Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for February, 2013

3 Videos: See Bellini Yarn in Action

February 28th, 2013

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Last month, I did a demo of our new Bellini yarn at Vogue Knitting Live, showing how to knit and crochet this yarn to create a rich texture, perfect for great scarves, as well as cool purses.

If you’re curious to see this yarn in action, we’ve made a few videos, so you can learn from the comfort of your own home:


Luck ‘o the Irish Crafters! Four St. Pat’s Projects

February 28th, 2013

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It’s almost March, which means St. Patrick’s Day is upon us! Whether you want to celebrate the holiday with fun shamrock designs, or you’d rather channel the more traditional spirit of the Irish with Celtic knots and Irish crochet, I’ve rounded up a few patterns to get you in the spirit. So break out some green yarn and get a head start on some small projects for the festive holiday!


 shamrock pin You don’t need any knitting or crochet experience to craft this fun and festive Shamrock Pin, made with Vanna’s Choice yarn in Kelly Green and Fern. Just one skein will outfit a whole group of little leprechauns!

A New Arrival for a New Arrival

February 27th, 2013

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I’ve gotten to those years in my life–my mid-twenties–when it seems like everybody I know is about to get married or have a baby! I’ve been busy crocheting baby blankets for every new arrival among my friends and family for at least the last year and a half, trying out a variety of patterns, color schemes and yarn choices. Pound of Love is often my go-to, because I know just one skein will make me a beautiful, soft and delicate blanket. Sometimes, I end up buying an odd skein here and there, to finish a project or just because I like the color. That’s how this blanket came about.

When I heard about the arrival of baby Adriana, I saw I had skeins I had picked out while planning my creations for baby Mitchell, born just a few weeks ago, baby Kiera, born in 2012, and Mackenzie, who would definitely be mad if I called her a baby, since she’s already about to turn six! I pulled together this palette of Babysoft in pastel pink and pink lemonade and Pound of Love in pastel green to create this blanket that looks to me like a field full of strawberries. The pattern I used, our Ocean Waves Baby Afghan pattern, originally called for Cotton-Ease, but given that gauge isn’t as crucial for a blanket as it is for a garment, it was an easy substitution for my stash yarn. I wanted to add some frills to the border and make the bright pink pop, so I improvised a simple, lacy V-stitch border for a few rows until I was satisfied.

Do you have one type of project that you make over and over again? For yourself, gifts, or the local craft show? Share your favorite projects to make over and over again in the comments!


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Patterns and Inspiration for Loom Weaving and Knitting: Afghans, Toys, Scarves and More!

February 26th, 2013

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Have you recently gotten the Martha Stewart Crafts Knit & Weave Loom Kit as a gift? Or, have you gotten one to familiarize yourself with yarn crafting?  Whether you’re a newbie to loom knitting & weaving, or familiar with the craft and need some new inspiration, look no further because I’ve got some patterns to get you started on more projects!

Take a look at the patterns in the different categories below; and note that most of the images have links to more patterns within that category as well.

(Click on the images for pattern)

Loom Woven and Knit Afghans

Loom Woven Homespun Thick & Quick Afghan
Loom Woven Afghan
Homespun Thick & Quick

Click here for more loom woven afghans

Loom Knit Diagonal Baby Throw
Loom Knit Diagonal Afghan
Martha Stewart Crafts Extra Soft Wool Blend

Click here for more loom knit afghans


The Therapy of Crochet and Knitting

February 25th, 2013

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Has crafting ever brought you out of a tough time? Often, the meditative and creative aspects of yarn crafts can be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to coping with grief, depression, or that funk you just haven’t been able to emerge from. Though knitting and crochet are often looked at as lighthearted, serene crafts, the emergence of many crafting social groups over the last several years speaks to the release of both the craft and the social component that frequently comes along with it. A new book highlights the healing that can come from crochet.

Crochet Saved My Life chronicles the journey of a college freshman coping with the usual suspects–new school, new state, new friends–as well as the far less familiar, including the surprise diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumor. Author Kathryn Vercillo describes how she found release from her anxiety and stress in the therapeutic nature of each repetitive stitch.

More than telling her own story, which includes the profound motion of dropping a knife from her wrist and picking up yarn instead, Vercillo also shares the stories of other men and women who have found solace in crochet and knitting, as well as the effects these crafts have on those with various mental and physical conditions, including anxiety, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis.

To learn more about the book, click here.

So many of us have found comfort in the stitches of knitting and crochet. Have these yarn crafts gotten you through difficult times in your life? Share your experiences below. 

Knitted Boots with Bellini!

February 22nd, 2013

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I was immediately attracted to the Bellini yarn when we were given a few skeins to play with in the office. The bold texture appealed to me since I love making a statement with my style. I imagined knitting with the cushy fringe between my fingers and knew I had to work with it. As I was pondering what I would make with it, it occurred to me that the Turin colorway looked a lot like fur. What kind of accessory could I make that would be different and would lend itself to the the fur-like texture? Then it hit me – I should make boots!

Crafter Stories: A New Feature on the Blog

February 21st, 2013

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Michelle with her bagA few weeks ago, I was riding the subway on my way home, and I was working on my office, post-holiday gift-exchange project (pictured right with its recipient, Michelle). Hunched over my project, I crocheted the fabric lining into its cable knit shell. As I reached the end of my round, I reached into my bag, and lo—

No toolbox to be found. Which meant no scissors.

Just then, I looked up and I began to notice my fellow passengers. (Often, when I’m crocheting or knitting on the subway, I don’t look up much at all.) Across the subway car from me, was a fellow yarncrafter, knitting a yellow creation on DPNs. My heart fluttered with joy.

“Excuse me,” I hesitated. She didn’t look up at first.

“I’m sorry to interrupt—do you have a pair of scissors? I can’t find mine.”

She looked up, a little surprised. Then she smiled, “I don’t have scissors, but I do have this.” She reached into her bag and passed me a yarn cutter pendant.

“Perfection.” I cut my yarn and wove in the end. My gift project was finished.

Share Your Story With Us

Do you have an interesting story of an encounter while knitting or crocheting in public? Ever run into someone making the same project or surprise a non-yarncrafter with your zeal? We’re looking for funny, heartwarming, or just surprising stories to share here on the blog! Fill in the survey below or click here to access it.

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The Wonderful Creations of Wool Stainless Steel

February 20th, 2013

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Lion Brand has a huge variety of yarns spanning the spectrum of colors, fibers and textures, but the one that is the most intriguing to me is our LB Collection Wool Stainless Steel. It’s about what you might expect it to be from its name: 75% wool, 25% stainless steel. In a yarn! Crazy, right? It’s lace-weight, so you can make really intricate openwork, but the tiny steel thread gives it dimensional body and weight you wouldn’t find in a different fiber makeup. It’s an obvious choice for crocheted jewelry or knitted lace shawls, but the options are truly endless, especially when used double-stranded or in conjunction with other yarns. Take a look at some of the inspiration I’ve found on Ravelry!


Great Beginnings: Start Your Knitting Project Off Right, Pt. 2

February 19th, 2013

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Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay returns to share her expertise on starting your knitting project on the right foot. Click here for the first half of this series or click here to check out Kj’s earlier blog posts on crochet.

Alternate Long-Tail Cast On (from “purl” side)

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Work same as long-tail cast on method demonstrated earlier until needle and yarn are in the “sling shot” position. In the “sling shot” position, the yarn has been attached to the needle with a slip knot and the two strands have been wrapped around your index finger and thumb. The tail should travel from the slip knot, between your thumb and index finger, around the back of your thumb and down into your palm. Similarly, the working yarn should travel from the slip knot, between your index finger and thumb, around the back of your index finger and down into your palm.

  1. Bring tip of needle down behind strand on side of index finger closest to you, then from top to bottom behind strand of yarn on side of thumb closest to you. Guide tip of needle upwards and slightly backwards and then from top to bottom over strand on side of index finger closest to you. Draw strand from index finger forward, then down slightly and backwards through the loop on thumb, taking care not to pick up any additional strands as you draw it through the loop.
  2. Drop loop from thumb, reinsert thumb between working strand and tail, and spread index finger and thumb apart to separate strands and tighten new stitch. Do not tighten stitch too much, as this could result in an inelastic edge.

Repeat this process until desired number of stitches have been cast on.

And this is just the beginning. There are many, many different cast on methods and many variations on the cast on methods you already know. You may enjoy listening to YarnCraft episode 129, for more information and inspiration. Click here for the episode guide to this podcast (an online radio show); use the player below to listen right now. 

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Great Beginnings: Start Your Knitting Project Off Right, Pt. 1

February 18th, 2013

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Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay returns to share her expertise on starting your knitting project on the right foot. Join us tomorrow for the second half of this series or click here to check out Kj’s earlier blog posts on crochet.

“Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” — “Do-Re-Mi” from the Sound of Music.

When you read you begin with A-B-C. When you knit you begin with casting on. Thankfully to begin knitting, there is no need to learn every one of the huge number of cast on methods. It is wise to begin by learning one general cast on method, and forge ahead with your first few projects. After you have completed some projects about which you are deservedly proud, you may be in the mood to learn some new cast on methods.

Videos, illustrations and written instructions for a few of the most commonly used cast on methods are available in the Lion Brand Learning Center.

  1. Knitted Cast On
  2. Backwards Loop Cast On
  3. Long-Tail Cast (see below)

Long-Tail Cast On

The last of these methods, long-tail cast on, is possibly the favorite method for beginners and experienced knitters alike. This method uses two strands of yarn; a long tail and the strand of working yarn connected to the ball. New stitches are made by drawing loops of the working yarn through loops from the long tail. In this way a foundation of loops and a row of stitches are formed at the same time. There are actual a number of different ways to work a long-tail cast on. The approaches differ in manner in which the strands, and needle(s) are manipulated and can produce slightly different results. The most common approach is demonstrated in this Lion Brand video:

A long-tail cast on requires more motions than many other methods, but with a little practice it can be performed very quickly and provides a good beginning edge for almost all knitted projects.