Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for January, 2010


Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: Beyond the Ribbing & Sorting Out Patterns

January 28th, 2010

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It has been a lot of fun to see so many of you already starting the Inishturk Sweater and sharing your ideas and experiences with the rest of us.  Probably the hardest part of this sweater is the part I’m going to talk about today – going from the ribbing into all those cable patterns!

I found working the ribbing went just fine until I saw that I had to increase 22 stitches on that last ribbing row (which is a WS row).   I’m making this pattern in the medium size that had me working 106 stitches for the ribbing.  So I took my handy, dandy calculator and divided 106 by 22 and found out I should increase a stitch every 4.8181818 stitches!  OK, that is pretty close to one increase every 5 stitches, so looking at the ribbing, I decided I would mark 22 of the ribs with pins — skipping one here and there.  Then I just increased at the top of these ribs.  I know that increasing doesn’t have to be perfectly even for this pattern, but they should be fairly evenly worked across that row.  I worked my increases as “make 1” (m1) increases, but I also could have just knit into the front and back of those 22 stitches to increase, and that would be fine for this pattern.  I just wanted to make sure I didn’t have “holes” where I made my increases (which would happen if you worked your increases as yarn overs).

So, I finally had my 128 stitches to work my patterns.  I carefully worked the set-up row and the following row which had me just knitting the knit stitches and purling the purl stitches.  Then on Row 3 of the back, with stitch markers in hand, I carefully worked that row, placing stitch markers on my needle on each side of the larger cable patterns.  Until these patterns are established (and even after that!) these markers will make sure that my patterns will line up – and just make knitting them a whole lot easier.

Another way I sorted out the patterns was to place different color markers on my needle on the side of each type of cable.  Then I wrote down the color and corresponding cable on a sticky note and attached it to my pattern.

This sweater is a beautiful combination of some very different, but traditional Aran cable patterns.  However, not only do these patterns have a different number of stitches, but rows as well!  Some of you have been keeping track of that with Excel or another spreadsheet program — but here’s something to remember:  the largest of these panels (Panel B) has 16 rows.  All the other patterns have row repeats that go into 16:  some have 2 rows, some have 4 rows, and Panel A has 8 rows.  What this means is: every time I start Row 1 of that large Panel B, I should also be on Row 1 of all the other patterns.

Now as for that center Panel B — I have been following the row instructions written, but I do love charts.  So, I’ve decided that this week I will make charts and share them with you next week.  For those of you who have never worked charts before, I’ll include a little tutorial on how to do that as well.  Meantime, keep those stitch markers and row counters at hand!

Don’t have a row counter? If you go to the pattern on LionBrand.com, you’ll notice that there’s a built-in row-counter right on the pattern page! It’s handy if you are working on your sweater near a computer OR on a mobile device.

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How to Help Haiti

January 28th, 2010

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In light of the current situation in Haiti, we want to turn our attention to this part of the world and how you can help out. We have received many inquiries about donating knitted or crocheted items to Haiti, but the most immediate concerns are basic needs, such as food, shelter, and health care. Therefore, in lieu of sending handmade items, we encourage you to make monetary donations to established charity and relief organizations already on-site in Haiti to help address these needs. Here is a list of a few relief organizations:

The American Red Cross is dispensing aid by building temporary shelters, providing medical assistance, and distributing clean water and medical supplies. Donate through their website or text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10.

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is providing mobile hospitals, health care professionals, and medical supplies. Donate through their website. Popular knitter and blogger Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is keeping track of how much money crafters have donated to the charity. Read more about her work with Doctors Without Borders here.

Save the Children is providing health care and resources to Haitian children and their families. Visit their website to donate, or text “SAVE” to 20222 to donate $10.

Founded by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund is dedicated to distributing food, clean water, shelter, and first aid supplies. Donate through their website or text “QUAKE” to 20222 to donate $10.

Children’s advocacy group UNICEF is establishing safe space for children orphaned or separated from their families. Donate on their website or text “UNICEF” to 20222 to donate $10.


Old Yarns & New Friends at the NYC Crochet Guild

January 27th, 2010

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A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking to the New York City Crochet Guild. We had a great turn out of over seventy people. I truly enjoyed watching the proud participants of this group show off their latest projects and designs. I was able to show them all of the exciting new yarns that we have for this year, such as Hometown USA, Amazing, the LB Collection, and some new yarns that have yet to be introduced.  When I asked how many of the ladies had been to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of the members had visited the store and absolutely loved it. I have attached some pictures for the meeting for your viewing pleasure.

My favorite part of the night was when one of the ladies, Irene, donated some vintage Lion Brand yarns to our archives. She donated some great oldies like Glitter Knit, Pamela, and Molaine that was made in Italy. She even gave us a sport yarn that was 100% pure wool that came out way before my time that was article number 804 with an old dye-cut label. Being that I love to collect vintage Lion Brand items for our archives, this was most exciting.

One of the greatest take away from visiting guilds around the country is all of the insightful feed back that I receive. I love going back to the office the next day and sharing all of the wonderful things I learned with the rest of the Lion Brand team. I can’t wait to visit my next guild.

Want Jack to visit your group? Groups of 50 or more in the tri-state area can contact jack@lionbrand.com regarding speaking at an event.


Did You Know…? How to Get Help from Lion Brand

January 26th, 2010

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Did you know that when you need help from Lion Brand, there are many options for contacting us?

If you would like to place an order and you would rather call than order directly online, you can call (800) 258-9276. This number is available 24/7

If you have questions about your order or need assistance ordering call customer service at (800) 661-7551. Customer service is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mon-Fri.

Our website has a wealth of information here.  Each one of the help tabs has a list of commonly asked questions several categories.

If you have questions about a pattern or stitch, need help reading a pattern or any technical knit or crochet questions, the fastest way to get an answer is by emailing us at support@lionbrand.com.  You may also call us for technical help at (800) 705-8636.  This line is open weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The Lion Brand Yarn Studio is our one-of-a-kind retail store in Manhattan.  If you want to know their hours or information about classes and workshops held at the store, you can check out the website but if you need additional information about yarns carried in that store, events and other information beyond what you find on the site, call (212) 243-9070.

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How Knitting and Crocheting Makes Us Better

January 26th, 2010

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We were overwhelmed by the impact crocheting and knitting has had on your lives. It has helped us relax, express ourselves creatively, connect with others, deal with grief, recover from health problems, give back to the community, and more. Because we loved your comments so much, we selected 5 of our favorites, and then we randomly selected a winner from there. Here are our top 5:

Jessica writes: Knitting and crocheting makes me better, I realized when my 3-year-old baby was diagnosed with leukemia this summer. I sat in the corner of the hospital room learning to knit quietly hoping to be invisible so to avoid nurses and visitors questioning me or trying to make polite conversation. On the contrary (and surprisingly!) it sparked MORE questions and conversations. Nurses wanted to know what I was working on and came close to inspect my progress. It became an ice-breaker and though many, many tears were shed, I found that I did need others support and having that knit project in my hands gave me a reason to connect with people when I much rather would’ve crawled under the bed and disappeared.

Kathy writes: How could knitting or crocheting NOT make us better people? We live in our self-created society of “STRESS.” We push ourselves and push ourselves. We all need to relax but how many of us would not have any relaxation if we didn’t have our needles or hooks in our hands? It forces us to sit down, whether in front of the TV, traveling, or listening to audio books (my favorite), so we can get some “rest.” I work in the health care arena – very stressful – no opportunity to create something of beauty and at the end of my day, I need to rest my mind as much as my body. But many of us need to be doing “something” besides vegetate and so we get out our yarn and practice our craft. I think all of us who knit or crochet have an artist within us – that need to create, to make a statement, to give gifts, etc. I have given away everything that I have created. Perhaps it is a way to leave a part of myself behind so someone will pick up an afghan, a sweater, and remember me and the love I put into making it.

Sue writes: Knitting makes me better because it forces me to stop. Stop emailing, stop doing laundry, just simply STOP … and sit, and relax, and drink warm tea, and look out the window at the world … and take a precious hour or two where I just focus on counting stitches, rows, knitting up yarn and starting the next new ball. When I’m knitting I see my achievement grow. I’m busy … but I’m not the constant, fighting, struggling kind of busy that is the life of many Moms. I’m busy growing a very special unique project that knits a little piece of me into every stitch.

Personna writes: Crocheting has taught me that I DO have patience and a creative eye, that I CAN find a way to calm down and relax, and what’s even better is that the people I make things for know how much they’re loved just by receiving something that I’ve made for them. Crocheting makes me better because I’ve learned that if I can make a cardigan and socks from string, I can do ANYTHING I set my mind to. I’ve even decided to try my hand at DESIGNING crochet.

Deb writes: Crocheting makes me better because I can say ‘I love and value you’ without saying a word. It is all intricately woven into the thread or yarn of the gift I have given to you dear and beloved friend (or family)!

Jessica’s entry was randomly chosen as the winner. Congratulations, Jessica, and thank you to everyone for sharing how knitting and crocheting impact your life.


Tips on Resizing Patterns & Understanding Common Pattern Terms

January 25th, 2010

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Each month in The Weekly Stitch, our e-newsletter, we’re featuring hints and tips from our friend, knitting & crochet designer and author, Barbara Breiter. Below are excerpts from her latest two articles, useful for both knitters & crocheters. Interested in learning more? Click their titles to read them for yourself.

Making Sizing Changes to Scarves and Throws

You have a throw pattern with a beautiful stitch pattern, but you’d like to make it wider or narrower. Or perhaps you’d like to make it into a scarf. Maybe the converse is true…you’d like to change a scarf into a throw.

It’s not as difficult as it may seem, even if you are a beginner!

There are two vital concepts that must be understood to accomplish this…

Understanding Common Pattern Terms

A pattern is a blueprint for a project. A well-written pattern doesn’t intentionally confuse you. If you find something confusing, keep in mind that sometimes the pattern is simply trying to convey information to help you. The term might be an industry standard, but one that you’ve never come across before.

Here are some terms and concepts, commonly used but also commonly confusing to many knitters and crocheters…

Want more tips from Barbara? Subscribe to The Weekly Stitch.


Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: Choose Your Yarn & Make a Gauge Swatch!

January 21st, 2010

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It is a thrill for me to host another Knit-Along with all of you!   I am really looking forward to making this great Aran knit pullover named the Inishturk Sweater.   It didn’t take long for me to decide to make this one for myself.  It has been quite the winter so far, and still a lot of winter to go.  I’m really anxious to get started and make a new sweater — and I hope you are, too!

I have printed my pattern for the Inishturk Sweater, and you can print your copy out anytime you wish.  Now, what size to make?  Many times, my knitting students have wondered what size to make a sweater for themselves and I tell them to measure a sweater they already love to wear.  I have a favorite pullover that is one I wear again and again.  I measured across its chest and it was 21″ — so it is a 42″ bust.  Looking at the sizes of the Inishturk sweater, I’ve decided to make the medium, which is a 44″.

I’ve decided to make this great Aran knit in the Fishermen’s Wool, because I love to work cables in a natural fiber or a yarn that has some wool in it.  The cables just seem to look better in a fiber like wool.    I chose the Oatmeal color that will go with almost anything I will wear.  For my size, I will just need 3 skeins of the Fishermen’s Wool!

Fishermen’s Wool is a “Category 4″ medium worsted-weight yarn.  If you don’t want to use the Fisherman’s  Wool, there are other great yarns that would be great with this pattern. Other yarns I think would be great would be Wool-Ease (a washable wool-blend), Vanna’s Choice (with its huge array of colors), or Cotton-Ease (with its cool hand and great drape) to name a few. (The latter two are good choices for those who are sensitive or allergic to wool.) Any yarn that gives a gauge of between 16-18 sts =4″ will work, but solid colors will show the cables the best.

Once you have your pattern, yarn, and know what size you would like, a swatch will be what will guarantee a sweater that fits.  Although there are different stitch patterns used in this pattern, the gauge is given for the Double Seed Stitch pattern.

Now, here is the thing about swatching with the Double-Seed Stitch — and I only know this because I remember panicking while knitting a project I made using that stitch pattern years ago —  I thought I would show you what happens when I work that stitch alone:

It can slant!  Not to worry, because when this stitch is dampened or worked within a pattern, it straightens out.  So, here is how I did my swatch.  I cast on 26 stitches and knitted for 5 or 6 rows, then I knit 3, worked the next 20 stitches in the pattern, and knitted the last 3.  I kept the garter stitch border, worked my pattern for 4″ then, knitted for another 5 or 6 rows and bound off:

Then, I dampened and dried the swatch and all I had to do is measure between the garter stitch border.

(1/26/10 – Swatch photo updated; original swatch photo was squished by the scanner.)

What size gave me the gauge?  A US 10 — glad I made this swatch as my sweater would have been much too small for me with the recommended US 8.

So, I’m ready to cast on and happy we can do it together!

How are your swatches turning out? Have you cast on  your sweater yet? Let us know!

Don’t forget to join our Ravelry or Flickr groups for discussion forums, sharing your photos, and more!

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Did You Know…? You Can Sort Blog Topics

January 21st, 2010

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Did you know that you can read blog posts only on the topics you are interested in?  Some of you wrote that you want to read about crocheting but not knitting (or visa versa.) Maybe you want to look at the history of the “knit-alongs” or look at the off-beat news from the “yarniverse”.  To read posts on just those topics, just look at the right sidebar under the word “categories.”  Click on the topic you want to follow and read all about it.

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Give the Gift of Handmade Contest Winner

January 20th, 2010

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Congratulations to Sarah for winning our video contest! Sarah made a hat and scarf for her step-father, Terry. Enjoy her great video below.

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Blog Round-Up: Knitters & Crocheters In Their Own Words

January 20th, 2010

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We love to see pictures of your projects and read your honest opinions on our yarns and patterns, both on our website and on your personal blogs. Here are just a few of the blogs that have caught our attention recently.

Goodnight Gram knitted several of our patterns (including the Crayon Caddy) and used Wool-Ease Thick & Quick.

Confessions of a Craftaholic dyed our LB Collection Pure Wool and wrote up a wonderful, easy-to-follow tutorial.

Hey Jen Renee knitted a hilarious beard hat out of Wool-Ease Chunky.

Sonja at Humble Stars & Posies wrote a great review on Vanna’s Choice.

Elly at Green Olives Design used Wool-Ease to make a matching sweater and alligator scarf set.

Thanks to these bloggers for all of their great projects and kind words!

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