Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for December, 2012

How to Incorporate a Stitch Pattern into a Project

December 27th, 2012

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Image of Autumn Lace AfghanIf you’ve ever picked up a stitch dictionary or explored our wonderful StitchFinder, you may find yourself in love with a stitch pattern and wondering just what to do with it. Incorporating a stitch pattern into a project can be a fun experiment. Today, I go over a few of the considerations to keep in mind as you get started.

Tips for Flat Projects: Design Your Own Afghans & Scarves

When you’re making an afghan or scarf, start by swatching your stitch pattern in your desired yarn. This will allow you to test and adjust your hook or needle size so that your fabric is as dense or loose as you like. By swatching the stitch pattern, you’ll also know how wide each repeat of the pattern is. Let’s say my swatch shows me that each repeat of my selected stitch pattern is 4 inches wide, then I know that for an 12-inch wide scarf that’s completely in my stitch pattern without a border, I’ll need to cast on for 3 repeats (12 ÷ 4 = 3).

The other thing to decide is whether or not I want a contrasting border (ribbing, garter, seed stitch, etc.). For some stitch patterns, which naturally bow or ripple, a contrast stitch border will not be necessary, since you’ll want to showcase the uniqueness of the fabric’s edge. But for others like lace and cable patterns, you may want a border to give the design a sense of definition and neatness. To factor this into the design, you’ll want to make sure to add in the extra stitches to cast on or chain before getting started.


Different Yarn, New Look!

December 21st, 2012

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Casey baby bootiesHave you ever substituted in a different yarn than the one called for by the pattern? I’m a bit of an obsessive substituter, so when I saw the gorgeous Rainbow Spots shade of Casey, I just had to knit some baby booties for my cousin’s new baby girl! The only question was which pattern to make. Ever since it was posted, I’ve loved the Ruby Slippers, so I knit a quick gauge swatch, got the right needle, and away I went! The only adjustment I made was leaving off the button band since these booties are for a very tiny baby. Overall, I’m thrilled with how they came out, and I hope little baby Ally is, too!

Isn’t it amazing how a different yarn can make the pattern look totally different?

Related links:

Get Festive: Wrap Gifts & Decorate with Yarn

December 19th, 2012

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It’s only a few more days until Christmas, but you can still incorporate yarn into your holiday celebration:

  • Wrap your gifts with yarn. Use one of the easy methods in the video below to create 4 stylish gift-wrapping treatments.

  • Knit or crochet an ornament. We have dozens of adorable ornament patterns on to choose from–all fast to make!
  • Festoon your mantle with yarn.This blog post has great ideas, not only for dressing the mantle, but also for additional craft projects.
  • Add a knit or crochet stocking! Handmade stockings are treasured for years to come. See our patterns for stockings for every skill level.

Finally, for those of you who are still looking for last-minute gift ideas, here are a few helpful blog posts:

*If you’re viewing this blog post in your email and can’t access the video above, please click on the title of the blog post to view the full article online.

Make a Statement Scarf That’s Fun and Fast-to-Finish: Introducing Bellini, a New Super Bulky Yarn

December 18th, 2012

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New from Lion Brand, is Bellini – a uniquely textured wool-blend yarn, perfect for adding extra flair and fringes to your accessories.  Bellini yarn can be used by itself to make bold statement pieces, or it can be used with a traditional yarn such as Wool-Ease, for adding trims to winter accessories. The great thing about Bellini is that it’s also ideal for quick projects, so it will make a wonderful fast finish gift for that friend who enjoys all the latest fashion trends.

One skein of Bellini makes a scarf or a cowl (see the patterns below!); you can even have some fun with it and use small sections of the yarn to create pom-poms.  While we were experimenting with the yarn in the office, we realized you can even make a cowl with Bellini without knitting or crocheting the yarn.  Just slide off the ball band, untwist the hank, and wrap the big loop twice around your neck!

Free Knitting Pattern: Cozy Loops Scarf
Knit Cozy Loops Scarf
Free Crochet Pattern: One Row Crochet Scarf
Crochet One Row Short Scarf
Free Knitting Pattern: Foxy Scarf
Knit Foxy Scarf

Watch the videos below to learn the easy techniques on how to knit and crochet with this yarn:

Click here for the crochet version.

What type project would you like to make with Belini? Share with us in the comments!

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5 Irresistible Holiday Knit & Crochet Projects from Craft Bloggers

December 14th, 2012

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Elfin Baby BootiesI love seeing all of the fun and unique ways people craft to celebrate the holidays, or elements of winter.  It’s always refreshing to see what other people are inspired to create with yarn. For instance, these tiny Elfin baby booties pictured on the left from DIY Maven are perfect for a baby’s first Christmas, and the little bells at the folds add the perfect finishing touch.

I also love how Sarah from Repeat Crafter Me went with the idea of using a basic crochet hat construction, then added felted pieces to turn her hat into an adorable reindeer.  Check out the projects below to see all of the cuteness for yourself!


Repeat Crafter Me Crochet Reindeer Hat
Crochet Rudolph the Reindeer Hat Pattern

Repeat Crafter Me
Planet June Crochet pinecone
Crochet Pine Cone Collection (Paid Pattern)

Planet June
Just Crafty Enough Knit Star Ornaments
5 and 6 point Knit Star Ornaments
Just Crafty Enough
 Holly Gift Topper
Holly Gift Topper
One Sheepish Girl

What do you like to knit or crochet for the holidays? Share your project ideas with us below!

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Slip Stitch Knitting: Easy, No-Fuss Colorwork!

December 12th, 2012

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I have been a big fan of slip stitch colorwork for a long-time. It allows you to create wonderful, geometric designs that look so much more complex than they really are! In fact, awhile back, I demonstrated our Fallen Leaves Scarf and its lovely slip stitch pattern on Knitting Daily TV (video at the right; if you’re viewing this blog post in your email, click on the title to see the full article online).

Easy Colorwork Using Only One Color at a Time

What I love about slip stitch colorwork is that you only work one color in each row (no changing colors, no stranding) and that even a novice knitter can take it on. All you need to understand is:

  • How to slip a stitch: without working the stitch, simply slide it purlwise–as if you were putting the needle in to purl–onto your working needle (unless otherwise noted).
  • Which sides are the front and back of your fabric: the front is the side closest to you, the knitter, as you work; you’ll hold your working yarn in front or in back of the fabric as directed in your slip stitch pattern.
For more tips, click here to read an introductory article from our archives.

Want to try slip stitch knitting for yourself? Here are some of my favorite patterns from

On Trend: Chunky Stitches

December 11th, 2012

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Everywhere I turn in New York City, I see beautiful knit and crochet accessories with super thick stitches. Stores like Anthropologie, Gap, and H&M are highlighting the chunky stitch trend. By combining super bulky (category 6) yarns with thick needles and hooks, you can work up these fun accessories in a flash. Best of all, they’re fast enough that they make easy holiday gifts! Here are some great patterns for trendy accessories.


Knit Ribbed Cowl Openwork Crocheted Cowl
Knit Ribbed Cowl in Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Openwork Crocheted Cowl in Wool-Ease Thick & Quick


Easy Rib Knit Hat Crochet Unisex Slouchy Hat
Easy Rib Knit Hat in Hometown USA Crochet Unisex Slouchy Hat in Hometown USA


Knit Snow Day Mitts Crochet Touchdown Wristers
Knit Snow Day Mitts in Da Vinci Crochet Touchdown Wristers in Wool-Ease Thick & Quick

Want even more chunky stitch ideas? Be sure to check out this post by our friend Jen that highlights her favorite chunky stitch patterns.

Experimenting with Yarn Weights: Turn a Washcloth into a Bathmat!

December 7th, 2012

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Ever wonder what a project would look like with a different weight yarn than what the pattern calls for? Home decor items are great for experimentation since you don’t have to worry about fit.

Jen, one of our staffers at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, adapted our Cream Circle Washcloth pattern to create a bathmat. The original pattern used Cotton-Ease® (a worsted weight yarn) and a size H crochet hook to produce a washcloth that measured 5″ in diameter. But after seeing our new Zpagetti (a super bulky weight yarn) hit the shelves, she had to try it.  Simply by using this yarn in conjunction with a larger hook (size Q) She was able to create an adorable bathmat.

Jen followed the pattern almost exactly (only substituting single crochets for slip stitches in the final row) and used two cones of Zpagetti yarn. Once you become comfortable with substituting yarns of different weights you might want to try it on garments as well. I suggest you start by reading our 5 Articles to Help You Make a Sweater That Fits & Flatters article.


Make Great, Quick Holiday Gifts: 12 Knit & Crochet Patterns Requiring Only 1 or 2 Balls

December 5th, 2012

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There’s still plenty of time left to knock out handmade projects for those on your holiday gift list.  There’s even time to knit or crochet some of these items for upcoming Hannukah gifts.  So, to help you make some crafting decisions, I have included a round up of some of our fast finish patterns suitable for men and women.  Since these projects require either one or two balls, they’re extremely portable – allowing you to knit or crochet on the go!

1 ball hat

Crochet Family of Beanies
Home Team Hat
Crochet Home Team Hat
Knit Solstice Hat
Knit Solstice Hat


Holiday Creeps

December 5th, 2012

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I’ve noticed that in December knit and crochet types divide naturally into two camps:

  1. Those who have finished their gift-making.
  2. Those who have not.

If you’re in Camp One, congratulations. You might want to keep quiet.

If you’re in Camp Two, what are you doing reading this? Have you looked at the calendar?

The calendar is looking at me, because I’m in Camp Two. I am always in Camp Two. I have standing reservation for a Lakeside Cabin with En Suite Bath in Camp Two.

It’s my own fault. Each year, in early summer, I lay out a plan. I decide who is going to get knitted gifts, and what they’re going to get. My plan looks something like this:

Mom: Scarf 
Dad: Hat
Tom: Hat

Notice that this is a short list of small projects. I do not propose to knit lace shawls for the mail carrier, the mechanic, and all the bartenders who have flirted with me during the previous fiscal year. Two hats and a scarf, to be completed by Thanksgiving. A novice could pull that off and still have time for matching mittens.