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Baby Jacquards by Bernat

Reported by Deja Jetmir

As a crochet designer I get to work with many different types of yarns. One particular type that has always been near and dear to my heart, yet has failed me time and time again is self-striping yarn. I can never seem to resist all those combined colors calling out to me from the shelf, but I know I should because I will be bitterly disappointed once I begin to make something. The reason being is because most ( I won’t say all because I haven’t tried all that exist) self-striping yarn is made for knitters.

Self-striping yarn is made from one piece of yarn that has continuous color repeats (sometimes long, sometimes short). Once worked up, the project takes on the appearance of stripes, or fair isle, without actually having to change yarn. It is a wonderful invention, but not well-thought-out for a crocheter. Knitting, in general, takes less yarn than crocheting – sometimes as much as half for a similar project. Because of this extra yarn, crochet is a much denser fabric and each row that is crocheted uses up more of each color in a self-striping yarn. This is where the problem lies. If a yarn manufacturer makes a yarn specifically for a knitter, it will never look quite right in a crochet project.

However, I am a glutton for punishment and am always experimenting with new yarn trying to find one that will work for crocheters. That search has lead me to review Bernat Baby Jacquards. I was drawn to the cute colors and fair isle pattern it promised me on the label. For purposes of this review. I decided to follow Bernat’s gauge and make a swatch in knit (for comparison to the crochet stitches), single crochet, half double crochet and double crochet, then finally work a project in the best crochet stitch I found.

Baby Jacquards is a light weight yarn and Bernat’s recommended gauge was 4″ by 4″ = 23 stitches and 30 rows with size 6 (4mm) needles. Unfortunately, all we are given for gauge information for crochet is to use a size US G/6 (4mm) hook. This is an automatic red flag for me because Bernat hasn’t even attempted to give us a gauge swatch to work.

The reason a swatch gauge is important for self-striping yarns is because they are often made so if you are designing something from scratch, you know to use multiples of this swatch to keep your stripes, or fair isle pattern even and consistent. Using this swatch information for example, we know we should make the swatch, see how many rows we stitch for each color change and then figure out how wide we can make the project and still have pretty striped/fair isled rows. The number of stitches will usually be a multiple of the swatch gauge (i.e. 23, 46, 92). Since I have no crochet swatch information, I am forced to make my own and see what kind of results I achieve.

First off, I begin with a knit swatch to see what kind of pattern I should have. As you can see in the picture below. There are long color changes that last for about 6 rows on average. This means I can make my knit project at least 138 stitches wide (or about 24″ wide) and still have a nice striping effect. Plus as you can see in the swatch, some of the color changes are mid row, yet they are not that noticeable because the knit stitches are somewhat small. Since this yarn is intended for children projects, I can make just about anything under these constraints since most garments are pieced together and are easily made under 24″ wide for each piece. So for a knitter, this is a wonderful yarn (in terms of color changes, I will review the yarn itself later).

Knit Swatch

Next I begin with the most common crochet stitch and usually the most successful of self-striping yarns – single crochet. Following the knit gauge, I use a base of 23 stitches to attempt to get a similar effect of the knit swatch. As you can see the effect of single crochet from knit is quite different. I have about 5 fewer rows in my crochet stitch, because the actual stitch is slightly higher than a knit stitch. The color changes are also much shorter with a crochet stitch. You can see the multi colored pattern near the top of the single crochet swatch and knit swatch and see the difference in size and appearance. With the single crochet I only got 2 and 1/2 rows out of the color change, whereas with the knit stitch I got 7 rows – quite a difference. This tells me that my crochet project can only use about 46 to 60 stitches per row (or about 10.5″ max width) if I want to keep a nice striped effect to my project.

Single Crochet Swatch

Note: Though you see some color changes on the single crochet swatch that are much longer than the multi colored fair isle pattern, it is best to not go wider than your shortest color repeat. Imagine a big project like a blanket with spots of color within rows where shorter repeats did not get to make a full row.

So with this information, I know I can only make small projects with this yarn and will need to only use single crochet if I want good color changes. I normally wouldn’t go on with making any larger size stitch swatches because I already know they won’t work, but for purposes of this review, I made two more to show you the difference.

I then moved on to the next size up crochet stitch — the half double crochet. That is an appropriate name because I only got half the number of rows for the same size swatch as the knit swatch (about 15 in total). As you can see I did achieve a couple rows before each color change, but anything larger than a washcloth project would give very poor results. Each row would maybe only reach the length of one color change. As you will see in the crochet project below, one row color changes are not that great looking in a fair isle pattern yarn.

Half Double Crochet Swatch

Lastly I tried a double crochet swatch. As you can see from the picture this was the worst of the bunch. I barely achieved a full row on a couple of the color changes and all of the color changes are very noticeable. Trying to crochet any project using this stitch and yarn would result in a waste of time.

Double Crochet Swatch

I then decided the best and about only crochet project I could get away with using this yarn would be a baby beanie. And since I am having a baby in October, I made it a newborn size.

Baby Beanie Project

Though I took care to make sure I had at least one color change per row, the overall effect to me is muddy. I see the pattern of the color changes, but it isn’t at all the beautiful fair isle pattern that the knit stitch creates. Plus even with this small size (circumference was 14″) I ran out of colors on some rows (thankfully because the beanie is round it hides this), and I know I couldn’t make a larger beanie because I wouldn’t even get one row of color change.

Overall I think Bernat’s Baby Jacquard yarn is a wonderful product for its beautiful colors, softness, and ease of care. For me as a crocheter; however, this self-striping yarn is highly disappointing. My suggestion to Bernat and any other yarn company who only cater to knitters when it comes to their pattern yarns, is to extend the color changes for a crochet-friendly product. Just a couple extra rows would make a huge difference to a finished product and then both knitters and crocheters could use it.

Pros:

  • beautiful colors
  • lots of yardage per skein (346 yds)
  • soft
  • easy care (machine washable and dryable)

Cons:

  • no gauge information on label for crocheters
  • pattern repeats are too short for crocheters
  • only one free pattern for crochet on Bernat’s website for this yarn (and it’s a baby beanie)

Yarn Info:

  • 100g/3.5oz
  • 346 yds to a skein
  • 90% acrylic/ 10% nylon
  • Suggested Retail: $3.99

Have you tried Baby Jacquards by Bernat? Did you have better luck crocheting, or did you stick to knitting? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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10 Responses to Baby Jacquards by Bernat

  1. Avatar
    Our Little Inspirations August 17, 2010 at 8:40 am #

    I only crochet tiny flowers for my cards these days, but your baby beanie is adorable! TFS all this valuable info!

  2. Avatar
    craftymom205 August 17, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    i have used Baby Jacquards to knit a baby afghan. I like the yarn.

  3. Avatar
    Concetta Phillipps August 17, 2010 at 3:32 pm #

    Interesting to try the different stitches. I wonder if you would have different results using Tunisian crochet stitches or altering your hooks to get a tighter or looser fabric.

    I haven’t used the yarn myself but it looks like a nice product.

  4. Avatar
    papercraftgirl August 17, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

    I am new to crocheting. I didn’t realize that this problem occurred with certain yarns! This is news to me. Thanks for pointing this out.

  5. Avatar
    Karen Lindsay August 18, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    I just have to share the results of my first try with the Baby Jacquards Florals “Rosebud” yarn. I bought a skein a week ago and used a pattern for a baby beanie with a ruffled brim that I got from another skin of Baby Jacquards. I think I need to back off to a size F hook, however, as the G is resulting in a hat that’s too large for my 1-1/2 y/o granddaughter. I neglected to work out the gauge sample first (shame on me). I love it and can hardly wait to get more colors. Here’s a link to my hat so far. http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/photo/2709272590050452066mlGBMc

    Karen

  6. Avatar
    Cathy September 1, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    I have tried crocheting with a few different colors of this yarn & had come to the same disappointing conclusion, but thank you for doing all the work in proving that it wasn’t just me! I found your post & it was exactly the answer what I was looking for. I guess I’ll just stick to using it for knitting.

  7. Avatar
    Tia Dugan April 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    I have been trying to find anything online regarding this yarn and crochet. Thank you for revewing it. I was hoping to make a baby afghan but I think I should just stick to multiple yarns.

  8. Avatar
    Valerie! September 1, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Thank you so much for this review! I ordered some Bernat baby jacquard yarns from a catalog after reading that they’re suitable for both knit and crochet, but I didn’t look too much into it beforehand, assuming I could find a basic baby blanket pattern once I received them. I don’t know how to knit (yet!), and after scouring the Internet for a crochet pattern, I couldn’t find a thing. I was getting discouraged because I wasn’t sure how this yarn would work out until I found your review. I don’t know if I can make it work now that I’ve read this, but I’m gonna play with it and see what I can do. Thank you so much for this helpful article. The swatches you’ve shared really gave me a great idea of what the yarn will look like with each different crochet stitch. You’ve saved me a lot of hassle, and I really appreciate it!

  9. Avatar
    Anonymous September 24, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Wow. You are awesome! I have been experimenting every way i can think after my mom picked this yarn for me to make her a baby blanket gift with. Now I know that i should research the yarn before i let her buy it!! Thanks!!

  10. Avatar
    Elaine July 19, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    I just discovered this yarn a few mos. ago when I picked up my knitting again. I now find this baby jacquards is discontinued. Is anyone still using it? My searches aren’t very successful. I did find it on Mary Maxim’s site but want blues or light greens.

    Thanks!