Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for February, 2010


Seen in the Yarniverse: Crochet Megadoily

February 28th, 2010

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Surfing around my favorite design blogs and websites, I sometimes stumble upon some really unique ways in which designers are using knitting and crocheting to get inspired and to make out-of-the-box projects, and today’s blog post is another great example of that.

We often think of knitting and crocheting as crafts to make small wearable things, but design studio Ladies and Gentleman has played with scale to crochet rugs with cotton rope, inspired by traditional crochet doilies.

Click here to see more images of this project.

Via Oh Joy!

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Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: Blocking, Seaming, and Getting Ready to Finish

February 25th, 2010

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The pieces to my Inishturk sweater are looking good with the front and back done and the sleeves still coming along.  Some of you have finished (congrats!) and some have just begun (welcome!), but most of us are still “in progress.”  Many times, when I sew together a sweater, I just lay the pieces out and start sewing if the pieces are close to the correct size.  But before of you do, some of you will want to block the pieces. Why? Some of you have noticed how the cables have pulled in the fabric, as cables like to do! For example, my back is supposed to measure 22″ inches across, but after I knit it, it is only 20″.

Even if your gauge is right on the mark, this happens because of the cables. So, before I sew together a sweater that has a lot of cables, I just gently block it to size with a spray bottle of water.  I simply spritz the front and back of a piece with water so that it is damp, let it set a minute or two, and then just gently pull or shape it to size. Next, I let it dry completely. Since I used the Fisherman’s Wool, the natural fiber just eased up almost by itself!  Here it is at 22″:

My arms are usually a little longer than most patterns call for, so I like to put my front and back together first, work the collar, and then I put the sweater on to see just how long I would like my sleeves.  This pattern is easy to adapt the sleeves – you can just make them shorter or longer without having to worry about any sleeve cap shaping.

Before I can do that, I need to sew those shoulders — but I’ve decided not to sew them at all! This pattern is perfect for working the 3 needle bind-off to join the shoulders.  So I put the stitches of the shoulders back onto needles, worked the 3 needle bind-off, and I couldn’t have sewn a better seam if I tried! See the results below:

Now I just need to pick up stitches for the neck.   I really like this pattern, because it tells me exactly how many stitches to pick up and where to pick them up.  Knitting this collar in the round leaves even less seams to sew!

(As always, photos above with outlines and highlighted techniques are “clickable” for more details and/or information.)

How are you coming on your sweater? Let us know, or share photos by joining our Flickr group!

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Sharing the Lion Brand Experience with NYU Business Students

February 24th, 2010

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Recently, I had the pleasure of being invited back to my alma mater, New York University, to speak to the Stern School of Business’s Scholars, a group of the top students in their respective class years. I was asked to share my experiences as the president and CEO of Lion Brand Yarn Company for the last 7 years and a member of the company for the last 40 years. My talk was followed by a Q&A — and this group being of future business leaders, I was happy to be put through the paces by, and to share my experiences with, these students.

They asked me about our iPhone app, working with our many retail partners, the challenges of being a part of a family-owned and operated business, and surviving—and thriving—with the ups and downs of the knitting and crochet yarn industry as it has evolved over the last several decades.

As always, it brings me great satisfaction to give back to a community that has contributed to my success and to talk about this company, which I love.


Increases: The More the Merrier

February 23rd, 2010

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One of the many things I enjoy about both knitting and crocheting is that they both tend to be fairly straightforward. You start with X number of stitches, work them in stitch pattern Y, and when you’re done, you have project Z completed.

Except sometimes, it’s not all that straightforward. There are increases and decreases to be worked, colors to be changed in and out, stitch patterns to be changed between, finishing to be done…you get the idea. Once you start thinking about all that, your nice, easy hobby becomes a bit more daunting. There’s no reason to panic, though — all these things are really, when it comes down to it, still pretty straightforward.

Let’s take a look at increases, for instance. When you encounter an instruction for an increase, try not to over-think it. Most of the time, the instructions are pretty literal.

In crochet, the most common increase is to work two stitches into one (e.g., “2 sc in next st”). This can be a little confusing if you over-think it, but it’s really literally just what it says: you make a single crochet (sc) into the next stitch just as you normally would, then you go back into that same stitch and make another sc. That’s all there is to it. (Note: it doesn’t have to be a sc — this increase can be done with any type of stitch.)

Knitting increases are a little more complicated. Some involve making a completely new stitch between two other stitches, like the yarn-over (YO) or make 1 (m1). One of the most common, however, is the kfb, which stands for “knit in the front and back of the stitch.” There is one little trick to this stitch, and that is that after you make the first knit (into the front of the stitch), you don’t complete the ultimate step of removing the worked stitch from the left needle; instead, you immediately make the second stitch (into the back of the stitch). Only then do you remove the worked stitch from the left needle.

See? Increases are nothing to fret about!

One thing that will help you keep on track is to check your total stitch count whenever you’re given a reference in the pattern. It’ll look something like this at the end of a row: “– 15 (17, 19).” If your stitch count is correct, you should be in pretty good shape.

Need more help? Visit our YouTube channel for new video tutorials on increasing.


Design 101: Creating Your Own Color Combination

February 22nd, 2010

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Wax CrayonsHave you ever seen a pattern you like but hesitated to use it because of the colors?   We’d like to help you get started as a designer with some simple steps to choosing the color combinations you prefer.

Today we’ll work with the Mulberry Afghan, #90310.  Think about what colors you would like to use.  Would you like to give it as a gift to a friend?  If so, what are her favorite colors?  What are the colors of her living room?  If it is for yourself, look at the colors of the room where you would like to display the afghan, think about the colors that make you happy, or even draw inspiration from favorite objects like paintings or even a season.

The best way to select colors is by putting together the actual balls of yarn or yarn swatches.  Trying to select colors of yarn based on the way the colors appear on your computer or in the catalog is risky, especially if you are trying to match colors you already have.  The colors on the computer screen or in the catalog will never exactly match the actual yarn.

The best way to look at as many color options as possible is to have a color card.  We’ll be selecting from the Vanna lines of yarn, so you should order the Vanna’s Choice color card for this project.  You may order only this color card for $1.99 and shipping will be free by ordering item #ccvanna.  It includes sample strands of Vanna’s Choice, Vanna’s Choice Baby and Vanna’s Glamour yarns.

Once you receive the card, compare the colors of the actual yarn to the colors you would like to match or the colors you want to use.  Select 2-4 colors for this project.  Then use the diagram above (click to enlarge it, then print it out) to put sample strands of the colors into the spots on the diagram and see how they look together.  You can play around with crayons or paints while you are waiting for your color card to arrive to get a general idea of the color scheme, then see if there are actual yarn colors that look like they would fit your color scheme.

A ripple afghan is a great way to experiment with colors and to unleash your creativity.  Let us know how it goes!

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Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: The Inishturk Shapes Up

February 18th, 2010

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The Inishturk Sweater is certainly a cabled sweater of “Olympic” proportions!  I know I’m not the only one having fun knitting it while watching the 2010 Winter Games.  One reason this sweater is a great project to work with cables is because there is very little shaping in this sweater.  However, we do have necks and arms!   So there is a little shaping at the top of the back and front as well as the sides of the sleeves.   Some of you have been wondering how to keep your knitting in pattern while working the shaping of the neck and sleeves.  On all the wrong side rows, the instructions are to knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.   This can be confusing when you shape this sweater, because all of a sudden, the patterns change.

The shaping for the sleeves (for all the sizes) has us increasing 1 stitch each side of the sleeve every 3rd row 8 times, then every 4th row 15 times.   Keeping the Double Seed stitch pattern can be a challenge doing that when you will need to increase on the right side (RS) and sometimes on the wrong side (WS).  The main thing to remember is on the RS, knit the purl and purl the knit stitches.  On the WS, knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.

One of the best skills to have as a knitter is to be able to “read” your stitches.  In other words, know if they are knits or purls.  So, look at the stitches as they appear right now rather than how they were worked on the row before.  So, if your stitch appears like this picture (to the right, in pink), it is a knit stitch (even though it was a purled the row before.)  These are the stitches you purl on the RS and knit on the WS.

OK – so here (in green) is a picture of a purl stitch as it “appears” (there is always a “bump” at the base of it).  One of my students told me she learned how to identify a stitch as a purl, by the “pearl” necklace it is wearing!  These are the stitches you will knit on the RS and purl on the WS.

Sometimes the edge stitches might be difficult to “read”, so just look at the next couple of stitches to figure out whether that edge stitch is a knit or a purl.  And if the edge stitches don’t look perfect – don’t worry – they will be in the seam before you know it!

What about those cables patterns when you are shaping the neck?  The main rule is to not work a cable if you do not have enough stitches to do it.  Just work those stitches in stockinette stitch.  Below you can see the shaping I’m doing on the front left neck. It looks a little strange, but when I pick up stitches for the neck, it will look fine.

This sweater is “shaping” up nicely, and soon we’ll be at our own “finish line”!

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Turquoise: Color of the Year

February 17th, 2010

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Every year, color authority Pantone reports on color trends. This year, it has revealed turquoise as its color of the year. This cheerful shade of blue is popping up everywhere, from home decor to clothing and accessories. Turquoise is versatile because it can be bright and bold or calm and soothing. Here are some turquoise-inspired projects.

Turquoise
Clockwise from top left: Turquoise swatch from Pantone.com, Easy Knit Mittens in Country Green Jiffy, Knit Hat and Scarf in Lagoon Homespun, Crochet Amigurumi Octopus in Sage Lion Wool.

The color turquoise invokes feelings of confidence and cheer, making it perfect for any garment, accessory, or decor item. Try using the shade Turquoise in Cotton-Ease, Microspun, or Fun Fur to add a special pop of color to your next project.


Lion Brand Yarn Spotting

February 16th, 2010

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One of the funny things about working at a yarn company is that you start recognizing yarns all over the place. I recently received a cozy crocheted hat, that I suspected was Vanna’s Choice in Rust.  My only doubt came from the fact that my aunt, who gave me the hat, does not crochet.  Then minutes later my cousin opened her gift, which was also a crocheted hat, this time undeniably Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Wood, confirming my assumption that mine was Vanna’s Choice in Rust.

It turns out that my aunt had bought them from Krochet Kids, an organization where women from northern Uganda crochet hats to support themselves and their families. (Click the related links below to learn more about Krochet Kids.)

Each hat has a tag with the woman’s signature in it so that you can look up who made your hat on their website. It is always really fun and exciting to see Lion Brand yarns used in people’s work in online marketplaces, and it was especially fun to see it used by this interesting organization.

To see some other great uses of Lion Brand yarns, check out the Lion Brand Gallery on Artfire.  We also love seeing how you use our yarn, so be sure to post your most recent finished project in our Customer Gallery.

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Don’t Panic: A List of Resources

February 15th, 2010

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I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to write this particular post. You see, I really, really like talking to you all and helping you with your knitting and crochet questions. I like hearing about the project you’re making for your son on the East Coast, or your daughter in the Coast Guard. I really think it’s neat that you’ve been crocheting since you were 10, or that you’re in your 70s and have just decided to learn to knit. I want you to keep calling me and emailing me, and I want to keep helping you when you find yourself having a bit of trouble.

On the other hand, I think some of you only call and email because you’re not sure where else to turn, and I want you to know that there are some other resources out there that you can turn to if one of us at Lion Brand isn’t immediately available to you (like when you can’t quite remember how to properly do a hdc or sk2p at 3am on Sunday morning). So without further ado, here is a quick reference list of some helpful resources from LionBrand.com:

  • Learn to Crochet and Learn to Knit: Great explanations of the basics, plus a few more advanced techniques. You can also go to the Lion Brand YouTube Channel to see a lot of techniques demonstrated in short videos.
  • Hook and Needle Equivalents: Got a question about the proper hook or needle size? Check here for metric and imperial equivalents.
  • Lion Brand Yarn Info: Questions about a particular yarn? Click on the name of the yarn you’re interested to see available colors, recommended needle size, and more.
  • The Pattern Finder: This is one of the coolest things at LionBrand.com. Want to knit a sweater for your new grandson? Looking for a nice cowl pattern for yourself? You can search on a particular term, or you can scroll down and use the selection boxes and drop downs to narrow down the types of projects you want to see.
  • The FAQ bank: Want to know how to substitute a different yarn into a pattern? Need to estimate how much yarn you need for a particular type of project? Want to know why we’ve discontinued your favorite yarn? The Frequently Asked Question bank has the answers to the questions that, well, our customers have asked most often over the years.
  • List of Abbreviations: This mega-list of knit and crochet abbreviations is a fabulous resource, but remember to check the Stitch Explanation section of your pattern for detailed explanations of special stitches.
  • Finally, don’t forget to use this blog as a great resource! There is all sorts of great info here, and it’s all searchable using the search box in the upper right corner of this page.

I hope you will find these resources as helpful as I do. If you’re still stuck, though, please do give us a call or send an email (click here for customer & pattern support contact info) — we really do enjoy hearing from you and helping you!


Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation…and Knitting!

February 14th, 2010

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A site we like called Everyday Health, promotes knitting and crocheting for health reasons alongside some better-known stress reduction techniques.  This article talks about the health benefits of the crafts that we love. Here is another article that points to the impact of expressing your creativity on your health and also mentions knitting and crocheting.

Now, if we could only get health insurers to cover yarn!

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