Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for September, 2009


Celebrating Yarn at Citi Field

September 30th, 2009

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Jack on the field

Last week was the third annual Stitch N’ Pitch event, which was held at the New York Mets’ new Citi Field. For those of you who haven’t yet visited the field, it is very impressive. It was a beautiful night for baseball, yarn, and a good time. There were over 500 knitters and crocheters who came out for a night of fun and excitement. We were represented on the field before the game, on the jumbo-tron, and even spoken about on the Mets broadcast. It was nice to see how many people, especially men, in the stands knitting and crocheting. Even though the Mets didn’t win, a great time was had by all. I am very proud to be a part of this committee that unites yarn lovers from all over the tri-state area. On behalf of the entire Stitch N’ Pitch committee, I would like to thank everyone who came out and supported us!

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Quick Tips for Avoiding Crafting Pain

September 29th, 2009

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Crocheting or knitting for long periods of time can cause discomfort. Here are a few tips to avoid crafting pains:

  • Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor. Proper posture reduces strain on your back and shoulders, allowing you to sit and move your arms more comfortably.
  • Use proper lighting. Eye strain can cause headaches and make you feel fatigued.
  • Take frequent breaks. Stop for a moment between rows, roll your wrists, and relax. Walk around the room to stretch your legs.
  • Use wrist-friendly tools. Stress Relief Gloves and Ergonomic Crochet Hooks or knitting needles can help alleviate minor wrist pain.
  • Use circular needles when knitting a large number of stitches. The weight of your item will be equally distributed over the circular cable, and the work can rest on your lap instead of weighing down your needles.

If you experience serious or prolonged wrist pain, consult a physician.


Five Great One-Ball Projects from YarnCraft

September 29th, 2009

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Cable BagIn the special 50th episode of YarnCraft, our bi-weekly podcast, Liz and Zontee answer your questions! From entrelac to invisible seaming, this episode is full of great tips you don’t want to miss.

This episode’s Stash This: Ideas for Your Crafting Life features lots of one-ball projects, perfect for fast gifts or stash-busting. Here are five fast patterns to get your fall crafting started:

To listen to the entire episode, click here [MP3]. For more information about the podcast or this episode, visit the YarnCraft blog. Join the YarnCraft ladies next week for an all-new episode featuring fantastic fall and Halloween crafts.


Motif Afghan Crochet-Along: You’re the Designer

September 24th, 2009

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Thanks to everybody for helping me decide which colors to choose for my afghan. I’ve enjoyed reading all the comments and can’t want to see all the colorful combinations you choose for your projects. It seems like I got plenty of votes for colorway #4, and since that fits with my décor, I’ll go with that one. Here are some I didn’t choose, but that you might have:

Many of you are anxious to get started with learning a join-as-you-go method, but I’m going to ask that you be patient for one more week while we do some other steps.

Swatching Tells the Tale

As with any project, it’s important to do a swatch before beginning a project. A swatch gives us an idea of what size hook to use, how much yarn we’ll need, and what the likely finished dimensions of the afghan will be.  Luckily for us, in this case the swatch may just be the first or second motif of our project.

I tried a couple of different hook sizes and settled on an I-9 (5.5mm) hook for the Vanna’s Choice yarn that I’m using. You may need a different hook size to get the ideal feel for your gauge and yarn. You want a motif that has a little bit of body without being too stiff or too floppy. If you’re not sure what size you need, start with the suggested size on the yarn band, but don’t hesitate to change hooks to get the ideal gauge for you.

My motif measures about 3.25″ across one edge, 6.5″ from point-to-point across the center, and 5.5″ from side-to-side across the center. I printed out some (really cool) hexagonal graph paper from Incompetech.com and used that to envision how the motifs will be arranged. Here’s what my hand-drawn worksheet looks like. You can see the size and shape of the afghan outlined in black.

Sketch of afghan outline
Sketch of afghan outline

You can also see that I need 60 hexagons in all. My swatch weighs in at about 12 g, so 12g x 60 motifs = 720 g, or 8 balls of Vanna’s Choice yarn. However, since I’m using more than one color, and I’ll need some yarn for joining, I know that I’ll need more than 8 balls of yarn, not including the yarn needed to join the motifs together either as we go or at the end. At this point, I can’t be completely accurate in knowing what amounts I’ll need, because I don’t know how colors A, B and C will be used.

If you are using lots of colors, and just want to do a patchwork/freeform design without a plan, just start stitching. Leave a longish (12″) tail on the final round, and don’t weave in the final tail. You’ll understand the reason for this later.

Planning the Design

In my case, I want to have a plan for placement of my motifs. I still need to decide how I want to arrange the colors on each motif, and also how to arrange the motifs to form the overall design. I’ve started by stitching one motif. Because I’m still in the designing stage, I’m going to work the first few motifs in a variety of color arrangements. Let’s call my colors A (taupe), B (cranberry) and C (linen). I use a kind of shorthand to describe the color arrangements, with letter designations for each round. Here are the motifs I’ve done so far, although I could do even more variations with just these 3 colors.

CABA
CABA

BABA
BABA

BACA
BACA

Here’s where it gets really fun. I can do any of the following: (1) Decide to join my motifs once they are all complete. That means that right now I can just stitch individual motifs. I can decide on placement and color arrangements as I go, allowing the design to develop as I stitch. I don’t have to commit to a placement scheme until the last minute. I actually prefer this way most of the time. That’s because I don’t mind joining motifs at the end—it’s not that hard or time-consuming, I promise. (2) Use a random pattern of color variations throughout. (3) Pick one or two color arrangements and use them in alternating rows. (4) Scan the motifs, then print out the (now smaller than life-size) images on my color printer, making as many prints of each one as I choose. Then I can cut them out and play with the pieces until I have an arrangement I like. If I tape the pieces together I’ll have a template to remind me what to stitch next. (5) Do #4 above with color pencils or crayons. This can be lots of fun, and the kids can play, too! (6) Scan the motifs, and then manipulate them digitally using an image-editing software program. Since I’m trying to learn a new-to-me program, and since it makes nice prototype afghans for this purpose, this is the method I’ll choose here. You’ll see that they are just rough digital “sketches”, but that’s all I need at this stage. (Note to mention: this is just about the extent of my skill at this point. The strange white lines between the motifs are just my inexperience!) Here are some of the options I came up with, based on the scanned motifs above.

Version 1-Alternating Stripes

Version 1-Alternating Stripes

Version 2-note that this one has 3 more motifs than the sketch.

Version 2-note that this one has 3 more motifs than the sketch.

Version 3- an allover pattern of a single motif

Version 3- an allover pattern of a single motif

Version 4-note this is a bit shorter than the sketch

Version 4-note this is a bit shorter than the sketch

Of course, there are many other options! This time, I’m going to let other members of my family decide which version they like, and which one I’ll make. I suspect I’ll be adding a tiny amount of a fourth color (sapphire?) to add some pop.

What’s next?
Whew! I’ve been doing lots of planning, but now I’m ready to start stitching in earnest. I’m going to make 4 or 5 complete motifs, but not join the final round. I’ll probably make some others through Round 3 only. Once I decide on my joining method (next week’s post), I’ll do the final round on those motifs as needed. Why don’t you do the same?

The Sliding Loop

One final thing for this week: I want to show you how I do the “sliding loop” technique for starting a motif in the round. Although the pattern says to start with a ch-4 ring, I prefer to start all my motifs with a sliding loop—a variation of what you may know as the magic loop. It is a bit tricky to learn, but once I mastered it, it became my favorite method. It makes an adjustable ring into which to work the first round, and I can make the ring as large or as small as needed to fit my needs.


Wrap the yarn 2 full times around your finger, with the yarn tail toward the tip of the finger and the working end of the yarn toward the palm.


Insert the hook under all 3 strands.


Pull the working yarn under the other 2 strands.


Pull the yarn through and allow the two strands to come together. Take the doubled loop off your finger.


Pinching the doubled loop to keep them from coming apart, chain the number called for in the first round. In our case, it will be ch 6.


Work all first-round sts into the doubled ring. Those of you with eagle-eyes will notice that this example is not exactly the same as yours-I’m only putting 1 chain between treble crochet sts, not 2 as called for in the pattern.


As you work, you may have to expand your doubled loop in order to get all the stitches in. Once you have completed the round, you’ll see that the doubled loop is still peeking between your stitches. Gently pull on your yarn tail and you’ll notice that one of the strands (probably the inside strand) will tighten. Go ahead and tighten that strand up, but not all the way. Once it is just barely visible, stop tugging on the yarn tail and instead pull on that tiny little tightened strand.


When you pull the inside strand, the outside strand will tighten, and you’ll get a big loop from the inside strand. It looks scary, but the next step is magic…


Now pull on the yarn tail once more and that big loop will magically disappear!


Once you have a nice tidy center, finish the round with a slip stitch. Again, note that this round only has 1 ch between each treble. Yours will have 2 chains.

Please post your questions or comments here, and feel free to chip in with helpful suggestions for each other. We’re in this together!

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Marvelous Monsters!

September 23rd, 2009

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GinaIf you’ve ever wondered what an owlsquid or a spidercat would look like, look no further than Another Day, Another Monster. Gina from the Lion Brand Yarn Studio is crafting a monster a day for an entire year and blogging about the process. Some are big and some are small, but they’re all original and fun. Her blog is a great inspiration for anybody getting ready to decorate for Halloween. If you love her work, each monster is for sale on her Etsy page.


CRAFT at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio

September 22nd, 2009

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For those of you who haven’t had a chance to visit the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in New York, check out this video from our friends at Craft!

Via CRAFT

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Motif Afghan Crochet-Along: Get the CAL Badge

September 21st, 2009

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CAL badgeDo you have a blog, website, or Ravelry page? Let others know you’re in the Motif Afghan Crochet-Along with the official badge!

Simply right-click on the image (control+click for Mac users) and save it to your computer. Then upload it and share it on your website! Be sure to craft along with us here, on our Ravelry group, and on our Flickr group.

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Chain Stitches as Jewelry

September 21st, 2009

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I always love to see how the fashion world takes crafts like crochet and knitting and reinterprets them in unexpected ways. This simple, oversized crochet chain as necklace is such a fun pop of color from German design duo Gabriel & Schwan. Sehr schön!

Via Oh Joy!

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Motif Afghan Crochet-Along: Welcome!

September 17th, 2009

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Hello, Crocheters!

My name is Edie Eckman, and I’m so excited to be leading this Motif Afghan Crochet-Along! I’m a crochet (and knit) designer, and lately I’ve been doing lots of motif crochet. You may think of it as “granny squares”, but I’ve found it can be so much more than that.

Let me tell you what I have in mind for this adventure.

We’ll be making a full-sized motif-based afghan in 3 or 4 colors. I’ve chosen Motif #48 from my book Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs as the basis for the design. It works well in 1, 2, 3 or 4 colors, and the hexagonal shape is so versatile that we have plenty of opportunity for creativity. You can find the motif instructions here.

This week, we’ll be choosing colorways. The following week, we’ll look at how the motif appears when stitched in a variety of color combinations and learn the “sliding loop” method of beginning a motif in the round. In Week 3, I’ll show you a couple of ways to envision the final design, so you can decide how many motifs to make. The next week will include tips for improving your technique, dealing with yarn tails, and joining as you go. The final week we’ll finish up: block, sew together (if we didn’t join them as we worked), and weave in the ends.

Of course, this is simply a suggested outline. As we progress, I’ll answer questions, and let you help me decide what we need to discuss. As in life, the plan is subject to change.

Choosing Colors

One of my favorite things about starting an afghan project is choosing the yarn. There are so many possible choices! I decided early on that I’d be using Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice and/or Vanna’s Choice Baby, because of the many beautiful colors that are designed to go together. Wool-Ease is another good choice.

Although I didn’t have any particular colorway in mind, I was looking for three or four colors that would look good together. I really find it hard to make up my mind when it comes to colors, so I’m starting with a bunch of choices. I like bright colors, but sometimes for home decor I’d prefer something more subtle. I’ve narrowed down my choices to four colorways, and wound some yarn onto white index cards to get an idea of how they might look together, and in what proportions.

Colorway #1

Colorway #1

Colorway #2

Colorway #2

I like #1 and #2 for a baby or kid’s afghan, but I don’t have any (little) kids at my house.

Colorway #3

Colorway #3

#3 would look great in my bedroom, but I recently did another afghan in a similar colorway and I’m afraid I might get tired of it.

Colorway #4

Colorway #4

#4 would work well in my den.

I’m leaning strongly toward #3 or #4.

What do you think? Let me know which colors you want to see me use in the comments section! You have FIVE days to help me decide, because I have to get the yarn!

Now…you go choose some yarns that will work for you. Since motifs lend themselves to using up colorful scraps of yarn, you could just go crazy and use a wide variety of colors! However, even if you are using up yarn from your stash, it’s a good idea to choose colors deliberately.

Also, leave a note and introduce yourself! We want to know what yarn and colors you want to use, and we want to know a little about you!

Let the adventure begin…

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Combining Dance and Crochet – No Kidding!

September 16th, 2009

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I was in mid-town New York City last weekend and saw a striking crochet art exhibit in the window of the Roger Smith Hotel.  There will be a performance on several upcoming evenings that integrate dance in this crochet setting.  If you are in New York City it looks like something you won’t want to miss. The performances are 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. September 18, 21, 23 and 25.

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