Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for April, 2008

She may never buy from us but . . .

April 30th, 2008

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It’s been one week since we launched the Lion Brand notebook and it’s been a real thrill reading all the comments. I especially liked the one from Laura, who wrote from Argentina. She said, “even though your yarns are not available in Argentina, I just want to thank you for all the interest(ing) things I find at your place. . . I can’t buy your products, but I love to see the patterns and all the tips you give us.”

You may wonder why I was so pleased at a comment from someone who can’t even buy our yarn. It’s because when Lion Brand can encourage someone to knit and crochet, I believe we have done something good. I am thankful for the fact that I am part of a business that helps make peoples’ lives better. Yarn provides people with a way to de-stress, a way to express themselves creatively with color and fiber, a way to share something handmade with others and so much more.

You may even be surprised to know that I work with my competitors (I like to refer to them as my friendly competitors) several times a year to come up with ways to promote and encourage crafting with yarn. I’m chairman of an organization called the Craft Yarn Council which, among other things, organizes the annual Knit Out, now held at the Mall of America in February.

Loving my work means loving the business I’m in as well as believing in our products.

Q & A

April 30th, 2008

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This is our first Q & A post so we’d like to share how the questions come to us. Lion Brand customer service associates answer questions by phone and email. We respond to over 12,000 email questions each month. This Q & A feature is culled from the most commonly asked questions. If you would like to submit a question, kindly do so in any of the following ways, rather than through this blog:

You may email it to For questions about an order you already placed, you may email or call 800-661-7551. If you need phone support to help you work through a pattern, you may call 800-705-8636. Keep in mind that these phone numbers are available only weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Q – I’m trying to find an crochet afghan in Vanna’s Choice that is easy enough for someone who knows simple stitch patterns.

A – The best way to find just what you are looking for is to use our Pattern Finder. With over 1,900 patterns to choose from (and growing daily), this great tool will save you lots of time. We used the pull-down menus to select “crochet” as the craft, “Vanna’s Choice” for the yarn, “easy” for the skill level and “afghans/throws/blankets” for the item type. The Pattern Finder located 14 afghans for you.

Try this with any requirement you have. Whether you looking for a baby blanket in Babysoft, a sweater in Wool-Ease or a scarf in Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, the Pattern Finder is the shortest route to get to those patterns.

If you want to fill in the search bar instead of using the drop-down menus, you can enter words describing what you want. The results will not be as accurate as they are when you use the drop-down menus, but if you prefer this method, use what works for you!

Give the Pattern Finder a try and let us know how it works or if you have any questions about it.

Sharing Your Handiwork Pictures Online

April 30th, 2008

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Our customer gallery is a spot on our site where you can see what other people are working on or upload your own images. Here’s one we loved, submitted by Jessica Basciano, of a picture that she takes annually of her children wearing sweaters knit by her grandmother. Here’s what she says: “My 84 year old Grandmother, Betty Harris, has made an annual event of making sweaters for 4 of her Great-Grandchildren, Cate, Julia, Colin & Aaron, and having their photo taken. She always uses Lion Brand Yarn and is thrilled to see her work displayed on your web-site. Thank You!

5 Tips for Crafting with Kids from YarnCraft Episode #13

April 29th, 2008

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In each episode of our podcast, YarnCraft, my co-host Liz from our Design Department and I like to share some interesting tips about knitting, crocheting, and yarncrafting.

In the podcast episode, “Yarncrafting with Kids,” we were joined by technical editor Jackie from the Design Department to talk about teaching kids. Here are five tips:

  1. Yarncrafting is more than just knitting & crocheting. Pom poms, tassles, and craft projects are a good way to get even young children experimenting with yarn. Check out our craft patterns for more ideas.
  2. Think about the materials. Children (as well as most beginners) will knit/crochet tightly, so you may want to give them needles/hooks that are a little bit larger than what is normally recommended for the yarn. Pick needles/hooks that are an easy to work with size (Speed Stix & Speed Hook may be too big for kids!) and yarn that is light in color so that it’s easy to see individual stitches. Variegated yarn can be helpful so that you can point out individual stitches by color — Jiffy Thick & Quick can be a good choice for kids.
  3. Don’t worry about what they’re making. Let them knit, crochet, loom-knit, or weave for a little bit. That rectangle of material can be sewn up into a coin purse, used as a trivet, given to a doll as a blanket. Even just making chains can be a really satisfying experience for kids.
  4. Help them start the project. Casting on or working into the first chain are some of the most difficult skills for beginners, so you may want to do the first row for them both to demonstrate the skill, and also so they don’t get frustrated.
  5. Get to know their learning styles. While some children may learn better watching, others learn better with diagrams, while others learn better by listening to explanations. Getting a feel for their learning styles will make it easier for you to explain things in the most effective way.

YarnCraft Podcast

For more ideas, check out the podcast every other Tuesday by visiting or sign up for BK4K, our monthly newsletter for kids and those who yarncraft with them!

Welcome to the Lion Brand Notebook

April 23rd, 2008

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Welcome to Lion Country

Hi, I’m David Blumenthal, President of Lion Brand Yarn Company, and I’d like to welcome you to Lion Brand through this notebook. As a family business with a long history (Lion Brand has been around since 1878), we are passionate about yarn and dedicated to upholding the values that our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have instilled in us. Several times a week we’ll share ideas, information and thoughts about crafting with yarn and we’d like to hear your comments.

The picture above is a sign that greets visitors in our corporate offices Carlstadt, New Jersey offices. There is also a bronze plaque in our reception area with the following quote:

The ideals set forth by our parents for this company will ever remain the guiding spirit in our efforts to promote lasting friendship and fair dealing.

We’ll be bringing you answers to your most asked questions, tips and technical support for crafting with yarn, information about the community of knitters, crocheters and crafters, and knit and crochet events. Please check this notebook regularly for up-to-date news and information about new products and plans for an exciting new endeavor that we’ll share with you soon.

We’re looking forward to the conversation. We hope you’ll become part of our extended family. Please feel free to leave a comment, introduce yourself and say hello.

The Knitted Mile

April 22nd, 2008

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The Knitted Mile is a project created by fiber artist, Robyn Love, for the exhibition Gestures of Resistance. The exhibition was held at in Dallas Texas, from February 20th to March 22nd.Robyn worked with fifty volunteers to knit a mile-long yellow stripe that was installed in the center of a road in Dallas. The concept was that a knitted median line on a highway interrupts the daily fast-paced movement of life with a lovingly handmade element. Hand-knitting and crafts in general, involve taking ones time and creating one-of-a-kind objects that express our individuality. The exhibition showed that this is an option to mass production, instant gratification and uniformity. The road stripe was knit in garter stitch, 4 inches wide in Vanna’s Choice, mustard color yarn provided by Lion Brand Yarn Company.

Knitted mile installed as yellow line in middle of highway

kmile-longview.jpgKnitted Mile in the trunk of a car on the way to be installed on the road

Seen in the Yarniverse

April 18th, 2008

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Over the past couple of weeks we came across a couple of bloggers who have created some beautiful afghans with our Cotton-Ease yarn.

Bella Dia uses a granny square pattern similar to our Happy Baby Blanket pattern to create her granny square blanket project.
Stardust Shoes takes some yarns and plays around with them to create some VERY cute flowers!

There is also a great group for those of you registered on Ravelry, for people who use Cotton-Ease, called Cotton pickin’. It’s there for anyone and everyone to share Cotton-Ease love and has some wonderful suggestions for new items using the yarn.

Additionally on Bella Dia, she suggests a great way to pick out swatches for upcoming projects using our website.

Lion Visits Etsy

April 17th, 2008

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clocktower building, Etsy

We had a lot of fun visiting Etsy a month ago. David, Zontee, Liz and I went to their offices, located in a beautiful building called the Clocktower in an one of the many areas of New York named with an acronym: Dumbo. That stands for down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass.

Etsy is an online marketplace for buying and selling anything handmade. We did a podcast while we were there and interviewed some of the staff about this phenomenon. We found a very creative group of people and a devotion to customer satisfaction that was impressive. Their site is fun to look at and as crafters, we particularly value anything made by hand.

Etsy featured an exclusive interview with Vanna for their web site.

After our visit, we enjoyed an over-the-top lunch at the famous Junior’s Restaurant.

liz-and-zontee-interview.jpg Etsy offices

Lunch at Juniors

Crocheting the Coral Reef

April 16th, 2008

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The American Museum of Natural History in New York City merged science and art on Tuesday, April 8. Using yarn donated by Lion Brand, they have crocheted an entire coral reef ecosystem and discussed some the current issues facing reefs today, as well as actions that can be taken in the future.

Margaret Wertheim, director of the Institute for Figuring, and Kate Holmes, a marine biologist for AMNH, lead a discussion about the plight of coral reefs, and “hyperbolic crochet,” while touching on handicraft, mathematics, marine ecology, conservation activism, and collective artistic practice.
To learn more about the Institute for Figuring, you can check out the article we wrote in our newsletter.

crocheted coral reef

As someone who is also personally interested in coral reefs and their survivability, I also recently saw an article in The New York Times about some of the efforts being done to rebuild and sustain the reef community. One of these efforts is taking place in Delaware, where they are using old subway cars to create a thriving reef with trains taken from the New York City MTA. It’s very cool!

Five Tips from YarnCraft Podcast #12

April 15th, 2008

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In each episode of our podcast, YarnCraft, we feature a segment called “Stash This–Ideas for Your Crafting Life.” It’s a chance for me and my co-host Liz from our Design Department to share with you some interesting tips about knitting, crocheting, and yarncrafting.

In podcast episode about “Selling Your Knit/Crochet Items on Etsy & Tips on Customizing with Color,” our “Stash This” was about working with color, the meaning of colors, and personalizing patterns. Here are five tips from episode #12:

  1. Don’t be afraid to swap out colors in patterns. Make yourself a chart, noting which color you’ve used for each letter. For example, I might be making the Simple Earthy Squares Afghan, but want to swap out some of the colors. I would write at the top of my pattern to help me remember: Color A = Wood, Color B = Barley, etc.
  2. Choose colors that have personal or cultural meaning for you or your recipient (for example green is always popular for St. Patrick’s Day; red is considered lucky in many Asian cultures), and include a note with gifts that explains the color choices.
  3. Think about colors that look good with your skin-tone or your recipient’s skin-tone. Are you an “autumn” or a “spring”?
  4. A wonderful gift is a birthstone-colored afghan. Homespun is a great yarn for this purpose, because of its jewel-like tones. Take a simple afghan, perhaps one of our 5 1/2 hour afghans, and make it in a color that coordinates with your gift-recipient’s birth month.
  5. Personalize a project by making it in your or your gift recipient’s school or sports team colors.

YarnCraft Podcast

For more ideas, check out the podcast every other Tuesday by visiting, and tell us what are some ways you’ve used colors to personalize a project!