Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Author Archive


Meet the Soldier Who Learned to Crochet While in Afghanistan

March 25th, 2014

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We featured David Muir on our Facebook page earlier this month, which received an overwhelming positive response. We asked him a few questions about himself and how he got interested in crocheting.

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself, like where you’re from and why you decided to join the military.

I’m originally from Easton, Maryland but I call Pooler, Georgia home now. I joined the Army because of the “adventure” and “awesome toys” — eventually it became more than that. I worked with a group of individuals that became my great friends, and my family.

I was in the Army for 10 years until I decided to seek new adventures. Many of us were stationed together for 6+ years. At that point, others started getting out or changing duty station. It just changed. It wasn’t the same. I needed to try something new. When I got out of the Army in July 2011 I lived in Spain for the summer. I even worked at a scuba dive shop just for fun.

afghan-facebook
David Muir and his first afghan,
made with Hometown USA.

After that I moved to Pooler, GA where I lived with my brother, Danny. I worked for Gulfstream as a Quality Engineer but soon missed my Army brothers. When I heard my old unit was deploying to Afghanistan, I decided to look for a job with the slight chance I’ll see them again. Working on the Apache Helicopter is my specialty so our field is quite small. Unfortunately I didn’t get the same base as my old unit, so I’m not in the military anymore. Now I work for DynCorp Aviation.

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7 Ways Knitting Keeps You Healthy and Well

February 28th, 2014

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This article originally appeared in TreeHugger and is reprinted with permission from Katherine Martinko.

knitting-keeps-healthy

Last month I wrote an article called “Why bother knitting a scarf?” Much to my surprise, I received thousands of positive reactions from readers who share my love of homemade, local, and beautiful “slow fashion” items. Clearly, knitting is being embraced by people from all walks of life who benefit from its peaceful, relaxing repetition. It got me wondering – what’s really going on when people knit? Why is it so tremendously popular?

It turns out that knitting has incredible health benefits. It makes people feel good in just about every way. A bit of research has revealed a wide range of ways in which knitting helps humans cope, physically and mentally.

1. Knitting is used for therapy. It’s a powerful distractant, helping people manage long-term physical pain. For those who are depressed, knitting can motivate them to connect with the world. It is a conversation starter, allowing people to interact politely without making eye contact. It builds confidence and self-esteem.

2. Knitting is supremely relaxing, which is extremely important for reducing stress and anxiety. Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute, wrote The Relaxation Response, in which he recommends the repetition of a word, sound, phrase, prayer, or muscular activity to elicit “the relaxation response” – decreased heart rate, muscle tension, and blood pressure. Knitting is likened to meditation, sometimes described by knitters as “spiritual” and “Zen-like.”

3. Knitting connects people. By joining a knitting group, a solitary activity turns into a social one. One study, called “The Benefits of Knitting for Personal and Social Wellbeing in Adulthood” and published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, found that “knitting in a group impacted significantly on perceived happiness, improved social contact, and communication with others.”

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Being A Part of the Family – My Story by Gabby Blumenthal

February 27th, 2014

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Gabby Blumenthal, 20 year old college student and the daughter of Jack Blumenthal, Senior VP of Lion Brand Yarn Company, shares her story of growing up in the family that started Lion Brand Yarn Company. She recently attended the annual Craft and Hobby Association trade show with her Dad, and talks about her experience.

Family picture.
Family picture taken in 1999.  Pictured from left to right: Dean, David, Isidor, Gabby, Jack, and Reuben Blumenthal.

When I was a little girl, my Dad would come home from work, loosen his tie and tuck me into bed with a story. Now, my Dad’s stories were far from conventional. For one thing, he was terrible at make-believe and couldn’t tell a princess from a portal. So, telling me all he knew how to tell, my Dad would talk at length about his own life-long adventures. I can’t tell you how many times I heard about how he got stuck in an international airport, or when he was babysitting a cat and, not to ruin the story or anything, but the poor cat died.

When these “epic” tales wore thin, my dad started on the family tree. I heard about everyone from Great, Great Grandpa Reuben to my own Grandfather, George, whom I never had the chance to meet and am honored to be named after. I heard about how Dad wanted to go into Lion Brand since he was four years old, always knowing that he was passionate about having a career in the yarn industry.

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7 Tips for Knitting Your First Sweater

January 16th, 2014

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:: Re-printed with permission, Craftsy writer Ashley — aka “The Feisty Redhead” — offers these tips for knitting your first sweater. If you’d like a little more help with the leap to sweater knitting, Lion Brand and Craftsy have partnered to bring you the online class: “My First Sweater“. Keep reading … ::

The step from knitting a scarf to knitting a sweater is a big one, but it’s necessary if you want to avoid knitting rectangles for the rest of your life. Knitting your first sweater can be frustrating, but it can also be a lot of fun. If you’re looking for a winter project, why not knit a sweater? Here are a few things to keep in mind before you even start knitting that sweater.

craftsy_MyFirstSweaterCardigan_1
Sweater cardigan on a mannequin.
Photos via Craftsy instructor Amy Ross

1. Know the basics

No need to have a PhD in knitting (if only!) to knit a sweater. If you can knit and purl, you can knit a sweater. The cardigan above is one of the sweater patterns from Craftsy’s My First Sweater class with Amy Ross. Enroll in the class and Amy will walk you through everything you need to know about knitting your first sweater, from body measurements to sleeves and seaming. You can even ask Amy questions if you get stuck!

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A Fast and Easy Yarn-Themed Ornament

December 1st, 2013

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Bonbons Ornament Idea | Lion Brand Notebook

With less than a month to go until Christmas, it’s fun to make quick and easy little projects to add a festive touch to your home. Friend of Lion Brand, Chris Zimmerman, of the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Festival sent us this photo of his great ornament idea from the last holiday season. Here’s what he had to say about it: 

We were invited to bring an ornament to trade instead of a gift to trade with other attendees at the party.  The ornament was suppose to be related to something that was important in your life or related to you life in some way. Of course since my partner and I do so many things with fiber arts we automatically thought of something with yarn. Being only a day or so before the event there was no time to actually knit something so our thoughts were running into dead ends. While walking through Joann Fabrics I spotted the last few packages of Bonbons that they had. A little imagination  and what I came up with are seen in the pictures.

Enjoy!!

For more ornament ideas from LionBrand.com, click here.


Kitchen-Safe Dyeing, Part 3: Grape Juice

November 26th, 2013

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Sister and brother duo, Elizabeth and Robby Miracle, first created this dyeing series for a Lion Brand newsletter several years ago. Although that newsletter is no longer around, we loved the idea of making kitchen-safe dyes so much, that we’ve updated it and reprinted the series here. 

Kitchen-Safe Dyeing | Lion Brand Notebook

Creating your own dyes can be a fun and exciting way to personalize projects.  This month, we show you how to make all-natural dyes and use them with different cotton and wool yarns.

We used only edible items purchased at our local market, boiling water (and in some cases, salt or vinegar) to make beautiful, all-natural dyes.

After trying our dyes, you will probably want to experiment with other natural food dyes of your own.  Start by using fruits or vegetables that stain and experiment!  You can mix dye baths to make different colors.  You will probably find, as we did, that the colors are all — surprise — “earth” tones!

Because this project requires boiling water, adult supervision is required.

Dye Bath with Grape Juice

This quantity of dye will easily color 2 skeins of LB Collection Pure Wool or , 2 skeins of Nature’s Choice Organic CottonOther options include: Alpine Wool, Fishermen’s Wool, LB Collection Organic Wool, LB Collection Superwash Merino, Martha Stewart Crafts™ Merino, Martha Stewart Crafts™ Roving Wool, Martha Stewart Crafts™ Cotton Hemp, Kitchen Cotton. Click here to see all Lion Brand yarns. 

grape-cottona  grape-woola
Dyed Cotton Dyed Wool

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Kitchen-Safe Dyeing, Part 2: Using Skins of Yellow Onions

November 19th, 2013

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Sister and brother duo, Elizabeth and Robby Miracle, first created this dyeing series for a Lion Brand newsletter several years ago. Although that newsletter is no longer around, we loved the idea of making kitchen-safe dyes so much, that we’ve updated it and reprinted the series here. 

Kitchen-Safe Dyeing, Part 2: Using Skins of Yellow Onions | Lion Brand Notebook

Creating your own dyes can be a fun and exciting way to personalize projects.  This month, we show you how to make all-natural dyes and use them with different cotton and wool yarns.

We used only edible items purchased at our local market, boiling water (and in some cases, salt or vinegar) to make beautiful, all-natural dyes.

After trying our dyes, you will probably want to experiment with other natural food dyes of your own.  Start by using fruits or vegetables that stain and experiment!  You can mix dye baths to make different colors.  You will probably find, as we did, that the colors are all — surprise — “earth” tones!

Because this project requires boiling water, adult supervision is required.

Dye Bath Using Skins of Yellow Onions

This quantity of dye will easily color 2 skeins of LB Collection Pure Wool or , 2 skeins of Nature’s Choice Organic CottonOther options include: Alpine Wool, Fishermen’s Wool, LB Collection Organic Wool, LB Collection Superwash Merino, Martha Stewart Crafts™ Merino, Martha Stewart Crafts™ Roving Wool, Martha Stewart Crafts™ Cotton Hemp, Kitchen Cotton. Click here to see all Lion Brand yarns. 

yellow-onion-skin-cottona  yellow-onion-skin-woola
Dyed Cotton Dyed Wool

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Kitchen-Safe Dyeing, Part 1: Turmeric

November 14th, 2013

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Sister and brother duo, Elizabeth and Robby Miracle, first created this dyeing series for a Lion Brand newsletter several years ago. Although that newsletter is no longer around, we loved the idea of making kitchen-safe dyes so much, that we’ve updated it and reprinted the series here. 

Kitchen-Safe Dyeing | Lion Brand Notebook

Creating your own dyes can be a fun and exciting way to personalize projects.  This month, we show you how to make all-natural dyes and use them with different cotton and wool yarns.

We used only edible items purchased at our local market, boiling water (and in some cases, salt or vinegar) to make beautiful, all-natural dyes.

After trying our dyes, you will probably want to experiment with other natural food dyes of your own.  Start by using fruits or vegetables that stain and experiment!  You can mix dye baths to make different colors.  You will probably find, as we did, that the colors are all — surprise — “earth” tones!

Because this project requires boiling water, adult supervision is required.

Turmeric Dye

This quantity of dye will easily color 2 skeins of LB Collection Pure Wool or , 2 skeins of Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton. Other options include: Alpine Wool, Fishermen’s Wool, LB Collection Organic Wool, LB Collection Superwash Merino, Martha Stewart Crafts™ Merino, Martha Stewart Crafts™ Roving Wool, Martha Stewart Crafts™ Cotton Hemp, Kitchen Cotton. Click here to see all Lion Brand yarns. 

turmeric-cottona  turmeric-woola
Dyed Cotton Dyed Wool

Ingredients:
1 oz ground turmeric
3 quarts water

Bring mixture to a boil in a stainless steel or enamel pot and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  It will reduce in volume some what while boiling. As soon as it is finished cooking, you can use it.

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My Weekend of Peace, Music, and Goodtimes

November 13th, 2013

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label

Today’s story comes from Shira Blumenthal, a current employee at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, and the daughter of our President and CEO, David Blumenthal. Shira is excited to share with us how she’s getting ready for her upcoming wedding at the end of the month.

As I was in the final stages of getting ready for my wedding, I was also thinking of some way to thank my bridal party for all their support and hard work. They were a smattering of 11 close friends who I had known throughout my entire life, from 5th grade to the present. With all the last-minute planning, not to mention the overall nervous fact that the event was just weeks away, I just wanted to go away for a bit and relax.

When they had surprised me with a bachelorette weekend at our family house in Woodstock, I couldn’t have been happier.

It was no secret that my family ran Lion Brand or that I loved to knit. So I decided the best thing was to make a thank you gift for everyone. I loved cowls for the sheer fact you could just put it on and go out the door. I am fond of knitting in the round, and knew I could whip up several in no time—which came in handy if I was making them for eleven people.

With the Lion Brand Yarn Studio’s  distinctive wall of yarn, it made choosing colors a breeze. I’m traditional at heart and felt a range of natural shades would suit all of them. When we got to the house, I got a bit nostalgic as we drove up to the house—remembering all life’s milestones I’ve had in that house: my first steps, my first words, and now my bachelorette weekend.

When the girls showed me the t-shirts they would all be wearing, complete with a picture of She-Ra and the date of the event. I couldn’t help but laugh, and had wonderful flashbacks of when I first met each of my friends who thought I was named after the famed Princess of Power! Although this was not so, they knew that given any superhero to idolize it would be her!

In turn, I gave them their own goodie bag filled with fun weekend essentials and their own cowls with a customized label to commemorate the weekend. They all loved them and some traded them like friendship bracelets on the playground because of the variety of colors. As my wedding worries were quickly forgotten as we reminisced about the old days, I remembered the excitement that I was getting married and they were going to all be there as I said my vows.

shirasweekend


The Cowl: A Winter Favorite

October 27th, 2013

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Our Design Department shares their thoughts on a favorite accessory of theirs.

We have been watching the cowl take off on the runways as this season’s favorite accessory. This face-framing neck warmer is versatile, practical and fashionable. Here are two variations on the theme that show how different a cowl can look, depending on your choice of yarns.

Knit Dobbs Ferry Cowl Crochet Wildfire Cowl
Knit Dobbs Ferry Cowl Crochet Wildfire Cowl

The Dobbs Ferry Cowl in Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, knit by holding three strands of this extra-bulky, easy-care yarn together, features the popular look of large stitches. It not only keeps you warm, but also creates a flattering high collar. The Wildfire Cowl uses only one bright painterly shade of Homespun to make a simple stitch look like a complex mix of different colors of yarn. You’ll love the compliments you’ll get when you wear this eye-popping cowl with your dark winter coat. Wear the cowl long (as pictured) to stay warm indoors, or loop it over again for a cozy accessory that keeps you warm while staying in place.

For a selection of over 60 cowl patterns, click here.

A version of this article first ran in The Weekly Stitch newsletter. Click here to sign up for the newsletter and get articles, free patterns, and exclusive offers in your inbox each week. 

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