Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for October, 2013

Meet Our New Creative Director

October 9th, 2013

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I’ve been a knitter, a shop girl at my LYS, the editor in chief of Vogue Knitting and Knit. 1 Magazine, and now, as Creative Director of Lion Brand and my motto has always
been “Fun to Knit and Fun to Wear.”

I didn’t start out in the hand-knitting industry. I studied writing and film at Oberlin and after college I worked as an assistant editor on feature films. I took time off from the grueling hours of independent film post-production to write my first screenplay,
“Knit 1 Purl 2.” I was an avid knitter, making about a sweater
a week, and got a part time job at my favorite LYS to keep me sane while I worked on the script. The late, great Melissa Matthay owned the shop and taught me how to design, combine yarns and create fun, easy garments for our clients. I remember the two of us squealing with joy as the new yarns arrived and we immediately would start swatching. We loved combining yarns to create different textures in simple but chic, over-sized silhouettes that looked good on all our customers: big, little, old, young.

 Our new Creative Director, Adian, and her daughter
Pictured: our new creative director, Adina, and her daughter.


6 Easy Halloween Costume Patterns For Kids!

October 9th, 2013

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You’ve bought bags of candy to hand out to the all the trick or treaters, the decorations are all hung up ready to scare, and you’ve even created a Halloween music playlist.

But what about the costumes for the kids?

Here are some costumes that can easily be put together with some hooks, needles, and of course, some yarn.

where-the-wild-things costume goldilocks costume

Max from Where the Wild Things Are

Sew some ears on a sweater (or glue them on barrettes or pins) and felt a knit crown (in Martha Stewart Crafts™ Roving Wool in Snowdrift),
your child is ready for their own wild rumpus!

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Knit this easy sundress with three pockets (instead of two) for Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear which makes this costume just right. For brunettes, try this wig on for size.


Blue Sweater Blues

October 8th, 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.

I got a message from a reader who inquired after the health and well-being of the Man’s Roughneck Sweater I’m making from a pattern in Lion Brand’s 1916 Lion Manual of Worsted Work. It was the topic of a piece I wrote for this very space way back in January.

I appreciate her kind interest. It’s good to know that the nice lady is not only reading, she’s remembering.

But this is also a bit like having somebody ask about your husband, who has run away with the man who came to clean the swimming pool. Or having somebody ask about the starving child you sponsored, who grew up to rob banks. Or having somebody ask about your cat, who died.

From this you may gather that everything with the Man’s Roughneck Sweater is not tickety-boo.

It’s not the fault of the pattern (which has a couple of puzzling ambiguities in it, but no more so than most elderly patterns); nor of the yarn (LB Collection® Organic Wool), which is even more sweetly lofty after being knit up than it was in the ball.

It’s my fault, my fault, my very great fault.


Expert Tip: How to Picture a Pattern in an Alternate Color

October 7th, 2013

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Working in the yarn industry, I constantly learn from the experts that I meet on the job. One of my favorite tips is from designer Sally Melville. (I’ve interviewed her twice for our podcast, YarnCraftcheck out the first and second episodes featuring Sally).

How often have you looked at a pattern and thought, “That’s definitely not my color”? Sally pointed out that sometimes the color choice deters us from a project that we would otherwise like!


However, she said, it’s easier to picture the garment in other colors when it’s in black and white. Therefore, she recommended that you copy the photo in black and white (if you have access to a photo-copier) or, if you’re more high tech, you desaturate/grayscale the photo on your computer.

It’s great for solid designs, as well as multicolor designs (you can better picture them in a solid or in different color combinations). Use colored pencils or markers (or paint tools on your computer) to start shading in with colors that appeal to you!

What a great and easy tip!

[Pattern pictured: Knit Lush Collared Blue Cardi]

Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 2: Sizes & Finished Measurements

October 6th, 2013

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Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns. Read the first installment here.

Sizes and Finished Measurements

Cracking the (Pattern) Code: Size & Measurement | Lion Brand Notebook

It is important to know whether a throw will barely cover your lap or could easily cover a compact car. It is even more important to know whether a sweater will actually fit you. Most patterns include Size and/or Finished Measurement sections to indicate the expected dimensions of the finished piece.

Sizes are specified in very general terms, such as S (small), 1X (extra large), and 0-6 months. Finished measurements are more specific and should be carefully considered. A garment could have an oversized, relaxed, standard, tight, or very tight fit. An oversized garment has a finished chest measurement 6 or more inches larger than the actual chest measurement of the wearer. For a relaxed fit, the finished chest measurement is 4 to 6 inches larger. For a standard fit, the finished chest measurement is 2 to 4 inches larger, for a tight fit the finished chest measurement is 0-2 inches larger, and for a very tight fit the finished chest measurement can be the same or less than the actual chest measurement.

The designer of a garment intends a certain fit and indicates this through the combination of size and finished measurements. The actual chest measurement for a S (small) woman is 32-34 in. and for a M (medium) woman is 36-38 in. If a designer specifies size S (small) and the finished chest measurement is 40 in., because the finished measurement is 6 in. or more larger than the actual chest measurement, the intended fit is oversized. On the other hand, if a designer specifies size M (medium) and the finished chest measurement is 40 in., the intended fit is standard.


Geek Out with These 10 Knit and Crochet Patterns

October 5th, 2013

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New York Comic Con (NYCC) starts next weekend, which means it’s that time of the year when all of the East Coast fanboys and geek girls go to gather, hang out, and meet new people who love comics  just as much as they do.  While I can’t sew or make elaborate costumes, I still like to dress up and will crochet or knit accessories to coordinate for outfits to wear at conventions.

So you could say I’m more of a yarn nerd than a comics nerd.  However you are never a nerd once a year, and after all four days of NYCC are over how can you express yourself the other 361 days?

Here are some  patterns which you can wear and use regularly so that “every day is a nerdy day:”

Have you knitted or crocheted anything nerdy for yourself or for others? Or are you just a self-proclaimed crochet geek or knit nerd?

Note: To access any Ravelry patterns, remember to sign up for a free account.

Learn the Provisional Cast On in 6 Easy Steps!

October 4th, 2013

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The provisional cast on is, as the name implies, a temporary cast on row. It is done with waste yarn so that you can take it out later and have “live” stitches in your working yarn. Waste yarn should generally be a contrast-color yarn (so that it’s easy to locate) and in a smooth, non-grippy fiber (to make it easier to rip out later). This technique is used in projects like infinity scarves because you can join the ends of your work so that it looks seamless. This invisible seaming (known as grafting) is achieved by doing a kitchener stitch with the live stitches that you will pick up from your cast on row. The provisional cast on is also used when you’ll be picking up the stitches in order to work the piece in the other direction (seen sometimes in patterns that feature lace designs, for example). Only use this cast on if directed by your pattern or if you’ll be grafting or picking up the stitches.

There are a few different ways to do a provisional cast on but we are going to do the version that utilizes a crochet hook. Let’s walk through how you work this technique…

provisional cast on

1. With a crochet hook make five chain stitches with your waste yarn.

2. With your left had hold your chain stitches and a knitting needle. Bring the yarn behind the knitting needle and wrap it around the index finger of your left hand (the way you would if you were doing continental knitting). Your crochet hook should still be in the last loop of your chain stitches.

3. Reach your crochet hook over your knitting needle to grab the yarn.

4. Pull the yarn through your loop. This is essentially the same motion you were making when doing the chain stitches.

5. Move your yarn behind the knitting needle again. Repeats steps 3 and 4 until you’ve made the desired amount of stitches.

6. Make five more chain stitches. Cut the yarn, tie a knot at the end, and pull the knot through the last chain stitch. This is now your cast-on row. From here you will attach your working yarn and knit as you normally would.


Video: The Benefits of Knit and Crochet

October 3rd, 2013

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Everyone who crafts knows that it is about more than just hats and scarves. In fact, readers often leave comments here on the Lion Brand Notebook about how knitting and crochet make their lives better. See members of the Lion Brand family along with our customers and spokeswoman Vanna White tell why they knit and crochet.

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 about the benefits of knitting and crochet, check out:

Cracking the Code: Following Written Knit and Crochet Instructions

October 1st, 2013

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Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns.

Cracking the Code: Following Written Knit and Crochet Instructions | Lion Brand NotebookKnit and crochet patterns provide a wealth of information. At first, understanding written instructions can be as intimidating as learning a foreign language or deciphering a secret code. Over the next several weeks, we’ll discuss different elements of written patterns. Hopefully, the following explanations and tips will help you overcome any pattern reading fears you have.

Skill Level

Patterns typically specify a skill level needed to comfortably complete the project. Because of the wide variety of stitches, techniques, and constructions used in knit and crochet patterns, an appropriate skill level is very difficult to determine. Accordingly, it is best not to rely to heavily on the indicated skill level. Instead, scan through the instructions to help determine if you have the skills needed or are willing to acquire them while working on the project.

Expert tip: When scanning the pattern to determine if the skill level is appropriate for you, pay attention to any special stitches or techniques used, the quality of the yarn used (novelty yarns can be a little trickier to work with than smooth yarns), the tools used (smaller hooks and needles, and double pointed needles can be trickier to work with than larger hooks and needles, and straight needles), and the language used (e.g., AT THE SAME TIME, reverse shaping, and as established).

Not sure what the terms mean? On, the abbreviations at the bottom of the pattern are live links that take you to an explanation of the term in the Learning Center.

For more articles by Kj, click here.