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.

Knitting Into Nature

August 15th, 2008

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There is so much creativity in the world of knitting and crochet, and sometimes we get to see amazing works of art that use these crafts. Back in May, we shared with you a preview of artist Amy Catarina’s exhibit, “This used to be real estate, now it’s only fields and trees.” Amy used Fun Fur to knit forest animals and patches of “grass,” all set in a room with photographic murals of the forest, that I find just enchanting. As promised in our first post, we have photos from the show:

Part of the exhibit

Amy Catarina at the exhibit

The exhibit is currently showing at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, California, and it will be there until August 24th, so if you’re in the area, definitely check it out. For more information, check out Amy’s website,

Related post:

What Would YOU Do?

August 14th, 2008

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Your oldest and dearest friend is about to celebrate one of those big birthdays that end in the number “0”. For the last 3 months you have been working on a gift for her. It’s made with a beautiful color of yarn–you found the exact shade of her favorite color and you’re putting a lot of love and time into making this one-of-a-kind gift by hand. You’re about to leave for the party and you hold the finished item up to the light to admire it one last time before you wrap it. Uh, oh, you see a mistake. It’s not a big hole but it is a visible (if you look closely) imperfection in the stitching of one of the rows that would take an extra day to fix.

What do you do? Do you give her the gift on her birthday with the recognition that mistakes do happen and are even acceptable or do you tell her you have knit or crochet this special gift but it isn’t ready in time for her birthday, feeling that it’s more important to make it perfect?

BK4K Has Fun with Food!

August 13th, 2008

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Delicious SandwichBK4K is our monthly kids’ newsletter that’s perfect for kids and the adults that craft with them, from parents and grandparents to teachers and scout leaders.

In this past month’s issue of BK4K we were inspired by summer picnics and the fun of make-believe. We shared patterns for a sandwich with knitted, crocheted, and spool-knitted “ingredients,” as well as a crafted drink can that you can personalize and fast to make carrot sticks.

Want more sandwich options? You can make all sorts of cold cuts and veggies for your sandwich simply by knitting or crocheting rectangles or circles in the colors you want and embroidering or using duplicate stitch to add details such as the seeds on a “hamburger bun.” Combine these items with our egg pattern and bacon pattern. If you like these patterns, look out for even more yarn foods later this fall!

For more great kid-friendly ideas each month, subscribe to BK4K. If you already have a Lion Brand account, you can simply add it by clicking on “My LBY”, and selecting it under “My Subscriptions.”

Blogging about Lion Brand

August 12th, 2008

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We found this post by a young mom who did some informal marketing research with her daughters to find out if they liked the Bebop Cardi. (This adorable cardigan was originally designed for Vanna White’s daughter, Giovanna.) The test subjects in question responded by squealing!

Cupcake – Sweet and Stylish

August 8th, 2008

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Cupcake YarnI generally believe that everything–whether tool, material, or method–has a purpose to which it is ideally suited. In my opinion, sewing is good for some things (dresses and bags), knitting works best for others (socks) and crochet is ideal for still others (amigurumi and afghans). And I think every yarn has unique characteristics that tell you what sort of project it should be.

Smooth, classic yarns (Vanna’s Choice, Fishermen’s Wool, Wool-Ease, and Lion Wool) are good for detailed, textural stitches, like the cables in the Tree of Life Afghan. Textured yarns like Homespun are usually soft, lightweight, and look great when knitted or crocheted at a slightly looser gauge – making them perfect for quick afghans, shawls, and scarves.

When we set out to design a new baby yarn, we used this line of thinking. We asked: what does a yarn need to make good baby afghans, hats, and sweaters?

  • Softness: 10 out of 10 babies agree: a baby yarn should be as soft as possible. (Or at least they would if babies could talk.)
  • Bouncy texture: Babies love to snuggle up in a cuddly blanket or sweater, and a project needs enough body to stand up to lots of love and wear!
  • Light weight: Don’t crush that baby under pounds of heavy yarn! A security blanket ought to be lightweight enough for year-round companionship.
  • Fast to knit or crochet – We all know that babies come on a pretty specific schedule, so being able to use big hooks or needles helps you finish projects on time.
  • Bright, Fun Colors – Lively colors celebrate the joy of being a kid.

We mixed all these different ingredients together and came up with: Cupcake. It’s super-soft; easy to use; looks great in simple stockinette, garter, or granny squares; is machine washable and dryable; and comes in fantastic colors. Whether you want to craft an Unsquared Afghan or a Sunny Side Up Hoodie, Cupcake is a wonderful choice.

Think Pink Cupcake PatternOf course, all rules are meant to be broken, and sometimes the real fun can start when you take a material and use it for a new purpose. Imagine our delight when we experimented and found out that our ideal baby yarn also makes flattering and comfortable fashion garments. The Sophisticated Options Cardigan and Scarf and the Half Moon Shawl are just two examples. I’m tempted to make a joke about sweet surprises here–after all, Cupcake does lends itself to punning. (See the Think Pink Cupcake for a visual example.)

So next time you’re looking to experiment with a new yarn, treat yourself to Cupcake.