Thursday, January 31, 2008

Transitions by Debbie Mumm - Yarn Review

Debbie Mumm Transitions yarnHi kids
Meet Debbie Mumm's Transitions yarn, made for Jo-Ann fabrics and crafts.
75% Acrylic, 23% Wool, 2% "other fiber"

(Well...what the heck is "other fiber"? Stuff they swept off the floor??) Ok sorry, that was snotty.

Anyhow, I recently got this yarn because the color was so attractive to me. It is also a fairly smooth yarn. I had planned to make a scarflette or neck warmer or somesuch, but I've been experiencing a need to make hand warmers. So out came the double pointed needles.

My initial impressions were good, even though I found a knot in the first 12 inches of yarn. The yarn was pleasant to handle, smooth and not splitting. After getting 6 or 8 rounds done, however, I noticed that the yarn was a little squiggly and smoothed it out, but it soon reappeared and worsened.

It turns out that although I originally assumed this was a singles style yarn based on appearance, its actually some manner of core spun yarn. What was happening is the outermost layer was sliding along the inner layer. Dissecting it a little I find the structure is thus: dyed wool core spun over white acrylic single interior plied with random fiber thread layer.












I continued knitting for a while, but the slipping got worse. It also led to an odd little detail where the wool slipped aside on the facing part of the stitch, leaving a stark white section in a couple of stitches. I stopped when I came to another knot in the yarn. I understand that commercial yarns sometimes need to be spliced, but twice in such a short space seems a bit much.

In general I can't say I'm very excited about the yarn at all. I might test it out with crochet or straight knitting to see if it behaves any better, but I assume it will not. Its a shame really, nice hand, great cable definition, but its just an annoying yarn. Now you are informed about my experience with this yarn. I would like to encourage anyone else who has tried the yarn to comment to the post about how it has behaved for you.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Vegan Silk - Yarn Review and Pattern

This is "Vegan Silk", a scarf I recently crocheted with Bernat Bamboo yarn, one of their new "natural blends" line. The high percentage of bamboo fiber makes it a very dense yarn, giving only 63 yards for 2.1oz bulky weight. Compare this to Lion Brand's new yarn, Nature's Choice Organic Cotton, of actually less wraps per inch but 103 yards for 3oz, yielding more yards per oz.


Exact fiber content is 86% Bamboo, 12% Acrylic, 2% Polyester, which sorts out to the structure aspects of the yarn (shown above). So, the bamboo would be that fuzz on the right, with the acrylic on the left and the polyester in the middle. The acrylic serves as the core of the yarn, with the bamboo 'core spun' around it. Then the polyester thread is laid down as a binder and shaper on the outside.

The handling of the yarn is divine. It is very silky smooth in texture, and was easy to crochet. I have not knitted it, but due to the density I doubt that would split much in knitting. However, I'm not sure how well it will wear. In general, this type of construction is soft and nice to work with initially but tends to fuzz out a lot in areas of heavy abrasion. Ever knitted a sweater with Lion Brand's Homespun? Soft and warm, but really really fuzzy where you lean on the counter or carry things against you frequently. Fortunately scarves don't generally get a lot of abrasion.

Additional features of this yarn include a certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (www.fsc.org, cert. no. SW-COC-002192) stating the materials come from "mixed sources [of] ...well-managed forests, controlled sources and recycled wood or fiber." This adds to the appeal of the texture with a bit of 'good for the environment' karma.

The cheapest source I've found for this yarn is AC Moore, where I recently got it on a 25% off sale at $3 per ball. This is good since you'll need 6 balls for the scarf... Most internet sources I've seen are selling it at $5 per ball. If you see something better, please leave a comment!

Now. To the pattern!!


Materials:
3 balls each Bernat Bamboo in Wicker and Linen.
US J/10 (6mm) crochet hook
Gauge ~2.3 dc per inch

1. With wicker, Ch 184 loosely.
2. Dc in 4th chain from hook and each ch across (181sts).
3. Switch to linen. Ch1, turn. Sc in first st, *skip next st, sc in second st, between second and third stitches make bobble (#yo; insert hook, yo and pull up loop# three times, yo and pull through 6 loops, yo and pull through last 2 loops)* repeat between * across to last 2 sts, dc in last st.
4. Ch 1, turn. Repeat row 3.
5. Switch to wicker. Ch 3 (=first dc). Dc across.
6.
Ch 3 (=first dc). Dc across.
7-9. Repeat rows 3-5.
10. Weave in ends and add fringe. I used 16 inch strands to give long fringe.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Today's Hybrid Attempt: Fun with Frozen Pollen!

Phal. Orchid World 'Brother'Phal. Taisuco Glory 'Fruit Loops'



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Phal Orchid World 'Brother' x Taisuco Glory 'Fruit Loops'
I pollinated my Orchid World just this morning with frozen pollen from my Taisuco Glory. I've heard you can make crosses with frozen pollen, but this is the first time I've actually tried it. Hope it works!

Both of the parents are fragrant and have similar habit and good shape. No other criteria were used in selecting this pairing. I like fragrant. Lots of people like fragrant. Seems like a good idea to make fragrant plants.

Orchid World is Malibu Imp x Deventeriana, registered in 1984 according to RHS. It has 2 grandparents that are amboinensis, which is only sometimes fragrant, and one grandparent that is Luedde-violacea, which is certainly fragrant. Orchid world has a strong, sharp fragrance.
Taisuco Glory smells like fruit loops. Really. And it is very strong, especially in the morning. The hybrid is Brother Lawrence x Salu Spot. This is a rather complex parentage that I'm currently too lazy to trace completely. Basically, its a carefully constructed combination of amboinensis, venosa, lueddemaniana, probably violacea and some other stuff. I've had this particular plant for almost 7 years. I from Kensington Orchids back when they were in business.

The downside of this pairing is that flower count will be low per spike. But the flowers will be both glossy and long-lived in addition to their expected fragrance. At least, if the cross takes...

Monday, January 7, 2008

In bloom: Phalaenopsis celebensis 'Topaz'

Phal. celebensis 'Topaz'Phalaenopsis celebensis 'Topaz'

Just look at that cutie! P. celebensis is a hard-to-come-by species related closely with lindenii and equestris. It has lovely patterned leaves like lindenii or schilleriana. It is generally considered a miniature, but in actuality the leaves can be in the range of 8 inches long. The plant produces a skinny inflorescence that elongates out and arches straight down, then produces blooms over a period of time, still developing new buds as the first flowers are open.

This particular plant came from Dowery Orchids in VA.