Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for January, 2012

Math + Yarn = Great Results (or 7 Articles to Read About Adjusting Your Pattern)

January 31st, 2012

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When it comes to improvising knit & crochet designs of your own or adjusting patterns, there’s almost always a little math to be done. Don’t be intimidated though! A little arithmetic will take you a long way, allowing you to make sure you get the results you’re looking for.

To help you on your way, here are jut a few blog posts you’ll want to read before adjusting your patterns.

Improvising/Adjusting a Rectangular Project

Want to use a stitch pattern to create a scarf, shawl, or afghan? Read this article. Want to adjust an existing scarf/shawl/afghan pattern? Read this one.

Book Recommendations

Beyond all of this, there are a ton of great books out there that teach you how to make different sweaters, hats, gloves, and more based on basic formulas, including the Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns and The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, and Knits Men Want by Bruce Weinstein.

There are also a lot of books that teach you how to adjust patterns to fit your body measurements including Knitting Plus by Lisa Shroyer, Custom Crocheted Sweaters by Dora Ohrenstein, and Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel.

With a little knowledge, a little practice, and a little math, you’ll find that you can make just about any pattern work for you.

Have you adjusted patterns to fit your needs? Share your tips in the comments!

Get Ready for the Super Bowl with Team Color Yarns

January 30th, 2012

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Can you believe the Super Bowl is on Sunday? The New York Giants and the New England Patriots are playing in Indianapolis, and there’s still plenty of time to yarncraft in celebration! To help get you started, we’ve pulled yarn color suggestions that best match each team. Since both teams have very similar official colors, we selected colors for the jerseys each team will be wearing that day — away colors for the Giants, and home colors for the Patriots. Use these suggestions to whip up a quick hat, scarf, or can cozy before the big game to show your team spirit!

Yarn New York Giants (White and Blue) New England Patriots (Navy and Silver)
Vanna’s Choice WhiteSapphire
White and Sapphire
NavySilver Heather
Navy and Silver Heather
Hometown USA New York WhiteSan Diego Navy
New York White and San Diego Navy
San Diego NavyDallas Grey
San Diego Navy and Dallas Grey
Wool-Ease White FrostIndigo
White Frost and Indigo
NavyGrey Heather
Navy and Grey Heather
Jiffy WhiteDenim
White and Denim
NavySilver Heather
Navy and Silver Heather
Lion Wool Winter WhiteMidnight Blue
Winter White and Midnight Blue
Midnight BluePearl Gray
Midnight Blue and Pearl Gray

Are you yarncrafting for the Super Bowl? What are you making? Let us know in the comments!

How to Host a Yarn Swap & Stashbusting Party

January 26th, 2012

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YarnA swap party is the perfect way to spend quality time with your yarn-loving friends, and unload a lot of unwanted yarn cluttering up your stash. At a yarn swap, all the swappers bring their unwanted yarn to unload and hope pick up a few new treasures.

If you want to host your own swap party and unload some yarn clutter, here are 5 useful tips on planning your party.

Make sure you’re ready to let go of your yarn when you bring it to the swap.
If you’d be comfortable donating your yarn to charity, then you’re ready for the swap. If you’re not ready, put the yarns in a box and mark it “check in 6 months.” Chances are in 6 months you’ll know if you want to hang on to it. Then you can have another swap!
Make your invitations clear so that your fellow yarn lovers know what to expect.
Will you be swapping only luxury fibers like angora and cashmere, or can you can bring any yarns you like? Telling your guests what will happen will help everyone get prepared for the swap and know which yarns, foods and entertainment they can bring.
Have a clean, large surface to spread the swapping yarn out on.
A dining or coffee table is ideal, but if you have enough yarn to cover the floor (lucky you!) spread a sheet or afghan out to keep the yarn clean and dust free. Make sure to keep food or drinks away from the yarn during the swapping.
Organize the swapping so that everyone gets a turn choosing yarn.
Making everyone comfortable is key to a successful swap. One popular way to coordinate the swapping is to have swappers draw numbers and select yarn from a central pile of  donations. This way everyone has a chance to look at the yarn and no one has to feel rushed. Go in as many rotations as you like till the yarn runs out!
Tell your guests that any unclaimed yarn will be donated to charity.
Tell your guests that unclaimed yarn won’t be wasted, it will go to helping others. There are lots of organizations that would be thrilled to accept yarn donations. For help finding one near you, check out our Charity Connection.

A swap party is a chance to spend time with your fellow yarn lovers, enjoy one another’s company and clean out some yarn clutter taking up space in your stash. You might even take home something exciting that you’ll know exactly what to do with; and it will carry the memory of good friends and fun.

Have you ever been to a yarn swap? How was it organized, and what tips would you share? Tell us in the comments below!

And the 2012 Color of the Year Is…Tangerine Tango!

January 25th, 2012

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Pantone, the “world renowned authority on color” and provider of color systems throughout a variety of industries, has announced the 2012 color of the year; Tangerine Tango. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of Pantone Color Institute stated,“sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it.” Tangerine Tango is supposed to help you feel inspired and energized.  Even though some hues may be brighter than others, it’s friendly enough to include in home decor.  If you’re interested in seeing how Tangerine Tango inspired knitwear will make you feel, browse through the selection of  orange yarn hues below (please note that colors may vary slightly depending on screen monitor settings; if you’re interested in getting color card samples before investing in your yarn purchase, click here).

Wildfire- Tweed Stripes
Tweed Stripes
Wild Fire
Persimmon- Cotton Bamboo
LB Collection Cotton
Terracotta- Cashmere
LB Collection
Paprika- Quick & Cozy
Quick & Cozy
Paprika- Lion Cotton
Lion Cotton

Clementine- Cotton Hemp
Martha Stewart
Cotton Hemp

Syracuse Orange, Tangerine Tango
Hometown USA
Syracuse Orange


Circus Peanut- Sock Ease
Circus Peanut
Apricot- Wool Ease Thick & Quick
Thick & Quick

Jiffy- Paprika
Tangerine- Silky Twist
Silky Twist
Saffron - Homespun
Pumpkin- Wool Ease Thick & Quick
Thick & Quick

Paprika- Wool Ease

Terracotta- Vanna's Choice
Vanna’s Choice

Do you think you’ll be adding a Tangerine Tango inspired piece to your project queue (if you don’t already have one)? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

How to Turn a Rectangle Into a Shrug

January 24th, 2012

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If you’ve mastered scarves, shawls, and other rectangular objects, you may be thinking about what else you can make. Or perhaps you want to make a garment, but you like instant gratification and don’t want to think about sleeve shaping, buttonholes, etc. Luckily for you, we have a lot of basic shrug projects on that are just rectangles seamed up to create “sleeves.” These shrugs come in all shapes and sizes, so be sure to browse through all of our various patterns to find the one that’s right for you.

How does a rectangle of fabric (plain or with a design) become a shrug? With a little help from Lion Brand Yarn Studio manager Michelle and the Golden Honey Shrug pattern, I’ve put together this quick guide to help you understand the construction of the shrug. (Click on the photos to enlarge.)

Sew the Seams 

What all of the patterns highlighted in this blog post have in common is that the “sleeves” of the shrug are made by simply seaming up several inches of the edges of the rectangle, leaving a space in the middle for you to put the shrug on. It’s quick and easy, but if you need a little help with your seaming, be sure to check out our tutorials.

Knitters, click here for tutorials on several seaming techniques. Crocheters, click here for our invisible sewn seam tutorial or click here for the slip stitch seam tutorial.

The Back of the Shrug

This particular shrug is designed to be a cropped length, so it sits just above Michelle’s waist, but we do have lots of patterns for oversized shrugs too. Click here for our fan-favorite Simple Crochet Shrug.

The Front of the Shrug 

Some shrug patterns, like this one, will have a very open front, in which you’ll mostly only see the sleeves when viewing it from the front. Depending on how “tall” the rectangle of the shrug is and how it’s seamed up, you’ll find that some shrugs will have more of a short-sleeved-cardigan-like look. Click here for an example, our Knit Ruffle Shrug.

The taller the rectangle, the more the fabric will show at the front (and the longer the back of the shrug). The wider the rectangle, the longer the “sleeves”.

Shaping through Stitch Patterns 

In this particular shrug, we’ve used 1×1 ribbing on the edges of the rectangle to create cuffs. Even though there’s no increasing or decreasing in this shrug’s overall stitch count, the ribbing creates an illusion of the fabric gathering. We use this in other ways on other shrugs. For instance, with our Knit Speckled Shrug, ribbing is used to create a “collar,” while in our Crochet Sequoia Shrug, the overall back-loop stitches (which create a ribbed look) add a lot of shape on their own, so no additional stitch pattern is needed.

Customizing Your Shrug

A wider shrug will look good on someone who is tall and broader-shouldered like Michelle, but you could adjust the size of your shrug to fit your body by increasing or decreasing the width and/or seaming up more or less of the rectangle to change the length of the “sleeves” versus the “body.” For tips on adjusting rectangle-based patterns, click here for an article on this topic from

Design Your Own Shrug with Stitch Patterns

You’ll notice that with the Golden Honey Shrug that we’ve got a lace pattern in the middle, seed stitch at the top and bottom edges to create the “collar,” and the ribbing to create cuffs. (It’s easiest to see in the photo of the back.) By mixing and matching stitch patterns (check out the Stitch Finder on, you can create your very own shrug pattern that’s designed just for you.

For even more rectangular shrug options, check out:

Introducing Pinterest, a Great Resource for Crafters

January 23rd, 2012

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Yarncrafting inspiration comes from so many different sources: colors, textures, drape, shapes, and more. Now there’s a way to create a virtual moodboard: Pinterest, a fun social network that’s a helpful resource for crafters.

Essentially, Pinterest allows you to curate different boards of images. This is perfect for bookmarking yarncrafting patterns, yarns you wish to purchase in the future, and motivational photographs. What I really love about Pinterest is that you can include a link to the original source, so you’ll always be able to track down your inspiration.

On the Lion Brand Pinterest page, we’ve been pinning both traditional craft patterns and more whimsical photographs, like this amazing sheep manicure:

Pinterest sheep nails

I also have a particular affinity for classic Hollywood, so I’ve combined my love for film and yarncrafting into a board of actresses knitting and crocheting!

You can follow along with us by visiting our Pinterest page and clicking the “Follow All” button directly below our logo. We look forward to seeing what inspires you!

6 DIY Crochet Hook & Knitting Needle Organizers

January 20th, 2012

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Two weeks ago, I wrote about one of my new year’s resolutions being to organize my hooks, needles, and notions–something that most yarncrafters have to tackle at one point or another–and I got a response from Syd who asked if I could share some do-it-yourself ideas, since one of her resolutions was not to spend money when possible.

As knitters and crocheters (and generally crafty people), of course, there are some great ways to do this. I was happy to oblige, and so here are just a few patterns that will help you get your tools in order. (Click on the photos or titles for the patterns on

Knit & Crochet Felted Hook & Needle Books

Designed specifically with knitters & crocheters in mind, these two patterns tell you to create slits in the felted (and therefore, strong and dense) material through which you can slide your hooks or needles. It’s a great way to keep your hooks and needles together, fitting hooks, straight needles, and double-pointed needles too.

Knit Felted Roll-Up Case

Shown here with pencils, this case would be great for crochet hooks or double-pointed needles. I love that it’s made with tweedy Fishermen’s Wool and that it has individual pockets sewn in. For another similar case that has a flap closure, click here.

Loom Woven, Knit & Crochet Eyeglass Cases

Okay, so these are meant for your glasses, but why not use them for your hooks or double-pointed needles? They’re the perfect length! We’ve got patterns for woven, knit, and crochet case patterns, so be sure to click on the photo or title above to see them.

Knit & Crochet Felted Coin Purses

If you’re like me, you have tape measures, darning needles, stitch markers, and other notions to use in your knitting & crocheting projects. Keep track of them by making a little purse in which you can keep them all. Plus the little purse can be easily moved from project back to project bag.

Knit Lace Vase Cozy

For knitters & crocheters who want to have their tools out, whether in a craft room or just for a decorative touch, consider putting them in a lovely vase. We hear from customers all the time, who tell us they display their needles and hooks in this way. While you’re at it, why not dress up your vase with a beautiful lace cozy?

Wrapped Desk Organizers

Along the same lines as the vase, consider recycling glass jars into desktop organizers by decorating them with–what else–yarn. You can use a taller jar for straight needles, a medium one for crochet hooks, and a little one for your T-pins, stitch markers, row counters, etc.

How do you store your needles & hooks? Leave a comment and share your tips!

9 Secrets to Helping a Beginner Knitter or Crocheter

January 19th, 2012

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If you have friends or a family member who is just starting to knit or crochet, you have the chance to be the support they need! Beginners often have a hard time learning to feel good about their skills.

Here are 9 tips to becoming a beginner’s real-live life line:

Give them a way to contact you.  

This sounds like a no-brainer, but many times we forget that people may want to contact us for help. A phone number, email address or regular meeting time can provide the structure they need. Plus, they never have to feel alone if know they can call you.

Listen to them carefully. 

It can be tricky to explain a problem when you’re  just learning the language of crafting; listen to each problem in person, and keep yarn handy to demonstrate solutions.

Take them yarn shopping. 

Experienced crafters love to shop for yarn, but the yarn aisle or online store can be scary for a beginner. If you can remember a time before you could read a yarn label, then you know why! Help them out by being their personal yarn shopper and choosing yarn and tools together.

Translate the language for them. 

Read the pattern out loud to them. Explanations like “The pattern says ‘(dc, ch 2, dc) in same ch.’ That means make a double crochet stitch, then chain 2, and then make another double crochet into the same stitch as the one you just made,” can be the difference between a beautiful scarf and a tangled mess for a beginner.

Frog together. 

Undoing hard work can be a stumbling point for learners; it’s their first try and it’s easy to get attached. Try making a few rows each planning to rip them out together. This teaches that frogging is a normal part of crafting, and it’s surprising how fun and confidence boosting the process can be!

Wind balls together. 

Balling yarn is an easy, low-pressure way to get familiar with the feeling of yarn, and it’s a useful skill for beginners. Ball yarn together and your friend will get familiar with fiber and comfortable with you at the same time.

Host a yarn swap. 

This is a party where no one has to knit or crochet, but you certainly can talk about it, swap tips and clean out your stash all at once! It will also introduce your beginner friend to more yarncrafters and make them part of the community.

Help them choose projects. 

Beginners don’t always know that intarsia or entrelac patterns won’t make for the easiest first project. Help them find the patterns that they will be able to make at their current skill level.

Introduce them to online resources. 

Ravelry, Pinterest and our site at are great ways to get inspired and find help crafting help online. Get your friend set up with accounts and be the first to become their friend them or follow their pin boards!

Have you ever helped someone learn to knit or crochet? What tips would you add to this list?
Leave a comment to share them!

Color Theory Basics for Knitting and Crocheting

January 18th, 2012

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Have you ever wondered how to get the perfect color palette for a multicolor project? The secret is surprisingly simple color theory! When selecting your colors, there are two important things to keep in mind: hue and value. To illustrate these, I’ll be using the same Fair Isle pattern with a variety of color combinations.

Let’s start with hue. This is the basic color that you’ll be selecting. To see how multiple hues work together, it’s important to look at a color wheel. Here’s a very simple version:

Color Wheel

How you select hues from the wheel will depend on the effect that you’re trying to achieve. In general, remember that colors that are closer together will blend together more, and colors that are directly across from each other will provide the most contrast. So if you want a subtle look, select colors that are next to each other on the wheel. These touching colors are called analogous hues, and they can help you create delicate transitions and color gradients. I’ve selected yellow, orange, and red for my subtle colorwork.

Analogous Hues

If you want your colors to really pop, select complementary colors. These are located directly across from each other on the color wheel. Using complementary colors will give your colorwork a lot of contrast. Let’s see how changing the swatch looks when I replace one analogous hue with a complementary one. I’ve replaced the rusty red with a blue-violet shade.

Complementary Hues

Blue-violet is across the color wheel from yellow and orange, so it provides a lot of contrast.

Now, let’s move on to value. Value is lightness or darkness of a color. Imagine you have a colored pencil and a piece of white paper. No matter what, you’ll be using the same color, but the value changes the appearance. If you color super softly, you’ll end up with a very pale value; if you press very hard, you’ll have a very dark value. To create contrast, select yarns that have different values.

Value with High Contrast

Here, I’ve selected yarns with the same color but varying values, from the almost white to the rich chocolate. The difference in brightness creates a nice contrast, allowing my Fair Isle pattern to stand out.

Value with Low Contrast

In this swatch, I’ve used yarns with different colors but similar values. As you can see, this creates very little contrast. The same thing will happen if you pair multiple dark shades together; closer values will have less contrast than varied values.

So all you have to remember is that yarns with analogous hue and similar value will create subtle combinations, while yarns with complementary hues and varied value will create contrast. Have fun and experiment! And remember, crocheting or knitting a quick gauge swatch is the best way to see how colors will behave together!

6 Yarncrafting Projects For Your Home

January 17th, 2012

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Since I’m still a beginner knitter,  I like to stick to basic stitches. While working with garter and stockinette stitch, I’ve made ear warmers, scarves, hats and wristers (all using a basic rectangle shape).  Now, I want to venture into knitting items for my home.  I just recently knit baby booties from this pattern, and decided to knit myself some “house booties” from the same pattern, just larger- I can’t wait to finish them!  Below are some pattern inspirations to help get you thinking about your next possible project.

Lily Dish Mat Striped Dish Mats

Dish mat patterns are great because they’re multipurpose.  A dish mat can become a wash cloth, pot holder or hot pad with the right fiber, which is usually cotton.  These Striped Dish Mats were crocheted in vibrant colors from Lion Cotton.

Felted Slip ons Felted Slip OnsHow cute is this set? Your feet are sure to be nice and toasty with these slip ons knit in Fishermen’s Wool and Wool Ease.  I also suggest checking out our popular Felted Mary Jane Scuffs, they’re adorable, functional and stylish (just don’t wear them in the street!).
Chevron Felted Pillow Chevron Felted PillowThe best thing about pillow making is that you’re working with a square shape.  You can choose a very textured yarn and work with a  basic stitch, or you can incorporate lace and cables for a more intricate look.  This pillow was felted using Fishermen’s Wool and the sparkle Chevron pattern was created with Vanna’s Glamour.

Here are a few more pillow options:
Crochet Stadium Pillow, Knit Felted Little Loops Pillow, Loom Woven Blueberry Pillow

Crochet Shapes Table Runner Crochet Shapes Table RunnerOnce you crochet this, you just might have the urge to cook up a nice dinner and invite your friends over so they can awe at your work.  Crocheted in 6 different motifs with Lion Cotton and Cotton-Ease, this is an art piece you’ll definitely be proud of.
Spa Scrubby and Soap Pocket Spa Scrubby and Soap PocketTreat yourself to a handmade home spa experience.  Light some candles, relax and get sudsy with your favorite soap, and a scrub mitt knit in Lion Cotton.  The scrubby and soap holder only require one skein, which makes for a great affordable spa day in your bathroom.  Lion Cotton also comes in self striping colors; Denim Swirl would be my go-to color for this pattern (reminds me of the ocean).

Click here for our favorite crochet bath mitt pattern.

Back Scrubber Back Scrubber

The back can be a tricky area to clean, so make sure you don’t miss a spot with this soft and porous scrubber in Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton.  Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton features a muted palette of pastels and earth tones, suitable for all (or most) bathrooms.  Pair this back scrubber with scrub mitts and a soap holder, and you’ll have the perfect gift for the spa lover in your life.

For more home decor pattern inspiration, check out this previous post which includes links to projects with bright multi colored stripes.  What yarncraft items have you made for your home so far?  Have you given any as housewarming gifts before? Share your stories with us!