Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for November, 2011

Knit Some Cozy Cables This Season

November 16th, 2011

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Cables are a great way to add accents and sophistication to a knitted project. Cabled accessories and garments are quite popular this season, just step into any clothing store and you’re bound to find inspiration for your next hand made project. Instead of buying that beautiful cabled scarf, try making your own! In the links below, you’ll see that cables can be added to practically any project for some extra texture and flair.
(Click on the pictures for free patterns.)

Cabled Cowl
Cabled Cowl
Cabled Cowl
Simple Cable Cowl

A lot of people seem to enjoy a nice chunky seed stitch or garter stitch cowl, but take your cowl to the next level by incorporating cables.  The cowl on the far left is knit in Fishermen’s Wool and the Simple Cable Cowl to the right is knit in Martha Stewart CraftsTM Roving Wool.  Both are at an intermediate skill level.

Faux Cable Scarf
Faux Cable Scarf
Grey Cabled Scarf
Grey Cabled Scarf

Cable knit scarves are definitely popular this season, and if you’re more of a beginner knitter, you can whip up a “faux” cable scarf for a holiday gift.  The Faux Cable Scarf is knit in Wool Ease Thick & Quick to help your project move even faster.  If you have a more advanced skill set, you might want to try the Grey Cabled Scarf knit in Vanna’s Choice.

Cabled Pattern Hat
Cable Pattern Hat
Lauren Cabled Hat
Lauren Hat

Skip the plain beanie/cap this winter and have some fun with cabled hats.  The Cable Pattern Hat in Martha Stewart Crafts TM/MC Merino on the far left is for a more advanced knitter, but beginners can try their hand at it as well with the Lauren Hat in Vanna’s Choice.

Cos Cob Throw
Cos Cob Throw
Erin Afghan
Erin Afghan

We all love the traditional granny square afghan, but try a more modern look for your afghans with cables.  With a complex pattern, crochet border, and tassels on the bottom, the Erin Afghan is sure to impress!

Elegance Socks
Elegance Socks
Cable Ready Bag
Cable Ready Bag

Surprise someone this holiday season with luxurious cable knit socks.  The Elegance Socks featured on the left are knit in Superwash Merino from our exclusive LB Collection, which features a rich color palette.  Who knew cables on a bag could look so good? The best thing about this Cable Ready Bag in Wool Ease Thick & Quick is that you don’t need to be an advanced knitter to create it, check out the free pattern here.


Have problems with cabling? Be sure to check out our previous instructional posts on “How to Use a Cable Needle“.  While you’re at it, learn “How to Cable Without Needles” as well.

What have your cabling experiences been so far? Are you intimidated by cables, or do you absolutely love them?

And the Winners of the Halloween Caption Contest Are…

November 15th, 2011

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This year we received hundreds of entries into the Halloween Caption Contest. After much consideration and review we are ready to announce the 5 winners! Each winner will receive a $25 credit in their name on And the winners are…

Ghouls’ night out!
– Amy H.

The perfect Halloween treats: High in fiber, low in fat!
– Whitney H.

Oh no, it’s Halloween and we haven’t knitted our costumes yet!
– Veronica C.

“Oh Count, you are such a knit-wit!” “Please Witchie, I yarn for you!”
– Debbie V.

No more Halloween candy for me, I’m stuffed.
– Brenda C.


If you’re like us and can’t get enough of these adorable amigurumi, click here to see the patterns for Wanda the Witch, Cody the Count and the Amigurumi Headstones.

5 Things Everybody Should Know About Knitting for Men

November 14th, 2011

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This is a guest post from Johnny Vasquez, knitwear designer and founder of Craftory Media which produces fiber related web shows like,, and You can find all of his work at He lives in Loveland, CO with his wife, Lacie Lynnae. For a free men’s hat pattern designed by Johnny, click here.

There is one major challenge women face when knitting something for the opposite sex; they aren’t men. And that’s okay. The problem is many of us guys have difficulty expressing what exactly it is that we like when it comes to clothing. Recently my knitwear designer friend decided she wanted to make her husband a cardigan. When she asked him what he liked about his favorite sweater his response was, “I don’t know. It fits.” So in an effort bridge the communication gap, here are 5 tips for knitting for men, from me (a guy), to you (probably not a guy). Disclaimer: These are not hard and fast rules. They are just the opinion of a male knitter. I have my own taste and preferences when it comes to color and design. These are only guidelines.

1. Keep it simple. There is a reason that most department stores have an entire floor devoted to women’s clothing and only a small section for men. We don’t need as many options. Fashions for men haven’t changed much since World War II. Simple garments may not be as challenging to knit, but they will probably be worn more often. Here are a couple great examples of simple classic pieces. Click each image for the pattern.

Men's Grey SocksEasy Tweed HatBasic Scarf

2. Men love dark colors. I like a little pop of color here and there, but black, grey, brown, and dark blue are the foundation of my wardrobe. I’ve encountered many ladies who dislike knitting with black, and you don’t often see patterns shown in that color, mostly because it doesn’t photograph well. But think how great sailors look in pea coats or Danny Zuko looks in a black leather jacket.

If you want to knit with more than just black, try heathered colors like Claret or Charcoal in Wool-Ease Thick & Quick. Earth tones like those in Fishermen’s Wool are great options, as is a green like Olive in Vanna’s Choice.

3. Variegated should be avoided. So should sparkle, halo, and art yarn. There are two exceptions to this: A dark monochromatic variegation, when used for accessories, and socks. We guys do like to express our personality through things most people can’t see, such as socks.

Try one of these simple sock patterns in Lemon Drop or Red Hots:

Basic SocksFather's Day Socks

By the way, there are no exceptions for sparkle.

4. A little pattern goes a long way. Simple stripe or argyle patterns are a great way to incorporate color into otherwise simple sweaters, scarves, or socks. Cables are a great accent on sleeves or even one or two on the front of a garment. For example, the limited use of cables on the Northshore Cardigan adds interest to the piece without being overwhelming.

5. When in doubt, ask. I said earlier that men tend to have trouble expressing why they like something. This does not mean they will be unable to guide you in the right direction. The key is to give them choices. Have them look through patterns with you to see if anything strikes their fancy. Show them a few different colors swatches so they can see what they might look like knitted up. Try on some sweaters at the department store to see how things fit best. By including him in the entire process, he’s not only more likely to love the finished product, he’ll have a better appreciation of how much work goes into it. Who knows, he might even want to learn how to do it himself!

Gregory Patrick’s (Mad Man Knitting) Knit Bear Winner!

November 14th, 2011

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Gregory Patrick Hand Knit Bear
CONGRATULATIONS to Jessica C. from Alaska on winning Gregory Patrick’s hand knit teddy bear!  You will receive the bear pictured above, knit in Fishermen’s Wool.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest, many of you shared some truly heartfelt stories, making it hard to choose a final winner.

We’re so happy that our readers felt for Gregory the way we did, your support has helped him sell numerous bears within the past couple of days, and provided Gregory with much needed positivity.  Head on over to Gregory’s blog to read about his “most amazing week” in his newest update, and don’t forget to check out his bears! (Please note that if you do not see bears, he has sold out, but you can “Request Custom Item” on the left side tab of the shop).

Decorate for Thanksgiving with Your Own Personal Style!

November 13th, 2011

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Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this November 24th and want to create decorations that show off your style or follow a theme? Whether you’re looking to create projects that will last a lifetime, a stylish sophisticate, or simply young at heart, we’ve got the perfect combination of yarncraft projects for you to use this Thanksgiving! (Click the pattern names or pictures to access the patterns on


Place Setting

Party Favor


To many of us, sharing tradition is what makes Thanksgiving so special. Decorate your dinner table with pieces that are sure to become family heirlooms.

Knit Fall Wreath Crochet Fall Wineglass Decorations /
Crochet Bountiful Napkin Rings
Crochet Leaf Sachet


Sophistocated shapes and an understated color palatte make these projects the perfect decor for a Thanksgiving that’s all grown up.

Crochet Felted Leaves Table Runner Crochet Felted Leaf Coasters Knit Felted Soap Cozy with Acorn


Bring the spirit of the kids’ table into your dining room! Decorate with a whimsical touch that’s sure to be a hit with guests of all ages.

Crochet Tom Turkey Crochet Harvest Bowl /
Crochet Adorable Acorn Accents
Crochet Amigurumi Happy Pumpkin

Step Into the Light and Sparkle with Glitter Eyelash!

November 11th, 2011

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Glitter Eyelash, one of our new yarns from the Martha Stewart Crafts Lion Brand collection is here, right on time for the holidays. Glitter Eyelash comes in 14 different colors which range from pastel tones, seen in Kunzite, Blue Topaz and Purple Sapphire, to bright and bold colors such as Tourmaline, Garnet and Orange Topaz. This novelty yarn is extremely versatile because it can be knit and crocheted into accessories and trims, and it can be crafted with just a bit of glue! Explore the possibilities below, click on the pictures for free patterns.

Glitter Eyelash
Lush Cowl (knit/crochet)
Glitter Eyelash Loom Knit Scarf
Glitter Eyelash
Loom Knit Scarf
Cowls and Scarves 

Glitter Eyelash can be knit, crocheted, or loom knitted into lovely fashion items, adding some shimmer to your favorite outfit.  This yarn is constructed so that it’s not too scratchy or uncomfortable against the skin.  Pair a lush cowl or scarf with an all black outfit to make a bold entrance on your night out.

Glitter Eyelash Earmuffs
Glitter Eyelash Earmuffs
Glitter Edged Hat
Glitter Edged Knit Hat

Hats, etc

Glitter Eyelash is the perfect yarn to add as trims on accessories.  While the temperatures drop, stay stylish and warm by also pairing this novelty yarn with another Martha Stewart Crafts Lion Brand yarn.  The earmuffs and hat on the left were both constructed with Extra Soft Wool Blend in complimenting colors for additional warmth.


Glitter Eyelash Loopy Necklace
Glitter Eyelash
Loopy Necklace
Glitter Eyelash Wrapped Bangle Bracelet
Glitter Eyelash Wrapped
Bangle Bracelet

The great thing about this yarn is that it’s unique qualities allow it to be a fun crafting yarn as well.  Create a necklace with Glitter Eyelash by wrapping strands together to hang from your neck. Try varying sizes such as double (necklace on the left) or even triple looped necklaces for different effects.  Bracelets can be crafted by wrapping the yarn around a circular form, mix and match some colors for fun!


Glitter Eyelash Wreath
Glitter Eyelash Wreath
Glitter Eyelash Napkin Rings
Glitter Eyelash Napkin Rings
Home Decor  

It’s holiday season! Jazz up your home with Glitter Eyelash in various forms.  Glue and wrap yarn to form a wreath, craft some snowflakes, wrap the yarn around picture frames- there are tons of crafting possibilities.  It could even be used as a garland for a Christmas tree, since this yarn is available in 14 colors, there’s a color to match almost any kind of theme (if your Christmas tree has a theme, mine usually does!).

Are you now inspired to add some sparkle to anything in your home or in your closet? What do you think would work out nicely in Glitter Eyelash? Share your thoughts with me.  If you’ve already used Glitter Eyelash, please upload a picture to our Customer Gallery and show off your talents!


Hey Beginners, We Found Your Next Easy Project!

November 10th, 2011

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If you’ve just started to knit or crochet, or know someone who has, you know how challenging the first few projects can be. Chances are if you are just getting started, you’re thinking about making a scarf, or have already made one. My first and second projects were both basic scarves, but by the third project I was ready to try something new. We’ve all faced the challenge of figuring out what to make when you’re ready to move beyond the scarf, but aren’t sure what you can make with your new skills.

With a little sewing and creativity, there are plenty of projects to make with the same skills it takes to make a scarf. Each of the easy projects below is worked flat like a scarf and then sewn together to form the correct shape and fit.

Free Knitting Pattern: Learn to Knit CuffLearn to Knit Cuffs Free Crochet Pattern: Learn To Crochet CuffLearn to Crochet Cuffs Wristers and Cuffs  

These wrist cuffs work up like very short, wide scarves. Simply knit or crochet your rectangle, and when you’ve reached the desired length, fold your piece lengthwise and seam it together. Leave a hole for each thumb about 2 inches from the edge, and your project is ready to wear.

Free Knitting Pattern: Rosy Ribbed HatKnit Rosy Ribbed Hat Free Crochet Pattern: Ripe Wheat HatCrochet Ripe Wheat Hat Simple Hats  

Hats are great beginner projects; they are warm, useful, make great gifts and many work up fairly quickly. Hats like these are knit or crocheted as large flat rectangles and then seamed together. Sew the two shorter sides of the rectangle together to form a tube, and then thread a piece of yarn through one edge, pull together and tie it securely to close the top. Then you can add pom-poms or tassels to decorate.

Free Knitting Pattern: Garter Stitch CowlKnit Garter Stitch Cowl Free Crochet Pattern: Fast And Easy CowlCrochet Fast & Easy Cowl Basic Cowls  

Cowls make excellent projects for beginners ready to take basic yarn crafting to the next level. Long, skinny cowls can loop many times around your neck, while wide, snug fitting cowls will keep you warm all the way up to your chin. Make simple cowls like these by making a rectangle long enough to wrap comfortably around your neck, and then seaming the two shorter sides together to make a tube.

Free Knitting Pattern: Big Stitch PillowKnit Big Stitch Pillow Free Crochet Pattern: Stadium PillowCrochet Stadium Pillow Pillows  

Pillows can be any size or shape, and made in whatever yarn you like. Simply make two pieces the same shape and sew them together, or make one large rectangle, fold it in half and seam the edges together. All you have to do is add fiber fill or a pillow form and you have a brand new household accessory that displays your crafting skills.

If you’ve mastered the basic scarf, then you already have all the skills needed to take on any of these projects. Choose one that you’ll enjoy wearing, or better yet, make several and give them as gifts this holiday season.

What was your first ‘beyond the scarf’ project? Tell your story and share your tips for beginners in the comments section below.

Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Getting Started

November 9th, 2011

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Most crocheters have worked in the round and know the “standard” formula for increasing to make a circle: you add the same number of stitches in each round. You might start with a round of eight stitches, for instance, and in the second round you put two stitches in each stitch, in the third round two stitches in every second stitch, in the fourth round, two stitches in every third stitch, etc. This bag follows a similar plan, but some variation was necessary, for two reasons: Firstly, it’s a semicircle, and secondly, we have a decorative pattern that calls for special stitches in some rows, which effects how we count stitches and how the increases are placed.

To make a semicircle at this gauge, I figured out after much experimentation, I would start with 4 stitches and increase 4 stitches on each round. Basically, this pattern follows the standard formula — adding one more stitch between increases on each row, except for the rows where there are special stitches. But, as I experimented with the design, I saw that if I followed that method in this half circle shape, it wouldn’t come out symmetrical: wherever your increase points are, you get little “points” in the circle shape, and they would end up in different places on the right and left sides of the semi-circle — no good! So I had to figure out a solution for that.

What I did was make a center stitch in each row, and the increases are mirrored on each half of the bag. For example, in row 4 of this pattern, you need an increase every 3 stitches. The pattern has hdc, hdc, 2 hdc, hdc, hdc, 2 hdc, then a center stitch (also an hdc), then on the second half of the row you have 2 hdc, hdc, hdc, 2 hdc, hdc, hdc. Up to the halfway point, the increases come at the end of the group, after the center stitch they come at the beginning of the group.

That same method is used on every row of the bag. I think if you take note of this, it will make stitch counting much easier. You might want to place marker in that center stitch and check that your rows look symmetrical on each side of the marker. Keep in mind that the ch 2 that starts each row is counted as the first stitch (as noted in row 2 of the pattern).

On the rows with Bobbles (Clusters), I followed the same plan. The Clusters count as one stitch in the row. Let’s look at row 5 closely and you’ll see what I mean. In row 5 the increases happen every 4th stitch.

Row 5 (Cluster Row): Ch 2, turn, sk first st, hdc in next 2 sts, (5-dc Cl, hdc) in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, 5-dc Cl in next st, 2 hdc in next st, hdc in next st, 2 hdc in next st, 5-dc Cl in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, (hdc, 5-dc Cl) in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, hdc in top of beg ch – 21 sts at the end of this row.

Ch 2 at the beginning is one stitch, then there are two more hdc, and then we need an increase, because we are at the 4th stitch. Since that’s where the first Cluster goes, we need a Cluster and an hdc in that spot. We work hdcs in the next 2 sts, a Cluster in the next stitch, and now we’re at the 4th stitch again, so we work 2 hdc. The next hdc marks the center of the row, and after that we do everything in reverse: 2 hdcs, then a Cluster, then hdc in next two stitches — that’s our first group of 4. In the next group, hdc and cluster in the same spot and 2 more hdcs for the next group of 4.

In this way, the two halves — right and left – are mirrors of each other. Is it starting to make sense?

In the rows with post stitches, I departed from the grand plan described here. In row 6 for example, I knew we would need 8 post stitches to go around the 4 Bobbles. So, when making 4 of them, we also work into the hdc behind the Post, which makes 4 increases in the row. On the other 4 Post stitches in the same row, we skip the hdc behind the post.

Now, I know this leads to some long lines of instruction, but perhaps understanding the designer’s “logic” can make it easier to follow.

Related links:

Martha’s Here!

November 8th, 2011

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As you may know, Lion Brand has partnered with Martha Stewart Crafts™ to create a new line of yarn in 8 different styles.  The Lion Brand Martha Stewart Crafts™ line features more classic yarns such as the Extra Soft Wool Blend and Roving Wool, as well as novelty yarns like Mambo, Glitter Eyelash and Cotton Hemp.  There’s a yarn to suit every yarn crafter’s need!

Martha Stewart is featured on the cover of the current issue of Vogue Knitting (Holiday 2011). In the accompanying article, she speaks on the process of partnering with Lion Brand, sharing some of her inspirations and a few tips for every yarn crafter (i.e: It’s not safe to leave your yarn projects around because “dogs can unravel a lot of work in a very short period of time”; sounds like a bad experience!).  And, to set the record straight–Martha can crochet too, but she prefers knitting; knitting on straight needles, that is.  No circulars for Martha.

After designing practically every kind of crafting kit from paints, to art supplies, to stamps and recipes, Martha and her team realized how essential yarn can be to craft projects and fashion items.  She chose us because, in her own words, “we get the expertise of really, really good producers like Lion Brand, which is a very astute brand.  They know their stuff and they’re nice people.”  Thanks Martha!

Martha also experiences yarn addiction like many of you do; unfortunately, we all can’t store crafting supplies on the “craft floor” of our home (which was her attic, redesigned).  She even still has yarn from high school! Are you fellow Lion Brand crafters the same way?  If you’re interested in hearing more about Martha’s passion for knitting, check out her interview in Vogue Knitting, on sale now.

*You can get a free issue of this Vogue Knitting when you purchase 3 balls of any Martha Stewart Crafts Yarn.  Just enter the code ‘marthaVK’ into the ‘Coupon/Special Offer Code’ box on the ‘Billing and Payment Information’.

Glitter Eyelash
Glitter Eyelash

Extra Soft Wool Blend

Cotton Hemp
Cotton Hemp
Lofty Wool Blend
Lofty Wool Blend

Alpaca Blend

Roving Wool


Explore the possibilities of the Lion Brand Martha Stewart Crafts™ yarn projects here.

Which new yarn are you most interested in trying or experimenting? How about Mambo, who’s crafty enough to take on that one?

How to Cable Without a Cable Needle

November 7th, 2011

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Now that you’ve learned to use a cable needle, what do you do if you want to start a cabled project and don’t have a cable needle on hand? Don’t fret; you can cross your stitches without using a separate needle! Here’s how to do it.

Step 1 I’m going to cross the two right stitches over the two left stitches.
Step 2 Insert your righthand needle into the back of the third and fourth stitches on the lefthand needle. (Note: If you want to cross these stitches in front, insert your righthand needle into the front of these stitches.)
Step 3 Carefully slide your cable stitches off of the lefthand needle. Your two leftmost stitches will now be on the righthand needle, and your rightmost stitches will be dangling. They should stay in place without laddering down.
Step 4a Using your left needle, pick up the two right stitches. This will cross them over in front of the other two stitches.
Step 4b The right stitches have now been crossed in front to the left.
Step 5 Return the two stitches on your right needle back to the left. Your stitches are now in the correct order to cable! Knit as normal.
Step 6 You’re all finished with your cable!

Now, a few notes on this technique. Cabling without a cable needle works best on smaller cables. If you’re crossing more than 3×3, consider using a needle for stability. It’s also better to use a yarn with more of a grab (such as wool) than one that’s slippery (like alpaca) so that your stitches don’t ladder down. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be cabling even faster than with a needle!