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My New Blocking Station Product Review

My New Blocking Station Product Review

I’ve always wanted a blocking unit for my crochet pieces. For someone like me having a handy tool like this makes my work a little easier. Recently, I received The BlocksAll Station from Chetnanigans. Chetnanigans has an Etsy Shop and is definitely worth the look. Today, I had the opportunity to give this product a try. Here is my assessment of this fun tool.

If you are like me, you have practiced many tricks when you are blocking your items. My tried and true way is to spritz a little water on my finished piece, shape it and pin it down on a towel using stick pins or stack my squares on skewers stuck in a Styrofoam block. Then, I leave my piece to dry overnight and wake up the next day to my item blocked, hopefully in the correct form I want. For larger projects this is still the best way I have found to achieve a decent result. However, there are times when making granny square items such as my G.G. Cardigan, my New Beginnings Afghan Block, or we all remember my colossal project the 365 Days of Granny Squares, when blocking single squares become necessary for the best appearance of an overall project. Not everything crochets up as neat and tidy as we hope. That is when the BlocksAll is great option to achieve these results. I set out to give this a test run and was not disappointed!

First, when the item arrived and I opened it, I was very happy to see how well this was packaged. Included were the board, a stand, stainless steel pins, and instructions, all neatly packed and secure on arrival. Seeing it for the first time was thrilling! I always get that excited feeling when a new crochet or craft item arrives at my doorstep. I am like a little child when I see the delivery driver pull up! Once it was opened, I was eager to give it a try!

I decided to give it a test run blocking some squares that I am making for a baby blanket. I sprayed my squares lightly with a bit of water before placing each square on the block. Although I blocked individual squares, you can stack them on the pins and do multiples at the same time. I think approximately 3-5 squares would fit stacked up. There are 50 stainless steel pins included in this set and there are a series of holes on the block. This is important as the placement of the holes make it easy to block items in a variety of sizes! The pins do not rust so if your item is damp, there will be no risk of rust getting on your pieces. It was a bit tough to insert the pins on the first try, but being as this is brand new, I suspect this will become easier the more I use this item. By the same token, the pins were a bit tough to remove once I was finished blocking. Again, with repeated use, this should rectify.

 

The BlocksAll is very sturdy, durable, and it has some weight to it. The stand has rubber grips for anti-slip if you want to stand it up while blocking your pieces. This is a nice feature when you need to apply a bit of force to either push the pins in or pull them out. Otherwise, there is felt on the back side of the BlocksAll station if you wish to lay it on a flat surface to do your blocking. One detail to point out that many will appreciate as I do, is that the pins are NOT sharp. I can’t tell you how many times when blocking my crochet items the standard way that I jabbed a stick pin into my fingertip or thumb and drew blood! It gives new meaning to putting blood, sweat, and tears into a project and hopefully, having this new item will take those elements out of the equation! There is no risk of that happening while using the BlocksAll pins! Another observation, you will want to store the pins in a small case. Because of the amount of pins included in this set (50), it will be a good idea to have a storage container for these small but important parts.

 

Once my pieces were blocked overnight, they came out perfectly shaped for my project!! The size of this board allows for pieces up to 12 inches x 12 inches to be blocked easily. I was so happy with the results of each square and they look perfect with the clean straight edge achieved from using this handy device! I love the look and they stack up nicely in piles waiting for me to sew them together! This is exciting stuff!
I love this wonderful gizmo and working with the Chetnanigans crew was a pleasure! Be sure to check out their Etsy site and all the great items they have for knitters and crocheters!! These would make a great gift for any crafter on your list–including yourself!

Also, be sure to use coupon code YARN15 to get a 15% discount on your purchase!!!  The discount code is only available until November 19th, 2017 so place your orders soon!! That is an AWESOME deal! You won’t be disappointed! Now back to making more squares and playing with my new toy!

~Nadia

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A Personal Debate: Mainstays Basic Yarn vs. Red Heart Super Saver Yarn

A Personal Debate: Mainstays Basic Yarn vs. Red Heart Super Saver Yarn

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.

 
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(Photographed above: Red Heart Super Saver on the Left, Mainstays Yarn on the Right)

 

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.

Shrinking options

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.

(Photo was taken after washed)

(Photo was taken after washed)

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!

~Nadia

 

This post contains affiliate links, which I may be compensated for when you make a purchase. That means if you click on any link and buy from the linked websites, I will receive a small percentage of the value of your order. The amount you pay is not changed. Thank you for all your support in clicking the links in my blog!! You all are so amazing!! ~Nadia

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