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.