Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for January, 2011

Five Quick & Easy Knitting Patterns

January 31st, 2011

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Whether you are a beginning knitter or a long-time knitter who would like to work on a simple but beautiful pattern, here are a few ideas for patterns that will make you look and feel good.


1.  Striking Hat and Scarf
This Striking Hat and Scarf are made with Amazing, one of my favorite yarns.  It is 53% wool, so it’s warm and the color changes are subtle and beautiful, making it look like much more costly hand-painted yarn.

2.  Learn to Knit Cuffs
Most people make scarves as their first project.  Here’s a beginner knitting project that will make you look like a pro.  I see people on the subway wearing these all the time so they can text and send emails while keeping their hands warm.  It’s made with Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, which is a yarn that knits up quickly.  People who rated it called the pattern “addictive” and fun for even an experienced knitter.  It makes a great gift at under $8.00.

3. Plush Scarf
This dramatic and beautiful knit scarf is deceptively simple.  Knit it in Fun Fur (it’s called that for a reason–Fun Fur is really fun to work with) and choose colors that look like real fur or bright colors that pop depending on who you are making it for.  One of the nice features of Fun Fur is that the long strands of faux fur hide any mistakes that you make.

4.  Colorful Beginner’s Hat
One of the people who commented on this pattern said she knit 11 of them as Christmas Gifts.  Not only is it fast, in our bulky, Hometown USA yarn, but you can make it for under $5.00.  If bright is not your thing, choose from a fantastic palette of colors, including colors that represent your favorite team.  Here comes the Super Bowl!

5.  Cumulus Cloths
Knitting patterns  don’t get much faster and easier than this.  Using Cotton-Ease, a cotton blend yarn with an elegant drape and soft feel, you can create house-warming gifts, Mother’s Day gifts, shower gifts and, if you pick the right colors, gifts for those hard to buy for men in your life.  Going to someone’s house for dinner?  Bring these washcloths tied up in a ribbon and put them in a gift bag with some tissue paper.  Personally, I think this thoughtful, personal gift is a great alternative to a bottle of wine or a box of candy.

There you have it.  Five knitting patterns, easy enough for a beginner but not for beginners only!  Enjoy.  Let me know if you try these and what you think.

Creating Colors by Double Stranding

January 28th, 2011

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Anyone who has ever counted stitches or calculated gauge knows that math is an important part of knitting and crocheting.  Woolly Thoughts, a pair of “matheknitticians”, designed an afghan that makes 10 colors look like 55!   The design is based on triangular numbers–the number of dots that fit in an equilateral triangle, in case you forgot–and uses 10 colors double stranded in different combinations.


Imagine all the color combinations you can make using all 57 colors of Vanna’s Choice!  Actually, there are 1653 different colors to discover, and that doesn’t even include using Vanna’s Choice Baby!  Double stranding is an easy way to create tweedy colors and make projects look interesting.  Our patterns often use double stranding to add color and texture, such as in the Knit Glowing Colors Afghan and the Crochet Easy Tweed Scarf:

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Saturday Morning Hoodie Knit-Along, Part 1: A Truly His & Hers Hoodie

January 27th, 2011

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I am very happy to be here again to lead our 2011 Winter Knit-Along (KAL) with all of you! I think the Saturday Morning Hoodie is a great choice for so many reasons, and I know you will enjoy making it during the rest of what has been a very cold and snowy winter. It is hard to believe that it has been a year since our Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along (finished sweater from that KAL is at the right), and this winter has made that sweater such a welcome sight in my sweater closet (and yes, my kitty still likes it too), so I know the Saturday Morning Hoodie Knit-Along will be just as rewarding!

Although there is a handsome young man modeling this year’s Saturday Morning Hoodie, it truly is a unisex garment that will look great on so many of us! So, let’s talk about sizes, yarn choices and one of my favorite subjects (really!): gauge.

So, first and foremost–the pattern is free and if you haven’t already–go and download the pattern and print it out; click here for the pattern. [Editor’s note 1/27/11: We updated the pattern with written out instructions for the reverse shaping and some extra clarification, so if you downloaded the pattern previously, please click the link to re-download it.]

Now, what size to make? It appears at first glance that the pattern is written for 12 different sizes – but in reality there are six. Since this is a unisex pattern, the six sizes are sorted by standard men’s sizes and standard women’s sizes. Either way, the finished sizes for this pattern are 40 (44, 48, 52, 56, 60)”. When trying to choose a size, I usually look at a garment that I have already similar to the weight and fit like the one in the picture – then I just measure it around the chest. This garment is loose-fitting, so when choosing a size, keep in mind that it should be about 4-6″ larger than actual bust or chest measurements.

I’ve decided to make the second of the six sizes: the women’s medium (or men’s small) with a finished bust of 44″. I really do like this hoodie, but am making a size that my husband can wear as well if he likes. (I always say that, but it’s yours truly who is always chilly!)

The yarn called for in this sweater is Wool-Ease® Chunky which is a bulky weight yarn and is a “Category 5” yarn by weight (thickness). Other Category 5/bulky weight yarns that would work great for this would be Alpine Wool, Tweed Stripes, Homespun, or–for a more season-transitional yarn–Baby’s First, which is a cotton/acrylic blend. I’ve decided to work this one in the Wool-Ease Chunky and have chosen the color “Wheat” – a great natural shade with flecks of black and brown.

For the 44″ finished size, the pattern calls for 9 skeins of the Wool-Ease Chunky, so my choice was an easy one! If you want to make this in another bulky-weight yarn, make sure that you go by yardage for the correct amount of yarn. Each skein of the Wool-Ease Chunky has 153 yard (140 meters) so this converts to approximately 1380(1530, 1690, 1840, 1990) yards [or about 1260 (1400, 1540, 1680, 1820) meters for the six sizes].

I’ve been working with my gauge and found that the US 13 needle called for in the pattern was the right size to get the 10 sts and 13 rows for 4 inches. I know as a knitting teacher that gauge is not always easy for many knitters, but stick with it and make sure to change needles until you get the right gauge! And if you need a “refresher” on gauge, click here. (For the best results, be sure to wash/block the swatch just as you will the finished garment to get a “finished” gauge.)

I’ve already cast on my stitches for the back on my smaller needles (US 11) and am working on the ribbing. I’m looking forward to your comments, so let’s knit and keep those fingers warm this winter! See you next week!

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A Mini Office Knit-Along

January 25th, 2011

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I often find that the best way to motivate myself to finish a large project is by knitting or crocheting along with a friend. My co-worker Lindsey and I have similar taste in sweaters, so we decided to knit Metro together.

Metro cardigans

While this cardigan is very clean and classic, it does feature asymmetrical cables and ribbing. As such, it was very important for us to choose a yarn with great stitch definition. We decided to use Superwash Merino Cashmere for soft, warm cardigans. Lindsey wears a lot of rich earth tones, so she used the Saffron shade. I prefer deep jewel tones, so I opted for Olive.

front detail

Lindsey finished her cardigan first, and seeing how much she loved it really motivated me to finish my knitting. I completed my cardigan only a week after she did. In the end, our office KAL was a huge success, and we both ended up with warm, versatile sweaters that we love.

Back detail

Round-Up: 10 Artists Who Create With Yarn

January 24th, 2011

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Recently Lindsey blogged about a video of artist Olek covering the famous Wall Street bull sculpture with a crocheted cozy. Catching the eye of the culture blog Flavorwire, her work inspired the blog to post an artist round-up: 10 Artists Who Use Yarn As Their Medium.

This interesting blog post includes Tatyana Yanishevsky (whose work can currently be seen at the Brooklyn Art Museum in NYC), Magda Sayeg of Knitta Please (whose work we’ve blogged about previously here and here), and Dave Cole (whose giant knitted pieces have been featured in such exhibits as Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting). Click the title of the article above to learn more about these 10 artists and their work.

With fiber art garnering more and more attention, it will be interesting to see what 2011 brings! Do you have a favorite fiber artist? Leave us a comment and tell us about him/her!

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Warming Up To Leg Warmers

January 21st, 2011

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Leg warmers, the fashion accessory made famous by Jane Fonda and her exercise program as well at Flashdancers in the 80s, have been regaining popularity.  They are appearing in Urban Outfitters, American Apparel and Uniqlo, a sure sign that a younger generation is taking to this practical and fun fashion.  We’ve got them if you want them.  Try some of these great free patterns from our library of 23 leg warming patterns.

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Announcing Our Winter 2011 Knit-Along

January 20th, 2011

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Each season we host a knit- or crochet-along, a virtual event in which yarncrafters come together here online to work on one pattern together, share their experiences, and to learn together. You don’t need anything special, and there’s no need to sign up. Simply work on your sweater and check the Lion Brand Notebook at your leisure for new posts with helpful hints and tips (which come out weekly) and share your comments and progress if you’d like!

Last week we asked you to vote for the next project, and your choice was clear: the Saturday Morning Hoodie will be our Winter 2011 Knit-Along project!

Our wonderful KAL host Heather will start with an introductory post next Thursday. In the meantime, you can start thinking about who to make this hoodie for. It comes in a variety of sizes for men and women, so you can make it for anyone in your life. Make it the warm Wool-Ease Chunky recommended, or try something different like our colorful Tweed Stripes or Homespun yarns. You can even make it in cotton-blend Baby’s First for a piece that will transition nicely into spring!

If you have a blog, add the badge below to show that you’re participating (Right click or Ctrl+click on Macs to save the image to your computer; then upload it to your blog). You can also join our Ravlery group here and our Flickr group here.

While you’re waiting for the KAL to get going, comment below. Who are you? Where are you from? Who are you making this sweater for?

FAQ: What is Superwash Wool?

January 19th, 2011

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LB Collection Superwash MerinoSuperwash wool is a wool yarn that is machine washable and, therefore, will not felt.

Each hair of wool is made up of scales. Felting occurs when these scales bind together. The superwash process prevents the scales from binding in one of two ways. Some superwash wools are given an acid bath that removes its scales. Alternatively, the yarn can be coated with a polymer or resin; this is essentially a protective coating for the yarn to prevent felting. A yarn can be treated with either or both methods to become superwash.

It’s important to remember that excessive heat (such as with a hot setting on a washing machine or dryer) can damage a superwash coating, which may lead to felting. That is why we recommend cold washing and flat drying with our superwash wools. Also, keep in mind that superwash wools tend to stretch a little more than normal. This is because the scales of the yarn cannot bind together. It’s especially important to do a proper gauge swatch with a superwash wool to see how your yarn will stretch.

A final thing worth noting is that not all washable yarns are superwash. This is because superwash is a patented process. Washable wools that are not superwash may have very different washing and drying instructions, so it’s important to always follow your yarn label’s care instructions.

Want to try some superwash wool? Check out our LB Collection Superwash Merino and Superwash Merino Cashmere. For more answers to popular questions, visit our FAQ.

Deer in Knits: Cozy Creations from Artist Rachel Denny

January 18th, 2011

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Winter always makes me think of ski lodges, roaring fires, pine trees, and knitwear. In that vein, artist Rachel Denny‘s work combines a classic ski lodge staple with yarny goodness for a look that’s unexpected, cozy, and perfect for winter decor.

Made of foam, wood, and yarn, these beautifully carved deer heads have a touch of whimsy. In addition, Rachel’s yarn-covered work extends beyond just deer, with rabbits made of angora yarn.

In the last year, we’ve seen artists decorate everything from cars and bicycles to driftwood and fences with yarn. What do you hope 2011 will bring from the world of fiber art? Leave a comment and let us know!

Via 2Modern Design Talk.

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Vote for Our Winter Knit-Along!

January 13th, 2011

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It’s time for a new knit-along! We think that January is the perfect time to start knitting a sweater, and we want YOU to help us decide on a pattern. Click on any image below to view its accompanying pattern, then click here to submit your vote by Wednesday, January 19th. Remember, you must submit your vote through SurveyMonkey for it to count!

Saturday Morning HoodieMidnight Glamour PulloverLace Inset Cardi

We’ll announce the winner on Thursday, January 20th. Heather, our friend and frequent KAL/CAL host, will once again be guiding through the project step-by-step. We’re excited to see which pattern you select!

Are you new to the knit-along experience? Check out our Guide to KALs/CALs for more information.