Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for June, 2011

Announcing Our Summer 2011 Crochet-Along Featuring the Mesh Raglan Pullover

June 30th, 2011

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Each season we host a knit- or crochet-along, a virtual event in which yarncrafters come together here online to work on one pattern together, share their experiences, and to learn together. There’s no need to sign up; simply follow along with the blog posts at your own pace as you crochet your sweater.

We asked you what crochet garment you’d like to make, and you picked our Mesh Raglan Pullover!

My name is Kendra and I’ll be your CAL host! I work at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, Lion Brand’s unique retail & education center in New York City, where I am both a crochet and knitting instructor and I can’t wait to work through this project with you. Click here to learn more about me. Each week I’ll have a post here about my progress through the sweater full of information I’ve found helpful and hope you will as well. This is meant to be an interactive process so please ask questions here and in our Ravelry group so I–and the other crocheters involved–can help! Click here to join our Ravelry group, and add your photos to our Flickr group here.

CAL BadgeTo start, this week is just about getting your yarn and other materials together. The pattern is made in our Recycled Cotton, which is a fabulous worsted-weight, cotton-acrylic blend that is made from the discarded fabric from tee-shirt production. It comes in beautiful tweed shades and has a great drape making it perfect for a summery top.

Cotton-Ease and Lion Cotton are other great summer yarns, which are both worsted weight and come in a wide variety of colors. Cotton-Ease is another cotton-acrylic blend where the addition of acrylic lends a stretch and drape to the cotton, making it a wonderful choice for garments. Lion Cotton is 100% cotton, which gives it great strength and structure, but it can also make it a little heavy for use in a sweater. Given the open fabric of this top, however, it could also make for a good choice.

As with any yarn substitution, you’ll need to figure out how many balls of your chosen yarn the top will take. The top is written for five sizes, and here are the number of balls for each of our recommended yarns:

Size S M L 1X 2X
Recycled Cotton 3 3 4 4 5
Cotton-Ease 3 3 4 4 5
Lion Cotton (Solids) 3 3 4 4 4
Lion Cotton (Multis) 3 3 4 4 5
Approx. yardage
550 550 750 750 925

Editor’s note: If you’re planning on modifying the pullover in terms of length or planning on keeping your gauge swatch, you may want to purchase an extra ball, just in case.

Now which size should you make? This top is meant to have a slightly loose fit, meaning it has some positive ease, so you want to select a size which measures a little larger than your bust measurement. When in doubt, it’s useful to measure a top you own, whose fit you like, and pick the size closest to that garment’s measurements.

Starting next week I’ll be sharing my progress through the top, starting with the all-important gauge swatch! I’ll also give you an overview of the construction of the garment so you’ll know how it’s going to come together. The following posts will work through the top starting with creating the yoke, moving on to the underarms and body, then the sleeves, and lastly the finishing work and blocking to make your garment perfect! So pick out your yarn, gather your hooks and stitch markers, and check back next week as this CAL really gets going!

Say hello! Leave a comment and tell us who you are, where you’re from, and who you’re making this top for!

Extra! Extra! Get Inspired by Fiber Artists in the News

June 30th, 2011

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Recently there have been a plethora of publications writing articles about the world of yarn bombing and yarn in fine arts. It is so nice to see the exciting world of yarn crafting brought to light, since working with yarn–as knitters & crocheters already know–is a wonderful form of artistic expression that should be shared with the world. Looking at these articles show you how something as simple as a skein of yarn can be transformed into a work of art. To check out some of these articles for yourself, use the following links:

Are there any articles you’ve spotted in your local newspapers? Do you have a favorite fiber artist? Leave us a comment and tell us!

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5 Crafts With Kids, No Knitting or Crochet Required!

June 29th, 2011

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Share your love of yarncrafting with the kids in your life! Summer is here, and it’s the season where kids everywhere are going to summer camp, traveling with family and having slumber parties! Now that school is out and kids have a little more time around the house, it’s the perfect chance to try out new crafts with them. These projects don’t require any knitting or crochet, so they are a great way to get started!

Below are 5 of our favorite easy crafting projects to do with kids:

Nothing says summer time quite like flowers in bloom and growing your own plants. If the kids in your life are interested in planting their own seeds (a popular summer camp activity) then try making an Earth Day Flower Pot that will be beautiful before and after the plant begins to grow!
Going away for a family vacation, summer camp or even a slumber party can be hard for a child leaving home. Make packing for the trip a celebration by helping them make a set of Luggage Tags. These tags make it easy to find the right suitcase. No one else will have luggage quite like theirs!
Friendship Bracelets are the project of choice for summer camps and sleepovers. A friendship bracelet can be sweet gift for a new friend or a thoughtful gift for a child who feels homesick. This one is quick to make and light enough to send in the mail.
These Holiday Decorations are also called God’s Eyes or Ojos de Dios. They are simple to make, and are great for experimenting with new textures and colors. Let the child you’re crafting with pick out whatever yarn they like. Everything from Fun Fur to Vanna’s Glamour will look great in this project!
Make super cute sandals out of regular flip flops with these instructions for No-Crochet Flip Flops. Kids can wear these at the pool or the beach, and you can even make a pair to match!

For tips and on yarncrafting with kids, check out our YarnCraft Podcasts special series on Summer Crafting with Kids. Who knows, you could be the one who inspires them to become a knitter, crocheter or weaver someday!

Is there a little one in your life that you’d like to share your love of yarncraft with? Leave us a comment to share!

Favorite Yarns for Amigurumi

June 28th, 2011

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Knitted LionMany people have asked us, “What is the best yarn for making amigurumi?” I always respond by saying that there are so many great options for crocheting and knitting toys; the most important considerations are texture, color, washability, and gauge (when provided by a pattern). That being said, here are 3 of my absolute favorite yarns to use for amigurumi.

Vanna’s Choice is a perennial favorite because it’s a classic yarn that comes in 57 shades. This wide color range really allows you to experiment with different color effects. The colors all match, too, so you don’t have to worry about any clashing. Vanna’s Choice is also machine washable and dryable, so it’s super easy for you to clean your amigurumi.

Like Vanna’s Choice, Wool-Ease is easy-care and comes in a great variety of colors. Shades like Mink Brown, Wheat, Mushroom, and Grey Heather are perfect for imitating fur.

Fun Fur is perfect for adding texture to any amigurumi. Use it to add hair or a mane (such as with our Amigurumi Lion), or use it all over for a fun, fuzzy creature (like our Amigurumi Panda). This yarn comes in a wide variety of realistic fur tones, as well as exciting bright colors, so you can really get bold with your color choices. Fun Fur is also easy care, so you don’t have to sacrifice texture for washability.

What’s your favorite yarn for amigurumi? Let us know in the comments!

A Closer Look at the 3rd Annual Vanna’s Choice Contest Grand Prize Winner

June 27th, 2011

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Many of you have already taken a look at the 32 fabulous winning designs of the 3rd Annual Vanna’s Choice Contest — but we thought our Grand Prize winner deserved a closer look! Below, check out our video highlighting all the interactive features of the Kid’s Farmyard Activity Book by Alison Grosvenor of Surrey, BC, Canada. (Note: if you are reading this blog post in an e-mail, click through to the site to watch the video.)

This year, we received so many wonderful entries that we had a really tough time choosing the winners! We’re grateful to everyone who entered.

To see the full list of winners, including the Zuider Zee ‘Double Dutch’ Double Knit Afghan by Margaret MacInnis of Cherry Grove, AB, Canada, the Christmas Chess Set by Aiqi Huang of Simi Valley, CA, and the Vanna’s Silver Ribbons dress by Amy Dulac of Deltona, FL, click here.

Vote for Our Crochet-Along Project!

June 22nd, 2011

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Summer is the perfect time for making a breezy crochet garment. To celebrate, we’re having a crochet-along (a virtual event where we all make the same pattern, with the support of hundreds of other crocheters)! Our friend Kendra, who hosted last year’s Beach Cardi CAL, is back to host. Before we get started, we want you to choose the perfect pattern!
Clockwise from top left: Persimmon Pullover, Broomstick Lace Crochet Shell, Mesh Raglan Pullover, Light ‘n’ Lively Tank

Click here to cast your vote. We’ll announce the winning pattern on Thursday, June 30th. We can’t wait to get started!

New to our online crochet-alongs? Click here to read our guide to getting started. Remember to check the Lion Brand Notebook on Thursdays for the latest crochet-along posts!

3 Spectacular Dishcloth Yarns

June 22nd, 2011

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Ever thought about making your own dish cloths? With summer heating up, it’s time to break out the fast-finish super-portable projects.  Dish cloths are lightweight, quick to make and easy to carry with you on vacation, to the beach or even on your commute. You can use a finished dishcloth right away in any season, and they make great gifts for summer guests or friends hosting picnics and cook outs.

Here are three cotton and cotton blend yarns that make excellent dish cloths, and a great dish cloth pattern for each one!

Recycled Cotton is a blend of acrylic yarn fiber and the cotton cuttings leftover in tee shirt factories. Using this yarn is a great way to recycle while enjoying the versatility of cotton blends. Try it out with the Cottontail Dishtowels. Cottontail Dishtowels in Recycled Cotton
Lion Cotton is 100% cotton, sturdy, strong and very absorbent, making it perfect for dishcloths! Try it out with the Dorothea Dishtowels. Dorothea Dish Towels
Cotton-Ease combines the cool hand of cotton and easy care of acrylic. The yarn comes in lovely colors and is easy to coordinate with your kitchen decor! Try it out with the Retro Dish Cloths. Retro Dish Cloths

With so many free dish cloth patterns and wash cloth patterns available on our website, the only thing you have to do is pick the perfect yarn and get started!

Have you made dishcloths lately, or used these yarns before? Leave a comment to let us know!

Tips for Using a Yarn Swift

June 21st, 2011

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Last month, I visited Hancock Shaker Village, a living museum in western Massachusetts, portraying the daily happenings of a Shaker community. As a yarncrafter, it was particularly interesting because the Shakers valued crafts and had a strong affinity for the world of yarns–from raising sheep (I saw newborn baby lambs!) to spinning their own yarn, knitting, crocheting, and weaving. At the museum I got to see a demonstration of how linen yarn is made, as well as seeing many historical and reproduction yarncrafting tools.

One of the tools they had on display was a table swift, which the Shakers produced in great numbers in the 1800s. If you’ve never used a table swift (also called an umbrella swift), it may look like a strange contraption, but what it allows you to do is to hold a hank (one of those long, loose circles of yarn) open while you turn it into a ball, either by hand or with a ball winder. Some yarns that come in hanks include our LB Collection Organic Wool and LB Collection Pure Wool, but hanks are also how you dye yarns, so if you’ve been thinking about dyeing your own yarns, a swift can be an important tool for turning those hanks into beautiful yarn balls or yarn cakes!

Here are a few tips for using a yarn swift:

  • When using a yarn swift, you’ll want to make sure the yarn isn’t twisted so that it feeds easily.
  • Make sure the yarn swift is securely attached to the table and that the knob that holds up the “umbrella” part of the swift is securely screwed in.
  • If using a ball winder, leave yourself some distance between the swift and ball winder so that the yarn can feed smoothly and at an even tension.
  • When not in use, store your ball winder in a bag so that it doesn’t get caught on anything. Our friends at Slipped Stitch Studios have some cute ones in fun fabrics.

Thinking about buying a swift for yourself? Click here to see our classic wooden swift or click here to see our lightweight metal swift.

Rest in Peace: Jean Leinhauser

June 20th, 2011

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Jean Leinhauser’s first job out of the University of Iowa was the public relations director for the Hobby Industry Association in Chicago, her first job out of the University of Iowa with a degree in journalism; little did she know that it would start her on a path to become a leader in the world of knitting and crochet.

Jean, who passed away on Sunday, June 12, went on from her first job to becoming an account executive at Aaron Cushman & Associates, a PR firm where she was assigned the Boye Needle Company account. Although she knit, Jean had to teach herself to crochet in order to understand the tools her account sold, and she eventually became an expert in both knitting and crochet, going on to write dozens of books on her own and later with her business partner Rita Weiss, former president of the Crochet Guild of America.

In addition to dozens of books, Jean founded an independent needlework book publishing company, which became Leisure Arts, the nation’s largest needlework book publisher. She also founded the American School of Needlework, another knit and crochet publisher. After selling that company and moving into retirement, Jean–never one to slow down–and Rita then started Creative Partners, a consulting firm specializing in knit and crochet books, continuing to design and write patterns. They continued to attend yarn events and inspire new generations of yarncrafters, like the Knit and Crochet Show, where we at Lion Brand were always happy to catch up with them.

At these events, Jean, Rita, and their friend, designer Margaret Hubert, would joke about the exclusive club of three they belonged to, called “Old Broads Rule.” The requirements for joining? Being a still-working knit/crochet designer whose first book was published before 1968.

This July, Jean will be honored by the Crochet Guild of America at the Knit and Crochet Show in Minneapolis as the first person inducted into the CGOA’s newly created Hall of Fame.

We at Lion Brand have been honored to have known Jean, and we will miss her greatly.

For an interview with Jean in Crochet Insider, please click here. For a video interview with Jean and Rita, please click here.

3 Tips for Making Potholders

June 16th, 2011

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Potholders are like the “beach books” of yarncrafting. They’re quick to finish, require little concentration, and — with all the possibilities for color and shape — super fun! But if you don’t choose your materials and design carefully, that potholder could become a pot-sticker — or worse, fail to protect your hands from the heat. Read on for our tips on how to make potholders that will have a place in your kitchen for years to come. (To access the pattern for the potholders shown at left, click the picture.)

Choose fibers that can stand the heat. Yarns with 100% natural fibers, such as Lion Cotton® and Lion® Wool, have a natural ability to withstand high temperatures. (In fact, wool is naturally flame-retardant!) Plus, cotton and felted wool are both machine-washable. If you’re unsure whether your yarn will work as a potholder, check the label — if it’s able to be ironed, it’s perfect.

Thick fabrics make happy hands. A thin knit may be flexible, but it may allow heat to transfer through too easily. Choose a knit or crochet stitch with thickness, like a cushy garter stitch or a sturdy single crochet. If you’re working with wool, try felting your work: felting shrinks the stitches together, making the fabric thicker and more solid.

Stay closely stitched. Using an open stitch is an absolute no-no! If you are a loose knitter or crocheter, try trading in the hook or needle size you would normally use for something two (or more) sizes smaller. This way, your stitches will sit closer together, eliminating any gaps in your work.

Do you have any potholder-making tips or stories that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.

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