Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for December, 2011

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?