Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for December, 2010


Resolutions for the New Year!

December 30th, 2010

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My favorite thing about a new year is setting new goals for myself.  In 2010 I accomplished some lofty yarncrafting goals: I knit my first sweater(s), learned complicated lace and cable patterns, and added color-work to my repertoire.  For 2011 I want to focus on organizational goals: keeping my stash organized, finishing all my projects, and sticking to my pattern queue.

What are you’re yarncrafting goals for 2011? Will you learn new techniques? Knit or crochet a pattern you’ve been wanting to try? Donate more finished projects to charity? Share your crafty New Year’s resolutions in the comments below.

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Around the Office: Surrounded by Yarn

December 28th, 2010

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From some of the guys in IT to our Sales staff, there are lots of people at Lion Brand you will find with a hook or needles in hand, and we truly enjoy being around these crafts that we enjoy so much.

Recently, a group of us were in a meeting and many of us kept our hands busy by working away at knit socks, crochet scarves, and other projects. Here’s Laura at that meeting–looking particularly yarn-friendly–as she works on a scarf in Hometown USA. Yes, she’s wearing the Learn to Knit Cuffs in Hometown USA and a sweater in Fishermen’s Wool, and yes, those are photos of some of our older yarns on the wall behind her! Being bedecked in yarn suits Laura, since she’s the one providing pattern support to those of you with questions!

Do you knit and/or crochet around the office or on the go? Leave a comment and tell us about your experiences!


We Love Craft Fairs

December 27th, 2010

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WashclothsA craft fair is an amazing way to connect to other crafters. Not only do you get to support the local economy, but you get the chance to bond with fellow crafters and artisans. Here at Lion Brand, we really enjoy both visiting and sponsoring local events. The Lion Brand Yarn Studio recently had the pleasure of sponsoring the Handmade Cavalcade, an independent craft fair held here in New York City. We also sponsor Maker Faire, a celebration of all things handmade.

Are you looking to get involved in craft fairs? Here are a few tips for selling your items:

  • Start locally. Your local craft fair is the perfect place to start drumming up interest in your handmade goods. A smaller fair makes a great introduction to selling your wares. Remember that word of mouth can spread very quickly!
  • Be unique. How are your handmade goods different from others being sold? Decide how to make your items stand out from the crowd.
  • Be prepared. Bring cards with your contact information so that people can follow up with you and make future purchases.
  • Share all care instructions (if applicable). It’s important for your customers to know how to care for their new purchases, so share all washing and drying instructions with them.

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Around the Office: Studio Sheep & Llamas

December 23rd, 2010

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Here at Lion Brand, we appreciate a little fun, and many of us collect whimsical objects to keep around our offices: I keep photos and buttons from all of the different yarn events I’ve attended on my bulletin boards, David collects lions of all sorts, Jess makes and keeps sea creatures on her desk, and there are lots of other cute and quirky examples.

If you’ve ever been to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, you may have seen our friends the Studio Squirrels, but very few people know about the secret herd of sheep and llamas in the Studio’s office.

Contributed by various members of the staff (I brought the wooden llama wearing the yellow hat back from my last San Diego trip) these little guys even have a whole wardrobe of coats and accessories made by the staff (that’s what’s hanging on those hooks below the shelf), the sheep and llamas range from those made of yarn or felt to the sheep-shaped needle gauge and the soap-on-a-rope black sheep hanging in the bottom part of the picture.

Want to make a lamb for your own space? Here are a couple of patterns that are adorable:

What fun, yarny goodness do you collect? Leave a comment and tell us about it!


Did You Know…? All About Yardage

December 22nd, 2010

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Looking at yarn requirements for a pattern can be confusing and, especially if you need to substitute yarns, trying to decide how much yarn you will need can be overwhelming. Often a pattern will call for a number of balls of a particular yarn and may or may not include additional information about those balls, such as the number of yards per ball or the weight* of each ball. BUT did you know that the only number you really need to know is the total yardage required for the project?

The number of balls required is useful if you are using the yarn called for in the project (and for working the math to determine total yardage), but otherwise can be misleading. The weight of each ball is almost useless for determining how much yarn you will need if you are substituting as different fibers, different thicknesses and even different yarn styles of the same fiber can have wildly different yardages for the same weight.

Let’s take a look at a few different Lion Brand yarns that have the same weight per ball but widely varying yardage. Pay close attention to the differences in fiber and weight category:

Vanna’s Choice (per ball): 3.5 oz, 170yds, category 4, 100% acrylic

Baby’s First (per ball): 3.5oz, 120yds, category 5, 55% Acrylic/45% Cotton

Cotton-Ease (per ball): 3.5oz, 207yds, category 4, 50% cotton/50% acrylic

LB Collection Organic Wool (per ball): 3.5oz, 185yds, category 4, 100% organic wool

LB Collection Superwash Merino (per ball): 3.5oz, 306yds, category 3, 100% Superwash Merino

Let’s say your pattern called for 5 balls of Cotton Ease, but you’d rather use Vanna’s Choice. These are both category 4 yarns, so substituting should be pretty straightforward (though you will , of course, want to do a gauge swatch). However, even though the Vanna’s Choice balls weigh the same as the Cotton-Ease balls, if you buy the “5 balls” required by your pattern, you’ll end up being about 185yds short – that’s more than another full ball of the Vanna’s Choice!

Just remember when you’re thinking about how much yarn you need for a pattern that yardage is what it’s all about when you’re deciding how much to buy and you’ll be all set.

For more on substitution and figuring out how many balls of a different yarn you will need when substituting, see our FAQ by clicking here.

*Please note that “weight” here refers to the actual ounces per ball, not the thickness of the yarn


Inside BABY BLUEPRINT CROCHET: an Interview with Robyn Chachula

December 21st, 2010

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Robyn Chachula is a crochet designer, whose new book, Baby Blueprint Crochet, came out earlier this month. To celebrate, we’re pleased to present an exclusive free pattern from Robyn, available on LionBrand.com–click here to view it!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Robyn on the December 7th episode of YarnCraft (our online radio-style show), during which she shared with us her top 5 gift-ideas for babies and their parents. She was also nice enough to do the following interview for the Lion Brand Notebook:

Baby Blueprint Crochet Severin Pullover
free on LionBrand.com

Can you tell us about Baby Blueprint Crochet?
Baby Blueprint is the follow up to my book Blueprint Crochet. In BBC, I dive deeper into more complex crochet symbol diagrams. We get into color work, 3-D, and Tunisian just to name a few. I chose baby projects to highlight these new skills, since they are usually small and quick to create. Plus, if you make a mistake babies will not notice nor will they care. So don’t bother, ripping out, just keep on going I say. The book has projects from sweaters to vests, toys to blankets, bibs to shoes for both girls and boys. All the projects follow my crazy baby mantra and are bright and cheerful.

With so many options, what makes a good baby project?
I think a good baby project is one that is first and foremost fun. Then it needs to be practical in terms of being baby and parent friendly, aka washable. When you can combine those two you have a great baby project.

What kinds of yarn do you recommend for baby projects?
I like to crochet with superwash dk merino wool for everything, but if I even whiff of a wool allergy I switch to an acrylic. I always use something that is very washable and comes in bright fun colors. I do not believe in pastels for babies. Most babies can’t see pastels for months, so I like to make things with bright colors that they can see.

[Editor’s note: Check out yarns like LB Collection Superwash Merino, machine wash & dry-friendly Baby Wool, Vanna’s Choice Baby, or Babysoft for some good baby-friendly options.]

If you don’t know the baby’s gender, what kind of project would you recommend?
Toys. You can never go wrong with toys. Animals are great because all babies love animals.

You also design adult patterns; what do you think are the main differences when designing for children?
The biggest difference is in the closures for clothes. For kids and babies, you really need to think about how they are going to get into the outfit. Babies heads are much bigger compared to the rest of their bodies so the neck opening needs to be able to open up wider then normal. I usually use either the shoulder or the raglan seam to open up a pullover really wide, then use snaps to close the seam. That reminds me, for babies I will also take extra time with the fasteners. I will always reinforce neck lines with grosgrain ribbon since you know how difficult it can be getting some babies into clothes while you are running after them. Adults can be gentle, but parents usually don’t have the time That’s why I try to make baby clothes as easy as possible for them to put on their little ones.

Where do you draw inspiration for your patterns?
Inspiration for baby projects come from our huge family. We have 17 nieces and nephews all who are quite the characters. All I ever need is one afternoon and they will have inspired a dozen projects for me.

What’s your favorite design element?
The stitch pattern. I just love stitch patterns and motifs. I love coming up with new fabrics for any project. I find I can spend days with a new yarn just swatching away testing out how lace or texture works.

How did you become a crochet designer?
I was first a structural engineer, and the DIY in me never had me follow patterns but create my own. I made enough things and got enough compliments that I got the courage to submit to magazines. For a number of years, I was doing both engineering and crochet designing full-time. I would work at my engineering job during the day, and in my crochet studio all night. When the economy tanked for architecture and I got laid off, I started crochet designing full-time and have not looked back. They are so similar to me that my brain hardly recognizes if it is designing a building or a sweater. Only difference to me is what materials I am using at the time.

Swatching: do you really do it?
Oh yes, I swatch everything. I will swatch for days before I dive into a project. Actually I plan out every detail of a sweater before I make one stitch. That is the engineer in me. I like having a plan that I can use and then deviate from when i need to.

In your personal yarncrafting life, what is your favorite type of project?
Favorite projects, are ones for my daughter or dog. Whether that is a little jumper or a bone, I love watching them interact with something I made for them with love.

To hear more from Robyn, listen to episode 81 of YarnCraft, which you can download on iTunes or listen to directly by clicking here [MP3].

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A Day with the Grand Prize Winner of the Yarn Imagination Contest

December 20th, 2010

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This is a guest blog post by Ben from our NJ offices, who spent the day with Natalie Bayer, the winner of the Lion Brand and Hancock Yarn Imagination Contest.

When Natalie Bayer, age 88 and the Grand Prize Winner of the Yarn Imagination Contest visited the Lion Brand Yarn Studio as part of her prize package, she said to me, “I loved your Studio. It was a once in a lifetime experience!” [Pictured: Natalie and Peggy in front of the Studio]

Natalie–an experienced and professional knitter originally from New Zealand, now living in Virginia Beach, VA–created a Lion themed sweater that won her a round-trip ticket and 3-nights hotel stay in NYC, including a special VIP tour of the Lion Brand Studio given by David Blumenthal, president of Lion Brand. It was a truly special experience for her, and I was glad to be a part of it!

The day started out with Marlene (who you may remember from blog posts such as this one) and myself meeting Natalie and her travel companion, Peggy, at Newark International Airport. Natalie was an instant inspiration. We were immediately drawn to her sassy, charming, witty, funny and upbeat personality.

On the way into New York City, Natalie shared stories with us about her journey to the U.S. and how she learned to knit at 5 years old and has kept on stitching ever since. In her earlier days, she averaged 85 sweaters per year! Natalie also told us, “I’ve knit for profit but mostly for pleasure. For every sweater sold, there are many more that I’ve given away.” Not having been to New York in over 46 years, she was looking forward to visiting our Studio and seeing “all that yarn” and meeting David. In fact, she dressed up for the occasion.

As we walked into the Studio, Natalie’s reaction was priceless. Her jaw dropped as she stood in awe looking at our winter window display. Entering the store she said, “Did I die and go to heaven?”

On the tour, David shared with Natalie a little bit about Lion Brand’s history and values, and Natalie told David, “You have such a community-focused company. It was a great honor to have won the contest and meet you.” [Pictured: David and Natalie]

What really struck me about Natalie is how passionate she is about Lion Brand. She told us that, with her eyes closed, she could touch and recognize our yarns. She’s very particular about her yarns and looks for very specific weights and properties. What’s her favorite yarn? Wool-Ease, she told us, because “Wool-Ease washes so well that my sweaters have been passed down from generation-to-generation and they still feel and look new.”

In addition to the tour of the Studio, we took Natalie and Peggy to Mesa Grill, celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s restaurant around the corner from the Studio. Natalie was also interviewed by Patty, our Studio director for the video below. Finally, we topped off the day with Natalie and Peggy as the special guests at the Studio’s special event night, featuring popular knit & crochet designer Nicky Epstein. [Pictured: Natalie holding her prize-winning sweater, Nicky, and Patty]

Natalie is one of a kind. It was a real treat and pleasure for us to meet her and have her visit our Studio.

Click on the video below to hear from Natalie in her own words:

Keep an eye out for Lion Brand contests throughout the year at your local store and on LionBrand.com!


Three Interesting Twitter Friends

December 17th, 2010

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TwitterAs Lion Brand’s official tweeter, I get the pleasure of interacting with our fantastic Twitter followers. I really love to see our followers’ incredible talent as they share stories, images, and blog posts with me. Here are just three of the many fantastic people I’ve chatted with recently. If you’re on Twitter, remember to follow us at @lionbrandyarn for tips, conversation, and pattern recommendations!

@craftyiscool: Allison is always making amazing amigurumi, from Astro Boy and Wonder Woman to Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel. After she crocheted a Conan blimp using Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, she sent it to the popular talk show host. He loved it so much that he posted a photo of it on his blog. You can check out even more of her creations on her blog, Crafty is Cool.

@pugnotes: Melissa creates a wide variety of arts and crafts inspired by pugs, including dog sweaters and paintings. I’m always excited to see what new types of projects she’ll make. After my blog post on yarn painting, she began making beautiful yarn paintings of her own. If you love dogs, you should definitely visit her blog here.

@planetjune: June is always designing unique amigurumi. I particularly love her Prehistoric Pals collection, which were designed with Vanna’s Choice yarn. She’s always offering great tips on crocheting, designing, and running her online store. You can find out more about her projects at planetjune.com.


3,600 Free Patterns In Your Pocket

December 16th, 2010

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If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can have access to our entire library of free patterns of over 3,600 free patterns wherever you are.  If you are at a retail store, trying to figure out what to make for everyone on your list, just check out the Lion Brand app. Have an Android or Windows phone? Bookmark http://www.lionbrand.com/mobile to view patterns, check our store locator, and more. If you don’t yet have an on-the-go way of looking for patterns, don’t forget to go to our website before you go out to shop.  We’ve got patterns for 618 afghans, 572 scarves, 152 baby blankets, and so much more!

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Add Pizzazz to Your Shoes!

December 14th, 2010

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Reading through my favorite design blogs, I spotted these adorable chiffon pom-pom shoe clips from Ban.do. I love the idea of simply clipping on a little something to your favorite pair of ballet flats or pumps to give them new life. You could switch them out depending on the season or your color preferences!

…And since we’re crafty people here, I figured, why not see how to make our own version? I did a little research online and found that you can purchase shoe clip blanks (just type the term into Google or your favorite search engine to find resources), designed to let you attach your own doodads on top.

Need some ideas? Add fun pom-poms made of yarns like Vanna’s Glamour (for a little glitz), Vanna’s Choice (for 57 different color options), or even a felted ball out of Fishermen’s Wool. Use our StitchFinder to knit or crochet flowers! Make bows with i-cord! Make crochet buttons and attach them! The sky’s the limit, when it comes to ways to individualize this idea with yarn!

Let us know if you try this idea! We’d love to see what you come up with!

Ban.do via Oh Joy!

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