Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

Image frame

Archive for October, 2010


Happy Halloween!

October 30th, 2010

Pin It

Pumpkin

Happy Halloween, everyone! We love to craft for the holidays, and Halloween is the perfect opportunity to show your yarncrafting talents while making costumes, decorations, bowls, trick or treat bags, and more! How have you incorporated yarn into your Halloween decorations and costumes?

Update: Here are some photos from our staffers, Kendra & Zontee, who dressed up as characters from the cartoon series, Futurama, this weekend at Stitches East!

Kendra as Leela, with a Hometown USA wig, Vanna’s Choice arm band, and Vanna’s Choice Nibbler (the alien pet!).

Zontee’s brain slug, made of Vanna’s Choice!


Pearl’s Cardigan Crochet-Along, Part 6: Finishing, Styling, and Care

October 27th, 2010

Pin It

I finished my brown, short-sleeved Pearl’s Cardigan! The modifications I added are perfect for my climate (living in southwest Florida) as I have many more opportunities to wear a vest than a long-sleeved sweater. Adding ease in the hips instead of side vents was not necessarily an important modification, but I thought it would be fun to show you two different styles of adding ease in the hips so you can either modify this sweater, or think about this type of modification in future sweater projects. Since I had leftover yarn, I decided to add more length to the body, too. I added an extra 6 repeats of the stitch pattern (for an added 6” of sweater length).

Pearl's Cardigan - Belted

The sleeves are worked even in the round in the same stitch pattern as the body of the sweater. There are lots of options here and since we used the top down method, you can try it on as you go to determine how long you want them to be. If you wanted a sleeve with a wider cuff, you could implement the side vents or increasing I demonstrated for the hip ease a few inches above the end of your sleeve. If you chose to work the sleeve as written in the pattern, you could still customize the length, too. Stop after a couple of inches for short sleeves, just below the elbow for 3/4 sleeves, just before your wrist for a long sleeve. For a cap sleeve (like I chose) only work the edging round onto the last row of the yoke where we separated for fronts, back and sleeves.

Pearl's Cardi - Belted from the back

The edging is very similar to the “pearl” rows of the yoke because it is clusters worked sideways into the side of the previous single crochet. Working them on the exterior edge of the garment gives a pretty scallop and “pearl” texture. I varied the length of the clusters used depending on the area of the sweater: along the fronts I used the treble-crochet-clusters, across the bottom edge I used double-treble-crochet-clusters, and around the neck edge I used double-crochet-clusters.

Pearl's Cardi - edging shot

Do you know how to weave in loose ends? As you added new balls of yarn to your project, you may have been tying knots in the yarn and leaving the ends. It is very, very important that you don’t just cut the yarn close to the knots as they will unravel over time and therefore your sweater will unravel, too. Using a tapestry needle, thread the yarn onto the needle and weave each yarn end into the stitchwork of the sweater. A length of 6” is good for ends because it gives you enough to weave the yarn into the work back and forth a couple of times, with enough left to handle with the needle and your hand. At this point, you will cut the remainder of the yarn end close to the body of work.

Here is a photo of my sweater just before I wove in the loose ends:

Pearl's Cardi Unblocked

Next comes the blocking process. As I have previously stated, blocking is a really important process in garment making. As long as you plan on laundering your project, you will need to know if water changes the gauge. We determined that water did change our gauge, and have assumed that post-wash gauge for the sizing of this garment. There are several ways of blocking a garment.

Steam blocking: If you have an iron with a steam feature, you can easily block your garment on a dress-form or hanger. DO NOT steam the garment on a body. It is extremely hot. The steam immediately relaxes the fabric and adds beautiful drape to your fabric.

Mist blocking: You can use a spray bottle and mist your garment, stretch the fabric to the proper gauge, and let dry. Generally, you should use a blocking board or flat surface that can be pinned for this method. If you don’t have a blocking board, a carpeted floor covered in clean towels and T-pins works fine. Or, a mattress can easily replace a blocking board in the same way (just make sure it isn’t a waterbed mattress!)

Wet blocking: Generally, I use my washing machine for blocking – even with fibers that are not supposed to be washed in the machine – but very carefully. I only use the spin cycle. I place the garment in the washing machine, set it for final rinse and watch it to make sure it does not spin (agitate). Stop the machine so the garment can soak for a few minutes, and turn it back on to spin out the water. When it is complete, you will have a damp garment that can be stretched and blocked with whichever tools you have available.

Depending on where you live and what your temperature and humidity levels are, drying time may vary. If you are feeling rushed, a ceiling fan may speed up the drying time.

Pearl's Cardi - unbelted

Based on the color I chose and the climate I live in, I will most often wear my Pearl’s Cardigan with capri jeans, a brightly colored 3/4 sleeve t-shirt, a brown leather belt and some sparkly jewelry. When I go on business trips, I think the vest will look lovely with a button down shirt, dress pants or a pencil skirt, and my (soon to arrive) silk leopard-print scarf, threaded through the belt loop holes. Too late to alter anything, I realized my brown belt is slightly too large for the belt loop holes so I styled my cardigan with the belt on top of the sweater. I like the way it looks and will probably not search out a belt that specifically fits in the holes. For a dressier look, I think a strapless sheath dress in brown or black would look really pretty with my hair worn up and a contrast color silk scarf for a belt. Let’s say I chose red, I would accessorize it with a red flower in my hair or red lipstick (but not both).

Pearl's Cardi - pinned or buttoned

Note: Unfortunately, I was not able to find a silk leopard scarf in time for this blog post. I finally found one, but it won’t ship to me until next week. I will take new photos then, and add them to this post and the Ravelry pages at that time.

When we buy clothing at the store, laundering is a no-brainer! But with handmade crochet and knit garments, it is a different story. If the yarn is machine washable, I often use the machine on gentle cycle, but otherwise I hand wash all my hand made garments using a delicate soap like Eucalan, Soak or Unicorn Fibrewash. Depending on the garment and the gauge, sometimes you may need to slightly stretch or manipulate your garment back to its original finished measurements.

If you choose to add buttons to the front of your sweater, I don’t think a button hole band is necessary as long as you choose buttons large enough to fit through the openness of the sweater on the opposite side. A shawl pin would work nicely on some occasions, too.

As our Crochet-Along comes to a close, I want to thank everyone who participated along the way. Thank you so much! Without your participation it would not have been the same! The photos on our Ravelry CAL page are gorgeous! Don’t worry if you didn’t finish your sweater in the same time frame as me. The CAL posts will remain here on the Lion Brand Notebook and the CAL group on Ravelry will remain, too. In fact, I will continue to monitor the Ravelry Group for Pearl’s Cardigan CAL, so please continue to share your photos with me!

This Friday, I will be having a Pearl’s Cardigan contest on my website, StyledbyKristin.com, so please stop by. You will need to have a photo of your Pearl’s Cardigan sweater to participate, and a couple of words describing where and when you will be wearing your sweater first. But it doesn’t have to be a finished photo. If you just started, a photo of your hook and yarn would suffice. There will be lots of prizes, including a signed copy of “Crochet So Fine” , “Wrapped In Crochet”, a LionBrand.com gift credit of $25, PDF patterns from my pattern line, coupons and much more. Everyone will be a winner! See you there!

Related links:


100 Shawls for Those in Need

October 26th, 2010

Pin It

Recently, I read a great article on the Madison Daily Leader‘s website about a woman named Shirley Harrington-Moore,  who just knitted her 100th shawl for charity. As I have stated in previous blog posts, knitting and crocheting for charities is near and dear to my heart, so I am always thrilled when I see these type of stories in the news. In the article, Shirley discusses how her passion for knitting shawls comes from her desire to provide people who live in nursing homes with a form of comfort and warmth. She also says that it takes “approximately 15 hours to create one of her shawls and usually produces one per week.” I think that is pretty impressive for someone to take that much time out of their personal time to create something so comforting for those in need.

Shirley mentions that Lion Brand is her brand of choice for these shawls, and the picture on the front page of the article even features her modeling one of her latest shawls, which is made from the pattern that is featured on the inside of the Homespun label. We are so proud to have such loyal consumers, and we are inspired by all of your hard work and creativity!

To read the original article and see a photo of Shirley, click here.

For prayer & comfort shawl patterns, click here.

Visit our Charity Connection for local and international organizations that knit & crochet for others.

What charity projects do you contribute to? Why is it an important part of your yarncrafting life? Share your thoughts by commenting!


Staff Projects @ Lion Brand Yarn Studio

October 25th, 2010

Pin It

Here at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, our unique retail store in NYC, the entire staff knits, crochets, and yarncrafts, sharing their skills in the dozens of classes and workshops we offer…and like other yarncrafters, they love to show off their FOs (that’s “finished objects” in yarn-speak) by wearing them to the Studio. I always love stopping by the Studio and seeing what projects they’re working on both for the Studio and in their personal lives. Earlier this month, two of our lovely Studio mavens happened to have brand new sweaters:

Andrea (left) is wearing her new Victoria Cardigan, knit in the Bluebell color of our beautiful new Baby Wool. It’s a 100% wool yarn that’s machine washable AND dryable, making it super-durable and easy care, and the contemporary spring palette makes for great baby AND adult women’s garments.

Kendra (right) is wearing her modified version of the Owls Sweater, knit in Wool-Ease Chunky in Nantucket. She changed it from a pullover to a cardigan by steeking the sweater and knitting button bands–how cool is that?

Do you have a project that you’ve made in Lion Brand yarns that you’d like to show off? Click here to submit it to our Customer Gallery.

Want to see the Studio’s customers and their projects? Click here to see the Studio’s News & Events Blog’s “Look What I Made” blog posts.


Enter Our Lola Halloween Caption Contest!

October 21st, 2010

Pin It

Last year, we invited you to finish our Halloween Lola comic strip. We were so thrilled with your responses that we’d like you to do it again this year! Fill out the questions below (the section with the yellow background) and click the “Done” button by Sunday, October 31 at 11:59 PM Eastern time for your chance to win! Our four favorites will each receive a $25 gift certificate to LionBrand.com and a copy of our new Lola comic book! Only one entry per person will count. Remember, your caption must be entered into the survey for your chance to win; comments will not count in the contest. Your entry will not be displayed in the comments section. Once you have clicked “Done”, your entry has been submitted.

- Only open to residents in country to which Lion Brand ships. Click here to view our international shipping countries.
- Entrants must be at least 18 years old old.
- In the event of a tie where there are multiple submissions of the same line/caption, the first submission will win.

Related links:


Pearl’s Cardigan Crochet-Along, Part 5: Lower Body and Modifications

October 20th, 2010

Pin It

Have you tried on your sweater yet? I have, and although I have my heart set on a longer vest, I know I would be happy with a shorter cardi if I finished now, too.

I just passed the point where the pattern states to separate for the side vents. The reason I added side vents to this design is because I like extra hip ease in my sweaters. First, I think it is like an optical illusion of having shaping in the waist of the sweater. I personally find it to be more comfortable than something with actual waist shaping. That is why in this design I added the belt-loop holes so you can customize the amount of cinching you desire on any given day you wear the sweater. The hip ease adds to the contrast of your custom waist cinching.

As I was crocheting along this week, I realized that this particular pattern would be really easy to modify for increases, so I chose to make another modification and keep the lower body intact (without side vents) but still keep the hip ease. If you are making the side vents (as the pattern calls for) you will still be working even in the pattern, but working in sections, dividing the body into 4 equal parts (1 each for the right and left front, and 2 for the back). I decided to make increases within the pattern for the hip ease instead of separating for side vents. Today, I will explain how you can, too.

However many repeats of the pattern you have (mine has 38), you need to divide your stitches into 4 equal parts. Because mine has 4 equal sets of 9 repeats plus 2 repeats, I chose to work my increases on both sides of the extra stitch. For example, on the sc, ch5 row when I complete 9 repeats, I work an extra repeat into the same stitch, work the next repeat, then make an extra repeat in the same stitch, and continue evenly across the row. If yours has a perfect multiple of 4, simply work your increases on either side of 2 repeats instead of either side of 1 repeat as in the photo.

Increase row

On the subsequent rows, I work even in the stitch pattern. Here is what it looks like after the next row:

Next row of pattern worked even

And here is what it looks like after you work 2 more rows:

Continuing to work even in pattern

Notice how smooth and barely noticeable the increases are. By working 4 increases in the one row, I added 4″ ease to the hip area of my sweater. I think that is plenty for a relaxed fit sweater. If you wanted more swing in yours, I would work another set of increases in the same position (for a total of 8″ increase in the hip section). I tried my sweater on at this point today, and if I were going to add sleeves, I think I would consider this shorter hip-length for the sweater. But for a sleeveless vest, I want to balance everything out with a longer body. It was tempting, but I’m sticking with my plan. I have been shopping for a sheer silk leopard scarf to use as a belt. No luck yet, but I’m still hopeful. In the meantime, back to my hook!

This week I will be finishing up the last few inches of the sweater and working the edging. Next week, I’ll demonstrate the edging, talk about the sleeves and sleeveless modifications and finish up my sweater. I’ll go through the blocking process, laundering of handmade specialty garments and my tips on styling your new sweater!

Happy Crocheting!

Related links:


Arts Street Textile Studio: Fiber Arts Supporting the Homeless in Philadelphia

October 18th, 2010

Pin It

This month, we’re highlighting various fiber works and projects taking place currently around the country and the world. If you’d like to suggest an artist, exhibit, or event, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know!

From the summer of 2009 to the summer of 2010, the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program worked on the “Finding Home” project, a textile mural designed by Josh Saranatitis and Kathryn Pannepacker, assisted by Shelby Donnelly, aimed at raising awareness about homelessness. During that time artists and volunteers working in homeless shelters and cafes throughout Philadelphia worked together to weave the pieces of this mural. After this project, the studio re-invented itself into the Arts Street Textile Studio: handmade with the homeless. Staffed by fiber artists Kathryn Pannepacker and Leslie Sudock, recreation specialist Rachel Gucwa and muralist Mary Newsom, it’s a space that offers lessons in weaving, knitting, crochet, quilting, embroidery in an open studio space for a nominal contribution. The studio will also serve as a gallery featuring the works “of individuals who, though stigmatized as homeless or life-challenged, nonetheless identify as artists and want to work productively as artisans.” In addition, the organization–which is currently working to obtain non-profit status–has also initiated an outreach program to invite homeless women and children to participate in knitting, crochet, and quilting circles.

Stating that “art is a social service,” they are encouraging members of their community to come learn new skills and support this effort. Donations and contributions of materials, tools, and equipment are always welcome. Learn more by contacting Kathryn Pannepacker (kpannepacker@gmail.com) or Leslie Sudock (lsudock@gmail.com).

Arts Street Textile Studio
626 South Street, Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday – Sunday, 3 – 8pm

For more organizations doing good in the world through yarncrafting, click here for our Charity Connection.


Exploring Stitch Patterns & Techniques

October 17th, 2010

Pin It

The Lion Brand Yarn Studio is collecting 7″ x 9″ afghan blocks for Warm Up America.  Our customers are amazingly generous and we have collected over 200 so far!

One thing I love about making small projects is the chance to experiment with stitch patterns.  We’ve had some great knit blocks turned in from customers that used our stitch finder for inspiration.  We’ve seen Basketweave, Moss Stitch, Sugar Cubes and more.

Here are a few crochet blocks from our window that customers have turned in, that looked fun.  Our own Studio crochet expert, Gina, took a look to see how they made their squares–see below to make your own afghan blocks in these patterns.

Dark Blue – front post/back post pattern

Ch 25
Row 1: sc across, turn
Row 2: Ch 3, 2 dc, *fpdc, 2 dc, repeat from * to end, turn
Row 3: Ch 3, 2dc, *bpdc, 2dc, repeat from * to end, turn

Repeat last two rows until piece measures 9”. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Green – basic shell stitch pattern

Ch 25
Row 1: Sc across, turn
Row 2: Ch 1, sc, (5 dc in next sc, skip 1, sc, sk 1) repeat ( ) 3 times, end with sc, turn
Row 3: Ch 3, 2 dc in same sc, (sc in 3rd dc of previous shell, 5 dc in next sc), repeat ( ) 3 times, end with sc in 3rd dc, 3 dc in last sc

Repeat last two rows until piece measures 9”. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Light Blue – easy textured pattern

Ch 23
Row 1: Sc across, turn
Row 2: Ch 3, *dc, sc, repeat from * to the end
Row 3: Ch 1, *sc, dc, repeat from * to the end

Repeat last two rows until piece measures 9” tall. Fasten off and weave in ends.

In the NYC area? Join our collection and stop by the Studio to drop off your blocks; learn more by clicking here. If you’re not in the NYC area and would still like to donate, please click here to visit Warm Up America! Foundation’s website and send your blocks directly to the organization.

What stitches do you like to experiment with? Leave a comment and tell us!


Pearl’s Cardigan Crochet-Along, Part 4: Bodice and Modifications

October 13th, 2010

Pin It

Before we begin with today’s blog post, I want to share a video with you. There have been a lot of questions about how to work the clusters, so I decided to make a video demonstrating how to work the clusters sideways by working them into the side of the previous single crochet. In the video, I crochet a dc-cluster, tr-cluster and dtr-cluster.

In the video, the sweater on the dressform beside me is my work-in-progress Mocha Microspun cardigan. My Pearl’s Cardigan is coming along nicely! How is yours? I finished the yoke, separated for front, sleeves and back, and crocheted the body down to the point where you split ‘right and left fronts’ from ‘back’ to incorporate side vents into the sweater. Here are a few images of the front, side and back of the Mocha Pearl’s Cardigan at my current progress level:

Kristin's Current Progress on Pearl's Cardigan

If you are making a custom sweater, please note that when we separate for fronts, sleeves and back, the yoke is evenly divided into six parts (1 part for each front, 1 part for each sleeve and 2 parts for the back). Then we add enough underarm chains to add enough circumference for the right side bust of the sweater and keep in mind that the amount of chains worked must equal a multiple of the stitch pattern. Some participants desire a wider armhole opening. There are a couple of ways this can be achieved:

  1. You can replace the underarm chains with foundation single crochet stitches instead. Foundation Single Crochet (FSC) stitches are much stretchier than chains and this can give you a little more ease.
  2. You can add more chains (or foundation single crochets) to your underarm stitches. Please keep in mind that you should add them in increments of the stitch pattern (+4, +8, +12, etc…)

Another modification to consider is that you can control the length of the sweater at this point.

  1. If you desire a cropped cardigan, I think you could stop after the belt-loop row and skip to the edging. Weave a belt or sash though the waist and you are done! I would style this with a fit and flare dress, or with a longer tunic and cute jeans.
  2. For an empire waist, you could work the belt-loop row a few inches above where the pattern suggests you add it (a few inches below the armhole opening). The beauty of a top-down sweater is you can try it on as you go, and decide where the waist works best on you! I would still work this empire-waist-modified sweater to the original length in the pattern.
  3. If you prefer to omit the belt-loop row, that is OK, too! Perhaps you would prefer buttons, securing with a shawl pin, or wearing the sweater casually worn open. Simply skip the belt-loop row, but add enough repeats of the body stitch pattern to achieve the desired finished length.

Next week, we will further discuss modifications. If you don’t like the side vents, you could add increases at this point to create a fuller hip width. I will crochet mine both ways to show you the difference. I am considering a sleeveless vest modification, adding the hip increases instead of side vents, and increasing the length by a few inches (using up the yarn that should have been used for the sleeves). I will show you the original sweater in close-up and compare it closely with any modifications I end up using.

Happy crocheting! I’ll be looking for your questions and comments in the coming week!

Related links:


Help Create Art Inspired by Endangered Animals

October 12th, 2010

Pin It

This month, we’re highlighting the works of various fiber artists currently showing around the country and the world. If you’d like to suggest an artist or an exhibit, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know!

Ruth Marshall, a fiber artist based in New York City, is looking for volunteer knitters to help her create knitted tiger pelts, her latest fine art textile project, sponsored in part by Lion Brand. Ruth has been studying archived tiger pelts at the American Museum of Natural History, and she currently participating in the Open Studio Program at the Museum of Art & Design located at Columbus Circle, in Manhattan, every Friday until December 3rd, 2010.

On YarnCraft, our radio-style podcast, my co-host Liz and I also had the pleasure of talking to Ruth about her fascinating work, which draws attention to various endangered big cat species. (Click here to listen to that episode [MP3]; the interview with Ruth starts at about 11:14.)

If you are an experienced knitter in the NYC-area, particularly with experience in intarsia and multi-colored yarns and would like to hang out and knit at the Museum of Art & Design, please contact Ruth by visiting her website, RuthMarshall.com, and clicking on the “contact” button which will open up an email window.

Ruth’s previous work has been exhibited across North America at such institutions as the Hunterdon Museum, San Jose Museum, Indiana State Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, MassArt, Museum of Art & Design, Dam, Stuhltrager Gallery – Brooklyn & Berlin, as well as various art fairs in Miami, FL; Chicago, IL; Paris, France; and Istanbul, Turkey. Awards include the BRIO-Bronx Council of the Arts. Ruth will be featured in two books coming out next spring, and will participate in “Green: A Color and a Cause”, at the Textile Museum, Washington D.C. in 2011.

Related links: