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looking back on 2016!

I can’t say that 2016 was my best year but there were some great times too, and the not-so-good times ended up making me a stronger person so I can’t really complain.  The New Year’s resolution I made last year to make a certain number of projects in 2016 was blown out of the water; I made WAY more stuff than in 2015, and put out some patterns too!  Below is a gallery of my finished objects (there are some that are complete for the most part but haven’t been blocked or still have ends that are unwoven, so I don’t count them as finished although they certainly took up a bunch of time!), followed by a gallery of life moments as well:

I think I forgot to take photos of a hat that I didn’t end up liking, but other than that I think that’s everything that’s fully complete! On to the moments that I posted about here:

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, really!  I just realized how much less I posted about my personal life in 2016 in relation to projects.  I’ll try and post more life events next year.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and I wish you all a happy New Year!  Let’s do our best to make 2017 amazing!

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KnitPro Zing needles have arrived – review & comparison

This is kind of my last big hurrah, since my new Wing Chun Kung Fu lessons are expensive (but I’m not complaining, it’s worth it)!  These KnitPro Zings were purchased from knitproneedles.co.uk — thank you guys for shipping to the US, or else it would have been really difficult and really expensive for me to get them!  KnitPro, Knitter’s Pride, and KnitPicks are all made by the same company, I believe, but for some reason have some differences in needle availability depending on where you are and what company officially ships to you.

KnitPro Zing

Zing is a new line, I believe.  I got all 13 sizes (US 0-10, or 2-6mm) in the 30cm (12″) length, although they have other lengths available as well as fixed circular needles and double points (I’d love them all)!  As you can see, they are aluminum needles that are color coded by size.  They are very sturdy, although of course as the gauge goes down the flexibility goes up a little.

I took my crappy bamboo needles that came with my Cath Kidston needle case out and am donating them (I’ve had them for years and never use them), and I’ve put the Zings in the case to give the needles at least a little protection since they didn’t come with a case, and the Cath Kidston needle roll will get some usefulness:

KnitPro Zing

I’ve taken some photos to compare the Zings with other popular brands, so you can see what they’re like and maybe decide if you want to get some yourself!

KnitPro Zing knitting needles

Zing vs. Boye

Boye needles are the most affordable and available aluminum metal option, at least in this area of the US, but let’s take a close look:

KnitPro Zing vs Boye

A US 10 Zing is on the left, a US 10 Boye is on the right.  The Zing is sharper, for sure.

KnitPro Zing vs Boye

You can sorta see that the Boye needle is a bit shinier than the Zing.  This is probably because the Zing needles have a bit more grip to them than Boye, which I like (although of course they’re still smoother than wood or bamboo or acrylic).  Boye needles have the size labeled on the end of the stopper, not on the shaft like the Zings (although it seems to be engraved on the Zings — I tried scratching it with my nail and it didn’t change a bit).  I think the quality difference is noticeable and that it’s worth the extra couple of bucks to get the Zings.

Zing vs. Karbonz

The Knitter’s Pride/KnitPro Karbonz have been so popular, so let’s compare those!

KnitPro Zing vs Karbonz

A US 5 Zing is on the left, a US 5 Karbonz is on the right.  The points seem similar, although it’s worth noting that the size label on the Karbonz DOES scratch off with my fingernail… Oops…  The Karbonz also has that join between the tip and the body, while the Zings don’t have a join at all, it’s just a texture/color change.  Many people say that the Karbonz joins are very smooth, but if you don’t like joins at all, there you go.  As far as the grip on these needles, they seem very, very similar.  In fact, when I closed my eyes and mixed these up I couldn’t tell which was which.  So in my opinion the Zings win, since they have no join, are color coded, and the size is engraved on the shaft, not stamped (also they’re cheaper than the Karbonz)!

Zing vs. KnitPicks Sunstruck

KnitPicks Sunstruck are made the same as their Rainbow and Caspian and Majestic needles, just minus the color, and I think the UK/EU equivalents are KnitPro Symfonie.

KnitPro Zing vs KnitPicks Sunstruck

As you can see, the Zing is sharper, but I do have to say that I’ve used the Sunstruck needles a few times so they may not be as sharp as they once were (although I don’t think the birch wood tips are supposed to get dull easily — they’re certainly a bazillion times better than my ChiaoGoo bamboo straights which I’m not even comparing in this post because mine have splintered at the tips a bit).  Obviously the Sunstruck needles have more grip, since they’re wood.

Unfortunately I don’t have any other brands to compare with — I’ve never owned any HiyaHiya needles or good ChiaoGoo needles or any fancy brands — but hopefully that gives you a bit of an idea as to what the Zing needles are like!

I’ll probably let you know more as I use them, but my first impression is great!

That’s all for today, thanks so much for stopping by!

Dye For Yarn Merino/Baby Camel yarn review

The lovely ladies at DyeForYarn/DyeForWool very kindly sent me a hank of yarn to review here on my blog.  They did not pay me for my review, so everything written here is my honest opinion about this yarn.  The yarn is their Merino/BabyCamel fingering weight yarn in the colorway Dyeing Rose (click here to be taken to their Etsy page for this specific yarn, in all the lovely colorways!).

first impressions

The yarn shipped very quickly all the way from Germany!  It arrived in a beautiful hank.

reviewhankIsn’t it gorgeous?  Here’s a close-up of the tags:

reviewtagsYou can see that this single-ply fingering weight yarn is made of 55% Merino superwash and 45% baby camel.  The hank is 100g and 480m (525yd).  These hanks are currently selling for $25.13 USD, which is a very reasonable price for the yardage you get and the fact that this yarn is hand dyed and everything.

Here it is after I used my new ball winder to wind it into a handy cake (and I should mention that there was not a single knot to be found in the whole hank):

reviewcake

working with this yarn

I knitted a hat with this yarn (more details on the specifics in a bit), and I very much enjoyed the experience.  The yarn is soft (a pleasant but not necessarily common attribute in wool yarns), and it has a beautiful, ethereal halo.  There was a little shedding of fibers during the knitting process, but it was not bad at all — it didn’t even make me sneeze and it didn’t get fuzz all over my clothes like some yarns do.  Since I used the magic loop method, I pulled the first/last stitches of each half of the hat tightly to try to avoid ladders up the sides of my hat, and the yarn turns out to be very strong.  This makes it a higher quality yarn in my estimation, since other single-ply yarns I’ve used have been pretty easy to pull apart.

the knitted product

reviewfinished4

The hat pattern is called Plume Beanie and it is free to download on Ravelry.  It has a very long ribbed edge which is meant to be casually folded/pushed on top of itself, and a lace pattern that is not too complicated.

reviewfinished2

I went up a couple of needle sizes to obtain the correct gauge, although I think I still slightly undershot it and would use one more size up if I made it again (details here on my project page).  Even so, the finished hat is amazing and the pattern was the perfect choice for this yarn.  There’s even over half of the ball left, so I’ll be able to make something else too!

reviewfinished1

the verdict

This is definitely one of the best fingering weight yarns I’ve ever used, if not THE best.  The next time I need some more fingering weight yarn, this Merino/BabyCamel yarn by DyeForYarn will probably be what I go for (perhaps in another beautiful colorway, or maybe I’ll try their other yarns, too)!  The owners Nicole and Cordula are so nice and prompt, which only adds to my desire to shop with them again.  To you dear readers I say give it a go — it’s worth every penny!

reviewfinished3

I hope you enjoyed my first official yarn review, thank you so much for stopping by!

2012: a pictorial overview

Can’t say hello to 2013 without saying goodbye to 2012!

KnitPicks needle set review

I’ve had the Options Sunstruck Wood Interchangeable Needle Set by KnitPicks for long enough to review them.  Here’s the set in all it’s beautiful glory:

I got a couple of extras, like extra cables, ID tags, and cable joins.

I will confess I was a little worried at getting the whole set without trying any of their needles out beforehand, but I’d heard/read good things about them, so I was mostly confident.  The set was expensive, but I saved 19% buy buying all the components together instead of buying them separately over time, so to me it was worth it.

what the set contains:

This set of laminated birch needles contains needle sizes 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10.5, and 11.  There are two metric sizes between 10.5 and 11 that are not included (7mm and 7.5mm).  They have the 7mm tips sold separately but do not offer 7.5.  The set also includes two each of the 24″ cables and the 32″ cables, a vinyl needle case, a vinyl cable case, 8 end caps, and 2 cable keys.

the review:

So smooth and beautiful!

love this set.  Now I’ve never had an interchangeable needle set before, but I can confidently say that I wouldn’t even bother trying other brands out because these are just perfect.  The cables are very flexible and [so far] do not kink up while knitting like my old ChiaoGoo fixed circulars sometimes did.  The joins from cable to needle are smooth and don’t snag yarn.  The wood is silky soft and smooth, but since it is wood it has a nice grip to it.  I like wooden needles because they are lighter than aluminum/nickel so they don’t weigh your work down, they stay nice and warm in your hands, and they have that good grip on the yarn so you never have to worry about your stitches sliding off (even with double points).  The tips of these needles are way pointier than the ChiaoGoo needles, as you can see here:

ChiaoGoo on the left, KnitPicks on the right.

Getting into stitches to do complicated twists and cable work is so much easier with these pointy tips!  The difference is amazing!  Also, I think that since these KnitPicks needles are made of laminated birch, they will be stronger than the ChiaoGoo bamboo needles (which would sometimes chip at the points during tight sections and cause an awful lot of problems).  Also, the caps are really handy — it will be great to be able to keep my projects safe, secure, and on the cable while I use the needles for something else!  That’s one reason I wanted the interchangeable set instead of fixed ones.  The cable keys may seem unnecessary, but they help make sure the cables are screwed into the tips nice and tightly for use.  The cases are OK — they’re just regular clear vinyl, but they get the job done.  Maybe someday I’ll spring for a beautiful cloth needle roll or something, but for now this is just fine.

availability of Sunstruck needles:

Since the Sunstruck needles are relatively new, they don’t have any double point sets like the Harmony needles do.  Hopefully they’ll make some soon, because while I’m sure the Harmony quality is the same as the Sunstruck, I really would prefer my needles to not be multicolored so that I can see what I’m doing better.  I think a set of Sunstruck double points would definitely be in my future if they make them (and if they don’t, I might end up getting the Harmony ones anyway because I love the sharp points).

that’s it!

So that’s my review!  If you’re in the market for a set I’d highly recommend this one.  It may be a little expensive for poor grad students like me or others on a budget but I think the quality is worth the price and more.  I love them, and I think they will last a very long time!

Thanks for stopping by, hope you pop in again soon!

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