Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for April, 2011


Our Favorite Yarns for Making Knit and Crochet Baby Gifts

April 28th, 2011

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When someone you care about is expecting a baby, you’re likely to have the urge to create a one-of-a-kind beautiful gift.  As one of the landmark occasions in a family’s life, a time to celebrate the arrival of a new life, what better way to do that than with something made by hand?

Babies are delicate, so the yarn should be soft so it is comfortable on their skin. The reality of spills and spitting up require a yarn that will hold up well and be washable and dryable.

Our lightest weight baby yarn (#3) is Babysoft. This is soft and it gives you a pastel color palette to choose from.  It washes and dries beautifully and we offer 62 free patterns for you to choose from.

If you are looking for cotton yarns we would recommend Cotton-Ease, a blend of cotton and acrylic that has a lovely drape to it, beautiful stitch definition and is easy care. With 17 baby blankets and toys to choose from, this yarn is ideal for welcoming spring and summer babies.

In a #4 (medium) weight yarn, we recommend Vanna’s Choice and Vanna’s Choice Baby, our premium 100% acrylic yarns that are worthy of creating heirloom quality afghans.  You’ll have the widest variety of colors to choose from with these yarns–everything from pastels to brights. You’ll also have your pick of over 100 free patterns for that perfect gift. Another great choice in this weight class is Pound of Love, which is offers a selection of traditional baby colors and is the most affordable choice for baby gifts.  You can create a hooded blanket with only one ball.

One of our newest yarns,  Baby’s First, comes in a thicker, faster #5 weight.  The color palette includes sweet sherbet shades and the thicker yarn works up quickly so if the big day is approaching, you may want to choose this soft, easy-care yarn. 

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3D Images Projected on Yarn

April 28th, 2011

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Here at Lion Brand, we believe in supporting the next generation of fiber aficionados and artists. That’s why we support programs at universities like FIT in New York City and Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel.

Last month, Mindy Tchieu, a grad student at NYU Tisch’s ITP program whose work incorporates yarncrafted elements, shared with me the following clip from her classmate Matt Parker, whose graduate thesis project is a 3D volumetric display (it allows a 3D image to be projected):

You might be wondering, “What does this have to do with yarn?” Well, Mindy wrote:

[M]y favorite part about Lumarca is that it’s projected on YARN! Honestly when I saw the videos, I thought, “Wow this is cool,” but it wasn’t until I saw it in person at school and realized that it was white yarn, that my mind was blown.

Thanks, Mindy, for sharing this very cool usage of yarn with us! It’s always cool when low-tech materials like yarn can be used for high-tech purposes.

Have you seen some amazing uses for yarn? Share them with us by leaving a comment!

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A Sweater Knit for Three

April 27th, 2011

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Our friend and coworker Jocelyn recently shared pictures of a one-of-a-kind sweater that she knit for her band‘s new album. I think you’ll agree that it’s truly unique!
Pearl and the Beard
In this exclusive video, Jocelyn shares a bit more about why and how she made the sweater.

This sweater is more than a fantastic whimsical piece; it inspires non-crafters and crafters alike to engage in dialogue about yarncrafting. Thanks for sharing, Jocelyn!

Photo credit: Shervin Lainez


What Style of Crafter Are You?

April 22nd, 2011

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What style of crafter are you? Some work up a swatch for every project, and others grab the yarn and dig right in. It’s a little like the difference between rehearsing for a play and doing improvisation.

Rehearsed crafting is generally a great approach – it means you know how much yarn you’ll need before you get started, and what tools to look for. Swatching really comes in handy when you are making garments or trying out new patterns. Think of the swatch as a way to get a sneak peak at the final project. You’ll know exactly what’s coming up next!

Improvisational crafting is more unpredictable, and works best for more standard pieces like simple scarves or basic hats. Improvising can be a great chance to experiment, especially if you are very familiar with the yarn and know the basics of construction by heart. Extra trim or appliques are good improv projects because they are small scale and won’t affect the fit or size of a larger project.

Always remember: crafting should be fun! A little improvised flower pin can be a nice, energizing break from a complex afghan, and a beautiful cabled sweater can be a thrilling challenge if you are used to simpler, smaller projects.

How do you prefer to craft? Are your projects Mostly-Rehearsed or Often-Improvised? What yarn-filled adventures are you looking forward to? Leave a comment to let us know!


5 Cotton Yarns for Spring

April 21st, 2011

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It’s finally warming up here in New York, and I’m ready to start working on projects that are appropriate for the warmer days ahead.  Cotton is a great fiber to wear in warm weather because it’s cool and breathable.  It’s also ideal for market bags, accessories, and washcloths.  But, with so many cottons out there, it can be hard to pick the right one for a project.  To help you decide which cotton to use for different projects, I thought I’d give you a rundown of my five favorite cotton yarns.

Cotton-Ease is a worsted weight cotton-acrylic blend. It combines the absorbency of the cotton and the lightness of acrylic.  It’s machine washable, so whether you make a sweater or a washcloth, you can easily clean any project made with Cotton-Ease.

Baby’s First is a cotton-acrylic blend like Cotton-Ease, but it is a chunky weight.  It is constructed of many thin plies, so it is soft and cushy with wonderful stitch definition.  Ideal for fast-finish projects, you don’t have to limit yourself to baby items.  See Zontee’s adorable cardi (below), which she made by substituting Baby’s First for the required Cotton-Ease in the Bebop Cardi.

Zontee’s Bebop

Recycled Cotton is possibly our most unique cotton-acrylic blend.  Like Cotton-Ease, it is a worsted weight, but this yarn is made of cotton fabric clippings that would get wasted in the tee-shirt manufacturing process.  The material is sorted by color so that minimal dying is required. Before it’s dyed, it’s spun with acrylic and the result is a beautiful heathered yarn.  Make your market bags even more green, or make a cozy cardi for your little one like the Eyelet Remix Cardi (below).

Knit Eyelet Remix Cardi

Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton is organically grown and dyed according to the Global Organic Textile Standard by the Institute of Marketecology.  This super-soft 100% cotton is worsted weight, and I like to use it for things that will be close to my skin, such as shawl, scarves, and hats.  The construction of this yarn is ideal for simple stitches in knit or crochet.

Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton

LB Collection Cotton Bamboo, our most luxurious cotton, combines all the wonderful qualities of cotton with the beautiful drape and sheen of rayon from bamboo!  Bamboo is used to make rayon because it is a renewable resource.   The result is an affordable little luxury that can be used on garments and baby projects.

What do you like to make with cotton?


Spotted: Knitting Comics

April 18th, 2011

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Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of meeting with the Long Island Knitting Guild. I always love speaking to ladies who are as passionate about yarn as I am; it creates such a wonderful rapport and allows for great questions. As I was leaving the meeting, one of the ladies presented me with three comic strips from her local paper, each of which were about knitting. [Click the photo above to enlarge.]

Not only was I excited because I collect knitting and crochet-related memorabilia, but I was also excited to see this because it reminded me of our very own Lola comic. Lola has been the most popular aspect of our Weekly Stitch newsletter for years and she’s is an important lady here in Lion Country. To check out what funny thing she is going to do next, subscribe and stay tuned for our next newsletter or you can check our new Lola comic book.

Have you spotted other knit/crochet-related comics? Tell us about them by leaving a comment!

Want me to visit your group? Groups of 50 or more in the tri-state area can contact me at jack@lionbrand.com regarding speaking at an event.

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Tips for Weaving for the First Time

April 15th, 2011

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After a long time contemplating weaving (and even giving a back-strap loom a few passes of the shuttle), I finally took the time to set up and get going on a Cricket Loom.  I thought I’d share a few pictures and tips from my first attempts at weaving.

1. Set up with a friend. It really helps to have an extra hand when putting the Cricket Loom together.  It was pretty simple, but I was happy to have the help.  Also, as someone who is relatively unfamiliar with weaving terms (I know they are all related to weaving, but I can never remember which word means what), it was helpful to read the directions for setting up the warp out loud and decipher it together.  Plus, it’s just more fun with a friend.

2.  Plan your project width.  Learn from my mistakes. I thought we’d start the warp all the way at the end of the heddle and just go as wide as we wanted, but this caused our warp to be off center and the weaving to get a little funky. You don’t need to know the exact length of your final project. Overestimate the length to ensure that your warp will be long enough.

3. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Even though I made plenty of mistakes, I had a lot of fun. When we were setting up the warp, I accidentally skipped the sixth hole in the heddle. I decided I’d just skip every sixth, and I think it made for an interesting effect. We made plenty of other mistakes, but instead of getting the perfect project, I’m learning a lot about weaving and all that you can do with it.

4. Play with color and texture. I played with fun color and texture combos. I used Sock-Ease in Green Apple for the warp. I started weaving with Cotton-Ease in Golden Glow and I liked how the two colors worked up together. When the first shuttle started running low, I decided to try something else, Fishermen’s Wool in the new Birch Tweed. I loved the way it worked up! Even though it’s a neutral color, the texture and flecks of color made it exciting to work with. Working with beautiful yarns is great motivation for finishing a project.

Overall, I really enjoyed learning to weave!  The Cricket Loom was easy to understand and the directions were pretty straight forward.  It was also nice and light so I could move it around as needed. For my next project, I think I’d like to try the Boyfriend Scarf. I love the design and think I’m ready to try following a pattern.

Trying weaving? Tell us about it by leaving a comment!


How Does Spring Influence Your Crafting?

April 14th, 2011

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Spring crochetingNow that it’s finally starting to feel like spring, I feel rushed to finish one last wool sweater before the weather gets too hot. During the cooler months, I almost exclusively knit and crochet sweaters; once the temperature hits 75, I only want to make socks, hats, and other small, portable projects. However, I still use my favorite fiber, wool, in the same jewel-toned color palette all year long.

How do the changing seasons affect your yarncrafting? Do you change the types of projects you make like I do, or do you use a different fiber like cotton or bamboo during the warmer months? Are you inspired by a different color palette? Let us know in the comments!


Design Doppelgängers: Finding Inspiration in Unlikely Places

April 13th, 2011

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I really enjoy interesting furniture design, as well as interesting fashion design. A few weeks ago, I stopped into ABC Carpet & Home, a wonderful home furnishings department store with a great philosophy, where I spotted a very cool-looking chair. It immediately called to mind the new necklace I had sitting on my desk back at Lion Brand (and recently featured in our YarnPlay monthly newsletter; click here to subscribe).

The combination of these two things reminded me of the blog Oh Joy! and its This/That feature, showcasing a fashion and home item whose styles are reminiscent of each other. Isn’t it neat when design concepts converge?

Where do you get inspiration when you knit & crochet? Leave a comment and let us know!

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Talks from the Yarniverse: Watch Interviews at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio

April 12th, 2011

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Each month at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, we are lucky enough to have a special guest join us. We have had wonderful designers, fiber artists, authors, and teachers who come in for our free special event night. The store is closed and customers who RSVP’ed fill the audience for these great talks, presentations, and trunk shows. With all the yarn, stories, and yarncrafting, a great time is had by all.

Since not everyone can join us here in NY, we film an interview and put it up on YouTube so the whole world can join in on the fun. Here’s a playlist of interviews so far (click the left and right arrows to browse all the videos):

Planning a trip to the NYC area? Be sure to check out the Lion Brand Yarn Studio’s blog for upcoming free events! We hope you stop on by!

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