Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for July, 2011


What Is Fingering/Sock/Sport/DK/Worsted…Weight Yarn?

July 31st, 2011

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Yarn weights go by so many different names, it can be difficult to keep track of what’s what! (For example, did you know that Fingering weight and Sock weight are one and the same?)

To help you out, we’ve compiled a chart using the yarn weight standards developed by the Craft Yarn Council, along with examples of Lion Brand Yarn in each category.

Yarn Weight Symbol/Category Name Commonly Used Names Example of Lion Brand Yarn
Cobweb, Lace, Crochet Thread
LB Collection® Wool Stainless Steel *
Sock, Fingering, Baby
LB Collection® Silk Mohair
Sport, Baby
Vanna’s Glamour™
DK, Light Worsted
LB Collection® Cotton Bamboo
Worsted, Afghan, Aran
Wool-Ease®
Chunky, Craft, Rug
Wool-Ease® Chunky
Bulky, Roving
Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick®

* Note: Although LB Collection® Wool Stainless Steel is listed on our website as a Category 1 Super Fine yarn, it may be used as a Category 0 yarn.

Interested in learning more about which of our yarns are in which weight category? Click here to check out our list of yarns by weight class on LionBrand.com.

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Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Adding the Sleeves

July 28th, 2011

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Welcome back to the Mesh Raglan Pullover CAL! Hopefully working on the body of your pullover has gone well and you were able to make it the length you want by being able to try it on as you go! Gotta love top-down sweaters, right? This pullover is almost done! Today I’m going to talk to you all about sleeves – then next week it’s on to the finishing touches and this sweater will be complete!

For the sleeves, you are going back to the marked double crochet and chains that you used to create the body only this time you are working the stitches into the armhole opening. As with the body, be sure to read the notes and pay particular attention to whether you should start on the right or wrong side for your size. The other very important note is that you working the first few stitches into the chains you skipped over while making the body. Otherwise working the sleeves around is just like a smaller version of the body, working dc, ch-1 in each dc around.


The chain between the stitch markers has the single sleeve dc between the two dc of the body from before (for the size M with a chain of 3 at the underarms)

A lot of you asked early on about making the sleeves longer. Just as with the body, this is very easy to do! At the simplest, just continue to work more rounds until the sleeves are the length you want, trying it on as you go to see how the fit is coming. As another option, work as above but decrease the number of stitches every 2-3 rounds to shape the sleeve a little smaller as you work towards your elbow.

To work a decrease in this mesh stitch I would recommend working one decrease at the point of the sleeve on the underside of your arm by working your turning chain of 4, then skip the next dc that you would normally work into and instead work your first dc in next dc.


Note the skipped dc below the turning chain. While it does leave a larger hole in the mesh stitch pattern, it is not as noticeable when placed on the underside of the sleeve.

You can also work the decreases at any other point in the sleeve as follows, but keep in mind it will leave a larger space wherever placed:

  1. Work up to where you want to work the decrease.
  2. Work your regular dc, ch-1, only skip the next dc and ch-1 space,
  3. Work the next dc in the following dc, ch-1 and continue in pattern as normal.

What this accomplishes is a decrease of a dc and a ch-1 space without an interruption in the pattern. This will tuck the sleeve in a bit on the underside of the arm and will help the sleeve from staying very open. It’s a great option to decrease slightly even if you don’t lengthen the sleeves as it will help bring the sleeve in a bit if your yoke turned out a little loose. If you choose to decrease, be sure to decrease an even number of times so the edging works out evenly.

Lastly for the sleeve is a trim round where you are working in a completely different pattern than the mesh stitch used so far. Instead you are focusing on working stitches into the ch-1 spaces we have been skipping and not working into the dc stitches at all. Otherwise it’s a nice (sc, ch 3, dc) in every other ch-1 space to make a nice lacy trim.

So get to work on your sleeves and next week it’s all about finishing up this great pullover! Keep sharing your comments and photos of your progress!


Michelle Edwards Explores Darning

July 27th, 2011

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One of the best things about the yarncrafting community is the stories crafters share. This story comes from author and crafter extraordinaire Michelle Edwards. She relates how while watching her friend Monica (pictured at left with puppets of the Owl Glass Puppetry Center) deftly mend a sock, she learned more about her friend and about the care and keeping of well worn socks. She even includes a list of her tips for darning at the end of her story.

Look out for a new story by Michelle Edwards each month in our popular newsletter, The Weekly Stitch. Click here to subscribe.

Michelle writes:

Sometimes darning is about routine sock maintenance. Sometimes it’s about preserving and respecting gifts. Other times, it may be more than the socks that get mended; a bond may be repaired by engaging together in a worthwhile companionable activity.

Click here to read Michelle’s full story.

Do you darn? Who taught you? Do you have any darning hints for the newbies?

Leave a comment below and share your darning story.

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What Size Sweater/Top/Dress Should I Knit or Crochet?

July 26th, 2011

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When it comes to scarves, blankets, and even hats, sizing is pretty straightforward. But when you’re ready for your first sweater, things get a little more complicated. You see, there are really two sets of sizing on lots of sweaters: S, M, L, etc. and then there are the actual measurements.

The first type is not very useful. It will tell you what range of sizes an item comes in (e.g., a sweater that comes in XS, S, M, L, XL, and XXL has a range of six sizes, while a sweater that comes in S, M, L only has a range of three sizes), which can give you some clues about fit and patterning but these sizes really shouldn’t be used to determine which size you’re going to make.

What gets confusing is that S, M, L, etc. are relative sizes, so you can have one sweater with a small that’s got a finished measurement of 32″ and another with a finished measurement of 46″. All that means is that it is the “small” of the range of sizes offered for that particular sweater.

What’s really important are the actual finished measurements, generally given as a chest or bust measurement (I’ll talk more about this in a minute). Note that unlike sewing patterns, knit and crochet patterns give actual measurements and do not include ease. So if you want your sweater to be a big boxy cardigan, you probably want to choose one with a finished measurement 4-6″ larger than your body measurements (positive ease). Looking for a figure-hugging glam-girl sweater? Choose a measurement that’s 2-4″ smaller than your body measurements (this is called negative ease).

When we talk about “bust” or “chest” measurement, that’s because for many people, that’s the part of the body with the largest measurement. If this is not true for you — say your hips are wider than your bust and you’re making a tunic length sweater — you should consider that when choosing which size to make.

Remember that when you’re making a sweater, you’re going to be putting a lot of time and care into crafting your garment, and you want it to be just right. It’s not like grabbing a sweater off the shelf…you want to carefully consider which size will be perfect for you (or the lucky recipient of your hard work!).

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How to Use Stitch Markers

July 25th, 2011

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Stitch markers are essential tools to crocheters and knitters alike. They can be used to mark a certain number of stitches, the beginning of a round, where to make a particular stitch, and more. Patterns often call for stitch markers with the abbreviations “pm” (place marker) and “sm” (slip marker). It’s important to note that there are essentially two categories of stitch markers: closed and open (also known as split-ring).

As the name implies, closed stitch markers feature one solid loop. They come in a wide variety of styles, including simple plastic rings and more complex charms. Here are a few examples:

Closed Stitch Markers

While knitting, the stitch marker sits on the needle between active stitches. To start using a closed marker, simply knit to where you want the marker, then place it on your right needle. Continue to knit as normal. Keep in mind that the marker can only be adjusted when you reach it in the row. When you reach the marker, simply slip it from the left needle to the right (as you would slip a stitch) to keep the marker in the same position.

Closed Stitch Marker while Knitting

Closed stitch markers do not work with most crocheting techniques. This is because crocheting closes stitches instead of leaving them live. Thus, if you used a closed stitch marker, it would be crocheted into your work. The only ways to remove the marker would be to rip out your stitches or cut your work (yikes!).

Open or split-ring markers are incredibly versatile. Because they aren’t closed, they can be added, removed, or adjusted at any time, regardless of which stitch you’re on. They come in a variety of different styles, including rings with a small gap, locking, or lever-backed.

Open Stitch Markers

When knitting, these markers can be used on the needle (as with closed markers) or attached to particular stitches.

Open Stitch Marker while Knitting

Because they can be removed at any time, open stitch markers are perfect for attaching to crochet stitches.

Open Stitch Marker while Crocheting

Those are the basics to selecting and using stitch markers! If you find yourself in a pinch and don’t have a stitch marker handy, try using a tie of yarn (for closed stitch markers) or a paperclip (for open stitch markers).

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Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Underarm Chains

July 21st, 2011

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Welcome back to the Mesh Raglan Pullover CAL! So I spent some time ripping out the yoke and reworking it with the larger H hook and it worked out well – I got the length I needed to reach the armholes. It definitely made the yoke larger overall, but with the neck tie, it still works well, and it gave me a little extra room in the bust and slightly looser sleeves.  Now that I’ve got my yoke in order it’s time to move on to making room for the underarms and working through the body. So let’s get to it!

When you have completed your yoke you finish it off completely by cutting the yarn, then you reconnect the yarn to create chain spaces at the underarms. Before you start, be sure to read all of the notes for the section! Here they are again:

  1. In next section, you are making a ch that spans the underarm and will be used on the Next Rnd of the Body and Sleeves.
  2. Stitch markers are placed at beg and end of the underarm ch to indicate where Sleeve sts will be worked later.

By reading the notes you will get a better understanding of what you are trying to accomplish in the next section, as well as any other bits of information to make the next part a success. This chain gives you some extra stitches to reach from front to back under your arms to work both the body and sleeves off of. Setting up the armholes may sound complicated, but it is just a matter of getting your hook into the right stitches. As written in the pattern:

Join yarn with sl st in last dc of V-st at beg of one Sleeve section, place a marker in same dc as sl st join, ch 1 (3, 5, 7, 9), sk the Sleeve sts, sl st in first dc of V-st at end of same Sleeve section, place a marker in same dc. Fasten off. Rep for other underarm.

So what does this look like? Remember those “corners” we created in the yoke? Focus on two that are on either side of a sleeve section (the shorter of the four sides). Find the V-stitch of the corner to the right of the sleeve (or left of the sleeve if you are left handed). Got it? Now insert your hook into the  leftmost double crochet of the V-stitch (rightmost double crochet if left handed) and join your yarn there. Now create your chain and join back into the rightmost double crochet of the V-stitch (leftmost if left handed) on the other side of the sleeve opening. Joined! It should looks something like this (with stitch markers placed in the same stitches as the joins):

Now to work the body by using those new chains. Here the notes are also super important:

  1. Work next rnd with RS facing for sizes S, L and 2X. Work next rnd with WS facing for sizes M and 1X.
  2. The first rnd of Body is worked over the Back and Front sts and the underarm chs.
  3. The marked dc at beg and end of the underarm chs are part of the Sleeve sts, and are not counted as sts when working the Body.

Although the result it subtle, if you don’t start working as directed in #1 (the right side or wrong side) your stitches in this row will look slightly different than the rest of the rows. How do I know? Because I just started going and noticed after a few stitches that it wasn’t lining up quite like the rest of the rows…then I saw the note about joining from the wrong side if you are making the medium. Make your life easier and check all notes carefully before proceeding! For future reference I marked the right side (RS) of my project with a clip-on stitch marker so I don’t have to analyze it each time I need to know one side from the other:

Stitch marker

This time you will join your yarn and work your ch 4 in the other double crochet of the V-stitch you used for one of your underarm chains. I chose to use the side that would put the join of my rounds on the back of the sweater instead of the front, because the joins always look just slightly different than the rest of the sweater and I’d rather hide that in the back. Once you work across the chain (skipping over both of the marked double crochets at the start and end of each underarm where the chains are attached) and across the body, it should look something like this:

Now you’re set to work round after round around the body, trying it on as you go until you get a length you like. If you are planning to put a tie at the bottom of your pullover as shown in the pattern, make your bottom tie ahead of time (as we did with the neck tie) so when you think you have the length you like, you know what it will look like when done. In case you are having any doubts about joining your rounds each time (maybe adding or losing stitches), the joins are the end of each round should progress something like this (click on each image to zoom):

Ready to go on the next round! Alright, I’m going to keep working through the body of my sweater, trying it on as I go to get the length I want, and next week we’ll be on to the sleeves. Enjoy!

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Customize Your Project with Birthstone Colored Yarns

July 20th, 2011

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On our radio-style podcast, YarnCraft, my co-host Liz and I often talk about how to customize your knit & crochet projects. In particular, customizing gifts is a popular subject, since many knitters and crocheters like to make things for their loved ones.

One great idea that I got from the book, The Prayer Shawl Ministry: Reaching Those In Need, is to use yarns that match your recipients’ birthstone. It’s, of course, a great idea for birthday presents, but could be used throughout the year. To help you on your way, I’ve put together this handy chart:

January – Garnet 

Deep shades of burgundy make for wonderful accessories and garments in luxe Superwash Merino Cashmere or glitzy Vanna’s Glamour.

Superwash Merino Cashmere: Garnet Vanna's Glamour: Garnet
Superwash Merino
Cashmere in Wine
Vanna’s Glamour
in Garnet
February – Amethyst 

Add a touch of texture with shades of purple with the haziness of Silk Mohair or silky hand of Homespun.

LB Collection Silk Mohair: Iris Homespun: Amethyst
LB Collection Silk
Mohair in Iris
Homespun
in Amethyst
March – Aquamarine 

Cool, light organic cotton or easy-care Vanna’s Choice both make wonderful accessories, boleros, and more.

Nature's Choice Organic Cotton: Blueberry Vanna's Choice: Aqua
Nature’s Choice
Organic Cotton
in Blueberry
Vanna’s Choice
in Aqua
April – Diamond 

April’s child loves a touch of glitter, so try one of these soft, metallic yarns for a wonderful project.

Vanna's Glamour: Diamond Wool-Ease: White Frost
Vanna’s Glamour
in Diamond
Wool-Ease
in White Frost
May – Emerald 

Lush shades of green meet quick-to-work-up yarns in Hometown USA and Holiday Homespun.

Hometown USA: Green Bay Holiday Homespun: Evergreen
Hometown USA
in Green Bay
Holiday Homespun
in Evergreen
June – Pearl or Moonstone 

Subtle shades reflect June’s birthstones. Try this painterly shade of Homespun or the soft taupe glitz of Vanna’s Glamour.

Homespun: Pearls Vanna's Glamour: Moonstone
Homespun
in Pearls
Vanna’s Glamour
in Moonstone
July – Ruby 

Perfect on their own or held double-stranded (one strand of each), July’s yarns are all about bright, bold red.

Vanna's Glamour: Ruby Vanna's Choice: Scarlet
Vanna’s Glamour
in Ruby
Vanna’s Choice
in Scarlet
August – Peridot 

Stylish yellow-green is lovely in this heathered solid shade of Homespun or the soft luxury of Superwash Merino Cashmere.

Homespun in Apple Green Superwash Merino Cashmere: Green Tea
Homespun
in Apple Green
Superwash Merino
Cashmere in Green Tea
September – Sapphire 

Classic midnight blue makes for great accessories, shrugs, and more. Double-stranded or used individually, these yarns look luscious.

Vanna's Choice: Sapphire Vanna's Glamour: Sapphire
Vanna’s Choice
in Sapphire
Vanna’s Glamour
in Sapphire
October – Opal 

October’s yarns are all about a swirl of soft color with this painterly color of Homespun or self-striping Amazing.

Homespun: Tudor Amazing: Carnival
Homespun
in Tudor
Amazing
in Carnival
November – Citrine or Yellow Topaz 

This warm, golden fall-friendly color is beautiful in both shimmering Vanna’s Glamour and luxurious Angora Merino.

Vanna's Glamour: Bronze LB Collection Angora Merino: Nectarine
Vanna’s Glamour
in Bronze
LB Collection Angora
Merino in Nectarine
December – Blue Topaz or Turquoise 

Brighten up someone’s winter with a pop of color in silky-smooth, easy-care Microspun or Homespun.

Homespun: Seafoam Microspun: Turquoise
Homespun
in Seafoam
Microspun
in Turquoise

For episodes of YarnCraft (I like to say it’s like “Car Talk” for knitters & crocheters), visit our blog or find us on iTunes. YarnCraft comes out twice a month on Tuesdays.


How to Make a Ruffle Tank Top with Crochet

July 19th, 2011

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Many yarncrafters face the same challenge every summer: “I want to make something to wear right now even though it’s warm outside.” I have had this issue on my mind all summer long. On a recent shopping trip I finally found my summer yarncrafting inspiration. I’d like to share with you what I made, and what I learned in the process.

Recently, while admiring racks of ornate summer tank tops, I noticed little ruffles or motifs all over my favorite pieces. I realized then that little details are the perfect way to incorporate crafting into any summer wardrobe. I decided that my first project would be to add a sparkling ruffle in Vanna’s Glamour to an otherwise ordinary tank top.

First, I used a slender tapestry needle to Blanket Stitch a border all the way around the neck of the tank top. I used Blanket Stitch because it creates loops along the edge of the fabric without adding bulk.
Next, I worked Slip Stitch crochet into the border I had made, using the edge loops as my foundation row instead of a chain. This is a great method for adding crochet trim to different fabrics.
After I completed the border, I was ready to get started on the ruffle. Instead of writing a ruffle pattern from scratch, I followed the directions for the Potato Chip Scarf with a few alterations. I made a chain of 40 stitches (instead of 143), and used a single strand of Vanna’s Glamour with a size H8 hook. Crocheting the ruffle separately made the project a lot easier to manage, and helped me obtain the gauge I wanted.

After stitching the ruffle to the border and weaving in the ends, my tank top was ready to go! I really love the way it turned out, and figuring out how to do it was half the fun.

Have you made simple clothing special by adding hand made details? Leave a comment to tell us about your projects and inspiration!

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Tom Hanks Pulls Knitting Prank

July 18th, 2011

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Did you know that movie star and director Tom Hanks loves to play pranks on his sets? His latest film, Larry Crowne, stars avid knitter Julia Roberts. Hanks decided to surprise Roberts by getting the whole crew to take up her favorite hobby! Check out the video below:

I’m thrilled to see so many new knitters enjoying the craft, and what a pleasant surprise to see our yarn involved. Great prank, Tom Hanks!


Join Us at the Knit & Crochet Show

July 17th, 2011

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We’ve been a sponsor of the Crochet Guild of America and the Knitting Guild Association‘s joint yarn-event, the Knit & Crochet Show, for several years. It’s an event that we love to attend, because we love seeing all of our friends who are members of local knit and crochet guilds. We also love seeing our designer and teacher friends. This summer’s Knit & Crochet Show will be taking place in Minneapolis, MN on July 29 – 31, and it will have classes, a marketplace, contests, and more. Click here to visit the Knit & Crochet Show website for more information.

Prior to the Knit & Crochet Show, the Crochet Guild of America also holds their Professional Development Day (July 27, 2011) sponsored by Lion Brand. It’s a day of workshops and panels for aspiring designers/teachers/yarn-store owners to learn from experts in the industry, network with others in the community, and to share ideas and get feedback.  Want to know more about this special day? Click here to read about Laura’s experiences at the event last year.

If you’re able to make it, I hope you’ll stop and say hello to myself or Jack, as we would love to meet you in person! Or perhaps we’ll see you in Greensboro, NC, in the fall!