Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for October, 2009


5 (Really Good) Reasons to Join Us on Facebook

October 14th, 2009

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1. Meet people who will really listen to what you want to talk about.

Ever try to have a conversation with your husband about the hat you are knitting? Can you talk to your friends about the fact that you have 2 bags of yarn under your bed and a secret stash in the back of the closet in the basement? It’s hard enough to find people to talk to (and to listen!) but on our Facebook page you’ll have a forum for your thoughts and people who take you seriously, support you, and debate you in a friendly way on the craft that means something to you.  If you’re the quiet type, just hit the “like” button, but you’re free to say more comments and tell us and your yarn-loving friends what’s on your mind.

2.  Find out about our sales.

If you subscribe to our weekly newsletter, you’ll get an offer for a kit sale each week, but on our Facebook page, we will alert you to free shipping weekends and 24 hour sales on really yummy items that you won’t find anywhere else.  As long as you are checking Facebook regularly anyway and finding out that your old friend from high school had pancakes for breakfast, why not check in to see if we have any goodies for you?

3.  Change the world.

O.K. maybe not the whole world, but you can change our world because we listen to what you say on Facebook.  We look at the conversations and comments on Facebook to see what you like, what you want more of and what we can do better.  We asked you what would be the perfect yarn and many of you said superwash merino.  What we didn’t know was that you didn’t know that we offer this yarn, exclusively on our site and in the Lion Brand Studio.  So hint, hint, if you join Facebook, you might find out about a 24 hour sale near the end of this week.

4.  Explore and discover.

Stay on top of what’s good in the yarn-loving universe.  New fashion trend on knitting from the New York Times Style section? We’ll let you know.  The knit-along or crochet-along is starting on our blog, and you’ll know the minute it does.  When we announced that all our patterns were free, we did it here.  Contest announcement — Facebook!  New yarn coming into your local stores — Facebook! New video on how to knit socks? You guessed it.

5.  Who couldn’t use more friends?

Over 36,000 of them, and they all have something in common with you.


Nominate the YarnCraft Podcast for a Podcast Award!

October 13th, 2009

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Liz & I love writing/recording/producing the YarnCraft podcast — it’s a fun activity on top of our regular jobs here at Lion Brand, and it’s always great connecting with you, our customers and listeners.

If YarnCraft is a podcast that you love, help us show the world what knitters & crocheters are all about! You still have 5 days to nominate us for a People’s Choice Podcast Award! Nominations are open until Oct. 18, and if we make the cut, we’ll let you know when official voting begins!

Nominate at: http://www.podcastawards.com/

How this works: You can write us in for EITHER People’s Choice OR Best Produced, PLUS one other category (Cultural/Arts probably makes the most sense). Simply type in our podcast name: YarnCraft and our URL: http://yarncraft.lionbrand.com in those fields — then fill in your info at the bottom, and click “submit.” It’s just that easy!

And as always, share your thoughts, questions, suggestions, and more — we always love getting your feedback!

And of course, join us next Tuesday (and every other Tuesday) for a new episode of YarnCraft!


Yarn City Stop-Motion Animation

October 12th, 2009

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We’ve all heard of “claymation”, but this unique animation uses yarn!
Via Craft


Motif Afghan Crochet-Along: Crochet Techniques, Part II

October 8th, 2009

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Let me welcome those of you who have joined this crochet-along already in progress. Rest assured that you are not behind, and you can do this at your own pace! As a matter of fact, even if you started with my first blog post, I hope you feel that you are working at a pace that is comfortable for you.

This week I’m going to answer some questions that you’ve been asking, and show you a couple of new tips. First, however, I’m going to give you a little pep talk. At least, I hope it seems like a pep talk!

At many times in our lives, we run across people who correct us—tell us we are doing something “wrong” and show us the “right” path. Sometimes, this is a good thing. Our parents and school teachers guided us to learn and grow. We come to depend on the feedback we get from these mentors, and we seek their approval. At some point, however, we must grow up and decide for ourselves what is right for us.

Relax. Breathe.

This is crochet. There are no tests, no final exam, no grades. There is no “right” way or “wrong” way to do something, only things you don’t know yet. Fear and trepidation should not be in your vocabulary.

Are you having fun
?

YOU are the person who must be happy with your work. If you are happy with the way your project looks—and it functions well— then it’s right. If you are unhappy for some reason—you don’t like the way the stitches look, the joins fall apart—then take action to figure out what is going wrong, and fix it.

As a teacher, I can suggest ways to improve the look and function of your work. You must take ownership and responsibility for the results. Solicit opinions if you must, but be confident that you can and will make the right choices for you.

Whether you are a newbie or an experienced crocheter, branch out! I’ll bet you don’t even know what you don’t know! Read crochet books, explore new techniques, search the internet, take classes. I’m always seeking to learn new and interesting techniques, and most of these I learn from other people. Don’t get so frustrated that you give up. So-called “experts” are only experts because they had an inquiring mind and the desire to learn more. With perseverance, anybody can be an expert.

Relax. Breathe.

OK…are you feeling more confident? I hope so.

Weaving in Ends as You Go
One of the main questions I’ve had is about weaving in ends. I tend to do a combination of weave-in-as-I-go, and weave-in-later. If I have a slip knot from beginning the round, I might just pull it tight and weave that end in, tiny knot and all, or I might unpick it so there is no knot at all. It depends on my attitude at the moment.

If I have enough solid stitches in a row, I’ll hold the yarn to the back and work around it over several stitches, as shown here.

Even when weaving in as I work, I still leave a short tail to be woven in another direction later.

However, if I’m skipping some stitches, as on Round 3 of our motif, I tend to save that end to be woven in later. I usually don’t cut off my ends until I’m doing the finishing, just in case I have to rip out a motif for some reason. You can see the results of my mixed efforts (so far) here.

You can see that I have finished off some of the ends in the center “stripe” of the afghan.

More on Join-As-You-Go
Last week I showed you how to join all along one edge. Here is an example of how it might look if you joined just at the corners.

Some of you have asked about the order in which I’m joining. Because the join is done on the final round of the motif, I need to join each new motif to the previous one(s) on the final round. I can do it in any order I choose, as long as I don’t forget and leave out an edge that needs to be joined. I use my planned sketch (or the diagram from week 2) to remind me how they fit together. I’ve been doing it more or less in strips–one length of 9 motifs to start, as shown here.

By the way, I think I’m going to add another 2 “stripes” to my afghan, to make it wider. I have enough yarn. Guess it depends on how much I get done between now and next week, right?

I have decided that my afghan looks best if I join at the corners AND all along one edge. While you can begin Round 4 at a corner, I prefer to begin it in the middle of one of the edges, because I prefer to end a round with a dc-to-dc instead of a ch-to-dc.

Work up to the first corner to be joined. Dc in that corner, ch 2. You are now at about the center point of the corner, as shown:

Drop the stitch from the hook, insert the hook from front to back into the first corner space to be joined, then back into the dropped stitch. Pull the dropped stitch through the chain-space.

Ch 1 to complete the ch-3 corner of the current motif, then dc in the same corner ch-space and join that dc and the remaining dcs along the edge to the afghan, as I showed you last week.

At the next corner, you have to join to chain-spaces from 2 different motifs. Ch 1, drop the stitch from the hook, insert the hook from front to back into the next adjoining corner space, then back into the dropped stitch. Pull the stitch through the chain-space.

Ch 1, then join in the corner of the next motif.

Ch 1, complete the dc in that corner and join along the edge, into the next double corner, and into the next edge as before. On the final corner, ch 1, join to the chain-space of the other motif, ch 2, complete the dc in the corner, and work to the end. Here’s what you have done:

Relax. Breathe. Unhunch your shoulders.

Are you wondering how I learned to do this join? I started with a problem: how to create a strong, flexible, nice-looking join that could be worked on the last round. I also had a deadline: when I started this Crochet-Along I didn’t know what joining method would work and I knew I had to come up with something to share with you! Then I experimented with several different techniques until I “unvented” one that worked in this situation.

It isn’t the first or the second or even the third thing I tried, but eventually I discovered what I think is just the right join for us. I don’t say this to make you feel bad, but instead to encourage. You, too, can use your brains and problem-solving skills to create new (or new-to-you) techniques to improve your stitching!

Are you having fun?

Reader challenge: As I’ve worked on this afghan, I’ve decided that I get the best results by beginning with a standing double crochet not started with a slip knot on my hook. That is not within the scope of this blog, but I’ll bet you can figure it out yourself. Take the bull by the horns and figure out how to do a standing double crochet without a slip knot!

Please don’t be intimidated into keeping your own cool techniques to yourself. I want to learn from you! Share with all of us your favorite tips, especially those that will help in this project. You know more than you think…

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Great Reactions to Our Window Crafting!

October 7th, 2009

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Andrea
We’ve been knitting and crocheting in the Lion Brand Yarn Studio’s window for a week now, and we love all of your reactions. People of all ages have been stopping by to see if our knitters and crocheters are real! Because our building is next to a daycare center, we’ve had lots of excited children stop by the window every day. Keep stopping by to see how many scarves we’ve made, and don’t forget to say hello to the person in the window!

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Discovering the Land of Lost Knitting & Crochet Tools

October 6th, 2009

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One of the best parts of YarnCraft, our knitting & crochet podcast, is that we get to hear from you — our listeners and Lion Brand users — and get stories, inspiration, and ideas from you to share with others. (My co-host) Liz and I always enjoy hearing (and sharing) your stories. This week, we got a great e-mail from long-time listener and active YarnCraft community member Josh:

Hi Liz and Zontee,

When you had talked about my post on an earlier episode regarding how my craft room is set up, I had written about the mythical stargate that swallows my tape measure and scissors. You took it a step further to liken it to the Island of Lost Toys, which inspired this article I wrote for Crochet Insider… hope you get a giggle out of it.

All my love to you both,
Josh

We thought it was so much fun we wanted to share the article with you. Click here to read it.

If you want to hear Josh’s original story, listen to episode 22 — Your Yarncrafting Sanctuary – by clicking here. Josh’s story is about 8:40 into the episode.

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Open Source Embroidery: What Will We Make Together?

October 5th, 2009

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This is a guest post from our friend, Travis Meinolf, public textile artist and teacher. Travis’s current project can be seen at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, in San Francisco, CA, from now until January 24th, 2010. If you’re in the area, we hope you’ll stop by, add your own piece to the weavings and interact with textiles in a new way.

Open Source Embroidery is a group art show; the running theme of the works in the show, curated by Dr. Ele Carpenter, is how current open source programming and high-tech philosophies intersect with contemporary and historical craft production practices. My installation in the show, a continuation of my Social Fabric/Weaving Place projects, is a space with small, simple-to-use looms I have designed, materials generously provided by Lion Brand Yarn, and chalkboards, for people to write notes about what it is they would like to be producing in the space.

Previously I have asked for people to spend their time producing material to be made into blankets for people on the streets and in shelters, but this time, I thought I would let it be completely open to suggestion from the participants. Only time will tell what the outcome will be, but the process will be one of absolute agency of the producers. Anyone who participates is invited to direct their action and suggest direction for the group, based on the simple strips of cloth that they can make. I will update as the project progresses. Hopefully the system I have put in place allows for freedom but is a space for structured, productive play, resulting in a true “dialectical material”.

Thanks go out to Lion Brand, who made me feel like a kid on Christmas opening boxes of skeins and skeins of beautiful yarns to provide a truly sensual and mesmerizing weaving experience for museum-goers, again…
Travis J. Meinolf
action weaver

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Celebrating and Making a Difference

October 5th, 2009

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This November, the Lion Brand Yarn Studio celebrates its first birthday. It’s been a fantastic year, so we want to celebrate by giving back to the New York City community. From October 1 to November 22, we’ll be knitting and crocheting scarves in the front window of the Studio. Each scarf will be donated to the Partnership for the Homeless, a 501(c)(3) organization, to keep New York’s homeless individuals and their families warm this winter.

You’re invited to help New York families, too! Simply drop off your handmade scarf or hat at the Studio by December 1, and we’ll ship them to the Partnership for the Homeless. You can also receive some great discounts for your kindness. Click here for more information.

So swing by the Studio to say hello to Andrea (pictured), me, and all the other crafters as we give to a worthy cause!


Motif Afghan Crochet-Along: Crochet Techniques, Part I

October 1st, 2009

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Last week I showed you how to start a motif in the round using a sliding loop. This week and next, I’m going to share a few more tips that might make our stitching more attractive and attend to some of those nagging details that keep our motifs from looking their best.

Now that you’ve got a few motifs under your belt, take a good look at them. Are you happy with the way they look? I’m not talking about the color this time—that was last week. Now I’m talking about their overall appearance. It’s hard, but try to be objective. This is just you looking at your own work—nobody else is in the room, so you can be as harsh a critic as you dare.

Are the stitches even? Are the corners symmetrical and the sides straight? Is there a wonky chain-stitch line where you’ve been beginning the rounds? Do you have an ugly bump at the end of the round where the join occurs? If you’ve been working in ends as you go, are the tails peeking through on the right side?

Whenever you are working from a pattern, you should realize that the designer had to make certain assumptions, and perhaps to obey certain pattern-writing conventions that make patterns more standardized. In other words, the designer can’t possibly put into each pattern every single “improving” technique that she might know. It’s up to the crocheter to learn and apply some of these techniques for herself (or himself). Now, before you get into a huff about this, think: it’s no different from cooking. Recipes don’t tell you every single move to make, but you’ve learned cooking techniques and apply them all the time. It’s the same for crochet.

By now, hopefully you have a pretty good idea of how the motif is made, and perhaps you are stitching without even consulting the pattern. Fine! But now let’s take a closer look at how the motif is constructed. I encourage you to refer to the chart for this part.

Changing the beginning of the round
The motif we are working on was written as if the entire thing was going to be worked in one color, or with one continuous strand of yarn. Those of you familiar with reading crochet patterns will have deduced this already, because the rounds flow directly from one to another using joins to end a round followed by chain stitches to bring the hook up ready to work the next round.

As written, the pattern calls for a hdc join at the end of Round 1. This hdc takes the place of a (ch-2, slip st) join; it creates a “ch-2″ space, but leaves the hook in place to begin Round 2. I could do it exactly as written, adding my new color on the final joining stitch. However, because I am doing every round in a different color, I am going to finish off the color at the end of every round, then join a new color for the next round. I don’t need to use the hdc join, because once I finish Round 1, I’m going to be changing colors. I can start my new color anywhere.

End Round 1 with ch 2, slip st in 4th chain of ch-6.

End Round 1 with ch 2, slip st in 4th chain of ch-6.

If I change the location of the first stitch of Round 2, I can keep those beginning chain-stitches from stacking up on top of each other and creating an unsightly line. Refer to the chart and just pick a spot—any spot—to start your Round 2. You may begin in a chain-space, or in a double-crochet stitch. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you make sure to do six sets of 5-dc groups, separated by ch-3 corners.


Standing double crochet

But hold on… I so dislike the look of a beginning “ch-3 (counts as dc)” that I avoid it whenever possible. In this instance, I can just start my Round 2 with a double crochet. Wait, did you say, just start with a double crochet? How is this possible?

As I mentioned, the purpose of the beginning ch-3 would be to get the hook up to the top of the next round. Once I’ve finished off Round 1, however, my hook can be anywhere it wants. Therefore, if I just start with a slip knot on the hook, I can insert the hook into any stitch or space and work a double crochet. I do end up with a slip knot kind of hanging off the back of the work. I’ll get rid of that later when I am weaving in my ends. I call this technique a “standing double crochet”.

Begin with slip knot on hook, yarn over and insert hook into stitch or space.

Begin with slip knot on hook, yarn over and insert hook into stitch or space.

Pull up a loop, then yarn over and complete double crochet in the normal way.

Pull up a loop, then yarn over and complete double crochet in the normal way.

Completed double crochet

Completed double crochet

Reader challenge: See if you can spot the beginning and ending of Rounds 2, 3 and 4 in the photo at the top of the blog.

Join-as-you-go
OK, I know this is the part you’ve all been waiting for. There are many ways to join motifs as you go. The best method is the one that gives you the results you like in your particular project. With each new project, I find it necessary to experiment with several methods to figure out which one is going to work best for me. That’s why I asked you not to finish off your final round, so you can rip back a bit and play with different joining techniques.

Today I’ll show you the join-as-you-go method that I’ve determined suits me best for this particular afghan. If you don’t like it, or if you don’t like the way it looks with your project, stay tuned. Later I will be giving you additional options for joining, including another joining method and a relatively painless way to join motifs after they are all complete.

Work the final round to the point where the stitches are to be joined. Note that I dropped the stitch from the hook to make it easier to see how the stitches

Work the final round to the point where the stitches are to be joined. Note that I dropped the stitch from the hook to make it easier to see how the stitches align.

Complete the last double crochet in the corner, then drop stitch from hook. Insert hook from front to back under corresponding stitch in first motif, then into dropped loop.

Complete the last double crochet in the corner, then drop stitch from hook. Insert hook from front to back under corresponding stitch in first motif, then into dropped loop.

Pull loop through to right side to complete join

Pull loop through to right side to complete join

Here you see the second double crochet stitch at its half-way point. Continue working all the way across the edge, completing each dc, then joining it to the corresponding dc on the first motif.

Here you see the second double crochet stitch at its half-way point. Continue working all the way across the edge, completing each dc, then joining it to the corresponding dc on the first motif.

A completed join. Finish this round with ch-3, join with slip st to first dc. In this case, the corners themselves are not joined. Continue joining motifs along their side edges.

A completed join. Finish this round with ch-3, join with slip st to first dc. In this case, the corners themselves are not joined. Continue joining motifs along their side edges. Some motifs will be joined along 2 or more sides.

Cool, huh? I’ll be talking about some additional technique refinements next week, and you can find these and many more in Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs.

I’m sure many of you more experienced crocheters have your own tips that you’d like to share with us. We would all like to hear from you. What are your favorite tips and tricks?

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