Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for November, 2011


Flip My Scarf! 4 Different Projects from a Simple Rectangle

November 4th, 2011

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Over the years, I’ve met a lot of yarncrafters, young and old, who’ve told me, “I knit/crochet, but I only make scarves.” But what I want to tell these yarncrafters is, if you know how to make a scarf, you probably already know how to make throws, hoods–even garments! All you need are your scarf-making skills and two magic ingredients.

Ingredient one: Flip that scarf! Thinking outside the box will have you looking at your scarf in a whole new light. Fold it in half lengthwise. Twist it. Line several scarves up next to each other. Is your scarf starting to resemble something else, like a cocoon shrug or a blanket? You’re on the right track! All you need to do now is attach your work together at one or two key areas, and you have a whole new project. That takes us to…

Ingredient two: Join together! The best way to attach knit or crochet pieces together is to use seaming, or sewing up. If you haven’t seamed pieces together before, don’t be afraid to jump right in! Seaming yarncrafts is to sewing as paint-by-numbers is to painting with watercolors; the stitches act as a guide for where to go next, so you won’t have to worry about whether your sewing looks even. For an illustrated guide on how to seam knit pieces, click here. For a guide on how to seam crochet pieces, click here. (Need some extra guidance? Check out Zontee’s top 5 tips for seaming by clicking here.)

Looking for some inspiration on how to take your scarf to the next level? Here are some project ideas that are really just scarves in disguise. (Note: click the name or photo to access the pattern on LionBrand.com.)

Moebius WrapThe simplest way to update a plain scarf is to seam the short ends together to make a cowl. Take that idea one more step by twisting the scarf a 1/2 turn before you do your seaming, and you’ve got an elegant and versatile wrap!

To wear, drape the wrap off your shoulders as shown here. You can also wear it doubled as a cowl or over your head as an impromptu hood.

 

Scarf Hood The name says it all: this hood may look complicated, but it’s really a scarf in disguise! To make, simply fold your scarf in half crosswise and, starting at the fold, sew one side together for 11 inches. For an added challenge, add the crochet Fun Fur® trim, or leave it off for a more streamlined look.

To wear, leave the scarf ends hanging, or wrap them around your shoulders for extra warmth.

 

Striped Crochet Throw The pattern shown here uses striped colorwork, but you can make a nearly identical project without learning how to join new colors! To make, simply seam together scarves of equal length together along the long edge.

Seam together several wide strips to make an afghan. Or just use two or three narrow strips–you’ve got a throw that doubles as a shawl!

Cocoon Shrug This shrug is made from a shorter, wider rectangle than a traditional scarf, but making it uses the same set of skills. To make, fold the rectangle in half lenthwise. Sew the short ends together, starting at the edge and leaving a hole big enough for your arms to go through.

To wear, drape it over your shoulders as shown, let it fall for a more glamorous nighttime look, or even wear it over your head like a hood to keep the chill away.


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Half Medallion Bag Crochet-Along: Welcome! Getting Materials & Gauge

November 3rd, 2011

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Editor’s note: This is the first blog post by Dora Ohrenstein, designer of the Half Medallion Bag, and our host during this crochet-along. Join Dora each Thursday, as we work on this purse together!

I’m thrilled to be hosting a crochet-along at Lion Brand, a company that is truly committed to crochet!

What to expect during this crochet-along
For this Half Medallion Bag (click here to get the pattern), I wanted to create a three dimensional effect that radiates out from a center point. Bobbles and post stitches create this dimension.

Rather than a full circle for the bag, I decided on a half circle, because I think it’s such a pretty shape. While none of the stitches used here are difficult, in order to make the proper increases for the bag while also maintaining the 3D design, stitch counting on each row will be important. I’ll cover that in a future post.

For a bag to be practical, it needs to be lined. Obviously, the holes in crochet fabric are not conducive to carrying items like lipstick and glasses! The lining also helps the bag keep its shape, and provides greater stability and firmness in the fabric. I’m not an expert sewer, so I consulted my friend Leslie who is. She taught me a great way to line a bag with no sewing whatsoever! We will be exploring that later as we proceed in our bag.

Speaking of which, you may be wondering about the timeline for this crochet-along. Over the next 5 weeks, we’ll be working through gauge, counting stitches and placing increases, long post stitches, lining the bag, and then finishing the bag (seaming and attaching the handles). As with all crochet-alongs, you’re free to work at your own pace, since all of these blog posts will stay online.

But first…yarn selection
I was eager to try out the new Martha Stewart Craft™ Extra Soft Wool Blend for this project. It’s lovely to work with: soft and pliable, making the post stitches easy to execute. Other Lion Brand options to choose from are Vanna’s Choice®–always a great value–Wool-Ease®, another wool blend with a very different color palette, Fishermen’s Wool®, for those who like 100% wool, or Cotton-Ease®, for those who prefer a cotton-blend. You’ll need the following amounts depending on your yarn selection:

Yarn Number of Balls
Martha Stewart Craft™ Extra Soft Wool
Blend
2
Vanna’s Choice® 2
Wool-Ease® 2
Fishermen’s Wool® 1
Cotton-Ease® 2
Approximate yardage needed 325-350 yards

Getting gauge
For the first part of our CAL, let’s talk about how to get gauge for this project. If you were to make a gauge swatch with rows, you might not get the same size stitches as when you work this semi-circular design. For that reason, work the first few rows in pattern, and measure them for gauge. Here are some shots of my gauge swatch, worked in the same yarn as the finished bag but in a different color.

With the recommended hook size, a J-10, I worked rather loosely to get this gauge.

Since this is not a wearable item, you may think precise gauge is not important. Here is why I think it is: firstly, when a designer gives gauge, they are telling you what gauge creates attractive looking stitches in the yarn being used. You know how sometimes stitches look all tight and bunchy, and other times they look scrawny or limp? These are gauge problems! So, if you want your finished design to look like the original, please do pay attention to gauge.

Another reason gauge should be considered for this project is to determine how much fabric and interfacing you’ll need. If your project turns out bigger than the size given, you may need to buy a bit more of both.

Now it’s time for you to select your yarn and start swatching. Also, please say hello in our comments section, tell us a bit about yourself, and don’t forget to come back next week for the next step in the crochet-along!

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Wisteria Shawl Collar Pullover KAL: The Final Seams!

November 2nd, 2011

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Welcome back to the finale of our knit-along! We’re finishing these beautiful sweaters today, and I for one can’t wait! Now that your collars are finished and in place, it’s time to set in the sleeves and sew the final side seams.

As I’m sure you can tell by now, I’m a planner. This is especially true when it comes to setting in sleeves. The first step is to pin the sleeve in place, matching the strange shape of the sleeve cap into the armhole opening of the sweater. To do so, I fold the sleeve cap in half to find the center of the top bind off and pin this point to the shoulder seam, which is the top center of the armhole. Next move to the outside edges, pinning the initial armhole bind-off notch to the bind-off notch of the sleeve cap (both are the same number of stitches and pin directly together). Then pin the center point of these two areas, and then the center of those resulting sections. Now can you see how the sleeve cap fits in?

Pinned cap

Time to sew it in! I’ve chosen to use a different yarn to sew in the sleeve because the mattress stitch seaming will not show through the sweater. Part of the softness and appeal of Amazing is that it is constructed of one single strand of yarn instead of multiply plies, but I chose to sew the sweater with a slightly stronger plied yarn, Vanna’s Choice, which can handle the wear and tear of the seaming we’re about to do. I like to set in my sleeves with one long strand of yarn which I join at the top shoulder seam then pull to the center of the yarn. I work down one side of the sleeve cap to the underarm, then return to the shoulder seam and repeat down the other side of the cap. This makes the seam consistent on the front and back because both were worked from the top down.

To set in the sleeve cap, I utilize all three types of mattress stitch that I discussed last week, each applied in different seaming zones. For the top bind-off sections you will work the horizontal-vertical type, then you will hit a section of horizontal-horizontal along the gentle slope of the sleeve cap. After that it’s back to horizontal-vertical for the next section of bind-offs, and finally end with the vertical-vertical seam to join the two bind-off notch portions together. Phew! See the following photo for what I mean as far as the seaming zones. I also work to ease the pieces together, skipping stitches occasionally to make the pieces fit together smoothly.

Seams

Once the sleeve is set in, it’s time for the final seams: sewing the sleeves closed and sweater sides together. This home stretch is the simplest seam – it’s all the basic mattress stitch working under the horizontal bars one stitch in from the edge of both pieces. Again, I like to pin first so that I can ease the pieces together as I go, pinning the bottom edges, the top of the ribbing, and then some midway points between.

Start seaming–the finished sweater is so close! Work carefully to make sure you can line up the sides of the body without any bunching.  After the seams are done, I weave in all of my ends and give the collar and seams a light steaming to soften them. I finally have a finished pullover!

Finished sweater

I know this sweater has been a journey, and I hope you all have finished sweaters you are proud of. Although I love how this sweater fits me, the intended recipient is actually my mom. She taught me to knit as a child, and I owe her for my love of yarn crafting. She contacted me weeks ago when she got her Lion Brand newsletter and found out I was hosting this KAL and asked me about joining in. While I would have loved to have her knit along as well, I made her a different offer instead: “Do you want mine when I finish it?” Having only knit her small things in the past, I really wanted to make her this pullover to give her something special to keep her warm in the Utah winter. So now that this gorgeous sweater is done, it’s time to send it off to her. I’ll post a photo when she gets it so you can all see how it looks!

Thanks for joining me in this KAL–it has been great talking to you, helping each other through the process, and seeing all of your success. Please continue to comment and share your progress and finished sweaters–I can’t wait to see them!
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A “Mad Man” Who Knits; Meet Gregory Patrick

November 1st, 2011

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There are some people you come across in this world that are truly inspiring; people who know how to turn lemons into lemonade, and who make you want to be a better person–with that said, I’d like to introduce you to a very talented “mad man” who knits, Gregory Patrick.  His blog will humble you and have you clicking back to read his older posts to better understand his journey.  An avid user of Fishermen’s Wool, Gregory reached out to Lion Brand and shared his story with us; we were moved and touched by his journey and wanted to share his story with the rest of the yarn crafters out there.

Gregory lost his job as a server in a successful and popular restaurant after it had been sold, was left by his partner, and found out his father was diagnosed with a terminal illness.  After all of these unfortunate events, Gregory was homeless and sought refuge in his grandfather’s abandoned farm–living a life in solitude, trying to be at peace with himself.  During this rough period, Gregory immersed himself in knitting, “working on any pattern I could come across, developing a psychotic routine of mindless action while life around me was crumbling.”  Determined to be a man who could support himself and not become a statistic, Gregory began selling his knitted bears in his Etsy shop and his books on Amazon for income.

As many of you know, or have experienced yourself, knitting/crocheting can help soothe the soul during challenging times.  Gregory found a great support system with members of menwhoknit.com, who encouraged and provided him with wisdom during his homeless period; they checked up on him when emails weren’t responded, and offered him advice.  Gregory is still facing numerous challenges as he struggles to find a permanent home for him and his adorable cat Mario, but he continues to knit his bears for income–bears that put smiles on the faces of happy recipients. His journey has really touched me because he is extremely strong willed.  He refuses to give up his dream of being a successful entrepreneur, despite all of the disheartening trials and tribulations he has incurred over the years. I wish him the best of luck and hope his bears continue to travel to warm welcoming homes across the world.

I encourage you to stop by his blog Mad Man Knitting or Etsy shop; buy a bear as a Christmas gift for a family member, or buy one and donate it to charity–remember, we’re entering the season of giving!

What type of knitting/crocheting do you do? Were you deeply inspired by someone? Do you craft for a cause? Share your story with me in a paragraph between 100-150 words via email at Brandyce@lionbrand.com for a chance to win one of Gregory Patrick’s handmade knit bears (Entries will no longer be accepted after November 7, 12pm EST).  Knit in Fishermen’s Wool, I can tell you first hand this bear is extremely soft and cute!

*UPDATE (11.10.11): The contest to win one of Gregory’s knit bears ended on Monday 11.7 and winner will be announced Monday (11.14) morning. Thanks to the help of our wonderful readers and those who shared Gregory’s story, Gregory’s shop continues to sell out of bears.  Remember, you can continue to help Gregory by donating to his Etsy shop (a donate badge can be found on his blog), or you can click on the “Request a Custom Item” button on the left side of his Etsy to have a knit bear tailored to your likings. We appreciate the support!

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