Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Various and Sundry Thoughts

On the Pottery Yarn post ... I thought all your comments were very interesting, and I tried to reply directly to everyone. (Again, Blogger doesn't always provide me an email or a link.) I wanted to clarify that I'm not criticizing Lion Brand for trying to create a more attractive catalog, and especially not for providing a product that falls somewhere between Red Heart and Rowan. Here's what does bother me about Lion Brand. In terms of quality, they are neither "Fear Factor" nor "Masterpiece Theatre." They are distinctly middlebrow. The problem is, their prices are not. And higher quality fibers are available at a much lower cost. Let's compare:

Lion Brand Cashmere Blend: 72% merino, 14% cashmere, 14% nylon. 84 yards. $7.99 a ball.
Knit Picks Ambrosia: 80% baby alpaca, 20% cashmere. 110 yards. $6.99 a ball.
Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran: 55% merino, 33% microfiber, 12% cashmere. 98 yards. $7.75 a ball at the Knitting Garden.

Lion Wool: 100% wool. 158 yards for solids. $5.99 a ball.
Elann Peruvian Highland Wool: 100% wool. 109 yards. $2.25 a ball.
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes: 100% Peruvian Highland Wool. 110 yards. $1.99 a ball.
Knit Picks Merino Style: 100% merino wool. 123 yards. $2.49 a ball.

You get the point. If you haven't read Kate's thoughtful post on these and related issues, you should.


I knit a 40 stitch swatch in the round with worsted weight wool on 3 mm needles and got a gauge of 5.7 sts per inch, after washing and blocking. Could someone explain to me how I could get a gauge of 5.125 sts per inch, using the same yarn and needles, when I cast on 164 stitches for my garment? Theresa is right. Swatches lie. Now what do I do? I really need to get a gauge that is at least approaching 6 sts per inch, so that the skirt is modest and doesn't sag. Could it be a result of using a 32 inch needle? Am I really going to have to knit a skirt in worsted on a size 1 needle?


A while back, Vera destashed some knitting magazines on her blog. I snatched up a couple of copies of Yarn ("Australia's new magazine about knitting and more!"). Because Vera doesn't have a Paypal account and we were not up for DIY currency exchange, we did a little swap instead. I sent her the new Cutting Edge magazine, some tea and chocolate, and Knit Picks yarn. And she sent me all this:
That's two issues of Yarn, some Opal undyed sock yarn (!!), a sweet little notepad, some point protectors and one of those row counters that you can put on your needles (I needed one of those), and then this:A pincushion and little bag that she made herself! And if you can believe it, she actually called her sewing skills abysmal. Please. It's fantastic! Perfect for when I'm blocking! Thanks, Vera!


Blogger Bitterknitter said...

Did you measure your gauge before you washed your swatch for purposes of comparison (she asks in a hopeful for you voice)? Although, knitting worsted on size ones might help eliminate the sag factor; the stitches will be so tight, there's nowhere for the fabric to go!

Good luck!


P.S. I'm with you on Lion's pricing...

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Nora (Black Dog Knits) said...

WOW! Opal undyed sock yarn - the possibilities are endless... I think the new Yarn magazine is now on sale here (Australia). Send me your snail mail address and I'll pass it on when I'm finished. x

5:48 PM  
Blogger jillian said...

Wonderful package! That bagette and pincushion are so cute.

I agree also on Lion's pricing - it markets to those who don't know better, which is sort of insulting. At least their patterns are better now!

5:53 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I agree that Lionbrand yarns are distinctly mediocre, but they have ridiculously high prices. I'm not sure why as the average craft store customer gets sticker shock with the prices.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Ellen said...

Spot on yarn comparison work, Laura. I couldn't agree more regarding Lion Brand's relative place in the fiber world!

What a lovely and thoughtful package, too! Enjoy it!

7:53 PM  
Blogger Mama Urchin said...

I also agree whole-heartedly about the lions brand pricing. I find it very strange and never buy their yarn because there is much nicer/less expensive stuff out there.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't really use much of the lion brand yarn (though you can buy it online here)even though all the knit1 magazine patterns use it. i prefer to use the ones that i know well and know that they are worth the $ i pay for them.
im so glad you like the little package. and thanks for the nice comments about my sewing skills but i know you are only being polite ;0). kidding. thanks laura! :0) x

9:50 PM  
Blogger Olga said...

Totally in agreement with you on the LB. It really is rather insulting that they think they can wind a ball with a lot less yardage and hope that we think we're getting a great deal. Ugh.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

The sad part of the whole LB thing is that new knitters tend to use it because they can buy it at a big box craft store and they think they are getting a great deal.

7:41 AM  
Anonymous JessaLu said...

I totally agree about Lion Brand...

Gauge swatches DO lie - it sucks!

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

It's totally true. Sometimes I want to stand in front of the Lion Brand display at Michael's and warn shoppers that they're not getting the good deal they think they're getting. I'd call that a good deed, but I'm fairly sure the staff at Michael's would not agree.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

I've always thought lion brand was on the pricey side for what you get, but I've only ever bought some fisherman's wool and a whole pile of cottonease at 75% off. It seems that they need to either lower their prices or get out of the craft stores.

1:25 PM  
Blogger msubulldog said...

Yes, swatches lie. I can't count the times I have swatched, ended up with the wrong gauge, gone up/down a needle size and STILL gotten the same count! Swatches have the bizarre ability to warp reality. :)

6:27 PM  
Blogger Violiknit said...

Good call on the Lion Brand. It's like they want you to believe you are getting the high end of cheap yarns; I got sucked into that feeling when I first started knitting, and learned my lesson. (I got that catalog too, and thought the cover pic resembled that of Nicky Epstein's Knitted Flowers book...)

12:36 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Conniving little things, aren't they? And now my denim is dying yet another set of needles . . . The trials we endure as knitters!

4:58 PM  

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