Product Reviews

Elegant Shawl Pins - A new product review!

Romi_PinsThese distinctive and delicate shawl pins are from Designs by Romi Rosemary ("Romi") sent me a few of her beautifully handmade pins to try out and here is my official review!

I'll be honest.  I haven't worn a shawl in years, so the idea of shawl pins has never really caught my attention.  As a busy mom of 3 little ones, shawls are just not practical for my day to day.  And date night, what's that?

However, I've been thinking about designing a pattern with lovely draped fronts.  You know, the kind you see all over the place called "wrap cardigans" or cardigans with attached scarves or shawl fronts.  They are all the rage.Bird_Pin_on_Green_Cardi  

I finally had the time to knit and design my own version!  I liked how it looked with the fronts open and left to drape, but wanted a way to close the front sometimes for warmth and variety.

I wasn't keen on using buttons - even light ones would affect the drape of the cardigan. And where would I place the buttons and NOT limit how the cardigan could be worn?

Well, it turns out that shawl pins are the ideal solution!
 

And how are the ones from Rosemary?  Are they versatile enough to use on my drape-front sweater?  Read on for my thoughts!

Romi_Pins_Pinned
Pictured here are 3 different designs from Romi: a Bluebird, Swirl, and Heart pin.

As you can see from the photo, all are delicate and eye-catching.  And as a knitter, I can certainly appreciate the handmade quality of these pins just by seeing them!  Up close, you can tell they are hand formed (in a good way!) and are really little pieces of art that you can use to embellish your knitwear.

The edges are all smooth and there are no weird corners that can catch and snag your knitwear (unlike your basic safety pin).  You can tell from seeing all of her designs that this was a very deliberate consideration! All of her pins have gently curved corners so they will work well with delicate open lace scarves/sweaters (though you still have to be gentle in securing the pin).

It does take a little bit of practice to attach them, and each one works differently.  The Bluebird design has a separate stick that you weave in and out of the bird to secure.  The other two designs have attached sticks that slide around to lock.

All of them feel quite secure once you get them in correctly. 

They worked nicely to hold the front pieces of my draped cardigan in place (see all the different ways I used it!). AND I tried them on a bulky yarn cowl to see how it worked. It was secure, although the delicate design is a bit more of a contrast when wearing the chunkier styles, so you would want to consider that.

And what do you do with the pin when you leave your sweater open? Stash it in your purse OR just attach it somewhere like an accent pin. No problem!

So, overall, I think these shawl pins are great and would be an awesome gift! I definitely have expensive tastes (Ask my husband) - and these pins are not at all "cheap" looking. They are well suited to your fine knitwear.

And yes, any kind of decorative broach could generally be used to close a sweater, but these are specifically designed to do that better with the smooth edges and ability to "grab" more or your fabric, so they can be used for heavier-weight knits or for some creative closures.

Here's an example of closing the drape-front sweater by gathering at the waist. Drape_Front_Cardi_Waist_500This would not be easy to do with a broach that has the usual small pin, but it was a cinch (ha ha) to do with the larger Bluebird pin.

See all of Rosemary's MANY shawl pin designs at www.DesignsbyRomi.com (her sheep ones are my favorite!).  Tell her SweaterBabe.com sent you!

DO YOU HAVE A PRODUCT FOR SWEATERBABE TO REVIEW?  If you do, please email me at: reviews@sweaterbabe.com.  Read the submission details.

*** SHAWL PIN GIVEAWAY ***
I will be giving away the heart-shaped shawl/sweater pin to one lucky commenter. 

Just leave a comment about these shawl pins on this blog post by 9pm PST, September 30, 2009, to enter the drawing.  One commenter will be chosen randomly as the winner!  One comment per person, please.


Yarn Owls for taming Yarn as you knit or crochet!!!

YarnOwls_400

What's a Yarn Owl, you ask??  Well, it's an interesting yarn container from Diana Couture (DianaCouture.etsy.com) that will contain and keep your yarn clean, tangle-free, and away from your pets as you knit OR crochet.

Sounds like a great idea!  But do they work well?

Diana sent me her Yarn Owls (skein size and sock project size shown here) to give them a try and here is my review.

First off - they are pretty cute! 
They have an adorable Owl pattern on them, as you can see in the photo.  And the bright red wrist straps are a pretty accent.  Aesthetically, I'm a fan!  Much cooler than the plastic kind that are available (tupperware doesn't cut it if I'm in a yarn snob mood!).

They are also very nicely made. 
I can tell that real care and thought were put into the sewing of each one.  Each Yarn Owl is fully lined in a natural colored cotton, which is ideal for keeping your yarn clean and unsnagged (there are NO exposed seams inside).  Plus, the weight of the cotton fabric and the double thickness (the Owl fabric + lining) give these Yarn Owls just enough structure that they hold their own shape, yet could be collapsed to fit into a tight knitting or crochet bag.

I tried a Yarn Owl as I walked around the house knitting!
Works great!  It's like what a headset does for someone who is always on the phone.  It just makes so much sense and is such a nice convenience for someone who knits or crochets a lot to be able to carry around and protect their ball of yarn.  The red strap can be snapped onto your belt loop, held around your wrist, even looped around the arm of your chair (depending on your chair, of course).  Much better than having a ball of yarn rolling loosely around on the floor attracting and creating lint and furballs.

The top snaps easily and nicely, allowing the yarn to pull through a hole at the top very smoothly.  Works just as designed (what we used to call a "WAD" when I was a computer programmer!).  YarnOwl_Open_1000

Plastic "yarntainers" and unstructured bags with holes at the top just aren't as well-suited to all the uses that these Yarn Owls are perfect for!  And because of the snap-top design, you can just remove the yarn and change out your ball vs. having to cut it, which is what some of the other yarn holders require you to do.

The taller skein version is nice too, and Diana notes on her site that even the fatter skeins will work.  The larger Yarn Owls can also be used to store your smaller project in with the yarn.  Great portability!YarnOwl_Ball_1000

Overall, a really well-designed product that would be an really nice gift!
Yarn Owls are available at Diana's etsy shop at: DianaCouture.etsy.com.  They come in other designs as well.

[Now, if they could only make these big enough to contain my 9-month old.  Ha ha!]

Diana also sent me samples of her Skeini-T products (T-shirts for skeins!). my review of those coming soon!

DO YOU HAVE A PRODUCT FOR SWEATERBABE TO REVIEW?  If you do, please email me at: reviews@sweaterbabe.com.  Read the submission details.

*** LASTLY, I will be giving away a Small Yarn Owl.  Just leave a comment about this topic on this blog post by midnight, August 30, 2009, to enter the drawing.  One commenter will be chosen randomly as the wiinner!  One entry per person. ***

*** 8/31/09: AND THE RANDOMLY CHOSEN WINNER IS. . . Denise Park!  Congratulations, Denise! Enjoy your Yarn Owl and come share you thoughts on it when you get a chance to try it out! ***


Super Cute Stitch Markers!

DesignsTami_Sheep_300 I've always used plain plastic stitch markers.  For a while, I would even just take a piece of mercerized cotton yarn, tie it into a little slip knot, trim the ends, and use it as a stitch marker.

But now, I am pickier. And there are so many options to choose from!  Why not accessorize my knitting?

I just tried out these cuties from Designs by Tami.  They look adorable on her etsy site and are so sweet in person!

Each stitch marker is a silver ring with a little handmade charm attached.  I have samples of the Sheep (my personal fave as a wool-lover!) and the cupcakes.  Really nicely made with lots of attention to detail.  The cupcakes have swirled icing, little sprinkles, and even a red dollap of icing at the top!

The sheep have lots of detailing too, including little flowers in their "hair" and some even have eyelashes (the ones adorning the knitting needles are a male/female pair)! DesignsTami_Sheep_Close300

They do work well too.  The weight of the little charms actually helps them NOT fling off my needles (like those basic plastic ones sometimes can) if I'm knitting fast.  No more looking all over the floor for a lost stitch marker (and horrible choking hazard in my household of kids!). 

  DesignsTami_400

And the ring itself is not too thick, so it does not get in the way.  It's also smooth silver, unlike my cheap plastic markers that seem to scratch me if my fingers graze them.

Plus, they are big enough to fit up to a size 13 needle, which is nice given how many projects I do on the bigger needles.

And let's face it - stitch markers don't need to be much more than little rings.  So you might as well use fun ones that make you smile!

Minor downsides: 1) They come 3 to a set, so if you are in need of a lot of stitch markers, you'll have to buy several sets and 2) They are not "split ring" types that can ALSO double as markers that you use for previous rows or for when you need to sew on a patch pocket (for instance).  However, these downsides are very minor.  I look forward to using these a lot for most of my projects!

Designs by Tami stitch markers can be found at: DesignsbyTami.etsy.com.  She also adorns bamboo crochet hooks and knitting needles with the same designs.  So adorable and perfect for gift-giving!  Check out her site, she has LOTS of other fun designs, including jewelry and hair accessories!

DO YOU HAVE A PRODUCT FOR SWEATERBABE TO REVIEW?  If you do, please email me at: reviews@sweaterbabe.com.  Read the submission details.


Cable Needle or Pretty Necklace?

Is it a pretty necklace or a cable needle?  Turns out to be both!CableNeedleNecklace_400

Knitters like me have a love/hate relationship with cable needles.  For simple cable twist patterns, I will do my best NOT to require a cable needle.  Most 4-st cables can usually be done by just slipping the sts to be held off the needle gently and letting them just hang in front or back until they need to be knit.  It feels like I'm "cheating" on my cable needle and making it feel left out (he he).

But I often do more complicated cables, and must find a way to keep that cable needle (I prefer the Clover U-shaped ones) handy when the pattern calls for it.  I've tried keeping the cable needle on my lap, in front of me on the table, right next to my thigh, on top of my notes, etc., but inevitably, I lose track of the thing and have to waste time looking for it right when I need it.

I've tried hooking it on my knitting too, but that can get annoying and I'm always afraid it might pull on my stitches and mess up my nice work.

What to do?  Along came Leslie Wind's Cable Needle Necklaces.  Leslie was nice enough to send me a sample to test it out.

I was skeptical at first, because it wasn't like any knitting tool I'd ever seen. 

It's a nicely made necklace on what looks to me like a waxed leather cord.  The "waxiness" of the cord is a nice touch, as it allows the length of the necklace is easily adjusted by pulling the 2 knots along the top.  This is a well-thought out feature so you can easily and quickly throw the necklace on with one hand while still holding your knitting in the other hand!  AND, there is no chance that the cable needle necklace will slip off the cord while it sits in your knitting bag!  Clever!CableNeedleNecklaceCloseup_

The cable needle part itself is well-designed too.  The tapered end is flattened (like hand hammered earrings), which actually makes it easier to insert into the stitches.  It also has the "U-shape" that I like on my Clover plastic cable needles so you can let the stitches on hold sit safely at the curve of the U-shape and not worry that the cable needle will just slip out.

Here's a link to the videos she has demonstrating how to use her cable needle necklace: http://darcyknottyknitter.blogspot.com/2008/11/introducing-new-designs-from-leslie.html

So, yes - I do recommend the Cable Needle Necklace as a great knitting tool that doubles as a pretty necklace.  It's a nice gift for anyone that is into cable stitch patterns.

Leslie's cable needle necklaces are available (~$40) through her website at: http://www.lesliewind.com/cable.html.  They come in several pretty styles and are a lovely, unique gift.  She also makes and sells shawl pins, yarn needles (an indulgent gift!), and other jewelry items. 


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