Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Round-Up: Fall 2011 Fashion Trends

August 26th, 2011

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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.



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

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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!

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How to Design Your Own Knit Sweater from a Picture

August 7th, 2011

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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, 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!

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

July 31st, 2011

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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
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

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How to Felt Your Yarncrafting Projects in 3 Easy Steps

July 12th, 2011

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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

  • 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!

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