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Fibers
3377 views   13 replies   Latest reply: September 15, 2013 at 2:44:32 PM

 
Member since:
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BetwixtTheStitch message #1
Fibers
August 6, 2013 at 9:29:41 AM
 
How about a discussion about fibers?
Personally, I can talk extensively about my own fave which is acrylic. I know a lot of people don't like acrylic yarn, but I fell in love with it back in the 60's. I already didn't like working with wool and wool just didn't have the vibrant colors that I could get with acrylics.

Easy care, that was another reason to love it. It was originally labeled as "self blocking" and while that wasn't 100% accurate, it's pretty darned easy to care for. Most of my pieces were made for children or their busy moms, I didn't want to give them anything that required special care. Just wash and shape. The label says it can be put in the dryer, but experince has taught me that it will last longer if it's air dryed.
Fabric softener will cause acrylic to lose its "memory", so it's not recomended.
Do not iron it..........yippppeeeee!!!!!!!!

Dye lots, ugh. Acrylics often don't have dye lots. I've never been good at figuring out how much yarn I would need for a project, and back then I couldn't always afford to buy it all at once anyway. With acrylic yarn I could buy it a little at a time and it was still uniform in color.

It's fairly inexpensive, I could walk down to the local 5 & dime to pick up a skein or two without taxing my tight budget too much.

Fast forward to today, I still use the same brand for the reasons listed above, but also because over the years I've come to know it well. I know how it will behave, I pretty well know the gauge I'll get with which hooks. I know how it will change when it's washed.

Perhaps this is why all the manufacturers use their own loose interpretation of the new standards. After all, don't we all tend to gravitate towards what we know?


Sherry


 
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Stitchboard Admin message #2
Re: Fibers
August 6, 2013 at 6:04:05 PM  (in response to BetwixtTheStitch message #1)
 
I love this discussion!  Smile

I started out with acrylic yarns, too.  I worked in Manhattan and there was a Woolworth's within a few blocks.  Though after a few months...I found heaven...a yarn shop!  Smile

During high school, my best female friend had gone on a student exchange to Germany.  Her flight had a stopover in the Keflavik, Iceland airport, and she'd brought back a catalog of the most beautiful Icelandic Lopi sweaters from one of the airport shops!

I subscribed to the shop's catalogs, and was still receiving them when I found that yarn shop.  I was so happy to find they sold Lopi!

I did not have the slightest idea of how to care for the Lopi, unfortunately.  I made two sweaters with it.  Did not block (knew nothing about it...I pretty much learned how to crochet/knit from a magazine!), did not wash by hand...I didn't wear them that often, just because the materials were so expensive, so am guessing they probably didn't need laundering, at least!

Knowing what I know now, they did need blocking.  But I was much too inexperienced.

The yarn shop wasn't close, but I could realistically make it there during my 45 minute lunchtime.  It took about 15 minutes of walking very fast to get there, another 15 minutes of walking very fast to get back, plus a couple of minutes to wait for the elevator, so altogether, it was about 10-12 minutes for buying, which doesn't sound like much, but worked out perfectly fine.  I didn't have a ton of money to spend, anyway.  And around that time (early to mid '80s), Lopi became available in colors!  They had the most gorgeous heathery pinks, two shades of them, which I wish I could find today.  I started making a ski sweater from a pattern book...pattern book was later stolen with a lot of other things I owned, including my pink heathery Lopi.  Cry

I don't have any more of my own old projects now, but over the years I found the acrylic ones wore terribly.  I had made a cardigan sweater and the pilling was horrendous.  Of course, the positive side of it was that the sweater was machine washable, because once I graduated from college and was supporting myself, I didn't have an easy way of laundering wool.

I make amigurumi toys here and there, so I use more crochet cotton threads for those.  (Have also used metallic embroidery floss and regular embroidery floss, too...even used the rayon embroidery floss, though will never use rayon again...too slippery and doesn't weave back or knot...it just works itself loose. Frown  Not worth the trouble.)

I have no access to Lopi now and little access to wool (LYS shut down a couple of years ago).  About the best I can get is Patons or Lion Brand from craft stores, and while they're decent quality, they don't have the colors or bulkiness I prefer.

I also make doll and bear clothes.  For those I will exclusively use acrylic.  Sorry, but they're not people, and they don't really care if their clothes are acrylic or wool.  It seems so silly and such a waste of money to save up for fine wools just to make doll and bear clothes.  I also won't make larger stuffed toys out of wool unless they need to be felted (fulled).  IMO, it's just a waste to spend a lot of money for a toy!

Dye lots: a necessary evil.  I bought a few skeins of a no-dye-lot acrylic to make a sweater for my teddy bear.  They were way off.  There was no way those yarns were going to match.  I contacted the manufacturer and they sent me three of the same dye lots.  They matched.

I don't trust "no dye lot," particularly not in acrylic.  Frown

It's wonderful to stick with something you know.  Smile  My access to various yarns and things have changed over the years, so every time I buy something, I have to do a swatch, check the gauge and then I know what I'm up against.

Today I mostly use cotton...it's the easiest thing to find, the prices are pretty reasonable and I know in a pinch I can get it pretty much anywhere that sells yarn, from craft stores to Walmart.  Sugar 'n Cream, Peaches 'n Cream, the two are interchangeable for me...not colors/dye lots, obviously, but when I need something, I know to grab one of those.

I mostly work on my own patterns these days.  I made an acrylic I-cord holder for our water jugs, as carrying them used to involve two or three trips back to the house.  Now I put them on the I-cord holder, and they can be carried all at once, until ready to be refilled.  I used cotton for some wedding gift coasters I recently made and am working on something else in cotton.  It's not my favorite fiber, but there are certain household items that I believe work better in cotton.  Smile

You may very well be right about manufacturers.  I understand they want to make room for classifying the "newest" fibers, but I do feel it's pretty negligent to not follow the standards 100% of the time, if that's what they're going to use.  Knitting a sport weight yarn with #10 needles or crocheting that sport weight yarn with a size P crochet hook will not give a "standard" result, and that's when the standards aren't working.  I'm still very unhappy with the new so-called standards, as you can tell.  If manufacturers want to classify their yarns they can easily do so with established standards, not go off onto their own interpretations.


Melanie  (cat slave and Official Feline Can Opener) =^.^=
~~~~~
I'm a beading, knitting and crochet addict.  If that means I'm admitting I have a problem, then I admit to nothing. Please refrain from helping me.


 
Member since:
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Posts: 575
BetwixtTheStitch message #3
Re: Fibers
August 8, 2013 at 8:55:48 AM  (in response to Stitchboard Admin message #2)
 
Boy that sent me on another trip down memory lane. I lived in L.A. and we had a wonderful local chain of yarn shops, the one nearest me requiring a 15-20 minute bus ride. It specialized in acrylic yarns, it was just wonderful to walk in and absorb all the different colors and shades. A special treat for me. Sadly, they have long been closed.
I think specialized shops like that are a thing of the past, giving way to the "big box" craft stores that have such a limited selection of each brand they carry. I was in one recently looking for sport weight yarn of which they had none and when I asked about it, they had no idea what I was talking about Undecided.
Yeah, the "new standards" are a sore spot for me as well.

I agree with you 100% on the fact that most kitchen items should be worked in cotton, and I do explain it to my students.

I too, mostly work on my own patterns these days. I'm very excited about a new deal I just firmed up with an artist friend to translate some of her paintings into yarn!Laughing


Sherry


 
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Stitchboard Admin message #4
Re: Fibers
August 8, 2013 at 3:38:21 PM  (in response to BetwixtTheStitch message #3)
 
Wow, that brings a tear to my eye, because you're absolutely right...the "big box" stores have replaced the neighborhood yarn shops.  There are still some around, but they're few and far between.  My LYS is long gone and sorely missed.  There's literally nowhere to go around here for yarn now...it's all been replaced by the big chain craft stores and online ordering.  I have nothing against online ordering, but as you noted with the yarn stores you frequented in LA, you're there in the store, not just looking at a picture of a yarn that you hope will be what you need.  (And the pictures usually aren't an accurate reflection of what you'll get.)

I love to walk around yarn stores because not only do I like to be able to look closely at the yarns, I also love to feel them.  I want to know if something feels rough or soft.  I was in love with the Noro yarns from pictures...after touching them, I still love the colors, but not the feel.  If I ever work in Noro, and I probably will someday, it will have to be with a softer yarn underneath to have a nice feel to the item.

I would never have known that about Noro without a LYS.  I probably would have ordered it and then said, "Now what?"  It's such beautiful yarn, and it hasn't dampened my enthusiasm for working with it, but the thought of wearing something that rough makes me want to also make a lining.

Definitely feeling your dismay about the limited selection of yarns at craft stores.  The idea of having several different shades and many weights of yarn is almost nonexistent now.  The stores have what they have, and that's it.  No requests, no brands other than the usual ones...it's totally frustrating.  And it's not surprising they wouldn't know a sport weight from a worsted in those stores.  Most of the time, they carry no sport weight at all.

How cool about making your friend's paintings into yarn!  Do you plan on making them into afgahns or garments?


Melanie  (cat slave and Official Feline Can Opener) =^.^=
~~~~~
I'm a beading, knitting and crochet addict.  If that means I'm admitting I have a problem, then I admit to nothing. Please refrain from helping me.


 
Member since:
Jul 3, 2013
Posts: 575
BetwixtTheStitch message #5
Re: Fibers
August 9, 2013 at 8:39:55 AM  (in response to Stitchboard Admin message #4)
 
I'm going to start with afghans, but I'd love to do them as cross stitch graphs as well. I ran one through the pattern wizard a few different ways and it looks amazing. Much better in cross stitch and beadwork because of the wider selection of colors. Wish I knew something about beading to know what to do with that!
I'm thinking the tunisian stockinette would be a perfect stitch to create afghans based on her artwork.

Yes, looking closely and touching. A computer moniter rarely portrays the colors accurately, and there is no way you can tell about softness, whether it's a thinner or thicker version of the "standard" weights, etc.


Sherry


 
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Stitchboard Admin message #6
Re: Fibers
August 9, 2013 at 6:55:02 PM  (in response to BetwixtTheStitch message #5)
 
Afghans would be wonderful!  Smile

I'm so glad you were able to use the Free Pattern Wizard to create something and that it went so well!  Smiley

Yes, unfortunately yarns are far more limited than floss and bead colors.  Frown  Manufacturers don't want to be making 400+ shades of yarn...in this economy, they probably wouldn't sell very many.  Frown

It's a shame you can't somehow use floss for embroidering on an afghan, but I wouldn't suggest mixing fibers like that.  I'd think it would be an utter disaster...the cotton of the floss would launder very differently from the acrylic of the afghan.

Cross stitch would probably work better as cross stitch, but I can see why you wouldn't want to make a cross stitch pattern!

Beadweaving is fun...and also tedious.  The problem would be if you were to use a wide range of colors to create a beadwork pattern...it wouldn't be very useful.  The best beadweaving patterns are smaller and use fewer colors.  Unless it was something very, very special, like a wedding photo, you wouldn't want to be buying 50 vials of different colors of beads for a project, because those can get quite pricey!  If a single vial of beads costs $2.99 at the least, you can see where 50 vials of them would become a lot of money.  Embroidery floss, on the other hand, is fairly inexpensive.  I haven't bought it in years...I'm guessing at most it's 30 cents a skein.  And I think it's rare to have as many as 50 colors in a pattern.  Though there are some artists who make "blended" colors, with one strand of one color and another strand of another.  So it could be a lot of colors for a purist.  Even so, there are artists who have mastered creating beautiful cross stitch patterns with few colors!  I knew someone who was working on a gorgeous whale-themed cross stitch, and I think the artist used about 5 colors...and it looked very artsy, not like someone had slobbered a few selected crayons over a piece of fabric!  Smile

Anyway, that's the problem with beautiful artwork...it doesn't always translate well to a medium that requires fewer colors, like crochet or knitting.  Frown  It's either got to fit into fewer colors or be slated instead for something that works with more colors, like cross stitch.

Years ago, I had someone machine knit a sweater for me.  I had a photograph that I wanted to turn into a duplicate stitch pattern for the sweater.  I never did get very far with it, as I didn't have a computer at the time (computers were in their infancy) and had to use a piece of tracing paper to plot the pattern by hand.

I should add that I had obtained three skeins of gray yarn, all from different manufacturers.  I was going to plot the entire pattern in those shades of gray.

That was the only answer...to use gray yarn of a similar weight (and from three different manufacturers) to the sweater for duplicate stitching.

You may be able to go that route with an afghan, to use yarn colors from different manufacturers to create a variation.  I'm not sure if it would work...but it might be worth a try.  Smile

Tunisian stockinette is great for plotted patterns on afghans!  Smile  I once made a whole scarf out of Tunisian stockinette...at a glance, it looked just like it had been knitted!

There really is no substitute for looking at yarn in person and feeling the texture.  A monitor does nothing for texture, and as you noted, the colors can be all over the place.  Even depending on the angle at which you look at something on a monitor, the colors can look different!  Ugh, trying to figure out yarn weights on a monitor is next to impossible.  You just have to hope it's close enough...and that's why I'd rather buy from a LYS!


Melanie  (cat slave and Official Feline Can Opener) =^.^=
~~~~~
I'm a beading, knitting and crochet addict.  If that means I'm admitting I have a problem, then I admit to nothing. Please refrain from helping me.


 
Member since:
Jul 3, 2013
Posts: 575
BetwixtTheStitch message #7
Re: Fibers
August 11, 2013 at 8:22:13 AM  (in response to Stitchboard Admin message #6)
 
No I wouldn't want to mix fibers either, disaster waiting to happen. Years ago it was popular to cross stitch patterns on top of completed afghans done in the afghan stitch, I myself found it slightly less appealing than stitching little squares together Tongue Out.

The purpose of this license agreement is to create patterns for sale, so I think easier is betterWink.


Sherry


 
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Stitchboard Admin message #8
Re: Fibers
August 11, 2013 at 4:24:06 PM  (in response to BetwixtTheStitch message #7)
 
You're so right...mixing fibers is a disaster waiting to happen!  It might work if you had, say, a mostly cotton-blend yarn (or an all-cotton yarn), but yeesh, who wants to make a cotton afghan?!  As much as I do like cotton fibers for knitting/crochet, I despise washing any garment made with cotton.  It becomes a shapeless sack.  Frown  I wouldn't want to attempt washing a cotton afghan.

I've seen those old cross-stitched afghans, even have seen one or two really old patterns for this purpose shared on the Web...as a "recovering cross stitcher," LOL, I don't mind cross stitching, but honestly, the coverage to me isn't as nice as cross stitching on fabric.  The stitches are much smaller and the Xs with floss tend to look better to me than Xs with yarn on a yarn background.  Floss is made to be "stripped," e.g., for the plies to be separated individually and recombined, where together they naturally give better coverage; with yarn, the yarn is twisted and naturally tends to stick together.

Matter of fact, with cross stitching, some purists will use what's called a "laying tool," which can be (though isn't always) a long needle-like thing that can be worn on one finger on your non-dominant hand (because it's possible for people to forget and stab themselves in the eye, which is why I would never use one, even if I had been such a purist!), the purpose of which is to ensure the plies don't twist, but instead, lay completely flat.  In other words, they lay next to each other and don't twist.  You simply cannot do that with yarn.  The equivalent could only be if you were to cross stitch with two thicknesses of yarn held together, with perhaps a crochet hook or knitting needle to aid as a laying tool.

Though I'm guessing for something that likely will get as much use as an afghan, the stitches may ultimately not stay separated, anyway.  If the afghan were going to be displayed as a wall hanging, then chances for it would be better.

But with a cross stitched item that gets hung up on the wall behind glass, it's extremely likely not to get laundered.  An afghan wouldn't be displayed behind glass; it would instead be subject to dust and would have to be brought down to be laundered, and keeping stitches from twisted could never be guaranteed.

I agree...easier would definitely be better for pattern sales!  Smile


Melanie  (cat slave and Official Feline Can Opener) =^.^=
~~~~~
I'm a beading, knitting and crochet addict.  If that means I'm admitting I have a problem, then I admit to nothing. Please refrain from helping me.


 
Member since:
Jul 3, 2013
Posts: 575
BetwixtTheStitch message #9
Re: Fibers
August 12, 2013 at 7:52:46 AM  (in response to Stitchboard Admin message #8)
 
Speaking of seperating threads, I've been meaning to ask if you do that for your miniatures, and how many threads you use to make them?


Sherry


 
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Stitchboard Admin message #10
Re: Fibers
August 12, 2013 at 10:30:36 PM  (in response to BetwixtTheStitch message #9)
 
Good question!  Smile

Sorry to say, I haven't done miniatures in a while, only because working so small makes my hands cramp.  Frown  One teddy bear was made with 3 strands of metallic embroidery floss, IIRC.  Hmm, could have been 4...but I want to say it was 3.

At the craziest point, LOL, I did start a bear with only two strands of regular floss.  It started out well, but after realizing how uncomfortable I was with my hands cramping, I gave up.

The problem is not really having anything to hold onto.  You know how it is when you start a project, right...you have a small but solid piece that you can at least hold between thumb and forefinger, if nothing else, and picking stitches ultimately leads to a bigger piece...with something so tiny, it's like holding onto a couple of threads at most.  And that means until you work 5 or 6 rounds or rows, it's so fiddly, it's uncomfortable.  Frown

If I do go back to miniatures, I'm thinking of using either #10 cotton or 6 strands of floss, at least!  But the problem with floss is that it's really not meant for crochet.  It definitely doesn't work for tiny knitting (the strands are wound too loosely)...it's easier with crochet, because you have a hook to catch all of the strands, at least!  Tongue Out


Melanie  (cat slave and Official Feline Can Opener) =^.^=
~~~~~
I'm a beading, knitting and crochet addict.  If that means I'm admitting I have a problem, then I admit to nothing. Please refrain from helping me.


 
Member since:
Jul 3, 2013
Posts: 575
BetwixtTheStitch message #11
Re: Fibers
August 13, 2013 at 8:29:08 AM  (in response to Stitchboard Admin message #10)
 
Wow! That's pretty impressive.  I can't even imagine trying to crochet with floss, much less knit. My hands want to cramp just thinking about it.


Sherry


 
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Stitchboard Admin message #12
Re: Fibers
August 13, 2013 at 10:47:03 PM  (in response to BetwixtTheStitch message #11)
 
LOL, see what I mean about how fiddly it is?!  Tongue Out  Luckily, there are alternatives...size 10 crochet cotton, size 3 crochet cotton, even 6 strands of embroidery floss would be easier to work with.  At least that's not so fiddly small!  Smile

Of course, another alternative is to go with a sock or fingering weight yarn.  That would work nicely.  Sport weight would work if the pattern is tiny enough.  As you get into the worsted weights, it can be too big...but if that's the effect you want, it can work!  Smile

The only problem is, as you mentioned previously, some of the big box craft stores have little variety in yarn weights.  So it's mostly worsted weight, maybe a bit of sock weight.  Except much of the sock weight is variegated...which is fantastic for socks, but not so good for when you really need a solid color.  Frown

I think a big part of that is the economy.  Frown  With yarn stores becoming almost a thing of the past, the big box stores are often the only solution, especially in a pinch...because mail order means ordering something without really being able to feel the texture or know what the actual colors are.


Melanie  (cat slave and Official Feline Can Opener) =^.^=
~~~~~
I'm a beading, knitting and crochet addict.  If that means I'm admitting I have a problem, then I admit to nothing. Please refrain from helping me.


 
Member since:
Sep 14, 2013
Posts: 4
kamiekirk message #13
Re: Fibers
September 15, 2013 at 1:32:27 AM  (in response to BetwixtTheStitch message #1)
 
I'm an acrylic girl, myself. The best thing about acrylic is that it comes in varying degrees of softness and price. I can buy a bunch of Super Heart Red Saver for pet beds and buy more expensive acrylics for hats/scarves/sweaters. Acrylics also come in a HUGE variety of textures, colors, and types. I've worked with wool, but will forever prefer acrylic. I don't buy anything else.

It's also easier to build up your yarn stash with acrylic, as it's cheaper.

I second your comment about not having to worry about dye lots. I'm currently working on an afghan, and I'm buying the yarn as I go, as it'd be too expensive otherwise. I've found no inconsistencies with the color.

I also love how acrylic is non-fuss. There is no felting and no worry about washing it. Laughing




"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." -Eleanor Roosevelt
++++++++++++++++++++++++
I'm in love with: crochet, embroidery, sewing, and anything and everything DIY.

I'd love to learn: beading, jewelry making, soap making, machine sewing, and knitting.


 
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Stitchboard Admin message #14
Re: Fibers
September 15, 2013 at 2:44:32 PM  (in response to kamiekirk message #13)
 
I like certain acrylics for various things.  I like Simply Soft for the occasional baby blanket gift...the Red Heart Super Saver is definitely a fave for pet beds, too!  Smile

I'll also use acrylic for making soft toys and doll clothes.  Sorry, I'm not using expensive wools to make a dress for a doll!  Tongue Out  The way I see it, Barbie really isn't going to complain if her Red Heart acrylic coat isn't warm enough.  Laughing

Here are a few pictures of projects made with acrylic yarns:

This is Rupert, wearing the sweater I made for him out of Red Heart acrylic, color Sage, IIRC.  Doesn't he look happy...and very dapper?  Smile

Scarf worn by AG-type doll Quia
This is Quia.  She's modeling the Red Heart scarf I made for her sister, my friend's doll, Tia.  (Coincidentally rhyming names, I swear!)

Haven't heard a complaint out of anyone yet about these things being uncomfortable or not warm enough!  Wink


Melanie  (cat slave and Official Feline Can Opener) =^.^=
~~~~~
I'm a beading, knitting and crochet addict.  If that means I'm admitting I have a problem, then I admit to nothing. Please refrain from helping me.

 
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