Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Free Spirit Topper Knit-Along: Gauge Swatching!

October 28th, 2015

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KAL #2Editor’s note: There’s still time to get your Knit-Along Kit, get your kit here now and use coupon code FALLKAL2015 to save 20% (until November 1st)! Don’t forget to join our Ravelry Forum; share your progress with us along the way!

Welcome to the Fall Knit Along! Your votes have spoken and our project is the Free Spirit Topper using the new Lion Brand Yarn — Scarfie.

I have been wanting to work with this yarn since the first moment I saw it!  I love the way the color changes throughout the skein.  I am a huge fan of knitting with yarn that changes as you go—it makes for a fun surprise around every corner.

I love this pattern because the level of difficulty is just right for a scarf-only knitter to take it to the next level and knit their first garment.  And for you experienced knitters out there, this is an opportunity for you to mentor those taking on a new challenge, and effortlessly end up with a beautiful, on trend garment.

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

As is always the case when knitting a garment, it is very important to take the time to knit a gauge swatch before beginning a project. I know, I used to think this was a waste of time too. I got so excited about my new project I just wanted to jump right in! I learned my lesson when I made my first cable-knit project—a hat for myself—and it fit my 2 year old. Whoops!

It doesn’t take that much time to knit a gauge, and if you don’t frog it to use in the final product, you have a little coaster that matches your sweater!


:: A gauge palette can be super helpful! Get this one here – ::

For this project I am using size 9, 14” Brittany needles. I love how my yarn slides so nicely on these super-sanded, strong needles.  I also love this length because each side is meant to be 15” wide, so when they fit nicely on my needle, I get constant affirmation that I’m knitting it in the right size!  Brittany needle company is so stellar, they even replace lost or damaged needles, no questions asked.

Just one last cheer for those of you considering this but are hesitating because you have only knit a scarf up to this point. You can do this. I will hold your hand through the whole process, and then we will be twins in our Scarfie Free Spirit Toppers!

I am Kristy Glass and I am so thrilled to be infiltrating the Lion Brand blog to lead you in the 2015 Fall Knit Along! Even though I learned to knit as a girl, my passion for fiber arts has escalated at a very steep rate these past several years.

I returned to knitting and began crocheting about 8 years ago after I suffered an unexpected health setback leaving me feeling completely out of control. Hand work was a healing salve for my body and soul as I suffered through a long healing process. Thankfully I continue to use knitting to aid meditation, solace and a feeling of accomplishment. I knit year round, despite weather changes, and I am highly anticipating us all knitting together on this project.

I have completed over 100 projects including scarves, cowls, hats, hand warmers, phone cozies, afghans, pillows, sweaters and yarn bombing. My most recent passion has been making sweaters and actually wearing what I make!


The Place I Go: Michelle’s Project Knitwell Story

October 26th, 2015

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The Place I Go: Michelle's Project Knitwell Story
In conjunction with launching Project Knitwell Presents: The Comfort of Knitting, we asked members of Project Knitwell to share their stories on how knitting helped them through a difficult time. Here, executive director of Project Knitwell Michelle Maynard shares how knitting a pair of socks for husband came to mean much more.

When my husband Matt, then a fit, healthy 53 year-old called me from our home in Virginia to tell me he had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, one of the first things I did was head for the yarn store.

It was December 2009, and I was in Rhode Island helping my mom who had undergone a lumpectomy.  After hanging up the phone, I left my mom in my dad’s care and headed for a Providence yarn store.  I was looking for a dose of “yarn therapy.”  I knew I would feel calmer after squishing some alpaca and merino, and that I would walk out of the shop with some yarn ready to tackle a project and be productive.  And I knew that project would be a pair of socks for Matt.

I had been promising Matt handknit socks for several years – ever since he started teasing me about how he was going to give me $5 for a package of store bought socks so I didn’t have to spend hours knitting them.

But my need to turn to my knitting in the wake of this news wasn’t just about the socks.  For me and many others, knitting is a way to cope with stress, increase focus, and engender a sense of accomplishment during uncertain times.  Scientific research has started to back up what we knitters already know about the positive effects of knitting on the brain.

I am a life-long knitter.  My mom taught me when I was a girl, and I have turned to knitting during times of stress:  I knit Icelandic sweaters during during exam study breaks in college.   I made scarves and baby sweaters for friends in the 1990s as I traveled to international hotspots for work.  A year or so after adopting our daughter from Russia, I started an evening knitting group at a local coffee shop to help deal with the stress of being home all day with a very active, headstrong three year-old who had spent her first 17 months in an orphanage.  In those years, I knit mostly fun fur scarves and little girl ponchos.

During Matt’s cancer journey, I knit a lot of thank you gifts: hats, shawls, cowls, and fingerless gloves for friends who offered meals, rides, and other support.  Of course, I knit several pairs of socks for Matt, who after receiving that first pair, never again offered me $5 for a store-bought pair.

I did a lot of knitting over the last 5 plus years in medical waiting rooms where inevitably from a screen overhead the local news is issuing a live report on the latest shooting, or the talking heads are screaming about health care or a fake judge is yelling at some guy about how he needs to pay his child support.  Knitting never failed to calm me during those waits.  I could always count on someone to start up a conversation about the color of the yarn or how they’d like to learn some day.

Medical staff usually got in on the conversation too:  “What are you knitting?”  “Is that knit or crochet?”  “How can you do that without looking?” “My wife makes fingerless gloves.”  Amid conversations about test results and scans and surgery, it was reassuring and calming  for both my husband and me  to have these humanizing, equalizing encounters with the doctors and caregivers.  I think it was to the doctors too.  My knitting provided an icebreaker, and leveled the playing field a bit.  It helped me be a quiet, supportive presence to my husband.

In Matt’s final weeks, I didn’t knit much because of the demands on my time that his care entailed.  In those last couple of days of his life, however, there were more quiet moments.  I picked up the needles again as I sat by his bedside, and clicked away on a pair of socks.  It gave us both great comfort.

Michelle Maynard is the Executive Director of Project Knitwell, a Washington, D.C. area non-profit that provides knitting instruction and quality knitting supplies to people facing stressful situations  in hospital, community, and other settings. Her husband Matt Sunter died in May 2015.

Knitting to Heal: Carol's Project Knitwell Story
Project Knitwell Presents: The Comfort of Knitting, is a unique book that focuses on  how to alleviate stress and offer comfort to families and caregivers facing difficult situations. More on Project Knitwell’s mission, as well as 7 new patterns are included in this publication. All proceeds from Lion Brand’s sale of this book go directly to Project Knitwell and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Counting Down to The Flower Run with David Babcock, the Knitting Runner!

October 23rd, 2015

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Lion Brand® is sponsoring David in not one but TWO marathons this fall! David is running to raise money for Alzheimer’s research and he needs your support – last year, with your help, David raised $10k, will you help David beat that?

Please donate today:

I love running the New York City Marathon. I get to run through all 5 boroughs and be cheered by enthusiastic spectators for the entire 26.2 miles of the race. Last year I ran while double-finger-knitting a scarf with the words, “I’ll Remember For You!”. This year I’ll be making crochet flowers!

Once again, to respect security restrictions, I will be running without tools or bulky bags. Each flower uses about 12 yards of Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick® yarn which I will wear on my arm as individual crocheted bracelets. I’ll use my fingers to crochet flowers while I run and once a flower is completed I’ll give it to a spectator and start another. My flower-per-mile pace is a little slow, maybe one every mile and a half. I’m hoping to finish the race in about 5 hours having made 20 flowers.




I created a pattern with simplicity and good definition in mind. It makes a five petaled flower about 5 1/2 inches across. Because my finger is replacing the hook the super-bulky yarn weight is necessary. Hometown USA® has my favorite flower colors, but I’ll be using Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick® because I feel it works better with my sweaty hands. Crochet can be hard, athletic work 😉 . My favorite yarn for this pattern is the cotton Bonbons with a tight 2.75mm hook. It makes intricate, clear and tight flowers that would look great attached to a hat, headband, or scarf.


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

Why am I doing this? Because it is crazy fun! and I am hoping that it will help bring attention to Alzheimer’s disease and support for caregivers. At “Walk To End Alzheimer’s” events participants hold up flowers for a “Promise Garden” moment of silence and commitment. The color of the flower that they hold represents their connection to Alzheimer’s. A blue flower represents someone who has Alzheimer’s, purple for those who have lost someone to Alzheimer’s, yellow for caregivers, and orange for those who recognize the importance of support and working to end the disease.

I don’t have a specific plan as to how I will choose who to give a flower to. I’ll try to follow inspiration rather than hallucinations from exhaustion. I think that I’ll probably be biased towards people wearing hand-knit items or purple in support of the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s affects far too many people’s lives. I hope that you’ll join me in making some flowers for people that you know who are affected.

—David Babcock, the Knitting Runner and Running Hooker

:: Donate and support Alzheimer’s research — make a
donation to David Babcock’s Alzheimer’s Fundraiser today!



David Babcock

David Babcock ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 3:56 (a PR) and raised just under $10k for Alzheimer’s research.


Yarncrafting Costumes: Designing an Interactive (and Creepy!) Headpiece

October 22nd, 2015

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In this guest post by Gali Beeri, she reveals a knitted costume that’s a true feast for the eyes…

With Halloween just around the corner, today I’d like to share the creepiest costume I’ve knitted yet. The theme for this particular costume party was “freak show”, along with “third eyes”, wherever they may peer from…

In exploring design ideas for my headpiece, at first I considered knitting a crown made of tiny eyes. Pondering the other side of the spectrum, perhaps one big eye would make more of a statement. And then inspiration struck – what if people could interact with my costume in some way? What if one big eye revealed many tiny eyes?

I set about knitting one tiny eyeball after another. The yarn was an easy decision; of course my tiny eyeballs need to sparkle! Working on a set of US 1 double-pointed needles, I knit a small sphere starting out with Vanna’s Glamour® in Diamond and switching to blue (using scrap yarn I had left over from other projects) for the iris. Afterward I embroidered the pupil using a length of black yarn.

Once I had 14 tiny eyeballs, I set about stitching them together around a central knitted sphere. I added a few silver sequins with needle and thread for good sparkly measure.

Next I designed and knitted the giant eye. Using Vanna’s Glamour® and Vanna’s Choice® in White held together on a US 8 needle, I made a sphere about six inches in diameter. I switched colors for the iris, working with Vanna’s Choice® in Aqua. I worked the last couple of rounds with more Vanna’s Choice® in Black held together with Vanna’s Glamour® in Onyx.

Note that I didn’t knit the sphere closed. I left an opening large enough for the cluster of tiny eyeballs to fit through, so that people would be able to reach inside the giant eye and pull out the tiny cluster of eyes. I knitted a small flap in black and attached it halfway around the opening, and sewed on some Velcro so the flap could close neatly and give the appearance of a pupil. I embroidered details on the iris with Glitterspun® in Aquamarine for added depth and sparkle.

I worried the large eye wouldn’t hold its shape well without the tiny cluster inside, as I also wanted the large eye to “stand alone” as its own piece. So I knitted a smaller partial sphere – a pocket, if you will. Nesting the pocket inside the eye, I inserted stuffing between the two layers and seamed them together at the eye’s opening. For increased sturdiness, I wove a length of jewelry wire around the circumference of the eye.

To attach the piece to my head, I found my new favorite resource – a plastic lace headband! The holes throughout the headband were perfect as anchor points where I could stitch the knitted eye.

If I may say so myself, I consider this piece a resounding success! Many party attendees loved reaching into my giant eye and discovering what was inside. A couple of folks were too scared to reach inside because the eye was so creepy, which I found endlessly entertaining – an effective “freak show” costume indeed!

A few weeks after this party, I found yet another excuse to wear my creation. This time the theme was rainbow colors, so I knitted a few tiny spheres out of Bonbons® in Brights, stitched some eyes on them in black, and connected them in a silly little cluster around a small hand-wound ball of white Vanna’s Choice®. Reusable costume knitting for the win!

What are you making for Halloween?

Knitting to Heal: Carol’s Project Knitwell Story

October 19th, 2015

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Knitting to Heal: Carol's Project Knitwell Story
Carol Caparosa is the founder and board member of Project Knitwell, an organization dedicated to bringing comfort and therapy to people facing stressful situations through the joy of knitting. In this piece, Carol shares the story of her first born, and how a difficult time led to her back to knitting.

After 19 hours of labor, my first child was born, a beautiful, healthy little girl we named Emily.  She was discharged in two days and life with a new baby began.  Sleepless nights, lots of staring in the crib, holding and soothing her, navigating the early days of nursing and figuring out what she needed – not an easy task.  At one week old, I noticed that Emily seemed to be breathing funny, a little labored and her coloring a little paler than the day before.  I called the pediatrician’s office and the nurse didn’t seemed to be alarmed but said I could bring Emily in.

My Mom and I drove to the doctor’s office and they took her to a room immediately.  Within a few minutes, several doctors rushed into the room with their stethoscopes and started asking me multiple questions about Emily and my pregnancy. The mood in the room was serious and hurried.  The senior pediatrician scooped Emily into his arms, ran out of the office, down the hallway, out the door, across the street, and into the emergency room.  My Mom followed him, while I went to an office to hysterically call my husband.

The Longest Wait

The ER doctors were uncertain what was going on but they knew that Emily was in kidney failure and shock.  One smart neonatologist had a hunch that it might be a certain heart defect and administered medication that provided some relief.  She was transferred to Georgetown University Hospital and rushed to the pediatric intensive care unit.  We waited as specialists examined our tiny daughter and tests were given.  We called our families and asked for prayers.  Finally, two cardiologists’ and an intensivist sat down with us and one of the cardiologists said “if she makes it through the night, her first surgery will be.”  That cardiologist made a drawing, which I still have, of a normal heart and a drawing of Emily’s heart.  He numbered 4 areas that were defective.  I asked for a priest who came and baptized Emily that night.

The surgery was the next morning and she survived it.  But within 2 weeks, she was losing weight and in cardiac failure due to one of the other defects.  At 3 weeks old, and 5 pounds, she had open-heart surgery.  They kept her in a coma for days after the surgery so she could begin to heal.  She did heal, but faced more surgeries during the next 5 years.

A Welcome Distraction

I lived at the hospital and only came home for very brief periods.  I couldn’t stand being away from her, even though in those days, parents could only be in the ICU’s at certain times.  I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms and slept on a cot with other random parents in a room down the hall.  I couldn’t read, watch television, or talk on phone, when I was at the hospital.  I could literally stare at the same sentence in a book for hours.  There was no internet, cell phones or caring bridge website to let concerned family members know how she was doing.  I could only worry and I did that well.  One day, my husband brought in the mail from home and there was a package with a hand-knit sweater that my sister-in-law’s mother knit for Emily.  I opened it and thought that it was the nicest gift anyone could give a baby.  I knew how to knit but hadn’t in a long time.  A light bulb went off and I thought that I would start knitting for the rest of the time Emily was hospitalized.  Not sure why, but somehow, I imagine this would help me.

The next time I went home, I found some yarn, and needles, because all knitters, even when we aren’t knitting, have a stash.  I knit my way through the rest of her hospitals stays.  At first, I just knit, without really making anything – it was the process, not the end product for me.  Eventually, I got patterns and started to make things for Emily.  Her surgeries were long – 7 plus hours and we didn’t get a lot of updates, but somehow I could manage waiting by knitting.   I knit when I couldn’t sleep and when she was sleeping.   I felt productive when I was knitting even though I never finished anything in the hospital. But once she was home, I continued to knit and completed many sweaters that I still have packed away.

A Happy Present

Emily’s surgeries continued for 5 years, we had another baby, a son, and our life eventually took on a normal pace.  After 15 years, I went back to Georgetown Hospital to volunteer.  I volunteered in the in-patient pediatric unit and told the Child Life Specialist that I would be happy to teach Moms to knit.  It took off, and so did the idea of Project Knitwell.  I wanted to build an organization that would provide knitting instruction and quality materials to people who were in stressful situations in healthcare settings in hopes that they would gain the benefits that I had gained.

Emily, at 21, had to have another heart procedure.  It was suppose to be out-patient, but it turned out to be more complicated and included a stay in the ICU for a few days.  The day of her procedure, I brought with me music to listen to, sudoko puzzles, a book I was reading, my knitting, and, of course, the waiting room had a television.  I tried it all, my book, sudoko, TV, but the only thing I could do was knit and listen to my iPod.  Hopefully Emily won’t need more surgeries but, if she does, I’m only going to pack my knitting and iPod.

One last thing… Emily is now a healthy 25 year old, recently engaged, and a pediatric intensive care nurse in the same unit at Georgetown Hospital where she was cared for as an infant.  I still volunteer at Georgetown and love seeing her in her new role  on the days we are there together.  She knows how to knit too!


Knitting to Heal: Carol's Project Knitwell Story
Project Knitwell Presents: The Comfort of Knitting, is a unique book that focuses on  how to alleviate stress and offer comfort to families and caregivers facing difficult situations. More on Project Knitwell’s mission, as well as 7 new patterns are included in this publication. All proceeds from Lion Brand’s sale of this book go directly to Project Knitwell and the Alzheimer’s Association.