Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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The Beauty of Homespun

May 8th, 2008

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Homespun is one of those iconic yarns Lion Brand is known for, so people might be surprised to find out that it was “born” in 1997. I know it surprised me when I started at Lion Brand – I assumed Homespun must have been around forever!

Homespun started when David saw a unique yarn woven into a throw blanket. He thought, with a few modifications, that it would be ideal for hand-knitting and crochet. Lion Brand worked with the mill for over two years to perfect the yarn and the original set of 9 colors.

Homespun tudorspin-11.jpg

When we introduced it, the yarn became a sensation. It was totally different from anything else on the market–softer, silkier, and with a wide variety of color effects. It’s also a great weight (CYCA #5 – Bulky). So many crocheters and knitters tell us that they love how quickly they finish projects when they use Homespun. Many charity groups have embraced using Homespun in Prayer or Comfort shawls, because of its soft feel, easy care, and affordability. In 2005, we released a book with Leisure Arts featuring different prayer shawls to knit and crochet. It was so well received; we’re working on a second one now, due to be released in late 2008.

Homespun, Prayer shawl, Meadow

Homespun got an unexpected boost in popularity when we released a pattern for a Homespun poncho designed to look like the one Martha Stewart wore when she left prison. Three years later, it is still one of the most downloaded patterns on our site (out of almost 2,000 total patterns).

About a year ago, we visited the beautiful, historic mill in New England where Homespun is made. Built in 1864, the mill has run on hydro-generated power since 1915 and has such a feeling of textile history. Around the time of this first visit, I was teaching myself how to make yarn on a home spinning wheel (a project still very much in progress)–I was amazed at the similarities between home spinning, and the way Homespun is produced.

The first step in making Homespun begins with dyeing the raw fiber into over 50 individual shades. These shades are then blended together into a sliver, ready for spinning. The colored fiber can be blended in various ways – with one dominant color and 2 or 3 coordinating accents for a Heathered Solid; with 3 or 4 contrasting colors for a Tweed; or with up to 8 colors in a shifting pattern that created the subtle, variegated stripes in our Painterly colors.

We were so inspired by our visit; Lion Brand collaborated with Leisure Arts on a book of patterns with a story on the mill and beautiful photos of the blending and spinning process. You won’t believe the bright shades of fiber that combine to make the earthy hues of Prairie!

HOmespun Mill

  • Grace

    It was the Coming Home Poncho that introduced me to Lion Brand. That poncho was my first crochet project and I was immensely proud of myself when I completed it in 2 weeks.

  • KarenAK

    I love Homespun yarn, and have knit and crocheted many, many shawls, scarves and afghans with it. The recipients love the softness and the beautiful colors.

  • http://bellasartes.blogspot.com ET

    I love the shawl pictured. Do you have a pattern for that? Thanks!

  • Zontee

    Hi ET, the shawl pictured is called the Comfort Shawl and it’s a free pattern. Click here for the pattern.

  • T2

    I love the colors of Homespun, but the one time I worked with it I kept splitting the yarn (putting my needle through it by accident). It’s absolutely beautiful, so any advice on how to work with this yarn would be appreciated.

  • http://lazytcrochet.blogspot.com/ Tricia/LazyTcrochet

    T2 – I like working with a big hook or needles when using homespun. It’s easier to work with and less likely to split. This is one of my favorite yarns! So many beautiful colors too.

  • Sue

    I have been using the homespun holiday collection. It is beautiful in color, but to work with it crocheting is a nightmare. Of course you can use big hooks or if knitting larger needles, but if the pattern calls for a smaller size then you are in big trouble. I also do not like the way the yarn unwinds after cutting making it very difficult to weave in the ends. It leaves little fuzzies sticking out and does not make for a nice finished project. The yarn is wonderfully soft and snuggly and I really didn’t have a problem knitting. Any other suggestions.

  • Eric

    I agree the stuff is impossible to work with. I tried to use the holiday version and the inner thread gets pulled unevenly relative to the main part of the yarn.  The only way I can get it to not fray when cut is to use a flame to melt the end, which makes little hard nubs in the finished product. Also, maybe because I knit tightly, The stuff gets pulled so tight you can NOT knit with it without splitting it.  Also, the fact it’s 100% acryllic makes it cause rope-burn like irritation on my fingers.