website is simple, without the bells and whistles that others use to get our attention. They aren't, by any means, a closeout site -- KW has a variety of yarn in all price ranges. Though they say they cannot match dyelots 100% of the time, I haven't ever received a shipment from them with mis-matched lots. 

In addition to yarn, they also have a great selection of needles, totes, books, and other accessories. While I've successfully steered clear from their book section, I have purchased bamboo needles and a tote from them. Both were great quality and low priced. I have never had any issues with orders/shipments from Knitting-Warehouse.

Shipping charges are very fair, and orders seem to ship within one business day. Overall, this website is tried and true (for me), and I will continue to shop with them again and again. 8 out of 10 (I'd like to see their selection expand). 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Pattern Review: My So Called Scarf

In a quest to find a scarf consisting of more than row after row of knit and purl stitches, I found My So Called Scarf. I'll admit, I was drawn to this pattern because of the stitches. In fact, I was so amazed my the complexity of the stitches, I refused to knit this scarf with color. I opted for undyed Knit Picks Bare Peruvian Highland Wool (bulky weight). 

Pattern Content - The pattern itself was very easy to read (available in English and Dutch). After casting on, rows 1 and 2 are alternated until the scarf reaches it's desired length. It was really that simple! I made an error at the very beginning of the scarf on row 1. The pattern reads "K1, *sl 1, K1, psso but before dropping slipped st from LH needle, k into back of it* K1. Somehow I omitted the first asterisk and completed my rows as "K1, sl 1, K1, psso (knit into back), repeat to end". Once I discovered my error, I didn't frog the piece and start over. I noticed that this was making the scarf appear much less rigid, and gave it a more naturally curled appearance that I preferred. Once I had reached the desired length, I bound off and created some (optional) tassels for both ends, which gave the scarf just the perfect amount of flair. 

This was an enjoyable project. At roughly 270 yards, this is a great stash buster. I will definitely make this scarf again, likely with the same yarn (after dyeing 2-3 vivid colors), opting for the original (flatter) look. 9 out of 10. 

Friday, January 2, 2009

Product Review: Options Interchangeable Harmony Wood Circular Knitting Needle Set

I was fortunate enough to receive a set of Harmony Interchangeable Circulars for Christmas this year, after having spent the previous year wishing for a set of my own. This was probably the most exciting knitting-related gift I have ever received. 

Basics - Kit contains the following:
  • Tips, sizes 4 (3.5mm) through 11 (8.0mm)
  • Cables, two each 24" and 32"
  • Two cable keys
  • Eight end caps
  • Plastic, zippered storage pouch
Appearance - There are many appealing aspects of these needles, however the appearance is certainly at the top of my list. The colors of the tips are both bold and plentiful, with shades of fuchsia, yellow, green, blue, and a rich, natural shade of birch swirling in the patterns of the grain. The cables, Knit Picks' signature purple, compliment the tips nicely. 

Performance - While I will happily admit to having a preference for wooden needles, these feel nice in the hands. They are not too heavy, however they have a sturdy feeling to them. Easily assembled by screwing the tips to the cables, the cable keys included make them even easier to take apart when finished using. The cables themselves have very little memory, offering a smooth cable for every project. The laminated wood tips offer a very slight grip on the yarn, preventing stitches from falling off easily. My only complaint about this kit is the plastic case included. The pockets meant to house the tips are far too large to keep them securely in place. If I were to design a case, it would be similar to the case designed for Denise needles. 

Knit Picks offers additional cables (24"- 60"), as well as tips in sizes ranging from 4 (3.5mm) to 17 (12.0mm). The kit does not include sizes 13, 15, and 17 - they can be purchased separately. In addition to the interchangeable circulars, Knit Picks also offers Harmony Wood straight needles (sets and individuals), fixed circular needles, and double-pointed needles (sets and individuals). 

Overall I give this kit a 9.5 out of 10. They are well worth the money, and are a must-have for knitters of all skill levels.