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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yarn review - Lincraft's new range..

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When Lincraft when into receivership in quickly turned into linCRAPT for knitters - the only yarns they were stocking were their own line of no-longer-novel novelty yarns. I found this rather sad, as when I started knitting (several years ago) the only place I knew to yet yarn from was Departmental Craft Stores. Last week I did a bit of running around Lincraft with my camera to bring you this review. (Was a rather amusing day, I was wearing a peaked cap and sunglasses due to the tail end of a migraine - I'm sure the staff there thought I was a ring-in from spotlight comparing prices!)

However, on we shall go - walk into any Lincraft these days, and you see that they are once again taking knitting as a serious craft. When you see this in the window... know that they have come home to knitters. I have been to four different Lincraft stores in the past two weeks (I don't actively hunt them out, but I am always keen to check them out when I go by) and am incredibly happy that they are once again stocking the full range of Australian Country Spinners (cleckheaton, patons, panda, etc) yarns. And once again, they have knitted samples in store......which I previously found encouraging (the funnelneck feathers sweater was the first "big" project I attempted, and is still my oldest UFO. The yarn is still around here somewhere - in my defence, I was 19 at the time and feathers was the COOLEST yarn!)

However - what I really want to talk about are the new Lincraft branded yarns available. On the weekend, someone mentioned that the reason the novelty yarns were all that were available at Lincraft for so long was because when they went into receivership they were probably committed to the orders with their brand on the label, but were able to back out with other suppliers. Now that things have settle down, and they are back into the swing of things they have brought out their own line of yarns with .... NATURAL FIBRE content!

They have also released their first knitting magazine with patterns to support this line of yarns (as well as some of the novelty yarns). This magazine retails for $4.99, or $3.99 for LincraftClub members (you may have to remind the sales assistant of this - it was only when I pulled the laminated sign saying this off the shelf and showed it to the assistant at the till that I got my discount)I would consider this magazine as a good starting point for beginners. There are knitting and crochet lessons inside, and the patterns go up to amateur level - but nothing involved nor advanced techniques. The patterns are equivalent to free ones available on the internet, but if you aren't ready for yarn substitution or there is a pattern you really like in there, for 4 bucks you can't go wrong. It is more involved than the knitting magazine Spotlight had out last year, but lacks the discount voucher the Spotlight mag had. (The spotlight mag was $2.50 and had a 20% off yarn voucher - meaning if you were buying enough yarn for a project it was cheaper to buy the magazine to use the discount than not)

The editorial mentions the magazine is in response to customers asking for patterns to use with the Lincraft range of yarns - it is also a way to showcase their new yarns with natural fibres.

There are several new yarns, as well as the Cosy Wool which as been relaunched as a completely feltable wool (if you buy the new purple labeled ones). Apart from the cosy wool, the rest of the natural fibre yarns are blends, containing acrylic, nylon or polyamide. So far I have bought some of the wool/nylon and wool/acrylic blends to try.

Shown above, I have purchased the Balmoral Tweed (75/25 wool/nylon) and Glen-eagles Tweed (50/50 wool/acrylic) that I want to try using for some super-thick socks. I am hoping that the man-made content will help to prevent felting whilst inside a sweaty work boot. If this idea works I think I will have found the cheapest DK weight sock yarn on the market!

The great thing I have discovered are the knitted swatches instore. There is one of these for each yarn in the Lincraft range which helps to visualise how a garment might look in a certain yarn. I have found that the alpaca blend yarn (called Lima) is incredibly soft! If I could think of a project for it I would snap some up.

The blended yarns retail from about $4-5 - not incredibly cheaper than Patons or Cleckheaton, but if you are on a budget it will save you a few bucks in the long run, especially on a large garment or blanket/afghan. (However, your best bet is Bendigo Woollen Mills if you are after natural fibre)

So there is one new Lincraft yarn that I missed - the 100% silk, which looks a lot like recycled sari silk. This one isn't available in all stores (yet?) - I have seen it in the city and at CastleTowers, but not at Roselands or Belconnen.

It retails for $12.99 a skein (yes, skeins - a sure sign of a 'luxury' yarn!) and feels rather nice in the skein. There are not any swatches up for this yarn (possibly because it's too hard to knit directly from the skein and Lincraft don't stock swifts... or ballwinders...) but I believe it is an excellent price for a silk yarn, and compared with prices on ebay, a fairly inexpensive option for recycled sari silk.
One of the great things about the Lincraft 100% silk is that rather than just being all the same colourway (that mainly red with some blue and random other colours that my end up looking like catsick when all knit up) comes in a range of hues.If you have been tempted by the idea of recycled sari silk before, but turned off by the colours available (like I have) this may be your answer. It is spun rather tightly, so I'd suggest going with a needle size up from what you would usually use.

There is no mention of this in the Lincraft knitting magazine, hence no pattern support - but there is a great pattern for a bag on I have also seen some great hats at a market, so I have nabbed a skein in the aqua blue colourway to play around with.

My guess is that this yarn is too 'new' for the publication - the other yarns featured were in store a good month or two before the magazine came out. It appears that there will be future issues of the Lincraft Yarn magazine, so perhaps there will be some patterns with silk then.

And the final item in the Lincraft Knitting Magazine isn't a yarn - it's Sullivan's wool roving, which is featured for a couple of needle felting projects. As far as roving goes, it's expensive for spinning, but if you only want a small amount in a couple of different colours, it will probably suit your needs.

Now, because I am on a natural fibres wave, I just want to point something out:- I can understand how people can mix up cashmere, mohair and angora when they talk about fibre. Cashmere comes from cashmere goats, but mohair comes from angora goats, and angora comes from bunny rabbits (usually referred to with the tautology 'rabbit angora' to help prevent confusion)

Acrylic, as far as I know, is man-made...

So my question is... How did Lincraft get it to grow on the goats????

And back to the bunnies - this is a cropped cardigan in Ralph Lauren. Completely handknit in a angora/merino blend and just shy of $400 (really not a bad price when you consider how much time can be put into a handknit, however, from memory, anything done on an analog knitting machine can be labeled 'handknit')

Now, this is completely soft to touch, and amazing to look at, but I really want to draw your attention to the cables. Specifically - the cables within cables. What amazing detail!


Donna said...

I might have to give Lincraft another go. Our local one is terrible. Well, the staff are. Last time I was in there I had a battle getting fabric at the price it was labelled at. The shop assistant tried to tell me it was an old sign, and didn't want to give it to me at that price. I finally got it at that price, but I swore I'd never go back there. For quality yarns I might fold! I look forward to your boot socks. I've made some for my hubby in pure wool, and he just goes through them too quickly.

chocolatetrudi said...

Yep, thinks are looking up for Lindcraft, while Spotlight is going rapidly downhill on the knitting front.

When I saw the Bendy link I let out a "Wahoo! A web page at last!", but it just took me to a page that tells me "You are not authorized to view this page".

Jejune said...

Oooh, thanks for the extensive Shop Review - I'm clearly going to have to give Lincraft another look...

Acrylic mohair, hmmm, maybe from toy bunnies?

And yes, love those cables! Very tricky!

Maybe Bendigo has registered a domain name, but their site isn't ready yet?

Bells said...

Well that's positive. I haven't been into Lincraft for the longest time. I'd written it off as a bad place but maybe not now. Like i need more fibre of any kind....

Lynne said...

Now I know why your blog is among one of those I most like to visit. Thanks for the great reviews, keep them coming - I love 'em!

Last year all Lincraft seemed to stock was Lincraft acrylic, so it will be nice to vist the Penrith store and check it out.

By the way, if you are coming to BM Knitters' Guild meeting this weekend and want to check out Penrith Lincraft yourself, it's on Mulgoa Rd not far from the M4.

diane_s said...

please write a review of the 8 ply wool blend for socks . i have not found one yet that is sucessful. for my husband's boot socks i use a very old totem sock pattern and 4 ply sock wool doubled , these seem to last.

Anonymous said...

Ditto Donna, happens all the time I sometimes wonder if they are briefed to skip the advertised discount just to save money!? Thanks for the review, the worst thing I used to find with lincraft brand was the hideous vicki pollard hues.