Craftsmart Value Yarn – Amigurumi Yarn Review

I was at my local craft store, Michaels, holding a nice coupon and looking for a couple colours of yarn to beef up my amigurumi yarn palette. On my list was a decent purple. A bright purple that would work for amigurumi – bright but not nuclear. Sometimes finding good amigurumi colours are difficult as so many yarns are too dark or too light (baby yarns). I spotted this Craftsmart yarn next to the Red Heart stuff, and decided to give it a try.

Craftsmart is a worsted weight yarn that is 100% acrylic.
Link to Craftsmart Yarn via Michaels

IMG_3908

As always with my yarn reviews, they are coming from the perspective to make amigurumi toys with.

PROS
+ Good price!
+ Bright and nice selection of colours
+ Slightly soft
+ Very nice to work with
+ Fair amount of stiffness

At Michaels, Craftsmart was around $0.20 cheaper than the Red Heart Super Saver at my time of purchase. Sweet! Touching the ball, it is much smoother than Red Heart Super Saver, but not silky like Red Heart Soft.

What I noticed right away was Craftsmart felt quite nice to work with. The yarn slipped nicely through my fingers and put up with my tight gauge. There was just enough grip for my stitches to stay tight despite how soft the yarn runs through my fingers.

This yarn isn’t as stiff as Red Heart Super Saver, but goes a good job holding up its shape for amigurumi – the stitches puff decently, not tight or saggy creating holes.

CONS
– Found a couple gnarly bits
– a little splitty
– Despite being soft, feels kinda soapy slippery

The downfalls I found with this Craftsmart yarn was I noticed a couple gnarly bits – three cases for 1 amigurumi. The strand had an excess lump of material woven in or big linty fuzz stuck to the strand. It wasn’t a huge deal as I was able to pull out the fuzz or trim it with sissors. There also was a bit of splittyness working with this yarn. On ocassion it would split in a way that I’d miss snagging 1 of the plys of the yarn, so I’d have to loosen the stitch to snag it.

While I did mention the softness of this yarn is quite nice and very workable, it also feels kinda weird. The longer you work with it, the most it feels almost “soapy” to the fingers. No residue, and again, it’s got a good grip, but it feels unusual.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS (neutral)
~ No sheen
~ Is a thicker worsted weight, so best with moderate to large amigurumi projects
~ Compatible with Red Heart Super Saver
~ Dye lot, so ensure you purchase enough for your project
~ Not fuzzy

This yarn is quite similar to Red Heart Super Saver’s gauge – I was able to use both yarns together for the same project and they looked as if they were the same brand. The weight is the same, the sheen level is the same.

This attractive purple owl is made with a mix of the Craftsmart and Red Heart yarns. The purple areas are a bit more smoother of a feel, but otherwise both yarns blend together.

Owl Amigurumi by Awkward Soul Designs

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Overall, Craftsmart yarn is a great alternative to Red Heart Super Saver and is much nicer to work with! This yarn has a nice softness to it, while maintaining a good grip for tight gauge stitches. The cons of being slightly splitty and having the odd linty issues are fairly minor. The weight is quite thick for a worsted, so I’d use this yarn for a larger project.

If I was looking to buy more Red Heart Super Saver like yarn, I’d probably snag this brand instead if I wasn’t worried about continuing with the same dye lot. If you are interested, read My Red Heart Super Saver Review.


Space and Deodorant Yarn at Daiso

Happy day! I discovered Daiso Japan stores have been popping up all over southern California. This is awesome! I’ve often visited Daiso back in Richmond, BC Canada and it’s an awesome store for crafts (and gift boxes,  cute pencil cases, toys, japanese dishes, tea gear, cute storage bins, candy, kitchen stuff, cute stationary, mittens, makeup, carbon deodorizers, decorative jars, travel gear) and it’s all $2! Well, in the US everything is $1.50! WOOOOOOOOOT more of a deal!

This Daiso in Torrance just opened so some of the stock was meh compared to the one back home. No bead kits or eyes of any type. The yarn selection was interesting though:

Spaced dyed yarn.. umm what? For $1.50 this yarn can’t of been launched into orbit then dyed? Besides that, this yarn might make an interesting sock. I didn’t purchase any because I don’t know how much yardage I need for socks, but I’ll be back!

I googled and found out Space Dyeing is a dyeing technique also known as “dip dyeing”… BOOOOOOOO! I want actual space yarn!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbmTRT_y6oE]

 

The next interesting find is this:

 

I’ve purchased antibacterial yarn from Daiso, but not deodorant yarn. I’m not sure if there is a difference or not and no one has compared the two so far.  I did purchase this ball so once I get around to using it I’ll see how it works up. They did have a good range of bright colours – green, blue, red, yellows and staples of black and white – so this would be an interesting amigurumi yarn to try out. I might have to get more of this yarn and report back.


100% unknown yarn bits

I see this crazy Factory Mill Ends 100% unknown fiber yarn at walmart and zellers a lot. Majority of the time, it is on clearance for crazy cheap. One day, it was on just too cheap for 1 pound of yarn, so I bought 3 colours (hot pink, nuclear yellow, and blue) that would work on amigurumi.

100% unknown yarn

So… what the hell is this yarn? I have no clue. The 3 packages I bought seem very similar in texture and thickness, though there are different styles and colours. The ones I bought had no gauge listed, but it seems like a DK yarn thickness.

I made a nice pink Jellyfish outta the stuff for a test
 Pink Jellyfish May 2011

PROS:
+ Hella cheap, 1 pound of yarn!
+ Vibrant colours (though might not be available all the time)
+ Shiny finish

This yarns main feature is it’s cheapness. If you need 1 pound of hot pink yarn to make your amigurumi octopus world takeover, this stuff is up your alley. This yarn worked smoothly through my fingers when crocheting.

CONS:
– No listed dye lot
– No listed gauge
– 100% unknown fibers / not much information
– Ultra squeaky to work with
– not durable to frogging
– strands fall apart

Having no dye lot is kind of bad. There is a ton of yarn, but in the event you are in a middle of an octopus in your amigurumi octopus takeover army, the colours may not match. Or maybe it will, I don’t know. As I said earlier, it appears to be a DK gauge, but it is not listed. What you saw on the photo is all the information I got on this stuff.
What the hell are the washing instructions anyways? CRAP

To work with this yarn, at first I had to try multiple types of hooks as it was just too squeaky and resistant to some of my crochet hooks. My Boyle hooks were a no go, unless I wanted to wrestle crochet. I ended up using a Daiso hook that is more metal feeling that lacks a finish on it.
From there, the first few rows were just annoying with the yarn not staying twisted together and being very squeaky. Once I adapted, I found it fine to work with, but it is not the kind of yarn that is easy to use.

Since I was trying to determine my gauge, I frogged a few jelly heads – and whatever I frogged I just tossed. The yarn was too fuzzy and splitting apart to deal with.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS
– The 100% unknown fiber, I feel, is less of an issue with amigurumi, as it is not a worn item, however this may be an issue for other people. I would be weary of using this yarn if it is for a large project for someone to snuggle with, in regards to people who are sensitive to wool.

 Pink Jellyfish May 2011

THE VERDICT
Factory Mill Ends 100% “what the hell is this stuff” yarn will serve you well to make your evil octopus world takeover amigurumi army…. once you get past the wrestling crochet to learn to work with this yarn. I think that’s what would make your octopus army more evil. The army will be expendable, as if you frog it, the octopus is considered gone for good. If a dozen of your octopi get bombed, the materials was expendable anyways.
I don’t think I’d use this yarn to make worn items, it is not worth the risk for washing failure or allergic reaction. (Would it even survive a hand washing in cold? Would it be able to block?)

With that said, try this yarn if you are the patient type, on a budget, hell bent on making a large quantity of amigurumi.

Here’s another Jellyfish
 Pink Jellyfish May 2011
(if you are interested in the jellyfish pattern, it is up for sale at My etsy shop or via Ravelry (you do not need an account at Ravelry to purchase).


Amigurumi Yarn Review – Shepherd DK

This Christmas, almost all the amigurumi gifts I made I used this yarn. The colours worked perfectly on what I wanted to make.

I got this yarn from Dressew as well, on sale <3 For the longest time I’d admire it, but not buy it as I’m usually after more “bang for my buck expensive wool/cotton/bamboo”. I saw it being acrylic and was “meh, I can get acrylic anywhere”, however the yarn snuck into my shopping basket after a few trips.

Shepherd Aussie Baby DK

IMG_9104

is a 55% nylon + 45% acrylic yarn, recommending at a 4mm gauge. My first impression (which lead me to buy it) is HOLY CRAP SOFT feeling! Since it is a DK weight, the amigurumis will be on the smaller side vs worsted, though with DK weight and creating a pattern, one could make a moderate sized amigurumi with more smaller stitches which would look great.

PROS
+ Ultra soft that makes you want to snuggle the yarn all day
+ Great colour selection – nice vibrant colours to pastels that have alot of colour without looking too pukey baby or nuclear. Awesome for amigurumi. I am in love with the peachy skin tone colour they offer
+ 4 ply and very strong thus holding its shape together without being floppy
+ not too fuzzy

The feel of this yarn makes for excellent amigurumis (and I guess for its intended purpose of baby gear) and also the look is very high quality vs other acrylic yarns such as Red Heart super saver.

CONS
– Dense and slightly slippery, thus can be tricky for knots to hold (for adjustable loop or slip stitching the last stitch)
– Hard to determine gauge and a little tricky to get a tight gauge – more on this later

The denseness of the yarn is nice, however I found it being difficult to keep the adjustable ring closed. I can keep it closed if I pull the ring VERY tight, but I get nervous that the yarn will break, thus I suggest pulling before that point, and doing a few knots in the inside to ensure your finished product doesn’t have a hole in the top of its head.

Same goes for your last stitch, a slip stitch, I found it would just not close snug at all and slip out. To work around this, do an extra couple slip stitches and do a knot on the inside.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS
~ Works up similar to cotton, as there is no stretch (probably why I found it hard to get a tight gauge) This might be a pro or a con depending on what you like. I do like this yarn more than cotton because of the softness – much easier on the hands!

Personally, I found it a bit of a negative thing to use yarn without a little stretch as it is hard on my hands as doing a tight gauge creates more pressure while crocheting. I found more difficultly in finding the right hook size for this yarn, 2.5mm being the safest to not create holes inbetween stitches, though I think 3mm could work as well. However, I still had the same struggles with the yarn density with any sized hook.
With that said, and working with a small hook with a tight gauge + lack of yarn stretch, this stuff hurt my hands to crochet with if I was working with it for an extended period of time.

Angel 2010 close up

~ Makes great hair! For my Angel, I un-spun strands of Aussie DK and it worked very well! However, strands on their own have no strength, so don’t pull too hard!

THE VERDICT

Shepard Aussie DK is fantastic yarn, with great options for colours and wonderful softness for amigurumis. This yarn will greatly appeal to crocheters who prefer cotton for their amigurumis – it has similar lack of stretch and denseness, but no drying or scratchy texture! I would however, take extra care when using an adjustable ring and testing gauge before starting a project.


Amigurumi yarn review – Schachenmayr Nomotta Micro

I can’t even pronounce the brand of this yarn >__<

My awesome local yarn store (Dressew on Hastings Street, Vancouver Canada) does these yarn sales where all yarn is $1.99 a ball. I’m all over that! With that sale, I get access to nice yarn without killing my bank account – heh, the yarn addiction is not hurting me!

Schachenmayr Nomotta – Micro yarn (SN Micro for short for this review)

I have both it in Bamboo and just “Micro”. The bamboo is 50%.. bamboo whereas the “Micro” is 100% acrylic microfiber. The yarn weight isn’t listed specifically in English on the package, but it is probably either a baby/sport or DK. It states “3-4” on the label.. but I’m not sure if that is mm hook size or something else.

First impression of SN Micro is it is a simple, cute, fine yarn of good quality. Not the frizzy squeaky baby yarn one would see at Walmart.

SN bamboo 2

SN bamboo 1

Ok… the skeins do not look like that when you buy it. Last few weeks I have been distracted by my boyfriend, who is visiting from southern California. He went all OCD and got into my yarn stash and rolled as much as he could into balls.

SN bamboo 4 isn’t he just adorable? And he’s untangling the SN micro yarn!

Now onto the review, in the perspective of using SN Micro for making Amigurumi:

PROS:
+ Great range of bright and pastel colours
+ Soft and silky with a shiney finish
+ Not too fuzzy

My LYS had a great selection, practically a rainbow of colours of this cute yarn! It has a nice sheen, my little amigurumi octopi is just glowing! SN Micro does not feel cheapy scratchy horrible – flows smoothly through my fingers when crocheting.

SN bamboo 3

CONS:
– Tangles badly
– Splits easily as it is loosely constructed

You can somewhat see it in the picture above, when the yarn is not taut it spreads out into 4 strands. The yarn construction is fine, but you have to be very vigilant to snag all the strands as well as protect loose ends as they will unravel.

From watching my boyfriend roll SN Micro into balls, the unravelyness of the yarn makes for some wicked tangles. Very easy to have the yarn split in mid-strand and loop inside other bits to make a massive mess that only OCD or scissors will fix.

With that said, SN Micro is a great, thin yarn for making tiny amigurumi. For my projects I’ve been getting away with a 2.5mm hook without stuffing showing. The colour range is great – bright colours to choose from to perk up your amigurumi projects.


Amigurumi Yarn Review – Red Heart Super Saver

redheart yarn

^ my collection of Red Heart Super Saver yarn (RH SS)

Yarn website: http://www.redheart.com/

One could make amigurumi with yarn scraps – small parts, creatures and many colours can clean up your yarn stash. However, for people like me who mostly make amigurumi, we need to create a stash with lots of colour. Also, a great price helps your wallet when you need to get many colours.

In regards to amigurumi making, here’s a list of pros and cons I’ve come up with:

PROS
+ cheap and cheaper in large balls
+ many colours to choose from
+ this yarn is everywhere and easy to find
+ stiff and holds its shape when crocheted tight
+ very durable and washable
+ a thicker worsted weight thus can use a larger hook for amigurumi
+ no dye lot

This yarn is cheap! In my city (of pricey Vancouver Canada), it’s around $2.47-$3.99 a ball. When I was in the USA, it was around $2 a ball. You can find it at Walmart, Zellers and craft store bargain bins!
It’s a big f-ing ball of yarn (300+ meters) and you can save money by buying the even bigger supersized f-ing ball of yarn if you need to make that many amigurumi octopi. With that price, it opens up the door to buying a couple balls of different colours for your amigurumi projects.

RH SS is made of acrylic. To some crocheter/knitters, is an evil devil-spawn material. However with acrylic, the price is great, you can wash it without the shape being compromised and it is durable to be attacked by children.

The big sell for me is that RH SS is stiff and thicker than most acrylic yarns out there.
Amigurumi Yarn review

In the above photo is my newest Jellyfish amigurumi project using RH SS yarn. I do crochet a little tight, but I’m using a 4.25mm hook instead of the usual 3.5mm with most patterns or yarns. A 4mm works too for even tighter stitches. The crocheted form is stiff, and you can see the shaping without stuffing. With that said, I find pattern construction easier with this yarn as often with a more softer, floppy form after stuffing you get an entirely different shape. Unlike some yarns out there (cough, Vana’s Choice, cough) the yarn firmly holds and fills up the stitch, rather than be skinny at the stitches and inconsistent.

CONS
– RH SS isn’t soft and feels crappy
– RH SS isn’t shiny
– Because of it being not the usual worsted size, does not work well with small amigurumi projects
– Many of the colours are dark or not saturated enough

There are soft acrylic yarns out there – marketed for babies or not, they have a nice feel to snuggle against or run through your fingers while crocheting. Though, most of the soft yarns I’ve come across are not stiff and shape holding. If you are used to using a nice soft acrylic or wool, this stuff feels like sandpaper. If this is the case for you, lotion your hands while crocheting. If you want an amigurumi project that you can cuddle up with you may want to go with a softer yarn.

Similar to what I was just discussing, soft yarns are also more likely to be shiny. RH SS is dull with no hint of gloss. This could be a pro as well – depending what your project is.

My biggest complaint about Red Heart Super Saver is also something I mentioned as a benefit to this yarn – it’s thickness. Ideally, your amigurumi project with this yarn should be in the 3.5 to 4″ minimum in its main body size. It could be a little in personal taste, but small projects look kinda terrible-big stitchy look to them, thus losing some ‘cute’ appeal by the tiny eyes disappearing to large stitches. You can reduce the hook size to like a 3mm but will struggle with crocheting, and the yarn will still stay dense. Also, if you want a small project, better to switch to a fingering/sport yarn than a dense, bigger gauge worsted.

To touch on colour – Red Heart has many lines of colour and if you got a good selection somewhere, you can find what you want. But I find they lack they kick in your face vibrant saturated colours. They have a few that look great (Cherry Red being nice and zappy on the eyes)  but still could be even better looking with more colour put in.

If you are new to making amigurumi, Red Heart Super Saver is a great yarn to start with. You can get away with a little larger of a hook, easing into very tight crochet stitching and good for medium-large amigurumi projects. The yarn is a good price and durable.