Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Toy Box

I learned how to crochet specifically for the purpose of making toys. My first experience with yarn was knitting scarves and while that's nice in its own right, I always admired those adorable little quirky creatures.

There are several important factors to making vibrate and lovable toys, the most important of which is the yarn. Colors and texture are just as important as the pattern, in my opinion. I have a box of yarn that I've separated out from the rest of my huge stash just for the purpose of making toys. Most all of it is acrylic and the same brand, no two skeins the same in color. I have a rule that the yarn in that box only gets replenished when it's completely used up, and only the colors that I really need. I try to always buy the same brand for consistency, however, that's not always the case. Below I give a quick break down of my acrylic preference.

Vanna's Choice
This is my favorite brand of acrylic, mainly because of the colors that so perfectly match my taste. Even colors that I normally don't like I can stand with this brand, either because of the shade or the tone of that particular color. Most of my toy box is filled with Vanna's. The yarn quality itself is what's to be expected of Big Brand acrylic. Some of the lots have a different weight, the plys come unwound easily and I've found knots mid-skein. The good things about this yarn aside from the colors is that it's one of the softest acrylics in the stores. Knit or crocheted, Vanna's Choice makes Red Heart feel like sandpaper. Micheals and Joann's usually have a rotating sale schedule on this yarn, typically 2 for $5.

I'm pretty sure this brand is relatively new to the stores, but it's a decent substitution for when Vanna's is out of stock. The colors are just as vibrate, if not brighter, and the plys are wound tighter, but that doesn't mean it's all good. Because the yarn is dyed so strongly and wound so tightly, it's not extremely soft. No where near as horrible as Red Heart, but it's still not as soft as Vanna's. The plys don't accidentally catch as often on the hook or needles as much as Vanna's, so its ideal for quick work. It does leave somewhat larger gaps in the work, though. The same sale that runs on Vanna's is usually on this yarn as well, typically with the two brands taking turns.

Red Heart Super Saver
I know I've bashed Red Heart several times so far, but they do have some redeeming factors. Mainly, they're cheap. Red Heart Super Saver is a great yarn to use for learning new stitches or for projects that texture isn't that big of a concern with. It's a lot of yarn for a small amount of cash, and if you're making something that isn't going to be treated with the respect good yarn deserves, go with Red Heart. I learned with Red Heart and now I generally just use it for dog toys or highlight colors. I still have a good number of skeins that need to be used up, so tester projects where I don't care about colors are perfect to burn it up with. The cost is low, generally under $2 for one of those big ol' skeins.

I've started making toys with yarns other then straight-up acrylic, but for now I'm trying to use up what I have in my toy box. It doesn't make sense to make half cotton, half acrylic toys, now does it?

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