Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo is an expert in the area of using crafting to heal, having researched the topic extensively for her book Crochet Saved My Life. In this post she explores the benefits of having pets and other animals in our lives and how we can craft for them as a way to heal ourselves. Read Kathryn’s previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.
Pattern: Barkley Loves His BlanketEvery week I pick up a friend’s Golden Retriever and together we volunteer through the SPCA doing animal-assisted emotional support therapy. We visit hospitals, schools, housing shelters, community organizations, transitional living residences … and no matter where we visit, the energy of the room changes as soon as the puppy walks through the door. People relax. People smile. People play.
One of the most underlooked ways that animals can help us is through our knitting and crochet. Whether or not you have a pet of your own, you can find ways to crochet for animals that help to benefit them as well as yourself.
1) Crafting for Pets That Are Ill
It can be so difficult on us when our pets get ill, especially with a chronic illness. Animals with long-term illnesses require a lot of care and support. People sometimes reduce their hours at work or change their social schedules for years at a time in order to accommodate the special needs of a sick animal. We do this because we love them but we shouldn’t underestimate how stressful it can be for us.
Having a pet that is chronically ill can lead to the same kind of caregiver stress experienced by people who are taking care of elderly parents or special needs children. Knitting and crochet help to relieve depression in caregivers. Making items for your own pet in need can be a way that you give to them while sustaining yourself. It can feel especially healing to make something that will comfort the animal – a soft new pet bed, a cuddly new pet toy – because it really feels like the time that you’re taking for yourself is also giving to the animal.
It’s May the Fourth, it’s May the Fourth! Happy #StarWarsDay!
In observance of this great day of geekery, we’ve put together a collection of our favorite patterns. Enjoy!
|Crochet Dark Commander mask by Crafty Ridge.* Make your own with
|Crochet Droid Beanies by Jen Spears.*
Make your own with
|Mini Master Amigurumi by Vivianne.* Make one using
|Crochet Dark Side Cat* by MysteriousCats. Make one with Modern Baby®.||Crochet Freezie Cozy* by Dearest Debi. Make them with Vanna’s Choice®.||Crochet Farmboy Amigurumi* by Amidorable Crochet. Make with Vanna’s Choice®.|
Yub Nub Scoodie* by Kristen Stevenson.
Make this hat with Wool-Ease®Chunky!
|Knit Droid Tea Cosy* by TeaCosyFolk. Make one with Modern Baby®.||Crochet Patricia Castillo’s Doomed Star pillow.*
Make one with Vanna’s Choice®.
* not a Lion Brand pattern
Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo is an expert in the area of using crafting to heal, having researched the topic extensively for her book Crochet Saved My Life. In this post she explores how prayer shawls help both the maker and the recipient of the handmade item. Read Kathryn’s previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.
A knit or crochet prayer shawl is intended as a gesture of warmth and comfort for the person who receives the item. The maker prays (or sets their intention) for that person with every stitch. When the item is done, a special prayer or ritual may be done to add emotional value to the item before it is sent to charity or given to the person in need. However, it’s not just the person receiving the shawl who benefits from the act; the crafter also heals.
Benefits of Receiving a Prayer Shawl
People who receive prayer shawls often consider them to be special items that they will keep forever. A prayer shawl can be given to help someone who is going through a difficult illness, grieving the loss of a loved one or reeling from a disaster. The item provides physical comfort, actual warmth and a tangible reminder that there are others in the world that care for them.
Wrapped in the snug hug of a prayer shawl, the person can feel the love that went into those stitches. Barbara, who commented on a previous post we did about prayer shawls shared, “When I had surgery the pastor brought one to the hospital and prayed for me and wrapped it around me. It was very comforting. When I feel anxious I wrap myself in it and I feel the love that was knit into each stitch.”
Benefits of Making a Prayer Shawl
Making a prayer shawl has as many benefits as receiving one. Oftentimes when someone we care about is hurting, we desperately want to help but don’t know how. Making a prayer shawl is a way to channel that stressful energy into something positive. Other benefits people cite of making a knit or crochet prayer shawl include:
Making a prayer shawl is a great way to connect you to your own community. Linda Kennedy finds this is true as she makes baby blankets for the women at her church. (Although we call them prayer shawls, intentional crafting items can be anything at all!) She shares, “I know them and think about them often as I am working on theirs. I have heard some of the women talking about how they can’t wait to get their blanket for their baby. It makes me so happy!” Linda put special attention into a white crochet baby blanket that she made for a mother whose baby had heart problems and they weren’t sure whether or not she would make it and found that this was a way to connect to her during a difficult time. Each experience of prayerful crafting is unique and special. Speaking of another item she made for someone from church, Linda says, “When they gave it to her, she cried because she didn’t think anyone would do something like that for her. Seeing how I can touch someone’s heart is so comfort to me!”
Anja’s Squares: A Story of Making and Receiving
Katinka Steyn shared a story about the healing power of both making and receiving intentionally crafted items. It all began in December 2013 when her eldest daughter Anja had to undergo open-heart surgery after a stent lodged in her heart. She posted in her South African Facebook Group Ons Hekel (which means “we crochet”) about what was happening and “countless messages of prayers and encouragement started pouring in”. Anja made it through surgery and was discharged but continued to have chest pain. On January 22, 2014, Anja passed away in her home.
Happy Pi Day! It’s a special one too because today is 3/14/15, which happens to be the first five digits of Pi (3.1415) and if you’re super-into Pi, you know that this post went up at 9:26am, the next three digits (3.1415926)!
Don’t know what the heck I’m on about? Pi is an irrational number relating to the circumference and diameter of a circle. It’s approximately equal to 3.14, though the decimal places are believed to go on forever. You can learn a little more about Pi here, or you can just have fun with the collection of math and Pi-themed knitting and crochet patterns below!
|Pi Family by Alicia Kachmar||Butterfly Pi Shawl by lafarrelly|
|Knit Pie Top for Pi Day by Lorna and Jill Watt, aka Knits for Life||Pi Guy by Ms. Premise-Conclusion|
|Knit Irrational Scarf by Anne Bruvold||Knit Pi Digits Scarf by Christina J|
|Knit Pi Dish Towel by Shannon Servesko||Crochet Amigurumi Pi by Alicia Kachmar|
*Note: Some of these patterns require a Ravelry account. Make sure you are signed up or create a free account to access.
This past week I had the pleasure of visiting the Big Apple Knitters Guild to unveil some of our newest offerings, live and in person. As the new Brand Ambassador, and a fifth generation member of the family business at Lion Brand, I was bursting with excitement to meet about eighty knitters and to talk about the yarn world that I love so much.
I was SO energized by their enthusiasm that I want to share with you their top 5 “oohs and aahs” of the evening:
|1. The Penelope Poncho – made with Country®, who doesn’t love this snugly, cozy great easy knit project?|
|2. Artisan Gift Wrap – I need it and I need it now! I just want to wrap my cats in it.|
|3. LB Collection® yarns – These yarns are really well-priced, stunning, and they are not going to make me broke. Can I have some more please?|
|4. 2-in-1 Tote – This invention is genius! Always searching for your sunglasses and hoping they don’t get tangled with your yarn? Perfect, this one’s for you.|
|5. Hudson Riverfront Hat – There is nothing bad about some glitz and faux-fur – Pelt and Gold Leaf® create the magic here. I love this hat and I need to make it myself.|
I look forward to speaking to more groups in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area so if you would like me to visit, please contact me at Shira@lionbrand.com. In the meantime, I share the inside scoop about what it’s like living the yarny life at Lion Brand on Intagram and Twitter, where you can follow me @Shiraroars
Introducing Crafter’s Coloring Pages, a brand new way to start yarn playing in 2015. Take out your crayons. Treat yourself to a set of brush pens or markers. Coloring pages can be a useful addition to your crafting.
Here are some ideas for using these pages:
Getting started is easy. Just download the image, print and color.
|#Scapbook Page: Use to archive details you’d like to keep below the image: pattern, yarn, colors, date, recipient, modifications, etc.
:: Click the image for print-size version ::
|#Scarfie: Just add a face and color the scarf!
:: Click the image for print-size version ::
Michelle Edwards is a life-long knitter and the author/illustrator of A KNITTER’S HOME COMPANION and many award-winning children’s books including CHICKEN MAN and STINKY STERN FOREVER. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys talking about books in schools throughout the US and beyond. Her newest book, MAX MAKES A CAKE is now available from Random House. To keep in touch with Michelle, visit her website, www.michelledwards.com. “Like” her on Facebook . Follow her blog and sign up for her newsletter .
This article series was featured previously in our Weekly Stitch newsletter. The Weekly Stitch features new products, tips, and more, so if you enjoy this article and would like more content like it, subscribe!
Make a big statement with a fluffy pom-pom! Make it one color for a classy look, or combine two colors for something bolder! Once the gift is unwrapped, the pom-pom can also be used as a luggage tag.
For this project, you will need yarn (for the gift on the left, we use Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick® in the color Fisherman, coupled with Vanna’s Glamour® in the color Diamond; and for the gift on the right we use Alpine Wool in the colors Chili and Olive), along with a pom-pom maker. For the tutorial below we used Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick® in Starlight.
To make your pom-pom follow the directions on the pom-pom maker package or see below on how to make one using cardboard.
Take a rectangular piece of cardboard about 2″ X 4″ and use scissors to cut two, half-inch slits. Cut a piece of yarn to a desired length — I cut mine about a foot to wrap around my present — and secure the ends in the slits.
This article series was featured previously in our Weekly Stitch newsletter, which features new products, tips, and more. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.
A great gift for a knitter or crocheter – turn two balls of yarn into two cute wreaths in minutes! Use them as ornaments, then knit or crochet them into fabulous projects.
For this project you’ll need two balls of yarn (here we’re using LB Collection® Silk Mohair in Azure and Sunbeam), as well a tapestry needle.
Remove labels from yarn, (hang on to them if giving to a yarncrafter!) and remove a little bit of yarn from each ball. If your yarn isn’t already in a cake or doughnut shape, wrap it around a water bottle or cup to make “cakes.” From the yarn you removed from each ball, cut 2 lengths of yarn (1 of each color), long enough to wrap around your package. Set them aside. Thread tapestry needle with remaining yarn in first color.
Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo is an expert in the area of using crafting to heal, having researched the topic extensively for her book Crochet Saved My Life. This is part 5 in her 6-part series for us on the topic of yarncraft health. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.
We have discussed a lot of ideas for using crafts to improve your mental and physical health. But what about the reverse – improving your health so that you can be a better crafter? It turns out that one can help the other in a cycle of ongoing self-improvement.
One of the main complaints that knitters and crocheters have is that their crafts can cause them hand pain. This includes carpal tunnel and other repetitive strain injury. You can reduce that by doing regular hand exercises. Keeping your hands limber will allow you to yarncraft for longer periods of time.
It’s a case of one hand washing the other because as you do needlecrafting, you loosen certain parts of your hands. Many people have reported that crochet helps them reduce symptoms of arthritis for example. So you can do hand and finger exercises in order to crochet better and then the more you crochet, the less your hands are likely to hurt.
Here are 9 hand exercises for crafters’ fingers, thumbs and wrists.
Felting and acrylic aren’t usually words that go together, so when the opportunity arose to try out some of Lion Brand’s “Spinnables” 100% acrylic fiber, I was skeptical. You might recognize this fiber because it’s our Homespun® before it’s spun into yarn! (We wrote about how Homespun® is made HERE.)
|Here is a look at the fiber. It’s incredibly soft and silky. I frequently felt with superfine Merino wool, but even that does not compare to the softness of this fiber! It reminds me more of silk than of wool.|
|Next step was to try felting a simple object. I picked a cat, although I think the result looks more like a gummy bear. So let’s say it’s a gummy cat. The acrylic fiber felted surprisingly quickly and densely! The gummy cat feels very solid, although the surface texture retains some of the fiber’s silky smoothness. I started with a coarse felting needle and moved on to a finer one as the fiber began to firm up.|
|All finished! I only had one color to work with, but with multiple colors it would be possible to add details like eyes if desired (of course, a gummy cat doesn’t need them). Because of its extreme softness, this fiber is better suited to projects with simple shapes and rounded edges.|
|All-in-all, I think acrylic fiber is an excellent alternative to wool and a great way for those who forgo animal products to get into needle felting. I look forward to experimenting with it further and to seeing what others come up with.|
“Spinnables” fiber is available in 3 oz packages of assorted colors – more than enough for several small projects like this. You can find it at the Lion Brand Outlet and on our website. If you are new to needle felting, we also have everything else you need to get started. We hope you’ll give it a try!