Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for October, 2008

Crochet the Next President

October 16th, 2008

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In tomorrow’s newsletter, we’ll be offering free patterns for presidential nominee finger puppets.  Once you make the puppets, you can stage your own debate!

We’re also asking you to vote for the candidate of your choice here and we’ll publish the results so you can see where knitters and crocheters stand on the election.

Click here to vote!

Show Off Your Kooky, Crafty Halloween Projects!

October 16th, 2008

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DIY HalloweenIf you enjoyed the Craft Skills Contest that we sponsored over at, check out the DIY Halloween Contest that’s going on now! The categories include costumes, decorations, food, and so much more, so show off your creativity!

Get some inspiration with our 45 Halloween patterns! You can also always show off any of your Lion Brand projects at our Customer Gallery!

Fall Trends & Halloween Crafting on YarnCraft

October 13th, 2008

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In the most recent two episodes of YarnCraft — our half-hour audio-podcast — my co-host Liz and I embrace the fall season and the upcoming holiday of Halloween, sharing inspiration and ideas for knitting, crocheting, and crafting with yarn! Join us for laughs, learning, and great yarn talk.

Zen CoatHot Colors & 5 Top Trends for Flattering Fall Fashions

In episode #25, we focus on taking trends from the runway and turning them into great garments and projects for your everyday life. We also take some of these same styles and influences and show you how to work them into your home decorating. Listen now for more than 15 pattern recommendations — from looks that fit and flatter to great home accessories.

In our regular segment, “Stash This–Ideas for Your Crafting Life,” we share tips on substituting yarn in patterns to get a look that’s all your own. Click here to listen [MP3].

Spookifying Your Home with Your Whole Family!

We get spooky (okay, mostly just kooky) in episode #26 of YarnCraft, sharing creative and quirky tips for decorating your home, entertaining your guests, and getting into the Halloween spirit.

In this episode’s “Stash This” segment, we talk about kid-friendly projects that are great for school Halloween parties. They’re great even as group rojects for adults who are just children at heart! Click here to listen to this episode [MP3].

Liked the episodes above? Want to find the patterns discussed? For more information about either of these great episodes, or to learn more about subscribing to YarnCraft, visit the YarnCraft blog!

YarnCraft, the Lion Brand Podcast, Wins Award

October 12th, 2008

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Last week we attended an awards luncheon because YarnCraft was nominated for an award for best podcast/videocast, by PR News, the trade publication for the PR industry. It was a real thrill when they announced that we won and we’re especially proud of the two hosts of the show, Liz and Zontee.

If you haven’t had a chance to hear the podcast yet, you can listen to it from our website or download episodes on iTunes. We’ve been broadcasting for almost exactly a year and there are 26 half-hour shows including features on yarn crafting with kids, using looms, holiday gift giving and decorating, and interviews with yarn crafting celebrities and authors including Vanna White.

How to Knit a Basic Hat

October 10th, 2008

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I’m the kind of knitter (and crocheter) who likes to make up patterns as I go along. I find that understanding the general idea behind how to make an item lets you be more flexible–and personal–in your designs. In today’s post, I’m going to take you through the steps needed to knit a basic, fitted hat for anyone. There’s–of course–more than one way to knit a hat, but I find that these are the basics that I keep coming back to.

As with any pattern, I recommend you read all of the directions below, before getting started, so you can get comfortable with the general idea. (And as always, all orange text is clickable for more help.)

You will need:

  • 1 skein of your favorite yarn (I like Wool-Ease, Jiffy, and Vanna’s Choice)
  • Double-Pointed Needles (DPNs) or Circular Needles in your preferred size (see step 2 below for more details)

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Measure around the head 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–estimate based on your own head size; knitted fabrics are generally stretchy enough to accommodate different sizes.)
  2. Knit a gauge swatch in stockinette stitch to find out how many stitches per inch you get with the needles and yarn you are using. (If you’re not sure what size needles 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 by the head circumference (that you wrote down in step 1).
  4. Round this number to the nearest multiple of 8 (for instance, if it’s 4 stitches by 21 inches for my head, it’s 84 stitches, but I round to 88 stitches so that it will be easier to decrease later), and then note what that number is divided by 8. (In my example, 88 divided by 8 equals 11; this will be important for decreasing later.)
  5. Now you have the number of stitches you will cast on. Cast on, join, and divide evenly among your DPNs OR join on your circular needles, depending on which one you’re more comfortable with.
  6. K1 p1 (to create a rib) until you have 2 inches of fabric.
  7. Start knitting every stitch (creating a stockinette) for 5-6 inches. You can even put it on to see if it’s deep enough for your taste (or just your head!).
  8. Now, based on the number we figured out at the end of step 4, place a stitch marker every [insert number here] stitches (in my example, 11 stitches).
  9. For the next round, every time you get to a stitch marker, you will k2tog after the stitch marker.
  10.  The next round, knit every stitch.
  11.  Repeat steps 9 and 10 until you have only 24 stitches. (For those on circular needles, you may choose to switch to DPNs as the stitches get fewer.)
  12.  Stop knitting; use a needle to thread your yarn through your open stitches and pull them tight to form a finished hat.
  13. Weave in your ends.

If you take these basic steps, you’ll get a hat similar to our intern Jess’s or to Michelle Edwards’ pattern, Ed’s Hat.

The great thing about this basic pattern is that you can do so much with it! Increase the length of the ribbed portion, so that it can be folded up as a brim. Make stripes instead of only using one color. Replace the stockinette portion with some other stitch pattern (just make sure to make your gauge swatch in step 2 in the new stitch pattern). Add a pom-pom on top like the hat pictured above. Duplicate stitch a design on top of your basic hat. Use a ssk instead of the k2tog to create decorative, left-leaning decreases.

I’ve even used these basic steps–plus some increases for a puffier look and knitting a longer hat body–to make a loose tam for my mom! The sky’s the limit when it comes to your creativity!

Next time, I’ll go through the steps to crochet a basic hat–it’s also a great way to practice skills that are useful for many of our adorable amigurumi animal patterns.

And for those of you who prefer to follow a set pattern, we have tons of great hat patterns for knitters, crocheters, and loom-knitters available on! (You can also click on the Wool-Ease Thick & Quick hat pictured above, if you’d like that exact pattern.)

Colorful, Comfortable Cotton-Ease

October 8th, 2008

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It’s no fun when a company discontinues your favorite product (Loreál- I’m looking at you. I still want Le Grand Curl Waterproof Black Mascara back). When we discontinued Cotton-Ease a lot of people were upset. The internet/blog world was grieving the loss of this washable cotton-blend yarn. Campaigns to keep Cotton-Ease began immediately after the announcement that it was being discontinued, emphasizing the “cry of dismay from knitters of all types that this wonderful, washable, basic yarn is being pulled from the shelves.”

We consistently heard from so many people upset about the discontinuation of Cotton-Ease that after a just short period without it, we decided to re-introduce it in an updated color palette. Now, it’s more versatile than ever with the same great quality yarn and variety of colors. The internet is once again buzzing about Cotton-Ease, but this time rejoicing that it’s back. Kryssa on Ravelry summed Cotton-Ease up perfectly: “This is soft, easy to knit with, available in lovely colors and washable. It is wonderful for wearing next to the skin and knits up really well.”

And if words aren’t enough, your projects say a thousand words. You guys are making all sorts of thing—baby clothes, sweaters, bibs, blankets big and small, even washcloths, toys, and hats.

But don’t think that cotton yarn is just for summer! Cotton-Ease is great for transitional fall layering pieces, especially for kids who like to run around outside, jumping in piles of leaves and splashing in the rain. You can also knit Cotton-Ease along with another yarn for warm weather versatility, like with the Cascading Colors Baby Blankie or The Wonderful Wallaby. But don’t limit yourself to children’s garments; a Cotton-Ease cardigan is a great “back of the office-chair” sweater year round. Some office building crank the AC so high in summer, a cotton sweater is essential to keeping comfortable. And if your building is anything like ours, in an old radiator-heated NYC building, winters can be too hot for anything heavier than cotton. Any of these will warm you up without overheating, and add a jolt of color to your work wardrobe.

What do you use Cotton-Ease for? Show and tell everyone in the comments!

Crochet-Along: Seaming and Bordering, Two Different Approaches

October 6th, 2008

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I’ve used two different seaming methods for my two different blankets.

For “Dolly” the doll sized blanket, I chose to simply sew the 9 little blocks together. I usually use a simple seam that goes like this:

Lay the pieces on a flat stable surface either face up or face down, I often try out a few inches of sewing to see which side is hiding the seam better and then start over with the pieces arranged accordingly. The rows of the 3 different blocks can match up nicely with 2 single crochet rows matching to 1 row of double crochet from another block and of course, one row of single crochet matching up to a row of single crochet. (When planning how many rows I would use in the blocks I took this into consideration) Having these rows of single crochet in every other row of Blocks 2 and 3 really helped me keep track that my seaming matched up as I went along.

There’s really nothing to do, but “thread” your needle with your yarn and get started! I simply **start running the needle through the side of a stitch in one corner, work straight into the side of the stitch in the corner of the other block, insert the needle into the side of the stitch in the next row of the same block and then work straight across into the side of the stitch in the matching row of the other block.

**I leave about 6″ of tail. I don’t secure the seaming yarn to start, this allows me to adjust the slack in the seam if I need to. After all the seams are tidy I secure each with whatever extra seaming or knotting seems best.

There are many ways to sew a seam, this way just always gives me a result that I like. You can also try whip stitch, back stitch and using single crochet or slip stitch. I used slip stitch to seam my full sized version of this blanket.

Because this blanket is doll sized I was able to lay out the entire thing on a fabric covered cork board. (I love portable work surfaces like this! It allows me to move the project from the table to the couch when I need a change of posture.) I worked the two longer seams first and then worked the 3 shorter widthwise seams. Before I secured the seaming tails I tugged and pulled and shaped the blanket, making sure each seam was “just right” not too loose or too tight. You can tie a little knot here if you feel you must or simply make some secure backstitches and weave in the rest of the tail, trim and your done!

I had intended to do something frilly with the border, yet the blanket seems just right with this simple border.

First I worked single crochet along the sides and around the corners, working 1 sc in each sc , 2 sc in the side of each dc row and rounding the corners with 1 sc, ch 1, 1 sc worked into each corner space. In the photo below the blue dots represent single crochet:

For each following round I worked 1 sc, skipped the next sc, ch 1, sc in the next sc across the round and worked sc, ch 1, sc in the corner spaces. Changing colors with each round helped tie in all the colors used in the blocks and the stitch pattern of alternating single crochet and chain stitches softens the stripe pattern.

For the Purple Monster (this is what I’m calling the full human sized version I’m soooooo close to having completed) I worked a border on each block before working slip stitch seams to join everything.

I used the same 1st round border I used to border the dolly blanket and for the second row I worked a single crochet in each single crochet from the previous round and 1 sc, 1 dc, 1 sc in the corner chain spaces. I like the even tailored feel the two rows of well behaved single crochet gave these rather stretchy loopy blocks. Once I had them bordered, the different block patterns were much more similar in size.

Once again, I made sure that the rows in the blocks could match up evenly, 25 sc in block 1 and 17 rows in 2 and 3: matching 2 rows of sc from 1 to 1 row of dc from 2 and 3. This made it much easier to make borders for the blocks with the same number of stitches on each side. The number I should have on each side of a block was repeated in my head like a little mantra and I was as meticulous as possible, counting and recounting while I crocheted. That said, I still found a few missed or added stitches when seaming…. oh well!

I put a sheet down on the floor and arranged my blocks in this “cat fur free zone”, sat down in the middle and got moving with the slip stitch seam. For this, I placed two blocks right side together and worked into the outside loops only. This leaves a nice little ridge on the “right side” and creates a seam that lays nicely in the fabric.

A Naturally Adorable Baby Blanket

October 3rd, 2008

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We love to see what people are doing with our yarns, and our friend Natalie Zee Drieu, Senior Editor at Craft Magazine, shared with us her adorable pictures of her newly finished hooded baby wrap. It’s knit out of Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton, a great yarn for baby projects because it’s so soft and fluffy.

Nat’s dog Lulu was so curious about the blanket, that Nat ended up using her as a model!

“Two Blankets in Four Days!”

October 2nd, 2008

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We love to see the creative ways that you use our patterns and make them your own.  We noticed this blogger’s translation of one of our most popular patterns where she used her own favorite yarns and colors to make the blankets and, she shared the fact that she was able to make two of them in four days.  This pattern is also very easy, yet has a sophisticated look.