Yarn Winder – Loops & Threads / Darice

Darice_yarn_winder

So I bought a yarn winder that arrived over the weekend! I’d been seriously thinking about buying one for a couple weeks and ended up getting the Darice yarn winder (which is the same as the Michaels brand Loops & Threads yarn winder).

I’d been looking at different styles and brands. I found this post which talks about different yarn winders and picking the right winder for your needs. I was actually thinking about Windaze knockoff or a Lacis yarn winder, but since my budget was limited and I couldn’t get the jumbo Lacis that I would’ve wanted, at the last minute, I decided to get the Darice / Loops & Threads yarn winder from Amazon.

I looked at a few youtube reviews and tutorials like this one. Initially, I was worried about the winder because there were a few negative reviews on the Michaels website. But after looking at youtube reviews and tutorials, I was fairly sure of what to expect and how to make the winder work for me.

Yarn winders operate similarly to the way a bobbin winder works on a sewing machine. There’s a tension guide that you feed the yarn through and you have to wrap your yarn around the shaft of the yarn winder a couple of times and then you just crank it and the little metal yarn holder/tension guide moves back and forth until the yarn fills up.

To use this winder, you need to 1. Put your yarn through the notch on the plastic brim of the winder. 2. Wrap the yarn around the shaft a couple times 3. Feed it through the metal holder/tensioner and then hold the yarn in your hand either up at an angle or parallel to the machine and let your hand control the tension (see the tutorial link above to get a visual example).

You’ve got to crank the yarn at a decent speed. In that respect, I agree with Laura Felicia’s review, where she says that the key to using this machine is managing the speed and tension so you don’t have floppy yarn. You want to go at a good clip, not too slow.

The Darice / Loops & Threads machine will hold about 4oz of yarn. It comes with a metal clamp that you slide into the back and then clamp onto a sturdy table. The clamp secures and stabilizes the machine as you’re winding.

I was able to make four yarn cakes on the machine and it was a lot of fun!! In the picture below, you can also see the little turquoise ball I made from leftover yarn.

Note: since this yarn winder holds 4oz, you cannot fit a large skein of yarn into just one cake. You will have to make two (more if you’re winding a one pound skein). The purple ombre yarn was too big to fit the whole thing on the winder, so I had to hand-wind the last bit of yarn. It was a partial skein, so if I was winding the yarn from the beginning, I would’ve made two balls of yarn.

Some people like to use the smaller 4oz yarn winders just for leftover yarn. Others prefer to wind entire skeins into cakes or balls so that it’s easier to use while knitting so they don’t have to worry about knots or unwinding a skein from the outside. The winder makes center-pull cakes.

The Darice winder is relatively small and portable and doesn’t have a lot of confusing parts. You don’t have to “assemble” it apart from sliding the clamp through the slot in the back so that you can attach it to your table. The box is relatively small too, so you could save the box it comes in for easy storage.

Note: the winder is not quiet. It makes a sound very similar to a sewing machine when it is running. The sound is not an issue for me, but it might be an issue if you have an infant or if you like to do your knitting late into the evening when family members are asleep.

Overall, I’d recommend the Darice / Loops & Threads yarn winder. You can find it at Michaels for around $29-$32 (less if you have a 40% off coupon). Amazon has it for around $23.

I’d give it 4.5 stars for ease of use out of the box and the sturdy quality of the machine. I wish it could hold more yarn, but overall, I’m happy with my purchase.

For those that don’t have the budget to spend on a yarn winder, but who want center-pull yarn balls, I did see this tutorial on how to use a hand mixer and a paper towel roll to make yarn balls. I’m not sure I’m brave enough for this one! 🙂

Happy Looming!

If you have a yarn winder you love, tell us about it in the comments.

 

 

Loom Review – KB Loom Knitting Basics Kit

KB-Loom_Knitting_Basics-Kit

About a month ago, I bought the Knitting Board Loom Knitting Basics Kit. I got it on a whim at JoAnn when I bought my KB Super Afghan Loom. I’ve fallen in love with this little loom!

The kit is designed for beginners. Inside the kit, you will get:

  • 32-peg small gauge knitting loom
  • Loom Knitting Basics booklet
  • Knitting hook / knitting tool
  • 5mm crochet hook
  • Small stitch markers
  • Tape measure

The booklet covers single knitting and double-knitting basics. You’ll learn e-wrap, u-wrap, flat knit stitch, and purl stitch and a few double-knitting stitches: stockinette (knit), rib, and figure 8. You’ll also learn casting on and binding off methods, including the chain cast on and the crochet bind off (which both use the crochet needle).

The book also includes a few other techniques, such as closing off/binding hats, increasing and decreasing stitches, cable knitting, seaming (sewing pieces together), knitting sock heels and toes, and instructions for how to do the kitchener stitch with double-pointed knitting needles. Note: the kit does not include knitting needles.

To get an idea for what the instructions in the book look like, you can see some examples here on the Knitting Board website. Many of the written tutorials on their website are also in the booklet.

I found the knitting instructions to be helpful with learning to double-knit and decrease stitches.

The loom is well-made and has a wooden base with plastic pegs. I believe they are nylon, but I’m not sure. You can see a close-up of the loom below. This loom seems durable and made of quality materials. Which is pretty much what I’ve come to expect from KB. You might spend a bit more on these looms than say buying a set of Boye or Loops & Threads looms, but the quality is superior.

So, what can you make on this loom?

Scarves, hats, amigurumi (little knitted animals), washcloths, cords, water-bottle holders, headbands, baby booties, and blankets if you knit in panels or do the 10-stitch blanket.

The book cover says it has 4 patterns: a hat, scarf, baby blanket, and a washcloth. Only 3 patterns have actual written instructions. I didn’t see the hat pattern in my book, though it does tell you how to bind off a hat. You might be able to find the hat pattern online somewhere if you want to make that exact one. I did not see it on the KB website.

I think this is a great kit for anyone who is a beginner/intermediate loom knitter or who wants a small, portable loom to take while traveling. It has pretty much everything you need except the yarn!

I made my first double-knit stockinette scarf on this loom and I have to say that it was so easy and I am ready to tackle more double-knit projects!

You can find this kit via the Knitting Board Website, JoAnn, Amazon or eBay. I’ve heard some JoAnn stores are putting KB looms on clearance right now, so if you’re planning to buy it there, get it quickly while supplies last. It is still regular price on http://www.joann.com but I’m not sure if they are discontinuing the KB line at JoAnn or if certain stores are downsizing their loom knitting products.

For those who just want the loom itself: Knitting Board does sell a somewhat similar 32-peg loom on their website for $10.99. The 10″ loom is a little longer than the one in the kit and it has spacers that can be adjusted. The Loom Knitting Basics loom is not adjustable at all.

I’d give this loom kit 4.5 stars out of 5. The only reason I’m knocking it down is that you cannot make an adult-sized hat on this loom without seaming panels together, so the picture on the cover is a little deceiving. And the pattern for this hat is not even in the book!

If you want to make hats on this loom, keep in mind that if you are knitting in the round, you’ll be making an infant-sized hat.

I checked the KB website, and if you look at this hat project for the 10″ loom, it says that the hat has to be done in two pieces; you need the 54-peg loom in order to knit in one piece.

Apart from the issue of making hats, this is a great loom and I think it is useful for times when you want to knit away from home and you don’t want to lug around a big loom. This is small enough you could fit it into a medium/large purse. I would also recommend it for teens and older children.

The double-knit scarf I made came out so neat and pretty. I look forward to making more with this loom. The double-knit scarf is a thinner scarf. If you want a wide scarf, knit in single-panel.

Hope you like this loom as much as I do!

Do you have the 32-peg loom or the tadpole loom? If so, how do you like it?

 

Loom Review – Loops & Threads 62-Peg Long Loom

Loops & Threads Long Loom (Green)
Photo by Venus / Adventures in Loom Knitting

This President’s Day holiday weekend, I started a new project on my large long loom, the Loops & Threads 62-peg long loom (this is the green one). I bought this knitting loom from Michaels as part of a set of four long looms. If you don’t have a Michaels near you, you can find similar long looms from Darice on Amazon.

I’ve been coveting an S loom (either the Authentic Knitting Board Afghan loom or the Darice infinity loom), but since I don’t have one yet, I thought I’d try out this loom. Most of my projects are done on round looms, and the one long loom project I tried (with the shortest one in the set), made me hesitant to use my other long looms.

But despite my initial hesitation, and the couple of bad reviews I saw about this loom, I decided to give it a go and I was pleasantly surprised.

The issue I had with the shorter, blue long loom from this set was that it was more awkward to use than my round looms, and I felt some hand strain after using it for a while. I didn’t have that problem with this green loom because it is so long that I have to use it on a desk or a table, which minimizes me holding the loom for long periods of time. I’m only picking it up when I have to turn the loom. It is 58 cm (about 22 7/8 inches) in length.

There is a 1/2 inch space between pegs (3/4 inch if you count from the center groove of one peg to the center grove of another). It also has anchor pegs on either end of the loom. There is no “starting peg”, so I marked it with a Clover safety-pin stitch marker to help me keep track of my knits and purls.

The project I’m knitting is a cover for the top of my office chair because my cat Nix likes to sit on top of my desk chair when I’m at the computer. Her sharp, little claws dig tiny holes all over the faux leather fabric. Before she totally destroys it, I figured I should make some kind of chair cover.

I probably won’t make a full slip cover, just something long enough to cover the top of the chair all the way around so that when she jumps on it, it will stay in place and provide a cushion between her and the faux leather material.

Here’s a pic of her sitting on the chair behind me (lately, I’ve been keeping a towel on top of the chair to stop her from clawing it until the chair cover is finished).

Venus' cat Nix sitting on the office chair
Photo by Venus / Adventures in Loom Knitting

I used a #5 Bulky yarn also from Loops & Threads brand. I got the Barcelona yarn in the Peony color. I love the yarn! The #5 yarn works great on the 62-peg loom because you only need one strand. I am so used to using worsted-weight #4 yarn, that I expected to have to double my strands for this project, but it looks perfect with just one strand of #5.

Here’s a picture of the chair cover so far. If you’re wondering which loom knit stitch I’ve used, it’s the garter stitch (alternating knit and purl rows).

Garter stitch on long loom
Photo by Venus / Adventures in Loom Knitting

Pros of the Loops & Threads green long loom:

  • It is fairly light-weight and the spacing of the pegs feels perfect. It’s not too wide, nor is it too close.
  • The pegs feel fully anchored in the holes, so I’m not worried that pegs are going to suddenly fall out or break off.
  • The plastic feels fairly sturdy for the most part.
  • You can make baby blankets, lap-sized throw blankets, or you can make panels for a large blanket. You could also use this for knitting adult-sized clothes.

Cons of the Loops & Threads green long loom:

  • It is a little too flexible. I saw reviews that complained that this loom bends or bows when making a blanket. While I had no problem with this loom using a #5 yarn, I could see the bending/bowing issue being a problem if you’re using a very thick, bulky yarn or you’re doing a lot of double-knit projects. If you press on the loom, you can see it bend in the middle (see my photo below) or if you stick your hand inside and wiggle it, you can see it bow outward. You can also bend it up and down if you press at the sides. This could be a problem if the loom is getting heavy use or you’re trying to double-knit thick yarns.
  • It’s long, but still not long enough if you want to make full- or queen-sized blankets without sewing panels together. You’ll need an S-loom (an infinity loom or an afghan loom). Darice, Loops & Threads, and Knitting Board make larger afghan looms (see the links at the top of this post). Knitting Board also has a 28″ long loom if you want something in-between this loom and the infinity/afghan looms.

See how the loom bends in the middle when I press on it:

Loops & Threads Long Loom Bending
Photo by Venus – Adventures in Loom Knitting

This loom will get you by, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it for doing a lot of double-knitting. If you’re mostly single-knitting in a flat panel, this looms seems fine and I don’t think the bending would be a problem. However, doing a lot of double-knits will cause the loom to bend in the center, which will throw off the spacing between stitches over time. If you’re mostly knitting with thinner yarns, then you might be fine to try a double-knit on this loom.

Overall, I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars based on my current experience (4 out of 5 if you’re only going to use it for single knits). You can make scarves, blankets, and other projects. I think this loom would work well for knitting adult-sized clothes, though you might have to knit flat and sew the sides together.

The Loops & Threads Long Loom Set is affordable, especially if you have a 40-60% off coupon from Michaels. So it definitely a good option if you can’t afford an S loom and you want to do blankets, scarves, and hats (though for hats you’d use the smaller looms in the set). If you are interested in seeing reviews about the other looms that come in the Loops & Thread set, please let me know in the comments.

Do you knit with long looms? If so, which ones are your favorites?