Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for February, 2012

Welcome March In Like a Lion with Lion Amigurumi!

February 29th, 2012

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February’s almost over, so let’s welcome March as it comes “in like a lion” with these lion amigurumi friends!

Click on the lions below to see the free patterns to knit, crochet or craft them yourself (you may be asked to log into

And stay tuned, because we’re hoping that this month will “go out like a lamb.”

Wrapped Lion Knitted Lion Crocheted Lion
Wrapped Lion Knitted Lion Crocheted Lion

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How to Use the Yarn Pages on

February 28th, 2012

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A few weeks ago, I shared a Customer Tip of the Week in our Weekly Stitch newsletter from Elaine B., who said:

“I only just realized that at the bottom of each yarn’s detail page on, there is a section called “Patterns for this Yarn.” This is VERY helpful to someone like me who will buy a bunch of yarn when it is on sale, and then wonder what to make.”

This got me thinking that it might be useful to highlight what else you can find on a yarn’s individual page (which you can find by clicking on “Our Yarns” at the top of and then click on a particular yarn).

What’s on Each Yarn Page

For each of Lion Brand’s yarn lines, the top of each of these product pages has a description of the yarn, along with all of the important details (the size of the ball, what it’s made of, its weight category (thickness), recommended hook & needle size, and its care instructions).


Yarn Dyeing: Selecting the Right Dye for Your Fiber

February 27th, 2012

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Select the right dye for your fiberDyeing your own yarn is the perfect way to customize your yarncrafting project, but not all dyes will work on every fiber. Before you begin, it’s critical to make sure you use the correct dye to ensure that your color comes out great. Consider this your cheat sheet for which common dyes will work with which fibers.

“Pantry” dyes: This isn’t an official term, but it’s how I cluster together food-safe acid dyes like sugar-free Kool-Aid, food color, sugar-free Jell-O, and Wilton icing dyes. These dyes are easy to use, so they’re great for blossoming dyers (click here for our Kool-Aid dyeing tutorail). These dyes work on animal fibers (wool, mohair, angora, alpaca, etc.) and blends with high animal fiber content.


5 Simple Ways to Relieve & Prevent Hand Pain

February 24th, 2012

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When your work with your hands as much as knitters and crocheters do it’s important to remember not to strain or overwork your body. 

Knitting and crochet should be hobbies that help you relax and relieve stress. There are several ways to reduce stress on your hands and body, and these simple tips will help you avoid injury and treat existing symptoms.*

5 Simple Ways
Seated Pay attention to how you are sitting. 

Sit down as though you were about to begin crafting. Is your back supported? Is there enough light to see well, and enough room to move your elbows and arms freely as you work? You may be straining your hands to try and compensate for one of these other issues. Examine the places you craft for simple fixes you can make to add light, support and space.

Remember to take breaks while you craft. 

While it can be tempting to power through a few more rows when you are tired, listen to your body and put your project on pause. Breaks should vary the motion of what you are doing; try doing small, rewarding activities during your break like taking a short walk, watering houseplants or playing with a family pet.

Massage and stretch your hands. 

This is a wonderful (and relaxing) way to rejuvenate your fingers, wrists and palms. Try different methods and go easy on yourself; only rub or stretch your hands to a point that feels comfortable. There are some great hand stretch suggestions on (click here).

Ergonomic Crochet Hook Set Choose ergonomic tools

If you’ve only ever tried straight knitting needles or metal crochet hooks, it might be time to try something new. Many knitters prefer using circular needles when possible because of the bounce-back of the cord that connects them, and crocheters are raving about this ergonomic crochet hook set that fits in the palm of your hand.

Stress Relief Gloves Wear stress relief gloves. 

Wearing these stress relief gloves allows the muscles of your hand to relax while you work. These gloves have been specially designed with crafters in mind, so they are completely fingerless and stand up to long-term use.

There are many ways to improve your crafting life and alleviate stress on your body while you work. How have you made your crafting more comfortable? Share your tips to help others in the comments section below.

*If you are experiencing recurring or intense pain, please follow the recommendations of your physician for treatment.

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Welcome to the Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along! Let’s Get Started!

February 23rd, 2012

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Each season we host a knit- or crochet-along, a virtual event in which yarncrafters come together here online to work on one pattern together, share their experiences, and to learn together. There’s no need to sign up; simply follow along with the blog posts at your own pace as you knit your sweater.

Hi, my name is Lauren, I work at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, the Lion Brand flagship store and education center, in New York City. In addition to working on the sales floor, I teach knitting classes, and for the next several weeks, I’m going to be your knit-along host!

For this knit-along, the project we’ll be working on together is the Simple Raglan Cardi. However, we won’t just be making the pattern as-is, as we’ve done for previous knit-alongs. Instead, I’m going to be giving you ideas on how you can use the basic pattern as a starting point for your own design! We’re going to customize this project just for you! This is particularly exciting for me, as I don’t think I’ve ever knit a sweater without making at least a couple of changes to the written pattern.

Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along BadgeThe first thing we’ll need to do is choose a size. You’ll notice that underneath where the pattern says “Size”, it says “Finished Chest.” This is the actual measurement of the garment, which is a much more accurate way to pick a size than just choosing based on the small, medium, large tags. After all, when shopping at clothing stores, I’m sure we’ve all been one size in one store and a completely different size in the next! If you’re not sure of your measurements, get a flexible tape measure and measure around the fullest part of the bust. You should also measure yourself wearing whatever you plan to where under your cardi as this can also affect the size that you will make.


6 Must-Know Facts About Working with Cotton

February 22nd, 2012

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If you’re thinking about starting projects for spring, then you’re probably leaning towards using a cotton yarn.  Cotton is an extremely popular knit and crochet yarn for spring and summer because of its durability, easy care, and breathability.  Cotton is a versatile yarn that can be used for a range of projects; but there are different types of cotton yarns, so it’s best to know which one suits your project needs best.

Many people love all natural fibers, but did you know that there are some really good benefits to working with cotton/synthetic blends as well?

Cotton Plant from dnfisher Flickr(image courtesy of dnfisher)


Did You Know…Some of Our Most Popular Yarns Are Made in the USA

February 20th, 2012

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Beautiful fibers come from all over the world, so we at Lion Brand travel the world to bring you fibers that you’ll love. We bring you Superwash Merino Cashmere and LB Collection® Cashmere from Italy, whose mills are known for luxurious yarns and fabrics. We bring you LB Collection® Baby Alpaca from Peru, where they’ve been raising them for thousands of years, and also LB Collection® Wool Stainless Steel from Japan, where the yarn culture is always cutting edge.

But did you know that some of our most popular yarns like Homespun and Hometown USA are made in the USA? In fact, the mill that makes Homespun and Holiday Homespun is a wonderful, historic facility in New Hampshire that was built in 1864 and running on hydroelectric power since 1915. I’ve visited the mill a few times myself, and you can read about one of my visits by clicking here.

Made in the USA

Our current yarns made in the USA include (updated 6/1/2013):

There are so many wonderful fibers from so many incredible yarn cultures, but for those of you who are looking for USA-made products, we hope that you’ll consider these yarn lines.

The pattern shown above is the knit Lion Country Afghan; click here to see the pattern on

How to Read a Yarn Label

February 17th, 2012

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Just like the tags on your clothing, yarn labels contain value information. From fiber content to laundering information, the label includes so many details to consider. There’s a wealth of content on each tiny label, so here’s a little cheat sheet for how to read the label. Keep in mind that not all yarn labels will look the same, so this information won’t necessarily be in the same place or even on every label.

How to Read a Yarn Label
1. Yarn name and fiber content. This is pretty self-explanatory. It’s important to note the fiber content so that you can select your favorite fibers (or avoid ones to which you are sensitive).
2. How much yarn. This includes length and weight in both US and metric measurements.
3. Gauge information. This shows the average suggested hook and needles size, as well as about how many stitches are in a 4×4″ swatch.
4. Yarn weight category. The number given here is on a scale of 0 (thinnest) to 6 (thickest) according to the Craft Yarn Council yarn standards. This gives you a rough idea of the yarn’s thickness; for more detailed information, see the gauge information (box 3).
5. Country of origin.
6. Care information. This section details washing, drying, ironing, and drycleaning directions. For more details on what each symbol means, click here to view our yarn care page.
7. Yarn color and dye lot. Not only does this area include the yarn color’s name and number, but it also includes the dye lot. If you’re buying more than one skein of the same yarn, make sure that your dye lot numbers all match. Sometimes the same yarn color will vary slightly between dye lots, so you should always check this number.
8. Company information.

Now that you know all of the information on the label, remember to save it with any of your leftover yarn. You may even want to give a copy of it with any handmade gifts so that the recipient knows how to care for his or her present!

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7 Tips for Teaching Kids How to Knit or Crochet

February 16th, 2012

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7 TipsTeaching children to knit or crochet can be daunting, but these 7 tips are designed make it easy and fun for everyone involved.

Remember the first project you ever made? Teaching a child to knit or crochet is your chance to help them have that special feeling of accomplishment. When children learn to love fiber arts as children, they are much more likely to keep knitting and crocheting for the rest of their lives.


Where to Find Resources for Loom Knitting and Weaving

February 15th, 2012

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Loom knitting and weaving has been increasing in popularity lately; although many people turn to needles and hooks for yarncrafting, there are some who prefer loom boards with pegs and a hook as their yarncraft tool of choice. Loom knitting is a great alternative to traditional knitting for those who may have arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome; it’s also a good way to introduce beginners to the world of yarncraft.  We’ve been receiving a lot more interest in regards to loom weaving and knitting with the recent introduction of our Martha Stewart Crafts™ Lion Brand Yarn Knit and Weave Loom Kit.

Although loom knitting and weaving is a very niche community, there are a lot of different resources available on how to get the best out of your tools.  Below, I’ve shared a few helpful resources to get you started on your loom crafting.

Video Tutorials:
Lion Brand Yarn: Loom Knitting and Weaving
This playlist includes 24 videos with tutorials on knitting and weaving on the Martha Stewart Crafts™ Lion Brand Yarn Knit and Weave Loom kit; you can also see the many different configurations that can be created with the loom.

Noreen Crone-Findlay: Loom Knitting and Weaving
Noreen Crone-Findlay is an expert weaver and loom-knitter who has provided a plethora of different weaving techniques and loom configurations on her YouTube Channel that go beyond the conventional ways of thinking about loom weaving.  She’s weaved potholders, bags, hearts, and even gnomes!

GoodKnitKissesLoom Knitting
Kristen, the popular vlogger of GoodKnitKisses, offers a great selection of videos featuring different techniques and patterns that can be utilized on the loom.

Loom Knit Lab: Loom Knitting
Another great site for pattern inspiration from Isela Phelps with tutorials that can show you how to cable knit on a loom in addition to the many other techniques; you can also learn how to pick up a dropped stitch!

Helpful websites:
Loom Knitting Help: This is an excellent site to get you started on your loom knitting ventures.  This website is very insightful, provides tips, explains different tools and even shows you how to convert traditional knitting patterns to loom patterns.

Loom Knitters Circle: Isela Phelps, Bethany Dailey and Denise Layman have teamed up to provide a webzine which features plenty of loom patterns, videos, product reviews and cute comics related to loom knitting.

Loom Knitting Groups on Ravelry: Don’t forget about one of the biggest online communities for yarncrafters, Ravelry.  There are a decent amount of groups on this site dedicated to loom knitting and loom weaving.

Have you previously tried loom knitting or weaving before?  Do you think you may want to give it a try soon? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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