Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for April, 2013


From Our Newsletter Archives: Quick Project Recommendations from Our Design Department

April 30th, 2013

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Looking for a fast, last minute gift for an anniversary, birthday, or baby shower? The secret is basic stitches and multiple strands of yarn, says Jackie Smyth, Lion Brand’s technical editor. I asked Jackie to recommend two quick and simple patterns for beautiful afghans on the fly and all about why she likes them.

Fast Finish Throw Speed Hook Baby Blanket
Fast Finish Throw
Speed Hook Crochet Baby Afghan

You’ve chosen two simple, speedy patterns for our readers. What’s your first recommendation?
I love the Fast Finish Throw because it’s just about as simple as they come. The beautiful colors in this afghan are soothing and it has a wonderful texture.

This project is easy and fast for two reasons: First, it’s made using only stockinette stitch. And second, it’s worked on Speed Stix, our exclusive size 50 knitting needles. When you work with Speed Stix the resulting fabric is quite forgiving so exact gauge is not a worry, making it simpler for knitters of all levels. When you knit with Speed Stix, it creates stitches that are an inch tall, which means that you see results quickly.

What about the gorgeous colors in this afghan? How did you get that blended effect?
The Fast Finish Throw is made with several different colors of Jiffy yarn held together, so it has the beautiful look of tweed. It’s a gorgeous look without a lot of effort, something that everyone from beginners to designers can appreciate.

That definitely sounds like a great, simple project. What’s the second pattern you’d like to recommend to our readers?
My second recommendation is our Speed Hook Baby Blanket. You only need to know how to do a single crochet stitch to make this one! This blanket is made with our size S-35 Speed Hook, which is an extra large crochet hook. Again, your gauge doesn’t have to be exact with the Speed Hook. Like the first afghan, this adorable baby blanket also uses multiple strands of yarn—this time three strands of Cotton-Ease—which not only makes it extremely fast to crochet, but adds dimension to the color. You can make it in the recommended colors, our alternative color combination, or in colors of your own choosing. I think that this one is absolutely perfect to make for a last minute gift.

So what are the main things that our readers should remember about these projects?
Again, the key to the ease and beauty of both of these projects is simplicity. You can use basic stitches and super-sized needles and hooks, along with multiple strands of yarn worked together, to make these simple and satisfying blankets.

A version of this article first ran in The Weekly Stitch newsletter in July 2007. Click here to sign up for the newsletter and get articles, free patterns, and exclusive offers in your inbox each week. 


Ramon the Lion Gets a New Scarf

April 29th, 2013

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Ramon | Lion Brand NotebookThis is a guest blog post by Carolyn, our customer support supervisor. Her first blog post about Ramon, the lion statue by our NJ office door, can be read here

Back at the Carlstadt office, Ramon was thinking that he needed something new for spring…

Something stylish and fresh…and bold like his roar. After all, his current neckwear was getting tired.

So, he tried out our new color of Neon Pink in our Hometown USA line—what do you think?

Looks like he is ready to kick it into spring with his new look!

The pattern I used was Crocheted Rosettes/Flowers (free on LionBrand.com) – I used the largest size and just didn’t close up the Rosette.

P.S. I like to use this pattern for scarves for other things like stuffed animals and dolls—with a little imagination, the possibilities are endless.

Happy Spring!


Love the Earth with Our Organic Yarns

April 26th, 2013

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Yarn crafting is a great way to feel one with nature–creating something from scratch in a peaceful environment, instead of fighting mall crowds to pick up that mass-produced sweater, is one of the purest activities of them all. This is true no matter what fiber you’ve decided to use, but especially so with all-natural fibers. In our final ode to Earth Month, I want to tell you a little bit about two of our all-natural, organic yarns.

LB Collection Organic Wool is one of our affordable luxury fibers, and comes in five rich and beautiful tones to create stunning hand-knits. This worsted-weight yarn is a great choice for fall sweaters and bold felted projects. Not only is the fiber 100% organically produced, it is also dyed with low-impact dyes, and has been certified according to Global Organic Textiles Standards by the Institute of Marketecology. When you’re ready to get knitting or crocheting, we have 20 patterns designed specifically for this yarn listed on LionBrand.com. Click here to see pattern inspiration for Organic Wool.
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Join Our Spring Knit-Along Featuring the… Tranquil Tank Top!

April 25th, 2013

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KAL badgeEach season we host a crochet- or knit-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 project, and feel free to share your comments and/or photos as you progress.

The votes are in!

We asked you to vote on what knit project you’d like to make, and you picked our Tranquil Green Tank Top! More than 6,000 of you voted, and we’re so excited to knit-along with you.

Click here to download the pattern for the Tranquil Tank Top.

To get this knit-along going, this week is about gathering your materials so that we can jump right in next week. This lovely tank top is made in our Vanna’s Choice yarn, a versatile, easy-care, acrylic worsted-weight yarn that comes in a huge assortment of stunning colors. If you’re more in the mood for a cotton blend, Cotton-Ease is a great substitute, and will be light and lovely as the temperatures get warmer. You can also opt for the eco-friendly choice and knit your top in Recycled Cotton, which is a blend of new and recycled materials.

As with any yarn substitution, you’ll also need to figure out how many skeins of the yarn of your choice the pattern will require. Here are the number of balls for our other recommended yarns:

 Yarn S/M  L  1X
 Vanna’s Choice  4 skeins 4 skeins  5 skeins
 Cotton-Ease  4 skeins 4 skeins  5 skeins
 Recycled Cotton  4 skeins 4 skeins  5 skeins

Click here for our FAQ on substituting yarns.

When choosing a size, sometimes it helps to find a top that you like the fit of and measure this garment to help you choose a size.

Starting next week, our KAL host Heather will be posting her progress through the tank top project, with updates coming every Thursday. You’ll know it’s a dedicated KAL blog post when you see our special badge in the upper right-hand corner of the post. Don’t forget to join our Ravelry group for this KAL as well!

In the meantime, please introduce yourself below–let us know who you are, where you’re from, and who you’re making this top for!


From Our Newsletter Archives: Tips from Our Design Department on Adding Color to Your Project

April 24th, 2013

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Hand-knit and hand-crocheted items make great gifts to be treasured and loved. Make them even more special by making them unique. Pick colors special to you or your recipient and you’re sure to please, says Jackie Smyth, our technical editor. In this interview, Jackie shares more great tips. 

Knitting and crocheting are great for handmade gifts that really reflect the giver or the recipient. What’s a simple recommendation about how to customize a project?
One word—COLOR. The great thing about patterns is that it’s easy to choose other colors in the same yarns and get a totally different look. To make a pattern really personal, choose colors that you like or that have representative meanings to the recipient. Perhaps they love autumn colors or spring colors. The right colors can add a lot of depth to a project.

What if you are nervous about choosing colors that will go together?
Going with a yarn that has a great color range is often a good place to start. The Lion Brand Design team works to create yarn collections that are designed that coordinate beautifully.

What’s a yarn you might recommend for someone looking for easy-to-match yarns?
Vanna’s Choice is a great yarn for mixing and matching colors. All of the solid colors in this collection are designed to match and coordinate. You could use three colors in one family—say, Dusty Rose, Rose, and Antique Rose—to get a light-to-dark effect, or you could pick a few contrasting colors like Purple, Chocolate, Pea Green, and Rust that will really pop against each other.

It’s good to look for inspiration from the things around you. Flowers are one place to find unexpected but beautiful contrasting colors. Fashion and architecture are other places to draw inspiration.

Not-Your-Average-Granny Scarf: Colorful granny squares made in Vanna Squares Afghan: Colorful afghan crocheted in Vanna’s choice Boy’s Striped Cardigan: Knit kid’s sweater in Vanna’s Choice
Crocheted Not-Your-Average
Granny Scarf
Crocheted Squares Afghan Knit Boy’s Striped Cardigan

Would you recommend a few colorful patterns for our readers?
For a simple project, I like the Not-Your-Average-Granny Scarf pattern. We’ve carefully plotted the colors for each square, so that it’s an exciting color journey, but I would encourage you to be playful and experiment with your own color combinations. Feel free to exchange the colors between squares–have fun!

Next, I like the Squares Afghan. I think it’s just stunning in the palette we chose, but you can choose also choose colors that go with your own home décor.

My third recommendation, the little Boy’s Striped Cardigan, is a wonderful example of how just a shot of color can spice up a wardrobe basic. It shows that you can add a few or many colorful jolts of color with simple stripes that are easy to incorporate into any pattern.

Don’t be afraid to change the colors in a pattern to suit you better. That’s the great thing about knitting and crocheting; you can really make every item your own.

A version of this article first ran in The Weekly Stitch newsletter in August 2007. Click here to sign up for the newsletter and get articles, free patterns, and exclusive offers in your inbox each week. 


Fettuccini is Back–Just in Time for Earth Month!

April 23rd, 2013

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zpagettiOur hugely popular yarn, Fettuccini, is finally back in stock after blowing off the shelves and selling out several weeks ago. And just in time! Earth Day may have been yesterday, but all of April is Earth Month, and every day is a great opportunity to be eco-friendly. As many Fettuccini enthusiasts already know, this unique yarn is made with remnants of jersey fabric used to create garments. The remnants would otherwise be discarded, so we’re thrilled to breathe a little new life into this special fiber. In honor of its (re-)arrival, I’ve rounded up a handful of the great items you can knit, crochet or craft with this yarn. Click here to learn more about Fettuccini, browse colors and place your order today!

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New Giveaway Alert: Vanna’s Choice Baby Yarns and 2 Fiskars Scissors for a Baby Afghan!

April 23rd, 2013

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In continuation of celebrating spring here on the blog, I have a new giveaway that I’m excited to announce.  One lucky winner will have the chance to win a set of 5 Vanna’s Choice® Baby yarns, and 2 pairs of scissors, courtesy of Fiskars (The World’s #1 Scissor Brand™): The Original Orange-Handled Scissors™ and the 4″ Folding Scissors™ to make the Bright Stripes Baby Afghan (Crochet Pattern).

The Vanna’s Choice Baby colors included in the giveaway are sure reminders of the beautiful flowers and blooms currently decorating gardens and yards.  This afghan will be a pleasure to make, especially if you sit outside and enjoy nature as you work!

«Contest is now closed»

Fiskars and Vanna's Choice Giveaway Crochet
Good luck! Contest ends on Tuesday, April 30 at 5:00 p.m. EST

Please note: Comments left on this blog post do NOT count as entries. Please click on the link above to enter.

*Update 5/3/2013*: Congratulations to Eva Yee who has won this wonderful prize!


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle with Recycled Cotton!

April 18th, 2013

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Earth Day is less than a week away, and that means sustainability, eco-friendliness, and recycling is at the forefront of many people’s minds. While crafting is by definition the creation of something new, there’s no reason not to be sustainable while doing so! Lion Brand has an array of different fibers that are eco-friendly, whether that means all-natural, organic fibers or recycled materials. I’ll be featuring all of these great green products over the next week. Today, let’s take a look at Recycled Cotton! This worsted weight blend is made with 72% recycled cotton that is sorted by color to minimize the amount of dye needed to churn out the finished product. The cotton comes from leftover fabric from the production of tee shirts that would otherwise be discarded, much like our Zpagetti yarn. Ready to get started? Here’s a round up of my top ten favorite patterns using Recycled Cotton.

Image of Driftwood Pullover Image of Spring Essential Top
Crochet Driftwood Pullover Knit Spring Essential Top

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On Trend: 6 Knit & Crochet Patterns in Spring Pastels

April 17th, 2013

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Spring has finally sprung, and it feels great to transition into a different wardrobe.  Spring is a fun season because you can show off multiple pieces with layered outfits, play around with bright and bold colors, or add just a touch of color with soft and sophisticated pastels.  Pastel colors aren’t just for babies, as they have become quite popular this season, and they’re an easy family of colors to incorporate into your knitwear.

Pastels add classic sophistication to an outfit, and they pair great with neutrals like gray, white and beige.  Below, I’ve gathered a few patterns already knit or crocheted in pastel colors to help you determine what kind of pastel piece you’d like to add to your wardrobe.  I personally love the Eyelet Swing Cardi in LB Collection Cotton Bamboo; it would pair very nicely with slim fitting khaki pants and a white top/tankTake a look at some of the options below for more pastel inspiration (click on the photos to access the patterns on LionBrand.com):


Knit Ballet Wrap
Superwash Merino Cashmere: Seafoam
Spring Pastel Scarf
Crochet Spring Pastel Scarf
Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton:
Petits Fours
Modern Lace Shawl
Crochet Modern Lace Shawl
Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Extra Soft Wool Blend:
Gerbera Daisy
Pearl's Cardigan
Crochet Pearl’s Cardigan
Microspun: Blush
beach cover up
Crochet Beach Cover Up
Cotton-Ease: Seaspray
Eyelet Swing Cardi
Knit Eyelet Swing Cardi
LB Collection Cotton Bamboo: Gardenia

*For more pastel palettes, check out the colors in: LB Collection Angora Merino, Baby’s First and Babysoft

Thinking of incorporating a pastel piece into your knitwear? Share your thoughts on what type of pastel project you’d like to work on in the comments!

Related Links:


A Good Read: Identifying Your Stitches

April 16th, 2013

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Designer and teacher Heather Lodinsky joins us to share tips on reading your knitting.

For the last two decades, I have been a freelance designer writing patterns for knitters and crocheters.   For just as long, I have taught knitting at my local yarn shop three times a week here in Buffalo, New York.  These two jobs of mine have always complemented each other.   Knitters (and want-to-be knitters) walk in for instruction and help with their projects.  I always want the knitters that come to my class to be happy with their knitting and not feel the urge to throw their projects in the back of a closet to become a so-called “UFO” (Unfinished Object).   From the very start, I like to get students familiar with “reading” their knitting, so that they can identify what stitches they are working, understand what they have already done and know where they are going with their knitting.   Think of this “reading” or identifying your stitches as your own knitting “GPS”…or compass for those of us “pre-techies”.

Probably the most amazing revelation for me as a knitter was when I realized (after many years of knitting) that the knit stitch and the purl stitch are the exact same stitch—but they are done on the opposite sides of the fabric.    We are taught as knitters that if you knit every row you will get that wonderful, reversible ridge fabric named “garter” stitch—shown below.

Knit Garter | A Good Read: Identifying Your Stitches | Lion Brand Notebook

So, what happens when we purl every row?  Garter Stitch again!

Purl Garter | A Good Read: Identifying Your Stitches | Lion Brand Notebook

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