Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Author Archive


Knitting to the Rescue: The Traffic Throw

January 25th, 2015

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

Helen didn’t mind her nighttime schedule at Children’s Hospital, but after hours of sick kids and distraught parents, decompressing was hard. That’s where knitting came in.

Mom, herself a pediatrician, had suggested it. “Knitting clears your brain,” she said. “You see results.”

During the time she’d been at Children’s, Helen had knitted constantly, not for herself, but for the kids. She made what was needed — chemo caps, security blankets, stuffed animals. Now she was knitting a throw with a cheery design of trucks and cars.

It was almost done, just a few rows left. Helen loved that the “Traffic Throw” was knitted with Vanna’s Choice®. For every skein purchased, St. Jude’s Research Hospital, dedicated to curing childhood diseases, received a donation. Knowing that made Helen feel she was doubling the benefit of her knitted gifts. She loved everything else about the yarn, too–its softness and clear, bright colors. On break, she’d sit in the lounge and knit away. When others asked, Helen answered, “Oh…it’s for someone I haven’t met yet.”

Then one of the surgeons told her about Charlie. “Helen,” he said. “Check out room 102.” He pointed down the hall, where the post-op kids were monitored.” Charlie pulled away from his mom in a mall parking lot, into the path of a car backing out. Every parent’s nightmare, right?”

Charlie was four; he’d sustained contusions, a concussion and a broken arm. He looked incredibly small, his head bound with gauze, a rigid cast on his arm. On his bed were a teddy and small toy trucks. His exhausted dad sat in an adjacent armchair.

“I’m Dr. Chen,” said Helen, on entering. “How ya feeling, Charlie?”

Charlie looked away.

Dad said, “I think Charlie’s feeling as bad about disobeying his mom as he is about getting hurt. Aren’t you, son?”

Charlie said nothing.

Helen said, “Everybody makes mistakes.” She went to Charlie’s bedside. “I guess you like trucks, right?”

Charlie nodded. “I have more at home,” he whispered.

“I think there might be some around here,” Helen said. “I’ll look for them, okay?”

Charlie nodded again, then closed his eyes.

When he woke up, he was covered with something warm and soft. As Charlie and his dad counted the cars, trucks, and traffic lights, their hands found a note:

Dear Charlie,
Get well soon.
Your friend,
Dr. Chen

Save 20% off Vanna’s Choice® until the end of January!

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


Yarn is the Key to Friendship: The Concerto Cowl

December 28th, 2014

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

“You don’t have to do everything yourself,” Tom said. “No one will mind if you buy a present, instead of making one.”

How could Lynn explain? There were some people she just needed to knit for. Like Beth, her BFF. They’d been together through violin lessons, music camps, statewide youth orchestra. They’d been music majors at the same college–and they’d been in each other’s weddings. That’s how close they were — like sisters. Lynn just couldn’t buy Beth a present. She deserved something lovingly handmade.

During the summer, Lynn had planned to knit Beth a vest. Then in September, she changed that to a scarf. Now Christmas was just weeks away, and she still hadn’t begun knitting. Where had time gone? Guilt was setting in, and with it, stress. Maybe she’d counted too much on Beth’s relaxed nature. Lynn knew that whatever she gave her, Beth would be fine with it. Their friendship wasn’t about stuff.

The next day Lynn visited her local craft store, wandering around, looking for inspiration. She passed the yarn — Heartland – on display, surrounded by swatches and samples . . . and stopped. She reached up and squeezed a skein. It was luxuriously soft. Heartland’s nuanced colors reminded her of Beth — elegant, luminous, subtle. Lynn placed two skeins in her basket.

She knew this was the beginning.

The beginning of what? Thank goodness for Lion Brand’s Patternfinder! Smartphone in hand, Lynn used the Lion Brand app to search for patterns. There were more than a hundred for Heartland. Then she saw the Concerto Cowl, a composition in exactly the yarn colors — ebony and ivory, like printed music — she’d just pulled off the shelf.

* * *

Tom, coming into the living room, saw her curled on the sofa, knitting away.

“So you found something to make for Beth?”

“Definitely,” Lynn replied. “Except it was actually the other way around — I think this project found me.”

It was the first of many Concerto Cowls she’d knit — including one for herself. Quick to complete, and stunning in a variety of color combinations, the classic pattern was, like a beautiful piece of music, something she’d always love to replay.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


A Personal Sanctuary: The Cable Comfort Throw

November 24th, 2014

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

It was called a Cable Comfort Throw, and yes, it was richly cabled and richly comforting.Exhausted by her stressful day at the office, Sharon, while driving home, could think only of removing her coat, suit and heels, putting on her comfiest sweats, and curling up on the sofa beneath the beautiful afghan she’d recently completed. It was called a Cable Comfort Throw, and yes, it was richly cabled and richly comforting.

Before, she’d never tackled anything bigger than a scarf. The throw taught her to cable and to manage a large piece of fabric. If you could knit stockinette, cables were a snap. Plus, the project was on large needles, and the yarn–the most squishable, chunky Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick® in a happy lemongrass green–knitted up fast, providing immediate gratification.

Sharon parked, and unlocked the front door of her home. The serenity of the hall, with its quietly ticking clock, the silk-shaded glow of table lamps as she switched them on, the scent of potpourri in a bowl on the mantel, the sight of the Cable Comfort Throw draped over the arm of the sofa–all brought soul-nourishing relief. She called it the “Sanctuary Effect.”

Make-up and office uniform removed, sweats and thick socks on, a magazine and the TV remote at hand, the Cable Comfort Throw wrapped around her, Sharon sank into the sofa’s deep cushions. But was she dreaming? Brian was already announcing that it was time to eat.

“Oh…I must have dozed off.” She yawned, pulling the throw closer, thinking how its luscious warmth made her feel so peaceful. Even though dinner smelled wonderful, she could hardly bear to leave the Cable Comfort Throw’s embrace.

Then Brian emerged from the kitchen, with a food-laden tray. “Now don’t you move,” he said, settling down beside her. “Dinner is served.”

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


More Than Just Knitting: The Autumn Lace Afghan

November 9th, 2014

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

When Jessie thought about her life, it was as a series of moments. Sometimes these were big events, like holidays, but often they were small—a bluebird’s late-winter visit to the garden, the way her husband smiled as she approached. Sometimes the moments were sad, like when she’d had the diagnosis, and when she’d begun chemo and radiation.

Of course family and friends had been there all along, but she’d needed a steady diversion from the symptoms and side-effects. Knitting had kept her anchored and calm. Knitting had let her feel capable even when she’d hit her lowest point.

The pattern was called Autumn Lace Afghan—beautifully textured, with a kind of embedded story in every repetition. Each knitted diamond framed a stylized tree of life and connected to another diamond and another tree; the border was seed-stitch, symbolic of growth and hope. The yarn, an autumnal Hazelnut shade of Wool-Ease® Thick and Quick®, was meltingly soft, and became a fabric both durable and comforting. To make the knitting magic last, Jessie knitted mindfully, just a few rows every day. Thus she managed to stretch the project over several months.

By then the treatments were over. Slowly she felt more vibrant, and increasingly grateful. The afghan was beautiful, but was so much more than that. It was a knitted diary of all those moments—when she’d felt awful, when she’d known for sure that the worst was over, when she realized her health was restored. And when she draped the completed afghan over her shoulders, she felt lovingly protected by its warm, inspiring embrace.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


A Homemade Life: The Granny Throw

October 26th, 2014

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

She was a homemaker. At parties, Angie sometimes said, “I’m a domestic engineer.” Same difference. With three kids, two dogs, and Mike, who spent long hours at his hardware franchise, Angie often wondered how they’d manage if she didn’t have great organizing skills and abundant energy.

Angie, like her husband, thrived on life’s routines and complexities. But no matter what, she always took time to crochet. It wasn’t just a pastime. It was the feeling that crochet preserved her. Those minutes each day, hook and yarn in hand, cleared out stress and focused her on something productive that became something beautiful.

Her newest project was a classic Granny Throw, to replace the one Mike’s mom had made years before. That was now beyond repair. Yet it was the family “lovey,” a comfort of their daily lives, and Angie didn’t want them to do without.

The Granny Throw comprised twelve generous squares that worked up quickly on a K hook. She’d done each one in spare moments, often while waiting in the car to pick up the kids from school. Angie adored the subtly variegated yarn, called Tweed Stripes®. Earth-toned, with occasional bright accents, it had a woodsy quality that complemented their maple furniture, corduroy upholstery, and braided rugs.

Angie placed the finished throw on the couch, and waited to see who noticed first. Six-year-old Daisy, of course. It was Friday, after supper, when the kids were allowed a movie before bedtime. Daisy put on her pajamas, brushed her teeth, and raced downstairs ahead of her brothers. Leaping onto the couch, she automatically pulled down the throw. Angie heard her call, “Mommy, there’s a new lovey! It’s so-o-o beautiful!”

Jake and Tyler joined their sister. “Hey, let us have it!”

“What’s up, you guys?” Angie asked, coming into the family room. The kids tussled some, then finally cuddled into the Granny Throw. Faces shining, slippered feet sticking out beyond their new blanket, they were eager to watch the film.

At times like this Angie knew why she loved the life she and Mike had made.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


Patterns of Inspiration: The Sunset Shrug

October 19th, 2014

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

Crochet Sunset ShrugThe front door slammed and Dawn, at the window, watched her teenagers board their bus. Until late afternoon, this day was hers. Now that Lexie and Mike were in high school and she wasn’t driving them every afternoon to sports and lessons, Dawn’s life had entered a new and interesting phase.

She hadn’t formulated grand plans. Her intuition said to go with the flow. Today she’d start crocheting something just for herself. Called a “Sunset Shrug,” the design displayed a golden sun amidst colorful nebulae.

Dawn loved the yarn, Heartland, for its softness, warmth, and drape. Heartland developed easily into the bands of rich hues the pattern specified, and as her hook swiftly connected one shade to another, she found herself thinking of Miss Sanchez, who’d taught Earth Science in high school.

The image was so vivid, like she was back in high school again—Miss Sanchez standing before the class, rapidly explaining atmospheric layers or volcanic activity, energetically writing on the board.

Dawn remembered Miss Sanchez’s handmade shrugs and scarves as clearly as she recalled her lessons on natural forces. She loved that class. Miss Sanchez was so cool, so pretty, and so smart. She had undeniably inspired Dawn to major in geology in college.

Now, as she crocheted the Sunset Shrug in her peaceful home, Dawn thought it might be interesting to continue her education. Her kids were practically independent, and if she took two courses every term, she’d have a teaching degree by the time they left for college. She imagined standing before a group of note-taking teenagers, just like Miss Sanchez. As she turned to write on the board, the back of her Sunset Shrug would radiate an image of nature’s beauty, for all to see.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


New Beginnings: The Raglan Sleeve Pullover

October 12th, 2014

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

raglan sleeve pulloverHunter clasped Jill’s hand at the bus stop, talking excitedly—his teacher, Ms. Randall, said he could hold the flag for the Pledge; a turtle lived in the science corner; could he buy lunch when there was pizza?

As the bus arrived, he wrenched away before the doors opened—so no one would know he liked to be close to his mom—then melted into the rambunctious cargo of school-bound kids.

She’d thought she’d feel wistful when Hunter started first grade, but sitting in the quiet kitchen with a cup of coffee, Jill was surprisingly cheery. Six open hours lay ahead—a gift! Her plan, formed during the summer, was to progress in knitting—to grow beyond the scarves and caps that had given her confidence. She’d knit her first sweater in this new-found time.

The pattern, a classic raglan of wheat-colored Wool-Ease® Chunky, was precise and clear. As the fabric swiftly grew on her needles, Jill wondered why she’d been timid. Sweater knitting was absorbing and fun! Already she was thinking about making herself another, and one for Jack. The yarn came in such luscious colors…

One evening she modeled her achievement for husband and son. “Looks great on you!” Jack exclaimed. Hunter, busy with crayons and paper at the kitchen counter, agreed.

Later, they tucked Hunter into bed, and went downstairs to talk over the day. Jack picked up Hunter’s drawing. “Did you see this?”

Three stick figures represented the family holding hands. Hunter, the smallest, wore his favorite baseball cap and a red sweater, Jack, a brown sweater; Jill, the new wheat-colored raglan.

“There’s a message here,” said Jack.

“And a compliment,” Jill added.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


A Lifetime Investment: The Deep V Cabled Vest

September 28th, 2014

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

Once upon a time, fall was when everything happened. Zack and I delighted in returning to school, the glorious autumn foliage, Halloween and Thanksgiving. But years passed, and after college I worked in a series of generic offices. Day in and out, everything was the same. From windows on the fortieth floor, the world looked unreal. I felt disconnected, without a calling.

I missed my twin brother, too. Zack had moved to Seattle to design software. “I love my job, and the outdoor activities here — kayaking, biking, fishing, hiking. Come visit,” he repeatedly urged.

A temp assignment ended, and I flew to Seattle for a long October weekend.

Naturally, I took my knitting — I can’t imagine going anywhere without it. It was a cabled vest of the most luminous yarn, Heartland Thick & Quick®, in a shade called “Katmai,” the color of pearls. “It’s really great,” Zack said, inspecting the cushy fabric. “Why a vest, Zoë?”

“I want a transitional piece,” I said. “Something for between seasons, an extra layer to pop on when I’m chilly. Something to hug me when I’m feeling down.” And I burst into tears, just like that. Apparently I was sadder than I knew.

Next thing, Zack was hugging me. He said, “Zoë, what’s keeping you in Boston? You can temp anywhere. Seattle’s great, and I’m here.”

That was six years ago. I lived in Seattle for four years, temping and going to grad school. With my new degree in Forestry, I moved to Alaska for a career in natural resources management. I wear my Deep-V Cabled Vest year round — even in the summer you need extra layers. Warm and snuggly, it’s more than clothing to me — it’s like an omen that showed me my path. Because, as I later learned, its colorway honors Katmai National Park and Preserve, four million acres of pristine, awesomely beautiful Alaskan terrain.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


Kittens, Mittens, and Lessons

September 16th, 2014

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The three little kittens, they lost their mittens,
And they began to cry,
“Oh, mother dear, we sadly fear,
That we have lost our mittens.”
“What! Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens!
Then you shall have no pie.”*

If you’re a parent, you understand Mother Cat’s exasperation: kids, like kittens, have a way of repeatedly losing mittens—and many other things. And if you’re a knitter—which undoubtedly Mother Cat was—you feel especially aggrieved because you painstakingly made three pairs of mittens, and those little miscreants lost them!

Few poems portray feelings of frustration in such truthful, charming terms. With some kids, no matter how firmly mittens are clipped to coat sleeves, no matter how many nametags affixed to hats and jackets, these items inevitably disappear into the Black Hole of Loss.

I recall searching for my son’s mittens in his grade school’s Lost and Found bin. It was shocking how much unclaimed clothing was there. Saddest were the hand-knitted mittens, scarves and hats, crushed at the bottom. Some loving person had made each one, and little Johnny couldn’t have cared less. I felt like grabbing his shoulders, shaking him, and saying in my steeliest voice: “And YOU shall have…no…pie!”

Oh wait…that would be my kid, the son who could never retain a pair of mittens longer than a day. This situation was ultimately resolved, not by depriving him of pie, but by buying him the cheapest gloves I could find at the dollar store, reasoning that since I had nothing invested in them financially or emotionally, I didn’t care about their fate. (Ironically, they rarely disappeared.)

(more…)


Blanket Statement: Knit Bobbled Tree Throw

September 14th, 2014

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

My mom always says, “Teach someone to knit, and they’re warm for life.” She taught me to knit, of course. Mom’s saying is like my dad’s. Dad taught me to fish. At the lake he’d always say, “Give someone a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach someone to fish, and you feed them for life.”

When Mom says, “Teach someone to knit, and they’re warm for life,” I feel close to my parents. It helps me remember Dad. (Like me, he always wore the things she knitted.) My parents’ kindness taught me so much.

When I was eight, I knitted Mom a red garter-stitch scarf for Mother’s Day. She burst into tears.

“I thought you liked red,” I said. “I love red, sweetie,” she sobbed. “This is the best scarf ever.”

That’s how I learned you could cry when you were happy.

So, when the day came that Joe asked my permission to marry Mom, I was, first, speechless, then I felt tears start. That he asked me before asking her was totally amazing. I certainly saw that Mom loved Joe. They’d met years before at a bereavement support group. They knew about loss.

“Teach someone to knit, and they’re warm for life.”

They knew about happiness, too. Together, we’d had good times, whether just at home, or taking hikes, or yes, going to the lake to fish. But it wasn’t until last year, when I was fifteen, that Joe proposed.

Mom accepted, of course.

The afghan, of lusciously thick yarn, was so textured and interesting, I could hardly stop knitting. The cool part was it looked intricate, but worked up fast. As the panels flowed from my needles, the bobbled trees of life at the center, flanked by rich vertical cables, reminded me of everything about Mom and Joe that was strong and good. They were positive people. Despite their losses, they wanted to make a future together–and with me.

Just before the wedding, I gave them the afghan. “I love you both so much,” I said, handing it over. I burst into tears, and so did Mom and Joe.

And we were all incredibly happy.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.

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