Top

Tag Archives | Deja Jetmir

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!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

An Assortment of iPhone Apps

Reported by Deja Jetmir

Today I am reviewing a trio of iPhone apps. Here’s the good, the bad, and the truth of what I think about these.

iCrochet by Vector Bloom Technologies

Cost of App: Free

While I applaud anyone who tries to advance the crochet movement, I couldn’t recommend this app to anyone just beginning to learn even if it is free.

The icrochet app only comes with two patterns. One for a hat, the other for a scarf. The hat is a funny shape in my opinion, and I would never make one to wear or give as a present. The scarf is generic enough that it would suit many people’s taste. Both are easy patterns that would be great for beginners if they patterns were written in a better way.

This is a Canadian app, so they do not use US terms for crocheting. This can be very confusing for someone who has little to no experience knowing the difference. Though I knew they were not using US terms, I still couldn’t figure out the patterns because I didn’t know which stitches they were actually using without watching the videos. Plus, the patterns repeats were much too confusing for a beginner to understand.

The videos were mostly useless for any beginner, and only useful to me to see what stitches the designer is actually using. There is no sound and only minimal subtitles. The crocheter in the video has a loose tension and a strange way of performing slip stitches (it could be the fact that she was using single ply chunky yarn and was trying not to snag it). I definitely wouldn’t recommend anyone using these videos as a training tool.

Overall this app is highly confusing and not worth downloading even though it is free.

Lion Brand Yarn by Lion Brand Yarn

Cost of App: Free

I was already a fan of the Lion Brand website, so trying out the new app I had high hopes for its capabilities. I was very pleased with what I experienced.

This app has many of the same features as the Lion Brand website. You can search hundreds of patterns by type, skill level, size, Lion Brand yarn, or a combination of them all. Once you choose your pattern, it will give you an overview, materials list, instructions and the ability to add it to a database of favorites. I love the fact I can read the pattern right off of my iPhone without having to print out any instructions. It makes my projects that much more portable.

When you are choosing your materials for your new project, the app gives you a search engine to find all the stores that carry the yarn you need that are around you. You can then sort them by a list or a zoom capable map. The list view gives you the address, plus a “call store” button to dial directly from your iPhone.

There is an info screen with Lion Brands information, and even a link to Lion Brand’s Website.

This app has an easy interface and was well thought out. The fact that this app gives you access to thousands of Lion Brands Free Patterns makes this a top app in my iPhone. The fact it is free, makes this app even better.

Fabric U by Mary Beth Klatt

Cost of App: $1.99

The basic premise of this app is a reference tool to help you identify different types of fabrics using pictures and descriptions.

The list is quite extensive and I could see this being a very handy tool either when you are out at the fabric store, or are trying to identify a particular type of fabric a garment is made out.

Each type of fabric has several varying pictures of the fabric, plus a written description. You can sort the list by name (in alphabetical order) or by fabric type (putting similar types together). You can also view a slideshow of all the pictures. This is handy if you aren’t sure what you have and are looking for a picture that is similar. Once you find the right look, you can then learn about the fabric by using the link at the top of the picture.

The last feature is a comment board that anyone can use, though at the moment, most of the comments are from Mary Beth (the maker of the app) giving extra information or sales information on various fabrics as she finds them.

Overall the app is very useful. Some of the pictures seem a little dark to me, so it makes it hard to get a true feeling of that type of fabric. However, that one small set back wouldn’t keep me from buying the app for the purpose it is serving.

Have you used any of these apps? Do you have any to recommend? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: The Ultimate Tool by Crafter’s Companion (2 of 2)

Reported by Deja Jetmir

The Ultimate Tool by Crafter’s Companion is an all-in-one, compact carry-case which allows you to score, measure, trim, emboss and embellish. You can create boxes, shaped card blanks, envelopes and so much more. Everything comes in a convenient portable carrying case and includes an instruction booklet and instructional DVD with 12 projects explained from start to finish.

I received the Ultimate Tool and immediately opened it up to see all that was included. First of all there are the outside templates that are used for folding cardstock, making envelopes, embossing various designs and borders on your projects, and peg holes for making uniformed sized bows. I then flipped to the inside and found two more templates, one with embossing and the other used for making boxes and more embossing borders; plus there are measure markings for your insertable paper cutter.

Once you lift these two flaps you are greeted with one side of your box that can be used for storage or for extra templates Ultimate Tool sells on their website. The other storage area contains the pegs used for bow making, an embossing tool, scoring tool and cutter all made from the same plastic as the kit. There is also the paper cutter insert in this section. Though each of these items has a specific place in the Ultimate Tool, they do not snap into place, so I subsequently end up dropping all of my parts every time I open the kit. I’m sure technically you are supposed to open the center portion first, then open the storage compartments, but I never remember to do this and end up having to rearrange the tools back into place.

The construction of the Ultimate Tool seems very sturdy and well thought out in respects to how it lays out and its ability to add inserts to create a variety of different projects. The only tool that worries me is the cutting blade. It is a snapping piece of plastic with a moveable Stanley razor blade. To use, you must open the blade compartment and pull the blade out and move it over a notch so the tip of the blade sticks out to cut with. I’m not thrilled I have to handle the razor blade (it sticks in each slot well, so a little force with your fingernail is needed to dislodge it), and I’m paranoid I will forget when I put it down and end up sticking myself with it. The cutter wouldn’t deter me from buying this product because it works well with the cutting insert, I would just exercise extra caution while using it.

Once I got familiar with the actual product, I moved onto the instruction manual and DVD. The manual is a 24 page full color (and pictured, not illustrated) booklet that shows how to accomplish most of the basic functions of your Ultimate Tool. The booklet is quite detailed but I wished it would tell me when using cardstock which side (i.e. wrong side, right side) to score or fold. Since I am new to card making and some of the pictures have cardstock that looks the same on both sides, I get confused with which side I should be working from. I wanted to get started so I chose to make a custom envelope from cardstock following just the written directions.

First off, I don’t recommend making an envelope from cardstock. Thinking a thicker envelope would be better than a thin one, I chose heavy pearlized cardstock to turn into an embossed envelope. While the pearlized worked wonders for showing off the embossing, the cardstock would not stay together with traditional two sided tape. Only after using wet glue did it hold. Once I watched the DVD I realized Sara (star of the DVD) used much lighter paper for all of her envelopes — lesson learned.

Embossed Envelope

Using the envelope template and measurements supplied in the handbook I easily created the envelope in minutes. I then grabbed my embossing tool and got to work on the corners. Though they are not perfectly placed, it was much easier to emboss than I thought it would be. The Companion gives the tip of rubbing wax paper over the surface before embossing if you are new to it, but I was able to do all four sides with no problem at all.

After my envelope I wanted to move on to something more challenging, so I popped in the DVD and picked out two projects to give a try. The first is called a squash book and uses alternating colors of cardstock to create a unique gift. I really liked the DVD because Sara completes each project from start to finish so you don’t miss any steps. That is great for a first timer like me, or anyone who has never made any of these projects.

Using my scoring templates I folded all of my cards into quarters and then glued them in a specific way to create the squash book. While the scoring was easy to do with the preprinted guide lines on my template, I still need to get used to how hard to score. Some of my cardstock was on the verge of tearing from scoring too strongly. Once my squash books was complete, I then embellished it using my Digital Scrapbook Artist 2 software. I printed out designs and phrases on sticker paper and then attached. I finished off the book by punching some holes and tying ribbon to close. So far I was having fun.

Squash Book Closed
Squash Book Unfolded

Next came the exploding box. It is a super cute box that falls open once the top is removed. It is made in layers so you can put many embellishments inside for the receiver to find. I followed the exact measurements given on the DVD and that is where I ran into trouble. The cardstock measurements for the box were in 1/8th increments. Unfortunately, the cutting insert and measurements on the template only show full and 1/2 inch increments, so I had to break out my own paper cutter to get the cardstock down to size. Though I was disappointed that I couldn’t complete the project using only the Ultimate Tool, the rest of the project went smoothly. Using the scoring tool and the box creating feature I made the top of the box and created a ribbon using the peg inserts. I then made some more stickers from my DSA2 software and put the final touches on the project.

Exploding Box Closed
Exploding Box “Exploded”

Overall the concept of the product is wonderful. I love that you can create so many diverse projects with just one tool. Each item is made well and seems like it will last a very long time. Though I was disappointed with a couple of features (lack of 1/4 and 1/8 measurements on the cutting insert and measuring template, tools that don’t snap into place) the good greatly outweighs the bad. If you are a card maker or have just wanted to try, the Ultimate Tool is a great purchase that will pay for itself after your first holiday.

Pros:

  • All-in-one solution, compact and easy to use
  • Instruction booklet and DVD with great instruction and project ideas
  • Ability to add more templates to the kit to make even more great projects

Cons:

  • Lack of measurement increments on ruler items
  • Tools fall out if the Ultimate Tool is not opened correctly
  • Cutting tool not safe around children


GIVEAWAY!

We’re giving away one Clevercut 5-in-1 Paper Trimmer to one of our readers… just leave a comment on any Crafter’s Companion Clevercut post (this is 2 of 2) and tell us…
What do you use for scoring and card making now and what part of the Ultimate Tool do you need the most?
One comment per person, per article, please.

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!