Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Author Archive


Learn to Finger Knit with the Knitting Runner, David Babcock

October 29th, 2014

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db_squareFeatured in the New York Times and around the world, David Babcock is the Guinness World Record holder for knitting the longest scarf (12 feet!) while running a marathon, which he did in Kansas City last October. Coupled with a great deal of skill and endurance, David credits his choice in using Lion Brand’s Hometown USA as a factor in his amazing accomplishment! Lion Brand is sponsoring David in the New York City Marathon on November 2nd, 2014 and lucky for us, he’s agreed to write for us leading up to race day! Plus, you can meet David while he’s in New York City!

This Sunday, I’ll be running the New York City Marathon while knitting a scarf. I’m doing it to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s. While training for the New York City Marathon, I was faced with a problem. Due to security concerns I was told that I would not be allowed to bring knitting needles or a crochet hook with me on the run. I respect the great service that the New York Police Department provides and want to support their efforts. So I had to come up with a way to knit on the run without needles.

I tried arm knitting, but a 15 minute scarf doesn’t fill my target 4 hour finish time and the giant loose gauge would not hold up well on the run. I was aware of what is commonly called finger knitting but I didn’t feel that a 4 stitch stockinette would work well either. So I did a little experimentation of my own and in the process I learned more about knitting.

Knitting at its simplest level is just a series of loops inside of loops. Knitting needles are a very helpful tool for holding stitches and picking up and pulling loops through, but learning where to insert them and how to twist them was quite a challenge for me as a beginner.

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Go To The Fair – Michelle Edwards Visits Rhinebeck

October 29th, 2014

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“… Go to the Fair, Templeton. You will find that the conditions at a fair will surpass
your wildest dreams. Buckets with sour mash sticking to them, tin cans
containing particles of tuna fish, greasy paper bags stuffed with rotten …”
“That’s enough!” cried Templeton. “Don’t tell me anymore. I’m going.”

E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

baaaaConvincing my cousin Janet to go to The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival wasn’t hard. Unlike Templeton the rat in Charlotte’s Web, she didn’t need the lure of sour mash, stray particles of tuna fish, or even greasy paper bags. The mere mention of sheep and wool and she was on board.

I had been to Rhinebeck, as the event is known in the fiber world, when I was promoting my knitting book, A Knitter’s Home Companion. My fair days back then were spent almost entirely signing books. This summer, after attending a small Iowa sheep and wool festival, I got the itch to go back to the big one, to Rhinebeck, to see what I had missed.

Rhinebeck is not only about wool. Among the offerings there were a bred ewe auction, an angora goat show, and an exotic breeds parade. In addition, there were demos of “blue ribbon hearth” cooking, canine Frisbee, sheepdog herding and more. Not to mention classes like Weave a Williamsburg Basket, Art and Science of Natural Dyeing, Needle Felting in 2-D and 3-D, Made in the Moment Jewelry, Double Knitting, Beginning Rug Hooking and Spinning for Socks.

Of course, Janet and I went straight for the wool. We cruised booth after booth, discussed the merits of projects and yarns on display. Often our eyes were drawn to the handwork worn by other fair attendees. We admired lacy shawls, cabled sweaters and the stunning green baby blankets covering a pair of adorable twins in their side-by-side stroller.
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Two Knitting Runners: David Babcock Interviews Friend and Fellow Knitting Runner, Susie Hewer

October 11th, 2014

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db_squareFeatured in the New York Times and around the world, David Babcock is the Guinness World Record holder for knitting the longest scarf (12 feet!) while running a marathon, which he did in Kansas City last October. Coupled with a great deal of skill and endurance, David credits his choice in using Lion Brand’s Hometown USA as a factor in his amazing accomplishment! Lion Brand is sponsoring David in the New York City Marathon on November 2nd, 2014 and lucky for us, he’s agreed to write for us leading up to race day!

:: Sponsor David and support Alzheimer’s research — make a donation today! ::

susie_hewer_10082014When someone discovers a person who knits or crochets while running, they’re understandably surprised by the incongruous pairing, even more surprised when they learn that it’s a phenomenon not limited to one person AND even has a bit of a history!

David Babcock interviews the pioneer of yarn-on-the-run, the original knitting runner, Susie Hewer. Susie held David’s record previously and currently she is the Guinness World Record holder for the longest crochet chain made while running a marathon, achieved at the 2014 London Marathon in London, UK, on April 13, 2014.

David: On your blog you share the story of wanting to do something special for the 2005 London Marathon while running for the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK when a friend said that you should ‘act your age and stay at home with your knitting!’. Did you take this as a challenge? What was your process in figuring out how you would use your knitting with the marathon? Had you heard of anyone else that had tried anything like it?

Susie: I most certainly did take it as a challenge! I didn’t act upon it immediately but I turned the thought over and over in my mind, thinking perhaps I’d run in fancy dress as a ball of yarn or a giant knitting needle or even running it dressed entirely in knitted garments, until the idea of actually taking my knitting with me on the run popped into my head. Of course I dismissed that idea straight away as that would be plain silly now wouldn’t it! But the idea festered away in the back of my mind until I decided that I would in fact take my knitting with me with the intention of running for a bit and then stopping to chat to the crowd whilst knitting.

This concept caught the attention of the media and I was featured in a few articles in the Press which was spotted by the people from Guinness World Records who contacted me to suggest that I could turn it into a record attempt. After much tooing and frooing of ideas we came up with the concept of me knitting a scarf whilst running. This of course meant that I would actually have to knit whilst running. Oh my!

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Top Down Crochet Jacket Crochet-Along: Finishing Touches

October 9th, 2014

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CAL_08282014We’ve made it! It’s the final week of the crochet along and all we have left now are a few finishing touches. Adding a few buttons and some blocking will make our projects perfect.

Blocking

Blocking is one of the final steps that should be used for almost every project. Blocking sets the stitches and gives you the chance to straighten edges and slightly reshape any areas that need it.

There are different methods for blocking but the one that I recommend for this project is wet blocking. To wet block take your garment and soak it in water for at least 30 minutes to make sure it is thoroughly wet all of the way through. If you think your sweater could use a cleaning add some wool wash to your soak.

Once soaked, carefully pull it out of the water and gently squeeze out the excess. Be careful not to agitate the sweater too much while it is wet to avoid felting. Lay it out on a blocking mat or stack of towels and pat it into shape. Pin down rolling edges if necessary. Allow a day or two for drying. Once dry your sweater will remember the shape it dried in.
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Top Down Crochet Jacket Crochet-Along: Edging

October 2nd, 2014

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CAL_08282014 Welcome back everyone! We’re getting so close, at this point our sweaters actually look like sweaters, just a few finishing touches! This week we will focus on the edging.

For the edging a surface slip stitch is used first to create a foundation then later as a design element. A surface slip stitch makes a chain appear on the surface of the fabric. This is a great technique that you can use to add embellishments to any project. Here is a couple pictures of me starting the edging:

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David Babcock, the Knitting Runner, Wants to Make a Trade: Your Alzheimer’s Story for a Scarf

September 30th, 2014

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babcock_knitrun_sept10Featured in the New York Times and around the world, David Babcock is the Guinness World Record holder for knitting the longest scarf (12 feet!) while running a marathon, which he did in Kansas City last October. Coupled with a great deal of skill and endurance, David credits his choice in using Lion Brand’s Hometown USA as a factor in his amazing accomplishment! Lion Brand is sponsoring David in the New York City Marathon on November 2nd, 2014 and lucky for us, he’s agreed to write for us leading up to race day!

Greetings from the Knitting Runner. I have some knit-while-running scarves I want to give away, keep reading …

It’s hard to believe that the fall marathons are nearly here — it’s just starting to get cool enough that I’m thinking about knitting some new hats. I’ll be running the Kansas City Half Marathon on October 18th and the New York City Full Marathon on November 2nd. And yes, I’ll be knitting as I run! I’m deep into my training runs and testing my multi-tasking dexterity.

I’ve also joined the NYC Athletes To End Alzheimer’s team and am actively fundraising – please donate!

So, about those scarves I mentioned …

I want to hear your stories about Alzheimer’s and knitting. Are you a knitter or crocheter who has Alzheimer’s? Do you care for someone with Alzheimer’s and still find the time to knit or crochet? Please share your story in the comments below. If I have your stories in my head and heart as I run/knit, they will lend me more strength and purpose.

On October 30th, Lion Brand will randomly select five people who have shared stories to receive one of my scarves. At least once a week I knit a scarf while on the run and they’re stacking up!

I really want to get connected with my Alzheimer’s community. I know you’re out there and that, like me, knitting (or crocheting) is something you do while doing other hard things too. I am cheering for you!

Sincerely,

David Babcock
knittingrunner.com

***

Since its creation in 2009, the Alzheimer’s Association’s NYC Marathon teams have raised well over $2 million. The Chapter offers free support and education to the more than half a million New York City residents who either have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia or are caring for someone who does.

:: Support Alzheimer’s research — make a donation today! ::

Photo: David with a recently-made scarf, finger-knit with Hometown USA while running 10 miles in 80 minutes on September 10th!


Top Down Crochet Jacket: Sleeve Construction

September 25th, 2014

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CAL_08282014Welcome back! We’re half way through the CAL this week, now that we’ve gotten our start and worked out the kinks it’s time for the rows to start flying by. After working through the raglan, the body of the sweater follows suit. As you go you can try it on just as you did before and work to your desired length.

The next place where we will do something new is the sleeves. Here we will shift from working back and forth to working in the round. Here is a visual guide for starting the sleeve.
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Top Down Crochet Jacket Crochet-Along: Raglan

September 18th, 2014

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CAL_08282014Welcome back everyone! I hope you all had a good week of swatching and are ready for the real fun to begin! There were some great questions and comments on last weeks post. It’s great to see everyone jumping in to help each other out so keep those questions coming.

This week is all about raglan. Raglan is a sweater construction that extends the sleeve up into the neckline creating diagonal lines from the underarm to the neck. In this pattern we work from the top down which allows us to try on the sweater as we go and make adjustments if needed to fit perfectly.

As we get started careful reading for this pattern is the key to success. The sweater is divided into 5 sections: right front, right sleeve, back, left sleeve, and left front. Increases are worked in each section to make the shaping. The differences in the increases from row to row are very subtle. For instance, take a look at row 3 and notice how the increases are different in this row. These subtle changes will occur throughout the pattern.

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Top Down Crochet Jacket Crochet-Along: Swatching

September 11th, 2014

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CAL_08282014Welcome all to the 2014 Fall Crochet Along! I’m Grace and I will be guiding you through the Top Down Crochet Jacket. This is a great project that should give most a little challenge. (If you haven’t acquired your materials yet, you still can: http://lby.co/1liJ1a1.) Throughout the next 5 weeks we will explore swatching, raglan shaping, working with multiple colors and much more. If you are a beginner don’t let the skill level discourage you. We are all here to support each other. Throughout the project post your questions and I’ll be here to help. I also invite other experienced crocheters to share their knowledge so we can all learn from each other.

There are so many things that excite me about this project. I love wooly yarns like Fisherman’s Wool®. While at first is may seem a little rough it softens up wonderfully with wear, the longer you wear it the cozier it gets, perfect to cuddle up with this coming winter! The self-striping colors of Amazing® are beautiful and add so much interest without the extra work. For those of you who don’t need such a warm wooly sweater there are plenty of yarns that you could substitute. For something wool-free and machine-washable I would suggest substituting Vanna’s Choice® for the Fisherman’s Wool® and Landscapes® for the Amazing®. For my project I will be using Fisherman’s Wool® in Nature’s Brown and Amazing® in Strawberry Fields .

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A Knitter’s Portrait

August 10th, 2014

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This column by Michelle Edwards, author of A Knitter’s Home Companion, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter. To sign up for the Weekly Stitch and get columns like this, free patterns, how-to videos and more, click here.

mother knittingMy mother, Lillian Edwards, was a life-long knitter. She was an attractive, well-dressed woman: tall and thin with dark black hair and almond-shaped brown eyes that almost looked Asian. She called them “laughing eyes,” and that is how I like to remember them.

I’m told that as a young woman my mother knit socks, argyle ones. It was in the days before I was born, perhaps before she was married … maybe even as a young, single, working woman, living in Manhattan with her parents in a tiny apartment on Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island.

My mother grew up poor. Her parents were both Russian immigrants. My grandma Yetta, with a handkerchief soaked in vinegar, wrapped around her head, rested a lot. She suffered from migraines and was always carrying a large purse with her — as if she was waiting to be uprooted again. This time she would be prepared. I would often seen her stuffing sugar packets in her purse when we were at HoJo’s.

My grandfather, Samuel, was as a quiet man. Hard to reconcile my gentle grandpa with the gangster he used to be. My grandfather and his brothers were the strongmen for a liquor smuggling ring during prohibition. When they double crossed the boss, two of my uncles were murdered in broad daylight at a Philadelphia street corner. My grandparents, my mother, and my uncle fled Philadelphia in a hurry and slipped into Coney Island where they could meld and blend into the mass of Russian Jews like themselves.

I don’t know who taught my mother to knit. Maybe my grandmother did, when she was not resting. It wasn’t a question I ever thought to ask my mother when she was alive. I know that she taught me how to knit and that she knit like a Russian Jew, with her yarn in left hand, wrapped around second finger, picking open the stitch and pulling the yarn through with her right hand needle. It is a very fast and efficient way to knit and I am often asked by knitters out here in the Midwest to teach them “my way” of knitting.

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