Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for October, 2008

The Lion Brand Yarn Studio – A Sneak Peek

October 30th, 2008

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Here in New York, we’ve all been really excited as we get ready for the Lion Brand Yarn Studio’s grand opening on November 18th. It has also been great to see all of the buzz from knitters and crocheters online too!

For all of you who can’t wait for the Studio to open, here’s just a little sneak peek into the space:

That’s not all though! Can’t wait until November 18th? Lion Brand Notebook aficionados and E-Newsletter subscribers are invited to two EXCLUSIVE preview days! Come visit the Studio BEFORE the general public!

November 9th, from 12 pm to 5 pm

November 13th, from 12 pm to 7 pm

Click here and print out your admittance ticket, redeemable for a special gift when you come for the preview days!

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Lola Halloween Contest Winners

October 30th, 2008

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Almost 3,000 of you submitted funny, quirky, and clever captions for our Lola Halloween Contest. We enjoyed reading them so much that we couldn’t pick just one first place winner, so we are happy to announce TWO winners!


Cindy of Ocala, FL:

Suzanne of Parrish, FL:

Both ladies will each get a $100 gift certificate for use on the Lion Design catalog and!


I know I may not look at it, but I am definitely “sport-weight,” so no snide comments!
– Debora of Eatontown, NJ

Gimme that candy! I’ve got a concealed knitting needle and I ain’t afraid to use it!
– Irma of Cypress, TX

It’s as close to looking like Vanna as I’m going to get!
– Jessica of Cincinnati, OH

I’m just not thin enough to dress as a knitting needle.
– Debra of Middletown, RI

I promised the neighborhood I wouldn’t knit my costume this year…
– Lyz of Marshall, MN

All the honorable mentions will receive a copy of Lion Brand Vintage Styles for Today!

Congratulations to all of the winners, and thank you to everyone who participated! Just a reminder that in the case of duplicate submissions, only the first person to submit the caption was eligible to win.

Want Lola in your mailbox? Subscribe to our E-Newsletter and get Lola every other week!

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How to Crochet a Basic Beanie

October 29th, 2008

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My approach to most of my knitting and crocheting projects is to design it myself and to play it by ear — I like knowing the gist of how to make something, so that I can make my own version, customized to my needs. Earlier this month, I wrote about how to knit a basic hat. In today’s post, I’m going to give you directions for crochet a basic beanie. Of course, as with all things, there is more than one way to do it, but I think that these directions will give you a good basis.

You will need:

  • 1 skein of your favorite yarn (Jiffy, Vanna’s Choice, Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, and Fishermen’s Wool are all great choices)
  • Crochet hook in your preferred size (see step 2 below for more details)

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Measure around the head, above the ears, of the person who the hat is for and write down how many inches around their head your hat will need to be. (If you can’t measure their head–it’s for a gift or they’re not available–estimate based on your own head size.)
  2. Crochet a gauge swatch in single crochet to find out how many stitches per inch you get with the hook and yarn you are using. (If you’re not sure what size hook to use, start with the size recommended on your yarn’s ball-band, and adjust up or down a size if you want a tighter or looser fabric.)
  3. Multiply the number of stitches per inch you found in step #2 by the circumference of the head (from step #1); then multiply this number by 2/3 (or 0.66) and round to the nearest number. (You do this so that your hat will fit snugly against the head and not be too loose.) Save this final number for later.
  4. To start the hat, you’ll need to crochet a circle, using joined rounds. If you’ve never done this before, don’t worry. A little practice and you’ll be a pro. To do this, chain 2. Single crochet (sc) 6 times into the second chain from the hook, slip stitch (sl st) into the first stitch to close the circle. Now you have your first round, a tiny circle with 6 stitches.
  5. For your second round, chain 1, sc 2 times into each single crochet, and sl st into the beginning of the round. Now you have a circle with 12 stitches.
  6. For your third round, chain 1, *sc 2 times into the first sc, then sc 1 time into the next sc, repeat from * to the end of the round. Sl st int the first stitch. Now you have a circle with 18 stitches.
  7. For the next round, chain 1, *sc 2 times into the first sc, then sc 1 time into the next 2 sc, repeat from * to the end of the round. Sl st int the first stitch.
  8. This next round chain 1, *sc 2 times into the first sc, then sc 1 time into the next 3 sc, repeat from * to the end of the round. Sl st int the first stitch.
  9. Are you starting to see the pattern? For each consecutive round, the number of single crochets in bold above increases by one. (So the next round will be sc 1 time into the next 4 sc, then the next 5 sc, etc.)
  10. Continue in this pattern until the number of stitches you have in your round is equal to (or very close to) the number you wrote down in step #3.
  11.  Now, for each of the following rounds, you will chain 1, sc in every sc to the end of the round, sl st to join. Do this until your hat is deep enough for you/your recipient’s hat.
  12. Then fasten off and weave in your ends.

Following these steps, you get a solid hat, similar to the one above. A hat like this is also good for practicing working in the round, which is useful for many of our amigurumi animals.

The great thing about a basic pattern like this is that you can do so much with it. Make stripes instead of only using one color. Switch out the single crochets for half-double crochets or double-crochets. Alternate stitch patterns. Add a pom-pom on top. Add earflaps. Cross-stitch a design on top of your basic hat. You could even use these steps to create a beret by making the base circle larger than the circumference of your head , then decreasing until you get to the circumference of your head (that you wrote down in step #3), and then working a band in a contrasting stitch pattern for the brim.

Now that you have the basic tools, get creative and make the hat that you’ve always wanted!

Of course, we always have many great hat patterns for knitters, crocheters, and loom-knitters available on, for those who prefer traditional patterns. (You can also click on the Wool-Ease Thick & Quick hat pictured above, if you’d like that exact pattern.)

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5 Fast-to-Make Toys from the Latest Episode of YarnCraft

October 28th, 2008

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In the most recent episode of our audio-podcast, YarnCraft, my co-host Liz and I chat about great toys for kids of every age, as well as toys for our furry friends. We also share an interview with Nicky Epstein, who tells us all about her love of knitting and crocheting for Barbie! Click here to listen [MP3].

Here’s a sneak peak at 5 fast patterns we discuss in the episode:

  1. Bunny Blanket – For a baby shower or a holiday gift, this item is a fast-finish project to knit or crochet.
  2. Amigurumi Gnome – A great “gag gift,” our friendly garden gnome is a gift with a sense of humor, and will only take an afternoon to finish.
  3. Best Bunny – Perfect for small hands, this little crochet rabbit will be a great companion for any child.
  4. Doll Hat & Muff – Classic and charming, this knit set is perfect for the little girl (or girl at heart) who still loves dolls.
  5. Amigurumi Doughnut – These darling sweets are calorie free, but make fun and whimsical favors.

And join us next Tuesday for our next episode, when we talk about great gift ideas for the holiday season!

Christmas Tree Made of Yarn

October 27th, 2008

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Jacqueline, a knitting friend from Arizona, sent us this picture of a Pom Pom Tree that was inspired by the Pom Pom rug on the cover of our Fall 2008 catalog (shown below).  She donated the yarn and the Pom Pom maker to residents of a nursing home in France, and they came up with this idea.

Instructables Craft Skill Contest Winners

October 27th, 2008

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The Instructables Craft Skills Contest was so much fun! There were tons of amazingly creative entries ranging from furniture to lighting to notebooks to the yarncrafts. Congratulations to the winner, SFHandyman, for his great Instructable on multi-strand finger loop braiding. You know, you could even use this technique to make friendship bracelets, ropes, belts, and so much more! Try it with Wool-Ease Thick and Quick for a totally different way to create a scarf or belt*!

The contest also received some great yarncrafting entries. Check out the tutorials on knitting cables, knitting picot edges, felting, changing yarn when crocheting, and making stitch markers. A really funny one is on how to crochet a mustache hat costume, with Homespun yarn!

If you enjoyed those entries, don’t forget that you still have time to enter the DIY Halloween Contest going on now at!

(*Liz, my co-host on the YarnCraft audio-podcast talks about some great ways to do this technique with yarn in episode 23.)

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The Lion Brand Yarn Studio – So Much Yarn…

October 24th, 2008

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I’ve never seen so much yarn in my life. We’ve been working from sun up to sun down to get the Studio ready. In the last week over 120 cases of yarn have walked though our front door…that’s a lot of yarn! Yesterday we got most of the yarn up on the shelves. It’s beginning to look exciting around here.

Speaking of “we,” I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce some of the team you’ll be meeting at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio.

James is the former owner of the beautiful Woodstock Wool Company. We are so lucky to have him. Originally from Minnesota, James loves color and has a soft spot for double pointed needles.

Will recently moved from Washington State, where he has been working in yarn stores since he was a teenager. Will loves Fair Isle; knitting socks on two circular needles and is not afraid to steek (a fear I am committed to getting over this year . . . taking scissors to my knitting still makes me break out in a cold sweat!)

Tracey was a dancer who has worked with Alvin Ailey. She’s a passionate crocheter and knitter who has taught knitting & crochet at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology, here in New York City). Tracey has spent the last week drooling over Vanna’s Glamour and Lion Wool.

Michelle comes to us from Washington D.C., where she had extensive event management experience. A sock knitter who has a freaky memory for color names, Michelle also loves to crochet, and she can knit a mean swatch.

As for me, I love cables & lace, and do everything on circular needles. I also love to felt!

So that’s a little bit about us. We can’t wait to meet all of you and find out about YOUR yarncrafting!

The Presidential Poll of Knitters and Crocheters

October 23rd, 2008

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The results of our presidential poll are in.  With 8,975 9,009 9,550 people voting, here is the breakdown:

John McCain – 40.3%

Barack Obama – 56.0%

Other – 1.5%

Undecided – 2.2%

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Make a Cap, Save a Life

October 23rd, 2008

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Are you starting to knit or crochet for the holidays? This year, add one more special gift to your to-do list.

Save the Children and Warm Up America! Foundation have teamed up for the Knit One, Save One initiative. This project asks knitters and crocheters to donate homemade hats for infants in developing countries. Just one hat is enough to save a child’s life.

Patricia Arquette's cap

Join celebrities (and yarncrafters!) Julia Roberts, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca Romijn (Ugly Betty), Debra Messing (Starter Wife), Lisa Edelstein (House), Patricia Arquette (Medium), Vera Farmiga, and Mischa Barton in this effort to help children internationally. As the children receiving the caps are often low birth-weight, caps should be on the smaller side. A circumference of 9 to 11 inches is ideal, but any size will be accepted. Any soft, washable yarn can be used. Donations will be accepted until December 31, 2008.

To find out more information, get patterns, see more celebrity hats, donate a hat of your own, or write a personal note to the next President asking him to help, visit the Save the Children website.

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Technology for Stitch-Counting

October 20th, 2008

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For most projects, it’s important to keep track of your stitches. If you’re like me, you use stitch markers and stitch counters — or you make a tally in the margin of your pattern. If you love technology, then there’s a new way to track your stitches on your iPhone or iPod Touch: the free StitchMinder application.

This handy little program keeps track of your stitches, rows, increases, and decreases. The developer Quilt2Go’s website notes, “Counters can be configured to count upwards or downwards, and your counts are always stored when you close the program or if you are interrupted by a phone call.” How convenient!
You can check out the StitchMinder at the Quilt2Go website.

How do you keep track of your stitches?