Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for April, 2010

Our Catalog, Then and Now

April 14th, 2010

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Then (1996)
We printed 5,000 copies of our first consumer catalog.  It was a 6 page black and white fold-out which included an order form.  We had 16 types of yarn, 5 of which were different versions of Jamie, a popular baby yarn.  We offered 9 different kits but no free patterns.  There were two yarns that are still in our line today: Fishermen’s Wool, which sold for $8.99, and Wool-Ease, which sold for $2.99.  (Today, 14 years later, Fishermen’s Wool is $9.99 and Wool-Ease is $3.49.)  In 1996, our catalog had a staff of two: me and one person who packaged orders on a table near my desk.  The owners of the company developed the yarns and worked with designers to create a handful of new designs each year.

Now (2010)
We print over 1 million copies each year of a full-color 56 page catalog that includes over 100 free patterns (plus 3,000 more on our website.)  We offer over 55 different types of yarns, including a wide range of natural and organic fibers, as well as the first celebrity licensed yarn, Vanna’s Choice.  Today many people in the company work to bring you the catalog, including the beautiful photography and designs.  We have a design department, a marketing department, as well as customer service and shipping departments.

It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come just in the last 15 years!

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A Night with the Westchester Knitting Guild

April 14th, 2010

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A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking to the wonderful women of the Westchester Knitting Guild. It is always a delight to speak to this guild because they are so full of passion and excitement. During my presentation I showed them all of the new products Lion Brand has to offer, as well as the exclusive LB Collection. I even had the pleasure of dining with some of the members. People seemed to love seeing and the LB Collection in person.  These yarns are only available on our site and in our store. As Evelyne, one of my new friends from the guild said, “These yarns continue to seduce.”

Just a few days ago my new friends surprised me with a lovely thank you card (below) and box of chocolates. It’s people like them that make my job so enjoyable and gratifying! I truly enjoy speaking to yarn lovers and if you have a group of 50+ in the Northeast and would like to request a presentation, please contact me at

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Mother’s Day Show & Tell Event

April 13th, 2010

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We would like to invite you to an online Show & Tell event with the theme of “Spa Gift For Mom.”  Use some of the free patterns we offer to create washcloths and other hand-made bath accessories.  Add some soaps, body wash, and maybe some scented drawer liners, or even your famous chocolate chip cookies, then wrap them all up in a pretty package on a dish or in a basket.  Take a photo and upload the photo onto our customer gallery by May 12th by filling out the form that includes a place to add your images, and we’ll select our favorites to share with our millions of readers on our newsletter, blog and Facebook page.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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Amazing Cure For Teen Disengagement!

April 13th, 2010

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Have you ever sat at the dinner table with a teenager while he or she spent the entire time texting?  It turns out that you might get teens to avoid being slaves to their electronics by teaching them to knit!.  Check out this article about a knitting club at a school in Florida.

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Best of Both Worlds: Combining Machine Knitting and Hand Knitting

April 12th, 2010

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I tend to have many projects going at any given time, and sometimes I want to “skip to the good part” of a project.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy knitting stockinette stitch–I just want to finish more projects and the simple parts sometimes take a while.  Patty from the Lion Brand Yarn Studio posted a great example of how she combined machine knitting and hand knitting to make a sweater go a little faster.  Click here to check out how she got through 8″ of her cardigan in 12 minutes!  I admit, at first I thought it was “cheating”, and then I remembered that I have enough potential hand knitting projects to last me a lifetime.  If machine knitting parts means more projects off the needles, I’m all for it.  If you’re in the New York City area and you’d like a demo, stop by the Studio or call them to book a private lesson.

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This Truck Driver Loves His Knitting!

April 11th, 2010

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Kevin and Gretchen Abraham-Banks both drive trucks and both love to knit.  Gretchen taught her husband to knit on Wool-Ease Thick & Quick and now, she says, “I created a monster!.”

After we saw an article about a trend of truck drivers who knit during recessionary down times, we contacted them to find out more.  Gretchen sent us a number of photos of their knitting household, including two teenage sons.  They told us they really enjoy using Lion Brand yarns, especially because it is widely available and reasonably priced.  Kevin is shown in the photos knitting everything from afghans to socks on circulars, straights and double pointed needles.  Right now, his passion is sock knitting.

Do you know someone with down time? Why not teach him or her to knit or crochet?

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Beach Cardi Crochet-Along: Let’s Get Going!

April 8th, 2010

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Spring is in the air here in NYC and I’m already dreaming of trips to the beach–you must be too since the Beach Cardi won in the vote! I’m so excited to be hosting this crochet-along and ready to get started – so let’s talk planning, including yarn choices and swatching.

Based on the pattern sizing, I’m going to make the medium (also called S/M), which has a finished chest measurement of 38.5 inches. When choosing a size, pay attention to phrases such as “finished measurements”–this means the measurement of the garment itself, not of you! For me, I will have a couple of inches of ease (i.e. wiggle room) at this size because the finished measurement is a couple of inches larger than my actual measurement.

To determine your size, it can help to use a flexible tape measure: You can use it to take your own measurement, but you can also size it to garment’s finished measurement, and see how much ease you will have. Another great way to pick a size is to measure a similar garment you already own.

Yarn Selection
The pattern calls for Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton, which I’m going to use in the Olive color way. I love this sort of yellow-green color and it seems to be very popular this year. Nature’s Choice is a single ply cotton wrapped with a thin thread, giving it a very plush look, but it also needs a little more delicate care than other cottons, as it requires hand washing. If this isn’t the yarn for you, don’t worry–there are plenty of other substitutes!

Nature’s Choice is considered a worsted-weight yarn, so any other worsted (medium or category 4) yarn would do. Being a summer project, I suggest other cottons, such as Cotton-Ease, Recycled Cotton or Lion Cotton. All three are machine washable and create a little lighter fabric than Nature’s Choice. If you have never worked with it, Cotton-Ease is an excellent yarn: the cotton-acrylic blend makes it very smooth and adds a little more stretch than other cotton yarns. The Recycled Cotton has a multi-colored ply that gives it a heathered appearance, which could be a really great look for this cover-up, and Lion Cotton has a huge range of color options. Alternatively, any other worsted-weight yarn could work, such as Vanna’s Choice or Wool-Ease if you are looking for a warmer option.  When substituting, be sure to take the number of yards-per-ball of each yarn into account in order to calculate how many will be needed for the size you are making.

The Swatch
While sometimes we all want to skip this step, checking your gauge is super important. I personally like swatching because I feel like it’s the first chance to see what you are going to be working with–how the yarn and stitch pattern look together and how you like working with it. Plus, it’s a great feeling to start a project knowing that you are on your way to a successful fit because you know your gauge is spot on!

I like to make my swatches larger than the four-by-four square so you can accurately measure across four inches in multiple places to get a truly accurate gauge. It’s a good idea to treat your finished swatch how you plan to treat your garment; this means washing and blocking it exactly as you will treat your finished piece. This is of particular importance when substituting yarns since some yarns, such as Recycled Cotton, “bloom” (i.e. expand) when washed which will change your count. I soaked the swatch in a mixture of water and my preferred fiber wash, according to directions on the bottle, then pinned it out to dry, just like I will do for blocking the cover-up.

Now measuring is just a matter of careful counting. In this garment, stitch gauge is more important that row gauge because the pattern is worked in inch instructions more so than numbered rows. This means you can work as many or as few rows as you need to get to the proper length, but the stitch gauge determines the measurement around and that’s where the fit comes from. For me, I was able to attain the gauge of 11 hdc + 8 rows on a size I-9 hook.

So pick your yarn and get those swatches going! Next week we’ll be starting the front and back pieces, then joining them to start creating the majority of the cover-up. I’ll be going over the no-chain foundation and more, so look out for that!

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Brightening Our World With Yarn!

April 7th, 2010

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We all know, yarn makes everything better.  Yarn brightens our lives and our world.  Many of you who have visited us at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio might have noticed the bike rack in front of our store . . .

or our door handles:

A few days ago, spring was finally in the air, the trees were starting to bud, and the city landscape around our us was calling out for a little brightening up.  So, we figured, the pipes and the lamp post deserved a new spring wardrobe.

Yarn just makes everything more cheerful!

A (Giant) Touch of Cables for the Home

April 6th, 2010

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Recently I saw this photo of artist Christien Meindertsma‘s giant knit Aran Rug. It struck me as a beautiful and unique way to incorporate yarncrafts into your home — and I hope you find it as inspirational as I do.

I’m not sure that I have needles quite big enough for a rug, but I bet you that with Speed Stix and three strands of Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, I could make a small rug or a throw. If you’re also inspired by Christien’s piece, take a look at the Diamonds and Pearls cable pattern or the Hourglass cable pattern in our StitchFinder for similar cable patterns to try out.

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Imagine A Creature, Make It and Win!

April 5th, 2010

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Our friends at Instructables are running a contest that you can enter by creating a creature and submitting one or more photos.  You’ll have a chance to win one of ten $25 gift certificates plus a prize packet of goodies from Instructables.

If you are not familiar with this website, it is a lot of fun to explore the content created by makers like you, who provide step-by-step instructions on how to do everything you can imagine, including how to make Easter eggs dyed with onion skins or yarn,  how to make French toast (as well as many other recipes), how to make a speaker out of a tree stump and how to make a greenhouse.

Below are some early entries.  Get started now.  Contest ends April 25th.