Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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My First Yarn Project

July 3rd, 2008

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Before working at Lion Brand, I only had limited experiences with handknit items. A friend of mine knit me a beautiful ribbed red scarf when I was in college, (It wasn’t until working at Lion Brand that I realized that the yarn used was Wool-Ease Thick & Quick) and later in college, my girlfriend knit me a scarf with Homespun. I kept thinking about how beautiful and amazing hand-knit pieces were, but could never wrap my head around the idea that two long cylindrical objects (needles) could take a piece of yarn and create something wearable. It was a task that I considered far too difficult for my clumsy, maladroit hands.

Not two weeks into working at Lion Brand, however, I noticed the incredible knitting and crocheting culture here. From Zontee (of the YarnCraft podcast) to Jackie and Karen (of the Design Department), I had a number of people telling me that knitting wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought. So one day after work, I sat down with Zontee and was ready to learn. She taught me how to cast on and how to knit. That night I knit a number of rows, and came back to work ready for something new.

After work that next day, Zontee was ready to teach me how to purl. A few rows later, I was knitting a stockinette stitch, and was excited to start my first real project. Looking for a fairly simple project that could help me hone my newly found knitting and purling abilities, the people in our Design Department found a great, easy 2 and 1/2 Hour Scarf for me to complete. This would be a little bit more complex, and used three strands weaved in as one, but was an exciting first project. The first day I was ready to choose my yarn. With the expertise of our creative director, Karen, I picked out three beautiful colors of Vanna’s Choice, and I was ready to go. Once again, Zontee helped me cast on and watched me knit my first few rows.

Knitted ScarfFor the next few days, I could be found at home, on the train and after work working on this scarf. This was during NFL playoffs as well, so I was knitting while watching the Giants play – something that I would have never anticipated. The first few rows started off a little shaky (as you can see on the left side of the scarf), but after that, it was four and a half feet of pretty smooth sailing. When I got into trouble toward the end, Zontee also helped me to fix a stitch I’d dropped.

Truthfully, it was fun, exciting and really not as hard as I’d originally imagined. Though the “2 and 1/2 hour” label given to me probably did not take into account the fact that I had knitting growing pains, it still was a fairly quick project to do. With a little bit of help from everyone here, I now have a scarf that I’m proud to say I knit! I’ll admit though, it’s easier to knit a beautiful scarf when you’re surrounded by fantastic knitters.

Do you or someone you know want to learn to knit or crochet? Check out our Learn to Knit Guide and our Learn to Crochet Guide.


The Blogging World

July 2nd, 2008

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We were recently contacted by a blogger from Spain named Ariel, who authored a post about how to knit (como tejer in Spanish) over 2 years ago. Since he thought our own learn-to-knit instructions were very useful, he linked back to our website as a graphical resource that he found and used for these instructions, which are also available in Spanish.

All the content on LionBrand.com is provided to help you to grow as a crafter, whether that entails learning new stitches from the StitchFinder, discover more with YarnCraft, or connect with our Notebook. The great thing about the internet is that it is vast, yet completely interconnected – if you find something of ours that is useful, feel free to link to it and share with your friends or family! I hope you’re enjoying this journey as much as we are!


Seen in the Yarniverse: Quitting Smoking

June 26th, 2008

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quitting the habitKnitting and crocheting are not simply hobbies for relaxation, can be very useful to kick habits like smoking as well! Chapel Hill News chronicled Riva Econopouly, a woman who put down her cigarettes for knitting needles, and has been smoke-free ever since. This is an incredible story of a woman who used to smoke up to three packs a day, but thanks to her knitting needles, was able to kick the habit. In fact, About.com’s guide to quitting smoking suggests picking up portable hobbies such as crocheting or knitting to control the urge. Rocky Mountain News wrote that even teenagers are knitting to get rid of their nicotine dependence.

If you have any stories about how crafting helped someone quit smoking, we’d love to hear about it. Send us your comments.


Seen in the Yarniverse: Male Knitters and Crocheters

June 19th, 2008

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Male knitters are popping up more and more these days. It’s exciting to see boundaries being changed and people are being more open-minded about crafts. There’s a wonderful article at Greatreporter.com that looks at males in the knitting community. We also had an episode of YarnCraft featuring Men Who Knit & Crochet. As a male knitter myself, I got odd looks from subway passengers while knitting a scarf on my way to work. But it’s great to see that the number of males crafting is on the rise — one of the readers of the blog, Robert is working on the Tree of Life pattern right now, in fact. Also, one of my good friends, who’s a world-class rock climber was one of the last people I’d have expected to crochet, but he’s made some incredible things.

Are you a male knitter or crocheter? Speak up by commenting on this post and introducing yourself!


Seen in the Yarniverse: Knitting the Ones You Love

May 16th, 2008

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How far would you go to remember your beloved pets? Some people create elaborate memorials to best give tribute to their best companions. One married couple in England took it one step further, by knitting their pets’ fur into garments. The Cleveland Plain Dealer had readers email their local Dog Lady about the practice with comments. The English couple who had knit their two pets into jumpers had heard about the process through their dog breeders, and now have keepsakes of their best two companions.

Even Martha Stewart creates items out of her dog Paw Paw. In a segment of her February 14 show, she showed the care she takes of her dog, and how she is interested in knitting a keepsake using a skein of Paw Paw’s fur yarn. She personally uses a local company VIP Fibers to spin the fur.

What do you think about this process? Have any of you tried using your dogs’ or pets’ fur to create a keepsake?


Seen in the Yarniverse: Creating Recyclable Bags

May 2nd, 2008

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For some of us (especially New Yorkers), getting 10 plastic bags at a grocery store is not an unusual thing. If you’re doing that every week for a year, you’ve collected a lot of plastic bags. Some of you might not know what to do with all of these excess bags, and some may also want to figure out ways to reduce the wasteful usage of these bags. Luckily, Lifehacker posted an easy solution for this by crocheting your plastic bags to create a shoulder tote.

There are quite a few websites where you can purchase your own recycled bags, such as Reusablebags.com, and there are also some people who are creating some very amazing and cool bags out of recycled material. For instance, Cindy at My Recycled Bags does some absolutely incredible things with all types of materials. She’s given me permission to show a couple of her bags here, and she has some incredibly creative ideas. She even created a VCR tote partially using Incredible, a Lion Brand ribbon yarn!

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Crocheted Mini Shoulder Bag (Plastic Bags)

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Messenger Bag (Plastic Bags)

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Sling Bag (VCR Tape & Incredible Yarn)


Seen in the Yarniverse

April 18th, 2008

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Over the past couple of weeks we came across a couple of bloggers who have created some beautiful afghans with our Cotton-Ease yarn.

Bella Dia uses a granny square pattern similar to our Happy Baby Blanket pattern to create her granny square blanket project.
Stardust Shoes takes some yarns and plays around with them to create some VERY cute flowers!

There is also a great group for those of you registered on Ravelry, for people who use Cotton-Ease, called Cotton pickin’. It’s there for anyone and everyone to share Cotton-Ease love and has some wonderful suggestions for new items using the yarn.

Additionally on Bella Dia, she suggests a great way to pick out swatches for upcoming projects using our website.


Crocheting the Coral Reef

April 16th, 2008

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The American Museum of Natural History in New York City merged science and art on Tuesday, April 8. Using yarn donated by Lion Brand, they have crocheted an entire coral reef ecosystem and discussed some the current issues facing reefs today, as well as actions that can be taken in the future.

Margaret Wertheim, director of the Institute for Figuring, and Kate Holmes, a marine biologist for AMNH, lead a discussion about the plight of coral reefs, and “hyperbolic crochet,” while touching on handicraft, mathematics, marine ecology, conservation activism, and collective artistic practice.
To learn more about the Institute for Figuring, you can check out the article we wrote in our newsletter.

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As someone who is also personally interested in coral reefs and their survivability, I also recently saw an article in The New York Times about some of the efforts being done to rebuild and sustain the reef community. One of these efforts is taking place in Delaware, where they are using old subway cars to create a thriving reef with trains taken from the New York City MTA. It’s very cool!


Lion Brand CHA Fashion Show Video

April 11th, 2008

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We presented our annual fashion show hosted by Vanna White at the Crafts and Hobby Association Show in February. Here’s a video of the show, including conceptual pieces, as well as practical fashion and home dec items. The coat shown below is a longer version of the Extra Easy, Extra Fabulous Sweater, which is one of our most popular patterns. We’ll be posting a pattern for this longer version when our new catalog is comes out in September. The Easy Does It Blanket can be found on our Pattern Finder right now.

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