Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for April, 2011


Behind 150 KNIT & CROCHET MOTIFS: Q&A with Author Heather Lodinsky

April 11th, 2011

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Heather Lodinsky is a knit & crochet designer, whose helpful hints and wise words should be familiar to regular visitors to the Lion Brand Notebook–she’s been our knit-along (KAL) and crochet-along (CAL) host on projects ranging from the Cable Luxe Tunic to the Moderne Jacket to, most recently, the Saturday Morning Hoodie.

Her first book–150 Knit & Crochet Motifs–has just been released by Interweave, here in the US (along with several other countries; see below), and I’m excited to announce that Interweave has been nice enough to allow us to sample a few of her motif designs for our website, so be sure to check your Weekly Stitch newsletter subscription all throughout April for motif designs from Heather!

I sat down with Heather to talk about this fantastic book:

Can you tell us about 150 Knit & Crochet Motifs?
150 Knit and Crochet Motifs is a collection of both knit and crochet shapes that are worked in many different directions and at different skill levels. There are an equal number of both knitted and crocheted motifs to appeal to those who knit, crochet, or both! The book is organized by shapes– whether they are circles, squares, diamonds, triangles, pentagons, hexagons, octagons, flower, leaves, hearts, snowflakes and other shapes to join as connectors. Working any of these motifs would be a great way to use yarn you have–and a super way to try a new technique without having to commit to a larger project. Of course if you love the motif, there are many ways to join them together to create so many items.

I also want to add that all of the 150 motifs in the book are worked in Lion Brand Wool-Ease which was a great yarn to use since it not only works well for blocking these motifs, but also is machine washable. The colors were amazing to work together!

What are some ways in which people can incorporate motifs into their knitting & crocheting?
I’ve included many suggestions and shown which motifs will work well with others in the book. There is also a section at the back of the book that shows diagrams explaining how the various shapes fit together as well as project ideas. The other day, I had a knitter say to me that she was going to make some of the motifs and sew them together to create fun scarves for her children! Of course, many of these shapes can work alone, as face cloths, hot pads, pockets, embellishments added on to larger projects or worked in thicker yarns to create pillows, or smaller to create ornaments. The possibilities are truly endless, but the book does give many suggestions and ideas about what you can do with these shapes. I hope this will be a great reference book for many knitters and crocheters!

There’s a fun story related to this blog about how the book came to be. Can you share it with us?
It is a very interesting story! I have been asked by Lion Brand a few times to host both KALs and CALs here on the blog. In July of 2009, Quarto Books (a book creating company in London) contacted Lion Brand to see if I would be interested in authoring a book of both knitted and crocheted motifs. That e-mail was passed on to me, and I was very interested! It all worked out and the book has been published by Interweave Press in the US and by Search Press in the UK. I also know that it is being translated into Dutch to be published in Holland! Who knew hosting the KALs and CALs would lead to a book–but it did!

Having led several knit- and crochet-alongs, as well as being a teacher, what are some of the most important lessons you like to impart to people?
I think the best thing to remember is to take your knitting or crocheting step-by-step and gradually work to more challenging projects. I know that avid knitters or crocheters love to “keep going”, and I think it is important to have at least 2 projects going at the same time: one that you find more challenging and one or two that you can take along with you or work on until you can get help with the other. There is nothing worse than being stuck without a project to work on! Also, know that making mistakes is a part of the process. Although I have knit for 40 years, I still make mistakes all the time. I am the “Queen of knitting with the short end!” Enjoy your knitting or crocheting and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

How did you become a knit and crochet designer?
I always tell people a funny thing happened on the way to pursuing a PhD in International Communications! I was taught how to knit and sew by my Mom when I was about 7, but always remember working with fabric, yarn and needles. I did a lot of sewing growing up as a 4-H member and by working all those sewing patterns, I learned hands-on how different shapes work together to create a garment. I have always had a fiber-project with me, and when I went to college, I found there wasn’t any room for a sewing machine in my dorm–and that’s when the knitting needles went with me next to the books in my backpack! During my five years of graduate studies at the University of Maryland, I was offered a job at a local yarn shop, where I was often found looking for a new project. It was there I really expanded my knowledge of knitting as I had to help customers with their own projects. After my Masters degree, I moved back to Buffalo, NY and married my husband where we started a family. With the birth of our second daughter, and realizing I wanted to be at home with both of our daughters, I started to submit designs to various magazines. It took over a year, but finally my designs were accepted–that was over 16 years ago!

We always want to know: swatching–do you really do it?
Absolutely! As a designer, I am many times asked to create a design using a particular yarn. So, the first thing I always do is to make a swatch to see how a yarn works up. Many times a yarn looks much different knitted or crocheted than it appears as a ball or skein. I often say that I’m “playing” with the yarn instead of swatching – but the swatch does tell me everything I need to know about what I can do with it. I always have my student swatch as well, because it will tell them what size needle or hook to use, familiarize them with the stitch patterns used in their project and guarantee a project that will turn out the size they desire!

In your personal yarncrafting life, what are your favorite kinds of projects?
Well, since there is not a lot of time beyond my design work for personal projects, I like to work projects that I know I will find interesting to make and fairly fast. Many times, I may see an interesting design by another designer that I just want to try for myself. I love to work cables, lace, textures and easy color knitting (like slip-stitch knitting). Sometimes, my fingers are just itching to do some crochet and I usually will try a new technique to expand my knowledge about crochet. There is always something new to learn!

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In Her Own Words: A Customer Review of Lion Brand Yarn Studio

April 8th, 2011

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Alice of OMG! Heart has written a wonderful review of our retail store, the Lion Brand Yarn Studio [LBYS] in NYC. Not only do her kind words make us blush, but they also highlight some of our favorite aspects of the store.

Alice writes:

It’s the perfect combination of local yarn shop along with what I’m looking for in an NYC yarn shop! Personal yet professional attention. Unlikely on first glance since Lion Brand Yarns is actually a large nationwide company that you’d normally associate with a more mass market approach. But no. Their lovely bright studio, 2 floors, has all the character and style of a small boutique store but without the prices and all the comforts and perks a large store can afford!

You can read her full post by clicking here, which goes into our free help, classes, groups, and more. But don’t just take OMG! Heart’s word for it: next time you’re in the New York City area, come check out LBYS for yourself. We’re sure you’ll “heart” us, too!

The Lion Brand Yarn Studio is located at 34 West 15th Street, New York, NY 10011.

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Design Inspiration: Create Your Own Version of a Store-Bought Piece

April 7th, 2011

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Most knitters and crocheters have been in this situation before: You walk into a clothing store, and you see a piece of clothing; you think to yourself, “Hey, I could make something like that.” Well, that happened to me recently, and I wanted to share with you how I broke down the process of figuring out how to knit or crochet a piece based on a commercial item.

This skirt caught my eye because of its loopy fringe and sheen. Being mass produced, it was made of a fine knitted fabric with the fringe sewn onto it. BUT as a creative yarncrafter, I knew I could find a stitch pattern and yarn that would allow me to create a similar effect while knitting the fringe right into the fabric.

Being that it’s spring, I wanted to go with something more fun that steel gray, so I chose LB Collection Cotton Bamboo for its great drape, subtle sheen, and bright spring colors. Next, I looked in the LionBrand.com StitchFinder and found the Single Loop Fringe stitch pattern, which is just a perfect match for this project. [All highlighted text are clickable links.]

Finally, I sketched out a rough schematic (just like one you’d find in a pattern) to figure out which measurements I would need and what math I would have to do. I know that I need measurements for my waist and hip, the distance up and down from the waist to the hip (the section where I would have to do increases to get the extra width for my hips), and the desired length of the skirt. I also know that I’ll have to knit swatches to figure out my gauge (and thereby figure out my cast-on amount) for the ribbed section, as well as in stockinette stitch (the stitch I’m going to use for the skirt fabric), and in the single loop fringe (to help me figure out how far apart my fringe rows should be). I’ll be knitting these test swatches with smaller needle sizes than recommended for this yarn, since with a skirt, you’ll want a denser fabric for better shape (and to make sure it’s more opaque!), and I’ll be sure to try a few different needle sizes to figure out which fabric density I like best.

With all of this information and my schematic, I should be able to do the math to write my very own pattern!

Alas, I still have a WIP (work in progress) on my needles, so it will be a little while until I get to my skirt project, but in the meantime, I hope this blog post shows you how to break down a project so that you can really create it for yourself.

Good luck, and happy yarncrafting!

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Staff Projects: Spring Yarncrafting Inspiration from the Lion Brand Yarn Studio

April 6th, 2011

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Despite the fact that it snowed at the end of March, our thoughts are turning to spring as we head into April. At the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC, that means cottons, lace, knitting and crochet, and trying new things!  Here’s a peek at what some of us have on our hooks and needles:

Me:
This spring, I’m ready to try my hand at my first crocheted sweater. I have always been a big sweater knitter and I save my crochet for scarves and hats. No more. I saw the cover of this month’s Interweave Crochet and it screams out for LB Collection Superwash Merino. I’ve swatched it on two different hook sizes (on for my hips and then the smaller hook for the rest). I know if I hit a problem, I have our expert Crochet Doctor in house–Andrea to the rescue!


Claire:
For my warmer-weather crafting this year I’m branching out (spring pun!) into new territory, trying my first crochet garment pattern. The crochet project is the Circle Vest from LionBrand.com. It’s originally done in Vanna’s Choice, but I’m doing it in the Recycled Cotton for a more summer-wear option. I think this is the perfect stepping-stone garment, since it doesn’t have sleeves for shaping!


Gina:
I’ve been working on the Emmaline short-sleeved top from Knitty.com with Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton in Dusty Blue. It’s almost done, so I might be able to wear it soon if the weather ever decides to stop hating us. Wait, what’s that? Snow forecasted for tonight? Never mind :-(


Grace:
This spring I wanted to explore two of my favorite things, yarn dyeing and lace shawl knitting. I’m experimented with acid dye and the LB Collection Baby Alpaca. Since Alpaca takes dye differently then wool it ended up this great kettle dyed look. Stay tuned for a new dyeing class that I will be teaching in the Studio starting this Summer. Here is the start of my shawl (Little Arrowhead Shawl, a free pattern on KnittingDaily.com).


Sadie:
This spring I’m splitting my time between knit and crochet.

I’ve just finished my crochet garment, the Persimmon Pullover from LionBrand.com. To fit my style, I elongated the pattern and turned it into a tunic to wear over leggings.  I used Superwash Merino Cashmere in Wild Berry.

Not to play favorites with crafts, my knit project in progress is Roman sweater (free pattern on Ravelry.com), and I’m using Cotton-Ease in Cherry.  I was a bit frustrated because although I achieved gauge my first 2 attempts turned out too large.  I tinked (that’s unknitting, knit spelled backwards) those and finally used the X-small size.  We will see how it turns out once I seam it. I plan on spray painting it with a metallic color at the end because I saw a similar sweater in a store recently. I really was attracted to the pattern because of the one shoulder diagonal cable and the fact that it would be a good summer sweater.

Want to show us what you’re working on? Add your project to the Customer Gallery on LionBrand.com!

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How to Style a Cowl

April 5th, 2011

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Cowls are a popular accessory for cool temperatures because of their versatility. Depending on the length of your cowl, there are tons of different ways you can style your accessory. Here is Lindsey modeling 6 suggestions using our Thermal Knit Cowl. For reference, this cowl has a circumference of 50 inches (127 cm), so cowls of a similar length will work well with these styles.

Long cowl styles
Cowls with a long circumference can be worn simply draped around the neck for a bit of warmth. Wear it over your head for a drapey hood. These longer styles are great for when you just want a lighter accessory, such as in a chilly office or on a cool spring day.

Medium cowl styles
These styles will keep you toasty. For the first example, simply drape the cowl around your neck, then wrap it around a second time. This long and short style adds visual interest. For the second look, fold the cowl in half and pull one end through the other like a scarf. This will double the amount of fabric around your neck, keeping you toasty.

Short cowl styles
For the most warmth, double the cowl around your neck. Fight off the wind by pulling one section over your head to form a cozy hood.

These are just six possible ways to wear your cowl; the possibilities are endless! What’s your favorite way to style a cowl?


Spotted: A Yarn Bomb Adds a Touch of Spring

April 4th, 2011

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Here in the Northeast, it can sometimes feel like spring is slow to unfurl and for color to return to the trees. Lucky for those in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a creative knitter took adding color to trees into his/her own hands!

Have you spotted yarn bombing in your area? Leave a comment and tell us about it. You can even link to a photo if you’d like!

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Making a Pattern Your Own

April 1st, 2011

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The fun thing about simple patterns is that there is a lot you can do to add flair. I like to add a splash of color or maybe pin a flower to something I knit or crochet to make it my own. I recently came across a blog post where blogger Emily added dino spikes to a simple hat for a fabulous, funky toddler topper.

What have you done to customize a pattern? Share in the comment below or add pictures to our Customer Gallery.