Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Author Archive


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?

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