Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for September, 2013


I Don’t Pray…How Can I Make a Prayer Shawl?

September 17th, 2013

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo joins us for the third installment of her series on prayer shawl crafting. Click here to read her previous blog posts.

Image of Serene Comfort Shawl | Prayer Shawl Crafting | Lion Brand NotebookI don’t consider myself someone who prays. My spiritual path has been varied and complicated and it’s been a long journey to the point of even being able to comfortably say that I have a spiritual path so it’s still another leap to be okay with saying I pray. Nevertheless, I do believe in the value of setting an intention and asking for help, strength, hope … and so I am comfortable making prayer shawls.

Suggested Prayer Shawl Practices for People Who Don’t Pray

There is no right or wrong way to craft a prayer shawl. Whatever you feel comfortable with is enough. It can be as simple as setting the intention to heal the recipient at the start of the project.

Here are some additional options:

  • Repeat a short phrase in your mind as you work. An example: “I wish you strength.”
  • Pause at the end of each row or round to think positive thoughts about the prayer shawl recipient.
  • Stitch with love. Intentionally focus on love and compassion as you craft.
  • When the project is complete, take a moment to say an affirmation or blessing. You may also want to include a sentiment card with the gift.

[Pattern pictured: Crochet Serene Comfort Shawl]

Which prayers, affirmations or thoughts do you use when crafting for others? Share in the comments below!


Introducing NEW LB Collection® Silk

September 16th, 2013

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Introducing NEW LB Collection® Silk | Lion Brand Notebook

In 2010, we introduced the first of our exclusive LB Collection®, a line of luxurious fibers—from 100% cashmere to a kid mohair/silk blend—available at affordable prices directly from LionBrand.com and our own retail store and outlet. Since then, we’ve added new yarns like Angora Merino as well as new colors to our Cashmere and Wool Stainless Steel lines.

A New Addition: 100% Silk

Today, I’d like to tell you about our newest LB Collection® yarn—100% Silk, hand-dyed in 8 rich colorways. We worked with a US-based dyer to create this beautiful line of sportweight yarn, perfect for delicate lace and detailed projects that stand the test of time.

Click here to learn more & order.

This luxurious yarn is ideal for luxurious shawlettes, scarves, wristers, and other accessories that you wear against your skin. It’s a perfect splurge for a special occasion project or gift. (Or maybe a “just because” treat for yourself!)

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What Size Do I Make?

September 13th, 2013

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Throughout this season, we’re reposting some of our favorite columns by Barbara Breiterauthor of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, previously featured in our Weekly Stitch newsletter.

What Size Do I Make? | Lion Brand Notebook

You’ve found the perfect sweater pattern. It’s just challenging enough to keep your interest. You think you’ll be able to wear it a good part of the year for many occasions. The yarn is something you can afford.

But before you can begin, you need to answer one question: What size do I make?

Studying the size information, you note there are 4 sizes: small, medium, large, and extra large. Usually you wear a medium. But wait. The pattern states for the medium size, the finished chest measurement is 50″. That does not seem right at all, you think. In fact, it seems like the sweater will be way too large!

Before deciding the pattern is wrong or what size you’ll make, there are a number of considerations to take into account. Ask yourself how you like your sweaters to fit. Do you like them tight? If you do, perhaps you will want to choose a smaller size. Do you like them loose? Do you layer them with lots of other pieces or with just a camisole underneath? Do you wear your cardigans more like jackets or buttoned up as a top? Keep all of your preferences in mind as you consider the size.

Generally a sweater is not worn skintight. The difference between your bust measurement and the finished chest measurement of a sweater is referred to as “ease.” Some garments have more ease than others, depending upon a number of factors.

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A Guest Post: Everything You Wanted to Know About Measuring for a Sweater + Free Sweater Planning Guide

September 12th, 2013

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Measuring-for-a-Sweeater-image

Today, we have a guest post from Johnny Vasquez, a knitwear designer, and “Head Honcho” over at the New Stitch A Day blog.  Johnny will be sharing some important tips to help you learn how to get proper measurements to ensure the perfect fit for your sweater!

One of the most important parts of knitting a sweater is being honest with your body and gauge measurements. If either your body or gauge measurements are even the slightest bit off, you risk having a sweater that doesn’t fit as well as you’d hoped. Taking the time to take accurate measurements before you begin your project will pay off in the long run with a great fitting sweater!

Measuring Gauge
I’ll be honest, when I started knitting I didn’t even know that you were supposed measure gauge. I figured they just put it in the pattern as a given fact – you knit with a specific size needles to correspond to the yarn, and you end up with the given gauge. Right? Not so much.  Gauge varies by person, as it depends on your style of knitting or crocheting (if you have a tight or loose style of crafting, it will affect the gauge)

Your gauge (that is the number of stitches and rows per inch) is incredibly important because it will determine how big or small your sweater will be. This also means that knowing how to measure your gauge is key. To learn how to accurately measure gauge, check out Lion Brand’s information on gauge swatching here.

Taking Body Measurements
Let’s take a look at how to properly take all of the measurements that you will ever need to make a great sweater!

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Colorfully Modern Cardigan Crochet-Along #4: Blocking, Seaming, and Surface Stitches

September 11th, 2013

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Colorfully Modern Cardigan Crochet-Along #4: Blocking, Seaming, and Surface StitchesHi guys! I see a lot of you have finished your cardigans already. Looking good! Don’t forget to post pictures.

[Editor's Note: Click here to see photos in our Ravelry group, and if you'd like to leave a photo here on the blog, click in the commenting box and you'll see a little "mountain range" icon. Click it to browse to your photo on your computer and upload it to your comment.]

I considered making the sleeves a little longer, but in the end, I decided in the end to make them the same length as in the pattern. However, if you’d like to lengthen your sleeves, it should be pretty easy to do.

Lengthening the Sleeves

The easiest way to lengthen the design is to just work the number of chains for your size and work even until your sleeve has however much longer that you’d like than the one in the pattern, then follow the pattern as set.

The pattern schematic tells us that the sleeve-to-armpit measurement is 9 inches for all sizes. Let’s say that I want my sleeve to be 16.5 inches (16 to 17 inches is a standard length for women’s sleeves). That’s 7.5 more inches. Our pattern gauge tells us that each row is 0.31 inches (4 inches ÷ 13 rows = 0.31 inches per row).

7.5 inches ÷ 0.31 inches per row = 24.19 rows

Our color repeat is ABCDED and each color is used for 2 rows, so 24 rows is two full sets of all of the colors. Therefore, I’d do 24 rows straight, before following the pattern as set. (If you want to make your sleeves longer or shorter, you may need to do a partial repeat of the color pattern, so be sure to plan for that.)

Tips on Blocking

After the sleeves,  I had all the pieces finished, so it was time to block. Don’t skip this step! It can make your garment look much more professionally-made and neaten up any uneven stitches. While you can block after your entire garment is done, many people find it helpful to block your garment before sewing it together, as this way you can correct the measurements of any part where your tension may have changed a little.

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For Kitty, With Love

September 10th, 2013

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Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

To be a needleworker of the gift-giving sort is to live your life with one eye on the calendar. As I write this it’s late summer,­ but I’m already thinking of December. I have no choice. The holidays inevitably require a bit of gift knitting. If I hope to show up with something other than a ball of yarn and a promise, the planning must begin now.

Let me clarify that I am not a knitter of the everybody-gets-a-matching-hat-and-mittens variety. I admire those folks. They have largesse. They have stamina. They have stout, resilient hearts; because to be a needleworker of the gift-giving sort is also to live your life in a perpetual state of heartache. Or maybe I mean heartburn. Probably I mean both.

One of the hard lessons we learn when we fall in love with needlework is that not everyone has fallen in love with needlework.You finish that first really successful crochet hat, and it’s beautiful and it fits, and it’s so much nicer than anything from the store, and you think of all the people you love who are walking around in store-bought hats.

Your heart, it breaks.

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Learn to Crochet with Easy-to-Follow Videos

September 9th, 2013

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If you’ve always wanted to learn to crochet but had trouble following written directions and illustrations, check out our video playlist!

Already know how to crochet? Share this blog post with your friends who are interested in learning!

If you’re reading this blog post in your email or an RSS reader, please click on the title to view the full blog post and videos on our website.

For more blog posts on crocheting, check out:


Tips for Getting the Most from Prayer Shawl Crafting

September 8th, 2013

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares tips for choosing patterns, charities and the setting for intentional crafting. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.
Image of Honest Warmth Shawl | Tips for Prayer Shawl Crafting | Lion Brand Notebook

Choosing a Prayer Shawl Pattern

Any shawl pattern can be used as a prayer shawl. An ideal pattern uses a textural comforting yarn like Homespun.

Items Other Than Prayer Shawls

Prayer shawls don’t have to be shawls. Other popular items for prayer-based crafting include:

Selecting Prayer Shawl Recipients

If you are inspired to craft something handmade for a specific individual, by all means do so. Alternatively you may donate to a group. Here are some tips for selecting your group:

  • Pick a cause that you care about. What has affected your life?
  • Ask friends what charities they support and why.
  • Think local; it’s wonderful to drop your donation off in person if you can.

You can also find charities that are currently seeking donations by using the Lion Brand Charity Connection page.

Setting the Space

The recipient benefits from your prayer shawl but to get the most out of the crafting experience it should also help heal you. Set your space intentionally when doing prayer crafting. Some tips:

  • Choose a quiet space.
  • Use lighting that is adequate but not glaring.
  • Burn candles or incense.
  • Ask yourself what makes you feel most comfortable and safe. Infuse your space with that thing.
  • See more tips for meditative crafting. 

[Pattern pictured: Knit Honest Warmth Shawl]

Who have you (or would you like to) donate a prayer shawl to? Share your stories in the comments to inspire others!


Short Rows: A Primer for Knitters

September 5th, 2013

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Throughout this season, we’re reposting some of our favorite columns by Barbara Breiterauthor of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, previously featured in our Weekly Stitch newsletter.

Short Rows: A Primer for Knitters | Lion Brand Notebook

Short rows are partial rows of knitting. They are used to shape projects in a way that decreases or increases cannot accomplish. They can create darts in a pullover and heels of a sock. You can make wedges or “slices of a pie”; when the wedges are continually made, you have an entire “pie” and, depending upon the scale, you will have a cloth or a large circular throw. Short rows can also be used to create a bell curve, which knits up as a wonderful shawl collar on a sweater.

Don’t shy away from a pattern using short rows because it just seems too complicated. Once you get the hang of it, it’s no more difficult than knitting or purling.

There are two important concepts in short rows: turning and wrapping.

It may seem incorrect, but turn whenever your pattern indicates to do so. You may be at the end of a row or you may not be; if you’re not at the end, turn your work just as if you were at the end of the row, and then work the next set of instructions going in the other direction. Sometimes you just have to have faith that it will turn out correctly in the end. So even if it seems totally wrong, keep going!

Wrapping prevents holes from forming. There are several ways of accomplishing this and your pattern should give specific instructions. What’s important to note is that the working yarn is literally wrapped around a stitch; usually this is a slipped stitch.

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Colorfully Modern Cardigan Crochet-Along #3: The Fronts and Pockets

September 4th, 2013

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Colorfully Modern Cardigan Crochet-Along #3: The Fronts and Pockets | Lion Brand NotebookHi everyone! I hope you guys had a great holiday weekend and those sweaters are coming along nicely! This week I was busy making the fronts of my cardigan. I know a few of you wondering about how the pockets join to the body, so we’ll start with that.

Making the Pockets

I had a little trouble joining the pockets, as I just assumed I knew what to do, so I didn’t read the pattern carefully, and kept wondering why I didn’t have enough stitches left at the end! Learn from my mistake! To join the pocket-lining, work the number of stitches required for your size, on the body of the cardigan as normal (this is a wrong side row, so it’s all in single crochet), then skip the first stitch of the pocket lining (this is where I kept going wrong!) and work across the top of the lining, skip the last stitch and skipping 17 body stitches from the first join, single crochet in the next body stitch and work to the end.

Colorfully Modern Cardigan Crochet-Along #3: The Fronts and Pockets | Lion Brand Notebook
 Click the photo to enlarge.

Colorfully Modern Cardigan Crochet-Along #3: The Fronts and Pockets | Lion Brand Notebook
 Click the photo to enlarge.

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