Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for December, 2011

Get Out Your Party Hats, It’s a Celebration!

December 30th, 2011

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As the year comes to an end, we’d like to thank everyone for their support of Lion Brand; we look forward to sharing more new patterns, yarns, and ideas with you in 2012.  It’s time to throw on your party hat and celebrate all of your hard work and energy that went into yarncrafting this year- here’s to completing those WIPs (Work in Progress) in the new year!Happy Family
Give your amigurumi pals a miniature knit hat for a celebration, click here for the free pattern.

All of the hats were knit in Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Roving Wool.
Listed below are the patterns for most of the amigurumi in the picture:
Knit Fluffy Sheep

Martha Stewart Doll with Poncho and Dog
Amigurumi Octopus
Cupcake and Mini Lion patterns can be found in the book Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi by Anna Hrachovec.

Wishing all of you a Happy New Year! How will you be celebrating?

3 Favorite Trends for 2012

December 30th, 2011

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With 2011 quickly winding down, I’ve begun prepping my 2012 yarncrafting queue. I’ve noticed a lot of great trends in stores that are also appearing in knitting and crochet. Here are my 3 favorite trends that I’m adding to my to-do list.
Granny Squares
The classic granny square has become fashionable in a very big way. British fashion label House of Holland has embraced the trend with bright 70’s colors in tights, jackets, and more. For a modern touch, try more neutral tones, such as those featured in Etsy seller SheepishKnitCrochet’s cowl. My favorite thing about granny squares is that they look amazing in any yarn! I made the square in the upper right in Martha Stewart Crafts Alpaca Blend in Parakeet, Green Eucalyptus, and Meadow Green for a tonal look. Get inspired with more than 50 granny square patterns; click here to view them.

Faux Fur
Faux fur is perfect for keeping cozy in winter. Of course, neutral accessories are always popular, such as this furry Gap hat (center) and our Cushy Crochet Cowl (right). This season, fur is taking on bright, bold shades, including this pink Paula Lishman shrug. Try using Luxe Fur for a plush look, or use Fun Fur or Martha Stewart Crafts Glitter Eyelash for an exciting pop of color.

Gradual Stripes
Traditional stripes are always in style, and a new wave of slowly shifting striped yarns has modernized this classic look. This trend is especially popular in sweaters, pictured here from British brand House of Fraser (left) and popular American retailer Urban Outfitters (right). Yarns like Amazing (pictured center in the Knit Shapely Stripes Pullover), Tweed Stripes, Homespun, and Vanna’s Colors create this bold color effect without having to change skeins.

What trends have you noticed for the upcoming year? What are you adding to your to-do list? Let us know in the comments!

7 Tips on How to Knit and Crochet for Charity

December 28th, 2011

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The holidays have past, but crafting for charity is a great way to stay in the spirit of giving.

With so many worthy causes and charities in the world, choosing what to make, which yarn to use and where to donate can be a bit challenging. These tips are are organized to help you find the right project and organization for you. Enjoy making someone wonderful and sharing it with someone in need this winter using the 7 suggestions below.

Choose the Best Yarn for Your Project
When you donate a project to charity, make sure it is easy to care for. It’s a good idea to use all machine washable and dryable yarn, like Wool-Ease Thick & Quick or Vanna’s Choice. But if you are using a fiber that needs special care, make sure to check that the group you a donating to can take projects made of that yarn and sew a label for care instructions into your gift. Click here to see our yarn pages with all the care instructions and yardage information.
Try Our Charity Connection
When you’re looking for a group to work with, our online Charity Connection is a user-friendly way to find out what groups are accepting donations, where they are located and what they are hoping to receive. If you know a charity who that is looking for donations, you can register on the Charity Connection quickly and easily to let others know about your project. Click here to visit the Charity Connection page.
Project to Donate: Prayer Shawls
Making prayer shawls for those in need of support or strength in any way can be a helpful, warm reminder that others care for them in their time of need. Prayer shawl groups or ministries are devoted to making and giving shawls to those in their communities. Find out if there is a prayer shawl ministry in your area, or you can  start one yourself with friends. Click here to see the patterns for prayer shawls.
Project to Donate: Afghans (whole or squares)
If you only have  a little time, why not make a block for an afghan? If you’re looking for a new stitch to try out or want to develop your knit or crochet skills, use our Stitch Finder to pick out a stitch pattern and then create a block the appropriate size. You can use up your excess stashed yarn making afghan blocks and seam them together yourself, or get help from a group like the Warm Up America! foundation. groups like WUA help knitters and crocheters connect their individual blocks into large masterpieces that can keep others warm. Click here to see W.U.A.’s site on donations. Click here to see pictures of the Lion Brand Yarn Studio’s donation drive with W.U.A. this fall.
Project to Donate: Chemo Caps
Softness and comfort are key for these projects simple, fast-finish projects. These caps warm and comfort patients undergoing chemo therapy, and are often made in cheerful and bright colors to brighten their time in treatment. Many hospitals or cancer centers will accept donations, so be sure to call and see if they are in need. Click here for free knit and crochet patterns for chemo caps
Project to Donate: Warm Accessories
During the holidays many people donate small accessories to scarf or mitten trees; but just because the holidays have past it doesn’t mean donations aren’t needed. If you love to make smaller projects, shelters, schools and hospitals are often accepting them during the colder months. Plenty of charities specialize in mittens, scarves, or hats, find a pattern you love to make, and you’ll keep a lot of people warm this winter. Click here for patterns for hats, scarves, mittens and accessories.
Short on Time? Donate Yarn.
While not knitting or crocheting yourself, donating your extra stash is a great way to support children’s after school arts clubs, senior center craft groups, and local charity organizations in your area. Arts organizations are often in need of supplies, and sharing your left over yarn with those who have been crocheting for decades or are just learning to knit is a beautiful way to share the crafts you love with others.  Many groups donate their projects to charity after they are finished, keeping the cycle of giving going. Click here for help finding a group to donate to, or just call our local schools and charities to ask if they are accepting donations.

Have you made a project for charity? What is your favorite kind of project to donate? Leave a comment to share your story.

No Knit, No Crochet Projects From the Blogosphere

December 27th, 2011

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Over the past few months, Lion Brand has worked with a few bloggers on yarncrafting projects which require no knitting or crocheting.  This was a fun initiative for us because it was great to see what projects come to mind to people when they see a particular yarn. Many people don’t know how to knit or crochet but love using yarn in craft projects.  So, even if you do know how to knit or crochet, think about the crafting possibilities with yarn without using your hooks or needles- there’s so much you can create!

10 Minute No Sew Scarf from According to Kelly

Kelly spotlights our Amazing yarn by wrapping it around multiple times to create a scarf.  The self striping colorway in Amazing creates a beautiful unique accessory or garment.  After you make one of these, you might be tempted to try another in a different color!

Semi-Homemade Mohawk Beanie

Semi Homemade Mohawk Beanie from This Mama Makes Stuff

Carrie had a different approach to using our Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Roving Wool yarn, she mixed and matched colors for some funky cool mohawk beanie caps.  Once again, this is a no knit, no crochet, no sew project, check out her tutorial here.

Chunky Yarn Cuff

Chunky Yarn Cuff from P.S I Made This

Erica Domesek, fashion forward blogger of P.S. I Made this, featured a D.I.Y tutorial utilizing our Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Mambo yarn to create a chunky bracelet.  This is a jewelry piece that’s sure to make a statement wherever you go.  Click here to see how she made this zebra-like cuff.

Holiday Yarn Trees

Holiday Yarn Trees from Recaptured Charm

Lisa from Recaptured Charm took a sophisticated approach to creating yarn trees by crafting them in Silky Twist, Holiday Homespun and Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Glitter Eyelash. Her crafted trees have a classic look that can be appreciated year after year.  View the rest of her trees and the process here.

Yarn Pom Pom Garland

Pom Pom Yarn Garland from Little Birdie Secrets

Mandy made some pretty big textured pom poms for her mantle with our textured yarns Silky Twist and Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Lofty Wool Blend.  This is a great craft for birthdays and other holiday celebrations, and it’s a fun craft for the kids as well.

Yarn Art

Yarn Art with Children from Make and Takes

Marie wanted to do a craft that was kid friendly so she could create a project with her children; she crafted a festive yarn art piece with Vanna’s Choice, Vanna’s Glamour and Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Glitter Eyelash.  Her children crafted creative holiday scenes with yarn as well, check out all of the projects here. Yarn can be used to recreate any kind of scene, just think of it as a unique paint!

Most of you wonderful Lion Brand Notebook readers are knitters and crocheters, but are you ever inspired to you use your yarn without hooks or needles?  What kind of projects have you done or are looking forward to trying?

Celebrating the 100th Birthday of a Member of Our Family

December 22nd, 2011

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My family was blessed to celebrate the 100th birthday of my Mom, Ann (Chanchy) Blumenthal, on November 26th. I share this with you because my Mom is a member of the third generation of the family that owns Lion Brand Yarn Company. From the 1940s to the 1990s, my Mom was active in the business, answering customer letters and phone calls. She served as a trusted advisor to my father, Isidor, the President of Lion Brand from 1958 to 2003, offering her wisdom and ideas on everything from advertising to selecting yarns, colors, and patterns.

I’d like to share some photos from the party.

Amazing how many different 100th
birthday cards there are!
The cover of a book of photos

My mother received a letter from President Obama congratulating her on her birthday. I also wrote a letter on Lion Brand stationery thanking her for her service to our company and signed it with my titles: President, CEO, and Son.

As a member of the fourth generation of our family-owned and operated business, my Mom continues to inspire me.

Get Inspired by Amazing Afghan Patterns

December 21st, 2011

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How will you be keeping warm this winter?  Will you be cozy by the fireside?  Will you be wrapped up in your afghan on the couch?  Afghans and lapghans are a great way to stay warm and snuggly at home or in the car. While you’re relaxing with your lapghan/afghan, you might as well think about a pattern for your next one! Listed below are a few pattern suggestions along with some afghans that have been submitted to our customer gallery; check it out it see if you’ve been featured.

Miss Yvette's Afghan
Miss Yvette’s Sampler Throw

Circles to Squares Afghan
Vanna’s Choice
Updated Ripple Afghan
Updated Ripple

Vanna’s Choice
Slip Stitch Sampler Throw
Slip Stitch Sampler Throw

Vanna’s Choice


Customer Gallery Submissions

Wool Ease Customer Submitted Afghan
The Afghan Squared by Donna
Crochet in Wool-Ease
Click here for pattern
USA afghan
US Afghan by Cheryl Kissee
Knit in Wool-Ease
Click here for pattern

Circle in a Square Afghan
by Nichole Rivers
Crochet in Homespun
Click here
for pattern
Walk of Fame Afghan
Walk of Fame Star Afghan
by B. Palkki
Crochet in Homespun
Click here for pattern

It’s always exciting to see the great pieces you’ve created with our yarns and we encourage you to continue submitting. Please also include whether the pattern is your original or a Lion Brand pattern, that information is helpful to others who may be inspired by your work. Keep yarncrafting and stay safe and warm this season!

Last-Minute Gift Idea: I Made a Hat in One Evening, and So Can You!

December 20th, 2011

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With Hanukkah starting this evening and Christmas this weekend, it might feel like you’re down to the wire, but with the right project, I’m telling you there’s still time to squeeze out one more project! Just remember the 3 secrets of a fast gift project: thick yarn or multiple strands of yarn, easy stitches, accessory pattern.

Using the formula I shared in my “How to Crochet a Beanie” blog post, I made this quick hat in less than 2 hours.

To make it, I paired a strand of Superwash Merino Cashmere (in Sangria, Wine, and Charcoal) with a strand of Vanna’s Glamour (in Grey Stone, for bling!) and used single crochet stitches. By holding two strands of yarn together, it was like I was working a thicker yarn, and of course a thicker yarn means a faster project!

Editor’s note: Need to figure out how much yarn you need for a hat (or other project)? Click here for our handy guide.

For this project, instead of using the spiral method of making crochet rounds, I used the “joined rounds” method. That means I joined at the end of each round with a slip stitch, and then started each progressive round with a chain stitch (just as you would start a new sc row when crocheting flat back and forth).  The “joined rounds” method allowed me to have smooth stripes without a “jog” where the colors changed.

For the color pattern: after the first 5 rounds in Sangria, I changed colors every 3 rounds for my stripes. Finally, I improvised a quick trim for the edging: slip 1, *[hdc, dc, hdc] into the next stitch, slip 2, repeat from *. Voila! A finished hat in just one evening.

I think it’s a rather cute project, if I do say so myself, and I hope my cousin likes her gift! Good luck with any last-minute projects, and have a wonderful holiday season!

You Didn’t Ruin Your Project: How to Handle Knit and Crochet Mistakes

December 16th, 2011

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Dropped StitchI like to say that the first rule of knitting and crochet is that everyone makes mistakes. Then the second rule of knitting and crochet would have to be that making a mistake is not the end of the world. Yarn is wonderfully forgiving, and in most cases mistakes can be fixed with a few tricks and careful fingers. At this time of year there can be a lot of pressure on crafters making knit and crochet gifts to finish projects quickly and perfectly the first time. Here at Lion Brand we wanted to share some of our own stories of making mistakes and how we fixed them.

“I knit my first hat in a beautiful sparkling yarn. Halfway through I realized that my join was twisted, so my hat was unsalvageable. It did make a great cowl, though!” – Jess

Jess used a great, time-honored technique of designers and crafters: a mistake is a design element. She could have ripped back and re-started the project, but instead she embraced that her work would be a horribly flawed hat, but an excellent mobius-style cowl. With a little more yarn, she could even make a hat and cowl set with both the correctly joined had and the twisted cowl.

“I knitted a cowl in garter stitch and realized I missed a stitch and had a little hole; when I was done, I cut off a little piece of yarn and tied the two stitches together to close the hole. I just made sure to wear the cowl so that the knot was on the “wrong” side.  Since I was knitting in garter stitch, the tied pieces blended in perfectly.” -Brandyce

Dropped stitches can be one of the most frustrating mistakes in knitting, particularly because they can ruin so much of your hard work. When you realize you’ve dropped a stitch, the key is to stay calm and handle your project carefully. Lay your project down on a well lit horizontal surface, and survey the damage. Then you can use the tips from our previous post: How to Fix Knitting Without Frogging.

“I am a knitter who loves working in the round.  When I made my first crochet sweater in the round, I was used to working in rounds without stopping.  When I read the crochet pattern, I missed one very important word: “turn.”  I didn’t really notice my mistake until I divided for the front and back.  At that time I was working back and forth.  I quickly saw that the fabric created by working back and forth (the same effect as working one round, TURNING and working back) looks totally different then the fabric created when you work the crochet in continuous rounds.  Oh well, I thought, RIP.  I’ve never felt too bad about ripping something and starting again. It just gives me the chance to do it again better!” – Patty

The instructions in a pattern will often have one or two tiny details that make a big difference in the finished project. Missing a little words or phrases like “turn” can trip up even the most experienced crafters. Reading over your pattern a few times before starting can be a helpful trick, and referencing a picture of the finished pattern can help you catch mistakes before they require you to rip out to many of your stitches.

For more tips on fixing, avoiding, and above all staying calm and having fun while you work, see also:

Do you have a great mistake story, or fix-it tip? Share your stories and suggestions by leaving a comment below.

Help Your Gift Recipients Care for Handmade Presents

December 15th, 2011

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GiftsIt’s a joy to give and receive handmade gifts for holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. However, once that gift leaves your hands, it’s the recipient’s responsibility to care for the garment. With these 5 easy tips, all of the people on your gifting list will be able to keep their presents in tip-top condition.

1. Before gifting, it’s important to select the right yarn for the recipient. Beyond the general look and feel of the yarn, it’s critical to consider the washing and drying instructions. Some people will happily hand wash your handiwork, while others are destined to have felting accidents. Matching the care information to the recipient will definitely extend the life of your gift, so the recipient can enjoy it for even longer. For example, I know that I can trust my sister to hand wash a wool sweater, but my dad would surely felt a wool hat.
2. Include care instructions if necessary. Attach an adorable note card that your giftee can easily reference. Remember to use plain English to make the instructions simple to follow.
3. Giving lots of gifts? Consider purchasing customized clothing labels. They’re relatively inexpensive and can be easily attached to your presents. Think about including the fiber content or care information as a helpful reminder.
4. Attach the yarn label and a few yards of yarn to the gift. They’ll have all of the care information, and crafty pals can use the yarn to fix any snags or seams. Best of all, they’ll be able to suggest the yarn when friends compliment the present!
5. If your gift requires hand washing, include a bottle of rinse-free wool wash. This makes it super easy to keep your gift clean.

With those simple steps, your handmade gifts should last and last. Do you have any tips for giving handmade gifts? Let us know in the comments!

6 Faux Fur Patterns: Discover the Season’s Hottest Trend

December 14th, 2011

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If you look around at the winter accessories and knitwear in the stores right now, you’ll probably notice a lot of faux fur.  Faux fur is a big trend for this winter season, and lucky for you, you can knit or crochet the beautiful items you see in the stores. Faux fur designs are stylish, cozy and luxurious (and animal friendly!); below are some lovely patterns highlighting faux fur designs you’ll want to have for years to come.

Scarf Hood
Scarf Hood
Homespun, Fun Fur
Knit Vest with Fur Trim
Vanna’s Choice, Fun Fur
Fur Luxe Neck Warmer Cushy Fur Cowl
Knit Fur Luxe Neck Warmer
Wool Ease Thick & Quick, Fun Fur
Knit Cushy Fur Cowl
Fun Fur
Cushy Crochet Cowl Glamorous Furry Scarf
Cushy Crochet Cowl
Luxe Fur
Glamorous Furry Scarf
Vanna’s Glamour, Fun Fur

Faux fur yarn might look intimidating when wrapped in a skein, but it can work up into some beautiful pieces. I’ve actually knit a cowl in Wool Ease Chunky (Fisherman) and paired it with a Luxe Fur (Camel) trim and it’s super warm and cute! Will you be adding any faux fur to your pieces this winter?