Sister Sword of Desirable Mindfulness (fiberaddict) wrote,
Sister Sword of Desirable Mindfulness
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Yarn review and laughs

Hoo boy. Last year, woke knitters heads exploded when Hobby Lobby (that evil corporation whose owner has the audacity to impose his personal beliefs into his company, how dare he???? Oh, wait.....) introduced their take on hand dyed yarn with their house brand, Yarn Bee (in 100% super wash Merino fingering/sock and chunky weights. They also have a 75% super wash Merino/25% Lyocell fingering/sock, but I haven't used it yet.) Immediately, there were wails of "how dare they price hand dyed yarn under $20/skein!" and "they aren't paying a living wage!!" and "100% wool won't last!" and - my personal favorite, "they stole my colorway!"

:sigh: Let's discuss this, shall we? (I waited until now, because I wanted to actually knit up some of the yarn in question, and see how it held up to my use. Actual review at the end!)

1. The price/living wage thing. This yarn is sourced in Turkey. I don't have a clue about the cost of living in Turkey, but I'm *pretty* sure it's less than it is here in the good ol' USA. It's priced at $14.99/skein, but you can either use a 40% off coupon OR catch it on one of their bi-weekly 30% off sales (pricing it at $10.59/skein or thereabouts). The full price is good for hand dyed sock yarn (not sure about the chunky) Previously, I thought $18.99/skein for commercially dyed sock yarn was good - $14.99 for hand dyed? Sign me up!

1b. Some knitters immediately exclaimed that the *sniff* knitters *sniff* that purchased this were NOT the market that would buy from exclusive indie dyers. Um...most of the indie yarn I've purchased over the years has started at $20/skein, and gone up from there. (My most expensive skein is a cashmere blend that starts at $35/skein.) This price is a bit steep for most of the people I know. I won't say it's overpriced...but I DO dye my own, and.........let's just say the profit margin is pretty nice at that price point. In this day and age, most people don't have the disposable income that they used to have; if it comes down to buying yarn at Hobby Lobby for $11 vs no yarn, well..........

2. The durability. This one.......:sigh: Wool has been the go-to fiber for centuries. Nylon didn't come around until 1927, and wasn't commercially available until after that (1935?). Before that.....it was wool all the way. Some spinners might have blended it with cotton or linen, but from what I can tell, it was mostly used by itself. Yes, Merino *is* a less strong breed, but it still holds up. AND....this yarn is marketed as fingering weight, not sock weight. Yes, sock weight IS fingering (for the most part), but.....you can knit other things out of it. Hats, mittens, and gloves (or sweaters, even!) don't get the abuse that socks do, so....this argument is really a non-starter. (The main difference is that sock yarn is usually spun tighter, to make it more durable. Not always, but.....and modern sock yarn usually has that nylon component, while fingering doesn't. You can either one in any situation where you gauge matches the pattern. :shrug:)

3. "Stealing color ways". Ha. HA! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Um.....this one is too stupid. There are only so many colors, and only so many ways to combine them. Yes, that number is high, but.......the indie screaming the loudest didn't invent the color way to begin with. The yarn in question is dyed......OK. I don't have a photo, but I have what I think is the original tutorial from 2013. (Yeah, so the shop in question claims to have been in business from 2011. IF this was her invention, she would have shut down the poster of this tutorial way back in 2013, right? I mean.........and she'd be screaming about JoAnn's, too.)

The color way is known as "unicorn farts"....basically, you have half the skein in a solid color (usually black/gray), and the other half is dyed in a rainbow. When you knit it up, you get flashes of color against the solid background (in the Hobby Lobby yarn, you get a rainbow spiral around the sock. It's fun!) LOTS of indie dyers have this color way in some form or another - it's not unique by a long shot.

Speckled yarn - the other "contested" color way - has been around even longer. I have books in my library from the early 2000's - when the indie hand dye scene was in it's infancy - that tell you how to do this. None of this is rocket science! (I, personally, don't like hand dying my own yarn. I prefer techniques that involve plunking the yarn in the dyepot and pouring the dye solution over it. These other techniques, while giving really cool effects, are - for ME - too labor intensive. Long time readers might remember my Yaakov sock dyeing experiments. I LOVE the resulting yarns, but the procedures to get there....aren't my cup of tea. I'll do it as a one-off, for particular projects, but I don't like the mess and multiple steps to get to the fun part - knitting the yarn. :shrug: Different strokes, right? Also, these techniques used to be called hand PAINTED, which makes more sense to me. Again, whatever. :lol:)

To be so conceited that you think that a corporation "stole" a dye technique from you.....I can't even. :shakes head: I guess I should be upset that Hobby Lobby has tonal skeins, huh, since that's what I usually dye up myself. :rolls eyes: A LOT of indie dyers have the same types of color ways - heck, JOANN'S has hand dyed yarns now - but you don't see anyone throwing a fit over *that*, do you??

Anyway. I have.....a few skeins of the Hobby Lobby yarn. I've knit up 3.5 (the .5 is currently on the needles) - 2 in the chunky weight, and 1.5 in the fingering. I'll get photos up later - I don't feel like messing with uploads right now. Let's do a proper review, shall we?


Yarn Name: Yarn Bee Hand Dyed, by Hobby Lobby

Colorway: Multiple

How Knit: Hand

When Knit: 2020/21

Specs: All the skeins I have are 100% super wash Merino, in both Chunky weight and Fingering.

Hand: All the skeins are soft and bouncy, which you'd expect from Merino. Very slight elasticity.

Care: Not sure what the tag says, I machine wash, hang dry. It's super wash, which means it's been chemically treated to not shrink or felt.

Longevity: My finished pair of socks is currently 1 month old, and has been in constant rotation since it came off the needles. There is NO pilling, and no visible wear. (At this point, they've been worn 4 times. No, it's not a lot, but I've had some socks pill and start to fall apart after the first wear. I'm *hard* on socks - I go around sock-footed all the time, even running outside in them.) They were knit on size 1.5s, and the resulting fabric is nice and sturdy. You can't see thru it very easily (socks should be knit tightly; if you can see thru it like you can a screen door, it's too loose and you need to go down a needle size or 2.)

The chunky has been knit into arm warmers. Both pair have been worn for 3 weeks, alternating pairs each day. It's pilling a bit - which is to be expected from Merino. Merino is short-stapled wool, and should be spun into a fine yarn, and tightly plied. This looks like it's a 2-ply; both plies are rather loose. It's a VERY squishy yarn, and warm when knit on both size 8s and 9s. (The 8s made a slightly dense fabric, the 9s is nice and fluid.)

Notes: I am quite impressed with this yarn. All 4 skeins that I've used have been dye fast - no crocking. (Not even the lovely blue chunky yarn!) There's been no splitting while knitting, and it feels good in the hands - not too stiff, or rough. The colors are clear.

The sock currently on the needles...the "unicorn farts" color way (Techno Tribe is the actual name)....it started off spiraling nicely, but when I got halfway down the leg it sort of......exploded into a pool of rainbow. I don't mind.....but I would prefer that it continue in the neat spiral. I don't expect perfectly consistent patterning in hand dyed yarns, but this is a bit.....different. I'm not far enough into the 2nd sock to know if it'll repeat - but I'm used to fraternal socks, so it's all good. (Oh, and it turns out I'm not knitting these socks for me. I finished the first one last night, tried it on, as one does, and realized it wasn't "right". I handed it to Herself, who grabbed it and immediately tried it on, and...yep. It's hers. I should have realized it sooner - ever since I started the leg I had this niggling thought that it wasn't me. :lol: She doesn't get the orange-based version, though - that one's MINE. :rofl:)

At this price point, it's a good way to knit up some of the more common types of hand dyed yarn. If you don't like the resulting fabric, you haven't lost a lot of money. Also, if you can't afford the more pricey indie dyed yarn, this is a great way to get in on the trend without having to decide between yarn and more important (*gasp*! How dare I!) purchases.


I need to get back to it - I have thrown out 4 pairs of socks in the past 2 weeks. It's not a problem - all 4 were over 10 years old (yes, you read that right - *10* years old!), so it's about time I start refilling the sock drawer. My plan for this year is to try and NOT repeat a pattern. I do have plans to knit at least 1 pair of Monkeys (even though I have 3 older pair), because that pattern works with all types of color ways. I've got so many patterns - it's time to test knit them!
Tags: blather, knitting, yarn review
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