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April 07, 2010

Thematic

I'm starting to really appreciate thematic knitting books (such as an entire book devoted to Cascade 220 accessories, or the brioche stitch). I don't know about you, but my knitting book (and magazine, and individual pattern) collection is significantly more impressive than my stash. The opportunities to get "lost" are endless. You know how it goes... you start looking for a vest pattern in sportweight yarn, and the next thing you know, you're casting on for a lace scarf. That can be a wonderful thing, don't get me wrong. But a few carefully-placed thematic books can help me regroup and regain focus.

Incidentally, it was during one of these "lost" episodes (which spilled over into browsing Ravelry) that I first encountered Comfort Knitting and Crochet: Afghans. This book is doubly thematic: all the patterns are for afghans, and all of them use Berroco Comfort, a nylon/acrylic blend yarn available in a variety of weights.

I knew this pattern collection would be a great addition to my library because I don't have many books entirely devoted to afghans, throws, blankets, etc. That, and the fact that so many of my friends are expecting! Between December 2009 and September 2010, I have 14 friends who gave or will give birth. And with babies, one needs blankets. Stat!

Needless to say, I love the book. So much so that the day after I received it in the mail, I walked straight into Windsor Button and picked out some Berroco Comfort to start a blanket. But more about that later...

First, a brief recap. As the title tells us, the book contains more than 50 crochet and knitting afghan patterns using Berroco Comfort. I really appreciate the diversity of projects contained within:

  • For starters, both crochet and knitting are represented.
  • There are several patterns for baby blankets (about 30" x 36" in size), many patterns for standard throw blankets (about 45" x 60" in size), and a few patterns for even larger blankets.
  • There are patterns for afghans knit or crocheted in one piece, though most are seamed from smaller squares, hexagons, circles, etc. From the comments I received on this post, I think that's preferable.
  • Many different techniques are represented, from the most basic single crochet and knit-purl patterns to cables, stranded knitting, Tunisian and broomstick crochet, lace, and embroidery.
  • The book contains designs to suit just about any taste: modern, colorful, edgy, simple, or traditional. This range is largely accomplished by clever combination of pattern and color: with almost 90 (!) colorways of worsted-weight Berroco Comfort available, anything is possible!

You can see the variety of patterns in the extended entry, and you can visit the other stops on this book's blog tour for more reviews, Q&A posts, etc.:

April 8: Me! You're here!
April 9: http://blog.yarn.com
April 12: http://blog.yarn.com
April 13: http://goknitinyourhat.blogspot.com
April 14: http://www.alabamachanin.com/journal
April 15: http://www.craftgossip.com
April 16: http://www.thehookandi.com
April 20: http://needled.wordpress.com
April 21: http://to-be-charmed.com
April 22: http://www.houseonhillroad.com
April 23: http://www.knitgrrl.com
April 24: http://www.crazyauntpurl.com
April 25: http://www.belleepoquewhimsy.com
April 28: http://www.knitandtonic.net
April 29: http://whipup.net

Now let me tell you a little bit about Fish Ripples. This pattern caught my eye for a number of reasons: it's fairly small (30" x 36"), so it's quick to crochet and not a huge money investment (only 6 skeins of yarn, at something like $6 per skein). I think the colorful design and size make it a lovely baby gift. Plus it's crocheted! Finishing the potholders seems to have revitalized my crochet mojo :).

Berroco Comfort worsted in Gooseberry Heather/9791, Purple/9722, Beet Root/9760, Primary Red/9750, Kidz Orange/9731, and Agean Sea/9753.

I really love the colors in the original pattern, but I wasn't able to find all of them at Windsor Button, so I had to substitute. Truth be told, I wanted the colors to look a little less "Fisher Price" than what you see above, if you know what I mean. But at the same time I like the idea of super bright primary colors combined all together, especially if the blanket is crocheted out of acrylic yarn ;).

By the way, I considered two other Berroco yarns for this blanket, similar in weight, yardage, and price to worsted-weight Comfort and also available in bright, juicy colors: Weekend (75% acrylic, 25% cotton) and Vintage (50% acrylic, 40% wool, 10% nylon). These might be good options for those who want some natural fiber content while keeping their project machine-washable. For my blanket, I decided to stick to the recommended Comfort, because I wanted to find out for myself what makes this yarn worthy of an entire collection of afghan patterns!

Berroco Comfort is soft and plush, and quite nicely approximates the look and feel of a superfine merino yarn. I wouldn't say it actually feels like merino, but it doesn't feel slick or squeaky, either. I think you just have to touch it for yourself :). It behaves well while being crocheted, creates a lovely fabric, and holds up to frogging. In my hands it's very splitty, however, and I have to be exceptionally careful to grab all the plies while working with it. I have a feeling that I'd have a much easier time if I was knitting it, especially if I was doing so using Bluti Stumpos. I think it comes down to the fact that Berroco Comfort is machine-washable, comes in several different weights and dozens of colors to make it a great choice for blankets.

Having chosen my yarn and colors, I got to work on the Fish Ripples blanket. To be honest with you, the first few inches were a bit of a nightmare. The pattern is really simple, but I had a hard time following along without a chart. On every row I had either too many or too few stitches! Finally, I took a moment and jotted down a quick chart, and the whole thing turned around, just like that. I am cruising! It is so simple and enjoyable! I'm weaving in the ends as I go along, and I hope to be done in no time ;).

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Posted by Kathy on April 7, 2010 08:39 PM

Comments

I bought the book too and have been ogling the many gorgeous patterns. I had the same splitty problem with Berrocco Comfort while knitting an LYS sample scarf back when the yarn was first introduced.

Oh wow. I am not a blanket knitter (I love knitted blankets, but giant rectangles are not possible for this product knitter) but that Bright Star blanket is particularly stunning! I may pick this one up as I don't *think* I'm averse to crocheting blankets. Yet.

I've used Comfort for some baby gifts, mostly hats I think. It is kind of splitty but as you said, the color choices and washability make it a good basic yarn. The blanket is beautiful!

I knit a Mitered Square blanket (from Mason-Dixon) with Comfort, with fewer squares so it was the right size for a largish baby quilt. I loved the color selection, that's mostly why I selected it. I used 8 colors and really enjoyed working with it.

I can't believe how much amazing work went into this book. The blankets are just stunning.

However, thinking about using that much Comfort makes make hands hurt. I used it for a small project and while it has many nice qualities, it was hard for me to knit with for more than a short time.

Jess brought this to knit night, and I was MEZMERIZED. I've never before wanted to knit our home a blanket, and after looking through that book I wanted to learn crochet just so that I could do one! :)

And I'm really glad to hear your thoughts on the Comfort. Thanks for sharing.

Oh my goodness...I think this book sings to my heart! I am a humongous afghan fan. I went out and bought "Brioche" after I saw it on your blog...I might have to do the same with this book :)

Thanks so much for sharing!

I almost never buy books that are exclusively for use with only one yarn. I don't know why, but it turns me off. I don't even look at them. And now I see that I'm missing something because this book looks great! Thanks for the attitude adjustment. :)

My grandmother taught me to crochet and I grew up with a hand crocheted blanket on my bed. I hope the receipient of yours finds much love in it, too.

Your blankie is looking great, Kathy! Fabulous colors!

I love Comfort for babies. I also made the Arctic Diamond Lace shawl in Comfort Sock for our piano teacher who is allergic to wool.

14 friends with babies- now I understand all the baby things on the blog lately. I was really beginning to think you were going to announce that you were expecting. This latest blanket is really cute, but I still don't crochet. I like your potholders too!

Blankets are my go-to project and tried making crocheting something exactly like Greenway but had a hard time figuring out how to do it.

May have to add this to my list of books to get.

Thanks!

I've used both the Comfort Baby (I think that is what it was called) for a crocheted top and the Comfort Sock for two pairs of socks for my mother-in-law. I noticed that it was a bit splitty when I was making socks, but I don't remember having any problems with the crocheted top. Of course, I wasn't doing anything more complicated than a bit single crochet through the back loop only, which might have changed how it was working for me.

Your colors are so rich and beautiful! I love your afghan!

Your Fish Ripple blanket is coming along fabulously! Love those colors!

I'm with the commenter Trista. 14 babies! that's a lot of babies.

Love your color combination, more subtle than Fisher Price.

I've used this yarn for several projects, even tho I resisted it at first due its acrylic nature. But for children (and parents in nursing homes) it is great. It is soft, washes wonderfully, and is not expensive. Yes, it can split, but it is not a craft store acrylic and wears well. Comes in lots of colors and weights. I knit a lace shawl for my mother out of it, because the first one went to the nursing home laundry and felted and I was pleasantly pleased with the result.

That's a lot of baby presents! at least baby projects move quickly ...

I've never really been big on making blankets (too big for my liking) but this book looks like it could change my mind! What gorgeous patterns.

I have a sample skein of Comfort given to me by my LYS for test knitting. I haven't even attempted anything with it because it's so darn splitty! Dark Horse Fantasy has the same "fiber" content and (in my opinion) is softer and *much* easier to work with.

I love this book too, however, I think you may want to think twice about making baby blankets with acrylic. I did a burn test on a piece of acrylic yarn and then on wool, which resulted in the baby blanket in progesss immediately becoming a tv afghan for me. I figure since children's sleepwear must be flame retardant, it's not a good idea to then wrap them in highly flammable acrylic. Just my 2 cents. (obviously.)

I must admit that i agree with Charli. As not only a parent but a former fire fighter - what fire does to acrylic fiber is not pretty. Plus, the fumes released by burning acrylics are toxic.

Like Melissa I've never been big on blankets, though depending on the baby and inspiration, I'll knit one. This book is full of the latter, I'm so glad I clicked through. Thanks!

My one caveat to blankets (and scarves, shawls, stoles...) is that many are not designed to be REVERSIBLE. (Yes, I have that book.)

I am amazed at the rate which you are able to complete projects. Mine always seem to take FOREVER :)+

I've totally been itching to knit a blanket lately. I actually bought a ton of Cascade Pastaza to knit a blanket-sized version of Girasole for a friend's wedding, but now the wedding is off (oops) and I'm wondering what to do with all that yarn. I might have to pick up that book!

Hi Kathy, would you mind telling me if the "Bright Star" pattern is knit or crochet? I'm thinking I may have to buy the book just for that and the fish ripples. Thanks.

I was tempted by Comfort at my LYS to do a baby blanket myself, but I have to say the fiber content put me off. I just get queasy (I'm sorry) making baby things out of acrylic. You can tell parents that because the material is not treated with flame retardant, and that because it is not naturally retardant like wool, they need to be home if the baby is using it and not to use it for sleepwear. But who knows who baby items get passed on to? I like to think that mine will get many uses, some by babies I haven't met. I'd love to see some of the wonderful patterns in this book made up in an alpaca (hypoallergenic), a superwash wool (less allergenic) or a cotton. And I'd love some sort of response from Berocco--they're pretty much recommending you make baby things (albeit beautiful and charming ones) out of a fiber that's not the most appropriate.

The splitty factor is my one and only quibble with Berroco Comfort. I'm crocheting a baby blanket from it right now (well, the squares at least).

The afghan is beautiful, by the way.

I completely concur re:thematic books. I love to see one idea explored to the fullest extent possible!

I love, love, love this book! There are at least six afghans that I absloutely must have. Now. My poor husband recently commented: "You weren't really an afghan sort of person when we got married..."

Ha ha -- the old bait and switch!

Woo...there are so many afghan combinations that are calling out to me!

Now I really want to get my *garter* project finished so that I can start a new one!

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