Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for May, 2008

Introducing Kids to Yarn Early

May 30th, 2008

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Over at the YarnCraft podcast, we had an episode all about teaching kids to knit and crochet that got great response from our listeners. Sharyn, a 2nd grade teachers, shared with us these pictures of her students’ weavings.

I listened with interest to your recent podcast regarding kids and yarn. I’m a second grade teacher. Everyday after lunch, while I’m reading to them, my students finger crochet chains and then weave the chains on simple cardboard looms to create wall hangings, doll blankets, etc. Some even sew the weavings together to create small blankets or purses.

Attached are some photos of their current works. We can’t seem to keep yarn in the classroom, so we weave with whatever is available, even plastic shopping bags. As you can tell by the “color scheme,” the students will use whatever yarn is available.

All my students weave, both boys and girls. This is a practical skill, where they make something “real.” They also develop the fine motor skills that they need for writing and keyboarding. Keeping their hands busy means that their hands are not being used for teasing other students!

I remember doing this activity back in elementary school too, and it’s why I still have a soft-spot for weaving and why I’m so happy to share Sharyn’s pictures with you!

Want to weave with your kids too? Grab a piece of cardboard (the piece leftover when you finish a notepad is a good thickness) and cut notches into it at even intervals, both at the top and bottom. Wrap yarn around the board, putting the strand into each notch, and secure the ends with a piece of tape on the back of the board. The kids can weave the yarn back and forth on a bobbin, or you can also just cut pieces of yarn that are the width of the board and let them weave each strand individually (this method leaves a fun fringe around the edges). When they’re done, you cut the strands across the back, and tie every two or three strands together, forming a fringe at the top and bottom.

For more ideas for using yarn with your kids, check out YarnCraft – we’ll be having another episode on the subject in a few weeks. The YarnCraft podcast is a 30 minute bi-weekly audio program that you can listen to online or download – learn how to subscribe here.

Related posts:
5 Tips for Crafting with Kids from YarnCraft #13

Using the StitchFinder

May 29th, 2008

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StitchFinder: Simple Eyelet Diamond

Each week, we feature a “stitch of the week” in our e-newsletter. So far we’ve featured basic knit stitches, knit cable stitches, crochet blocks, and crochet stitches. You can find all of these featured stitches and more in the StitchFinder.

Note: Each of these patterns can be used with any yarn that you like. The photos just show an example of what it might turn out to look like, but any yarn and any hook or needles that you’d like to use with that yarn (try the recommended hook or needle size, and go up or down depending on how it feels to you) will be fine.

So you looked through the StitchFinder and you’ve found a stitch that you like. Now what?

Try it out! You could make a few samples of different stitches to put on your inspiration board. You could even use them as coasters. You could take four cotton samples and seam them together to create a washcloth. Sew a few samples together in a row and create a scarf.

If you’re feeling a little braver, use them to create scarves or afghans in one continuous piece. First determine the width you’d like your project to be. Then determine your gauge, using your selected yarn and hook/needle size. Stitches per inch x desired width=number of chains/number to cast on. Just remember to begin with the correct stitch multiple (which may cause you to have to readjust your desired width slightly).

If you’re more advanced, incorporate the stitch patterns into a project. Take that stitch you like to embellish a plain afghan or to make a border on a jacket. You could also use the stitch pattern in a pattern for a scarf or an afghan you already have that uses, for example, plain single crochet or straight garter stitch.

Consider this new stitch pattern to be a great addition to your store of knitting or crocheting skills. There’s no limit to what you could do with these patterns.

Teaching Each Other to Crochet at Lion Brand

May 28th, 2008

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Hi, I’m Laquana Booker and I work in the Accounting Department of our corporate offices Carlstadt, New Jersey. That magical day I learned how to crochet happened sometime right before Christmas and lunchtime was much more social and festive around that time of the year. It was another day in the break room and a co-worker of mine, Rose, was working on a beautiful throw blanket for her son. Another co-worker’s (Luisa) daughter Julia was visiting our office and during our conversation at lunch Julia and I wanted to learn how to crochet. Shortly after learning the basics of crocheting, Julia and I were in competition to see who could crochet the most in the least time. So I can say that crocheting started for me as a competition with a 12 year old, but shortly grew to become something I genuinely love.

My background is in accounting so to do this kind of crafty stuff is unheard of but I immediately was ready for my first official project. I decided to do a blanket with Lion Wool and once I started I couldn’t stop. A week later it was finished, Rose suggested I trim it with Vanna’s Choice Antique Rose yarn, and it was finally done. I’ve had many requests from my friends and family to have my MASTERPIECE but you can bet your bottom dollar it is staying with me.

Special Thanks to Rose DeMartino for teaching me how to crotchet; I will never forget her for that!

Indiana Jones and the Knitter

May 28th, 2008

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Did you know that Karen Allen, Harrison Ford’s costar in the new Indiana Jones movie is a knitter? The 56-year-old actress has been a knitter since the age of 5. She now owns her own fiber arts studio in Massachusetts where she designs her own scarves, hats, sweaters and shawls. She teaches knitting at Bard College and has also taught at the Kripalu center.

5 Problems Solved by Gauge from YarnCraft Episode #15

May 27th, 2008

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On the YarnCraft podcast, our bi-weekly audio show, we cover topics from common questions to tips on gift ideas. In YarnCraft episode #15, we devoted the episode to answering questions sent in by listeners like you! My co-host Liz and I were joined by Jackie Smyth, technical editor here at Lion Brand, who helped us answer the following questions:

  1. Why is my project is too big/too small?
  2. Why don’t my stitch patterns look like the photo?
  3. Why doesn’t my edging, crochet block, etc lie flat?
  4. Why didn’t I have enough yarn/why did I have lots of leftover yarn?
  5. Why doesn’t my crochet/knit fabric look like the photo?

The answer to ALL of these questions is often gauge. Gauge will affect the size of your pattern; it will affect the way your fabric looks; wrong gauge can cause your fabric to misbehave and curl.

So what is gauge? Gauge is the term that is used to define the proper tension you should work your piece in order to make sure that your piece’s dimensions will match up to those specified in a pattern. It’s usually given as stitches by rows versus the measurement that they should create (say 18 sts by 24 rows over 4 by 4 inches).

To make a gauge swatch, knit or crochet a piece that’s at least 4 inches by 4 inches in the stitch specified by the gauge section of the pattern. Then compare your stitches and rows to the number specified by the pattern to make 4 inches in both directions. The key here is that you do NOT have to adjust how tightly you knit or crochet.

If you have too few stitches and rows, use a smaller hook/smaller needles and remake your swatch. If it’s correct, then you should use this new hook/needle size. If you have too many stitches/rows, go up a hook/needle size and remake your swatch. Again, if it’s now correct, then use this new needle/hook size. If it’s still too many stitches, adjust your needle/hook size again. For a more in-depth guide on gauge, visit our website for knit gauge and crochet gauge instructions.

For more tips, ideas, and inspiration from individual podcast episodes, visit the YarnCraft Podcast Blog.

Amazing Art with Fun Fur

May 23rd, 2008

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Fun Fur Pseudo-Sod Car by Amy Caterina

We were contacted by Amy Caterina, an artist who uses Fun Fur in her amazing sculptural pieces. She is currently working on an exhibit at the Grand Central Art Center at the California State University, Fullerton. When we saw how amazing her sculptures were, we knew we had to get involved.

Born in Niagara Falls, NY, Amy received her MFA at CSUF in 2002 in photography. In early 2005, Amy started knitting and gave birth to the Pseudo-Sod, a series that quickly emerged as a major component in her evolving oeuvre of mixed media installations. She was selected to be the artist-in-residence at the Huntington Beach Art Center in conjunction with the exhibition “MANufacture”; during her residency she displays mixed media knitted “grass” (made with Fun Fur) covered deer and moose, beside four cemetery plot sized sections of “grass.” The Pseudo-Sod car cover [above] was also featured in 2005 for the first time and presented in various locations throughout Orange County.

Fun Fur Sculptures in progressAmy Caterina is currently the artist-in-residence at the CSUF Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, California, and will open her first solo exhibition entitled, “This used to be real estate, now it’s only fields and trees,” on July 5, 2008.

Amy was kind enough to send us some photos of the progress she’s made so far on this exhibition [right]. She’s got quite a few of these furry woodland creatures in the works, and they’re really coming along! Talk about amazing uses of Fun Fur!

We’ll update you as Amy gets closer to the opening of her exhibition.

1,000 Knitters Project

May 22nd, 2008

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1,000 Knitters is a photography project developed by Franklin Habit, a Chicago photographer and knitter. He is in the process of creating individual portraits of 1,000 people knitting the same scarf. Some of them are famous knitters and authors, but most of the photographs are of individual knitters who will ultimately become part of a beautiful work of art.

According to the web site “the goal is to celebrate through portraiture a creative community whose members have historically been either overlooked or sentimentalized, and whose work is often undervalued.” Franklin started photographing the series in July 2007. At the end of the project, he hopes to create a book or an exhibit, or both.

Tree of Life Knit-Along #2 – Twin Trees

May 21st, 2008

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Tree of Life Knit-Along BadgeLast Sunday was a bright and sunny day and I jumped at the chance to sit on my roof overlooking downtown Manhattan and start my spring afghan project. It’s calm, quiet and feels like a private oasis in the center of a busy city. Whenever I start a project as large as this, I try to take my time and read through the pattern in advance, as well as double-checking my cast on. It’s so easy to miss 1 or 2 cast on stitches, when you are working with 180 stitches, and even 1 stitch too few will throw your whole pattern off.

A great thing to remember when tackling a challenging project is to not get overwhelmed by the size of it, but break it down into simple components, section by section and row by row. When setting up, remember that in this project, the right side of the work will have a purled background and the trees will pop out of that because they are knitted, so your right side rows will begin with a purl stitch.

The trees are beautiful, with their twining branches, and do take some concentration, but the pattern chart is simple to follow if you can keep track of what row you are on. I suggest using a post-it to cover the rows already completed. The row directly above the post-it, is the row I am currently working on. Where M1 increases are used on the trunks of the trees, be sure to make them knitwise, as stated in the pattern,

The cables that make the branches twist as if waving in the wind are quick and easy once you’ve done one or two. Even if this is your very first cable project, you CAN do this!

Lion Staff Stories – Marlene’s Daughter

May 20th, 2008

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Marlene smiles as she holds a picture painted by her daughter who wants to be a knitter

Marlene, a sales associate, wrote this guest post about her daughter:

I guess those days off from school when my 6 year old daughter Amanda has come to the office to visit has made a lasting impression. She was asked at school to write an autobiography about herself and what she wants to be when she grows up. Well I was surprised when I read, “When I grow up I want to be a knitter. I will make blankets. I am special because I like to make scarves.” She then complimented her work with a drawing of me teaching her how to knit. I guess in looking at the picture you can figure I am the one with the big smile on my face.

Seen in the Yarniverse: Knitting the Ones You Love

May 16th, 2008

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How far would you go to remember your beloved pets? Some people create elaborate memorials to best give tribute to their best companions. One married couple in England took it one step further, by knitting their pets’ fur into garments. The Cleveland Plain Dealer had readers email their local Dog Lady about the practice with comments. The English couple who had knit their two pets into jumpers had heard about the process through their dog breeders, and now have keepsakes of their best two companions.

Even Martha Stewart creates items out of her dog Paw Paw. In a segment of her February 14 show, she showed the care she takes of her dog, and how she is interested in knitting a keepsake using a skein of Paw Paw’s fur yarn. She personally uses a local company VIP Fibers to spin the fur.

What do you think about this process? Have any of you tried using your dogs’ or pets’ fur to create a keepsake?