Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for May, 2011

Round-Up: Design It Yourself

May 12th, 2011

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Every once in a while, we like to give you tips and tricks for designing your own knit and crochet projects.  Whether you want to design your own garment or play around with colors, here are our favorite posts on the subject.

Designing with Squares

Creating Your Own Color Combination

Discover Embroidery

Creating Colors By Double Stranding

Create Your Own Version of a Store-Bought Piece

Best Yarns for Beginners

May 11th, 2011

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Whether you’re a beginner yarncrafter or you’re teaching someone else, it’s important for you to select a great yarn. There are so many different types of yarn out there, and the selection can be difficult! Three of our all-time favorite beginner yarns are Vanna’s Choice, Wool-Ease, and Cotton-Ease. Here’s why:

  • Texture. These three yarns have great smooth textures, making it super easy to see your stitches.
  • Color. Working with a color that you love is incredibly inspiring. In just these three yarn lines, there are 129 shades! Remember that solids and lighter colors will make it easier to see your stitches.
  • Thickness. All of these yarns are worsted weight, which means that they’re a medium thickness that will work up quickly without being bulky.
  • Easy care. It’s a great idea to save your first project. Not only is it a fantastic accomplishment, but it can also be a helpful reminder of both your strengths and weaknesses. The easy machine wash and dry care of these yarns will make sure that your first project always looks brand new.

Once you’ve gotten the basics down with yarns like these, you can explore new textures, colors effects, and more with complete confidence! And remember, these yarns aren’t just for beginners; they’re classics that are perfect for an incredible variety of projects.

What yarn did you use for your first yarncrafting project? Share your story in the comments!

5 Tips for Seaming or Sewing Up Knit & Crochet Pieces

May 9th, 2011

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There comes a time in most knitters’ and crocheters’ lives when you want to tackle a project that has seams to be sewn up, whether it’s a top, a hat, an afghan, or a cardigan.

While many knitters & crocheters are wary of sewing, seams can be an important part of your project’s construction, providing structure and helping it to keep its shape, so it’s an important skill to learn. Some knitters & crocheters also worry that the seam will show, but as you can see from the picture of my partly seamed sweater, you can’t even tell where I’m joining the front and back of the sweater together! (Hint: Follow the V down in a straight line and that’s the seam between the two pieces of fabric.)

Besides, seaming doesn’t have to be difficult. With a little practice you can become a pro. To help, here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way.

1. To start, if you’ve never seamed before, click here to see directions from the FAQ bank on how to seam various knit stitches, click here for crochet directions. You’ll always want to join your pieces by hand-sewing, since this will allow you to create the most invisible seams. Practice with test swatches, since practice makes perfect (or at least very good)!

2. Block your pieces before you start seaming. This will help flatten out your pieces and to control any rolling in a stockinette or single crochet piece.

3. Pin the pieces together with safety pins or small claw hair clips to help you get started. By keeping the fabric together, it will make it easier for you to sew them. Once you get a little further along (like on my two sweater pieces shown here), you can take the pins out.

4. Consider a crochet seam (whether you’re a knitter or a crocheter). A slip stitch seam or a single crochet seam can sometimes be a good option for joining two pieces together. I like them for joining sleeves to a garment.

5. Designing your own pieces? Keep in mind that you’ll lose a stitch on either edge of the fabric when you seam the pieces together. This is especially important when you’re working on a project with ribbing or a patterned stitch (such as on a sleeve cuff), since you don’t want your ribbing not to match up correctly when you seam it up! (I learned this lesson the hard way, so learn from my mistake and think ahead.)

With a little practice and a little patience, you’ll soon be a seaming queen (or king)!

5 Tips for Easy Embellishment to Make Any Project Your Own!

May 6th, 2011

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There are plenty of simple, beautiful ways to personalize your yarn crafting, even if you are a true beginner! Here’s our top five list:

Embroidery: Adding personal details like names or initials with embroidery is an easy way to make simple baby blankets or ring-bearer pillows into a priceless family heirlooms! Check out our step-by-step guides to the duplicate stitch and embroidered french knots for tips.

Trims & Fringe: You can add these to any project that has an edge! Here’s one easy method for adding fringe, and try our stitch finder for great trim-speration!

Appliques: Knit patch pockets or these crochet rosettes can be made separately, and added to a finished sweater or purse. Appliques can be felted too, like these felted flowers!

Colors: Adding stripes of color or holding two colored yarns together brightens up any pattern, especially when those colors mean something important, like a favorite school or sports team (Hometown USA is designed to match school & team colors!).

Textures: A simple hat or scarf is transformed when you add a new stitch pattern or hold together yarns of different texture; why not add some variety?

Tassels, pom-poms, beading, the sky is the limit! Even the simplest blanket or shawl pattern can become an intricate, personal work of art with a little embellishment.

What are your favorite things to add to a project? How do you like to make a pattern your own?

4 Easy Baby Blankets

May 5th, 2011

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Baby blankets are a fun and easy way to play with different techniques and constructions.  Here are four basic baby blankets that anyone can knit or crochet. Click on the images to go to the patterns.

Knit Sunny Diagonal Blankie

Knit from corner to corner, all you need to learn to make this blanket is yarn-over and knit 2 together.

Crochet V-Stitch Baby Throw
An easy all-over v-stitch pattern gets a beautiful finishing touch with a picot border.  Even if you’ve never done these handy stitches, they are easy to learn by following the directions in the pattern.
Crochet Baby Throw
A single oversized granny square works up quickly in a super-bulky yarn. Try Wool-Ease Thick & Quick or Hometown USA for this dramatic throw.

Knit Princess Basketweave Throw

For a timeless design, go with a basketweave stitch.  In bulky cotton-acrylic blend Baby’s First, this simple design will be super-soft and work up quickly.

As with all projects, the yarn you use makes a big difference.  A diagonal baby blanket can be a simple solid or incorporate stunning stripes.  You can use a cool cotton or warm wool. Click here to read Ilana’s post on our favorite baby yarns.

Internet Abbreviations for Yarncrafters

May 3rd, 2011

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Yarncrafters have long used abbreviations as shorthand for different stitches and techniques. Now, crafters on the internet are using abbreviations for unique crocheting and knitting terms. Here’s a quick guide to some of the most popular terms.
CAL: Crochet-along
CIP: Crocheting in public
DPN: Double-pointed needles
FO: Finished object (in other words, a completed knit or crochet project)
KAL: Knit-along
KIP: Knitting in public
LYS: Local yarn store
UFO: Unfinished project (usually set aside or difficult to find)
WIP: Work in progress

What other yarncrafting abbreviations have you seen online? Let us know in the comments!