Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for October, 2011

Enter Our Halloween Caption Contest!

October 31st, 2011

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For the chance to win a special treat, we want YOU to trick us into laughing. Write a caption for the image above, and get a chance to win one of 5 $25 credits to use on Enter by November 4, 11:59:59 EDT, and we’ll pick our 5 favorite captions.

Click here to enter (captions left as comments below will not be counted).

Open to residents in countries where Lion Brand ships. Click here to view applicable countries outside of the US. Void where prohibited. Entrants must be over 18 years old. Contact information is only collected to notify winners. Your information will not be used in any other manner.

Happy Halloween from all of us here at Lion Brand!

Find Pattern Inspiration Out in the World

October 30th, 2011

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Like many people, I love my iPhone. It lets me check my email on the go, access my Lion Brand app, and take pictures and videos of things that inspire me wherever I go. Recently, I passed the Hermès store and with my iPhone, I took a picture (below left) of the amazing coat in the window–it’s made of yarn and has a wonderful loopy texture.

I really love the look of that coat, and I think the texture would be great for a hand-knitting or crochet project. I showed the picture to Zontee, and she reminded me that we have a great purse pattern that has that same great texture, but in a more accessible style (not everyone can wear a full-length loopy coat!). I hope you’ll check it out. Click here for the purse pattern.

Have you been inspired to knit or crochet a project based on something you’ve seen? Leave a comment and share your experience.

Get Going on Your Holiday Gifts with the Martha Stewart Crafts™ Knit & Weave Loom Kit

October 28th, 2011

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If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking about making some holiday gifts this season. I love to make accessories in fun colors and textures for my friends and family, since it’s a nice way to change up a winter look. They’re my go-to gift items.

A great tool for cranking out gifts is our Martha Stewart CraftsTM Knit & Weave Loom Kit, which lets you knit, weave, and double-knit (as shown above), along with making rosettes, and knit in the round. The Kit is particularly fast in weaving and double-knitting, making those crafts perfect for making multiples–especially if, like me, you find yourself perpetually biting off more than you can chew when it comes to gift recipients.

If you’ve never woven before, it’s a great way to mix and match colors to create interesting plaids or striping designs. Check out the weaving patterns on or click here for my blog post about picking yarns for weaving.

Wondering why you should try double-knitting? First off, it’s extra warm, allowing you to creates a double-thick layer of fabric. But more impressively, one project you’ll want to check out is our Loom Double Knit Duo Striped Scarf (right). Unlike in regular or loom single knitting (in which you would have yarn floats on the back-side of your work), loom double-knitting allows you to make vertical stripes with ease AND it’s completely reversible! I kid you not; double-knitting on the loom is seriously fast, seriously easy, and definitely worth trying.

Finally, for the crafter in your life, you may want to consider giving the Kit itself as a gift. Find out why loom-knitting might be a good option for both younger and older crafters by reading this interview with designer, Isela Phelps.

For the patterns shown above, simply click on the photos to access them on

Announcing Our Next Crochet-Along Featuring the Half Medallion Bag, Designed by Dora Ohrenstein

October 27th, 2011

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Calling all crocheters! We know you’ve been waiting patiently all season for our next crochet-along to start, and now the wait is over! Right on the heels of our Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover Knit-Along, we’re starting our NEW crochet-along NEXT THURSDAY!

What’s a crochet-along, you ask? A crochet-along is a virtual event in which hundreds of crocheters all make the same project with the help and support of each other–and our expert crochet-along host. New blog posts go up each week, here on the Lion Brand Notebook, with hints, tips, and advice on working on the next step of your project. Follow along or work at your own pace. No need to sign up–just read the posts and let us know about your progress by leaving comments!

For this crochet-along, our host is none other than the designer herself, Dora Ohrenstein (pictured below left). She’s the author of Creating Crochet Fabrics and the upcoming Custom Crocheted Sweaters. Want to know more about her? Listen to an interview with her on our podcast, YarnCraft, by clicking here [MP3]. (Fast forward directly to the interview by going to 17:20.)

Dora has created this exclusive Half Medallion Bag pattern for us, with bobbles and front post stitches for added interest; click here for the pattern! It features our Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Extra Soft Wool Blend.

We’ll be talking about selecting your yarn, getting gauge, and all that good stuff next Thursday, so be sure to come back then! In the meantime, be sure to join our Ravelry group.

Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover KAL: Working the Collar

October 26th, 2011

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Welcome back to the Wisteria Pullover Knit-Along! My sweater pieces are knit and blocked, and I’m ready to get this pullover finished! In getting started to put mine together, however, I realized there are quite a few different finishing techniques involved and quite a large collar to knit, so I’m going to break the finishing work down into two posts, this week and next. Let’s get started on the shoulder seams and collar!

The first step is to seam the shoulders in order to create the back neck opening for the collar. To do so, I recommend a type of seam called the mattress stitch. There are three different types of mattress stitch: horizontal to horizontal stitches (side seams), vertical to vertical stitches (shoulder seams), and vertical to horizontal (the collar and part of the sleeve cap). As you can see, we’ll be employing all three along the way to finishing our sweater! Starting at the outside edge of your shoulder seam, pin your front and back pieces together and begin seaming, working your darning needle under both legs of the V on one piece and then under both legs of the V opposite on the other piece, as shown in the following image. I’ve used a golden yarn so that you can see the stitches, but keep in mind that these will be visible, so you should use the same yarn as for the main body. For more information on seaming click here.


I like to keep the tension of this seam similar to my knit stitches, instead of pulling it tight so that the seam looks like another row of stitches, but it’s entirely up to you. Here’s why mine looked like after seaming:

Shoulder Seam

Repeat with the other side and voila! Starting to look a bit more like a sweater? Now you can start to picture where this collar is going to fit in. So now it’s time to pick up stitches to start knitting the shawl collar. The way the collar is constructed is this: you pick up and knit a certain number of stitches along the back of the neck and begin working in 2×2 rib; gradually more stitches are cast on at the beginning of both rows to elongate the collar but give it a nicely-shaped curve, then it is knit until it is wide enough to fill the gap we created in the front.

To plan mine, I counted how many bind-off stitches I had along the back of the neck opening and found I had 32 – 2 short of the 34 I needed to pick up. I accounted for this by picking up my first and last stitch from the shoulder join, then used the 32 stitches I bound off before ato get my 34 stitches to start the collar. Working from right to left, pick up and knit each stitch until you have the number required. By planning ahead, you can evenly space these stitches instead of getting to the end and having to stretch across or cram in a bunch of stitches. For more information about picking up stitches, click here. Here’s what the process of picking up and knitting looks like (again, I’ve used contrast yarn, but you’ll be using your main body yarn):

Picking up stitches

To add the stitches at the beginning of the row, one simple method is the backwards loop cast on. Click here for more information on how to do this cast on. Just as a word of advice: once you have your added stitches, the pattern says to work in K2, P2 rib as established – be aware that on your right side rows, you will need to start with 2 purls, or you will throw off the rib pattern.

If you made your neck opening deeper or more shallow, now is the time to adjust your collar length to fit your opening, keeping in mind the collar is sewn in with the ribbing slightly stretched. I worked the pattern as written, and my collar fit well. Although the opening looked very deep, it worked out very nicely. Keep working in 2×2 ribbing until the side edges of the collar are the same height as the bound-off opening in the neck, which for me was just over 4 inches. Remember the back section of the collar will be wider than this, which creates the shawl collar.

Now it’s time to sew it into place. We’ll be using a different version of the mattress stitch for this: the vertical-horizontal type. This method combines the technique of the other two versions: you work under the V of the vertical piece, then under the bar one stitch in from the edge of the horizontal piece, back and forth, then pull them together to make the seam disappear. Again check out the page we have about seaming by clicking here, where you can see what I mean between the different horizontal and vertical stitches (disregard the garter stitch seams since we have stockinette and ribbing.)

I chose to secure the bottom of the collar first, then attach it down each side so I could fit it in smoothly. I joined the left side of the collar (your left, the sweater’s right side) first, using a simple whip stitch between the side of the collar and the bound-off stitches of the neck opening, since this part of the seam will be covered up by the overlap. Next I attached the other side of the collar on top, carefully working my vertical-horizontal mattress stitch to make the join as invisible as possible, resulting in this:


I applied the same type of seam to the sides of the collar, pinning the collar in place first: one in the middle, then two on either side of that, to ensure that I could make the collar lay flat and even. It takes some patience to make it look right, but it’s worth it! Here’s a picture of my finished collar and I couldn’t be happier!


As I mentioned last week, once I finished knitting the sleeves it was time to get those blocked and ready for seaming. As with the front and back of the sweater, it’s very important to have your pattern schematic and a measuring tape handy when blocking so you can shape and size the sleeves to the exact measurements you want in the finished piece and it makes seaming much easier. My sleeves are all pinned out and drying, ready for next week!

So enjoy your week and completing the collar of your sweater, and next week we’ll set in the sleeves and seam up the sides, then enjoy our finished pullovers!
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