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!

Related links:

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!

Related links:

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!