Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for December, 2009

Knitter’s Choice

December 31st, 2009

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When it comes to knitting in the round, most people either love it or hate it. No matter which camp you’re in, it’s likely that you will, at some point in your knitting career, fall in love with a pattern that is designed for the other side. If you are like me, you will probably wonder why in the world the designer would write this to be a flat/circular pattern when it so clearly works as a circular/flat pattern. You may even use some strong language, depending on how much you really, really need to knit this pattern.

But wait! Put away the strong language and get out your pencils. You can convert many patterns in either direction (I’ll talk about exceptions in a minute). And guess what? It’s really, really easy. The one thing you need to remember is:

When you are knitting flat, you are alternating working on the “right” side and the “wrong” side. When you are knitting in the round, you are only working on the “right” side.

What this means practically speaking is that when you are converting patterns in either direction, you will need to reverse the stitches on every other row (I said it was easy; I didn’t say there was no work at all involved). Let’s do an easy example, stockinette stitch:

Flat R1: Knit
Flat R2: Purl

Circular R1: Knit
Circular R2: Knit

When it gets tricky is when you are working on something a little more complicated, like a cable pattern. Just remember that all you’re doing is reversing knits and purls on every other row:

Flat Rows 1, 5, 9, 13, 17 and 21 (RS): P3, *K8, p3, k8, p3; rep from * to end.
Flat Row 2 and all WS rows: *K3, p8, k3, p8; rep from * to last 3 sts, k3.
Flat Rows 3, 7 and 11: P3, *[4-st RC] twice, p3, k8, p3; rep from * to end.
Flat Rows 15, 19 and 23: P3, *K8, p3, [4-st RC] twice, p3; rep from * to end. Row 24 Rep row 2.

Circular Rows 1, 5, 9, 13, 17 and 21 (RS): P3, *K8, p3, k8, p3; rep from * to end.
Circular Row 2 and all WS rows: *p3, k8, p3, k8; rep from * to last 3 sts, p3.
Circular Rows 3, 7 and 11: P3, *[4-st RC] twice, p3, k8, p3; rep from * to end.
Circular Rows 15, 19 and 23: P3, *K8, p3, [4-st RC] twice, p3; rep from * to end. Row 24 Rep row 2.

Now, there are patterns that should not be converted. Obviously, any pattern that has a flat finished project, like an afghan, shouldn’t be joined and knit circularly. I would also recommend staying away from converting patterns from circular to flat that have cables or twists on both odd and even rows. Finally, any particularly large or heavy sweater should be knit flat and seamed — the seams add stability and will help the sweater maintain its shape.

With those few exceptions, you can rework just about any pattern to be knitted in your preferred style. Try something simple first, like a knit hat. Soon you’ll be on your way to converting every pattern you see, and enjoying the freedom that comes with using the style you prefer to create your knitted projects!

VOTE on Our New Knit-Along

December 29th, 2009

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Want to work with a virtual group of knitters from all over the world on a project? Want to learn new skills and challenge yourself? Well, now you can with our new knit-along!

Hosted by our good friend Heather (who last joined us for the Moderne Jacket Crochet-Along and the Cable Luxe Tunic Knit-Along), we’ll be starting our next knit-along in mid-January, so keep checking back here at the Lion Brand Notebook OR sign up for our e-mail newsletter, The Weekly Stitch.

BUT FIRST…we want YOU to help us pick a project!

Click here to vote on a KAL project!

[Like the projects in the survey? Go to and find them by their names using our search box!]

Designer Margaret Hubert Shares the Inspiration Behind Her New Book

December 29th, 2009

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Our friend and long-time knit/crochet designer, Margaret Hubert has a new book, The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet, coming out in January. We caught up with her to ask her about this project and the inspiration behind it.

What inspired you to create this book?
Linda Neubauer, my editor at CPI and I were talking about my next book. We thought that we needed to come up with something different, rather than the usual 20 designs that I had been doing.

I thought with all my experience with designing and teaching that I could somehow share some of this knowledge with my readers.

Why did you choose a photo guide?
CPI has a whole series of The Complete Photo Guides to —-, but they did not have any pertaining to knitting and crocheting, so I thought this might be a great addition to their series.

What made you decide to make a stitch guide, rather than say, just a pattern book?
As I said, I had done about 9 other pattern books for CPI, always the same format: 20 Easy Designs. I thought that we needed to change that, come up with something a little different.

I did not want to do a book with just page after page of stitch patterns either. I proposed that we do a photo stitch guide book, with lots of close ups so that readers could see the stitches, but to also include a pattern in each section, so that readers could see how to apply the stitches in a garment or project. We also included stitch diagrams, which more and more people are finding helpful.

In addition to all this, I wanted to include other designers, who have special areas of expertise, and their contributions are terrific. The book includes a wonderful History of Crochet by Nancy Nehring, and the story of Lacis. So you can see, the book is a lot more than a stitch guide.

While we were discussing the crochet book, it was decided that we should also do the same book in knitting. So–before actually finishing The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet, I started working on The Complete Photo Guide to Knitting. Both books are now finished; Crochet to be released January 1st, 2010, Knitting to be out early Summer 2010. I loved working on these books.

If you could pick one tip from your book to tell our readers about, what would it be?
I would encourage readers to try some new stitches, out of their comfort zone, and apply them to a design. But most important tip that I can give, is to learn finishing your items neatly, always pin before you sew, and check your seams.

And just for fun: Do you have a favorite stitch pattern?
One of my favorite stitches is a real easy one, it is a combination of single crochet and double crochet, and reverse on the next row. This stitch is so versatile, to make it look new and different, just change size of hook and yarn.

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The “M” Word: Using Different Yarn Weights with the Help of a Little Math

December 23rd, 2009

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In my last post, I told you a bit about substituting yarns. I mentioned that you’re best off substituting a yarn that will give you the same gauge and fabric as the original called for in the pattern, and I stand by that. However, in the real world, you can’t always find a yarn that you like that matches the original. Or maybe you’re dying to use one of your stash yarns for a particular pattern, but it’s just not quite the right gauge. The good news is, very often you can still substitute. The bad news is, you will have to do math. And you really have to do it, not just fudge it. Use a calculator to do the actual math, but write everything down with a pencil and paper.

So if you can’t match gauge, how do you figure out how many stitches to cast on or chain? Since gauge is what determines how wide your sweater is, this is pretty important, especially with some of the beautiful new fitted patterns out there. But if you plug in a few numbers, you can often make a size larger or smaller to meet your yarn’s gauge, or rework the pattern to meet your numbers. Let’s look at an example.

My pattern calls for gauge to be 4 stitches per inch, and has options for knitting a 34, 38, 43, or 46 inch size sweater (the sizes refer to the chest measurement of the finished garment). I need to make the 43 inch sweater for it to fit me properly, but my yarn is giving me 4.5 stitches to the inch. The important thing to remember is that the higher the number of stitches in your gauge, the smaller your stitches are. So if you get more stitches per inch than the pattern calls for, you’ll need to make a larger size. This is counter-intuitive, I know, but trust me. Here’s how you can see this mathematically:

For a 43 inch sweater knit at 4 stitches to the inch, you would knit 172 stitches total for the front and back. That’s desired inches x number of stitches per inch. This should match the number of stitches the pattern is telling you to cast on for the front and back. Now, to find out what your circumference would be if you cast on the same number of stitches but knit more stitches per inch, you divide: number of stitches cast on ÷ number of stitches per inch, or in this case, 172 ÷ 4.5, which gives us a chest circumference of 38.2. It’s amazing what a half stitch per inch can do, isn’t it? That’s basically going down a whole size from what we’re aiming for. But if we use our first formula above to figure out how many stitches we have to cast on with our 4.5 stitch per inch yarn (43 x 4.5 = 193.5 – you can’t knit a half stitch so you’ll have to round up or down to the next whole number), we can look at the other sizes to see whether they have a similar number of cast on stitches, and just knit following the instructions for that size. This is the easiest and quickest way to up or down size a pattern.

If you are doing this sort of substitution, it is even more important than usual to make a proper gauge swatch. I would also advise making a gauge swatch in any pattern stitch, even if the pattern itself only requires you to make one in stockinette. (I learned this the hard way after making a lace sweater in a yarn that frankly, looked awful. The numbers worked to substitute the gauge into one of the smaller sizes, but it was so heavy that the lace just looked completely wonky. Learn from my mistakes.)

Hopefully — with a little math and a little swatching — you’ll now be able to make your pattern and your yarns work together!

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Vanna’s Glamour Goes to the White House

December 22nd, 2009

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A few weeks ago, LBY-customer Lisa S. posted on the Lion Brand Yarn Studio‘s Ravelry board some pretty cool news:

So I knit my sister a Golden Honey Shrug in the Sapphire colorway of Vanna’s Glamour and she wore it to the White House Christmas party last night!

How cool is that????

Lucky for us she shared pictures of her sister, Brenna (who looks beautiful in the shrug!), taken by her husband Chuck, who works in the White House photo office.

…And here’s the shrug up close, photographed by Lisa:

As always, the orange links above are clickable, so you can click them to see the pattern, the yarn, etc.

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Send a Little Lola (and a Little Love!)

December 21st, 2009

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This holiday season, spread the yarnie joy with our favorite yarncrafter, Lola! Send this and many other free e-cards to your friends and family by clicking here. Happy Holidays!

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The Seven Values Of Lion Brand Yarn Company

December 18th, 2009

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Every year in early December,  Lion Brand associates gather to think about where we’ve been and where we are going.  This year we spent some time defining who we are in 7 words.  We would like to share those values with you today.

Vision offers meaning as we move forward with the day-to-day details and challenges of our business. It was vision that resulted in the extraordinary success of the Lion Brand Yarn Studio (featured in the January 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine.) With vision we reinvented the look of Lion Brand through new yarns, color palettes, garment design and visual images that reflect a contemporary beauty.  It was vision that allowed us to create the most popular online destination for yarn crafters in the world. Throughout our history, vision has helped us become the company we are.

As a family business, the personal values of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents infuse every relationship with vendors, industry associates, customers and employees.  We believe that when all is said and done, this value is what supports all the others.

Adaptability is the value that allowed a 131 year old brand to survive and even thrive through the great depression, world wars, the years when knitting was considered passe, and the extraordinary ups and downs of a business tossed about by the culture, the economy and the fast pace of change in today’s world.

Yarn was part of the dinner conversation growing up and it has been the lifeblood of our family for generations. The passion that we feel for our work makes us go the extra mile every single day. We have built a team of associates that shares this energy.

The product we sell enriches peoples’ lives by providing stress relief, a creative outlet, and a way of sharing of oneself. Serving these higher goals gives meaning to the work we do.

We know that your enjoyment of our yarns may depend on your ability to develop your skills so we offer education at all levels through illustrations, videos and step-by-step instructions.

We believe that as a team we are stronger than the sum of the unique talents of the individuals.  The connections we have to each other when we share information and ideas and collaborate on projects add value to everything we do.

At Lion Brand, we are truly honored to serve your needs.  We hope that  the work we do enhances your enjoyment of knitting, crocheting and crafting with yarn.  As we look forward to 2010, I want to personally thank you, the Lion Brand Community, for your support and for sharing your comments and ideas with us.

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A Magical Night to Honor St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

December 16th, 2009

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There is nothing like being in Manhattan during the holiday season. There are people everywhere, tons of beautiful holiday lights and a wonderful chill in the air. It truly is something special!

Last week, our VP of Marketing, Ilana, and I attended a magical night at Brooks Brothers store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. It was their fourth annual Holiday Celebration to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is close to our hearts here at Lion Brand, so we were eager to see how another company helps raise money for this worthy cause.

There were various activities for children, such as decorating cookies, creating balloon art and meeting Santa. Throughout the night, guests were also able to meet Marlo Thomas, see a performance from the cast members of the Broadway musical Memphis and enjoy a jazz performance by Wynton Marsalis.

Meeting Marlo was such a great experience for me and Ilana. Marlo was nice enough to sign copies of the book, Henry’s Unsuitable Adventure, for us (these will make very special holiday gifts.)  For each book purchased that evening, 15% of the proceeds were donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  We chatted with Marlo for a while about the book and our shared love for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Even though she is not a knitter or crocheter, she was delighted to hear about our Vanna’s Choice yarns and how portions of the proceeds of the sales of those yarns go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Overall, a great night was had by all.

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Blizzard Essentials

December 16th, 2009

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This is a guest post from Michelle Edwards–a life long knitter and the author/illustrator of many books for children including the 2006 Gryphon award winner, STINKY STERN FOREVER and CHICKEN MAN winner of National Jewish Book Award. Michelle lives in Iowa City, Iowa, with her husband and three daughters. She is a frequent contributor to the Lion Brand Weekly E-Newsletter.

Iowa City, Iowa – December 9, 2009 – When a blizzard hits your town, as one did here on Tuesday, it’s good to be prepared. You should stock up on staples like milk, bread and eggs. It’s a good idea to fuel up the snow blower, and inspect the state of your shovels. It’s wise to keep candles and matches someplace handy. And if you are a knitter, you might like a new project or yarn to keep you company when you are snow bound.
My samples of Lion Brand’s Amazing arrived last week but it wasn’t until Monday night, when snow began to fall fast and furious, and fierce winds knocked tree branches against the side of our house, that I decided to give it try. As the world outside grew white, I delighted watching the heathered greens and purples stitch up on my needles. The subtle color changes and the softness of the yarn was calming as our life was slowed down to a stop, daily activities and school curtailed and cancelled.

A blizzard gives you a space to be reflective — you aren’t going anywhere. Sure there’s shoveling to do, and meals to prepare, but the release from the daily grind makes it a perfect time to appreciate and enjoy an new yarn. And lucky for me, it was Amazing. Warm and beautiful, perfect for cold weather knitting. Give it a try!

Start Selling Your Handmade Goods with ArtFire

December 15th, 2009

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If you have always wanted to sell your own handmade creations online, we have a special announcement for you!

We’ve partnered with to help turn your craft into a business. Start for free or get a “pro” account for only  $12 a month. With Artfire, you have full control over the look and feel of your online shop, access to powerful promotional tools, and world class technical and customer support. With your Artfire/Lion Brand account, you will even get access to special Lion Brand offers just for ArtFire users. If you have always wanted to sell your creations online, this is the place to start. Get started by clicking here.

Want to know more about ArtFire? Listen to YarnCraft YarnCraft Episode 53 for more of the inside scoop when I interview ArtFire’s EVP/COO, Tony Ford.

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