Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for June, 2011

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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