Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for February, 2010

Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: Making (and Fixing) Cables

February 11th, 2010

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It has been great reading how many unique ways we all keep track of those cable patterns while making the Inishturk Sweater.  So, whether you’re reading the row by row instructions, working charts, using your computer or index cards to keep things straight, it’s all good!

Now here’s some very good news for all you who like to use charts.  The Inishturk pattern now has all the charts included, and it shows the placement of those charts!

This sweater is a “cable lover’s” dream.  I was looking over all the cables in this sweater pattern and realized that, by the time we have finished 16 rows, we have made well over 100 cables!  And as with all things, one or two (or more) of those cables is bound to go the wrong way!

While I was admiring how pretty the cables looked on my Inishturk the other day, I suddenly notice something awry about 4″ from the top…

Ooops. The center cable on Panel A is not correct, as all those cables on that row should be slanting to the right. I love to call these little mistakes “hiccups” in my knitting. At first I thought I might take my knitting back to that point — but we have a KAL to do here! So, sometimes there are little tricks to soothe our hiccups.

With my tapestry needle and yarn, I decide to make a stitch!  Some of you may have already tried a technique called “duplicate stitch” (where you embroider a mock knit stitch onto your project with needle and yarn.)  This technique is used a lot when you only need to make a single or a few stitches of a different color on top of your knitting.  But in this case, it can be a handy technique if your cable is going the wrong way!

In order to help you see this duplicate stitch I’ve made it below in a contrasting color.  I just came up from the back of my work at the base of the missing “stitch”, and ran it under the base of the stitch where I wanted it to connect. Then I inserted my needle into the same place I had started.

Now here it is with the matching yarn.  I just wove the ends into the back of my sweater…and it’s like nothing ever happened!

With all of these cables, I decided to start one of my sleeves as knitting I can take with me when I’m away from home.  The front and back will stay next to my sofa where I can give them all the attention they need!

What about you? How is your sweater going? Also, don’t forget to share photos with us on our Flickr group!!

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Did You Know…? How to Substitute One Yarn for Another

February 9th, 2010

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Over the last decade, we’ve collected many of the common questions we’ve gotten from yarncrafters like you and created a useful database. Our Frequently Asked Questions section ( > Learning Center > FAQ) is a great resource for most of the basic questions that crocheters and knitters have about yarn, projects, techniques, and even our website!

One of the most common questions we get is “How do I substitute one yarn for another?”

Click here for the answer.

Want more answers to your FAQs? Just type a few keywords into the search box in the middle of the FAQ page and it’ll bring up related topics! Click the title of the article that you want to read, and get the answers you’re looking for!

Critter Hats on the Streets of NYC

February 9th, 2010

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A little while ago, I received a wonderful article from my friend Wolfie that made me smile. It was a feature in The New York Times on knit and crochet “critter” hats and accessories, spotted all over New York City. Being that critters are very near and dear to our hearts here at Lion Brand, I wanted to share it all with you. Click here to see the video version or click the photo above to enlarge.

Seeing these whimsical yarn creations can warm up even the coldest of New York days. If you love critter creations as much as we do, please feel free to share them with us. Click here to share photos of your creations on our Customer Gallery.

Want to make your own whimsical hats for kids? Click here for patterns.

Look Before You Leap: Working “At the Same Time”

February 8th, 2010

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Every once in a while, I find myself working happily along on a pattern when I’m suddenly confronted with an instruction or abbreviation that completely throws me. It’s not too bad if it’s something I can work out and then continue on, but occasionally I find that I’ve worked past a certain point where I was supposed to begin doing something else and I end up having to rip back. And while there is no shame in ripping, there is a good deal of annoyance when the ripping is caused by my plunging ahead, recklessly ignoring the concept of reading the pattern through before starting.

Before you even work your gauge swatch, maybe even before you decide for sure this is what you want to make, you should read the entire pattern through. This is a great time to circle all of the numbers for the size you’re working on, make sure you understand all of the abbreviations in the pattern, and look for instructions like “AT THE SAME TIME.”

If you find abbreviations you’re not sure of, take a look at the “Abbreviations/References” table at the end of the pattern, and if you don’t see the instruction there, check the “Stitch Explanation” section near the top of the pattern.

For instructions like “AT THE SAME TIME” you will want to read all the way through that set of instructions, noting at which point you are to begin working those instructions. In fact, let’s talk a bit about just what that instruction means.

You will usually see this in a pattern that requires a good deal of shaping, like a sweater. Take a look at the schematic for a sweater front, and you’ll see that much of the neck and armhole shaping will be taking place on opposite ends of the same rows. In an effort to avoid confusion, the instructions for shaping the armhole and the instructions for shaping the neck will be written out separately and then joined with the “AT THE SAME TIME” instruction.

What you need to do is note where you are to begin working that second set of directions. Usually this is a measurement or point in the stitch pattern, and will be indicated just after AT THE SAME TIME, for example “AT THE SAME TIME, when piece measures 17 (17, 17 1/2, 17 1/2, 18, 18) in. (43 (43, 44.5, 44.5, 45.5, 45.5) cm) from beg…” You will then be instructed to start working on the next instruction. The trick here is to continue working the first shaping instructions while beginning the new instructions. Don’t be thrown off by things like being told to work the first shaping a certain number of times — you will keep counting those repeats, but you won’t have completed them all before beginning the AT THE SAME TIME instructions.

Once you’ve taken a look at the bigger pattern picture, you’ll be ready to sit back, relax, and enjoy the process of creating a beautiful project, one stitch at a time.

Help Children in Need: afghans for Afghans’ Youth Campaign

February 8th, 2010

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Our friends at “afghans for Afghans”, a charity that donates handknit and crocheted items to the people of Afghanistan, is collecting donations of wool (or other animal fiber) sweaters, vests, mittens, and socks for their Youth Campaign.  The shipment is going out in March so all donation must be received on or before March 1. Please consider whipping up a pair of mittens or socks in the next couple weeks and send it to the afghans for Afghan’s San Francisco collection center.  If you are up for a challenge, consider finishing up a hibernating UFO or starting a child’s vest to send.  Your wool gift will mean one more boy or girl is comfortable and warm in the harsh winters.  Afghans for Afghans is looking for knits for boys and girls ages 7-14.

Click here for more information about the afghans for Afghans Youth Campaign.  For general guidelines, including fiber requirements, and the mailing address please click here.

Giant Knit & Crochet Animals!

February 6th, 2010

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Lion Brand unveiled a giant menagerie of exotic animals made of yarn at the Craft and Hobby Association convention in Anaheim, California last week.

These one-of-a-kind animals were created from a variety of our yarns available at Wal-Mart and retail craft chains including Jo-Ann and Michaels. The yarns, including Homespun, Fishermen’s Wool, Vanna’s Choice and Fun Fur, were combined in unique ways to create the extraordinary textures and designs of the animals. The animals were placed imaginative “habitat” settings including a rocky surface, a flowering bush and a tall grass—all created with yarn.

The giraffe is 8 feet tall, and the snake is 40 feet long, and each took HUNDREDS of balls of yarn to make. In the photos you can see the development of this project from concept to the creation and finished pieces.

We had a great time at the show, watching the amazed expressions on the faces of people who visited our booth.  Many of them stopped to take pictures of themselves with their favorite creature.

If you want to make your own smaller animals click on the related links or go to and search for “amigurumi” or “animals”. Similar small animal patterns:

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Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: Visual Patterns – Charts

February 4th, 2010

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I can remember over 20 years ago when I was in college (and working part-time in a yarn shop!) that some knitting stitch patterns were starting to written in chart form.  I had always knitted cable and lace patterns with instructions that wrote out what to do row by row.  I was used to doing that, but once I learned how to read charts, I found them to actually be much easier to follow.  Quite a few of you have asked for charts for the stitch patterns in the Inishturk sweater pattern since they were not included.  I knew I would like them, too.  So, this week we have charts for the 3 larger cable patterns.

I’ve decided to include a little tutorial about how to read charts for those of you who have never tried them.  So, below is a chart for Cable C:

This chart is a visual of the written instructions for Cable C.  You can see that row numbers 1 and 3 are on the right of the chart and rows 2 and 4 are on the left.  So, for row 1 (the RS) you will work the chart from right to left.  Then, row 2 (WS) is read from left to right.  (For those of you who are working this sweater in the round, you will read every row of the chart from right to left, because you are going in a circle!)

Alright, each square is a stitch and depending whether you are on the right side or wrong side of your piece, will determine how you read the symbols that go with the chart.  The symbols for these charts are can be found here [PDF; must have Adobe Reader (free at to open].

The stitches that are empty are worked as knit stitches on the right side and as purl stitches on the wrong side.  The purl stitches that are indicated by a” “on the right side are knit on the wrong side.  So, now all you need to match up is the symbols to the cables on the charts.  There are a lot of different variations of 2, 3, and 4 stitch cables in this pattern, so just match them carefully to each other to see which stitches are knit, purled and whether you hold that cable needle to the front or the back.

OK, so here is the chart for Panel A (As always, you can click outlined images, like the ones below, to enlarge):

And…ta-da, the chart for Panel B (Again, click the image to enlarge):

So, for those of you who have been wanting these charts – enjoy!  I always find it always helps to enlarge those charts as you are working them.  For those of you who have never done a chart, give it a try and you may find you like these visual instructions!

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The Perfect Leftovers Project

February 3rd, 2010

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Amazing Striped ScarfAfter completing a small project with Amazing, I was left with about 20 small balls in various colors, each ranging from about 5-15 yards in length. With such short lengths of yarn, I decided the best thing to do would be to make a striped scarf. I used this Brooklyn Tweed scarf as inspiration and cast on 25 stitches. I then worked in a 1×1 rib, alternating between colors every 2 rows. When I used up an entire ball, I simply changed to another. The result is a beautiful mixture of the Mesa, Olympia, Wildflowers, Ruby, and Aurora colorways. While I only used small amounts of leftover yarn, the finished scarf measures about 3.5 inches wide by 60 inches long. I love how the finished scarf shows off both the vibrant brights and delicate muted tones. Best of all, I’ve used up all of the small leftovers that were sitting around my desk! I did have to weave in a lot of ends, but the completed scarf made it all worthwhile.

Did You Know…? How to Locate Stores Carrying Lion Brand in Your Area

February 3rd, 2010

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Did you know that you can use our website to find stores in your neighborhood that sell Lion Brand yarns?

It’s very simple. Let me show you how – go to and in the lower left hand corner of the page, enter your zip code. For example, I entered ‘07603′. Once you’ve entered your zip code, click search.

On clicking search, the Store Locater will show you stores that sell Lion Brand yarns around the zip code you entered. Each Lion Brand icon represents a local store that carries Lion Brand yarns. In this example, there ten stores around 07603 that sell Lion Brand yarns. Simply click on the closest Lion Brand icon from the blue pin to reveal the name of the store and its address.  AC Moore seems to be the closest store.

When you click on the ‘Click for directions’ link shown above, you’ll be directed to a page that will even give you driving directions to that store from the zip code you entered!

Now that you know how to use the Store Locator, you’ll always know the closest place to purchase your favorite Lion Brand yarns. Go ahead and give it a try.

Have you used our Store Locator before? Have you found it useful? Please tell us about your experience. We love hearing from you!

Fiber Arts Abroad: Yarn-Spotting in Israel

February 2nd, 2010

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While traveling in Israel recently, I came across a couple wonderful fiber displays.  Working in Lion Brand’s NYC offices above the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, I get to see the creative use of yarn for the window display on a regular basis.  I always love seeing other retailers use yarn in displays, and I was even more excited to see yarn used for a retail display in Jerusalem!  The bright colors draped from branches and dropped into shopping bags lining the bottom of the window.

A week later while roaming the narrow sidewalks of Jaffa, I came across a fiber art gallery.  As in the picture below, all the art was felted, from the initial felted “canvas” to the yarn details felted over it.

On a trip with lots of site-seeing and very little time to knit, the occasional fiber-arts spotting was especially comforting.

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