Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Author Archive


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.)

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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.


Closely Knit Friends: The Poncho Pullover

September 7th, 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. We’re sharing the most recent story here in the blog. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

Crochet Poncho Pullover in Vanna's TapestryThe knitting group was baffled by Roseanne. A first-time expectant mother, she was making a jazzy-looking rectangle in a self-patterning yarn called “Vanna’s Tapestry,” whose variegated hues—earth brown, leafy green, cranberry, birch-bark grey and white—were unusual for infant clothes.

“It’s an edgy baby blanket, right?” asked Maddy.

“I think it’s a car-seat cover,” Jane declared.

Roseanne smiled.

“Come on, tell us,” pleaded Grace.

“Why not be surprised?” Roseanne asked.

“Because we don’t want to knit duplicate stuff,” Irene, always practical, said. “If you’re doing a blanket, I’d rather knit the baby a sweater or a cap.”

Roseanne’s coyness drove them crazy. She was the first of them to become a mother. “Roseanne’s always been so sharing and giving. Pregnancy has changed her,” they decided.

Meanwhile they knitted their friend a layette, favoring primary colors and neutrals—because if Roseanne knew her baby’s gender, she also wasn’t telling.

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All Because of a Shawl: Semi Tropical Shawl

August 31st, 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. We’re sharing the most recent story here in the blog. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

Megan loved the irony of living in Maine and knitting herself a “Semi-Tropical Shawl.”

“I’m about as far from a semi-tropical climate as I am from winning the lottery,” she laughed as she and Val, her best friend, sat at an outdoor café in downtown Portland, knitting and drinking iced tea. “But it’s such a beautiful design.”

Val said, “Well, someone always wins the lottery. Maybe this shawl is telling you something…like, maybe you’ll go somewhere semi-tropical.”

“It’s telling me that I picked a great project,” Megan replied. “I just adore the yarn—it’s so soft; the colors remind me of sand dunes and sea shells.” She admired the swath of lace cascading from her needles, a rich interplay of openwork stitches and soothing colors. The genius of the Semi-Tropical Shawl, Megan decided, was its alluring combination of beauty and comfort.

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Unwindings: Knitting in the Round

August 19th, 2014

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knitting-in-the-round-blogI learned to knit when I was eight. It was summer, school was out. For entertainment I explored a rarely opened closet. There was a shopping bag stuffed with maroon yarn, and a cylindrical leatherette case which, unzipped, revealed a jumble of colored metal knitting needles. I dragged everything into the light.

“What is this?” I asked my mother.

“Oh,” she said. “It’s my knitting. A sweater….I think.”

How amazing. I’d never seen her knit—did she knit while I slept?—and, naively, couldn’t imagine why she’d abandon the project. It seemed sad that the yarn had languished in obscurity.

“Why don’t you finish it?”

I’ve forgotten her answer. Probably her “I’m too busy” mantra, accompanied by a giant exhale of cigarette smoke. I do remember thinking this yarn deserved a kinder fate.

“Will you teach me to knit?” I asked.

So it began. I knitted blankets for my dolls, then scarves. Later, I learned to read patterns, saved babysitting money for yarn, knitted hats and sweaters. As a teenager, I commuted between school and home on the New York subway, carrying textbooks and knitting. Knitting gave me something to do in transit, and as I walked through dicey neighborhoods between the subway station and our apartment, the needles, tucked under my arm and pointing forward, protected me from aspiring muggers.
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A Reason For Everything: Felted Lunch Bag and Pencil Case

August 17th, 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.

Felted Lunch Bag Meredith sometimes wondered how life would be if she could travel back in timeand change just one thing. What if a seemingly random choice had been different? Like, why had she craved bright pink everything when she was a kid? She’d had the pink lunchbox, backpack, pencil case, flip-flops, barrettes…even a bright pink toothbrush!

Now, in college, she absolutely couldn’t fathom why she’d adored that color. She wondered, though, if she’d have become a different person had her early taste run to earth tones.

An ecology major, Meredith loved studying organisms and their environments. Similarly, she loved living in the balance–this was how knitting came in. The beautiful simplicity of two sticks and a ball of yarn offset the high-tech essentials of 21st century life. The subtle yarns she favored evoked country roads, open fields, dunes, rocky shores. Like the rugged, marled Fishermen’s Wool she’d recently used–it conjured up a time when handwork was honored, and things made to last.

Felted Pencil CaseEspecially pleasing were the useful lunch bag and pencil case she’d knitted of Fishermen’s Wool® in only a few hours, then felted (magical!), then appliqued with a beguiling acorn and rustic apple tree. Afterwards, she showed them to Paige, her roommate.

“These are totally adorable!” Paige exclaimed. “How’d you find such great projects?”

Meredith flashed onto her younger self and suddenly realized it was actually because of that Pink Phase that she’d become everything she was, here and now.

“Oh,” she smiled, “someone I used to know pointed me towards them.”

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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