Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for February, 2011

Explore Self-Striping Yarns

February 8th, 2011

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Unlike the mood rings of our childhoods, color changing yarns don’t actually change color according to a change in their environment.  These are yarns that have multiple colors spun together in unique ways for different effects.  “Self-striping” and “painterly” colors gradually change color as you knit or crochet to create stripes of color.  The color changes can be subtle or bold, but they are fun to play with either way.  Of course, different stitches and patterns are going to make the colorways work up differently.  For example, you can see the difference between garter stitch (left) and double crochet (right) in the scarves below, both of which are made using Amazing in Vineyard. Click here to see all the colorways of Amazing. You can also click on the images below to see each of the patterns.

Some of our other fabulous yarns with self striping or painterly colors include Sock-Ease, which has bursts of contrasting colors, Homespun, which subtly transitions from one color to the another, and Tweed Stripes, a traditionally spun yarn with color unique color blends.  I love the way that color changing yarns can turn a simple project into a stunning one.  Two of my favorite patterns (Sunny Diagonal Blankie and Rose Lichen Cardigan, below) cleverly use self-striping colors of Baby Wool to highlight unique construction.

What’s your favorite thing to make with self-striping yarns?

5 Tips for Working with Dark Yarn

February 7th, 2011

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I love the versatility of dark clothing and accessories. As a yarncrafter, I am often drawn to rich, deep shades. However, it can be very difficult to see your stitches. Here are 5 easy tips that I use to make knitting and crocheting with dark yarns a success.

Gossamer Cowl Pullover1. Select the right pattern. Pattern selection is very personal, but some patterns can be obscured by your yarn color. It’s especially important to test the pattern with a gauge swatch to see if you like the way it looks.
2. Use proper lighting. This will help you avoid eye strain, so you’ll be able to craft longer. You’ll also be able to see your stitches better and be able to identify mistakes faster.
3. Place a white pillowcase or sheet behind your yarncrafting. This will provide contrast and make your work easier to see.
4. Use lifelines. A lifeline is simply a piece of smooth, contrasting yarn or even floss that is threaded through your live stitches. If you make a mistake, you can rip back to the lifeline while saving the rest of your work. Click here to view a tutorial on using lifelines.
5. Get comfortable. Make sure that you’re alert. Start crocheting or knitting slowly, and then work at a pace that’s comfortable for you.

Do you like to craft with dark yarns? What are your favorite tips for success?

Saturday Morning Hoodie Knit-Along, Part 2: Starting the Hoodie with Thoughts of a Great Finish

February 3rd, 2011

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I think that if there ever was a “Winter to Knit” contest, this winter would take 1st prize!  It’s great to see so many of you join our Winter Knit-Along (KAL)  and it certainly is not too late to join making the Saturday Morning Hoodie.  Some of you have ordered your yarn, or already have your yarn, or may still be wondering what yarn to use.  In last week’s post, I wrote about how this sweater uses Wool-Ease Chunky – a category 5 yarn – which is a bulky weight.  I had also suggested some other bulky yarns that would work great for this pattern.  Then I saw the blog post here on the Lion Brand Notebook talking about using two colors (two strands) of yarn to make beautiful colors. I brought out some of my worsted weight yarns and found that holding two strands together of worsted Wool-Ease or 2 strands of Fishermen’s Wool, works up great at a gauge of 10 sts = 4” (the gauge in the pattern.)  If you don’t mind holding two strands together, and haven’t found the yarn you want to use, or would like to use two colors together, this is a great option.  Just remember that you will need double the yardage of yarn called for the Wool-Ease Chunky.

Before I talk about how far I was able to get on the Saturday Morning Hoodie, please print out an updated version of the pattern if you haven’t already.  There are a few corrections to the original (they appear in red type in the “Corrections” section and are incorporated in the pattern below), but there is a great addition to this pattern: Many times a pattern for a cardigan will instruct you to work the second front by working it the same as the first front, but tell you to reverse shaping.  For some knitters who have done this before, it doesn’t cause too many problems, but to make this pattern even more accessible, the reverse instructions for right front are now a part of the pattern! Next week, I’ll talk about how the pockets are knit at the same time the fronts are worked, but all the instructions are there for both fronts now.

So, this week I worked and finished the back of my hoodie and I was happy how it worked up, but even happier when I blocked out my back piece.  When I was finished with the back, it, like many other stockinette stitch pieces curled:

This can make the finishing more difficult, but there are ways to make your pieces more “finishing friendly.” When I finished my back, I dampened it with a spray bottle and then just pinned it to the correct measurements (see below).  Many times after I dampen the pieces, I can just gently pull them out to the correct size.  When the pieces dry, they are ready for finishing.  (I didn’t pin the ribbing so it wouldn’t stretch out–but it looks like the schematic to me!)

The other way I made this back “finishing friendly” was to do work my decreases a stitch in from the edge (see below).  In other words, I worked an edge stitch, then either knitted or purled the next two stitches together.  This makes an edge that it much easier to sew to the raglan edges of the sleeves.  I’ll make sure to work the other raglan edges like this on the sleeves and front raglan edges as well.

I’m on to the fronts now and will work that left front with pocket first (I’ll also keep the back handy to compare to the fronts), so let’s continue on together. Keep those fingers busy and keep warm!

Related links:

Superwash Merino: My Go-To Yarn

February 2nd, 2011

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I first started knitting with LB Collection Superwash Merino because it was the perfect yarn for a sweater I wanted to make.  It was a DK weight, it knit to gauge, and I loved the Wild Berry color.  So I bought my yarn, making sure I had enough for whatever size I would end up needing, and got started on my Rusted Root (pattern available from Zephyr Style).

Upon finishing this sweater (my first finished sweater, in fact), I realized I had purchased too much yarn. I loved working with it so much that instead of returning it, I promptly starting making a hat.  I had been planning on making a Rose Red (pattern available from Ysolda) for my sister’s birthday, and the LB Collection Superwash Merino was the perfect yarn: soft, warm, and great stitch definition!  My sister was hesitant about me using wool, but I assured her that it would be super soft (and it was)!

After I finally used up all my Wild Berry, I had another pattern that happened to be perfectly suited to the Superwash Merino: the Marigold Sweater from Interweave Knits, Summer 2010.  Because I wouldn’t be finishing it in time for summer, I wanted a yarn that could keep me warm into the fall.  This time I chose Dijon for my perfect fall cardigan.

On my last trip to visit my family, my sister fell in love with the Rusted Root sweater and the Dijon color.  So my most recent project in my new favorite yarn is a Dijon Rusted Root for her.

Quick tip for working with the LB Collection Superwash Merino: Block your gauge swatch!  All of my projects have looked like new after being machine washed and dried, but I was surprised by how much my projects grew after getting wet.  For more information about superwash wool, check out Jess’s blog post “What is Superwash Wool?

What is your go-to yarn?  Post in the comments below.

Knit Batman Socks

February 1st, 2011

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This summer I blogged about dyeing some yellow yarn for a sock project. I’m finally ready to show off my finished project, Batman socks!
Batman socks
Everyone who knows me knows that I adore both Batman and knitting socks, so the combination seemed inevitable. To complete this project, I first knit a pair of plain cuff-down socks with Snow Cone Sock-Ease. Using this great chart created by Elizabeth Thomas, I then duplicate stitched the Batman logo with my dyed Marshmallow Sock-Ease. The best part about this project is that both parts were very fast and easy, but the results are amazing!

Have you used duplicate stitch to add a special touch to your crafting? Share your story in the comments!