Needle Hack – Part 1(Using Chiaogoo Cables with Boye Tips)

11 Aug

boyecabhackI don’t know if you guys remember me saying in an old post about using weedwhacker line to make your own DIY cables. (if you have no idea what I’m talking about just google “Boye cable hack.” TONS of blog posts and pics out there) Well, I bought all those random supplies, superglued, filed down and made those flimsy cables. And honestly, I didn’t find them all that great other than being flexible. The superglued screw came undone at one point while with most of the other handmade cables, the glued area dried into a rough/bumpy mess making the stitches not move smoothly while knitting. The joins weren’t smooth at all. Someone suggested using heat shrink wire wraps instead of super glue to make the join smoother and at that point, I was like, “Why the hell am I wasting all this time and money making a half-assed product when I already own close to 20 perfectly good interchangeable needle sets?”

I was ready to throw in the towel and call it a good lesson on why I shouldn’t buy cheap needle sets. But then I found an easy workaround to this problem that uses already available parts without my having to resort to crappy DIY!

But before we get to the actual parts and instructions, shall we take a look at these two needle sets? Boye Needlemaster ($35-50) vs Karnation interchangeables ($29.99-$39.99, depending on when you buy them. They frequently have sales on this so wait til it goes on sale again for $29.99)

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Boye Needlemaster (sold in many big box stores)

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Karnation Interchangeables (available at eKnittingNeedles.com)

They cost about the same and look identical, even down to the same number of needle tips and pointiness. The key difference is the cables that come with the tips. While I love Boye-Needlmaster-Replacement-Cables-3287353012M-AVthe Boye tips, their cables suck big time ass.

It was from the olden days when interchangeable needles didn’t exist save for Denise plastics so the cables (if you can even call them that. More like plastic wires) are super stiff and quite unwielding which makes the whole set very difficult to use. Even after close to 50+ years, their cables haven’t changed and it’s the one thing that almost all knitters agree on if they’ve ever inherited an old set from Grandma (or Auntie): Boye cables are terrible!

 

35676938333_d37b3afa83_mNow, the Karnation set, which I believe is a Taiwanese brand, is basically the Boye set with MUCH better cables. Very flexible and not kinky at all. They feel similar to Chiaogoo cables but they’re thinner and more flexible. I immediately fell in love with them.

So, now you’re thinking, ‘Why the heck do I need a hack to use Chiaogoo cables if the Karnation cables are already great?’

36088409160_075c8c55d1_zHere’s the thing: the Karnation cables break at the join quite easily. They don’t have a swivel where the thin cable meets the metal screw so after repeated use or just a single tug will snap it right off. Two of mine did this on the very first day of using. UGH!

There is hope though. eKnittingneedles (or Woolcraft as they started calling themselves a few years ago) will replace the broken cables for you. And that’s why you should buy this set instead of the Boye’s if you don’t own either and considering between the two. (if you already own a set of Boye’s, you do not need to go out and buy the Karnations) That said, who wants to continually mailing in broken cables to get replacements? Not me.

And here is where the Chiaogoo needle hack comes in…. (to be continued on next blog post)

 

Fake Exotic Fibers

12 Jun

By now, I think the knitting world has come to understand that “mink yarn” does not really exist. First we had that Lotus Mimi fiasco from a few years back, and now with the Cashmere Co-op (previously Minkyarn.com that mysteriously changed its name as soon as the Lotus recall happened), professional lab results surfaced that proved that all the exotic fibers that site sold were fake, fake, fake.

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Bought this back in 2015. 80% Mink, my ass.

I was skeptical when that Cashmere Co-Op site began offering snow fox and sable, since I haven’t seen these types of fibers offered by anyone else. (And believe me, I’ve got quite the menagerie of exotic fibers in my stash: bison, camel, qiviut, llama, possum, cashgora, and even a rare cashmere-chinchilla blend!) If it was so soft and rare, how could this one man (Craig Turner) offer it for so cheap? (relatively speaking of course. They were on par with cashmere prices) If they were so great, how come no one else sold these yarns? Where exactly was this guy getting these yarns? (he certainly wasn’t producing them)

I didn’t buy any even though I was tempted to because there simply was too many unanswered questions. And at these prices, I wasn’t going to risk it.

And whaddaya know. People got angry, people began hounding the man, people demanded their money back, people reversed their paypal charges….and now the owner of that site just poof, disappeared. He closed his Ravelry account, got rid of his group, and closed down his website.  Supposedly, he was angry that the individuals who brought this info to light were all out to get him and even hinted that they were stalkers.

I don’t know about you but this is just piss poor PR (public relations). When people (in general) get angry, you do not want to fan their flames. He mostly did this to himself when he didn’t do his due diligence prior to investing in a large inventory of fake yarns. (whether he knew or didn’t know doesn’t make a difference at this point)

At any rate, minks, snow foxes and sables are NOT tame animals that someone could “humanely harvest” by brushing them. This is total eco-washing to make us feel better about ourselves. Sorry to break it to you but the only mink yarn that’s real is sheared from a dead animal. (and yes, I have that one too.)

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Vintage yarn from the 80s – 35% sheared mink. (PETA, don’t kill me!)

No more minks for this chica….although my quest for exotic fibers continues as I’ve got my eyes set on this: Cervelt! That’s right. Red deer down from New Zealand!

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And yes, it comes in yarn form, with each ball that comes in a certified, serial numbered case. What’s preventing me from buying some is the fact that it costs $395/100g (each ball is only 25g and costs $99) and that because it’s so rare, no one seems to have any in stock. But man, I want to get my hands on some of this baby.

Sigh…a girl can dream…

 

When is fingering not really fingering?

13 Feb

I’m talking about yarn – get yo mind outta the gutter! 😉

I’ve been winding a butt ton of fingering weight yarns (aka sock yarns) for the last year and I’ve noticed something peculiar. There’s no consistency as far as thickness is concerned. Yes, it’s true that a vast majority fall into the 400-440yds per 100g category, there are plenty of outliers that are still marked as “fingering weight”

Why does this matter? Well, for one, if you’re mixing different fingering weight yarns for a multi-color project, you might experience different textures or a different gauge, creating irregularities in your knit fabric. (I used scraps of a 50 or so different fingering weight for a linen stitch scarf and yes, the thicker yarns created a bumpier row, which I did not like. This was especially apparent when I wore the scarf around my neck since the neck area also happens to be one of the most sensitive parts of the body)

Shall we take a look some examples of the rogue fingering weights then?

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts – Socks that Rock Lightweight (405yds/146g)

One of the thickest fingering weights out there, BMFA even states upfront that it’s “not a true fingering-weight; close, though.” I’d say this is a true sport weight.

 

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Colinette – Jitterbug (400yds/150g)

This one is even thicker than the Socks that Rock that was mentioned above since it’s not as tightly spun as STR. A sport weight bordering on DK, they recently discontinued this line and came out with a Jitterbug Sock version which has 400yds/100g per skein, which is an actual fingering weight.

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Handmaiden – Casbah (355yds/115g)

Another sport weight posing as fingering. Super soft and lovely but it belongs in the same category as another similar yarn – Bugga (which is correctly categorized as sport weight)

 

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Patons Kroy Socks (166yds/50g)

There are several different versions of this yarn out there but apparently the latest put-up is rather thick and folks with larger feet have run out of yarn before finishing their socks. Well, hello? Look at the skimpy yardage (and thicker yarn). It used to be fingering when they had 203yds but not anymore!

I have a hunch that because fingering weight is a popular category, yarn companies are intentionally labeling them as fingering to sell more yarns. At any rate, pay attention to the yardages and if it falls below 350yds/100g, chances are that you’re looking at sport weight.

Hasegawa Yarns

29 Jan

(PLEASE NOTE: Hasegawa only sells wholesale and minimum order is 1kg per yarn in stock)

I’ve noticed this for quite some time now but Habu textiles, which sells lots of peculiar yarns on cones for mucho $$$ here in the U.S. seem to be just repackaging Hasegawa yarns and jacking up the prices. And if you’re not familiar with Hasegawa, it is a very large Japanese mill specializing in silk and other unique yarns. (I know of a few very bougie American yarn brands that have their yarn spun for them by Hasegawa but you’d never see their name on the label)

Anyway, Hasegawa has an awesome website that has their entire yarn line catalogued with prices in both Japanese Yen and US dollars. And yep, you guessed it: it is WAY cheaper to buy direct from Hasegawa than Habu cuz any time there’s a middleman (and an expensive showroom to pay for) somebody has to pay – the unknowing consumer.

So the next time, you’re tempted to buy some funky paper yarn or lux silk but don’t want to pay $$$$ for a tiny 25g (or 13g!) ball, check out Hasegawa. Pretty sure you can buy almost everything for a fraction of the price.

Knitter’s Magazine is Calling it Quits

18 Jan

Knitter’s by XRX has announced that their Winter 2016 issue will be their last and they will cease publication. Why am I not surprised?

Out of the big 7 knitting magazines (Interweave Knits, Knitscene, Vogue Knitting, Knit Simple, Creative Knitting, Simply Knitting (UK) being the other 6), Knitter’s had the frumpiest and tackiest looking designs with the utmost garish colors to boot.

Every time I browsed through their issues, I had to cringe at the fug outfits staring back at me. Super thin and pretty models wearing the most dowdy, ill fitting sweaters. I get that there’s a lot of technique that goes into making some of these knits but it felt like they were made for the sake of showing said technique with no regards to how flattering it would look on a person. (and the colors….who’s the colorblind person picking them out?)

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from their fall 2016 issue. I’m sorry but this is just fug.

And because all the photos are taken by their head editor, the layout and design of the photos look extremely dated. I can pull out their magazine from 10 years ago and it still looks exactly the same. (just cuz you use super expensive photo equipment, doesn’t make your pics look better.)

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from 2006. Notice that this pic doesn’t look all that from the 2016 one? (Did someone never learn how to use F-stops on their camera lens?)

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Look at her lips. It’s saying “Ewwww”

Anyway, XRX has been seeing the dough flow in from Stitches, which is why they’ve expanded the Stitches venues and are now ditching the money loser, Knitter’s magazine.

It’s always sad to see a knitting publication close up shop but with this one, I totally saw it coming. Sorry Knitter’s!

 

Better Value Per Yard?

15 Jan

Rant time!

I see time and time again this statement when talking about the price of a yarn skein.

“It’s a much better value because I get 440yds per skein instead of 100yds for the same price”

Uh, no it isn’t! Not if it’s exactly the same 100g. It’s like the ridiculous statement that a pound of feathers is lighter than a pound of rocks. No it’s not. They’re exactly the same amount of yarn because fibers and yarn are sold by weight, not by yardage.

“The value per yer yard on this yarn is great!” Um, this ain’t fabric. Yarn isn’t sold per yard but by grams, people!

If we were to stick with the whole “better value because of yardage” logic, we should all be knitting with cobweb yarns. I mean, 5000yds+ per 100g. Great deal, right? (palm to forehead) Ugh, I hate such misinformation.

End of rant!

 

Happy 2017!

9 Jan

A new year and NO NEW RESOLUTIONS!

What’s the point of making a list when i know i won’t be able to keep up with it? Maybe I’m too cynical or just getting old. (yeah, yeah, I shouldn’t talk, still being in my 30s and all. haha!)

I just got back from a short trip to sunny Phoenix, Arizona to find a mountain of packages at our doorstep. You betcha I ran and hid those boxes in the laundry room before my husband saw them. (ah, the things us yarn hoarders do….we’ve got problems, y’all!)

Not much to report on other than showing off some of my “haul.” Call it eye candy or living vicariously through my crazy spending sprees.

Seasons Greetings!

20 Dec

We’re knee deep in holiday season 2016 and not much has changed in the Yarnphreak household. Other than the mountain of yarn that’s been creeping steadily into the dining room, it looks and feels pretty similar to 2015.

One key difference is probably the boxes of mini skeins that’s taking up a chunk of space. What mini skeins, you ask? Those would be the Koigu KPPPM skeins that I’ve been busily winding into 25yds and 50yds increments. Now that I’ve got enough for a full set (400g), time to destash these babies.

Feast your eyes on these!

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32 colors done, 8 more to go….

If anyone wants some, it’s the same as the regular KPPPM skein prices, which are $14-15 per skein. (Not gonna jack up prices just because they’re mini skeins. Have you seen what Koigu charges for their 11 yard minis? $3.75! That’s equivalent to $60 per 50g. Talk about insanity.)

These are my mini skein set prices, including free U.S shipping

28 x 50yd set: $112 (2 sets available)

40 x 25yd set: $82 (1 set available)

I already have some takers (pre-orders) for each of these sets so there’s only a few available. Please let me know via Ravelry (my id is ‘yarnphreak’ in case you didn’t know. ha!) if you want a set.

As for what to do with all these mini skeins, here are some suggestions:

Beekeeper’s Quilt (aka Hexipuffs)

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Mini Mania Scarf

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Missoni Falls Cowl

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Koigu Fair Isle Cowl

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Hitini Socks

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and any pattern that uses madelinetosh Unicorn Tails such as this Unicorn Stripes scarf

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Mini skeins are great! They’re like yarn Skittles. Just a taste of every color out there.

Long Time, No Posts…

5 Nov

What can I say? I’m not very organized nor do I stick to a schedule.

Quick recap of the last 3 months:

  1. Began to accept that perhaps my stash is indeed TOO big.
  2. Destashed a good 500+ skeins via Facebook and Ravelry
  3. Had a big ass yarn sale in my garage at the end of September14462981_10153800222126960_5984445333103881516_n
  4. Went to Budapest and Vienna for a week (girls only trip with sister)

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    at the Hundertwasser Museum (Vienna), holding Opal Hundertwasser yarn

  5. Winding off 200g-300g from laceweight cone yarns and selling off the cones14502738_10153800222141960_5964798433380628721_n
  6. Turning sock yarns into 25yds/50yds mini skeins to destash any yarn I won’t be using
  7. Willing to sell off 95% of my stash since i won’t be able to knit with them all anyway.14440961_10153800222186960_2059858722300027379_n

And there you have it. My big stash will be no more. (Pretty sure I’ll be left with half the stash, so still a big ass stash but nothing like it was before, when it ate up my house and all the closet spaces)

The good thing to come of all this is that I’m finally able to save up some money in my savings account. A rainy day fund is always good to have, for those just in case moments.

Another thing I noticed is that yarn prices have gotten pretty expensive so that I can sell some of my older yarns (that’s still in production) for the newer retail price markup. (I mean, I usually sell half off retail so a yarn that would have been $4 can now be sold for $5. Inflation occurs in yarn too!)

 

Buying yarn from overseas

22 Jul

Here’s something you might encounter if you order yarn from countries that charge in currencies other than the US dollar – should I pay via Paypal’s currency conversion (which give poor exchange rates) OR use my credit cards and let them handle the conversion? From all the blog posts that I read via a Google search, it seemed like Visa/Mastercards were the way to go. So I took the plunge and charged the transaction in Canadian dollars, hoping my credit cards would give me a better deal.

Well, oops!

I just did the math and I lost about $7 by doing it this way cuz credit card companies have a foreign transaction fee that runs around 2-3%, which wipes out any savings you get from their lower currency exchange rate. Lesson learned.

Conclusion: If you’re buying from overseas, just use Paypal’s currency conversion. It’s easier and cheaper. (kicking myself for doing something stupid. $7 could have bought me two more ball of yarn! gah!!!)