that keep me sane. I ran across a beautiful scarf pattern on Ravelry (where else?) and decided that it was perfect for some yarn that I bought over Thanksgiving when I took a trip to my parent’s house. We were fortunate (or I was pushy) enough to visit the distant Joann’s while I was there, and I was shocked to find that it was a Joann’s Superstore! Ah, the things I never paid attention to as a teenager…
While I was there (buying armfuls of Patons Classic Merino for $3.00 a skein…) I ran across their new line of Debbie Mumm yarn that I’ve heard so much about. My local Joann’s doesn’t carry it, apparently only the larger ones do, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to investigate the buzz-yarn. Debbie Mumm Traditions (the most talked about of the line) has been touted by many as an alternative to Noro Kureyon, for those who like the colors but not the feel (or the price) of the more expensive Japanese wool. It may not seem like much of a price difference, but it really adds up. Kureyon retails for $6.99-8.50 per 110yd ball, while the Traditions sells for $5.99 normally (although Joann.com has it for $5 at the moment!) for 149 yds. That puts the Noro at 6.3 – 7.7 cents a yard, as compared to 3.3 – 4 for the Traditions. Let’s say you’re making a pullover and need 1000 yards (not unlikely); with the regular price for the Traditions you’d pay $41.93 for 7 skeins vs. $69.90 for 10 skeins of the sale price Noro. So you see? Quite an appreciable difference.
Of course, the next question is whether the yarns are even comparable if you take the colors out of the equation. A lot of folks were excited when the yarn came out but disappointed when they started working with it. The problem was not the texture (it’s quite soft, and pleasant to the touch) nor its appearance in person – the colors are just as lovely as advertised and the yarn itself has an appealing, softly-spun look to it – but the structure of the Traditions has left many people frustrated. You see, the yarn looks softly spun because it is. The colored portion is loosely twisted around a solid black core and if not treated with a delicate hand, the black core will protrude, the outer portion will bunch, ‘worming’ occurs, and chaos ensues. Even with those reviews, I bought three balls of it because it was so pretty – plus, I had a theory that it was one of those yarns that was easier to crochet with than to knit.
Working with it I found that I had to use the lightest possible touch to guide the yarn; you can’t even slide it through your fingers between your work and the ball without causing the outer layer to slip down and the yarn to curl. Once I realized that, though, it wasn’t very hard to adjust to working that way. The first few times I caused a curl I tried to smooth it out, but I soon figured out that I could just let the bumps come up to my work and they could easily be concealed inside a single stitch (something crocheting has over knitting in this instance – the stitches have more layers and irregularities in the yarn stand out of your work less). My first skein ran out about 3/4 through the scarf’s edging and I decided to match the color repeat when starting the second skein. I pulled out a few yards of yarn to find my place, began crocheting, but after only a few inches along the border I ran into a knot, attached to a completely different part of the repeat (hey, just like Noro)! I grumbled, but fortunately it was the color right before the one I wanted and it wasn’t too difficult to pull out a few more yards, reattach the yarn, and finish the scarf.
I really like it – there’s something very striking about the way the yarn worked up into this pattern. Something special. I showed it to Greg and he started to say something absently but stopped, looked harder, and said, “You know, that looks really . . . earthy.”
I think so, too. Sort of rustic. Now all I need is a similarly unusual hat pattern to go with it! I’ve still got over a ball and a half of this stuff left, after all, and I’m looking forward to working with it again.