Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for July, 2011


Harry Potter-Inspired “Deathly Hallows” Patterns

July 14th, 2011

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Since 1997, when the first Harry Potter book was released, yarncrafters have had a special relationship with the wizarding world. Throughout the series, knitting patterns are mentioned over and over again, as are magical needles clicking away on scarves, sweaters, hats, and more. “Muggles”, a term from the books, has even become a popular word among yarncrafters for the non-yarny people in our lives! Yesterday, we featured a blog post with Harry Potter-inspired creations from our customers over the years, and today, I want to share with you some new patterns created in honor of the last Harry Potter film coming out this weekend.

I worked with Michelle (Lion Brand Yarn Studio Manager/Harry Potter über-fan) and Gina (speedy crocheter, whose crochet monster blog we’ve previously written about) to come up with special projects in honor of the second Deathly Hallows film. We’ve created the three Deathly Hallows, made in yarn:

Capelet of Invisibility Knit Capelet of Invisibility

Make this shimmering capelet–inspired by the Invisibility Cloak–with two strands of Vanna’s Glamourand big needles for a fast-finish project. Michelle made in a weekend and is pictured here, wearing her creation. She designed the hood to be long and to end in a point, for a wizardly touch.

Click here for the FREE pattern.

Resurrection Stone Ring Crochet Resurrection Stone Ring

Made with Vanna’s Glamour, with the symbol of the Deathly Hallows stitched on, this ring is quick to crochet and fun to wear. Tip from Gina: the ring-band can be made larger or smaller as needed–just chain more ore less stitches to start.

Click here for the FREE pattern.

Elder Wand Crafted Elder Wand

Just wrap and glue Vanna’s Choice to a dowl to create this fast and easy wand. To create the knots in the wood, Gina simply wrapped more yarn in those spots. One ball would easily create many wands, so you could make them for your friends too!

Click here for the FREE pattern.

We hope you’ll be making and enjoying these projects in honor of the new film–and if you spot me and Michelle, wearing our Deathly Hallow projects this weekend, feel free to stop us and say hi!


Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Starting Chain & Raglan Increases

July 14th, 2011

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Welcome back to the Mesh Raglan Pullover CAL! Hope you all had a good week of swatching adventures and have your hooks ready to go – it’s time to get this pullover going! This sweater is worked in the round and as such the traditional start is a long chain which is then joined with a slip stitch in the first chain to create a giant ring. Sounds simple enough, but the tricky thing is to make sure there isn’t a twist in the chain. If the chain is twisted it will always be that way and the top of your sweater won’t work up quite right.

Lucky for us, this pattern gives you another option for starting to eliminate this problem. In this alternative method, you work the first row of the pattern and then join for working in the round. This makes it much simpler because once you have the width of a row established it’s so much easier to see that it’s twist free.

First row
Click here to zoom.

An easier way to do something? Sign me up! To work the beginning this way, follow the instructions: “YOKE: Notes: 1.” listed above the traditional chain instructions. You’ll notice when you follow this method you will end with an extra chain after you work across – this is intentional! As the pattern states, you will later sew the ends of the first row together while weaving in your tails and this remaining ch-1 will become another space in the mesh pattern. Voila!

Yoke

At the end of this set up, just be sure you still remember to place your markers in each of the V-st spaces (4 total) and then proceed to Rnd 2. If you haven’t used markers before they are simply another way to make things easier for you! By putting a stitch marker in each V-st space, you’ll remember that is where you need to do work the following V-st to make the raglan increasing a success.

Markers

Speaking of increases, I just want to clarify how the increases at the four “corners” work. In all of the other stitches around you are skipping over the ch-1 spaces and working double crochet stitches in each dc across. For the increases, however, you work the dc in the dc as per the usual, ch-1, but then instead of skipping over the ch-1 space, that marked space is where you will work your V-st: dc, ch 1, dc. This will be followed by another ch 1, and yet another dc in the dc following the space. This is how the “corners” will look…

Corners

…and this is the result after the yoke increases are completed:

Yoke increases
Yoke increases

As you may have noticed from the photo above I already have the neck-tie in place. This is so I can try it on and know how it is going to fit when finished. As some of you may notice, the neck opening for this top is quite wide. This is because the finished garment has a neck-tie to cinch it to a closer fit, and I want to account for this while I try it on as I go. To do so, jump ahead to the “FINISHING” section, “Neck Tie,” but really it’s just a nice long chain that you then weave through the top of the mesh pattern. Ready to go!

I’m still deciding between two sizes, so I decided to slip the yoke on and see how it’s going for me. Uh oh…my row gauge is causing me some troubles! I didn’t think about the fact that the increases are worked on every round of this pattern, and as such if your row gauge is off, you will reach the correct stitch count, but it may not be long enough to reach to the underarm. Bummer. So now what?

I see two options:

  1. Use a hook that gets me the correct row gauge but wrong stitch gauge just for the yoke then switch hooks for the remainder of the pattern.
  2. Use the hook for your stitch gauge, work extra yoke increases and then account for the extra stitches by working fewer (or no) chains for the underarm and/or do a few increases after the underarm join when first working the body.

The H hook I chose not to use did achieve the correct row gauge, so using the larger hook for the yoke then switching to the G hook for the remainder of the top seems like the right choice in my case. I was debating between 2 sizes anyway, so this will give me a little more room in the bust without added width in the body. Plus if the yoke ends up a little big, the tie is there to tighten up the fit! I’m going to rip back to row 2 and redo the yoke, which is a bummer but that’s why we’re here to support each other by working through this together! It’s only 9 rows and it’s better to get it right. I was once told, “faster isn’t better, it’s just faster,” and I think that’s the perfect way to look at this.

Alright, I’m going to go rip mine back and go again, so get your yoke started and hopefully learn from my attempt. If you have other ideas for how to account for this problem, please comment below! That’s why we have a crochet-along: to learn from each other. Next week we’ll talk about creating the armhole openings and continuing to try on the start of your sweater to be sure you’re getting the fit you want!

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Knit & Crochet Inspiration for Harry Potter Fans

July 13th, 2011

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It’s a bittersweet time for the Harry Potter fans this July; as the movie release is right around the corner, we look forward to what might be an epic film, but unfortunately it will be the last.  Our lovely Lion Brand Yarn customers have shared some of their Harry Potter inspired designs with us, and we would like to share them with you all as well.

Crochet Gryffindor Fingerless Gloves
Created by: Cynthia Parkill

Yarn: Wool-Ease in Oxford Grey, Cranberry, Gold

Crochet Mrs. Weasley Sleeves with Knit Sweater Body
Created by: Andrea Hunter

Yarn: Wool-Ease in various colors

Crafted Golden Snitch Knitting Needles
Created by: Lisa Stringfellow

Yarn: Needles crafted; photo shows Wool-Ease in Gold and Cranberry

Ravenclaw scarf
Created by: Keena Lindsay
Yarn: Wool-Ease

Machine-Knit Ravenclaw Scarf
Created by: Gregg Eshelman
Yarn: Microspun in Royal Blue and Sterling

Knit Gryffindor Scarf
Created by: Rebecca Jackenheimer
Yarn: Wool-Ease in Cranberry and Gold

Please note that we don’t have patterns for all of these items, as these photos were submitted by fans like you; however, you can click here for bookmark & scarf patterns, inspired by the books.

We hope you’ll keep on sending pictures of all your great designs! Click here to submit your projects to the Customer Gallery.


How to Felt Your Yarncrafting Projects in 3 Easy Steps

July 12th, 2011

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Whether you’re making a whimsical flower accessory or reinforcing a potholder, the felting process creates many new worlds of fun and function. Best of all, it’s surprisingly easy, even for a beginner!

Before you begin, check out our video with an introduction to felting. You’ll learn about how the felting process works, what kinds of projects you can use it for, and even some felting projects with no H2O required!

Ready to get started? Here are the 3 basic steps of felting:

  • Wash in warm water with soap. Soap actually speeds up the felting process!
  • Rinse in cool water. Rinsing in cool water “locks” the fibers in place. Most people have a warm wash/cool rinse setting on their machines (easy, huh?)
  • Air dry. If you are making a piece that needs to conform to a particular shape (say, a rectangle piece for a bag), it will likely be lopsided when it comes out of the dryer. Adjust it to the right shape BEFORE you let it dry (remember: once felted, felted for life) or pin it into shape on a blocking board and let it dry there.

Perfect the process with some of our favorite tips. For more pro felting tips, click here to read the list on LionBrand.com.

  • When washing your felted piece with other clothing, try putting it in a mesh lingerie bag – it will still get the benefit of agitation from the other clothes, but won’t get stuck!
  • Don’t worry if you piece looks slightly different than the picture! So many factors go into felting that it is inevitable it WILL look a little different. But that’s the beauty of it – your piece is completely unique!
  • Remember: no two washing machines are the same. To find out how felting will work in your machine, try making a gauge swatch and felting it so you can take measurements before and after.
  • Cut it out! Believe it or not, since felting “fuses” the fibers together, your piece won’t unravel. That means you can cut into the bottom to make a cute fringe, cut strips of felted fabric and weave them back together — the sky’s the limit!

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Selecting Sock Yarn

July 11th, 2011

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Father's Day Crochet SocksPicking the right yarn for your sock project can make all the difference! Here are some important factors to consider when selecting your yarn:

Thickness. Socks made from fingering weight yarns like Sock-Ease or LB 1878 are thin enough to be comfortably worn inside of shoes. Yarns thicker than sport weight are ideal for making house socks or boot socks.

Durability. Socks usually get a lot of wear and tear, so stronger fibers like wool will help them last longer. Yarns that are blended with nylon add even more strength.

Washability. While you don’t have to wash your handmade socks in a machine, you should still look for washable yarns in order to avoid felting. Socks can felt inside of your shoes when your feet get wet from perspiration or precipitation.

Color. Socks allow you to add a fun pop of color to your outfit, so don’t shy away from beautiful colors! Yarns like Sock-Ease even include self-striping options that are really fun to crochet or knit!

Now that I’ve gone over the important considerations, I’d like to make some yarn suggestions! Of course, Sock-Ease is a great option because it was specifically designed for sock knitters and crocheters. Other yarns to try include LB 1878 (fingering-weight wool), LB Collection Superwash Merino (DK-weight wool), Wool-Ease (worsted-weight wool/acrylic blend), and Cotton-Ease (worsted-weight cotton/acrylic blend).

What are your favorite yarns for making socks? Let us know in the comments!

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4 Market Bags to Knit or Crochet

July 10th, 2011

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Market bags make a perfect summer project. They work up fairly quickly, and are made in cotton and cotton blend yarns (great for summer because of their cool hand and easy care). Best of all, market bags can be used as soon as you’ve completed your project.

These four bags in knit and crochet have easy to read patterns and are excellent for summertime crafting.

With a thick, comfortable strap and a wide circular shape, this classic Market Bag is a great option for crocheters. This bag is ideal for trips to the market, or anywhere else you happen to find yourself this summer!
This knitted Green Living Tote is an excellent option for knitters interested in working with a simple lace stitch. The base of the bag is made first and worked flat. Then, using a circular needle to pick up stitches, the body of the bag is worked in the round.
Colorful stripes make the crocheted Al Fresco Market Tote fun and lively. This bag is a summer essential, and is perfect for everything from the market to the beach.
The knitted Eco-Friendly Expandable Shopping Bag is surprisingly small when empty, but stretches to accommodate even very large shopping trips. Try making it in Recycled Cotton for a strong, washable bag in vibrant colors.

With even more patterns for market bags available here on our website, all  you have to do is pick out your favorite style and get to work.

What do you like best about making and using market bags? Leave a comment to let us know!

 


Mesh Raglan Pullover Crochet-Along: Gauge Swatch Time!

July 7th, 2011

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Welcome to the Raglan Mesh Cardigan Crochet-Along (CAL)! As an over-view, here’s what you can expect in the upcoming blog posts, which go up every Thursday:

  • This week: Gauge!
  • 7/14: Starting chain and raglan increases
  • 7/21: Underarms and Body
  • 7/28: Sleeves
  • 8/4: Finishing and blocking – sweater is done!

Some people will work a little ahead of this, and others a little slower, but remember to check the blog each week for help in these different sections (and remember that the blog posts will remain online). Read the comments below and participate in the discussion for even more help. From the many comments in the last week I can tell that you are all as excited as I am to get started on this project, so let’s get to it–onto the the swatch!

As you may know, the intended idea behind doing a gauge swatch is to find out if your working tension is giving you the same gauge as the pattern is written to–this is how you will know if your finished item will turn out to the intended measurements. If your gauge is fewer stitches per inch than the pattern, your gauge is too loose and you need to try another swatch with a smaller hook to tighten it up. If your gauge is more stitches per inch, your gauge is too tight and you need to try a larger hook to make it looser.

But your swatch tells you so much more than that! It is your first chance to try the yarn you have chosen for your project with the pattern stitch and see if you are happy with the resulting fabric. This is especially important when you are substituting yarns. If you have chosen a yarn that is a different fiber than the original, it may not produce the same affect, which can be good or bad. You may also find that although you are able to get the pattern gauge, you may not like how the resulting fabric looks at that gauge and might have to use a different yarn.

Another useful purpose of a swatch is to see how it changes when washed. Wash your swatch according to the care instructions of your yarn to know how it will respond, as some fibers may fluff up or stretch after washing. You may also find the gauge or feel of the fiber changes with washing as well, which I’ll get into shortly.

Now let’s talk about how to swatch. The pattern states that the gauge is 18 stitches and 7 rows is 4″ x 4″ IN PATTERN. This means in the same stitch as the body of the pattern, which in this case is a mesh stitch worked as “dc in next dc, ch 1, skip next ch-1 sp, rep.” I know the V-stitch is highlighted in the notes of the pattern, but it merely used for increasing as we’ll see as we work through the yoke next week.

I always create a swatch that has more stitches than the intended four inches so that I have plenty to measure over. This gives me a more accurate idea of my gauge. In this case I used an H hook and created a chain of 30, worked my first double crochet in the 6th chain from the hook (5 chains skipped = one base chain + three for the turning chain + a chain-1 space), then worked across the chain by skipping 1 ch, dc, ch 1, repeat across. I also work more rows than the intended gauge, so I stopped after 10 rows. Nice big swatch to measure!

Next I washed the swatch because I’m going to want to get the finished sweater wet too for washing and I don’t want any surprises! I soaked it on the sink for 10-15 minutes, gently squeezed out the excess water and laid it out flat to dry. Once it was completely dry, I was ready to measure.

Now how do you measure? Again since our pattern is “dc, ch1″ each of those parts counts as their own stitch. This means I lay out my swatch and place a ruler on it, lining it up with the edge of one stitch then counting each double crochet and chain one across until I have counted 4 inches worth of stitches.

H Hook Swatch

Looks to me like 15.5 sts over 4 inches. Uh oh, too loose :( Time to try again with a smaller hook – a G hook in this case.

G Hook Swatch

This one is just about 18 stitches over 4 inches. Great, G hook it is! I know sometimes it’s hard to know which hook to use, especially if your gauge is a little too tight with one hook and a little too loose with another. Just from personal experience with other garments, I’ve found that it’s much easier to make something bigger with blocking than smaller, and also that crochet fabric is more likely to stretch a little than it is to shrink over time, so unless it’s really tight, I’d suggest the smaller hook.

Editor’s note: Some people may find that their gauge will also change with different types of hooks (metal, wood, plastic), since these provide a different amount of “grip” against different fibers. So if you’re in between hooks, you may want to try a hook of a different material to see if that makes a difference.

I know I’ve focused on stitch gauge, but what about row gauge? Measuring in a similar manner by placing the ruler lined up with the bottom of one row and counting up over 4 inches, I found that I achieved roughly 7 rows over 4 inches with the H hook and 8.5 rows over 4 inches with the G hook, but I need the G hook to achieve the stitch gauge. Bummer!

Luckily with most garments, stitch gauge is much more important to achieve because that gives the width of the sweater, which is much harder to change, but if my garment needs more rows to get the correct length in the end, that’s OK and easy to adjust! Again, we’ll talk pattern modifications in upcoming posts, but if you can only get the stitch OR the row gauge (very common!), go with the hook that gets you the correct stitch gauge.

As an aside, this sweater is made from the top down in one piece which is incredibly helpful because you can try it on as you go! More on that next week as we finally jump into starting the sweater! For now, work on your swatch (or swatches!), and next week I’ll be showing you how to get this sweater going. See you then!

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How to Make a Pom-Pom Out of Yarn

July 6th, 2011

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Left to right: Hanover Hat, Kildare Hoodie

Pom-poms–you see them everywhere in yarncrafting, from the tops of skiing caps to the ends of hoodie ties. But have you ever wondered how to actually make one? Below, watch our video on how to choose the perfect pom-pom for every project.

With endless combinations of color and texture, pom-poms are the perfect way to add new life to old projects. They’re also a great project to do with kids! (For more tips, click here for our recent post about kid-friendly yarncrafting.)

Ready to get started? LionBrand.com sells a huge variety of pom-pom makers, from winders of all sizes to customizable wooden and plastic pom-pom trees! Click here to check out our selection.

 


Did You Know…What Yarns to Use for Weaving?

July 5th, 2011

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One of the things I love best about weaving (whether it’s on a makeshift cardboard loom or a rigid heddle loom) is that you can get wonderful color effects and patterning simply by arranging the warp1 and weft2 colors and textures in different ways. Vary the texture, the thickness, and of course the colors, to get all different kinds of patterning.

If you’re just starting out weaving and wondering what yarns would be good to use, keep a few things in mind:

  • Pick yarns that have some “grip”. For beginners, it  can be harder to beat slick yarns to get an even number of picks3 per inch, which means that your work will be uneven. Because of this, it’s best to stick to fibers like (non-superwash) wool and (non-mercerized) cotton in the beginning. Then as you get comfortable, you can try yarns with different textures and find what works for you–we’ve even tried Fun Fur on a Cricket loom!
  • Vary your yarn thickness. In our Woven His & Hers Scarves with One Warp (shown above), worsted-weight LB Collection Organic Wool serves as the warp, while fingering LB 1878 serves as the weft. As you can see from the photos, this allows the warp strands to stand out, since they’re thicker, making prominent vertical stripes.
  • Contrast your yarn texture. In our Woven Pixelated Scarf pattern, we pair straight, smooth Lion Cotton with brushed, fuzzy Jiffy to give the scarf an overall fuzziness. We used Lion Cotton for the warp, since a straight, smooth yarn is easiest to warp through your loom’s rigid heddle.
  • Know your heddle’s size. Heddles in rigid heddle loom come with different spacing to accommodate different thicknesses of yarn. The looms we carry all come with 8-dent4 or 7.5 dent heddles, which are ideal for category 4 (medium or worsted weight) yarn. The higher the dent number, the thinner the yarn it’s ideal for (e.g. 12-dent is good for category 1 lace-weight yarn). Like knitting or crocheting with larger or smaller needles/hooks to get different effects, you can use a heddle meant for thicker or thinner yarns to get different effects; however, for a tight, even weave, you’ll want to pair your yarn with the right heddle.

Want more information on weaving for the first time? Check out this earlier blog post.

1. Warp: the strands of yarn wrapped onto the loom
2. Weft: the strands of yarn you weave through the warp
3. Picks: the number of weft strands
4. Dent: the spaces per inch in your reed, used as a size designation; used to determine sett (number of warps per inch)


How to Evenly Space Your Increases/Decreases

July 3rd, 2011

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I’ve talked to you in the past about how to increase and decrease, but how do you know when to increase or decrease? Often a pattern will tell you very explicitly how to place your increases or decreases, for example:

Next Row (Increase Row – RS): K1 (4, 1, 4, 1), kfb, k4, p1, k5, p1, k4, kfb, (k5, p1) 1 (1, 2, 2, 3) times, k3, kfb; (p1, k1) 3 times – 37 (40, 43, 46, 49) sts.

As you can see, this pattern is telling you to work a certain number of stitches for the size you’re making, then make an increase, then work some more stitches, and so on across the row. However, sometimes what you will see instead is “Increase 3 stitches evenly spaced.” How do you figure out where to put (or take away, if you’re decreasing) the stitches then? Well, you do a little quick math.

Let’s think for a minute about why you want to space out these stitches: if you don’t, you end up with a big clump of extra fabric in one spot and a tight spot in another. What you want is a nicely balanced piece of fabric that shrinks or expands evenly, not a lopsided lump. To make this happen, you want to place these shaping stitches about the same number of stitches apart. To determine the number of stitches between your shaping stitches, divide the current number of stitches by the number to be increased or decreased.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • You have 60 stitches and you are told to increase 6 stitches evenly across. 60 ÷ 6 = increase at every 10th stitch. This one’s easy, because it works out evenly, but what if…
  • You have 99 stitches and you are told to increase 8 stitches evenly across. 99 ÷ 8 = 12.375. You obviously can’t increase every 12.375 stitches, so you need to increase mostly at every 12th stitch and add a couple of 13s in there. The math and distribution frequency starts to get a little complicated at this point, but when you see unbalanced stitch counts like this it’s usually something that’s not going to be very visible (like at the transition from ribbing to stockinette). This means you can fudge it a little and not be too terrifically concerned if you end up with a couple of extra stitches at the end of the row or have two 13st sets in a row. Focus on getting the right number of increases and relatively even spacing.
  • You have 80 stitches and you are told to decrease 10 stitches evenly across. Now we’re back to easy, right? 80 ÷ 10 = every 8th stitch decreased. Ah, but decreases are a little trickier…you actually have to think about which stitches you are using for the decrease…you are decreasing the 8th stitch, so your next stitch in the count is going to be “1″. If you use that stitch in your decrease, your count becomes unnecessarily complicated, so instead, use the stitch before the decrease stitch. This means that you would, in this case, work six and then use stitches 7 and 8 to work the decrease.

One final tip: You may find that when you are working on flat pieces you prefer to offset your beginning and ending stitches to preserve a selvage. This is a really great idea — just make your first increase or decrease in the middle of the first set of  stitches, and then the final shaping will occur in the middle of what would have been the final set of stitches. To go back to our first example, you would work your first increase at stitch 3 (because half of 6 is 3) and your final increase would be worked three stitches from the end of the row.

When in doubt, remember to think about the big picture: your end goal is a balanced piece of fabric. Don’t be afraid to do a little math to get there!