Knit IQ Blocking Mats Review

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I am almost embarassed to admit my ignorance in this matter. However, I have little to almost no experience with Blocking Mats even with all my years of crocheting. For example, I just always blocked my items on anything I had handy, using things like a sheet over my rug and rust proof T pins. In January I determined that this year was going to be the year I would focus on obtaining all the crocheting tools I have been lacking and I always wanted in my tool chest- and the interlocking Blocking Mats were high on my list.

The problem was; which ones to buy? I did not want to buy something that would not meet my needs or that was not durable. So I did what I always do when I lack the experience or knowledge on something I want, I started reading other people’s reviews.

There are many mats out and even if you do like these mats, I have complied a list to help you look for the ones that best suit your needs if you are also shopping around;

  • Grids that line up
  • Interlocking tightly
  • They withstand steam and water for blocking needs
  • Thick enough to hold projects securely in place
  • They do not retain orders
  • They come with a carrying case

I would like to take a minute and thank every one who wrote a review on any and all blocking mats on Amazon. If it wasn’t for you all taking the time to write about your opinions and experiences in this area, I would have been investing in the wrong ones.
I personally read over 200 reviews while making a check list on the pro’s and con’s of several different Blocking mats and I believe this is what helped me to make a wise buy.

Through these reviews I learned to look for ones that had grids. Grid lines allow for you to align the sides of your project and block squarely for an more accurate and professional finish to your project. On the reviews I read over and over how the grid lines always match up on this brand. One one side of the blocks you will fine perfectly spaced 1 inch grids and on the others side a slightly texture light brown without grids. These give me the best of both worlds.

I also wanted some that were more on the thick size verses thin. The more research I did, the more determined I was to look for thicker mats, because with thin ones- the pins would popped out the back side. This would result in snagging the carpet or scratching a table top, depending on the placement of the mats. Also, I do need to be able to stick the T pin in far enough to securely hold the item in place. These mats are .75 inches thick.

And lastly is the one thing I would never have thought to look for, but a carrying case! The more I read about the difficultly in storing the mats without being damaged the more I saw the importance for a storage solution. The Blocking Mats came with a vinyl zippered reusable bag that easily stories the 9 block set.

Other concerns with some brands I looked into were that they were prone to fading after time and use. They also needed to be water proof as I read how some brands would start to smell from water and natural fiber yarns. Living in a small house, or with country wells for water, this was something I did not want to have to deal with.

So yes, these blocking mats from Knit IQ are more expensive then most of the other ones, but in the long run I believe they will withstand the test of time and therefore be cheaper with each passing year. The nine 12x 12 blocks inter lock tightly together and in addition to the reusable bag, the set comes with a box of 100 nickel plated T pins. If you are wanting to block larger projects such as afghans you might have invest in three packs of these blocks. I presently have two sets and am considering a third.

I would also like to thank the people at Knit IQ, when I had a small problem with one of my mats, they went above and beyond to fix the problem quickly. In this day of bad customer service and cheaply made projects, it was refreshingly nice to deal with this company who value the customers.

What have been your experiences with blocking mats, good or bad please share. Who knows you might help someone to make an informed decision and a wise investment.

Until next time, keep those hooks flying.

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Annie’s Hook & Needle Club – Kit 61 – Lovely Lapghan

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The Annie’s Hook & Needle club’s 61th kit for me was an easy level Lovely Lapghan. When I opened the kit my first thoughts were how appropriate for the month of Mother’s Day this project would be. The Lapghan was an open lacy pattern that was composed of a simple repeat pattern that makes a small afghan. The end results were gorgeous.

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The kit came with two patterns, one for crocheters and one for knitters, and two skeins of 564 bulky or chunky, (it is called by both names) lilac weight yarn. As far as my tools, an N hook and tapestry needle was required.

Good News:

The pattern was great, no complaints at all. It was very well written and easy to follow. A word of caution, be sure to read the pattern notes before starting and you will have little difficulty in finishing.

The only stitches that you will need to know are the chain and double crochet.

Bad News:

The yarn comes in unmarked labels as is the case with most of the kits I have received. The color is stunning in appearance and the yarn crocheted into a very soft fabric. However, it was one of the worst ordeal’s with yarn I have ever encountered.

I know I am not using the technical terms but I will explain as best I can. Basically the yarn would at times be as thin as one string of thread and at other spots very fluffy braid-like that were often really thick to work with. The fact was I had to cut out so much of the yarn I had no choice but to forfeit the fringe in order to finish.

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This yarn was also very fragile and extremely prone to tangles and breakage. I had trouble obtaining the correct gauge (the lapgham being about 38 inches to width). So I decided to rip out the four rows I had worked and rework them. If you, like me; have to rip it out.  I would like to caution you to do so very slowly. As I mentioned before the yarn breaks and tangles easily.

Final Words:

I love the pattern and can see myself reaching for it again in the future. I cannot say the same thing about the yarn. I would advise you even though this is an easy pattern to work to give it  your full attention to avoid having to pull it out and reworking it.

My experience with this yarn made this an unenjoyable project for me and because of the yarn I am rating this kit a 6, one of my lowest rating. Although I was really pleased with the end result, I just did not enjoy what I had to undergo to accomplish it. The yarn just made this a tedious experience for me. For me, tedious and crocheting should not be used in the same sentence.

If you have received the same kit -I would love to know if my yarn was the exception and not the norm. Did any of you experience the problems that I did?

Until next week, keep those hooks flying.

Posted in Crochet | 4 Comments

Crochet on the Go Bag

June is here and for most of us it means more time away from our homes and getting out to experience the sunshine and fresh air. And since June 9 is the WORLD WIDE KNIT/CROCHET IN PUBLIC DAY! I thought I would help to kick off the celebration by sharing a blog on how to make a crochet, “on the go” bag and and posting some suggested free patterns I found on the internet.

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(https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01NAJELJ3/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1).

First; to prepare an on the go crochet bag you need to think more user friendly for the great out doors. All you will need is a small bag, preferablly one no bigger then 12 X 12. For me it is a small sports bag I purchased off Amazon last year.   I chose this one for a few reasons. Mainly, it is compact enough to fit by my feet in the car and secondly because it is Stadium Approved meaning I will have no difficulty at any sporting events my hubby and I decide we would like to attend.

When adding supplies to your bag, just think essentials. The first thing everyone will need is a pattern. If my pattern is from a book or magazine, I photo copy it and place them in a small sheet protector.(picture above) I dislike looking through my bag for a pattern so I tape it to the inside of my bag facing out. Because my bag is clear, it can easily be looked at when needed and because I do not need to dig through a bag it makes for less hassle when out and about.

When looking for the projects for our crochet on the go bag, you should look for something small and not so burdensome to carry around with you. You will also want a project that is easy to stop when needed and then can be easily gotten back to. After all, when you are around other people there are more likely chances for interruptions. I always look for something that does not require my full attention, what I call no- brainers.

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Here is a list for the rest of the tools you might want to add:

a tape measure
I prefer a yarn cutter, but if you do not have one- a small pair of sisters.
yarn counter
stitch markers
required crochet hook
yarn needle (I carry mine in a case.)
Any speciality items you might need to finish the projects. (buttons, special tools etc)

Remember you want to keep it simple, but at the same time make sure you have the tools you will need to finish the project.

I thought I would share some patterns I found free on the internet that would be perfect to take with you.

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Socks

http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/mens-crochet-socks-l0147.html

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Dishcloths

http://www.redheart.com/free-patterns/lattice-washcloth

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Scrubby

http://www.redheart.com/free-patterns/tunisian-round-scrubby

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Simple Doily

http://www.redheart.com/free-patterns/star-table-mat

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Slippers

https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/simple-crochet-slippers-4115865

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Hats

http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/saratoga-hat-l70322.html

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Cowl/Scarfs

https://www.elkstudiohandcraftedcrochetdesigns.com/sunset-scarf-a-fun-crochet-scarf-pattern/

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Gloves/Mittens/fingerless gloves

http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/touchdown-wristers-90646.html

So remember this Saturday June 9, 2018 when you go to the park, or to watch a little league game at the diamonds you can still celebrate WORLD WIDE KNIT/CROCHET IN PUBLIC DAY in enjoyment and ease.  Bring along your crochet “on the go” bag and proudly display your craft for all the world to see.

Please share where you decided to celebrate WORLD WIDE KNIT/CROCHET IN PUBLIC DAY!  As for me and hubby, we are going to a state park, I will enjoy crocheting while he catches a fish or two for dinner.
Until next time, keep those hooks flying.

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Lion Flikka Yarn Review

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As I posted previously, earlier this month I was blessed to receive a box of yarn from Lions Brand yarn. In exchange for my experience and know how, I would the use the yarn and then write a review on them. The box contained 2 Mandala baby (rainbow falls), 1 Rewind (marbles), 1 Penelope (Zeus), 1 Flikka (grape jelly). This Flicka yarn is the fourth and final review for them.

Although I enjoyed working with all the yarn, I must admit that the Flkka yarn was my favorite one. The color that was sent to me was Grape Jelly.   It is a combination of pale gray, pink, violet, and purple with traces of pale white variegated yarn mixture. The yarn is made of 50% cotton, and 50% polyester which is great because this also means it is machine washable and able to be machine dried.

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Once again I went to the Lion web site to fine a pattern and decided on the crochet pattern Urban Minimalist Hat. (http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/urban-minimalist-hat-l70321.html) The hat was easily crocheted in one afternoon and fits a head of 18 inches circumference. It was composed of chain and double crochet stitches, which makes it ideal for any level crocheter.

Flikka yarn was great to work with and even came out much softer then I expected any cotton/polyester blend to be. The yarn also comes in 11 different color combinations.

I would love to use this yarn in the future for not only clothing such as scarves and other hats, but for a few afghans as well. The yarn had no bad points, there was no breaks in the yarn or splitting when I used it. The color was strong and steady throughout.

I am so glad that Lions sent me this yarn, it might have been one I would have overlooked for a while or not really focused my attention on at first. Thankfully, I got to use it.

What is your favorite yarn to use? Is there one that you love so much that you just keep going back to over and over again? Please share, you might help someone else to find a new favorite.

Until next time, Keep those hooks flying.

Posted in Crochet | 2 Comments

Lion Rewind Yarn Review

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I am by no means an expert when it comes to what makes one yarn stand out more from another. My opinions are just based on what I have determined over my thirty plus years of crocheting. It is really centered on what I have enjoyed using and what I did not.

Most of my reviews on this site are written about things, I have purchased and worked with as an avid crocheter. Recently their are a few things that were sent to me as gifts in exchange for giving an evaluation of my thoughts on using their yarn. Today, I would like to share the current experience in using Lion Rewind Yarn.

I was sent Lion Rewind Yarn in a Light Blue-Grey shade called Marbles which I thought was gorgeous. I have always been partial to the colors of the sea. This was my first time working with a ribbon type yarn and although it offered more challenges than regular yarn I still enjoyed it immensely.

The first thing I do when I receive a new skein of yarn is look for a pattern. Since this yarn is from Lion Yarn I decided to use one of the patterns that are suggested by them. Having only one skein I opted for the Cos Cob Cowl.

It is an easy level pattern that only required a working knowledge of chain stitches and double crochets. I have included a link for any who would like to download it.

http://www.lionbrand.com/cos-cob-cowl-l70327.html

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Rewind yarn is made of 70% Polyester, 30% Viscose. This means you can machine wash on cool, but instead of a dryer it is suggested that you lay it out flat to air dry. Rewind is a tape yarn, or what some call a ribbon yarn. So when using the yarn there are a few things you should keep in mind to make the experience more enjoyable.

First, is that tape yarn can be challenging at times, because this yarn loves to twist while you are working with it. I should emphasize that you must take extra care to keep the yarn from twisting and turning.

Second, this yarn can be more difficult to obtain perfectly even stitches, even for the most experience crocheter. So go slow, do not rush the project. Just enjoy the process.

Although I would not recommend this yarn, or any novelty yarn for a novice, since I prefer my students to wait and get a year of experience crocheting first. This is a yarn of a high quality, a light weight yarn and would have no trouble recommending Lion Rewind Yarn to an experienced crocheter though. I really liked the appearance of the yarn and it produced a soft fabric that felt great around my neck. I really enjoyed working with it and loved the appearance of the finished project. I am already looking over patterns to have an excuse to have a second round with it.

Have you ever used tape or ribbon yarn? What are your thoughts on it, would love to hear what you think?

Until next time, keep those hooks flying.

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Annie’s Crochet Afghan Block of the Month Club – Kit 4

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When I am working a yard sale, like I was this week. I look for small projects that will not drag and hang on the ground and simple projects that allow me to talk as well as work. This months Annie’s Crochet Afghan block of the Month kit was perfect for the annual Memorial Day yard sale we do around here.

The small size made it convenient to place in my bag when customers arrived and the repeat patterns were almost effortless to continue working one without losing my spot or messing up. I watched the accompanying DVD the night before we opened up and then worked the blocks during my three day yard sale.

Up to this month all the blocks have been skilled for easy level, this kit had two easy levels and one intermediate level.

Also, all the kits have come in Premier Everyday yarn, this month’s came in mouse gray. The varying colors are all well chosen and go beautifully together when laid side by side.

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Block 10 is an slanted diagonal design. The block has no specialty stitches and consists of mostly chain, single crochet and double crochet stitches. I used an I hooked on all three squares to obtain the right gauge, of course this could be different for every crocheter.

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Block 11 was also an easy level pattern. It was a very pretty shell design using the chain, single crochet and double crochet. This block had the challenge of two simple specialty stitches, the shell and the V stitch.

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Block 12 had the honor of being the first intermediate level in the club. It was an open lace pattern using the puff stitch.

I am reposting my earlier tips and am trying to add one more to the list each month.

1. Make sure you keep all unused yarn, as it will be needed to finish afghan.
2. I like to keep my squares in 1 gallon zip lock bags. A year is a long time and I do not want to lose one of the blocks, or get them dirty. You can fit 6 in each bag with plenty of room to spare. Also this way I can keep them in order.
3. If you are someone who is trying to learn to read crochet patterns. This is a good club. In the DVD they take you through the pattern, row by row. First they explain what to do, and then they demonstrate what the instructions are saying.

4. When you are ready to work the edging always remember, that no matter what hook you use to work your block, always work the edging in a H hook.

I do not know if it is because I am more on the go in the summer or because these little blocks would also be perfect for a road trip vacation, but after being in this club for four months and learning the new stitches for each block lesson. I have to say so fare I have really enjoyed the kits so far.  What kind of projects do you look for when you are on the go?

Until next time, keep those hooks flying.

Posted in Crochet | 6 Comments

Boye Crochet Dude Ergonomic Aluminum Crochet Handle Review

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When I heard of Ergonomic hooks the first thing I thought of was people with arthritis or carpel tunnel limitations.   That is until a recent student with I teach suffering from arthritis made a comment that she wished she would have gotten her ergonomic hooks about ten years before she needed them. She stated that maybe it would have prevented her hands from becoming so bad. To be honest, there is no way of really knowing if it would have helped or not, but her comment got my mind to considering her warning.

I mean, it is true I really do not need the speciality hooks to help me at this season in my life, because crocheting has not become painful to as of yet. Still an ounce of prevention……

Although sometimes my hands get tired or stiff, but it’s not really on the painful chart from 1 to 10 yet. However, I have been crocheting for over 30 years and it could happen. God is willing, I would like to crochet up until the day I go home to be with the Lord. So when I decided I wanted to invest in the Boye Ergonomic Aluminum Crochet Handle I had two things in mind;

  •  First, I did really want to buy new hooks, I have been using the same Susan Bates hooks since the beginning of my crochet journey, and to be honest I like them still.
  • Second, was for more for preventive measures, to help take some stress off of my hands, while they are still into good condition.
  • Lastly, this device allowed me to change my present hooks into Ergonomic hooks without a huge investment, on Amazon it is $7.27.

As you read my review, please keep in mind I do not have the test of time behind me, I have only been using Ergonomic Aluminum Crochet Handle for a few days. Only about a year or two down the row will tell if the handle has any staying power and I will repost then.

When you first buy your Ergonomic Aluminum Crochet Handle be careful when opening the package because you will need the chart and instruction on back.

The rubber washers do not have markings on them, and the color of the washers did not match the color graph in the instructions. However, it was easy to match the hole size to the appropriate hook sizes.

I have two suggestion for future use concerning these washers;

  • Using a fine point permanent marker one could write each size on the washer.
  • Or if you have your hooks in a zipper pouch where you would not loose your hooks, one could just leave them on the hooks. I opted for leaving the washers on my hooks.

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Pro’s:

  • If you have a tendency to set your hook down and forget where you put it — this will make it much easier to find.
  • The handle has a rubbery feel to it and really helps with the grip.
  • Because of the size, it will become harder to lose my hooks in the side of chairs
  • You can update your hook to ergonomic ones with relatively small investment.
  • The larger handle does help to reduce stress while providing comfort & support to your hands while you work.

Con’s:

  • They will take some getting used to, especially if you’ve been crocheting a long time with just hooks. I did notice that my stitches loosened up. But the longer I used the handle for crocheting I did eventually get back to normal tension.
  • Every time you change hooks you will have to replace the hook in the handle. This was not a problem for me. However, I did read in a few other reviews where crocheter’s brought a few extra handles to save them from having to deal with this.
  • I have noticed that it does attract lint and dust and hair easily.
  • If you lose the washers, the handle becomes useless.

Room for improvement:

  • Although this is the perfect size for my small hands, I think that Boye should make a small and a large size. I believe if you have large hands, this might not help relieve the pain as much. (However, I am not a doctor and could be mistaken on this point)
  • Boye – if you are reading this, might I suggest one for steel hooks. I would happily invest in a handle that would fatten up my steel hooks handles without rebuying them all.
  •  I wish it came with some sort of case for the washers. As important as they are to the device, I think there should be some way to keep them contained.

My hooks are Susan Bates, and I have not had problems with them fitting or moving or slipping on me. I placed the washers with the large size facing toward the hook.

So my final opinion on the Boye Crochet Dude Ergonomic Aluminum Crochet Handle is that it is adequate, but there is some room for improvement. That being said, I am personally happy with the handle and believe that the few negatives that I mentioned would not be enough to stop me from enjoying the advantages of the handle. I am really glad I received one and will more than likely recommend it to all crocheters that I encounter along my crocheting journey.

If you have purchased a Boye Crochet Dude Ergonomic Aluminum Crochet Handle I
would love to hear what your thoughts and/or experiences have been. Please share and help other crocheter’s to make a better informed purchase.

Until next week, keep those hooks flying.

Posted in Crochet | 2 Comments