Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Leery of Loops & Threads

After months of seeing signs at our local Michael's store boasting about the remodeled yarn section that was coming soon, I have to admit I was disappointed with the end result. It turned out to consist of the rearranging of the current yarn selection and the introduction of Michael's personal brand, Loops & Threads. I'm not crazy about Michael's creating their own brand of wool. I long ago gave up hope of seeing anything in a big box craft store that wasn't made with at least some portion of acrylic and manufactured by one of the major yarn companies (Bernat, Lion Brand, Patons, etc.), but I worry that the amount of shelf space dedicated to these companies may start to shrink as Michael's jumps into the game of selling their own product.

Keeping an open mind, I figured I'd give the new Loops & Threads a try. Selling in 3.5 oz. skeins for just over $3, it's certainly not a bad deal. I was drawn to this colour, which is Loops & Threads Impeccable Worsted Weight yarn in Luxury Ombre. It's bin is always nearly empty so I'm guessing it's also the favourite of many other local crafters.

The verdict? I like it, but conditionally. It's a great wool for amigurumi, easy to work with and doesn't split or fray. It's ideal for someone who is just learning how to knit or crochet or for kids who are learning to craft and would become easily frustrated by a yarn that catches or breaks. I've also made a market bag with it, which I'll show in another post. It was a good choice for that project too, not too stretchy, but easy to work with.

The downside, it's not that soft. Imagine all the colours of Vanna's Choice with the texture of Bernat Handicrafter Cotton. While I'd be perfectly content to use Loops & Threads for an amigurumi, market bag or dish cloth, I don't want to use it to make anything that's going to be touching my skin, like an afghan or clothing. Yet a quick look at the free patterns available for Impeccable on Michael's website, shows that they feel this yarn is perfectly suitable for those kinds of projects. Loops & Threads also has a sport weight baby line that they've named Snuggly Wuggly. I'd hope that it would be softer, but overall I wasn't that impressed with the colours. They looked like duller versions of many of the shades already available from other companies.

Which I guess leads to the main problem I'm having with Loops & Threads, it's just so unnecessary. With colours and a texture that's already available from other companies, why bother? I've made afghans with Vanna's Choice before and considering it's a softer yarn, I'm going to opt for it when it's time to make another afghan rather than picking up the marginally less expensive similar colour in Loops & Threads.

Anyone else care to weigh in? Have you tried Loops & Threads? Are you feeling a bit anxious about Michael's producing it's own line of products? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

(My model is the elephant pattern available in Tammie Snow's Tiny Yarn Animals.)

43 comments:

Anna said...

Strange. I didn't notice a lot of "Loops" yarn in the local branches (Edmonton). I had to follow the link and look at the labals to recognise that I'd seen any at all, and I do remember seeing the Impeccable lable. What I definately noticed was a lot of Lion Brand yarns (there were no Lion Brand yarns before), especially Homespon, and lots of "green" and "eco" yarns.

I thought the stores were all the same across the country.

Anne said...

I purchased some with the idea that I would make amigurumi. I like the texture for that purpose. Might also make some hats. I wish they had more cottons and wool at Mike's.

amber said...

While all the Michael's stores carry products from the same companies, I think that individual stores have some say over the quantity they bring in. There's a Michael's store 5 min. from my house and another one about 30 min. away. The further away one always has more Vanna's Choice than my local one.

From what I've seen on a couple of threads in yarn forums, there can also be differences if the section manager is actually a fan of that particular craft. So if you have a yarn section manager who is a knitter or crocheter, it will generally be well stocked compared to at a store where the manager doesn't know much about the craft.

I'm also into cross stitching and I've had problems with that at Michael's. I pointed out they were out of a particular shade of red (and had been for about 3 weeks). The section manager just said, "Well can't you just use a different one, there are five other shades of red over there." If she was a cross stitcher herself, she'd know that you have to use the DMC colour that's specified by the pattern, or it just won't look right.

Danielle Thomas said...

I work for a Michael's and the department and store manager have no say over what we get. The buyers decide on product depending on whether or not their is a good sales trend for the district and the size of the store. Some store have flex space and may become "test" stores for certain products. The amount ordered in depends on how accurate the store keeps up its quantity on hand.

As for the yarn, yeah I wasn't too thrilled with the reset either, not that I was expecting much. I KNEW we wouldn't be enlarging our section or anything especially being one of the smaller Michael's. I personally just liked some new colors being brought in, but I don't make much besides amigurumis so Vanna and Red Heart were always fine. Only part of the reset I enjoyed was attacking the clearance yarn :). (Yay first pick since I'm the price change girl)

amber said...

Hi Danielle, thanks for the info. It's cool to hear from someone who's actually worked there.

Anna said...

Thanks from me as well, Danielle. I've actually considered getting a job at Michael's, just for the first dips and employee discount. LOL

Danielle said...

The discounts are dangerous, heh. I practically never bought anything crafty before I got the job there but since then I swear I've spent a good month worth of paychecks at least.
A day doesn't go by where I don't get a new idea or a new product comes in that I just want to play with. I've started scrapbooking, playing with perlers, and got into rubber stamping all since I got the job and I just ordered Joy of Beading to learn how to make seed bead items like flowers and such. (We have the at Michael's but Amazon was cheaper.
But in general, this is definately my favorite job so far since I actually enjoy what I'm selling. If you really are a big crafter, they may be willing to hire you on even for a few hours just because you can share your expertise with customers.

PlentimawFish said...

I just bought some Loops & Threads and noticed it's made in Canada. Anyone know if it's made at the Bernat factory in Listowel, ON? I'm not aware we have any other big yarn factories left in the country and I like supporting local stuff. Just curious!

Anonymous said...

As someone who works at a Michael's, I can tell you that not all the stores across the country are the same. You might find items in a California store that will never be in a New York store, and vice versa. No, the individual stores do not have a say in what they stock: Warehouses send out stock without informing stores of what they'll be receiving.
Consequently the managers of each individual store have to figure out how best to work with the pre-designed floor plan in order to fit as much of the stock as is necessary.

laurel said...

I used the loops and threads in a muted rosey pink because I liked the color better than the Vanna's Choice, but is a LOT crustier feeling. I used the yarn for slippers and bought some also for a lace shrug and while I'm hoping the anti-splitness of the yarn will help me with the lace I think I might have to beat the finished product to soften it up a bit...

AND I've noticed certain colors are softer than others, I guess its the dye used or something.

I agree with you completely. They're not offering anything new at a lower level of quality than I like. Harumph.

Susie R said...

I'm a beginner and my repertroise is limited to lap blankets and afghans. I found the Loops & Threads pattern on Michaels.com for the Spiral Crochet Afghan (for beginners) and gave it a try. Well the instructions through me for a 'Loop'. I turned to two very experienced crafters for help, and finally we had to give up with a shrug in the middle of the 2nd round. It wasn't making sense. While I felt relieved that they found it non-sensical as well, I'm still disappointed. I may try it again and just try to do what it says on faith, hoping that once I get past the first 4 rounds I'll see it come together...but I'm doubting. Has anyone out there tried this pattern yet?

amber said...

Hi Susie R., is this the blanket that you were referring to, Caron® International Crochet Spirals Afghan? If not, please post the link because I'd love to have a look at it.

If it is this one, I can see why you'd want to make it. It is very pretty and unique. I may use some scrap yarn and see if I can work out those first couple rows. If I do, I'll post pictures on the blog. For now, I'm not sure if this would help, but you may want to begin with a magic ring, rather than following that strange starting direction of wrapping the yarn around your finger. If I'm stuck with yarn wrapped around my finger how am I supposed to move to make any of the other stitches? At what point do I take it off my finger?

Socorro said...

I started to use this for a scarf... but it just was not soft enough... I bought plenty in various colors, but I am disappointed in the "feel" after you crochet... I might take it back..

Socorro said...

Susie R... I just downloaded and printed that pattern for the spiral afgan... I will check in tomorrow after I give it a try...

Socorro said...

http://www.michaels.com/art/online/projectsheet?pid=25792&categoryid=168606

This is the link for the Spiral Afgan.... this one was on the michaels web site...

amber said...

I think you're right Socorro, Susie R was probably referring to the pattern you mentioned in the link. Considering it's actually made with Loops & Threads, that makes sense.

I just did some googling and found this helpful thread on Crochetville where people are working out this pattern. There are even pictures so that should help.

I can't help agreeing with the crocheters commenting there that this thing just looks like a big granny square. I really don't see why Michael's named it a spiral afghan. It's a bit misleading since you don't even stitch it in a spiral. You work from the centre outward, but you do that in a granny square too.

Let us know how it turns out if you decide to attempt it :)

Bookworm said...

First I wanted to offer a correction, the Loops and Threads brand isn't wool, it's acrylic.

Personally, I got some of the Impeccable and I love it. It's easy to work with, it's not too expensive and it has some nice colors. And I actually think it's softer than many of the acrylic brands I've worked with, especially Red Heart Supersaver. I was actually telling my mom I think it's my new favorite yarn. But then I mostly make Amigurumi, with a few departures into others things, so I don't have any softness issues.

Anonymous said...

I found the Loops & Threads Country Loom yarn because I was looking for a good soft blue (it's called Rich Blues and looks like shades of denim twisted together). Unlike the other Loops & Thread yarn you mentioned, this one is really soft.

Sueho said...

Loops&Threads yarn actually is soft. You just have to play with it a bit, which is worth it if money is an issue. They had an ombre called Neapolitan that i had to have because it was a very handsome color blend. Instead of using the recommended 8 knitting needle I used a 10. The pullover is so soft and comfortable I'd really love to lay around in it forever(sadly I normally HATE acrylic) And I find it to be softer than a previous 100% angora I knit a while back after conditioning the yarn. All over I give the brand a 80%

Anonymous said...

I bought the Sage butter Ombre,& Luxury Ombre for my grandkids. I am trying to find out if it pills much. I have knitted 2 other sweaters, 2 diferent yars that pilled before I finished the sweaters.
Sueho said that she used a large needle than suggested, someone on another site changed to a larger needle resulting in a softer cudly feel. I have been knitting for 60 years, what in the world is amigurumi??

amber said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks for your comment. Amigurumi is a Japanese word that basically means crocheted animals. In North America it is used as a bit of a catch-all for any critters made using crochet (and sometimes knitting.) Sometimes they are made as toys for children and quite often they are made as novelty gifts for adults, particularly the ones that are based on various characters from pop culture.

Anonymous said...

Amigurumi is a combination of two Japanese words. Ami meaning knitted or crocheted and gurumi meaning stuffed doll.

Daisy said...

I just used Loops & Threads Country Loom Rodeo in a couch throw. It was very soft, and I loved the variegated colors they have in that line. It is VERY thick to work with. I usually use acrylics BECAUSE they're easy to work with and keep longer. Who ever throws out a blanket unless it becomes threadbare (usually made of cotton)?
My biggest problem is that I'll pick up a skein of something and it will feel soft when I'm feeling it in the store in skein form, but as I make it into a blanket, it feels harder, even with looser stitches.

EmberRose said...

I'm using the Charisma to make a ripple afghan for my hubby and it's soft. I'd say its losing about 5% of its softness as I'm crocheting it but it's making a really flexible and flowing yet STURDY fabric (it's a bulky yarn and I'm using a US K [6mm] hook)and it's still really touchable and soft. I'm thrilled with because I know it'll go places with my hubby and endure.

I'm enjoying it.

Karla Hartzog said...

Thanks ya'll for all the discussion. I was considering the "Loops" for a quick knit pullover for my grandson.(It's on sale this week at the Michaels in Charlotte.) If it's not soft, I won't use it.
I also thought Lion Brand Homespun would be a good quick knit yarn for a little boy's sweater. There are several shades of blue, and I love the deep red. 'Anybody tested it's softness in a finished garmet?

Anonymous said...

I have used 3 Loops & Threads yarns so far, and have no complaints. Charisma (100% acrylic) is super bulky, and not the softest, certainly not like angora or cashmere. But it knits up beautifully.

I'm currently making a sweater out of Country Loom, a multi-color 100% acrylic boucle, and it's one of the softest yarns I've ever worked.

I just finished two projects using Dewdrops, a blend with 18% mohair, so it's not terribly soft, but it is beautiful.

Neither the Country Loom nor Dewdrops shows up in any web searches. I'm not sure what's up with that, but they are both Loops & Threads products, and I got them both at my local Michaels.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you have the crochet book of Impeccable "Ho Ho Holidays" by loops and threads.
I want to make the cushions and I don't know how to find the book since I don't have the UPC code for the store to find out.

Anonymous said...

Ho Ho Holidays upc is 0010077899. I wonder if anyone else is using this book. I am working on the penguin puppet and have gotten to the Front Head section. It has 2 rows of black in between the face and beak. The photo shows no such line (that I can see). Is there an Errata page somewhere online with corrections? I have checked the Michaels site and found nothing. The Loops and Threads page was no more helpful. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

I'd have to agree with you. Although the ombres are a bit softer than the solids, it's just not a high quality acrylic yarn, like Paton's or Caron's. I made a hat with a solid and I was not impressed. The finished piece was quite dull in colour intensity and quite rough in texture.

For the amount of space they dedicated to their yarn, they could have expanded the yarn selections for Red Heart, Caron, Bernat and Paton. At least these companies have both high end acrylics and natural yarns that revival the Michaels brand.

Anonymous said...

Have to say, not impressed w/ the Loops&Threads yarns that I couldn't find in other places, BUT, that said, I just got back to Raleigh from Southern California, and found 2 L&T yarns in the local Michael's that we don't have here AND that are not on the website. Unfortunately I left the ball bands w/ my mom, so don't remember the names. They were very cool to make scarves w/ and were specialty yarns rather than standard worsted twist etc. One was a boucle w/ a little ribbon end sticking out every few inches, and one was a loop w/ small 1/4 inch loops. Together they made a very cute openwork scarf. Too bad, West Coast only.

Anonymous said...

I just recently picked up some Loops & Threads. I was looking for a soft, super fine yarn and found Loops & Threads Luxury Sock. It was the softest super fine at Michael's and I have to say it really enjoyed working with it. It was as soft as I was looking for and easy to use making the tiny project I was making way easier then I expected it to be.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love Michael's Loops & Threads Impeccable yarn! The only thing I don't like is the lacking color selection, but I'm hoping they'll add more in the near future. It is awesome to crochet amigurumi with! I think it would be good for hats & fingerless gloves too & anything else requiring a smaller (not so open or loose) stitch. I also think it would work for an afghan because it's so smooth. I personally don't like Vanna's Choice in comparison because it's fuzzier and more expensive, though I LOVE the wide array of colors. :)

Anonymous said...

I actually really love the Loops & Threads yarns! I have made lots of hats for people in the past year, and I tend to look for nice colors in L&T before I look anywhere else. I love the Impeccable and Country Loom

Anonymous said...

I am just finishing the "Radiant Stripes Blanket" (Michaels Project Pattern) with Loops and Threads Impeccable yarn... and I feel that this is the best yarn I've used in the bigger size ever. It is so soft and the yarn was very easy to work with. I will admit that the last couple skeins I picked up were not as soft as the first, but it is still a lot softer then any of the Red Heart super savers I have used. I am sure that once I wash the blanket upon completion, any stiffness that might be there will have gone away. I would say it rivals Vanna's Choice in softness, but I see myself choosing L&T over Vanna due to the pricing, and choosing it over bernat and red heart for the quality and feel.

K. said...

I'm using the Loops and Threads Impeccable right now for three afghans. It's not the softest but the ombres are softer than the solids. I have a tendency to shy away from softer yarns (like Caron Simply Soft) for afghans so this works okay for me.

And like another person mentioned, I hope it will get a little softer after laundering.

K.

Anonymous said...

I purchased Loops and Threads Sante Fe Striped Roving this fall (2011). I chose it for the variegated black, grey and white colorization to be incorporated with sport weight yarns in solid colors for hats, scarves and mittens.they blended well. I had no problems with breakage or stretching. I decorated the hats with Pom-poms made exclusively with this yarn. I'm very pleased with it.

Anonymous said...

I have knit a scarf with Loops & Thread "Flaunt" - it comes out ruffled on both sides - I have made it in fushia for a friend who loves it and now trying black to use as a dressy accessory - Beautiful

Anonymous said...

I have two things to say on this matter... One, I like the yarn because it's a bit stiff when you're working with it, which for me works and makes it easier to regulate the stitches, and as with afghans, when you wash them I use a liquid fabric softener and it has made them quite soft...not like bamboo yarns I have used, but quite nice for an acrylic yarn...

however, the second thing I have to say is that Michael's seems to have a real issue with making items needed available. It surprises me that they don't allow ordering of different colors that are available to stores just because they are not regulated as having standard shelf space...too big for their britches I guess.

I'll shop elsewhere, but I thought you should know about the quality and washability since that was the question.

Nabela Hamm said...

I used Impeccable for a rather elaborate shawl I recently finished. While the yarn was stiff when worked, it was transformed into something very soft with an excellent drape after going through a wash and dry cycle. I used liquid fabric softener, and I was very pleased with the result.

Anonymous said...

I've knitted several pairs of socks with the luxury sock yarn, and I just love the result. The cashmere blend is so soft, and the stitch comes up smooth and perfect. I don't know anyone who's worn my socks long enough to tell how the yarn wears, so the verdict's still out.

E Schwanz said...

I have made a few infinity scarves with the Loops and Threads Charisma. I love working with that yarn and it is very soft. The only problem is that the local Michaels is always out of stock. I do not live near a city, so when I drive in, I like to get what I need. I have sent a comment to the stores. I have not found a suitable substitution for it either, nor can I order Charisma online.

Anonymous said...

Have tried Loops & Threads yarn twice in a light color. Both times the yarn has other colors mixed in the yarn. The first time was with Charisma and it was stained with red throughout. Gave it away! Now I bought Impeccable and again now is stained with blue! I will never buy this yarn again. Poor quality! It is a shame!

Anonymous said...

Anyone with a steamer, or steam iron, can solve the rough feel of acrylic they are using. Go over a small portion of the pattern for about 10 to 20 seconds and then pat it with your hand, to make it lie exactly how you want it, even to stretch it. When it is dry the acrylic will take on that form and not change when you launder it. And, when steamed, it will become soft and pliable. Make certain you just use the steam. Do not touch the acrylic with your iron or steamer. Additional steaming will continue to soften pattern, if necessary. I steam about every 4" to 5" so my project will drape comfortably in my lap. .