Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for October, 2011

5 Trick or Treat Bags to Make for Halloween Candy

October 17th, 2011

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As the 31st of October approaches, families everywhere are getting ready for Halloween with special costumes, decorations and traditions. Whether you’ll be handing out treats this year or helping little ones collect them, here are 5 great treat bags you’ll love. And don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time to make these quick projects before the big day!

This crocheted Felted Candy Corn Bag is perfect for kids and grown ups who want to get into the holiday spirit. The lined bag makes a great felted lunch bag for the season, a bag to hand out candy or a nifty handbag for trick-or-treat chaperones.
If you’ll be home handing out treats this year, don’t be left out of the fun! Miss Spider’s Treat Basket is a great crafting project to make with kids before the holiday, and then use to hold candy for trick-or-treaters. Make several of them this year and use tiny spiders in different colors to make each one special.
Get the trick-or-treater in your life ready for the holiday with these knitted Spooktacular Candy Bags. Roomy and colorful, these bags are festive and perfect for any costume. Embroider ‘Trick or Treat’ across the front, or use another phrase you decide on together like ‘Boo!’ or  ‘Happy Halloween!’
This crocheted Pumpkin Candy Bag is a new, re-usable twist on the old fashioned plastic Jack-O-Lantern treat buckets so many of us remember from childhood.
This Felted Halloween Trick or Treat Bag is knit with a sweet jack-o-lantern smiling on the front. Show off novelty Halloween buttons by stitching them on where you attach the handles.

With treat bags like these, it’s important to remember that volume and sturdiness are two of the most important qualities. Lining, felting and keeping regular gauge in your crafting will help keep all Halloween candy safe and secure. For even more patterns for Halloween treat bags, click here to view them all on

Are you making any Halloween projects this year? Tell us in a comment below!

A Colorful Scarf for Our Lion

October 16th, 2011

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This is a guest blog post from Carolyn, our customer service supervisor, about how she decorated the little Lion statue by the entrance of our NJ offices.

Was it a kind gesture to the Lion–or was it deliberate yarn bombing?

This is the statue of the almighty prowler that greets us every morning at our Carlstadt office. One day, he found his way to us (brought to the office by Jack) and I named him “Ramon.”

It is getting chilly now, so I thought he could use a little scarfy scarf! The scarf is made with Martha Stewart Crafts Roving Wool yarn and trimmed with Fun Fur. To make it, I chained about 2 feet, single crocheted one row, double crocheted the next row, and single crocheted the last row. Then I single crocheted around the borders with Fun Fur. For the pom-pom, I just wrapped the remainder of the roving wool around four of my fingers and tied it in the middle, then trimmed. (Editor’s note: click here for a video on making and using pom-poms.)

I think he looks fabulous!!

October 14th is I Love Yarn Day

October 14th, 2011

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The Craft Yarn Council has declared October 14th “I Love Yarn Day”; I’m sure all of you wonderful crafters profess your love for yarn all of the time, but now, there is an “official” day we can all unite and do so. In celebration of this day, you are encouraged to knit/crochet in public (as if you don’t already do so!), do something for charity, wear a knit/crochet item or even teach someone how to knit or crochet. On this day, Lion Brand would like to thank all of you for your support; we love our yarn crafting community! We thought including a roundup of some Customer Gallery submissions would be very suitable for this celebration, go ahead and take a gander.

(Pattern information is only available if the customer noted pattern on their submission.)

Commemorative Police Throw
Commemorative Police Throw
Created by: Laura Hanson
Craft: Knit
Yarn: Vanna’s Choice
Weekend Retreat Cardi

Weekend Retreat Cardi

Created by: Margaret Mealia
Craft: Knit
Yarn: Vanna’s Choice
Crochet Lola Doll
Crochet Lola Doll
Created by: Sheila Sessions
Craft: Crochet
Yarn: Vanna’s Choice
School Colors ScarfSchool Colors Scarf
Created by: Bump Shannan
Craft: Knit
Yarn:Wool Ease Thick & Quick
Knitting Bag
Knitting Bag
Created by: Joan Livernois
Craft: Knit
Yarn: Amazing
2 Bears
2 Bears
Craft: Crochet
Yarn: Homespun
Created by: Brenda Taulbee
Craft: Crochet
Yarn: Amazing
Whimsical OwlWhimsical Owl
Created by: Yvonne Odegard
Craft: Crochet
Yarn: Vanna’s Choice
Cable Ready BagCable Ready Bag
Created by: April Wood
Craft: Knit
Yarn: Wool Ease Thick & Quick

Have you been previously informed that today is “I Love Yarn Day?”, if so, how will you celebrate? If you didn’t know before, now you do- so go out and represent your love for yarncrafting!

(Please note, due to holiday observances, our offices and Lion Brand Yarn Studio and Lion Brand Yarn Outlet are closed today and tomorrow.)

Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover Knit-Along: Working the Front!

October 12th, 2011

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Welcome back to the Wisteria KAL! I hope your progress has been going well and your pullovers are coming along nicely. I know I’ve been enjoying seeing the colors change in Amazing. Now that we’ve tackled the back (the largest piece by the way – congratulate yourself on completing it!) it’s time to move on to the front. As I mentioned last week, the front is worked much like the back for the first 11.5 inches, if you are following the pattern as written. Alternatively, if you have altered the size of the sweater, work the front as for the back until the length is 2.5 inches shorter than the back was to the armhole shaping. Time for neck shaping!

The initial shaping for the neck opening is achieved by binding off 18 stitches in the middle of the row, leaving an equal number of stitches on either side to continue working. However, in order to work both fronts at the same time, you will need to attach another piece of yarn to one of the sides to keep working. After the bind-off row you will work back on the wrong side with the yarn still attached, but once you reach the bind-off gap you will notice there is no yarn to work with!


To remedy this, simply join a new strand of yarn by using it to purl the first stitch after the gap and continue across, just as you do to join a new ball when your yarn runs out.

gap 2

Now the fun begins – if you look ahead in your pattern, you’ll notice 2 things: one is the description of how to proceed with the neck shaping, and the other are those four little words we all should be hunting for when working a pattern: AT THE SAME TIME. What this means is that while you are keeping track of decreasing at the neck edges every 8 rows, you also need to notice when your piece measures the same as the back to the armholes (14 inches or your desired length) and simultaneously work the same armhole shaping as we worked for the back. Knowing your row gauge is also very useful at this point – I knew that I was getting 6 rows/inch and I had started my neck shaping 2.5 inches before I needed to worry about the armholes. After 12 rows past the neck bind off (about 2 inches), I measured after every row to be sure I wouldn’t miss the 14 inch length point. When I was sure I was there, I pulled out my completed back piece to measure against so I was sure they would match.

Now comes keeping track of two sets of instructions at the same time. This is why it’s nice we already did the back with just armhole shaping because you already have a sense of how to work the armholes. At this point I’m keeping notes so I know where I’m at: I make a hash mark for every row I complete so when I get to the 8th row, I do my neck decreases then start a new set of hash marks for the next row. By doing so, when I have 6 (7, 7, 8, 10) groups of marks I know my neck decreases are complete! While this is going on I am also referring to armhole shaping instructions from the back section of the pattern, which is worked over a total of 8 (12, 16, 18, 20) rows. My best advice is to make whatever notes you need to in order to keep track of what is going on so you don’t miss any of the decreases.

Once you have completed your decreases, count the number of stitches remaining on each side of the neck to make sure they match what the pattern says you should have left for binding off – 17 (18, 20, 21, 22), then do a happy dance – the shaping is over and you have the stitches you should! If for some reason your numbers don’t match, see if you can determine where the mistake was made and rip back to correct it, keeping track of how many rows you rip out so you know where you are in the pattern. Once you’re all set with the decreases, work even until the armhole depth matches that of the back (this may be quite soon after the neck decreases are completed) and bind-off both sides. Another piece done!


Next week we’ll move onto the sleeves and talk about blocking your pieces for seaming. Have a great week and enjoy!

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Tips & Tricks for Reversing Shaping

October 11th, 2011

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It is common practice in cardigan patterns to write out shaping for only one front and then indicate that the knitter or crocheter is to “reverse shaping” for the second front. The practice developed because in print, leaving out those instructions means that there is room for something else (like an additional pattern or a more extensive explanation of a stitch pattern or another picture of the garment) and leaves less room for error (in terms of conflicting information or directions). Some people are bothered by this , but I actually really like that it gives me a chance to see what the structure of the garment is rather than just blindly following along with the pattern. Regardless, there are really only two ways to efficiently and effectively reverse shaping, and which method is appropriate will depend on the particular pattern.

The simplest way to reverse shaping is to simply shift all the shaping a single row. So if you were originally working the shaping on the RS rows, for the other front you will work it on the WS rows. For example, “Row 1: k24, k2tog; Row 2: p across” would simply become: “Row 1: k across; Row 2: p24, p2tog”. Note that the stitches and decreases are worked in the same order using this method–all you’re doing is shifting rows. (Crocheters, this is the same for you–just substitute, for instance, “sc” instead of “k” and “p”.) You’ll end up with an extra row on one side or the other, but unless you are working at an exceptionally large gauge, this won’t make a difference once you’ve got the sweater put together.

The more complicated method involves actually reversing the rows. In the example above, you would still have “Row 1: k24, k2tog; Row 2: p across” for your first front, but then for the second front you would  work “”Row 1: k2tog, k24; Row 2: p across”. This method is most useful when you’re doing something that involves a lot of patterning, where shifting the decreases would result in a noticeable difference or in the situation noted above, when you’re working at an exceptionally large gauge. If you’re going to follow this method, I strongly recommend that you actually write out each shaping row reversed before you start working.

A couple of other things to think about: Remember that if you are working in a reversible stitch pattern, like garter or seed stitch, there is no need to actually reverse the shaping. Just make two fronts exactly the same and flip one over! Also, if you’re finding something confusing or something doesn’t seem right, take a moment to sit and think about it…often there will be a common sense, logical answer that will straighten everything out. For instance, if you’ve bound off for the armhole at one edge and now you’re finding that what should be the neck decreases are also on that edge, something has obviously gone wrong and you need to take a moment to go back and review what’s going on with your work. Usually a quick check against the original shaping instructions will get you back on track, and you’ll be well on your way to have two mirror-image fronts for your cardigan.

Recent Staff Projects

October 10th, 2011

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One of my favorite parts of working at Lion Brand is seeing the fantastic projects my coworkers finish. I’m constantly inspired by their creativity and craftsmanship. Now I’d love to share with you some of the most recent finished projects spotted around the office.


Ceresa from our Design department followed along with the Mesh Raglan Pullover crochet-along. She used the recommended Recycled Cotton in Marine.


Margaret from Marketing knitted the Bow Tie Wrap from our Just Knits book. She used Amazing in Arcadia.


Kendra from the Lion Brand Yarn Studio got creative with our new Martha Stewart Crafts Cotton Hemp. For this simple cowl, she simple cast on 201 stitches in the Slate colorway. She then knit in seed stitch until she ran out of yarn.


Lion Brand Yarn Studio’s Claire crocheted another Angora Tam in Nectarine LB Collection Angora Merino.


As for me, I can’t stop knitting tiny things! All of these patterns come from Anna Hrachevoc’s book Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi. Clockwise from left: teeny-tiny cupcake knit with Martha Stewart Crafts Extra Soft Wool Blend in Sable, Winter Sky, and Lilac; teeny-tiny gnome in Martha Stewart Crafts Cotton Hemp in Slate, Peacock, Pink Taffy, Sour Cherry, Flour Sack White, and Picnic Green; teeny-tiny lion in Martha Stewart Crafts Extra Soft Wool Blend in Sable and Lemon Chiffon; and teeny-tiny eggs in Angel White and Sunshine Jamie.

Which projects are you working on right now? Let us know in the comments!

Fall Colors Come Alive with “Summer Into Fall” by Artist Suzanne Tidwell

October 9th, 2011

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Photo credit: Jeff Newfeld. If you’re viewing this blog post in your email, please click on the blog post’s title so that you can view the full slideshow on the blog.

One of the things that I love most about working with yarn is that it inspires us with its colors and textures. By working with each of our unique palettes, we create something that’s completely our own.

Taking her cues from the colors of nature, fiber artist Suzanne Tidwell has created her latest installation in Occidental Park, in Seattle, Washington, covering dead tree stumps (considered eyesores by the local community) with beautiful knit sleeves. Selecting from the diverse palettes of  Vanna’s Choice and Vanna’s Choice Baby, Suzanne has created some unexpected color combinations that truly pop. The color block style of the sleeves remind me of a Rothko painting–they are so vibrant and inspiring.

If you’re in the Seattle area, I hope you’ll visit “Summer Into Fall: Sammamish Trees,” up from now until December 16, and enjoy this lovely splash of color.

How to Make a Wreath for Any Occasion

October 7th, 2011

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Wreaths are a great way to celebrate any holiday, and a handmade wreath will last for many seasons to come. If you make your wreath with friends and family, each person can make leaves, flowers and decorations. Add each individuals work into one wreath, and you’ll have made an art project into a lasting piece of holiday fun. It’s also an Earth-Friendly project, since you’ll be able to use wreath over and over in the years to come. 

Celebrate the changing seasons with the elegant felted Fall Wreath (pictured to the right) or one of the wreaths below. Want to make your wreaths extra special? Use the tips below to make your wreaths uniquely you.

Fall Wreath
This shimmering wreath makes excellent wall and door decorations. They already have the texture and sparkle of designer decoration, but unlike wreaths with natural plant branches or glitter, these wreaths won’t shed and will stay sparkly and brilliant for years to come. 

Tip: Shimmer and texture have year-round appeal. The sparkle of this yarn make it great for decorations; try making this wreath in a child’s favorite color and embroidering their name on it as a special decoration for the door to their room.

Fall Foliage Felted Wreath The crocheted  and felted leaves of this Fall Foliage Felted Wreath make it easy to customize. Pick the fall colors of Alpine Wool used in this example, or light spring colors to celebrate the end of winter. 

Tip: Add amigurumi to make your wreath unique. A small amigurumi or two can create a sweet scene inside this wreath. Try the Amigurumi Love Birds or some autumnal Thanksgiving Gourds in the center of this one.

Thanksgiving Wreath This Thanksgiving Wreath is an excellent project for using up yarn. Since the leaves and body of the wreath are wrapped, rather than knit or crocheted, they take much less yardage to create. 

Tip: Decorate your wreaths with scrap yarn. Mix and match any fibers you have left over from other projects to create leaves and decorations. Since you won’t be washing the wreath, you don’t have to worry about the fiber content or care instructions, just the colors and textures.

Wrapped Wreath

Get ready for winter holiday cheer with this Wrapped Wreath in Holiday Homespun. The yarn of this wreath has all the silky sheen of Homespun with an added glint of sparkle. Little yarn ball ornaments make a sweet touch to the finished wreath. 

Tip: Hang extra ornaments and holiday treasures from your wreath. Your wreath is a great place to hang ornaments you have no more room for. Be sure fasten ornaments securely; extra twist ties and safety pins work very well. If you’ll be hanging the wreath outside, be sure your ornaments are weather proof.

The care and keeping of handmade wreaths is fairly simple when you use long-lasting materials like cardboard and yarn. Simply wrap your wreath loosely in paper or fabric to keep them dust free while in storage (a pillow case works perfectly for smaller wreaths). Keep them with your other seasonal decorations and they’ll be easy to find each year.

To see even more patterns for wreaths, click here

Have a favorite wreath or holiday decoration you’ve made yourself? Leave a comment to tell us your story.

Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover Knit-Along: Working the Back and Armholes

October 5th, 2011

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Knit-Along BadgeWelcome back to the Wisteria KAL! I hope your swatching efforts went well and you are ready to get started on this sweater! As I’ve mentioned before, this pullover is worked in pieces and it starts with the back. Start the back by casting on the indicated number of stitches, then work in 2×2 ribbing (K2, P2) for 3 inches. Next, continue in stockinette stitch (knit on the right side, purl on the wrong side) for 14 inches, or until your desired length to the underarms. Make a note of the length you decide to work because it will be important when it comes time for the front. Time to shape the armholes!

Armholes are generally shaped with a large decrease worked by binding off stitches on each side, then working decreases for a number of rows for shaping. Depending on the size you are making, you will bind off 5 or 6 stitches at the beginning of each row; this is because you can only bind off at the beginning or in the middle of a row, but not at the end of a row. To follow this instruction, begin your row by knitting 2 stitches, then pass the first stitch on the right-hand needle over the second and off the needle. This is the same way you would normally bind off when finishing a project, but only do this process 5 (6) times. After binding off the indicated number of stitches, knit across the rest of the row. Repeat this process at the beginning of the next row as well. For more information about how to work a bind off, click here. The result is that you have 10 (12) fewer stitches and a notch at each side of your sweater for the underarms.

Following the bind off rows are a series of decrease rows. The decreases, as described in the pattern, are worked one stitch in from edge, making seaming easier because the edge stitch is worked normally. Two different kinds of decreases are used because each of these decreases has a slant or lean to it; using them on their appropriate sides creates nicely shaped armholes. A k2tog (knit 2 together – right slanting) is used for the left side and an ssk (slip, slip, knit – left slanting) is used on the right side of the sweater. You can see more about how to work these decreases here. Once you have worked the decrease row on the knit side, follow it with a purl row and repeat the indicated number of times for your size.

Once these decreases are finished, you’re home free! Just “work even” until you have reached the indicated length, creating the depth of the armhole. “Work even” means go back to working in stockinette stitch with no decreasing, as you did for most of the back. Done! Bind that piece off and admire your work – one piece down!
Finished back

Once you have completed the back, feel free to start on the front; it starts the same as the back, but the neck shaping starts 2.5 inches before the armholes. If you are working as written, this means the neck shaping will start at about 11.5 inches, but if you worked the back for 16 inches for example, you would work the front to 13.5 inches. We’ll pick up there next week by continuing the front with both neck and armhole shaping!

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A Look at Loom-Knitting: an Interview with Isela Phelps

October 4th, 2011

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In honor of our new Martha Stewart Crafts™ Lion Brand® Yarn Knit & Weave Loom Kit, I sat down with loom-knit designer and author, Isela Phelps, who shared some of the reasons that you may want to try out the wonderful craft of loom-knitting. Isela is the author of books including Loom Knitting Primer: a beginner’s guide to knitting on a loom, Loom Knitting Pattern Book, and Loom Knitting Socks: a beginner’s guide to knitting socks on a loom. Check out Isela’s website at

Who would you recommend loom-knitting to?
I would recommend loom knitting to anyone who is either wanting to learn to knit or has had difficulty learning to knit in the past or to those who due to hand dexterity problems can no longer create with knitting needles.

Are there advantages to knitting with a loom as opposed to knitting with needles?
The main advantage that I have found is that my hands do not get as tired from holding onto the needles. Less hand cramping means longer periods of time knitting.

What is one thing you would like yarncrafters to know about loom-knitting?
Loom knitting is a viable way of creating. We are still using our hands to create knitted items just a different tool to create the fabric.

What are your favorite online loom-knitting resources?
I recommend visiting for videos–an invaluable sources of hundreds of videos, free. is a great resource for written instructions., my own website, is also a top resource for videos, instructions, and patterns.

A note from Zontee: Look out for new how-to videos for the Knit & Weave Loom Kit on Lion Brand’s YouTube channel in the next few weeks.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to a loom-knitter?
Everything takes practice; the more you practice the easier it gets. Take it step by step, learn the basics, and move slowly up.

How did you get started yarncrafting? Loom-knitting?
I grew up with my grandmother and she is a knitting guru! She can create anything if she has yarn and needles. As a young child, I learn at her side how to create items, not from reading patterns but just from my own imagination. Loom-knitting became an integral part of my life when my husband started a small knitting loom company. At the time, there was very limited loom-knitting information available and I made it my mission to spread the word about loom knitting. I started creating patterns, instructions, and videos and my website, was born.

What’s your favorite thing to design?
I am an accessories person. I love to jazz up my wardrobe with simple pieces such as scarves or hats.

Thanks, Isela, for telling us about this great craft!

Have you tried loom-knitting or do you have any questions about it? Leave a comment below!