Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Yarn Review - Socks Yeah! by Rachel Coopey of Coop Knits

As part of The Crochet Circle Podcast I buy, crochet (and knit) with different yarns and then provide feedback on them.  Here's my review of Socks Yeah! from Coop Knits.

I knew this yarn was coming out but it took me a few months to see it in a shop and be able to squish it.  I was actually looking for a contrast yarn to go with some West Yorkshire Spinners 4 ply Mallard (shade 862) for a pair of socks that I was going to knit for my Father-in-Law (size 10 feet = never again!).   The yarn does provide a nice contrast for the WYS's colours but I decided against it and chose the WYS Signature 4 ply cream instead.

Of course, I left the yarn shop with both yarn types - just in case I changed my mind...

So, I stashed the one skein of Iolite (shade 109) that I had bought from Sew - In (Cheadle store).  It stayed stashed for a couple of months until two key things happened:

  • I started The Crochet Circle Podcast (http://thecrochetcircle.podbean.com) with my friend Lynne (http://lynnerowe.weebly.com/).  Part of the podcast is to provide book and yarn reviews.
  • The Crochet Project's Joanne Scrace and Kat Goldin teamed up with Rachel Coopey at Coop Knits to create a 6 accessory pattern booklet called Crochet Yeah! which is based on the Socks Yeah! yarn.  
Having read through the detail of the book I realised that I would need a second skein if I was going to make anything from Crochet Yeah! using the Socks Yeah! yarn.  So, I ordered a second skein in the same shade and a hard copy of the pattern booklet from Coop Knits. 

A mere day later both had arrived and I sat with a coffee pondering which pattern I should choose to go with my dusky blue yarn.  Here is the essential information on the yarn:



I finally decided that I would crochet the most difficult pattern in the book - the Evesham Socks (http://www.ravelry.com/projects/MaDashper/evesham-socks) because it would really help to put the yarn to test as a sock yarn.

Each of the 10 available colours has a very subtle colour blend/marl through it.  The Iolite shade that I chose is predominantly dusky blue but has hues of heather and sage through it too.  I have likened it to the mother-of-pearl effect that you get in shells and it brings a sophisticated colour blend to the yarn that may not be immediately obvious.  Here are the 10 shades available:


Crocheting with Socks Yeah!
The yarn has quite a high twist which makes it perfect for crocheting as this really helps to prevent splitting.  It gives great stitch definition and the nature of the blend also brings great drape to the fabric - but not so much that you don't get structure in the finished piece.

I enjoyed crocheting the first sock, the yarn glides through your fingers and has a really silky (but not slippy) texture.  I was using a standard steel crochet hook and I didn't have any issues with the yarn wanting to fly away. Although the yarn calls for a 2.25mm hook and the pattern calls for a 2.5mm hook, I used a 3mm hook because I am a tight crocheter.   The results can be seen below:


As mentioned, I used the yarn to crochet up a pair of socks for myself.  What I haven't mentioned is that I am fussy and beyond that, I am particularly fussy about things touching my feet. 

Did I mention that I'm fussy?  As much as I really enjoyed crocheting the sock with the yarn I really wasn't convinced that I was going to make the matching one.  I didn't think that the lace pattern would keep my feet warm and I wasn't convinced that the Half Treble Crochet sole was going to be comfortable when I stood up.  I finished the first one, reflected for a moment and then put it on.

I may be fussy but I am also very happy to admit when I am wrong.  I was wrong.  It was about 12.30am and I had forgotten to put socks on earlier in the day so my feet were pretty icy. The yarn is so cosy that the effect was immediate and my feet started to warm up. Luckily the rest of the family was in bed as I walked around the kitchen island repeatedly with one bare foot and one encased in loveliness.

A couple of minutes walking around the kitchen does not a mean that a sock is comfortable though. Fast forward about a week and I had finished the second one so that I could properly road test the yarn and the pattern.  

I have a stand-up desk in my office and on the day that I tested my socks out I spent well over 9 hours standing up in them.  They are comfortable.  They are warm.  The yarn tag says that they are machine washable at 30 degrees on a wool cycle.  All of my delicate items go through the wool wash (it is a 40 degree wash) in my washing machine - including 100% cashmere items so I thought that I should test that socks under the same conditions because I don't want to have to hand wash them.

They were washed, line dried and then finished off on the radiator in the house.  The socks are exactly as they were when they went into the machine - but clean! No shrinking, no stretching, no pilling, just straight back to their original shape.

Knitting with Socks Yeah!
Given that I had a little bit of yarn left (about 20g) I thought I would also test the yarn for sock knitting.  I used the yarn to create contrast cuffs, heels and toes for a pair of socks for my best friend's little four year old boy  (http://www.ravelry.com/projects/MaDashper/basic-socks-2).  The main yarn was Regia Design Lines - Arne & Carlos in the Summer Nights shade.  

WARNING - cute child sock alert!



It is probably unfair to compare the two yarns but they have a similar wool:yarn ratio and pricing point.  In my opinion the Socks Yeah! yarn was much, much nicer to knit with than the Regia.  


In Conclusion
So, the crux of it it that Socks Yeah! is a delight to crochet and knit with and I will definitely buy more and make more crocheted and knitted socks with it.  The drape that the yarn gives would also lend itself to camisoles and shawls. 

If I have one very slight niggle it is that I would like information on the skein ticket and website about where the yarn is grown and spun.  I happened to come across it on a Ravelry thread anyway.  This was the response that Rachel Coopey gave to another inquiring mind:  

"It is south american merino (with a no mulesing guarantee) and it is spun in Peru." 

I wasn't sure what 'mulesing' meant and why you would need a guarantee against it so I looked it up.  You can find details here via Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulesing 


As part of The Crochet Circle Podcast, I buy crochet books, undertake projects from them and then write a review.  If you have read my review on Socks Yeah! yarn, you will know that I bought the Crochet Yeah! booklet and that there is a certain amount of crossover between the book and the yarn.  If you haven't read the Socks Yeah! yarn review, you can find it here:  https://www.knitit-hookit-craftit.com/blogs/news/162718215-yarn-review-socks-yeah-from-coop-knits 

If you listen to the podcast then you will know that I will only give a book review if I have undertaken a pattern (or two) from that book.  This allows me to give a more thorough review and give a good, honest opinion on how that book actually performed for a crafter.

The Crochet Project's Joanne Scrace and Kat Goldin teamed up with Rachel Coopey of Coop Knits to create a 6 accessory pattern booklet called Crochet Yeah! using Socks Yeah! as the preferred yarn for each of the patterns.



The booklet has patterns for two hats, a pair of mittens, a cowl and a scarf, ranging from beginner to intermediary:

  • Bromsgrove Hat - Rated easy and uses between 3 and 4 skeins depending on size
  • Evesham Socks - Rated intermediary and uses between 2 and 3 skeins depending on size
  • Tenbury Hat & Mittens - Rated easy and uses 2 skeins
  • Malvern Cowl - Rated beginner and uses 3 skeins  
  • Worcester Scarf - Rated beginner and uses 2 skeins


I started by making the Evesham socks which I crocheted using the Socks Yeah! yarn in shade Iolite (109).  After one sock I then moved onto the Worcester Scarf but made it into a cowl instead because that is a more usable item for me.  For the cowl I wanted to test using a yarn substitute and also wanted to use up some stash yarn, so decided upon Artesano's 4 ply silk in shade Lily Pad.



The book is nicely laid out with an introduction to the joint project, moving into a basic stitch guide, information on choosing sizes, tension yarn substitution, finishing and garment after care.  These paragraphs are succinct but useful.

The patterns are well written and three out of the six have charts as well as written instructions.  I am a very visual person, so I find this immensely helpful.  I am wondering whether I inadvertently chose the two patterns I did because they both have charts?  It is very possible.   If find it a quick way to visualise what the stitches are going to create and help commit the row repeats to memory. I really wish more crochet books also provided charts!

As you would expect from the crochet duo, the photography is nicely executed and shows the finished projects off really well, especially as the booklet is in full colour. The model is Joanne and the photographer is Kat, which for me, gives the booklet even more integrity.  

For something like the Evesham sock pattern I would have benefited from a part-way photo at the point where you chain to create the heel flap space.  I would have preferred that to seeing four photos of the finished socks.  That may just be me, I have only been crocheting for a year and three quarters so it may be lack of experience on my part.   

I also like the little diagrams that have been added to the projects so that you can see what direction you should be crocheting in - such as cuff down on the socks.   It may seem simple but from running a knitting and crochet group, I know that some people really struggle to understand where the pattern starts, so the diagrams are a great addition.   

There is a nice mix of stitches used across the six projects with some cross over.  For instance if you were a beginner and started with the Worcester Scarf it wouldn't be a massive step up to try the Evesham Socks if you could already crochet in the round. 

For that reason I think that the booklet provides a great range of different stitches, different projects, all of which are very wearable - something that isn't always the case with crochet books. This isn't a surprise give that Joanne and Kat are at the contemporary end of crochet; the end of the spectrum that I like to loiter around.



The booklet is available for £12 hard copy (plus P&P if you buy online like I did from Coop Knits) or can be downloaded for £10.  I think that this represents good value for money.  I have paid the same amount out for a couple of crochet patterns online (from other designers) and been bitterly disappointed with the instructions once downloaded.  This is certainly not the case with Crochet Yeah! - it is clear, well formatted and a great little resource for the less advanced crocheter or the more advanced crocheter that wants a quick TV crochet project.

I also think that the proof is in the pudding.  My copy of Crochet Yeah! is already battered; it definitely isn't pristine.  There may even be the odd muddy cat paw on it, but that is mainly because my cat sees crochet as a rival for my affection and paws all over it and anything in between him and my hands.   

I will also look out for any further books/pattern releases that The Crochet Project comes up with. If Tin Can Knits are my go-to provider for nice, sizable, contemporary knitting projects, Joanne and Kat under their 'The Crochet Project' umbrella and as individuals are fast becoming my go-to provider for crocheted accessories.







   

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