Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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How to Plan (and Make!) Last Minute Gifts

December 4th, 2012

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How to Plan and Make Last Minute GiftsIt’s holiday crafting crunch time, but I’m here to tell you that everything will be okay. You can finish all of your gift crocheting and knitting with a bit of planning. Here are some easy tips to help you achieve all of your holiday crafting goals.

Step 1: Make a list of what you want to achieve. Choose the patterns, the yarn, and the gift recipients.

Step 2: Be realistic. Do you have enough time to make all of these items? If you have to buy yarn, will you have it in time? Can you really knit 5 Aran sweaters with heavy cabling in 3 days? Consider what you can reasonably accomplish, then edit down your list. Try using thicker yarns for fast-finish gifts. Being realistic is the best way to eliminate handmade gifting stress.

Step 3: Prioritize. Figure out which items are your must-finish projects, and start those first. If you won’t see your aunt until New Year’s Eve, you can probably start her gift after you finish Mom’s holiday shawl.

Step 4: Edit once more. Once you get working on your gifts, you might find that cowl you thought would take a day really took five. That’s totally fine! Revisit your list and adjust accordingly. Remember, it’s absolutely okay not to craft for every single person on your holiday list.

Step 5: Plan for the unfinished gifts. Even with the best of plans and intentions, sometimes life gets in the way. Set yourself a deadline, and if you find yourself getting a little too close for comfort, consider alternate plans. You can give an IOU card if your gift will be finished shortly, or consider gifting some handmade items from a local store or market.

By staying organized, you can relax and enjoy your crafting instead of stressing about deadlines. Good luck with your gift projects!

Pictured above: Amigurumi Christmas Mouse Ornament

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22nd, 2012

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Happy Thanksgiving!

From our family to yours, here’s wishing you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving! We love all of the wonderful friendships we’ve made over the years. Thank you for being a part of our family!

Pictured above: Crochet Tom Turkey

All About Alpaca

November 16th, 2012

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All About Alpaca YarnAlpaca yarns have been gaining in popularity quite quickly over the past few years, and it’s no wonder: alpaca yarn is strong, soft, and warm. But how is it different from other fibers? Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked alpaca questions.

How are alpaca yarns so soft?
Every piece of hair is made up of a series of scales. Animal fiber yarns that are soft tend to have very small, short scales. On average, alpaca fibers have shorter scales than sheep.

I can’t wear wool. Can I still use alpaca?
Give it a try! Alpaca yarns do not contain lanolin, an oil that sheep produce to protect their fleece. That means that people with wool or lanolin sensitivities can still wear alpaca. Baby alpaca is especially great for people with sensitive skin.

Does alpaca yarn felt?
Unless the yarn is superwash, alpaca will felt. Because the scales are small, alpaca yarns will take a little bit longer to felt than traditional wool. However, the results are just as beautiful.

How do alpaca yarns drape?
100% alpaca has a beautiful drape, so it creates gorgeous shawls and accessories.

How stretchy is alpaca?
A yarn’s bounce or stretch is determined by its scales. Since the scales are so short and smooth, they don’t lock together. That means 100% alpaca yarns will have a tendency to stretch, and they won’t shrink back into place like some wools will. This is a fantastic advantage when knitting or crocheting lace, as the stitches will really open up.

How are there so many undyed shades of alpaca?
Believe it or not, there are actually 22 natural colors of alpaca, ranging from neutrals like white and brown to rich golden oranges and silvery blues.

How warm is alpaca?
Super warm! Although it’s very light, alpaca is incredibly warm, even when wet. In fact, it’s my go-to yarn for winter knits because I know that it’ll keep me cozy. It also has great moisture wicking properties.

So now that you know a little more about alpaca, why not give it a try? Our LB Collection Baby Alpaca comes in beautiful undyed shades, and our Martha Stewart Crafts Alpaca Blend combines alpaca with wool and acrylic for an easy care yarn.

Have more alpaca questions? Be sure to ask in the comments!

Learn How to Style a Cowl with Our YouTube Channel

November 14th, 2012

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So you’ve knit or crocheted yourself a beautiful chunky cowl. Now, how do you style it? In this video, Claire from the Lion Brand Yarn Studio shows us 3 warm and stylish ways to wear the Knit Cabildo Cowl.

Want more styling tips? Click here to visit our YouTube channel for even more videos. Want to see our newest videos as soon as they’re posted? Click here to subscribe to our channel (must be logged in to YouTube to subscribe).

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Getting Back to Normal After Hurricane Sandy

November 5th, 2012

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Our offices have reopened today following Hurricane Sandy. We’re just now getting back in the swing of things, so there will be some delay in shipping and responding to your emails and calls. Since our power was out for a week, please allow us time to catch up. We consider ourselves very lucky to be back at work, but our staff is still coping with the latent damage from Sandy.

Most of our staff has made it back to the office, but over in my home neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, transportation is at a stand-still. The subway tunnels are still flooded, buses are beyond capacity, and the East River Ferry stop is out of commission. Grocery stores are completely depleted of bread and perishables. Here’s a look at the bread aisle of my store last night:

Grocery Store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Even so, I am very grateful that things are looking up. After all, my power and internet have been restored, so I’m able to get some work done from home. I can’t help but smile when I think of the amazing amount of support and love we’ve received through social media. There are still so many without basic necessities like food and shelter, so I encourage you to look into the many ways you can donate. The American Red Cross is a great place to start, and Bev’s Country Cottage has this great round-up of places to donate knit/crochet items. It’s truly inspiring how our community has really come together in this time of need, so from all of us at Lion Brand, thank you!