Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Author Archive


How to Create a Sacred Space for Crafting

March 18th, 2014

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares how to make a healing, relaxing craft space. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.

Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC
Lion Brand Yarn Studio in New York

Yarncrafting is healing. Knitting is relaxing. Crochet is meditative. Honoring that makes our crafting even more productive, beneficial and special in our lives. Make your crafting space a sacred space to help you drop more easily into the creative / spiritual/ healing aspects of your craft time each time that you work.

Select a Space

Start by designating a crafting space, even if it’s just a chair in the corner of a room. Make it your comfiest favorite chair that you really want to spend time in!

Create a Craft Altar

Altars can be religious but they don’t have to be. In her book Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin explores ways to make every little display in the home an altar to something (an altar to toys, an altar to books). This encourages us to pick our favorite things to celebrate what we love in each spot in our home. A crafting altar might include:

  • Vintage crochet hooks / knitting needles on display. See display tips here.
  • Favorite luscious yarns; in episode 22 of YarnCraft Zontee talks about creating yarn vignettes
  • 1-2 handmade items
  • Photos of favorite crafters. Family photos of the older generations of needleworkers in your family are perfect!
  • Special craft books and magazines

You can create a small altar even if you don’t have a craft room. A bookshelf, tabletop or even drawer near the chair or bed where you usually craft will work just fine.

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5 Projects That Take Crafting for Loved Ones to the Next Level

February 21st, 2014

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares five creative exercises that you can use to show your love through crafting. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.

Crafters are a generous lot. We often crochet and knit for others. We craft gifts for birthdays and holidays. We knit and crochet prayer shawls for strangers. We infuse our handmade items with love, and hope that love comes through for the recipient. It’s a wonderful thing. But we can go even further with this intention, choosing ways to craft for and with the people we love, so that the love comes through in deeper and more meaningful ways.

Here are five ideas for making that happen:

1. Appreciation Blanket + Journal. This is a twist on the crochet mood blanket, a popular project this year. Each day (or week) you crochet/ knit either one row or one motif (such as a granny square) that will go into a blanket intended for a special person. Select colors based on the feeling you have for the person each day you work on it. For example, the blanket will have rows of red when you feel love, pink for appreciation, and white for awe. Write down this color code in the front page of a journal. After each row, write a single line expressing why you chose that color for that day. In the end, you’ll have a cozy blanket and this touching journal that will be treasured forever. This is a great gift for pregnant moms seeking to create baby’s first blanket with intentional love. l20643a
Little Boy Blue Blanket

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Crafting Your Way Through Cabin Fever

January 21st, 2014

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares tips for using knitting or crochet to relieve the restlessness of cabin fever this winter. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here

We’ve survived the Polar Vortex but winter is really just beginning. There are a lot of days ahead when we might be stuck in the house because of the weather. You might get gripped by cabin fever; that restless, anxious, irritable feeling that we all sometimes get when we’re stuck inside for too long. Crocheting or knitting can be the best way to alleviate that feeling.

What is Cabin Fever?

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The first thing to do is recognize that you have cabin fever! Cabin fever, which typically happens when you’re inside for an extended period of time, often due to extreme outdoor weather conditions, is characterized by:

  • Extreme irritability
  • Extreme feelings of restlessness
  • A strong desire to get away from the people
    who are with you
  • Frustration, defensiveness and annoyance
    with those people
  • Extreme boredom; nothing feels like fun to do
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Feelings of depression

It helps to be aware that these feelings might be caused by cabin fever because then you can recognize what it is and do something about it!

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How Visualizing and Completing a Crochet Project Can Change Your Life

December 20th, 2013

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares inspiration for enjoying all of your craft projects from start to finish. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.

visualizing-crochetI believe strongly in the power of crochet to improve quality of life whether you’re suffering from a serious condition like depression or just seeking to experience more inspiration in your everyday life. One of the key ways that I believe crochet can help is through embracing each stage of the project including the process of visualizing, working on, and finally completing the work.

Visualizing a Crochet Project

Many people underestimate the value of this first step of a crochet project but it can be immensely beneficial to focus on it. Truly embrace the process of thinking about what you want to make, how you want to make it, who it will be for, and which yarn you will want to use.

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How to Nip Holiday Crafting in the Bud

November 20th, 2013

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Knit Weekend Hoodie Wine Carrier Yarn Crafted Ornaments
Knit Weekend Hoodie Crochet Wine Carrier Yarncrafted Ornaments

Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares her tips for enjoying holiday crafting – avoid feeling overwhelmed as as the season gets closer! Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.

It happens every year to the best of us. We get excited about all of the wonderful gifts that we’re going to knit and crochet for everyone we love. Not to mention we want to decorate our own homes with our crafts. It’s thrilling and inspiring but as the holidays deadlines get closer, the cost of the supplies seems more than its worth, the gifts feel like they’ll never be finished, and you haven’t even started the crafts. Suddenly we’re overwhelmed and holiday crafting has become painful instead of joyful.

Don’t let it happen again this year!

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I Don’t Pray…How Can I Make a Prayer Shawl?

September 17th, 2013

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo joins us for the third installment of her series on prayer shawl crafting. Click here to read her previous blog posts.

Image of Serene Comfort Shawl | Prayer Shawl Crafting | Lion Brand NotebookI don’t consider myself someone who prays. My spiritual path has been varied and complicated and it’s been a long journey to the point of even being able to comfortably say that I have a spiritual path so it’s still another leap to be okay with saying I pray. Nevertheless, I do believe in the value of setting an intention and asking for help, strength, hope … and so I am comfortable making prayer shawls.

Suggested Prayer Shawl Practices for People Who Don’t Pray

There is no right or wrong way to craft a prayer shawl. Whatever you feel comfortable with is enough. It can be as simple as setting the intention to heal the recipient at the start of the project.

Here are some additional options:

  • Repeat a short phrase in your mind as you work. An example: “I wish you strength.”
  • Pause at the end of each row or round to think positive thoughts about the prayer shawl recipient.
  • Stitch with love. Intentionally focus on love and compassion as you craft.
  • When the project is complete, take a moment to say an affirmation or blessing. You may also want to include a sentiment card with the gift.

[Pattern pictured: Crochet Serene Comfort Shawl]

Which prayers, affirmations or thoughts do you use when crafting for others? Share in the comments below!


Tips for Getting the Most from Prayer Shawl Crafting

September 8th, 2013

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares tips for choosing patterns, charities and the setting for intentional crafting. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.
Image of Honest Warmth Shawl | Tips for Prayer Shawl Crafting | Lion Brand Notebook

Choosing a Prayer Shawl Pattern

Any shawl pattern can be used as a prayer shawl. An ideal pattern uses a textural comforting yarn like Homespun.

Items Other Than Prayer Shawls

Prayer shawls don’t have to be shawls. Other popular items for prayer-based crafting include:

Selecting Prayer Shawl Recipients

If you are inspired to craft something handmade for a specific individual, by all means do so. Alternatively you may donate to a group. Here are some tips for selecting your group:

  • Pick a cause that you care about. What has affected your life?
  • Ask friends what charities they support and why.
  • Think local; it’s wonderful to drop your donation off in person if you can.

You can also find charities that are currently seeking donations by using the Lion Brand Charity Connection page.

Setting the Space

The recipient benefits from your prayer shawl but to get the most out of the crafting experience it should also help heal you. Set your space intentionally when doing prayer crafting. Some tips:

  • Choose a quiet space.
  • Use lighting that is adequate but not glaring.
  • Burn candles or incense.
  • Ask yourself what makes you feel most comfortable and safe. Infuse your space with that thing.
  • See more tips for meditative crafting. 

[Pattern pictured: Knit Honest Warmth Shawl]

Who have you (or would you like to) donate a prayer shawl to? Share your stories in the comments to inspire others!


Prayer Shawls: How They Help You While Helping Others

September 1st, 2013

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares thoughts on the practice of knitting and crocheting prayer shawls. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.

Image of Tender Shawl | Prayer Shawls | Lion Brand NotebookWe do not live in isolation in this world. We live in an interconnected global community. When something difficult happens to someone else, it hurts us. Prayer shawls are a way to heal others while healing ourselves.

Praying for Others

When you make a prayer shawl you are intentionally infusing each stitch with hope, warmth, love, compassion and care. You emanate the hope that the person will be healed from pain. When the gift is received, that warmth is felt, the connection is recalled and healing takes place.

Your Own Healing

When we see pain, loss and tragedy in others, we feel it in ourselves. We feel sad about our own tragedies. We feel fear about possible pains. As we stitch together our connection to this other person through intentional prayer, the meditative action calms us. Our hearts open up through the work of our hands and we feel safe and loved again.

Make a Prayer Shawl

The healing of the shawl is partially about the prayer and partially about the tactile sensation of crafting. The silky texture of Lion Brand Homespun helps with the tactile benefits. You’ll find it used in the free crochet prayer shawl and free knit prayer shawl patterns.

[Pattern pictured: Knit Tender Shawl]

How have prayer shawls helped you? Share in the comments below!


Crochet as Meditation

July 24th, 2013

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares tips on meditating through crochet.

Crochet as MeditationI remember the first time that I tried formal meditation. I sat amidst a group of compassionate people with closed eyes who were letting go of all thoughts, focusing attention on their breath. I felt no compassion for myself as my monkey mind skittered about. I felt self-conscious about my constant twitching and resituating, certain I was irritating the peaceful beings around me. More than that, I simply didn’t enjoy the experience. My anxious mind raced into terrifyingly uncomfortable places. I left feeling that meditation is a great thing…for other people but not for me! Then I found crochet.

Crochet offers a chance to meditate in a way that many people find easier than sitting still in a room and focusing on the breath. Crochet is a relaxing, repetitive craft that can be done as a means to mindfulness. The combination of constant counting, gentle recurrent hand motions and focus on the work is a stress-reducer and a path to being present in the here-and-now.

Want to practice crochet as a form of meditation? Here are some tips:

  • Choose a project that requires only beginner skills, like a large granny square or a scarf made of only single crochet stitches.
  • Select a project that offers comfort in counting. For example, a scarf will let you count the same number of stitches again and again in each row.
  • Use a yarn color that feels comforting.
  • Work in a quiet, relaxed space.
  • Set an intention. At the beginning and end of the crochet project remind yourself what it is you want to achieve with meditative crochet. Celebrate the craft and celebrate yourself.

There is certainly something valuable to be found in formal meditation. However, it doesn’t work for all of us. In particular, people with mental health conditions including depression and anxiety may find it too difficult to simply sit on the cushion and watch the breath. We can use mindfulness crochet instead to bring ourselves back to the present moment, practicing compassion for ourselves and for others with each stitch.

What has been your meditation experience? How does crochet help?