Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

Image frame

Author Archive


Decorate for Thanksgiving with Your Own Personal Style!

November 13th, 2011

Pin It

Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this November 24th and want to create decorations that show off your style or follow a theme? Whether you’re looking to create projects that will last a lifetime, a stylish sophisticate, or simply young at heart, we’ve got the perfect combination of yarncraft projects for you to use this Thanksgiving! (Click the pattern names or pictures to access the patterns on LionBrand.com.)

Centerpiece

Place Setting

Party Favor

Traditional

To many of us, sharing tradition is what makes Thanksgiving so special. Decorate your dinner table with pieces that are sure to become family heirlooms.

Knit Fall Wreath Crochet Fall Wineglass Decorations /
Crochet Bountiful Napkin Rings
Crochet Leaf Sachet

Modern

Sophistocated shapes and an understated color palatte make these projects the perfect decor for a Thanksgiving that’s all grown up.

Crochet Felted Leaves Table Runner Crochet Felted Leaf Coasters Knit Felted Soap Cozy with Acorn

Fun

Bring the spirit of the kids’ table into your dining room! Decorate with a whimsical touch that’s sure to be a hit with guests of all ages.

Crochet Tom Turkey Crochet Harvest Bowl /
Crochet Adorable Acorn Accents
Crochet Amigurumi Happy Pumpkin

Flip My Scarf! 4 Different Projects from a Simple Rectangle

November 4th, 2011

Pin It

Over the years, I’ve met a lot of yarncrafters, young and old, who’ve told me, “I knit/crochet, but I only make scarves.” But what I want to tell these yarncrafters is, if you know how to make a scarf, you probably already know how to make throws, hoods–even garments! All you need are your scarf-making skills and two magic ingredients.

Ingredient one: Flip that scarf! Thinking outside the box will have you looking at your scarf in a whole new light. Fold it in half lengthwise. Twist it. Line several scarves up next to each other. Is your scarf starting to resemble something else, like a cocoon shrug or a blanket? You’re on the right track! All you need to do now is attach your work together at one or two key areas, and you have a whole new project. That takes us to…

Ingredient two: Join together! The best way to attach knit or crochet pieces together is to use seaming, or sewing up. If you haven’t seamed pieces together before, don’t be afraid to jump right in! Seaming yarncrafts is to sewing as paint-by-numbers is to painting with watercolors; the stitches act as a guide for where to go next, so you won’t have to worry about whether your sewing looks even. For an illustrated guide on how to seam knit pieces, click here. For a guide on how to seam crochet pieces, click here. (Need some extra guidance? Check out Zontee’s top 5 tips for seaming by clicking here.)

Looking for some inspiration on how to take your scarf to the next level? Here are some project ideas that are really just scarves in disguise. (Note: click the name or photo to access the pattern on LionBrand.com.)

Moebius WrapThe simplest way to update a plain scarf is to seam the short ends together to make a cowl. Take that idea one more step by twisting the scarf a 1/2 turn before you do your seaming, and you’ve got an elegant and versatile wrap!

To wear, drape the wrap off your shoulders as shown here. You can also wear it doubled as a cowl or over your head as an impromptu hood.

 

Scarf Hood The name says it all: this hood may look complicated, but it’s really a scarf in disguise! To make, simply fold your scarf in half crosswise and, starting at the fold, sew one side together for 11 inches. For an added challenge, add the crochet Fun Fur® trim, or leave it off for a more streamlined look.

To wear, leave the scarf ends hanging, or wrap them around your shoulders for extra warmth.

 

Striped Crochet Throw The pattern shown here uses striped colorwork, but you can make a nearly identical project without learning how to join new colors! To make, simply seam together scarves of equal length together along the long edge.

Seam together several wide strips to make an afghan. Or just use two or three narrow strips–you’ve got a throw that doubles as a shawl!

Cocoon Shrug This shrug is made from a shorter, wider rectangle than a traditional scarf, but making it uses the same set of skills. To make, fold the rectangle in half lenthwise. Sew the short ends together, starting at the edge and leaving a hole big enough for your arms to go through.

To wear, drape it over your shoulders as shown, let it fall for a more glamorous nighttime look, or even wear it over your head like a hood to keep the chill away.


Related links:


How to Hand Felt with a Little Help from Your Kitchen

October 23rd, 2011

Pin It

I’ve always wanted to be a certain famous pig for Halloween, so when my boyfriend expressed an interest in being a certain famous frog (news reporter fedora included), I jumped at the chance.

Naturally, I decided to knit the pig ears and nose I needed for my costume — and for some added authenticity, to felt them as well! Since the pieces were small, I hand felted them in a hot bath using just a few tools I already had in my kitchen. Here’s how I did it.

Not all yarns are created equal. In order for your project to felt properly, you must use non-superwash yarn made from animal fibers. I used Martha Stewart Crafts™ Merino in Milkglass Pink. [Note: For a pattern, I searched online for a knitted leaf pattern and modified the shaping.]
I got my felting tools in order: a large saucepan to hold the project, potato masher to agitate it, and shampoo to help speed along the process. [Note: I do not suggest using a non-stick pan for your felting project. As an alternative, try filling a sink for your project. Just be sure that you have a good-quality strainer to catch stray fibers.]
I put the pan directly into my kitchen sink in case I would splash a lot of water around. Then, I drizzled my project with shampoo and filled the pan with very hot tap water — too hot for me to touch! I grabbed my potato masher and, using a twisting motion, started agitating my project. [Note: In addition to helping with agitation, the potato masher has the added benefit of letting you use extra hot water, since you don't have to touch the project with your hands.]
After a minute or so, my project appeared to stretch out. [Note: If this happens to you, don't worry! The fibers spread and become more malleable when they are introduced to hot water. The agitation is what causes the felting.]
5 minutes later, as you can see, the stitches started to shrink together. [Note: If your water cools down or becomes too sudsy, pour it out and add new soap and water. I changed my soap every 10 minutes or so.]
After another 10 minutes, my fabric started looking more like actual felt. [Note: Some stitches, like the ones on the edges of the right ear, still hadn't felted. I made sure to focus on those areas when I returned the ears to the water.]
Another 10 minutes later, my project had felted completely. I soaked the pieces with hot water and vigorously rubbed them together to finish the process.
After rinsing the pieces and rolling them in a towel to remove excess water, I blocked them around soup spoons to give them my desired shape.
Here are the fruits of my labor. Fit for the most glamorous of pigs, if I may say so myself!

Are you incorporating yarncrafts into yours or your kids’ Halloween costumes this year? Let us know in the comments!


A Sweater Dress for Every Body Type

September 15th, 2011

Pin It

While browsing the Pattern Finder®, I made a discovery: Lion Brand has designed a sweater dress pattern to flatter every body type (Hourglass, Pear, Apple, and Rectangle)! Check out my findings, as well as some styling tips, below.

Hourglass Knit Dress 

Show off your curves with a sheath-shaped dress that nips in at the waist. A length that hits at the knee helps to balance out your figure while showing a bit off leg. Ribbing at the yoke adds even more contouring.

For styling, add a low-slung belt and some fancy patterned tights.

[Note: The pattern shown uses Lion® Cashmere Blend, which is now discontinued. As a substitute, try using Superwash Merino Cashmere in Charcoal Heather.]

Pear Cable Luxe Maxi (shown on right) 

Your slender shoulders lend themselves well to ornate patterns at the neckline. An A-line skirt is flattering to wide hips. A length that goes past your knees will elongate and balance your figure.

For styling, this dress begs to be paired with equestrian-style boots.

Apple Speed Stix Mini Dress 

Apple types usually have long, lean legs, and this minidress helps to show them off! Empire shaping and smooth, sturdy fabric help to disguise a fuller waist. A boatneck neckline shows off your collarbone.

For styling, pair this with opaque tights or leggings and cute flats.

Rectangle Close-Fitting Dress 

Your slim, athletic figure looks best in body-hugging styles. An asymmetrical neckline adds interest and the illusion of curves. A lace insert at the skirt shows off a bit of leg.

For styling, go retro with a pair of slingback heels and a shrug.

[Note: The pattern shown uses Glitterspun®, which is now discontinued. As a substitute, try Vanna's Choice® in Scarlet. Or, to get the sparkly flash shown here, try stranding Microspun® in Cherry Red together with Vanna's Glamour® in Ruby Red.]

How would you style these sweater dresses? Which dress is your favorite? Comment and let us know!


Improve Your Home with 4 Quick & Easy Projects

September 8th, 2011

Pin It

There’s nothing like an upcoming family visit to make you realize that your home could use a serious fall cleaning. Suddenly, I’m seeing my apartment through my future guests’ eyes: a discolored lampshade here, clutter on the coffee table there. Luckily, I’ve figured out how to use my crafting skills to save the day!

Below are 4 easy projects that anyone can use to spruce up a home. Best of all, they’re great stashbusters, so you can even de-clutter your yarn basket–just in time to start stocking up on fall yarns!

Fall Nesting Bowls

That clutter on the coffee table never seems to go away, does it? With these adorable little nesting bowls, I can at least keep it organized.

Plant Hanger

I’d love to display my houseplants indoors, but until now, I’ve had to keep them outside and safe from my curious cats. With these plant hangers, I can brighten up my kitchen and keep my plants safe from teeth marks!

Lampshade Cover

One of my favorite lamps has developed an unsightly discolored patch on the shade. Until I can find a new one that fits, I can just whip up a lampshade cover! I can even use some old brooches I never wear for a set of fancy fasteners.

Striped Draft Stopper

Living in a first-floor apartment has its benefits, but it has its downsides, too. With this door stopper, I can block out unwanted visitors in late summer as well as unwanted drafts when the weather gets cooler.

Do you have any quick-to-make projects that you’ve used to spruce up your home? Tell us in the comments!


Round-Up: Fall 2011 Fashion Trends

August 26th, 2011

Pin It

Without a doubt, fall is my absolute favorite fashion season. The rich colors and luxurious fabrics are just what I need to get me through the winter months — even if I can only dream about wearing them!

Just recently, I saw a breakdown of fall trends on New York Magazine’s website that appealed to the yarncrafter (as well as the fashionista!) in me. According to their fashion reviews, two of fall’s biggest trends are Victorian-style lace collars and fur coats.

Seeing these trends got my imagination going — what patterns, I wondered, could I make that would hearken back to these luxurious, heirloom styles? I checked out our Pattern Finder®, and here are my favorites among the patterns I found.

Victorian Lace:

Crochet Lace Scarf 

This scarf is made of very Victorian, thick floral lace. Use it to add interest to a turtleneck or wear it as a shawl during transitional weather.

Pale Gray Lace Cowl 

This cowl hints at the lace collar trend without looking fussy. Try tucking it under a blazer for a polished look.

Ruffle Necklace Scarf 

The possibilities are endless for this fun, feminine accessory. For a more delicate look, try using a laceweight yarn like LB 1878. For a true Victorian lace look, use a DK weight yarn like LB Collection® Superwash Merino.

 

Fur:

Knit Segment Scarf  

Fur goes a little bit rock ‘n’ roll with this long scarf. Wear it to toughen up a casual look or to distinguish your formal look from the crowd.

Wendy Collar 

They won’t know it’s faux! This jaunty collar has the luxurious look of fur with the added plus of being animal-friendly.

Knit Vest with Fun Fur Trim 

The trim on this rugged vest uses two colors of Fun Fur® for an authentic look. The body incorporates Scattered Seed stitch for durability.

Do you like to incorporate fashion trends into your projects? Tell us in the comments!


How to Design Your Own Knit Sweater from a Picture: Shaping

August 14th, 2011

Pin It

In last week’s post, I told you how I chose the yarn and stitch pattern to create my own sweater design based on a picture. (To see the picture, click here.) This week, I’ll tell you how I figured out the shaping and the number of stitches to use.

As I mentioned last week, I had decided to knit the sleeves first, since their unusual shape determine the bust measurement. Not wanting to tackle the complicated part right away, I decided to begin at the cuffs.

First, I got my numbers in a row. Because I was using two different needle sizes (5 for the cuff and 10 for the main body), I made two different sample swatches, each 20 stitches by 20 rows. Then I measured them carefully. To figure out stitches per inch, I used this equation: Number of stitches ÷ swatch width = stitches per inch. I also figured out the number of rows per inch: Number of rows ÷ swatch length = rows per inch.

To figure out the number of stitches to cast on, I wrapped a measuring tape around my wrist at the desired snugness of the sleeve. Then I used this equation: Stitches per inch x cuff measurement = number of stitches. (I rounded the result up, since there’s no such thing as a fraction of a stitch!) Then, for my final number, I used this equation: Number of stitches (rounded up) + 2 stitches for seam allowance = numbercast on. Finally, I cast this number onto my size 5 needles and knit until the cuff was the length I wanted. (I chose to make it 2 1/2 inches long.)

Then, I realized that the sleeve needed to be wider at the shoulder than at the wrist. My cast-on amount of stitches wouldn’t reach around my shoulder and underarm — but how much wider should it be? When measuring my own shoulder proved to be too clumsy, I turned to my closet. There, I found a cardigan that has a similar fit to what I want my sweater to be: slight ease at the body with a bloused sleeve. I measured the shoulder seam.

Then, using the same math problem as I did for my cast-on, got a result that was 20 stitches more than the number I cast on. Therefore, I would have to make 20 increases.

Now that I knew how many increases to make, I had to figure out how to evenly distribute them. I knew the easiest method would be to use the Diophantine equation, better known by knitters as the Magic Formula. For this, I would also need to determine the length of the sleeve. I measured my arm from armpit to wrist. Then I used this equation, based on my main body swatch, to figure out the number of rows: (Arm measurement − length of cuff) x rows per inch = number of rows to knit. Finally, I searched online for a Magic Formula calculator. I chose one, entered my numbers, and voila — instant pattern!

Finally, I had to create the shaping at the shoulder and bust. This step took a little more guesswork than the previous ones. From my sketch, I knew that the sleeve would continue past the shoulder to form the neckline.

Therefore, I knew that I would have to bind off somewhere in the center of the sleeve piece to start the hole for my head. Based on this, I decided to continue with a stepped bind-off, rather than  decreases, to shape the scoopneck neckline.

To help myself figure out the shaping, I sewed the sleeve closed, up to where the bustline seam would begin. Then, trying the sleeve on, I used trial and error to figure out where my bind-offs should occur. After a couple of rounds of frogging, this was my result!

My sweater isn’t finished yet, but I’m really excited to put my design to the test. But even if it isn’t perfect, I have to admit — making the design has been half the fun!

Related links:


How to Design Your Own Knit Sweater from a Picture

August 7th, 2011

Pin It

Often, I’ll page through magazines thinking, “I could knit that!” But it wasn’t until recently, when I was paging through a catalog of fall fashions, that I decided to say, “I will knit that!”

The sweater that caught my eye (click here to see it) is constructed in a way that I had never seen before. Rather than let myself be intimidated, though, I decided to use what I’ve learned from knitting sweaters in the past to figure out how this one was made.

My first step was to make a rough sketch of the sweater so that I could get a better idea of its design elements. I noted that the set-in sleeves continued past the armhole and met in the middle, making a saddle sleeve shape. Since the sleeves determine the measurements of the body, I decided to knit them first.

Now I needed to figure out what kind of yarn to use. In the catalog image, the stitches were easy to see, even from far away. This told me that I should use a straight, or smooth, yarn to give the stitches lots of definition. Because I didn’t want to wait until it gets cold out to wear my sweater, I decided to use Lion® Cotton.

Then I needed to figure out how much yarn to buy. Using the Pattern Finder® on LionBrand.com, I found this Lion® Cotton sweater, which has a similar shape. Going by the measurements I would use for the Lion Brand pattern, I decided to buy 6 balls: 4 in my main color (Natural) and 2 in my stripe color (Poppy Red).

My next step was to figure out needle size. In the catalog picture, though the cuffs appeared to be tightly stitched, the fabric in the main body showed small holes among the stitches. This told me that my fabric there should be more open than usual, so I would need to use a larger-than-recommended needle. After making a few sample swatches, I chose size 10. (To make the tight-knit cuffs, I would use size 5. As an added bonus, changing the needle size midway gave me the bloused effect of the sleeves in the picture–no increasing needed!)

Finally, I needed to choose a stitch pattern. Where the fabric was stretched in the picture, I could see purls between the knits: K1, P1 rib it is! However, after knitting a few inches on size 10 needles in K1, P1 rib, I realized that the fabric was too open. I didn’t want to change the size of my needles, though, so I decided to change the stitch. I started using Mock Rib instead, and the results gave me just the right amount of sturdiness while maintaining the texture.

Next week, I’ll tell you how I constructed the sweater itself!

Have you ever designed or free-styled your own project? Tell us about it in the comments!

Related links:


What Is Fingering/Sock/Sport/DK/Worsted…Weight Yarn?

July 31st, 2011

Pin It

Yarn weights go by so many different names, it can be difficult to keep track of what’s what! (For example, did you know that Fingering weight and Sock weight are one and the same?)

To help you out, we’ve compiled a chart using the yarn weight standards developed by the Craft Yarn Council, along with examples of Lion Brand Yarn in each category.

Yarn Weight Symbol/Category Name Commonly Used Names Example of Lion Brand Yarn
Cobweb, Lace, Crochet Thread
LB Collection® Wool Stainless Steel *
Sock, Fingering, Baby
LB Collection® Silk Mohair
Sport, Baby
Vanna’s Glamour™
DK, Light Worsted
LB Collection® Cotton Bamboo
Worsted, Afghan, Aran
Wool-Ease®
Chunky, Craft, Rug
Wool-Ease® Chunky
Bulky, Roving
Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick®

* Note: Although LB Collection® Wool Stainless Steel is listed on our website as a Category 1 Super Fine yarn, it may be used as a Category 0 yarn.

Interested in learning more about which of our yarns are in which weight category? Click here to check out our list of yarns by weight class on LionBrand.com.

Related Links:


How to Felt Your Yarncrafting Projects in 3 Easy Steps

July 12th, 2011

Pin It

Whether you’re making a whimsical flower accessory or reinforcing a potholder, the felting process creates many new worlds of fun and function. Best of all, it’s surprisingly easy, even for a beginner!

Before you begin, check out our video with an introduction to felting. You’ll learn about how the felting process works, what kinds of projects you can use it for, and even some felting projects with no H2O required!

Ready to get started? Here are the 3 basic steps of felting:

  • Wash in warm water with soap. Soap actually speeds up the felting process!
  • Rinse in cool water. Rinsing in cool water “locks” the fibers in place. Most people have a warm wash/cool rinse setting on their machines (easy, huh?)
  • Air dry. If you are making a piece that needs to conform to a particular shape (say, a rectangle piece for a bag), it will likely be lopsided when it comes out of the dryer. Adjust it to the right shape BEFORE you let it dry (remember: once felted, felted for life) or pin it into shape on a blocking board and let it dry there.

Perfect the process with some of our favorite tips. For more pro felting tips, click here to read the list on LionBrand.com.

  • When washing your felted piece with other clothing, try putting it in a mesh lingerie bag – it will still get the benefit of agitation from the other clothes, but won’t get stuck!
  • Don’t worry if you piece looks slightly different than the picture! So many factors go into felting that it is inevitable it WILL look a little different. But that’s the beauty of it – your piece is completely unique!
  • Remember: no two washing machines are the same. To find out how felting will work in your machine, try making a gauge swatch and felting it so you can take measurements before and after.
  • Cut it out! Believe it or not, since felting “fuses” the fibers together, your piece won’t unravel. That means you can cut into the bottom to make a cute fringe, cut strips of felted fabric and weave them back together — the sky’s the limit!

Related links: