Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for August, 2008

Welcome to the Sampler Afghan Crochet-Along!

August 24th, 2008

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Crochet Sampler worked in Lion Organic Cotton

For the first Lion Brand crochet-along we gave you the opportunity to vote for one of three patterns. You’ve chosen the Crochet Sampler Afghan (click the name for the pattern), so it’s time to grab our hooks and jump on in! Depending on your level of experience there are a variety of challenges this simple project can offer.

For some, it’s the task of completing an entire blanket. Myself included! I often stick with smaller projects simply to better guarantee the chances I’ll finish. So I’m starting this CAL off with the vow that I will complete one Sampler Blanket by the end of our time together. Eep! You’ll have to help me stick to my promise! Luckily the pattern works up in simple blocks that can be taken in small steps and before we know it we have an entire blanket. And just in time for crisp fall nights!

For others the challenge may be learning to crochet. And this is a fine project to start with. If you are completely new to crochet, you can start off with the single crochet blocks and by the time you’ve finished them you’ll be ready to take on the double crochet blocks and then the cluster blocks. Don’t forget, the Learning Center is available to help you out.

We have many of you excited (or a bit nervous and certainly curious) about giving pattern reading a try. I can talk on this in more detail next week. For now I’ll simply say what you’ve likely heard already, reading a pattern is just like reading a recipe. Simply take it step by step and whenever you don’t understand the next step take a moment to look it up or ask questions. It will start making sense in no time!

Crochet Sampler AfghanAnd there are plenty more ways to find a challenge in this project. I have personally always had a hard time following a pattern to the letter and can’t resist encouraging others to color outside the lines if they wish. So in that vein there will be plenty of discussion about choosing yarns, resizing the blanket, and yes some more complicated stitch patterns if you want to add some different textures to your blanket.

So let’s get started! What kind of challenge do you want to take on with your Crochet Sampler Afghan? Pick your yarn and grab a hook!

The CAL starts now and I’m aiming to finish my afghan in about 6 weeks, but you can start when you’re ready and work at your own pace!

In the next CAL post I’ll talk about working with the pattern, choosing yarn, and I’ll share the simple changes I made for a doll sized version of the Crochet Sampler.

I’ll be posting about once a week. If you have any questions about how to participate in a crochet-along, check out these tips from this summer’s knit-along right here. If you use Flickr or Ravelry, don’t forget to join the Lion Brand Crochet Sampler Afghan CAL groups!

In the meantime, leave a comment and introduce yourself! What’s your skill level? What do you like to make? What are you most looking forward to for the CAL?

Blankets of Love for Fire Victims

August 22nd, 2008

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Debra (left) with the blanket given to the firehouse

Knitting and crochet are wonderful ways to reach out to others, whether you teach your craft to someone or you give handmade items to charity.

Last winter I was contacted by Debra Riesenberg (pictured left), the owner of the Labors of Love yarn shop in Fallbrook, Southern California. The area was devastated by forest fires last fall. Deb’s home, as well as the homes of her mother and aunt who also work at her store were fine, but there were so many people who had been left homeless. She decided to give handmade blankets to those who had lost so much, and she recruited people from the community to help. Deb took the money her store had made the month before and bought almost 400 skeins of Vanna’s Choice to give to volunteers to knit and crochet into squares for afghans. She also contacted me, and Lion Brand was happy to help such a worthy cause.

Over 200 knitters and crocheters, including new stitchers, blind stitchers, and a group of stitchers at a nursing home, worked on these “blankets of love.” Deb, her mother Jean Trygstad, and her aunt Anne Klentz worked to assemble them. The recipients of these blankets, including the local firehouse, were extremely touched by the beautiful blankets.

As an added bonus, several publishers were at Deb’s “blanket reception” and she now has a book of patterns out, inspired by the blankets of love, called Knit-A-Block: Quilts and Afghans.

Saving Crochet Swatches for Posterity

August 21st, 2008

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We noticed this post about how to save pieces of antique crochet–or even your favorite new design and color work, by embedding the swatch in resin. You can then make them into jewelry or other mementos.

5 Tips on Publishing Your Patterns from YarnCraft episode #21

August 19th, 2008

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Many knitters and crocheters come up with their own designs. In episode #21 of our half-hour radio show, YarnCraft, we talked about sharing your patterns with others, whether online or in print. Here are five tips from the show:

1. Self-publishing online: If you’ve shared a pattern on your blog or website, it’s “published” and protected by standard copyright law. If you want to share it with a broader audience than just the visitors to your site, link to it on communities like and so that more knitters and crocheters can find out about it. You can also share your pattern directly on, where you can create a pattern page and post the pattern as a PDF. It also allows you to share it with a bigger audience than you might otherwise be able to. Ravelry and other web communities are also a great place to engage other people and encourage them to check out your designs. You can also publicize it by sharing it with the groups you belong to or by submitting it to sites like that feature projects from all over the internet.

2. Submit your pattern to web sites like and, which list free patterns on the site. Or submit your pattern for a chance to be included in the knitting and crochet Calendar-a-Day collections. These are great opportunities to put your patterns out there.

3. Sell your pattern on websites like Etsy. You can offer more original or complex patterns for sale by either e-mailing the pattern to customers once they’ve paid you or sending them pre-printed designs in the mail. If you build a following for your patterns, you could also go to local yarn shops and see if they will carry your pattern in their stores. Even the Lion Design catalog features some paid patterns from designers.

4. Submit your pattern to magazines & online magazines. Each online magazine has its own guidelines and deadlines, so make sure your timing is right and that the project you are submitting fits the needs of the magazine. Many magazines work months ahead of the season, so if you submit a Halloween pattern in October, it’s too late. Also, make sure your work fits the style of the magazine. A pattern that might work for one magazine might not be right for another one. Don’t forget online magazines like and, which also take submissions.

5. If you’re submitting your pattern, try to standardize the way you write your patterns according to the style of the publication. This will make it easier for the publication to use your pattern. Use standard abbreviations and check out the Craft Yarn Council’s yarn standards for sizing and other information guidelines.

For more tips on this and other subjects, listen to this podcast [MP3] or check out the YarnCraft blog.

Knitting at an Orphanage in Peru

August 18th, 2008

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This guest post is from Erik, who handles international sales at Lion Brand.

My daughter, Blake recently returned from Peru, South America, where she volunteered at a children’s orphanage in the ancient city of Cusco near legendary Macchu Picchu. I wanted to share some of her photos of the young children. She experienced first-hand the sense the pleasure of giving by enhancing the kids’ basic learning steps. In the town of Cusco, where she stayed, she also had the unique experience of seeing local Peruvian yarn made.