Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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How to Make Your Own Easy, No-Mess Easter Basket Grass

April 5th, 2012

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Easter-Basket-HeaderMaking Easter basket grass yourself is a great idea; it’s a simple, fun activity you can do with kids, and helps get everyone into the holiday spirit with egg-hunt anticipation.

Making your own out of yarn secured inside the basket also means you’ll have a lush, great-looking basket and no more plastic grass all over your house or yard. This easy tutorial will show you how to create a festive Easter basket in any color.

What you’ll need:

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March Goes Out Like a Lamb: Celebrate Spring with Adorable Sheep!

March 27th, 2012

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As the saying goes, “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.” No matter what weather you’ve been having, get ready for springtime with these adorable sheep and lamb amigurumi made with the free patterns available in the links below!

Sheep and Lamb Knitted Amigurumi Toys

Fluffy Little Sheep

Fluffy Little Sheep

Glittery Sheep

Glittery Sheep

Cabled Sheep in Martha Stewart Crafts Alpaca Blend

Cabled Sheep in Martha Stewart Crafts Alpaca Blend

Cabled Sheep in Martha Stewart Crafts Roving Wool

Cabled Sheep in Martha Stewart Crafts Roving Wool

Sweet Seed Stitch Lamb

Sweet Seed Stitch Lamb

Related Links:


5 Tips for Crafting Outside in the Spring and Summer

March 19th, 2012

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Fall and Winter are busy seasons for knitting and crochet; after all, we’d be pretty chilly without the hats, scarves, mittens, sweaters, and cowls that we make every year!

Take your Knitting and Crochet Outside

But what about crafting when it’s warm outside?

These simple tips will help you pick the patterns you’d try this spring and summer, choose the perfect yarns for your  projects, inspire you with some new techniques to try and (most importantly) get you ready to enjoy the warm weather headed your way! (Want to make the flowers in this picture? Click here for the patterns from 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet by Lesley Stanfield.)

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Welcome March In Like a Lion with Lion Amigurumi!

February 29th, 2012

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February’s almost over, so let’s welcome March as it comes “in like a lion” with these lion amigurumi friends!


Click on the lions below to see the free patterns to knit, crochet or craft them yourself (you may be asked to log into LionBrand.com).

And stay tuned, because we’re hoping that this month will “go out like a lamb.”

Wrapped Lion Knitted Lion Crocheted Lion
Wrapped Lion Knitted Lion Crocheted Lion

Related Links:


5 Simple Ways to Relieve & Prevent Hand Pain

February 24th, 2012

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When your work with your hands as much as knitters and crocheters do it’s important to remember not to strain or overwork your body. 

Knitting and crochet should be hobbies that help you relax and relieve stress. There are several ways to reduce stress on your hands and body, and these simple tips will help you avoid injury and treat existing symptoms.*

5 Simple Ways
Seated Pay attention to how you are sitting. 

Sit down as though you were about to begin crafting. Is your back supported? Is there enough light to see well, and enough room to move your elbows and arms freely as you work? You may be straining your hands to try and compensate for one of these other issues. Examine the places you craft for simple fixes you can make to add light, support and space.

Remember to take breaks while you craft. 

While it can be tempting to power through a few more rows when you are tired, listen to your body and put your project on pause. Breaks should vary the motion of what you are doing; try doing small, rewarding activities during your break like taking a short walk, watering houseplants or playing with a family pet.

Massage and stretch your hands. 

This is a wonderful (and relaxing) way to rejuvenate your fingers, wrists and palms. Try different methods and go easy on yourself; only rub or stretch your hands to a point that feels comfortable. There are some great hand stretch suggestions on LiveStrong.org (click here).

Ergonomic Crochet Hook Set Choose ergonomic tools

If you’ve only ever tried straight knitting needles or metal crochet hooks, it might be time to try something new. Many knitters prefer using circular needles when possible because of the bounce-back of the cord that connects them, and crocheters are raving about this ergonomic crochet hook set that fits in the palm of your hand.

Stress Relief Gloves Wear stress relief gloves. 

Wearing these stress relief gloves allows the muscles of your hand to relax while you work. These gloves have been specially designed with crafters in mind, so they are completely fingerless and stand up to long-term use.

There are many ways to improve your crafting life and alleviate stress on your body while you work. How have you made your crafting more comfortable? Share your tips to help others in the comments section below.

*If you are experiencing recurring or intense pain, please follow the recommendations of your physician for treatment.

Related Link:


7 Tips for Teaching Kids How to Knit or Crochet

February 16th, 2012

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7 TipsTeaching children to knit or crochet can be daunting, but these 7 tips are designed make it easy and fun for everyone involved.

Remember the first project you ever made? Teaching a child to knit or crochet is your chance to help them have that special feeling of accomplishment. When children learn to love fiber arts as children, they are much more likely to keep knitting and crocheting for the rest of their lives.

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How to Make Amigurumi Cuter with Perfect Eye Placement

February 10th, 2012

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How to Make Amigurumi Cuter with Perfect Eye Placement
Adding eyes is a key step in finishing your new amigurumi, but where do you place them on your project’s face?Amigurumi tend to look best when their eyes are place near the middle of the face – if you measure the height of your projects head, try placing the eyes about 1/3 of that distance from the top of the head.For these examples, I used a set of safety eyes and crocheted the head portion of the Best Bunny pattern from LionBrand.com with the Papaya shade of Baby Wool.  You can also use felt, buttons, or embroidery to give your amigurumi eyes.
Narrow Eyes Putting the eyes very close together can give your new friend a determined or even pouty expression. If you’re making a silly toy that you want to have beady eyes, this arrangement would be just right.
Wide Eyes Eyes that are very wide-set can give your project an almost lizard-like appearance, so if you’re making a cute reptile like Sssandy or Salvadore Snake, that would be the prefect way to arrange the eyes.
Eyes Forward Most amigurumi look extra cute and friendly when the eyes are wide set, but the distance between them is less than 1/3 the circumference of the head. You want them to be wide enough that they look very friendly, but close enough together so that you could imagine that they are looking at you.

For this example, I used a set of safety eyes and crocheted the head portion of the Best Bunny pattern from LionBrand.com with the Papaya shade of Baby Wool.  You can also use felt, buttons, or embroidery to give your amigurumi eyes.

For more tips on making fun amigurumi friends, check out these posts:

For over 300 patterns for amigurumi and other handmade toys, click here (you may be asked to sign into LionBrand.com).

Have you been making, or longing to make amigurumi? Share your tips or questions in the comments below!


12 Tips on How to Organize Your Yarn Stash

February 2nd, 2012

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Organize Your YarnWhen you’re a crafter, loving yarn is easy, but keeping it organized can be a challenge. Keeping an organized stash will help you know what you have, find what you need, and make projects you love. Whether you’re a beginner learning how to keep you new yarn tidy, or an experienced crafter with a stash that feel like it’s out of control, these 12 tips will help you organize your yarn and focus on the fun part: making beautiful projects!

  1. Take stock of what you have.
    One easy way to sort your yarn is to label 4 boxes; “WIPs (works in progress),” “Will Use/Have Pattern,” “Will Use/No Pattern Yet,” and “Won’t Use.” Take the opportunity to look at the yarn you have and decide how much you have room for.
  2. Separate your projects from your supplies.
    Keep “WIPs” in easy reach and separated from the rest of your stash. If your projects are hard to get to, or hiding under the rest of your stash, you’re less likely to work on them. A storage ottoman, large project bag or basket works well to store WIPs.
  3. Put your yarn where you can see it.
    Keep all your “Will Use” yarn easy to access. Think creatively about where to put yarn, you can use many things besides plastic boxes or bags. Just remember to keep yarn away from pets, moisture and dust.
  4. Discover or create a storage method you love.
    If you’re looking at those beautiful skeins for inspiration, keep yarn visible in clear vases and decorative bowls. You can transform a door by adding a shoe organizer filled with yarn, or re-purpose containers you already have! For inspiration, follow our Pinterest Board: Craft Spaces & Storage (you may be asked to sign into Pinterest).
  5. Choose an organization option; sort yarn by weight, fiber or color.
    Keeping your yarn in groups will help you find what you need once you’ve picked a project. Choose whichever appeals to you the most!
  6. Use your Ravelry ‘Stash’ to save yarn info.
    Photograph your newly-sorted yarn and post it to your stash on Ravelry. From there, you can easily compare what you have, search for patterns of what to make, and keep the details like dye lot and yardage in one convenient location. Plus, you don’t have to worry about saving all your labels!
  7. Convert messy skeins or hanks to balls.
    Balling-up yarn is a great way to tidy up hanks and skeins that have begun to loose their structure, and it makes the yarn easy to use when the time comes.
  8. Store multiple balls of a dye lot together.
    If you bought multiple skeins in the same dye lot, or dyed multiple hanks in the same bath, keep those yarns together. It’s much easier to make a large project when you have all the yarn together. Gallon-sized zip-top bags are a great option.
  9. Keep projects to frog handy.
    If you have been meaning to frog (or undo) a project, keep it on hand for at-home activities that don’t require full attention, like watching TV.
  10. Protect yarn from water, dust and creepy-crawlies.
    There are some bugs that might try to live in your yarn, so keep it up off the floor, dry, and in a well-lit place to discourage them. If you think there might have been insects near your yarn, seal it in a plastic bag and pop it in the freezer for a day to get rid of bugs.
  11. Put tiny scraps in one location.
    When you need “waste” yarn, or an amigurumi needs an embroidered face, you’ll be glad you know exactly where to find small scraps in your stash.
  12. Don’t be afraid to let go of extra yarn.
    Yarn you don’t love just takes up space and makes it harder to find the yarn that you do love. Donate or swap anything in the “Won’t Use” box, and you’ll be helping others as well as yourself.

What tips would you add to this list? Have you used any of these? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!


How to Host a Yarn Swap & Stashbusting Party

January 26th, 2012

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YarnA swap party is the perfect way to spend quality time with your yarn-loving friends, and unload a lot of unwanted yarn cluttering up your stash. At a yarn swap, all the swappers bring their unwanted yarn to unload and hope pick up a few new treasures.

If you want to host your own swap party and unload some yarn clutter, here are 5 useful tips on planning your party.

Make sure you’re ready to let go of your yarn when you bring it to the swap.
If you’d be comfortable donating your yarn to charity, then you’re ready for the swap. If you’re not ready, put the yarns in a box and mark it “check in 6 months.” Chances are in 6 months you’ll know if you want to hang on to it. Then you can have another swap!
Make your invitations clear so that your fellow yarn lovers know what to expect.
Will you be swapping only luxury fibers like angora and cashmere, or can you can bring any yarns you like? Telling your guests what will happen will help everyone get prepared for the swap and know which yarns, foods and entertainment they can bring.
Have a clean, large surface to spread the swapping yarn out on.
A dining or coffee table is ideal, but if you have enough yarn to cover the floor (lucky you!) spread a sheet or afghan out to keep the yarn clean and dust free. Make sure to keep food or drinks away from the yarn during the swapping.
Organize the swapping so that everyone gets a turn choosing yarn.
Making everyone comfortable is key to a successful swap. One popular way to coordinate the swapping is to have swappers draw numbers and select yarn from a central pile of  donations. This way everyone has a chance to look at the yarn and no one has to feel rushed. Go in as many rotations as you like till the yarn runs out!
Tell your guests that any unclaimed yarn will be donated to charity.
Tell your guests that unclaimed yarn won’t be wasted, it will go to helping others. There are lots of organizations that would be thrilled to accept yarn donations. For help finding one near you, check out our Charity Connection.

A swap party is a chance to spend time with your fellow yarn lovers, enjoy one another’s company and clean out some yarn clutter taking up space in your stash. You might even take home something exciting that you’ll know exactly what to do with; and it will carry the memory of good friends and fun.

Have you ever been to a yarn swap? How was it organized, and what tips would you share? Tell us in the comments below!


9 Secrets to Helping a Beginner Knitter or Crocheter

January 19th, 2012

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If you have friends or a family member who is just starting to knit or crochet, you have the chance to be the support they need! Beginners often have a hard time learning to feel good about their skills.

Here are 9 tips to becoming a beginner’s real-live life line:

Give them a way to contact you.  

This sounds like a no-brainer, but many times we forget that people may want to contact us for help. A phone number, email address or regular meeting time can provide the structure they need. Plus, they never have to feel alone if know they can call you.

Listen to them carefully. 

It can be tricky to explain a problem when you’re  just learning the language of crafting; listen to each problem in person, and keep yarn handy to demonstrate solutions.

Take them yarn shopping. 

Experienced crafters love to shop for yarn, but the yarn aisle or online store can be scary for a beginner. If you can remember a time before you could read a yarn label, then you know why! Help them out by being their personal yarn shopper and choosing yarn and tools together.

Translate the language for them. 

Read the pattern out loud to them. Explanations like “The pattern says ‘(dc, ch 2, dc) in same ch.’ That means make a double crochet stitch, then chain 2, and then make another double crochet into the same stitch as the one you just made,” can be the difference between a beautiful scarf and a tangled mess for a beginner.

Frog together. 

Undoing hard work can be a stumbling point for learners; it’s their first try and it’s easy to get attached. Try making a few rows each planning to rip them out together. This teaches that frogging is a normal part of crafting, and it’s surprising how fun and confidence boosting the process can be!

Wind balls together. 

Balling yarn is an easy, low-pressure way to get familiar with the feeling of yarn, and it’s a useful skill for beginners. Ball yarn together and your friend will get familiar with fiber and comfortable with you at the same time.

Host a yarn swap. 

This is a party where no one has to knit or crochet, but you certainly can talk about it, swap tips and clean out your stash all at once! It will also introduce your beginner friend to more yarncrafters and make them part of the community.

Help them choose projects. 

Beginners don’t always know that intarsia or entrelac patterns won’t make for the easiest first project. Help them find the patterns that they will be able to make at their current skill level.

Introduce them to online resources. 

Ravelry, Pinterest and our site at LionBrand.com are great ways to get inspired and find help crafting help online. Get your friend set up with accounts and be the first to become their friend them or follow their pin boards!

Have you ever helped someone learn to knit or crochet? What tips would you add to this list?
Leave a comment to share them!

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