Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Let’s Be Brutally Honest About Pattern Difficulty Levels by Franklin Habit

October 6th, 2015

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franklin_400x400Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

While the emergence of the global online needlework community has undoubtedly been a boon in many ways, for the designer of patterns it is a mixed bag. The sort of mixed bag in which candy corn and miniature chocolate bars mingle with rusty scissors and angry cats. Reach in at your peril.

Answering questions about one’s patterns can be a frightful drain on one’s time, particularly the eternal and ceaseless query, “How difficult is this pattern? Is this pattern too difficult for the likes of me?”.

Publishers have tried to head off this question in the past with various arrays of stars and adjectives, with little success. Why? They leave too much unspoken. How spacious, exactly, is the distance between two stars and four stars? “Easy” for whom?

I shall attempt to pour calming oil upon these bouncy waters with the following verbose and infallible explanation of the most commonly encountered grading system. Where it enters, confusion vanishes. I have no doubt that universal adoption will be swiftly forthcoming.

When, in consequence, my monument is built in the village square, let it be known that I am more partial to bronze than marble. The latter is too easily damaged by pigeons.

Thank you.



Utterly mindless. Requires no skills of any kind. In fact, it finished itself before you reached the end of this sentence.




Requires rudimentary skills and at most a minimal attention span. It will take less effort to complete this project than it will to post a shot of it on Instagram.




A challenge of modest proportions. It will take a couple of hours to knock out, yes; but you can watch an “Outlander” marathon while you do it.




Difficult enough that the naughty bits of “Outlander” will probably prove too distracting. Consider instead a few episodes of “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Brady Bunch,” or equivalent selections from the oeuvre of Sherwood Schwartz.




Turn off the television. Are you listening to me? I said turn it off. No, you may not wait until you find out if they get off the island. They never get off the island. Well, not until the sequels. Stop arguing with me. Are you going to buckle down and focus, or not? Do I need to send you to your room?



If you have coffee, drink it now.




No television. Much coffee. And send the rest of the household to the movies. Failing that, lock yourself in the attic. Better still, lock the rest of the household in the attic.




Are you ambidextrous? Double-jointed? With a keen sense of balance?








I strongly urge you to reconsider what you are about to do.




Expectant mothers should not ride.




I’m not absolutely certain our insurance covers this.



You’re going to need these.






With smaller needles, cast on x=[2/SEC(¶/3)•[lim x→0 x^3+8x+10]^2]/[lim θ→0 sinθ/θ] stitches. Join to work in the round, being careful not to twist.




I wash my hands of you.

Writer, illustrator, and photographer Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008–now in its third printing) and proprietor of The Panopticon (, one of the most popular knitting blogs on Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep. Franklin’s other publishing experience in the fiber world includes contributions to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Cast On: A Podcast for Knitters, Twist Collective, and a regular column on historic knitting patterns for

These days, Franklin knits and spins in Chicago, Illinois, sharing a small city apartment with an Ashford spinning wheel and colony of sock yarn that multiplies alarmingly whenever his back is turned.


September’s Top 9 Patterns!

October 5th, 2015

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September's Top 9 Patterns!
The love for Lion’s Pride® Woolspun® continued on into September! Popular patterns included several of the coordinating hat & scarf sets, as well as two autumnal-hued afghans — all fantastic projects for fall.

Knit and crochet projects for pets were also among your favorite patterns. The crocheted Curl-Up Kitty Cat Bed offered a fun way to give your cat a place to play and purr, while adding vibrant decor to the room they stay in! Large dogs got fashion updates with our newest sweater projects, including one made with Scarfie® — one skein of it really does make a whole project! This and the other sweaters are perfect for those fall walks outdoors.

Check out the most popular patterns for September below, and don’t forget to use our Pattern Finder to find your next project!

l50056a beginner data
Crochet Level 2 Afghan made with Lion’s Pride® Woolspun® Knit Level 1 Beginner Afghan made with Lion’s Pride® Woolspun® Knit Level 2 Cardigan made with Lion’s Pride® Woolspun®
loom redset greencowl
Beginner Loom Knit Hat & Scarf Set made with Lion’s Pride® Woolspun® Crochet Level 2 Easy Hat & Scarf Set made with Lion’s Pride® Woolspun® Beginner Knit Level 1 Cowl made with Lion’s Pride® Woolspun®
hunters cornergranny curl_up
Knit Hunter’s Urban Dog Sweater made with Scarfie® Crochet Corner Granny Afghan made with Hometown USA® Crochet Curl-Up Kitty Cat Bed made with Hometown USA®


6 Prayer Shawls to Make for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 4th, 2015

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6 Prayer Shawls to Make for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we’re turning our thoughts to sharing comfort and sympathy to those in our lives who need it most. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer for women worldwide, and the second most common in the United States.

Whether you walk or run for the cure or donate to a chosen charity, support for breast cancer awareness is strengthened when we unite for a cause worth fighting for.

One of the best ways to support awareness of breast cancer is to support those around us who have been affected. Making a prayer or healing shawl is a thoughtful way of reminding someone that you have them in your thoughts.

Here are six of our favorite shawl patterns, all beautiful ways to show your support to whomever the receiver may be. Make one in pink, the color used to recognize breast cancer awareness, or use your favorite soft yarn in the color of your choice. No matter the look, the message and meaning of the shawl is what counts most.


teawrap amazing_grace_shawl_1_medium plushstripes
Crochet Tea Wrap made with Vanna’s Choice® Crochet Amazing Grace Prayer Shawl by Beatrice Ryan Designs* made with Pound of Love® Knit Plush Stripes Shawl made with Homespun® Thick & Quick®
modernlace splendedtri tranquil
Crochet Modern Lace Shawl made with Martha Stewart Crafts Extra Soft Wool Blend Knit Splendid Triangle Shawl made with Homespun® Crochet Tranquil Comfort Shawl made with Homespun®

*Please note, this is not a Lion Brand pattern.

Looking for more ways to support breast cancer research and raise awareness? Here are three products whose purchase also includes a donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

crochet_cause denise knit_life
Crochet for a Cause Kit – 20% of the purchase prices goes to the BCRF Denise Interchangeable Knitting Needle Kit – $5 donation to Breast Cancer Research Knit for Life Kit –  20% of the purchase prices goes to the BCRF


A Closer Look At… the Curvy Girl Cabled Cardigan!

October 3rd, 2015

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We just added seven new patterns to our Curvy Girl Collection! Brand Ambassador Shira Blumenthal shares her thoughts on the expansion:

A few months ago when I offered to be the Curvy Girl model, I had no idea how everyone would feel about the patterns. Well, after the launch two weeks later, it was decided that we would be expanding the collection! You all loved it so much we wanted to give you more! We really tried to change up the patters with knit and crochet tops, different lengths and different looks. The design team and I worked from beginning to end to make these garments the most flattering and fashionable for Curvy Girls. I hope you all love them as much as I do and that you share your finished projects with me!

Get a closer look at the Curvy Girl Cabled Cardigan in the video below — it’s now available as a knit and crochet pattern!

:: Can’t see the video above? Click here to watch – :: 

knitcurvy cabled
Knit Curvy Girl Cabled Cardigan made with Heartland® Crochet Curvy Girl Cabled Cardigan made with Heartland®


Voting is open! Vote for our next Knit-Along Project!

October 2nd, 2015

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Here we go again! Come knit-along with us as we make one of the garments featured in this post. So let’s get started, shall we?

FIRST you have to help us pick the pattern! Learn more about each of the patterns by clicking on their photos/names below and then come back to cast your vote. Kristy Glass, your KAL leader, has a favorite but she’ll never tell … well, at least not until the votes are in! In the meantime she has her fingers crossed …

In any case, they’re all so good, we predict a very tight race!

Votes must be cast by 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time, Sunday, October 11th, 2015. You must use the voting tool below to vote; comments here on the blog do NOT count as votes.


Palermo Poncho Textured Topper Free Spirit Topper Rustic Embroidered Wrap Colorwork Poncho & Fingerless Gloves



(Can’t see the voting tool above? Click here to vote.)


This knit-along is a virtual event, where all the participants make the same project together. Follow along with knit-along host Kristy Glass here on the blog and share your comments and photos. There’s no need to sign up, and it’s free to join! (New to knit-alongs? Check out our guide here.)

Remember, the winning pattern will be announced the week of Monday, October 12th, 2015 here on the blog and at that time we’ll also give you details on picking up your supplies and getting started on the project!

Votes must be cast by 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time, October 11th, 2015. You must use the voting tool above to vote; comments here on the blog do NOT count as votes.

Crocheters, look out for a winter crochet-along early next year, here on the Lion Brand Notebook.