Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Knitting Attachments: The Neutral Cabled Afghan

February 4th, 2016

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When my friend Ana (pictured at right) recently had to undergo a worrisome medical procedure, my automatic impulse kicked in.  “I’m going to knit you something,” I announced.  That’s what I do when people I love enter crisis mode.  Knitting is a way of coping, I suppose; it lets me feel helpful in situations I can’t control.  It’s also how I turn nervousness into productivity, and creative energy into caring.

Ana’s situation deserved a big expression of my caring, I decided.  She was going to get a blanket.  Lion Brand’s pattern for the Neutral Cabled Afghan, done in three shades of Hometown USA® yarn, immediately caught my eye.  Its soothing colors complemented the décor of the small apartment that Ana, a single mom, shares with her three-year-old son, and I knew the cabled designs would give the blanket pleasant weight and warmth.  That the afghan is knitted on size 15 needles suggested I’d finish the project within a reasonable time, too—no point in starting something like this in winter if she wouldn’t get it until summer!

My hunch was correct.  The project moved quickly, and in a week I’d knitted more than half.  This is one of the most interesting patterns I’ve ever followed, and it’s definitely a skill builder.  Knitters, listen up:  if you want to become a cable maven without tears, here’s your education!

Viewed from above, the Neutral Cabled Afghan is a large log-cabin rectangle.  If you’ve knitted a log-cabin pattern, you know it’s a modular construction that grows by attachment.  You start by knitting a central piece, and enlarge it, not by sewing it to other pieces, but by picking up stitches along an edge and working another rectangle outward.  The advantages of this type of modular construction are strength, potential variety of color, and potential variety of texture.

With the Neutral Cabled Afghan, another factor comes into play.  Textural variety develops, of course, from the qualities of the yarn, but most strongly, from the texture the cables give each section.  Since the design is worked on large needles, the cables assume mega prominence.  This blanket is all about them, and in the center section, it’s all about cables and bobbles.  If you’ve never worked cables or bobbles, or if you want to improve your skills in the cables and bobbles department, here’s your lifetime chance!

Cables aren’t difficult, but like any process with multiple steps, they can be complex.  Rule number one:  Read the Pattern Carefully.  Rule number two:  Go Slowly.  As you move through the pattern, say the stitches aloud as you knit.  That will keep you on track.   And whether you follow the charted patterns or those written in words—Lion Brand provides both—please do this:  enlarge the pattern on your computer printer or with a copy machine, and use highlighter tape to mark where you are in the pattern.  Register your progress, too, by ticking off the lines as you finish them.

In my next post, I’ll talk about the process of knitting each section, and share some results, both knitted and medical.


Tea With Shira Episode #17: London Kaye Wins the Day!

February 3rd, 2016

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In this episode, I sit down with my friend London Kaye at this year’s Craft & Hobby Association Mega Show and I am able to congratulate her on winning “Best Booth” at the show for Lion Brand Yarn.  Find out how she was inspired for her one of a kind mural that she crocheted out nothing but Lion Brand Yarn!

She even tells us the names of all the creatures… you’ll never guess who the whale is named after!

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


Go Big With February’s Featured Yarns!

February 2nd, 2016

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You know it to be true — the thicker the yarn, the quicker the knit! This month, save 20% on a collection of super-bulky and jumbo weight yarns! With over-sized stitches on trend for 2016, you’ll want to get your hands on several of these yarns for your next project!

Choose from Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick®, Heartland® Thick & Quick®, Homespun® Thick & Quick®, Hometown USA®, Quickie, Country®, Color Clouds, Gold Leaf®, Jiffy® Thick & Quick®, LB Collection® Wool, and LB Collection® Natural Wool.

Need a bit of inspiration? Check out our latest Lookbook below!


More Than Cold Hands: How To Stay Warm When You Have Raynaud’s

January 29th, 2016

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When the temperatures drop do your hands get cold? It’s probably safe to say that most people have cold hands once in a while during cold weather. But if you just can’t seem to warm them up it might be something else: Raynaud’s Syndrome.

What is Raynaud’s?

Raynaud’s affects the small blood vessels in your hands, and sometimes your feet and the end of your nose. You might hear someone mention “poor circulation” or being “cold sensitive.”

Color changes in your skin are a key feature of Reynaud’s. If you see your hands turn white or bluish when they’re cold and then turn red when they warm up, it might be Raynaud’s.

What causes Raynaud’s is a mystery but women between the ages of 15-40 are more likely than men to develop the condition.

If you suspect your cold hands might be more than a reaction to chilly weather, discuss it with your doctor.

Keep Warm! Here’s How:

How can you warm up your hands? Don’t go outside unprotected from the wind and cold. Always wear mittens or gloves when you’re outside in cold weather or when you’re choosing from the cold/frozen cases at the grocery store.

nordic fliptop mountai
Knit Nordic Mittens Knit Flip-Top Mittens Knit Mountain Mittens

Want to help restore good circulation? Wiggle your fingers and toes, windmill your arms or gently massage your hands and fingers.

Fingerless mitts don’t offer enough protection when the thermometer dips below freezing and the wind blows. If you love to knit or crochet, it’s a great time to try your hand at mittens and gloves.

Stave Off the Cold Indoors Too!

Doing repetitive tasks like typing, knitting or crocheting? Thin wrist warmers or fingerless mitts will fill the bill by keeping your hands warm and your fingers free.

Another tip: running your hands under warm water helps, so does putting some distance between your hands and cold surfaces. How about making a cozy for your cold drinks?

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Crochet Wharton Wristers Knit Fingerless Gloves Crochet Driving Gloves

One crafter told me she has Raynaud’s and when the wind blows she bundles and buttons up before she goes outside. She even bought a furry steering wheel cover and warms her car up before she heads out. Inside, she always wears socks and never takes anything out of the refrigerator or freezer without using a pair of gloves or mittens to create a barrier. She also recommends using insulated drinking cups and glasses both winter and summer.

Sometimes cold hands are just a seasonal hazard but if you think you might have Raynaud’s, visit your doctor and check out the Raynaud’s Association for more information.


Go Back to Basics with this LB Collection Sweater!

January 28th, 2016

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I have a little secret! When I’m not making videos with Shira, I’m designing patterns! It’s just a small hobby for me but when you’re surrounded by gorgeous yarns all day long, it’s so easy to get inspired! I wanted to share some of the ideas behind my latest design, the Peggy Sweater which is available now in Knitscene’s Spring 2016 issue! This sweater is a drapey boatneck with a plunging back. And, best of all, it’s easy to make!

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This sweater is made with LB Collection® Baby Alpaca. This yarn is not only incredibly soft but it makes for a very airy top that’s perfect for those chilly spring months. The striking back is inspired by a Dior jumpsuit. I think that lots of ladies prefer to show off their shoulders and backs and, over a dress or lacy tank top, this makes a great transitional garment.


I was also influenced by so many of Lion Brand®’s patterns that are based on squares and rectangles. I really wanted to design something that wasn’t too complicated for other knitters to execute. The back looks dramatic but is actually created only by increasing a few stitches. The shoulders are then sewn together to create that scooping back. In essence, this sweater is really made of four simple shapes and then seamed together! It’s one of those projects that you can do while you relax and watch TV and those are my favorites!

The Peggy Sweater is available in Knitscene Spring 2016 in five sizes!



Shop for LB Collection® Baby Alpaca here.