Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for May, 2008

How to Knit Along with Us

May 15th, 2008

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Tree of Life Knit-Along BadgeWe’re so excited that over 25,000 of you have read about our first knit-along of the Tree of Life Afghan and that over 200 of you have commented. Since many people have mentioned that they are new to knit-alongs, we wanted to go over some basics of the knit-along with you.

So how do I join the knit-along?
Just download the pattern, pick up your supplies either at your local store or on our website, and start knitting! No need to sign up or anything. Just read the posts and share your thoughts with other participants.

How often will you update?
For this knit-along, Corinna will be updating the community every two weeks on her progress, but you can knit at your own pace! Knit-alongs are all about helping each other through a project, so we want to hear from you!

How do I share my thoughts or questions?
As you’re working, share your questions with other knitters by adding a comment (click on the “comments” button at the bottom of each post), and if you have an answer for someone else, a suggestion, or just an anecdote, share it with us too! If you’re responding to someone else’s comment, it’s helpful to include their name and/or comment number, so we know what you’re referring to.

Please read others’ comments! Someone might have already asked/answered the question you have, or maybe you can answer someone else’s question! It’s all about helping each other!

How do I share photos of my progress?
If you have a blog or an account on a photo service, feel free to store your pictures there and just include a link to your photos in a comment. If you are a Flickr user, tag your photos “lion brand,” “tree of life” and join our Flickr pool! Flickr has a great explanation of how to add your photo to a photo pool. (Note: all links appear in orange on the Lion Brand Notebook, so if something is orange, you can click on it!)

Can I invite my knitting group to join?
Absolutely! This knit-along is all about building community. Feel free to invite your friends. If you have a blog, pick up the badge above (Right-click the badge and “Save image as” to save it to your computer — Ctrl+click and “Save image as” on Macs) and add it to your blog, so that your friends can see it too.

Again, I just want to welcome everyone who’s participating! See you next Wednesday for Corinna’s next post!

BK4K celebrates spring!

May 15th, 2008

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Daffodil Pencil
In addition to our weekly e-newsletter, we also have a monthly newsletter for kids and those who craft with them. It’s a great source of inspiration for kids, teens, parents, girl- and boyscout leaders, camp counselors and more. BK4K (By Kids for Kids) features beginner and easy knit and crochet projects.

In this past month’s issue, our patterns were inspired by spring. We featured the daffodil pencil (shown above), an easy, breezy headband, and a charming flower coin purse. These projects are great ways to practice simple knit and crochet stitches, and they’re perfect for the warmer months.

For more great kid-friendly ideas, subscribe to BK4K. If you have a Lion Brand account, you can simply add it by visiting the “My Account” page, and selecting it under “Subscriptions.”

Yarn is Everywhere!

May 15th, 2008

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There are billboards all over New York city for a company called Manhattan Storage. They’re always interesting and often provactive. The current ad feature knitting and reads, “Maybe we make storage too easy.”

Manhattan storage

I’ve been wanting to get a photo of one but driving down the Westside Highway at 50 mph. makes that pretty difficult. I saw this one on the subway. I was still still in motion so it’s a bit shaky…but you get the idea.

I’m Going on the Road and I’d Like to Meet You!

May 14th, 2008

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I may have missed my chance to become a stand up comedian when I joined the family business, but over the last year I’ve made personal appearances at knitting guilds in the New York, Connecticut and New Jersey area. I love talking to people who use our yarn, sharing some “inside” information, showing our garments and answering questions. I’m always looking to test out new material and willing to go on the road, so if you have 50 or more knitters or crocheters who will attend a talk, let me know and I’ll try to schedule a visit . You can reach me at

Here’s a video montage of me visiting the Bergen Knitter’s Guild:

5 Spring Projects from YarnCraft Episode #14

May 13th, 2008

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In each episode of our podcast, YarnCraft, we feature a segment called “Stash This–Ideas for Your Crafting Life.” As I’ve mentioned before, 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 this episode, our focus was on combining knit and crochet, but in Stash This, we discussed great projects for warm weather. Here is just a sampling of the projects we discussed:

  1. Crochet Market Bag in Lion Organic CottonMarket Bag – We featured a few different carrier bag patterns in Lion Cotton and Cotton-Ease that are great for carrying your groceries, going to the beach, or just running errands.
  2. Bauhaus Washcloths – Washcloths are always reliable warm-weather projects because they are portable and useful.
  3. Cropped Raglan Sweater – Light, layering pieces are great for the transition from cool to warm weather. This cropped sweater is just charming and Cotton-Ease or Lion Cotton can be substituted for the specified Lion Organic Cotton.
  4. Naturally Classic Vest – I think this vest is great for both boys and girls because of its simple lines and neutral colors, plus it’s a good way to keep your kids warm at a time when they might not want to wear their jackets.
  5. Lace Socks from the Lion Brand Just Socks book – Socks are a great project because they’re small and easy to carry, but just in case you’re no longer in the mood for thick, wool socks, the Just Socks book has some fantastic lace sock patterns that keep sock-making interesting, but more spring-appropriate.

YarnCraft Podcast

For more ideas, check out the podcast every other Tuesday by visiting or search our Pattern Finder, and tell us about your current spring projects!

Teaching 200 people to knit and crochet at Maker Faire

May 9th, 2008

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Last weekend I attended Maker Faire at the San Mateo fairgrounds near San Francisco. Maker Faire is an amazing event for do-it-yourselfers. It’s a family oriented event where everyone from little children to grandparents can interact with and experiment with everything from circuit boards to crochet amigurumi. The atmosphere is fun and the energy is great.

We have been one of the sponsors of this event for the last couple of years. This year at our booth we taught about 200 people to knit and crochet. What a thrill it was for me to see the looks on peoples’ faces when they learned to craft with yarn!

The icing on the cake was that our booth won the Editor’s Choice blue ribbon. And. . . speaking of cake, we offered a workshop on making yarn cakes. It was great fun to see even young children walk out of the booth with smiles on their faces and a finished slice of cake in their hands after working on it for less than an hour. Keep an eye out for our newsletter where we will announce the new patterns for these cakes.

Sweaters for Chickens

May 9th, 2008

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chicken sweaters

This is for real! Brigitte Hawley, from Benenden, in Kent, England decided to care for gave the four chickens rescued from the Battery Hen Welfare Trust. She knit them sweaters to help them survive the cold winter and called her creations the “chux tux.” In the end, not only was her altruistic deed rewarded by healthy chickens, but she won a national knitting contest!

View the original article at BBC.

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

Don’t try this at home

May 7th, 2008

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According to this article, doctors are using size 7 crochet hooks in a new surgical procedure to remove varicose veins.

Tree of Life Knit-Along #1

May 7th, 2008

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Tree of Life Knit-along badge

UPDATE: Thanks for your comments on this Knit-Along suggesting that the pattern be free. We are offering this pattern free until 6/1/08 for anyone who would like to join the Knit-Along. Please click on the image above to get the pattern.

In need of a good spring project, I decided on the Tree of Life afghan designed by Nicky Epstein. The pattern was originally written for Lion Brand in Wool-Ease but I thought I’d give it a try in Fishermen’s Wool, in Natural, which is a great airy off-white. The Twin Trees and Flower Garden patterns that make up the design inspired me that by the time I’m finished, the weather will actually be perfect for a day in the park.

After doing a quick swatch, the gauge worked out perfectly, with 18sts to every 4 inches, so I’m off to a pretty good start. (For more information on gauge, listen to this week’s YarnCraft podcast episode.)

tree of life Knit-along badge

I hope you’ll join me for this group knit-along as we work on this classic pattern, a long-time favorite for over 10 years, together. I’ll be sharing my progress every two weeks, and I hope you’ll ask questions, comment, and share your progress too.

Feel free to use the knit-along badge above on your blog. (Right-click the image — or Ctrl+click on Macs — and select “Save As” to save it to your computer.)