Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for May, 2011

5 Podcasts We Love!

May 31st, 2011

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SwatchesCrafters everywhere know the importance of being focused while you work – but many of us like to have a little something interesting on in the background. Podcasts are a great source of entertainment, and can even help you with your crafting!

One of the many free goodies on the Lion Brand website is our free podcast series, YarnCraft. This podcast is updated with new episodes every two weeks and is chock full of interviews, projects, tips and tricks for enjoying your crafting life.  Here are five more great podcasts about crafting with yarn! [As always, highlighted text is clickable.]

Just One More Row
Cohosts Brittany and Dana talk about patterns they love, projects they’re working on and upcoming contests  in this friendly, conversational podcast. Both of these Tennessee ladies knit, but Brittany also spins and Dana is a long time crocheter. They post great notes for each episode and include links to the patterns and websites they mention, in case you want to catch up and make one of the many projects they talk about on the show!

This podcast is a great resource for book lovers, crafters, and those who wish they could read while working with yarn. Each episode begins with a portion of crafting discussion before diving into classic literature. The host of this podcast is a knitter, crocheter, spinner and English teacher! She tailors each episode to the interests of crafters and those who love classic books or want to read them for the first time.

Stash and Burn
A popular favorite, Nicole and Jenny of Stash and Burn talk about projects they are working on and living “Life Under the Weight of the Stash”. These two focus mostly on knitted projects, but take time out to review techniques and books. Conversations can wander from topic to topic, but always come around back to fiber arts and patterns they love!

Stitch It
Meghan of Stitch It tells great stories about motherhood, balancing a busy life and, of course, crafting. A busy fiber lover, she works with knitting and crochet as well as spinning and dyeing. Her episodes cover many different topics, but are full of interesting stories and plenty of fiber fun.

The Knit Girllls
Watching this conversational video podcast is like inviting co-hosts Leslie and Laura over for some quality stitching time together. The two ladies show off their work and finished projects, talk about patterns and announce new giveaways!

These are just some of the many great podcasts on crafting with yarn, and each can be found through these links or on iTunes. Did we mention your favorite?

Leave a comment to tell us about a crafting podcast you love and what you love about it!

Tips for Joining a New Ball of Yarn to Your Work

May 30th, 2011

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Unless you are making a one-ball scarf or hat, there is going to come a point in your knitting (probably several, actually) when you will need to join a new ball of yarn. The absolute best way to do this is to join the new ball at the edge, as this avoids messy or gapped stitches. When you do this, you simply stop working with the old yarn at the end of one row and begin working with the new yarn as you begin working the next row.

However, there are sometimes that this just isn’t possible. For instance, if you’re working in the round you obviously have no edge to join at. You also might be working on a project where you’re really concerned about running short of yarn and you want to use every inch possible. There are a couple of options for those times when you can’t join at an edge:

The best thing to do, unless you are working with a very thick yarn, is work a couple of stitches while holding the old yarn and the new yarn together. Make sure to work these double-stranded stitches as single stitches on the next row–the double stranding won’t show in the finished project. This particular method gives a nice stable join with no loosening of the stitches or possible gapping between them.

If you’re working with a particularly thick yarn (category 5 or higher), you’ll need to join as usual, meaning you’ll just stop working with the old yarn and start working with the new yarn, leaving a tail of 4-6” of each. You’ll probably need to snug up these stitches as you work the first couple of rows past the join, and may even want to temporarily tie a half hitch just to stabilize the area. Then when you’re weaving in your ends, weave them across the join. In other words, weave the tail from the left over to the right and the tail from the right over to the left. This should keep that gap closed and give it the appearance of a normal stitch.

Editor’s note: When joining yarn, you also have several options to splice your old yarn’s end and new yarn’s end together before continuing to knit or crochet. Use Google (Bing, Yahoo, etc.) to search for “Russian join,” or for feltable yarns, search “felted join”. You’ll be able to find many written, illustrated, and video tutorials on these two popular yarn-splicing methods.

Are there other skills that you need tips on? Let us know in the comments!

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Crochet Flowers Round-Up

May 27th, 2011

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Want to add a touch of whimsy to any project? Whip up a few crocheted flowers! These small, portable projects are also a great way to use up yarn scraps. Here are five of my favorite crochet flower patterns:

Top row: Mother’s Day Flower (left), Tradescantia (right)
Middle row: Narcissus
Bottom row: Irish Rose (left), Six Petal Flower (right)

Once you’ve crocheted the flowers, what can you do with them? The possibilities are endless! Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Attach a pin back for a versatile accessory.
  • Add a bobby pin for a floral hair accessory.
  • Sew onto an afghan for a pop of color.
  • Add to a tote or market bag for some pizazz.
  • Sew to a hat or scarf for a stylish twist on a favorite pattern.

What are your favorite ways to use crocheted flowers? Be sure to let us know in the comments! Knitters, check back next week for a round-up of flowers for you!

Fiber Arts in the News, Plus 5 Fiber Artists We Love

May 26th, 2011

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You don’t need to search far to see that fiber arts are a huge news trend this year. Profiles in The New York Times, Woman’s Day, and New York Magazine are talking about how yarn-bombing is 2011’s hottest art form. As they’re discovering, and as we here at Lion Brand have known for years, yarn just might be the most chic-yet-comforting medium that an artist can use!

Over the years, we’ve featured many textile artists from around the globe; here are some of our favorites. [As always, highlighted text are active links.]

Nathan Vincent

We’ve been a longtime fan of Nathan’s; he’s even displayed some of his knitted taxidermy on our very own Lion Brand Yarn Studio Gallery Wall. Seen above, his current Bellevue Arts Museum installation, “Locker Room,” was created from more than 200 skeins of yarn! We love how all the different stitches can create a world of lifelike texture.

Anna Hrachovec, MochiMochi Land

Nothing brightens our day like Anna’s adorable creations. Just this April, she exhibited a knitted solar system called “MochiMochi Worlds” at the Pictoplasma Festival in Berlin.

Robyn Love

Our collaboration with Robyn began in 2008 with her outdoor installation, “The Knitted Mile.” Most recently, at the World Maker Faire, she yarnbombed the fairgrounds’ rocket ship with handcrafted, flame-like extensions. Afterwards, the “yarn flames” were removed to be recycled into afghans to donate to Warm Up America.

Amy Caterina

Amy is well-known in the textile arts world for
Pseudo-Sod, a grass-like material that she makes from Fun Fur. Her material of choice not only looks soft and snuggly, but also is flexible enough to cover taxidermy, landscapes, and even a car!

The Beehive Craft Collective

Looking for upcoming yarn-bomb installations? This Canadian homesteading collective will be creating a yarncrafted installation at the James Street North Supercrawl in Hamilton, Ontario this fall. We can’t tell you the details, but you can read about the collective’s day-to-day adventures at their blog.

Want to learn more about the hottest trends in fiber art? Episodes 45 and 60 of the YarnCraft podcast feature interviews And if you live in the NYC area, stop by the Lion Brand Yarn Studio to take a look at our Gallery Wall. We feature a different artist every month!

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5 Blogs We Love: A Round-Up of Knitting, Crochet and Craft Blogs

May 25th, 2011

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Love reading about the world of yarncrafting? If you have been enjoying the Lion Brand Notebook, check out these blogs that we love to read! [As always, highlighted text is clickable.]

The Crochet Dude
Blogger, crochet designer, and author Drew Emborsky provides unique insight on the crafting for men and crafting in general with his blog The Crochet Dude. Drew’s designs include everything from a crochet Little Black Dress to awesome purses, which we’ve featured in a previous blog post.

Yarn Harlot
Author Stephanie Pearl-McFee’s blog Yarn Harlot is very popular and focuses on knitting, spinning, and the tricks she’s figured out along the way. She also includes beautiful photos of her work and materials.

The MochiMochi Land Blog
If you love amigurumi, The MochiMochi Land Blog is a great option for you! This blog is chock full of new and exciting tiny projects to make everything from adorable mini people to cute little bathtubs and computers! We love Anna’s adorable creations and were happy to feature her most recent gallery show, MochiMochi Worlds, here on the Notebook earlier this season.

Craft Magazine maintains a wonderful blog that includes projects from fiber arts to deep fried strawberries. This is a great read for anyone who loves crafting in general; it’s chock full of information and inspiration!

Stefanie Japel Knits
Stefanie Japel (who longtime Lion Brand Notebook readers might remember from her extremely popular Textured Circle Shrug Knit-Along) writes in her blog Stefanie Japel Knits about her adventures in knitting and being a mother to her daughters. She includes beautiful pictures, written reflections on crafting and reviews of products mothers and crafters alike might find useful.

These are just a few of our favorites, but there are so many more out there! What knit/crochet/crafting blogs do you love to read? Leave us a comment to share your favorites!

Discover Your Next Project with Pattern Finder

May 19th, 2011

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Itching to get some yarn back on your hook or needles, but stumped for what to make next? is home to over 4,000 free patterns, but browsing them doesn’t have to take all day. The Pattern Finder® is an excellent way to search for your next project based on stitch technique, skill level, stash yarn, and much more!

We’ve created a video for you that explains all the different aspects of the Pattern Finder® in just 2 minutes.

Remember, there’s more than one way to discover the perfect pattern. Try combining different search fields and see what you find. Your next project is waiting for you in our pattern library!

To access the Pattern Finder®, click here.

4 Tips for Spring Socks

May 18th, 2011

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Socks are the perfect project for spring and summer. They’re small enough to be portable, so you can work on them everywhere from the subway to the beach. Best of all, you won’t have a lot of yarn resting on your lap, so you can keep cool while crafting! Here are 4 tips for you to get the most out of your spring sock-making experience:

Socks1. Use fun, bright colors! Celebrate the beautiful color palettes of spring by incorporating them into your socks. Sock-Ease shades like Lemon Drop, Cotton Candy, Sour Ball, and Lollipop are perfect for adding a pop of color into your wardrobe.

2. Choose wool. It might sound crazy, but wool socks are great for warmer weather. That’s because wool is a very breathable fiber, and it will actually wick away some of the moisture from your feet.

3. Select the right pattern for your yarn. Solid and semi-solid shades are versatile enough to be used in plain and intricate patterns. Self-striping and variegated colors can obscure more detailed patterns, so it’s best to use them with simpler stitches.

4. Try new techniques! Top-down, toe-up, heels, toes, magic loop — there are so many different ways to make a sock, so challenge yourself to try something new.

Are you new to sock knitting? Click here to watch our How to Knit Socks video series.

Spring Has Sprung! 5 Favorite Patterns for the Spring!

May 17th, 2011

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Spring is all around us! The changing weather brings with it longer warm days and cool nights, and if you are lucky, more time outside! These projects are perfect for the changing weather, and are extremely popular.

Sequoia Shrug Crochet Sequoia Shrug
Adorable to wear and a perfect garment for changing weather, a shrug is the perfect accessory for spring! While it’s light enough for warm days, it’s warm enough for cool nights.
Stockinette Stitch Shrug Knit Stockinette Stitch Shrug
Here’s our most popular shrug for knitters. This shrug is knit in Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton: so it’s good for the season and good for the earth!
Market Bag Crochet Market Bag
Make this super popular market bag to celebrate the return of farmer markets and fresh fruits stands, and keep using it all year for beach parties, back to school shopping, gifts and more! Our most popular market bag in Recycled Cotton helps you recycle and reuse at the same time.
Little Princess Cardi Crochet Little Princess Cardi
Been longing to try out bamboo? Looking for a light, washable sweater that a toddler will actually want to wear? This little sweater uses a simple pattern and is a fantastic chance to try out LB Collection Cotton Bamboo.
Brimmed Cap Crochet Brimmed Cap
This is one of our most popular hat patterns. The pattern calls for two skeins of LB Collection Organic Wool, but try working it in two skeins of Cotton Ease or Lion Cotton and the result is a perfect hat for keeping the sun off in spring!

What projects and yarns are you excited about this spring? Leave a comment to let us know!

See the Amazing (Yarn) Man at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

May 16th, 2011

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Earlier this year, we featured a photo of our Amazing man, a sculpture made with various colors of our Amazing yarn that was featured at the CHA trade show. If you want to see him in person, you can visit the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles in San Jose, CA starting this week. Both he and his couch will be part of the exhibit, Primary Structures from May 17 to August 7.

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Small Changes, Big Results

May 13th, 2011

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How making a few easy changes to a pattern gave me exactly the finished project I wanted.

Possibly my favorite thing about Spring is finally wearing pretty skirts again. After the heavy long skirts of winter, it’s a relief to have a light little twirly skirt on. Unfortunately, the weather is not always cooperative with my idea of what a perfect Spring day should be, so I sometimes find myself either shivering in a too-cool outfit or sadly donning heavier clothes yet again. When I saw the Carnaby skirt last year on, I filed it away as a possible solution, and when this winter began to look like it would never give way to Spring, I decided it was the perfect time to cast on, but with a few little tweaks to make it exactly what I was looking for.

The first thing I changed was the yarn. The original pattern calls for a category 4 yarn, and one of the samples even uses Lion Wool. While I do like Lion Wool–and it comes in some really great colors–I knew I had enough LB Collection Organic Wool in my stash for the skirt and I love being able to do a little easy stash-busting. I worked up a quick swatch, and the gauge was on the large side but I really liked the feel and drape of the fabric I was getting. Because of the way this skirt is constructed, stitches per inch will affect the length and rows will affect the waist measurement. There’s no shaping other than the gores–you just work the panels until it’s long enough to wrap around you–so I wasn’t overly concerned about my row gauge.

Stitch gauge was another matter. With the larger gauge, my skirt was going to hit me right across the knees–not a great look for me. But since I really liked the way my fabric was draping I didn’t really want to go down a needle size or two to get gauge. Instead I decided to just work fewer repeats of the pattern than originally called for. To do this, I needed to calculate two things: how many stitches made up a pattern repeat, and about how many stitches I needed to get the length I wanted.

Determining how many stitches would give me the length I wanted was fairly simple: multiply desired inches by stitches per inch. I measured a skirt I already own that I like the length of and decided I wanted a finished length of about 18″. At an in-pattern gauge of 16sts = 4″, or 4sts = 1″, I needed to cast on about 72 stitches. Now it was time to look at the pattern repeat.

This is a fairly simple box stitch, and it tells me right in the pattern notes that it’s multiple of four stitches (you can find similar information in the Stitch Explanation section of Lion Brand patterns). 72 is actually a multiple of four, so I was done with the mathy bit. If 72 hadn’t been a multiple of the number of stitches needed for the pattern, I would have gone up or down as necessary. For instance, if I’d needed a multiple of 10, I’d’ve just rounded down to 70. One thing to note here about stitch multiples: you will often see something like “multiple of 4 +1″. What this means is that your total number of stitches needs to be a multiple of 4, plus one additional stitch. If you are just up- or down-sizing a pattern, you really don’t need to worry about the “plus” — just add or subtract the main multiple.  In other words, if this was a multiple of 4 + 1 and the original cast on was 81, I would still only subtract 8 which would leave me with 73: a multiple of 4 + 1.

The final change I made was to forgo the buttonholes and actually sew the final panel to the first panel. Using buttons to hold a knit skirt closed just seemed like it was asking for a wardrobe malfunction. I really liked the look of the buttons, though, so I kept the overlap when I sewed the flaps together and sewed the buttons on top. Because the slip stitch waistband has very little give, I fell back on a trick I learned from garment design: I sewed a smaller button underneath the top decorative button and left a bit of a flap open at the top so I can actually get the skirt on and off. Once I’ve got it on, the smaller button fastens to the lower flap and no one’s the wiser.

These few easy little changes gave me a skirt I absolutely love — I’m looking forward to wearing it all Spring and digging it back out again in the Fall when temperatures start dropping again!

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