Recently, I was informed that Wal-Mart stores have started selling their own brand of fiber called Mainstays Basic Yarn. At the time I was notified of this new brand on the shelves, I was eager to check it out for myself. Unfortunately, I live in a somewhat rural community and the skeins had not made their way to my local Wal-Mart quite yet.
A short time later, I was able to get my hands on a skein of the Mainstays yarn and decided to do a comparison between Red Heart Super Saver and this new brand by Wal-Mart! This blog is entirely my own opinion, based on my personal observations debating two similar products.
Less money, less quality?
First observation, once I was able to find the product in the store, was the price. A skein of Red Heart Super Saver is $2.88 and the price of the Mainstays Basic Yarn is $1.97, so the obvious difference is the financial aspect. You are saving $0.91 per skein on the basic colors with the Mainstays brand. For those looking at the economic factor, this is a no-brainer. The Mainstays IS obviously less expensive. However, we all know that price is not always reflective of quality, and we all know the saying, “you get what you pay for.” Low prices can mean lower quality products. Keep that in mind when basing your comparison solely on economics – and yes, I do understand the importance of finances as a crafter on a budget, but one must consider other details as well.
Next, the volume of the skeins is equal – Each one weighing 7 oz. However, Red Heart Super Saver has 364 yards and Mainstays Basic Yarn has 397 yards. When we look at another obvious comparison, you get more for your money with Mainstays. I would like to insert a personal observation here: The Mainstays Basic Yarns are definitely a thinner fiber. Although you are getting “more” length in the skein, it actually feels “less.” You can even see when lined side by side, there is a fair amount of difference in how they compare next to one another. Having worked with Red Heart Yarns so frequently, it is hard to explain this, but their fiber has weight and thickness and feels somewhat sturdier versus the Mainstays Basic Yarn, which has a much thinner strand and feels lighter and less substantial. With Red Heart Super Saver, there is ample feel to my piece. The Mainstays yarn has a bit less volume and does not feel as abundant or as sturdy. I hope that makes sense. Both are 100% acrylic.
Soft but Found
The Mainstays definitely has a soft touch, but, like I mentioned earlier, it tends to lack that feeling of volume when you want something thick and warm or heavy such as a nice blanket, a winter hat, or a scarf, but it has decent softness nonetheless.
I found Mainstays Basic Yarns located ONLY in the Wal-Mart stores. Red Heart Yarns are available in, not only Wal-Mart, but several other craft stores, AND conveniently able to be ordered online. This is important for many who love the ease of online shopping or are unable to get to stores or choose not to shop at large retail shops such as Wal-Mart.
Another fact that I find important point to bring up, is that all Mainstays yarn products are made in China whereas the Red Heart Yarns are ALWAYS made in the USA. To many, this is a VERY important detail to consider when purchasing.
I made two swatches out of both brands of yarn. I washed each swatch and noticed a slight bit of shrinking in the Mainstays yarn. You will need to keep that in mind when using this brand in sizing your projects. You may get more in a skein yet you may need to use more length in certain projects to adjust for shrinkage. I observed that both fibers have the same amount of stretch to them. I also noticed quite a bit of pilling with the Mainstays Basic Yarn with fuzziness as compared to the Red Heart Super Saver swatch. The Red Heart Super Saver block was also softer after one wash.
It took a while, but my local Wal-Mart recently started stocking this Mainstays yarn product on their shelves this past week; I noticed they are offering an assortment of basic solids in a rainbow of colors. The colors run similar to some of the Red Heart Super Saver yarn hues. Red Heart Yarns offers a MUCH larger selection of color, as well as a variety of other types of yarns and products, whereas the Mainstays offer this one type of yarn. Red Heart Super Saver yarn is not dye lotted which keeps color consistent with each skein of yarn you use. So if you buy a skein of yarn, and 2 months later need the same exact color, you won’t have to worry about it being a different shade. I do not have information if Mainstays yarn does the same thing or not.
I hope this blog helps you as you explore the similarities and differences between these two products. Because of the limitation of the Mainstays yarn, I still find myself preferring the Red Heart Super Saver when choosing an economic and quality yarn product. Have you tried these two products? Leave your thoughts in the comment section!
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