Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for May, 2010

Did You Know…? Vanna’s Choice Colors Are Meant to Mix and Match

May 26th, 2010

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Vanna’s Choice yarns are great to work with and easy care, but did you know that all the colors were expertly designed to go with each other?  Jess and I decided to test the theory, and using Vanna’s Choice and Vanna’s Choice Baby we came up with over ten different color palettes!  The options are endless, but these few color combinations are a great jumping off point.  You can use them as they are, or pick as many colors as you need from each.

We started with the basics (note: captions list colors in order from left to right, top to bottom):

Then we picked palettes based off of individual colors (Greens, Neutrals, and Pinks):

Silver Blue, Silver Grey, Charcoal Grey, Dark Grey Heather, Navy,  Pearl Mist, Wheat, Oatmeal, Grey Marble, Barley, Taupe, Chocolate Cake,  Toffee, Chocolate, and Espresso

Silver Blue, Silver Grey, Charcoal Grey, Dark Grey Heather, Navy, Pearl Mist, Wheat, Oatmeal, Grey Marble, Barley, Taupe, Chocolate Cake, Toffee, Chocolate, and Espresso

Dusty Purple, Dusty Rose, Antique Rose, Pink, Rose, Lullaby Pink

Then we picked color themes (Muted, Deep, Brights):

Purple, Dusty Blue, Taupe, Rust, Mustard, Honey, Antique Rose, Dusty Rose, Dusty Purple, Dusty Green

Rust, Olive, Pea Green, Cranberry, Wildberry, Burgundy

Magenta, Sapphire, Fern, Scarlet, Mustard, and Berrylicious

We also picked seasonal colors (Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn):

Charcoal Grey, Dusty Blue, Navy, Purple, Espresso, Olive, Burgundy, and Cranberry

Little Boy Blue, Lamb, Toffee, Ducky, Sweet Pea, Magenta, Dusty Rose, and Fern

Angel White, Mustard, Terracotta, Pea Green, Mint, Pink Poodle, Cheery Cherry, Eggplant, Sapphire, and Aqua

Rust, Mustard, Toffee, Cranberry, Pea Green, Brick, Terracotta

You could also make your own entirely different Vanna’s Choice combos or themes.  No matter what colors you pick from the line, they always look perfect together.  The Vanna’s Choice Fan Club on Ravelry picks color themes and does swaps, knowing that no matter what they end up with, it’ll match perfectly.  What are you favorite Vanna’s Choice color combos?

Spotted: A Crochet Bike in NYC

May 25th, 2010

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I was walking through the Lower East Side of New York City when I spotted this bike, completely covered in crochet. Notice that even the kick-stand and wheels are completely covered!

I’m not sure where it came from or why it was there, but it was a fun sight that reminded me of the surprising places you can come across yarn art.

In what unexpected places have you spotted yarn? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Updated: Turns out the bike is a piece by Olek, a Brooklyn-based crochet artist who works in colorful crochet, creating arresting moments of pop colors in the urban landscape!

Washcloths: A Great Way To Satisfy The Urge To Knit and Crochet In Warmer Months

May 21st, 2010

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We have recently started our “washcloth of the week” series in our newsletter, The Weekly Stitch.  (If you don’t already get it, click here to get started signing up.) Just to give you an idea that washcloths can be an interesting and beautiful project, here are a two highly rated examples (click the photos to go to the patterns):

If you are visiting a friend during the summer, celebrating a birthday, anniversary or housewarming, a gift set that includes washcloths in a beautiful basket or box, accompanied by some luxurious soaps or bath products makes a thoughtful, personalized gift.  Just select the colors that you think would work for your friend’s decor.

We would love to hear about any ideas that you have for gifting washcloths!

Fantastic Feedback

May 18th, 2010

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One of the best things about sharing stories in our newsletter is reading the amazing feedback we receive. After reading The Wonder of Knitting, Lois O. wrote a touching email to author Michelle Edwards. She has given us permission to share her fantastic note with you. Thank you, Lois, for your letter and your fantastic outreach work.

KnittingI read your memo on the Lion Brand site, and it put a lump in my throat.

I learned to knit at and early age, and was taught by my Grandmother.  I fell in love with knitting, and over several years, made several afghans, hats scarves, etc, most of which were given away to friends and relatives.  Someplace along the line I quit knitting, as it seemed like work, instead of having fun.  After turning the ripe old age of 55, I joined an organization that matches senior citizens with needs of the community.  Everything from knitting , crocheting, making quilts, calling daily to check on seniors, reading to children-and the list goes on.

The organization is called RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program).  They ask citizens, companies, yarn shops etc. to donate yarn, and each skein is turned into something not only useful but needed.  I remember being asked if I would like to help start a knitting group.  Why I answered yes, I do not know but it has turned out to be one of the best things not only in my life but many others as well.

We started out with 3 women, we now have about 12 that consistently come every Wednesday morning-sometimes more-as we squeeze a little closer and always make room for another.  We have become a group that not only is doing something for someone else-WE ARE HAVING FUN!  We knit, talk, and of course eat, as someone always brings treats.  We have been through the highs and lows together-from new grandchildren, surgeries, and death.

As you can imagine we have laughed and cried together, and from all this we have become like a family-and all due to our love of knitting.  I would love to tell someone who is saying gee I always wanted to kit, but I’m either too old, or I wouldn’t have time-to just give it a try!  It may the best thing you could not only do for yourself, but be able to pass some love on to someone you not only don’t know, and probably never will. What a joyous thing!!  I will think of you looking out your window when I pick up my needles, with a smile on my face.

With love to you, and all the knitters who make a difference in this world of ours, and they probably don’t even know it.

– Lois

Turning Industrial Yarn Spools Into Light Fixtures

May 17th, 2010

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I think that one of the fun things that happens when you work in the yarn industry is that you start developing a real affinity for vintage yarn-related tools and machines, and when you see them, you get excited. Two years ago, Jack and I were up at the Knit & Crochet Show in Manchester, New Hampshire (a show we will be again attending in July!), and one of the coolest parts of that trip was all of the vintage knitting and yarn machines found in restaurants, stores, and hotels as decorative items.

It’s always amazing to me to see how people use these old tools in new ways, so while I was browsing one of my favorite eco-design blogs, I was happy to see these yarn spools, used for dyeing yarns, recycled into lighting fixtures!

Designed by Italian company, Re+, they reuse these yarn spools (which are made of 100% recyclable plastic) as the light’s casing and come with LED bulbs that last 40,000 hours! How cool is that!

Via Inhabitat.

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Quick Poll: Where Do You Craft?

May 14th, 2010

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We’ve heard great stories about crafting at home and on the go. Where’s your favorite place to knit or crochet?

Personally, I love to craft on the train to and from work. It’s great to be productive during my downtime, and it’s so fun to chat with other knitters and crocheters I meet on the train.

Beach Cardi Crochet-Along: Belt or Buttons and the Cardi is Finished!

May 13th, 2010

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Hello everyone! Well we’re finally here – the finishing steps of this cardi and then its ready to hit the beach :) I hope that you are happy with your results so far, whether you went with long sleeve or short, collar or hood, and you are ready to get this sweater done and ready to show off!

The first step of finishing the cardi is to work a single crochet edging along the ENTIRE sweater. This means around the back, up the slit, around and up one front, around the collar or hood, down and around the other front, then finally up and down the other slit – phew! I know it’s a long way to go, but it really gives that edge a beautiful finish.

Nice clean edges!

When working this edging, just be consistent about what part of the stitches you are working into and keep those single crochets nicely spaced – generally pretty close together – to keep in looking straight and even. Also, it can help to work 3 single crochet in the same stitch at each of the corners to help turn around them nicely.

At this point you should also weave in any ends, something I know I’ve been putting off until now! For weaving in my ends, I like to work in a diagonal out one way and back another, then I tug at the crochet fabric from all directions before trimming it, to make sure that end moves as much as it is going to! This way it is more likely to stay put for the long term. Also, where I joined a new ball of yarn, I work those two ends in different directions so I don’t end up with a bulky area in my sweater where I am trying to hide two ends together.

Also you will want to block the sweater now, if you haven’t already, following the same recommendations as the post about blocking explained. If you did block the sweater earlier like I did, it is still a good idea to block the sleeves and hood or collar area that hasn’t yet been blocked. The difference is this time use a spray bottle to wet only the areas being blocked, after you have them pinned into place, or experiment with steam blocking, again only steaming the areas you concentrating on. As with before, however, be very careful with applying heat to acrylic yarns, as you don’t want to melt the acrylic component with excessive heat exposure.

Let’s get to the more fun finishing work–how are you going to wear this cardi? Do you like the open, free look of it as is or are you thinking of some type of closure? Do you want the belt and belt-loops of the pattern or are buttons more your style?

For the belt, follow the pattern as written by making a strip repeating hdc’s until desired length. The belt loops are simply a chain of 12 that you then sew to the sweater of the body, although as an alternative you could make them directly on the cardi: simply join the yarn to the top of where you want the belt loop (around the waist) by working into a part of the crochet fabric, then chain 12, and finish by working a slip stitch where you want the bottom of the belt loop to be – no extra finishing required other than weaving in those ends!

Personally, I like the idea of a button instead, but again you have some choices. You can easily buy a button or toggle closure that you like – given the more open nature of this cardi, I envisioned a single closure below the bust line instead of a full button band, but the choice is yours! Alternatively, instead of buying a closure, you can crochet one! Again working from the Moderne Jacket pattern, follow the (slightly modified) button instructions:

Rnd 1: Ch 2. Work 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook; join with sl st in first sc.
Rnd 2: Ch 1, 2 sc in each sc around; join with sl st in first sc – 12 sc.
Rnd 3: Ch 1, (sc2tog) 6 times; join with sl st in first st. Fasten off leaving a long end. Weave end tightly through rem sts. Flatten button slightly and stitch through all thicknesses to secure. Sew button on Left Front.

I worked a crochet chain loop for the “buttonhole”: Join yarn on the side opposite the button placement, chain 8 (or the correct amount for your button size) then work a slip stitch into same stitch as the join to connect the loop and weave in the ends. The result? A different, yet simple way, to finish your cardi!

I guess that wraps up this crochet-along! I hope you are all happy with cardis and have learned some new things in the process. I know how much I have enjoyed reading your comments and questions, both working through challenges and seeing your successes. Please continue to leave comments and post about your finished projects here, on Flickr and in the Ravelry group: I can’t wait to see how your cardis have turned out and if anyone has made other modifications! Thanks for going on this crochet-along journey with me and hope you join our other crochet-alongs in the future!

As usual, highlighted text and photos with outlines are clickable. Click the photos to enlarge them, if you want to see them bigger.

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Get more support at the following sites (share photos, ask questions, read comments from other CALers):

World Travelers Leave Us With Souvenirs

May 12th, 2010

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At the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, we are thrilled to meet people from all over the world.  We’ve had visitors from every country you can think of, from Australia to Zimbabwe.  We love hearing your stories, seeing your projects, and even finding your change in our cash drawer–okay, we might not love the last one.

Our loose change box has become our own foreign coin collection.  Pictured above is a small sampling of recent finds.  We have coins from Ireland, Great Britain, Canada, the Bahamas and France.

So next time you are visiting us from a far away country and need to visit a currency exchange . . .perhaps you can visit us instead!  Maybe we can make change.

Have you visited the Studio? Tell us where you’re from and how you found the experience!

What’s Old Is New Again

May 10th, 2010

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Yesterday, I received two skeins of yarn as gifts for our Lion Brand archives. One of the skeins was Lion Brand Tweed Look, which was a four-ply knitting worsted yarn that was a Sayelle 100% Dupont Orlon. The yarn was machine washable and dryable and had a fantastic tweed look. I believe this yarn made its début in the late 1970’s and was extremely unique for its time due to the fact that most four ply yarns were considered a commodity, while this yarn had a unique tweed-like effect.

I was most excited about the second skein I received because it was one that I have never seen before. The yarn is called Glitter Knit and the put-up (the way the ball is shaped) and packing on this yarn are truly unique. Although we have had other yarns called “Glitter Knit” in our line throughout the years, this one was one I wasn’t familiar with; in addition to the put-up and interesting logo on the package, it also has an interesting fiber content. It is a 2 oz. skein that contains 87% wool and 13% tinsel. This skein is also special to me because it dates back to 1954, the year I was born.

Today, we have Vanna’s Glamour which is comparable to the vintage Glitter Knit, and over the summer, we’ll be introducing a new product that is like a modern take on Tweed Look. It’s interesting to see how everything comes full circle over the years!

Do you have photos of vintage Lion Brand yarns you want to share with us? E-mail the blog at and show us!

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Beach Cardi Crochet-Along: Hood or Collar? You Decide!

May 6th, 2010

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Hello! Hope you have all had a great week and your cardi has sleeves and is soooo close to being done! Did anyone else modify their sleeves (you can see my sleeves below)? How do they look? Please leave comments as to how your progress is going–I love hearing how else everyone is liking their cardis! Hopefully you are as happy with the result so far as I am!

This week I’m moving on to the hood section of the cardi: to work the hood, you are joining the yarn into one corner of the front neck edge, then crocheting back and forth along the neck edge to create the hood. I used the same marker technique I applied to crocheting along the armhole to make sure my stitches were evenly spaced, and found that to have 23 ch-1 spaces I was going to be pretty squished! I decided to take a little part of my shoulder seam apart on both sides to allow a little more room in the neck area and that worked to give my stitches a little breathing room.

To shape the hood there are increases made in the center of the neck to give the hood some volume, created by working 3 hdc in the center ch-1 space. Just be sure to keep track of this “center” because it does shift slightly whether you have an even or odd number of ch-1 spaces (as in, an even number of ch-1 spaces means no middle space) so I worked just to the left of center for the increase in that case. Then on row 2, work your hdc into the center hdc of the increase row instead of the usual ch-1 space.

Once you have increased to the indicated number of ch-1 spaces continue to work even, while maintaining the hdc cluster on both sides, until it is the correct length – 15 inches in my case. Now it’s time to seam it! I played around with the seaming a bit to see what looked best. First I tried the same mattress stitch-type seam I did at the shoulders, but didn’t like the look of it for the hood. Instead, I chose to work the invisible sewn seam and it looks great! Hardly even noticeable as it looks barely wider than a regular row of stitches, with a slight line down the middle.

The best part is it looks the same on both sides, good in the case of a hood where the inside is visible:

This seam is worked by going under the full stitch (i.e. both arms of the V) of one piece, inserting your needle back to front, then under the corresponding full stitch on the other piece, also working back to front.

Here’s how the cardi looks with the hood:

I think the hood looks very cute, but I’m also intrigued by the idea of a collar as some of you suggested. I took a look at the Moderne Jacket pattern (click the highlighted text to go to the pattern) and decided to adapt the idea of that collar to this project by working an increase at each end of the collar every few rows to give it a little shape. Taking something from one pattern and applying it to another is a great way to changes without starting from scratch! The only complication for our cardi is maintaining the look of the hdc clusters at each end while increasing, but here’s what I did:

First, I worked a few less stitches along the neck edge, working only in the ch-1 spaces around for my spacing instead of trying to reach a specific number of stitches, and found that I had 17 ch-1 spaces between my hdc cluster borders. I then worked as follows:

Row 1: Ch 2, turn, sk first hdc, hdc in next 4 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp, *ch 1, hdc in next ch-1 sp, repeat from * across to last 4 hdc, hdc in next 4 hdc and in top of turning ch.
Row 2: Repeat row 1.

Then increase by:

Row 3: Ch 2, turn, hdc in same st, hdc in next 3 hdc, sk next hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp, *ch 1, hdc in next ch-1 sp, repeat from * across to last ch-1 sp, sk next hdc, hdc in next 3 hdc, 2 hdc in next hdc, hdc in turning ch.
Row 4: Ch 2, turn, hdc in next 3 hdc, sk next hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp, *ch 1, hdc in next ch-1 sp, repeat from * across to last ch-1 sp, sk next hdc, hdc in next 4 hdc, hdc in turning ch.
Row 5: Repeat row 1.

Rows 6-8: Repeat rows 3-5.

I stopped after row 8, but feel free to repeat the increase row (3) until collar is desired shape or just repeat row 1 if you want to make it longer. Here’s my result:

Please feel free to ask questions if you need help with these instructions! This was just my way of playing with increases to shape the collar, but I’m sure there are many other options as well – be creative and please share if you make any of your own modifications.

My question for you this week: which look should I go with–the hood or the collar? Having seen both I’m feeling torn! Leave your comments and I’ll take them into consideration in deciding how to finish my cardi. Next week the end is here: making the sweater looked polished with a single crochet edging and belt or button closures!

As usual, highlighted text and photos with outlines are clickable. Click the photos to enlarge them, if you want to see them bigger.

Related links:

Get more support at the following sites (share photos, ask questions, read comments from other CALers):