Affordable Yarns

I read blogs and E-newsletters, and listen to podcasts to get current information.  I am an information hound and it does not matter if is about news and politics, history, recipes, DIY, or getting a good deal.  I have been more interested in finding quality yarn at reasonable prices particularly with things I want to knit.  It is being strategic about when to use the luxury and reasonably price yarns.  I like using luxury yarns for knitting projects like hats, sock, or wrist warmers because do not need to use a lot of yarns especially you are using no more than two different color yarns.  Bigger knitting projects like afghans, skirts, or sweaters (cardigans), I choose more reasonably price yarns and even substitute the type of yarn for example choosing an alpaca yarn in place of cashmere.  Choosing a different brand could change the price point as well.  There are some affordable yarn brands I enjoy knitting that are of nice quality.  Here are a few brands of yarns that I enjoy using and satisfies my knitting enjoyment:

Cascade Yarns is one of my favorite workhorse yarns.  The company was founded by Bob and Jean Dunbabin in the 1980s.  “At that time, there were few options and many knitters used acrylic yarns as using expensive merino or coarse wool were the commonly available choice at the time.  The Dunbabin went on a quest to search for a soft yet affordable was it was their belief that given a chance, people would prefer to knit with wool  The search led Bob to Peru, and at the time, Peru was not known worldwide for its wool.  The Peruvian natives raised that were a blend of Merino and Corriedale in the mountains above 12,000 feet.  It was what Bob was looking for, a soft long stapled wool, plentiful, light in color and had a tremendous amount of loft.”  This story came from the new book “60 Quick Knits”, a book written with 60 patterns of hat, mittens, and scarves using Cascade 220 yarn.  I typically use Cascade 220, it’s a worsted weight yarn with a generous yardages of 220 yards and comes in over 250 colors at price of $7.00 a skein.  There is also Cascade 220 Tweed, Cascade 220 super wash, and Cascade 220 Paints.  This is a good price for a yarn that comes in a lot of colors and yardage.    Cascade 220 can be used for felted projects.  The other three yarns by Cascade I like is the new Ultra Prima which is cotton in a DK weight with 220 yards in 53 colors and has a beautiful sheen and $10.50 a skein Cascade ECO + and Ecological are bulky weight wools with 478 yards in a skein.  ECO in comes in 44 colors and Eco comes in neutral solid colors and tweed, both yarns are priced at $15.00 a skein which is a good price for a bulky weight.  There is also Cascade Alpaca which is a lace weight yarn with 437 yards, 36 solid colors and 5 paints, and cost $8.00 a skein.  These are just a few of the types of yarns offer at Cascade, there are over 60 types of yarns in its line.

Plymouth Yarns has more than 145 yarns in its line, but the two I am familiar with are Encore and Alpaca DK.  I use Encore for baby blankets and has a 75 acrylic and 25 wool, 180 yards, cost $6.00 a skein.  Alpaca DK has 125 yards and priced at $8.00 a skein.  These are reasonably price yarns and the quality is good.

Knit Picks has a great selection of yarns at affordable prices.  This is an online treasure and Knit Picks can be used to substitute for other yarns recommended in knitting patterns when you are unable to find them at your local yarn store and a more affordable option if you have a budget.  I have written about this yarn in previous posts.  I have purchased the Bare Merino lace weight yarn at $4.79 a skein which contains 880 yards.  Purchasing the bare merino, you have the option of dyeing it any color you wish or knitting it as is.  In additional to the yarns, they have great prices on knitting books, and patterns created by independent designers at the price of $1,99 a pattern  This is a great bargain and good for people who are beginning to knit as well as the experienced knitter on a budget.

Lion Brand is another affordable yarn with both natural and acrylic fibers.  The yarns have ample yardage and many colors.  The company has the LB collection studio yarn which is only sold at the store, but you can also purchase the yarns from the website.  I have purchased the LB cotton bamboo DK weight yarns and it has good stitch definition and soft.  It has 245 yards in a skein and comes in eight colors at the price of $5.00.  There is an affordable cashmere yarn DK weight/82 yards at $14.00 a skein, organic wool with 185 yards bulky weight for $10.00, super wash merino DK weight/306 yards at $8.00, and a few other yarns in the collection.  However, I think the Fisherman wool is a great bargain with 465 yards, medium worsted weight, and priced at $10.99.  It is a virgin wool with lanolin to make it soft and weatherproof.  This is a good felting yarn and great for making a big market or weekend bag.

I actually more reasonably affordable to mention, but think it is better to have affordable yarn post part II.  I am going to upload a photo of the Chelsea skirt from the new knitting book “New England Knits”, and you can find the pattern for the skirt on Knitting Daily, and this adorable crochet layette baby set as you never know if you have someone who is expecting and you need a gift to make.  Just think, you knit or crochet this projects in one yarns mentioned-above.  I am going research more yarns, so ciao for now.

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Book Reviews and Eye Candy

I finally had a chance to look at new sewing book I brought a couple weeks ago, “Sew Serendipity” by Kay Whitt.  As I wrote in a previous post, Kay is the owner of Sew Serendipity Studio.  She designs unique appliqué, sewing, needlecraft, and punchneedle patterns and has been in business since 2001.  I like the book as it great for the beginner sewing or someone returning, somehow by writing that statement is just like all the statements every said about some knitting and sewing books.  However, it’s a true statement, Katt even drew all the illustrations in the book.  She gives great detail about how to construct the clothes in the book, and stresses that the person who owns the book can customize pieces in the book to fit their style.  I think Kay’s style is country modern chic, but she has a modern vintage feel to her designs.  I would change some of the projects like picking a lightweight wool fabric for the tunic dress, and choose different fabric print to express my personality.  I think the book is worth having as part of your sewing book collection.

Yarn and Review 003 Yarn and Review 005 Yarn and Review 008 Yarn and Review 011 Yarn and Review 006 Yarn and Review 012I went to Purl Soho today get another knitting book.  There were two books I wanted in my collection, one is “60 Quick Knits – 20 Hats 20 Scarves 20 Mittens in Cascade 220”, and the second is the Rowan Midwest Modern Knits, a pattern book of Amy Bulter’s debut handknit collection for the Belle Organic DK and Aran yarn.  I choose the “60 Quick Knits” book, but I probably will end pick up a copy of Rowan Midwest Modern Knits.  Quick Knits does have projects for the beginner to experienced knitter, and the knits are specially for the Cascade 220 yarn.  There are nice projects in the book that are quick knit, or just having something for the weekend.

My last thing is the pair of new eyeglasses that enables me to see distance and read.  The folks at Lens crafters are really pushing for me to get contact lenses which I am going to have to think about because there is a price to consider.  It costs more to get contacts because I only change my frames whenever my prescription changes, but I could get just a couple of packs for whenever I do not wear glasses, however, I am wearing frames for the moment.  I decided on this frame by DKNY because I really thought the blue on the inside of the frame really adds interests to the glasses.


It is that time when to end this post, shut down my computer, and go outside tomorrow, and allow some ideas to flow.  I am going to write a blog post about some finds both online and offline.  It’s ciao for now because I am literally falling sleep while writing.

A Little Set Back and Work Attire

Yesterday, I received my order to make the necklace I wrote about in a post last week.  I was happy and starting stringing when after getting home from work when I realized something.  I was stringing it wrong, and I only brought one 10 gram of Japanese seed beads.  The instructions called for 17.5 grams of seed beads, so that means placing another order.  I am going to order more of rectangle horn and Dalmatian jasper beads.  I want to coordinate some orange color beads with the rectangle horn beads, and some black or silver beads with the Dalmatian jasper beads.  I am going to have some jasper beads from the first string I ordered, I am thinking about a bracelet  I just came up with an idea for the seed beads, I nice knitted wool T with seed beads around the sleeves, an half inch border of the beads.  The creativity comes what to do with the leftover materials.  I also waiting for another order to make an icy necklaceCorrecting a Mistake 001

Seersucker Afghan 011I received the September/October issue of Crochet Today.  Of course it is only July, but details, details.  I love the cover as the theme’s issue is work it chic and polished looks for 9 to 5 in addition to its annual Halloween section.    This tailored blazer is a suit-inspired sweater to add to one’s work-wardrobe, and the positive is that it does not wrinkle.  The blazer is crocheted in Red Heart Eco-Ways bamboo wool with the suggested retail price of $3.99 a skein and comes in ten colors.

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It is my hope that I work on some my crafty projects this week and next.  I have not made a necklace since I went on vacation which is over a month ago.  I am due for a new one, also get my afghan and wrap projects going to finish my the fall.  I am going to end this blog post, and it’s ciao for now.

Thin vs Thick, Yarn That Is

Yesterday, I borrowed a couple of books from the library, “Knit So Fine – Designs with Skinny Yarn” by Lisa R. Myers, Laura Grutzek and Carol Sulcoski, “Power Cables” by Lily Chin, and “ Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts – An A – Z Guide with Detailed Instructions and Endless Inspiration”.  I wanted to read Knit So Fine because it is one of the few knitting pattern books that specifically focus on knitting with lightweight yarns.

When I was in the process of learning how to knit, the conventional wisdom was knit with bulky inexpensive yarn, and large needles.  The reasoning is to get your fingers adapted to using knitting needle, and thicker yarn knits quickly.  I learned how to knit with a pair size needles and a worsted weight yarn.  In fact, I worked with worsted weight or larger for quite a few scarves until I started knitting with sock weight yarn to make a pair of socks.  I discovered that a lighter weight yarn did not take much longer to knit than a thicker weight yarn.  There is a good argument to be made for using a lightweight yarn, one being a better fit which you so not get with a bulky weight yarn because let’s face when wearing a heavier fabric everyone will look bigger than they are.  The feel of a sweater done in a lightweight yarn is just softer to me and it always means that you will perspire less because with a heavier weight the hotter you will feel and more incline to perspire.  Do not get me wrong, I like to see bulky weight yarns with certain items such as a car coat and a rug, but lightweight yarn knitted into a cardigan is a better feel to me and makes look thinner. 

There is also a price consideration, lightweight yarns can be more economical than a bulky weight and it also depends on if you buy cashmere, alpaca, angora etc. will also affect the price.  Elizabeth Zimmerman also expressed her opinion in the “Knitting Without Tears” (which every person who knits should have in their craft library) about making a sweater with a very fine wool in order to economize if you love to knit.

I think using a lightweight yarn for your sweaters and skirts is a good idea for a better and more flattering fit.  I am a size DD in bra size and 45 in hips, so knitting my garments in a bulky weight does not work for me.  I prefer to look like woman than the Pillsbury dough boy which is not a good look.  I am going to enjoy reading the patterns in “Knit So Fine” and have a couple of projects in mental queue (making quite a few copies for my project notebook).

I cannot end this blog post without writing a little about “Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Crafts”, and one project in the book stood out for me and that’s the glittered eggs.  I love the glittered eggs and so much better than dyeing and they are great as a decorative touch for a dinner party.  I also like the glittered snowflakes and think it would a great idea for a winter white wedding with white, silver and blue glittered snowflakes handing in the reception space and perhaps glittered candles within the space as well.  I have to stop before I have a 10,000 word blog post with ideas.  I am going to end on that note and write Ciao for now.


A Book Suggestion and New Yarn

I wanted to blog about an interesting book entitled “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot.  It is an extraordinary story about Henrietta Lacks and her unwitting contribution to medical research.  Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the 1950s and died at the age of 31, but the interesting story occurs after her death.  “While she was in Hopkins’ care, researchers took a fragment of Lacks’ tumor and sliced it into little cubes, which they bathed in nutrients and placed in an incubator. The cells, dubbed "HeLa" for Henrietta Lacks, multiplied as no other cells outside the human body had before, doubling their numbers daily. Their dogged growth spawned a breakthrough in cell research; never before could investigators reliably experiment on such cell cultures because they would weaken and die before meaningful results could be obtained.” This quote was taken from 2002 article written by Van Smith from the City Paper.  I found out about this story while listening to the radio program Radio Lab from the “Famous Tumors” show.   Lacks’ family was also contact years later by researchers to get blood samples from them, but researchers did not mention anything about their mother’s HeLa cells.  This is an incredible and compelling story and would recommend reading the book and listening to the story from Radio Lab.


I stopped at Purl Soho today to pick up a couple of skeins of Cascade Alpaca lace weight yarn for the lace shawl pattern for the Vogue Knitting Early fall issue.  It’s a pretty garnet color and should look beautiful when the shawl is completed.  I think $16.00 for a shawl is a great bargain and it will be handmade.   Along with loving the shawl, I am also swooning over the necklace the model is wearing.  I need to figure out how to make it.    I am going to say ciao for now, and probably will write more about the Sew Serendipity book over the the weekend. 

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What a stupid commercial

I do not know if you are going with me

A Book and A Couple of Magazines

Today, it has been raining for most of the day and I decided to make a trip to Borders to pick up the new Knit Simple and Knit Scene magazine.  Actually, I did not know the magazines were at Borders, but I needed a trip to the bookstore.  I am inspired about some of the projects in both magazines.   It’s in my mind’s queue to knit, and I think the hat is nice for the fall.

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I also saw a new sewing pattern book, “Sew Serendipity” by Kay Whit.  She is the owner of Serendipity Studio with a line of patterns she created.  She has created 18 patterns for the new book consisting of dresses, jackets, skirts, and tunics.  The books gives great instruction of how to make the projects including techniques needed sewing a finished garment.  She also wanted the reader who decides to make any of the projects to customized the garments to her liking. 

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I am going to more reading of this book over the weekend, and make a do list of what I want to sew along with some ideas of my own to make the garments my own.  I do want to make the tunic dress as I like to wear it pants as well.  I am going to turn in for the night and get some rest for fresh start in the morning.  Ciao for now!

Afghan Sunday

It’s coming to the end of another weekend and I am thankful that we did not have extremely hot weather.  I made fried chicken yesterday and today I started on my seersucker afghan from “Comfort Knitting & Crochet Afghans – more than 50 beautiful, affordable designs featuring Berroco’s comfort yarn.  The pattern for this afghan is very easy, and I have to make eight sections of four squares in each.  I am in the process of knitting the three square in the section.  I was thinking about making a scarf using this pattern, but altering it by having rib stitch so the ends do not roll.  I know that there some yarn snobs out there, but using Red Heart for afghans is fine.

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I found another jewelry project from Fusion Beads to make.  It’s called the world traveler necklace and I placed an other for the beading materials Friday.  With any chance, I should receive the order for this sometime mid-week.

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I also stopped by Barnes and Noble and picked a copy of Mark Montaro’s “The Big Ass Book of Home Decor” to get some decor ideas to design my apartment.  Creativity comes from the need to solve a problem using limited resources.  I love the tapped-aluminum wall sconce in the book and wondering about turning it into wall art.

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Along with being a knitter, I love to crochet and buy Interweave Crochet for some inspiration and possible to make a project.  I have dozens of project I want to make from crochet projects along, not to mention the knitting projects in my to do list mind.  Now I have to make a inspiration board of knitting and crochet projects to motivate me to knit and crochet.  I like this two-piece crochet cardigan set, and the necklace gives me inspiration to make as well.  I also love the cool wave wrap and see ordering some fingering weight yarn from Knit Picks in my future.

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I am enjoying my summer from a creative perspective, but certainly not the humidity.  I am going to end this blog post to continue watching My Fair Wedding with David Tutera who is helping a bride who has a swamp theme for her wedding, but wearing a ball gown.  I still do not understand the idea of frogs, logs, and goldfish as the decor, but watching to see what David does with this wedding.  Ciao for now!



Summer Eats

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It’s Saturday and I finally had a chance to cook the chicken I purchased last week on sale at Whole Foods.  i cut the chicken into 10 pieces.  I got the 10 pieces by cutting the breasts in half, and have the back in the freezer for stock.  I took the cooking technique from Christopher Kimble of Cooks Illustrated by making a brine for the chicken and allowing it soak over night.  You can also brine the chicken in the salt solution for an hour, and for overnight use less salt.  The brine solution will make the chicken more tender and also adds flavor.  I also added some cornmeal to the flour to make crust crisper along with some thyme, Spanish paprika, cayenne pepper and salt.  I fried the chicken in batches so that pan is not overcrowded because you will not get a crispy crust if the pan is crowded as the chicken will steam and not fry.  I also put a cover over the pan for five minutes so that the inside of the chicken can cook.   I liked the end result, and here is another tip, you can also soak your chicken in buttermilk for a couple hours for a tangy and tender fried chicken.  Fried chicken should take 15 to 18 minutes to cook and remember that your internal temperature should be 165 degrees.  Off I go to enjoy this chicken and some corn on the cob.  Ciao for now!

A Night at the Learning Annex

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We had another day of temperatures over 102 degrees, and the current temperature is 93 degrees at 11:18p.  I got home about 30 minutes ago after attending a learning seminar at the Learning Annex in New York City.  The Learning Annex is an organization that produces classes, lectures, seminars, and workshops for adults.  They are generally two-hour classes or lectures with professionals in his or her field.  I signed up for a class on how to be an event planner with David Tutura of My Fair Wedding on The We Channel.  I have to say that he is just a personable live as on the show.  I have to say that I really liked him.  He did have a Power Point presentation, but the conversation was lively and interesting that he did not get to it.  He answered a lot of questions from people in the audience which consisted of more than 500 hundred.  David also autographed his new book “The Big White Book of Weddings – A How – to Guide for the Savvy, Stylish Bride, and stayed to sign the book until the last person in line.  It also posed for photographs.  This was taken on my camera phone, and my hair is a mess as it was curly this morning but the humidity had other plans.  I can be grateful that my hair did not get to frizzy, but tomorrow I will be carrying my Garnier curl sculpting spray. 

David had great stories about Joan Rivers and the brides from the show and how he is really grateful for the opportunity of helping these women with having their dream weddings because they deserve it.  I could have listen him to talk all night, but we only had two hours.  This is probably the highlight of my week and I am going to ride this wave with new energy and inspiration that I can do anything want want as long as I have passion and doing it for the right reasons.  Ciao for now!

Inspirational Eye Candy and Finding a Good Deal

The other day I purchased the Vogue Knitting early fall issue and think there are some really nice projects to knit.  There is one project in particularly I would like to knit.  The yarn recommended for this project is the new Rowan by Amy Butler/Westminster Fibers Belle Organic Aran (wool/cotton).  The problem is the price of the yarn, it cost $8.95 a skein and 16 skeins of yarn is needed to knit the smallest size.  That is a total cost of $143.20, and of course I need the largest size because I have a 44in bust size which means paying $232.70 for the project.  This means finding a substitute yarn that a lower cost to get the desired outcome.  My one choice is Knit Picks – Wool of the Andes worsted yarn that is 100% Peruvian wool at $1.99 a skein.  The total cost for the Knit Picks wool is $51.74 for the project and a difference of $180.96.  It is recession and finding yarn at a lower cost is a good thing, and the quality of Knit Picks is a good value. 

There is another project I would like to knit for Vogue Knitting.  It’s lace stole and the pattern is reversible.  The pattern recommends using Alpaca with a Twist Fino yarn that’s priced at 875 yards a skein priced at $21.00, and it’s not a bad price, but two skeins of Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud lace yarn for $5.49 a hank with 440 yard in each.  That means purchasing two hanks of the KP yarn at a total cost of $10.98 and that is still a great deal compared to $21,00 for the KP Alpaca.

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I borrowed the pattern book “Comfort Knitting & Crochet Afghans from the designers at Berroco from the library a couple of weeks ago.  The book has more than 50, affordable designs featuring Berroco’s comfort yarn.  You know the word affordable is relative because the project I wanted to knit is a seersucker afghan that requires 21 skeins for the project at a cost of $124.95/$5.95 a skein, but again that is still a little too much for me as I am on a budget.  So, I decided to purchase Red Heart super saver yarn at $4.29 a skein with 364 yards, in addition, the yarn was on sale at 25% and brought 12 skeins of yarn for $38.61 plus $8.95 for a total of 47.56.  I saved myself $86.34 and do not have a problem with using Red Heart because I need a afghan that is easy to clean and machine washable.

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I picked up a copy of Fresh Home magazine, and it gave me some inspiration of designing a space in my bedroom.  I am not into white or beige walls, but need to find the right shade of blue that is relaxing and beautiful.  Also, my room does not look like summer all year long, but that may not be such a bad thing doing through the winter months.  This photo inspires me to have a space that represents my personality.  I could paint my bedroom a nice serene green (I wonder if that is a name for paint?) with colors of blue and yellow for bed linens, curtains, pillows, and accessories.  It is going to be fun to sketch and write down ideas.  I am looking at a scarf I own that has a blue, green, and yellow color scheme. 

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The last photo that gives me inspiration is Prince with this funky hat.  I will just leave it at that and say ciao for now.

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Another Hobby and is Nesting a Bad Thing

I mentioned in my previous post entertaining the idea of canning some produce from this summer after reading the Whole Living article gave me the inspiration to can and preserve. It goes to the idea of being green by not wasting food, becoming more self-sufficient (a more powerful word to me than independent), and having control over what goes into my food. The idea of canning and preserving really entered into my mind after reading another article in the August issue of Eating Well with recipes two brines and eleven pickles to try. The pickle from the Eating Well is for refrigeration for up to a month, but canning would the process to use for pickled foods that can last up to a year without refrigeration. So today after coming home from work, I walked to Ace Hardware store (it is about three blocks from where I live) and purchased a dozen one-pint Ball canning jars. Upon asking the sales associates about the canning jars, she asked me if I was from the South and I told her no, but my parents are from there. She mentioned not many people up north (technically, New Jersey is a border state and there are parts of South Jersey that painfully remains of scenes from the movie Deliverance, but I digress). However, I think with the DIY movement in the country brought on the resurgence of knitting and sewing, the idea of conserving by canning and preserving, and baking bread (which is cheaper than buying a loaf from the store); this recession has gotten people re-prioritizing their values about what is important, and the reality is saving money is a part of that value.

I went to the bookstore a couple of days ago and finally picked up a copy of "How to Sew a Button" by Erin Bried. The book has a chock full of information for being a more self-sufficient like our grandmothers and mothers were before technology came along. The book covers everything from how to make blueberry pancakes to shining shoes to entertaining. She has a section in the book of how to make your own beer explaining that the process of beer making is simple to do and a kit should cost around $65.00. I am interested in how to make a good vodka martini (I hate gin). The book has good information and a joy to read because there are some funny moments along with the instructions. More importantly, the book is about having more control over your life and who does not want that.

The last thing I am going to mention is that I signed up for a class that celebrity event/wedding planning David Tutura from "My Fair Wedding" is teaching "How to Become an Event Planner". I am looking forward to attending the class this coming Tuesday. I do not know if I want to become an event planner, but within my job responsibilities, I work three to four events a year and think improving on that skill will help me in the long run. I am going to stop blogging for the evening and enjoy this cool summer breeze coming through my window with a good night sleep. Ciao for now!