Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for July, 2008

Vote on a Project for the Crochet-Along!

July 31st, 2008

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The Tree of Life Afghan Knit-Along was such a hit that we’re planning a crochet-along in August. Help us choose the project for this crochet-along by taking our quick and easy survey and telling us which of the following designs YOU want to make with us!

[Click here to take the survey.]

Yarn Adventures in New Hampshire

July 30th, 2008

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Last week, Jack and I drove up to Manchester, New Hampshire, for the Knit & Crochet Show and the Crochet Guild of America‘s Chain Link Conference. We arrived on Tuesday evening and took in a baseball game–the local minor league team, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats were playing the Trenton Thunder.

On Wednesday, the CGOA hosted Professional Development Day for crocheters who are or want to work in the field. Lion Brand was proud to sponsor this event, and I had a great time meeting crocheters from all over the country, and fans of the YarnCraft podcast, including one all the way from San Juan, Puerto Rico! Speaking of YarnCraft, while there, I interviewed Drew Emborsky (also known as the Crochet Dude), a designer and all around great guy who you’ll hear in our latest episode. I also interviewed quite a few other writers and designers–including Lily Chin, Margaret Hubert, Jean Leinhauser, and more. Interviews to follow in upcoming episodes.

Jack and I also went up to the mill that makes Homespun yarn, as it was pretty close to the convention center. In fact, the whole area used to have yarn and textile mills all over! The restaurant off of the convention center, JD’s Restaurant, actually had spinning wheels and old spools from the old mills. There’s even a mill museum in Manchester.

The Homespun mill is housed in a building that was built in 1864! (That’s it on the left.) It’s really amazing to see the various raw fibers and colors being spun into our various shades of Homespun. We’re really proud of the fact that Homespun is made in America in a place steeped with such a strong yarn history.

Back at the Knit & Crochet show, we walked the Market Preview, and I even appeared as a guest on writer and yarncrafter Mary Beth Temple’s podcast, Getting Loopy!

All in all, a great time. Want to check out the next Knit & Crochet Show, taking place in Portland, OR, in September? Maybe we’ll see you there!

Even Barbie Knits!

July 25th, 2008

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One of our associates, Lisa, in Accounting, collects Barbie Dolls and has this vintage “Knitting Barbie” in her office.

If you have Barbie dolls and would like to knit for them, pick up a copy of our friend, Nicky Epstein’s book.

Seen in the Yarniverse – Pizza as Scarf

July 24th, 2008

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I always love seeing the creative things that people do with Lion Brand yarns, whether it’s making something based on a pattern or doing something entirely out of the box–pizza box, in this case. Craftzine’s blog recently featured this great crocheted pizza scarf by Starcee. It’s crocheted out of Cotton-Ease and Vanna’s Choice, and it looks good enough to eat!

Want to show us what you’ve been making with our yarns? Add your projects to the Customer Gallery.

Make a Pattern – Rate a Pattern

July 23rd, 2008

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One of the great features of our Pattern Finder(R) is the feedback we get from people. You’ll find a wealth of information from people who have actually made the pattern and taken the time to write a detailed review along with a rating from 1 to 5 stars.

We invite you to participate in the rating process. You’ll be helping others by sharing the experience you have had making a pattern.

5 Loom-Knitting Patterns for Kids from YarnCraft #19

July 22nd, 2008

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YarnCraft is our 30-minute downloadable radio-show on all things yarn-related. To find out more about the show or to listen to episodes, visit the YarnCraft blog.

In episode 19, Working with Looms and More, we discussed loom-knitting and spool-knitting, and the benefits of these crafts. They’re great for people with joint pain, for whom knitting and crocheting might be too painful. They’re great for beginners who may find knitting and crocheting tough to get started on. They’re especially great for children, as an introduction to all the possibilities of yarn. Here are 5 kid-friendly patterns for various looms and spool-knitters:

  • Slouchy Leggings – This pattern uses the round Knifty Knitter (available at your local craft stores) and is great because it is a beginner pattern that’s perfect for introducing kids and teenagers to loom-knitting.
  • Sleeveless Turtleneck Top – A versatile top that’s perfect for teenagers, this pattern is easy to make with the Knitting Board, which allows you to create double-knit fabric.
  • Fair Isle Cap – For many people, color-work is easier on a loom than it is on hooks or needles because both hands are free to manipulate the yarn. This baby cap is a great way to practice loom-knitting.
  • Bee Bopper Bag – This great purse makes a great present. Practice color-work and shaping.
  • Hot Pads – Younger kids love playing with the spool-knitters because of the long strands of I-cord-like tubes they create. Whether you purchase a spool-knitter or make your own, learn to use it with our directions.

For more on knitting without needles and more, listen to the podcast [MP3].

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Lola–Not Your Average Knitter

July 18th, 2008

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Who is Lola, you ask? She’s a quick-witted, independent, grandmother with equally quick knitting needles. Twice a month, we feature Lola comic strips in the Lion Brand E-Newsletter, but she also stars in her own daily comic featured in 125 papers around the U.S.

Lola has a new book out–called Gimme a Break!–so we checked in with cartoonist Todd Clark to find out a little bit more about our favorite knitting grandma.

Lion Brand: How did you get started drawing/writing comics?
Todd Clark: I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember. My Mom was an awesome artist. My plan was to be the next Salvador Dali, but as soon as I got to college I realized my art skills were sorely lacking compared to others. I’d always been able to make people laugh, and could still draw these glorified stick figures, so I started telling everyone I was going to be a cartoonist. At some point I had to back up my claims. I had some great encouragement early on from some pretty big editors and got a few breaks writing jokes for some pretty well-known comic strips.

LB: Who or what inspired the character of Lola?
TC: Lola is based on my former partner Steve’s great-aunt Lola. She’s real. A WWII veteran and fantastic lady. The actual Lola is much sweeter than her comic strip alter ego. Steve and I did a book signing years ago in her hometown of Augusta, GA, and Lola came with us and sat at the table. It was very cool. She had contacted her entire church and they all came by. She wouldn’t let them get away with buying just one book. They all had to buy several.

LB: If Lola were to knit you something, what would you like it to be?
TC: I’d probably have her knit something for my little 4 year old girl, Rhiannon. If I was forced to choose for me, I’d have to say something blue and orange, maybe a scarf, the colors of my beloved Boise State University Broncos.

Want Lola in your inbox? Subscribe to the Lion Brand Weekly E-Newsletter, also featuring new patterns, book features, new stitches every week, and more.

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Popular Neuroscience Professor Uses Knitting to Teach Brain Science

July 18th, 2008

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Professor Ruth Grahn, of Connecticut College, explains the functions of different parts of the brain by using the example of how the act of knitting requires the motor cortex of the brain where finger and hand control is determined. She also uses knitting to explain brain plasticity, which means that the brain is capable of changing as a person gains experience and improves their skills.

I once met a woman who had suffered a stroke and was told that she may never be able to knit again–that with a great deal of physical therapy, she would be lucky to walk. She had been a very experienced knitter who enjoyed doing intricate patterns. She described how she was determined to painstakingly return to her knitting, taking up simpler, then more complex patterns and eventually experienced a full recovery. Her amazed doctor told her that he believed she was able to use knitting to “rewire her brain” and take back not only her knitting, but all her motor skills.

Tree of Life Afghan Knit-Along #6 – Tulip-Bud Border

July 16th, 2008

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Corinna and Moxie with the afghanToday I knitted the final Tulip-Bud Border repeat and sewed it in place. What a sense of accomplishment. The project took 2 months and had some challenging parts that improved my knitting and pattern reading skills. I’m glad to move on to a new project finally, but I had a great time knitting it.

The Tulip-Bud Border itself is really a great finishing touch. The minute I sewed it on, the afghan just looked amazing. The pattern is an 18 row repeat done on 2 needles so it went very quickly, and after a dozen or so repeats I was able to work without following the pattern, which just made it go faster. There are 2 ways to handle the border. You can knit the full length and then sew it onto the afghan, or sew it into place as you go. I liked the idea of knitting a few repeats and then sewing it in place as I went, since I wasn’t sure how many repeats were needed (and it felt like I was getting more done), but in the end, I chose to knit the full length and sew it on later, simply because this made the project portable. It’s so small that it’s a perfect project to work on during my daily commute. (In case you decide to do the border this way, the total number of repeats I needed was 77.)

I was also inspired, while doing the border, to use this same pattern as a border for the hem of a skirt. The only thing to change would be to use smaller needles and a thinner, finer yarn. I can’t wait!

I truly hope you all enjoyed this project, and that you all enjoy the finished product whether it is a gift or for your own home. I decided that mine would make the perfect engagement gift for my dear friends who are moving to a new home. There’s nothing like a handmade gift and this afghan and the intertwining trees just seemed perfect for a couple of great people who decided to share their lives (and their space) with each other. Maybe I’ll even wear a dress with a tulip bud hem to the wedding.

All the best, and Happy Knitting!

Vanna’s Choice Baby – Charming and Cheerful

July 14th, 2008

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Vanna's Choice BabyVanna’s Choice Baby is our collection of newest colors in the same weight and make-up as original Vanna’s Choice. When we introduced Vanna’s Choice, we heard from so many fans–including Vanna herself–who were using it for baby and children’s projects. People loved the weight, softness, and easy-care of the yarn, but were looking for additional kid-friendly colors. Our design team got to work creating a palette of fresh colors that complements trends in contemporary children’s fashion and furnishings. Brighter shades (like Cheery Cherry, Berrylicious, and Aqua) with unexpected accents (Chocolate Cake, anyone?) are the look of the day for even the littlest kids.

The colors are great for kid projects–as the name implies–but they were developed to coordinate with the ‘regular’ Vanna’s Choice colors, too. Since Vanna’s Choice Baby is the same weight and fiber content as Vanna’s Choice, you can substitute colors from either in patterns, or even combine them into one project. The Hipster Sweater is a great example of the striking results you can get with all the colors now available. Between Vanna’s Choice Baby and all of the Vanna’s Choice solids, prints, and mists there are 63 interchangeable colors!

Keep an eye on the website for new patterns in Vanna’s Choice Baby. We know people love the yarn for quick-to-finish afghans and toys, so there are some adorable projects in the works. The fall Lion Design catalog and the upcoming Giggles & Grins book, being published by Leisure Arts, will also feature great ideas and patterns for this fun yarn.