Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for June, 2010

Are You A Star Contributor?

June 30th, 2010

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You may remember when we introduced our first “Star Contributor” Grace Jones, who contributes so much to our communities on Ravelry, Facebook, listens toand comments on our podcasts and has visited the Lion Brand Studio.  This month Grace wrote a blog post on her own blog about a summer top she crocheted with Cotton-Ease.

Are you a “Star Contributor?”  Do you connect with Lion Brand through Facebook, Twitter, and/or Ravelry?  Do you read our newsletter, comment on our blog, and listen to our podcast?  If so, feel free to nominate yourself or a friend by commenting here or emailing me at  If you are chosen, we will write about you on our blog, send a thank-you basket of yarn samples, and you’ll get 2 free tickets to the exciting Maker Faire event coming to New York for the first time this September.  Most importantly, we like to recognize publicly, the contributions made by those who share their knowledge, their interest and their love of yarn with others in our community.

Want a Bigger Garment? Use a Thicker Yarn!

June 28th, 2010

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Earlier this season, we released a new yarn that’s like a chunky-weight version of our popular Cotton-Ease. Like Cotton-Ease, Baby’s First is a cotton/acrylic blend made with many fine plies, which gives it great stitch definition, loftiness, and strength. And while it’s called Baby’s First, its sherbet colors are actually great for spring and summer garments for adults too.

Wanting to make something in this yarn, I decided I’d look at quick-to-crochet cardigans that I can layer with summer dresses, but looking at our Pattern Finder, the pattern that caught my eye was this kid’s Bebop Cardi (below), originally made in Vanna’s Choice, a worsted-weight yarn. While its largest size would actually work for a women’s XS, I figured I’d need a slightly bigger size.

Luckily, one great way to resize a pattern is to follow the directions exactly as written, but use a thicker yarn and a bigger hook! Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Sure, but how do you know what size your project is going to end up?” Well, as with almost all projects, gauge is going to come into play when it comes to determining size.

First I made a gauge swatch with the recommended size hook for Baby’s First, the K-hook. The pattern tells me that I need to make the whole swatch in double-crochets, so lucky for me, it’s very quick:

Normally, you’re trying to match the gauge in the pattern (in this case 3 inches to 9 stitches across), BUT since the whole point of this new yarn and hook size is to get a bigger swatch, my next move will be to figure out just how much bigger it is compared to the original swatch. I measure my 9 stitches and I get 3.75 inches or 1.25 times bigger than the original sweater (3.75 inches divided by the original 3 inches = 1.25). To get my projected bust measurement (the best way to size a sweater), I multiply the smallest bust measurement (29 inches) by that 1.25, and I get a  bust measurement of 36.25. That’s a little bigger than I’d like it to be, as I’d like the cardigan to be more fitted, so next I tried one size smaller, using a J-hook.

This gave me 3.5 inches over 9 stitches. It doesn’t sound like a big difference, but remember, over as many stitches as you have in a sweater, it adds up fast. With this hook, my swatch is 1.167 times bigger than the original gauge. This gives me a bust measurement of 33.83 inches. This is much closer to the 34 inch bust that I’d like to achieve. [Note: If you want to make this pattern as a women’s medium or large, get 3.5 inches per 9 stitches, and then you can expect to follow the medium or large directions of the pattern for a 35.6 inch bust and 38.5 inch bust respectively. Again, to get these measurements, I just multiplied the 1.167 by the original medium and large bust measurements. For slightly larger sizes, just do the same math with the K-hook measurements!]

The cardi worked up quickly (the pattern is only 17 rows, following the smallest directions), and here’s the finished product:

As with any project, it’s always best to wash it according to its care instructions after it’s finished (to get rid of any grime from working the yarn and to fluff it up), so into the washer and dryer it went! I also measured the circumference just to double-check that the size was right, and it was just under 34 inches–right on the money.

I’m really looking forward to wearing this cardigan all summer long!

And here’s the back:

Do you have any projects that you’ve modified to suit your needs? Tell us about them by leaving a comment!

Express Yourself with Sock-Ease

June 24th, 2010

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My absolute favorite knitting project is socks. While I do enjoy solid socks, I really love combining colors with stripes and Fair Isle. When the new colors of Sock-Ease arrived, I decided to test out a few color combinations by knitting up some miniature socks!
From left to right: Cotton Candy with Lemon Drop, Lemon Drop with Green Apple, Green Apple with Marshmallow, Taffy with Snow Cone

As you can see, I got some fun results by mixing stripes with stripes, stripes with solids, and solids with solids. My first two combinations were bold and exciting, while the second two were more classic. Once I was finished making these tiny socks, I decided to give them to a worthy recipient: Archibald the Octopus, who I blogged about last year!
Archibald with socks

What are your favorite Sock-Ease color combinations? Let me know in the comments so that I can knit Archibald 4 more socks!

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Share Yarncrafting with the Next Generation! Teach a Child to Crochet or Knit!

June 23rd, 2010

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On Friday, I was crocheting some gauge swatches on the subway, which I take to get home after work. A few stops in, three little boys boarded the train with their father. One of them sat down in the empty seat next to me and called to his brother, “Look, she’s knitting! That’s cool!”

Now, I happen to be the kind of person who mostly keeps to myself on the subway, but I do like sharing my crafts with kids, so I turned to him and explained to him that actually I was crocheting, and that I’d be happy to show him the cardigan I just finished (look out for an upcoming blog post about it). He was impressed, and said, “That’s hot.”

Next, he and his brothers then asked me about what else I liked to make. I told them about my projects, and they told me that they had friends who crocheted both with hooks and by finger-crocheting (a good, kid-friendly technique, where they use their finger as the hook). They also told me that they too wanted to learn to crochet in art class so they could make slippers, hats, and gifts, and that they hoped someday they would be as fast as I was.

It was so fun to hear their enthusiasm, and it was a wonderful reminder that if you have the opportunity to teach an enrichment class at your local school district, church, or community center, or if you can support a local art teacher by donating yarn, tools, or your time, it’s a great opportunity to pass these great crafts onto the next generation.

Do you teach knitting, crochet, and/or other yarncrafts to children in your community? Tell us about your experiences by leaving a comment!

Kids’ Craft Camp: Braided Octopus

June 22nd, 2010

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Tassel dolls are the perfect way to make fun toys without knitting or crocheting. This octopus tassel doll only requires you to count to 8 and braid!
tassel octopus
To make it, you’ll need some yarn (any weight, color, or texture), a pair of scissors, and something to wrap your yarn around. We used a binder, but you can use a notebook, a tissuebox, a DVD case, or whatever else is handy.

Step 1

Step 1: Wrap your yarn around the binder. The more times you wrap, the thicker the octopus will be.

Step 2: When you're finished wrapping, clip your working yarn. Carefully slide your loops off of the binder.

Step 3: Clip a small length of yarn (a few inches long will do). Put this through your loops and tie to secure. This forms the top of a tassel.

Step 4: Pinch your tassel a few inches down to form the head. Tie with another short length of yarn.

Step 5: Cut the bottom loops to form the bottom of the tassel.

Step 6: Separate the yarn pieces into 8 sections of roughly similar size. Braid each section.

That’s all it takes to make this fun and easy octopus! Want more ideas of what you can make with tassels? Click here to see all of our tassel patterns.

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