Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Crafting' Category


March is National Crochet Month AND National Craft Month!

March 18th, 2012

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National Craft MonthDid you know that March is both National Crochet Month and National Craft Month? It’s such an exciting month, and there are so many different ways to celebrate. Our favorite way, of course, is to give back to others through teaching. If you’d like to teach a friend, relative, or complete stranger how to crochet or knit, we have many resources to support you. You can find helpful instructions, illustrations, and videos at learntocrochet.lionbrand.com and learntoknit.lionbrand.com.

We also have lots of blog posts to support your teaching. Here are some of our favorite posts.

As you’re teaching friends, remember to check out the two great sweepstakes sponsored by our friends at Knitty Daily. Click here to find out how you can win some amazing books and DVDs. I hope you celebrate the rest of the month with tons of crafting, crocheting, and knitting!


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.

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Where to Find Resources for Loom Knitting and Weaving

February 15th, 2012

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Loom knitting and weaving has been increasing in popularity lately; although many people turn to needles and hooks for yarncrafting, there are some who prefer loom boards with pegs and a hook as their yarncraft tool of choice. Loom knitting is a great alternative to traditional knitting for those who may have arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome; it’s also a good way to introduce beginners to the world of yarncraft.  We’ve been receiving a lot more interest in regards to loom weaving and knitting with the recent introduction of our Martha Stewart Crafts™ Lion Brand Yarn Knit and Weave Loom Kit.

Although loom knitting and weaving is a very niche community, there are a lot of different resources available on how to get the best out of your tools.  Below, I’ve shared a few helpful resources to get you started on your loom crafting.

Video Tutorials:
Lion Brand Yarn: Loom Knitting and Weaving
This playlist includes 24 videos with tutorials on knitting and weaving on the Martha Stewart Crafts™ Lion Brand Yarn Knit and Weave Loom kit; you can also see the many different configurations that can be created with the loom.

Noreen Crone-Findlay: Loom Knitting and Weaving
Noreen Crone-Findlay is an expert weaver and loom-knitter who has provided a plethora of different weaving techniques and loom configurations on her YouTube Channel that go beyond the conventional ways of thinking about loom weaving.  She’s weaved potholders, bags, hearts, and even gnomes!

GoodKnitKissesLoom Knitting
Kristen, the popular vlogger of GoodKnitKisses, offers a great selection of videos featuring different techniques and patterns that can be utilized on the loom.

Loom Knit Lab: Loom Knitting
Another great site for pattern inspiration from Isela Phelps with tutorials that can show you how to cable knit on a loom in addition to the many other techniques; you can also learn how to pick up a dropped stitch!

Helpful websites:
Loom Knitting Help: This is an excellent site to get you started on your loom knitting ventures.  This website is very insightful, provides tips, explains different tools and even shows you how to convert traditional knitting patterns to loom patterns.

Loom Knitters Circle: Isela Phelps, Bethany Dailey and Denise Layman have teamed up to provide a webzine which features plenty of loom patterns, videos, product reviews and cute comics related to loom knitting.

Loom Knitting Groups on Ravelry: Don’t forget about one of the biggest online communities for yarncrafters, Ravelry.  There are a decent amount of groups on this site dedicated to loom knitting and loom weaving.

Have you previously tried loom knitting or weaving before?  Do you think you may want to give it a try soon? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.


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6 Man-Friendly Scarf Patterns

February 6th, 2012

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With Valentine’s Day only a week away, you might be thinking about fast, last-minute patterns you can knit or crochet for someone you love.

If you’re knitting or crocheting for a man, I think it’s important to make something that he’s really going to wear. That means selecting yarns that are easy-care, colors that match his wardrobe, and classic styles and textures. Make the project something he’ll really use day to day and be able to take care of. Here are 6 projects that I think fit the bill, but we’ve got plenty more on our site (plus hats, gloves, and more).

 

Knit Basic Scarf

This classic stockinette stitch scarf with garter stitch border gets its interest from the heathered color of Wool-Ease Thick & Quick. Woodsy and natural, it’s adds a touch of quiet interest to this understated scarf. Plus the super bulky yarn will help you finish this project in no time flat.

Loom Woven Houndstooth Check Scarf 

A classic pattern that’s experiencing a come-back, I love houndstooth’s rich, dapper feel. For the stylish man in your life, consider this quick-to-weave project made on our Knit & Weave Loom Kit.

Knit Varsity Stripe Hat & Scarf 

You can’t go wrong with a classic striped hat & scarf set. Make it in his favorite team’s colors or his school colors. With such a big color palette in Vanna’s Choice and Vanna’s Choice Baby, you can mix and match to get just the shades you’re looking for.

Crochet Easy-Wear Scarf 

Make him staple that will never go out of style: a classic ribbed scarf that can be wrapped twice for those windy days. It’s also fast-to-crochet in bulky, machine-washable Vanna’s Colors.

Knit Harbor Scarf
For a little added interest, consider a timeless stitch in a smaller scale. These cables add a wonderful honeycomb texture to the scarf, but when combined with the simplicity of the classic off-white yarn, the whole look is still masculine.
Crochet Hometown Scarf

By holding two strands of solid color yarn together, you can create a tweedy look. Use colors that match his wardrobe, or for a more subtle look, select different shades of the same color.

Do you have a favorite pattern for the men in your life? Tell us about it in the comments!


6 DIY Crochet Hook & Knitting Needle Organizers

January 20th, 2012

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Two weeks ago, I wrote about one of my new year’s resolutions being to organize my hooks, needles, and notions–something that most yarncrafters have to tackle at one point or another–and I got a response from Syd who asked if I could share some do-it-yourself ideas, since one of her resolutions was not to spend money when possible.

As knitters and crocheters (and generally crafty people), of course, there are some great ways to do this. I was happy to oblige, and so here are just a few patterns that will help you get your tools in order. (Click on the photos or titles for the patterns on LionBrand.com.)

Knit & Crochet Felted Hook & Needle Books

Designed specifically with knitters & crocheters in mind, these two patterns tell you to create slits in the felted (and therefore, strong and dense) material through which you can slide your hooks or needles. It’s a great way to keep your hooks and needles together, fitting hooks, straight needles, and double-pointed needles too.

Knit Felted Roll-Up Case

Shown here with pencils, this case would be great for crochet hooks or double-pointed needles. I love that it’s made with tweedy Fishermen’s Wool and that it has individual pockets sewn in. For another similar case that has a flap closure, click here.

Loom Woven, Knit & Crochet Eyeglass Cases

Okay, so these are meant for your glasses, but why not use them for your hooks or double-pointed needles? They’re the perfect length! We’ve got patterns for woven, knit, and crochet case patterns, so be sure to click on the photo or title above to see them.

Knit & Crochet Felted Coin Purses

If you’re like me, you have tape measures, darning needles, stitch markers, and other notions to use in your knitting & crocheting projects. Keep track of them by making a little purse in which you can keep them all. Plus the little purse can be easily moved from project back to project bag.

Knit Lace Vase Cozy

For knitters & crocheters who want to have their tools out, whether in a craft room or just for a decorative touch, consider putting them in a lovely vase. We hear from customers all the time, who tell us they display their needles and hooks in this way. While you’re at it, why not dress up your vase with a beautiful lace cozy?

Wrapped Desk Organizers

Along the same lines as the vase, consider recycling glass jars into desktop organizers by decorating them with–what else–yarn. You can use a taller jar for straight needles, a medium one for crochet hooks, and a little one for your T-pins, stitch markers, row counters, etc.

How do you store your needles & hooks? Leave a comment and share your tips!


Color Theory Basics for Knitting and Crocheting

January 18th, 2012

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Have you ever wondered how to get the perfect color palette for a multicolor project? The secret is surprisingly simple color theory! When selecting your colors, there are two important things to keep in mind: hue and value. To illustrate these, I’ll be using the same Fair Isle pattern with a variety of color combinations.

Let’s start with hue. This is the basic color that you’ll be selecting. To see how multiple hues work together, it’s important to look at a color wheel. Here’s a very simple version:

Color Wheel

How you select hues from the wheel will depend on the effect that you’re trying to achieve. In general, remember that colors that are closer together will blend together more, and colors that are directly across from each other will provide the most contrast. So if you want a subtle look, select colors that are next to each other on the wheel. These touching colors are called analogous hues, and they can help you create delicate transitions and color gradients. I’ve selected yellow, orange, and red for my subtle colorwork.

Analogous Hues

If you want your colors to really pop, select complementary colors. These are located directly across from each other on the color wheel. Using complementary colors will give your colorwork a lot of contrast. Let’s see how changing the swatch looks when I replace one analogous hue with a complementary one. I’ve replaced the rusty red with a blue-violet shade.

Complementary Hues

Blue-violet is across the color wheel from yellow and orange, so it provides a lot of contrast.

Now, let’s move on to value. Value is lightness or darkness of a color. Imagine you have a colored pencil and a piece of white paper. No matter what, you’ll be using the same color, but the value changes the appearance. If you color super softly, you’ll end up with a very pale value; if you press very hard, you’ll have a very dark value. To create contrast, select yarns that have different values.

Value with High Contrast

Here, I’ve selected yarns with the same color but varying values, from the almost white to the rich chocolate. The difference in brightness creates a nice contrast, allowing my Fair Isle pattern to stand out.

Value with Low Contrast

In this swatch, I’ve used yarns with different colors but similar values. As you can see, this creates very little contrast. The same thing will happen if you pair multiple dark shades together; closer values will have less contrast than varied values.

So all you have to remember is that yarns with analogous hue and similar value will create subtle combinations, while yarns with complementary hues and varied value will create contrast. Have fun and experiment! And remember, crocheting or knitting a quick gauge swatch is the best way to see how colors will behave together!


No Knit, No Crochet Projects From the Blogosphere

December 27th, 2011

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Over the past few months, Lion Brand has worked with a few bloggers on yarncrafting projects which require no knitting or crocheting.  This was a fun initiative for us because it was great to see what projects come to mind to people when they see a particular yarn. Many people don’t know how to knit or crochet but love using yarn in craft projects.  So, even if you do know how to knit or crochet, think about the crafting possibilities with yarn without using your hooks or needles- there’s so much you can create!

10 Minute No Sew Scarf from According to Kelly

Kelly spotlights our Amazing yarn by wrapping it around multiple times to create a scarf.  The self striping colorway in Amazing creates a beautiful unique accessory or garment.  After you make one of these, you might be tempted to try another in a different color!

Semi-Homemade Mohawk Beanie

Semi Homemade Mohawk Beanie from This Mama Makes Stuff

Carrie had a different approach to using our Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Roving Wool yarn, she mixed and matched colors for some funky cool mohawk beanie caps.  Once again, this is a no knit, no crochet, no sew project, check out her tutorial here.

Chunky Yarn Cuff

Chunky Yarn Cuff from P.S I Made This

Erica Domesek, fashion forward blogger of P.S. I Made this, featured a D.I.Y tutorial utilizing our Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Mambo yarn to create a chunky bracelet.  This is a jewelry piece that’s sure to make a statement wherever you go.  Click here to see how she made this zebra-like cuff.

Holiday Yarn Trees

Holiday Yarn Trees from Recaptured Charm

Lisa from Recaptured Charm took a sophisticated approach to creating yarn trees by crafting them in Silky Twist, Holiday Homespun and Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Glitter Eyelash. Her crafted trees have a classic look that can be appreciated year after year.  View the rest of her trees and the process here.

Yarn Pom Pom Garland

Pom Pom Yarn Garland from Little Birdie Secrets

Mandy made some pretty big textured pom poms for her mantle with our textured yarns Silky Twist and Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Lofty Wool Blend.  This is a great craft for birthdays and other holiday celebrations, and it’s a fun craft for the kids as well.

Yarn Art

Yarn Art with Children from Make and Takes

Marie wanted to do a craft that was kid friendly so she could create a project with her children; she crafted a festive yarn art piece with Vanna’s Choice, Vanna’s Glamour and Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Glitter Eyelash.  Her children crafted creative holiday scenes with yarn as well, check out all of the projects here. Yarn can be used to recreate any kind of scene, just think of it as a unique paint!

Most of you wonderful Lion Brand Notebook readers are knitters and crocheters, but are you ever inspired to you use your yarn without hooks or needles?  What kind of projects have you done or are looking forward to trying?


Help Your Gift Recipients Care for Handmade Presents

December 15th, 2011

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GiftsIt’s a joy to give and receive handmade gifts for holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. However, once that gift leaves your hands, it’s the recipient’s responsibility to care for the garment. With these 5 easy tips, all of the people on your gifting list will be able to keep their presents in tip-top condition.

1. Before gifting, it’s important to select the right yarn for the recipient. Beyond the general look and feel of the yarn, it’s critical to consider the washing and drying instructions. Some people will happily hand wash your handiwork, while others are destined to have felting accidents. Matching the care information to the recipient will definitely extend the life of your gift, so the recipient can enjoy it for even longer. For example, I know that I can trust my sister to hand wash a wool sweater, but my dad would surely felt a wool hat.
2. Include care instructions if necessary. Attach an adorable note card that your giftee can easily reference. Remember to use plain English to make the instructions simple to follow.
3. Giving lots of gifts? Consider purchasing customized clothing labels. They’re relatively inexpensive and can be easily attached to your presents. Think about including the fiber content or care information as a helpful reminder.
4. Attach the yarn label and a few yards of yarn to the gift. They’ll have all of the care information, and crafty pals can use the yarn to fix any snags or seams. Best of all, they’ll be able to suggest the yarn when friends compliment the present!
5. If your gift requires hand washing, include a bottle of rinse-free wool wash. This makes it super easy to keep your gift clean.

With those simple steps, your handmade gifts should last and last. Do you have any tips for giving handmade gifts? Let us know in the comments!


How to Make Easy Finger-Knit Holiday Garlands

December 7th, 2011

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This year spread holiday cheer by making quick and easy finger-knit garlands with friends, family and kids. A finger-knit garland is a wonderful reusable decoration, and an easy way to get kids and family members involved in holiday crafting. Finger-knitting is a simple, quiet project kids can work on with family or on their own while you prepare for the holidays, and the finished garlands can adorn almost any part of the home, instantly adding handmade charm and warmth to your decor.

With so many colors available, I picked just a few of my favorites to make these samples. Holding two yarns together as I did in two of these samples gives your garland a rich, blended look.
Sample GarlandsI made these garland swatches with samples of (from left to right): Martha Stewart Crafts Glitter Eyelash [Yellow Gold and Blue Topaz held together], Amazing [Roses], Martha Stewart Crafts Glitter Eyelash [Garnet], Holiday Homespun [Wreath], and Holiday Homespun [Berry and Starlight held together]

Ready to get started? Follow these 5 steps and you’ll be making and hanging your own garlands in no time.

Step 1: Pick a yarn you are comfortable with and cast on (I picked Vanna’s Choice for these pictures because it’s a clean straight yarn and is perfect for practicing new skills). Just like in needle knitting, there are many ways to cast on. The best way I have found is to hold the tail of your yarn between the thumb and palm of your non-dominant hand (not the hand you write with). In a simple over-under pattern, weave yarn between your fingers: under your index finger, over your middle finger, under your ring finger, over your pinky. Then wrap around the back of your hand under your pinky, and over your ring finger, under your middle finger and over your index finger. Refer to the pictures below for guidance.
Step 2: Wrap each finger once more with yarn, following the same over-under pattern from the first step. You will have 2 loops of yarn on each finger once you’ve completed step 2.
Step 3 (the actual knit stitch): Pull the bottom loop on each finger up over your fingertip and release. I like to start from my pinky and work across toward my index finger. Once you’ve done this 4 times, you’ll have completed your first row of knits and will have one loop remaining on each finger.
Step 4: Repeat! Keep repeating these steps and watch as your project grows into a long, loosely knit rope. Don’t worry if your first few rows seem a little uneven. As you work and your garland gets longer, you’ll see that your project will even out.
Step 5: Decorate your home. For a festive twist, use a yarn garland to decorate a holiday wreath or Christmas tree, or drape it from bannisters, railings, doorways, chandeliers and mantlepieces. You can even hang small ornaments from them, like tiny glass balls or handmade snowflakes.

Have you ever finger-knitted, or made holiday garlands from yarn? Tell us in a comment on this post.


Fast Holiday Crafts in 15 Minutes or Less

December 6th, 2011

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Quick crafts can help eliminate stress this holiday season. Not only is crafting fun, but it’s productive! The great textures of our Martha Stewart Crafts Glitter Eyelash and Mambo yarns help make these projects fast and impressive. So if you’ve got 5, 10, or 15 minutes free, whip up some of these fabulous crafts — no knitting or crocheting required!

5 Minutes or Less
Gift wrap with Mambo
Skip the ribbon and bow! You can wrap 2 regular shirt boxes with a single skein of Mambo.

Gift tag with Glitter Eyelash
Use Glitter Eyelash to add a little bit of sparkle to your gift tags. Just punch a hole in a piece of cardstock and thread your yarn through the hole. For even more sparkle, punch holes in a pattern and weave your yarn through.

Wine glass charms with Glitter Eyelash
Keep your wine glasses straight at your holiday or New Year’s party! Simply braid together 3 strands of Glitter Eyelash. There are 14 shades of Glitter Eyelash to choose from, so you’ll have enough wine glass charms for all of your guests! You can even braid together multiple colors for larger gatherings.

Hearth decoration with Mambo
Add some whimsy to your hearth or mantle by pinning up your favorite shade of Mambo. Just one skein is large enough for most hearths.

10 Minutes or Less
Holiday bulbs in Glitter Eyelash
Sparkling holiday bulbs are perfect for any Christmas tree or mantle decoration! To make them, take your favorite shade of Glitter Eyelash and wrap it around a styrofoam ball (Tip: A styrofoam ball with a 2-3″ diameter is perfect for this project! Check the floral section of your craft store). Here’s what the process looks like:
Wrapping bulbs
When the ball is completely covered, cut your yarn and use a blunt needle to hide the tail. Next, cut a small piece of yarn (about 3-4″ in length) and thread it through your needle. Use the needle to bring the yarn through a section of the wrapped yarn. Tie a knot in the yarn so that your ornament can hang.

Sparkling trees in Glitter Eyelash
Sparkling trees are beautiful decorations for winter. To make this project, you’ll need a styrofoam cone (located in the floral section of your craft store), craft glue, and Glitter Eyelash. At the top of the cone, apply a small amount of glue. Begin wrapping the cone with yarn until you reach the base. Cut your yarn and apply glue to secure the end. Use a single color for a classic look, or get creative — make a star, tinsel, bulbs, and more!

Garland with Mambo or Glitter Eyelash
Use Mambo or Glitter Eyelash in the place of garland! Mambo is thick enough to use as garland without any finishing. To use Glitter Eyelash, consider braiding 3 or more strands (I used Aquamarine Crystal, Yellow Gold, and Florentine Gold). For an even thicker garland, make a long chain with 2 strands of Glitter Eyelash and a large crochet hook. I used a K-10.5 hook with a single strand each of Tourmaline and Garnet with great results. (Need help with the chain stitch? Click here for our tutorial!)

15 Minutes or Less
Holiday Wreaths in Glitter Eyelash
Make your décor shine with a sparkling wreath! Use a single color, or for a more modern take, stripe two colors together. For this project, you’ll need a foam wreath (located in the floral section of craft stores), craft glue, and 2 skeins of Glitter Eyelash. (Tip: Wrap your Glitter Eyelash yarn into a tight ball to make it easier to work with.) Wrap your yarn around the wreath form until it’s completely covered. Use glue to secure your yarn end. Finish the wreath off with a festive bow (mine’s in Mambo), bulbs, or whatever you desire!

Card Display in Glitter Eyelash
Display your holiday cards in style! All you need is a piece of foamcore, some Glitter Eyelash, scissors, and some tape. Begin at the upper left corner of the foamcore and tape your yarn on the back (white) to secure. Next, wrap around the front (red) in a diagonal fashion. Pull the yarn taut. Wrap the yarn to the back and secure with tape. Continue in this manner until you’ve reached the lower right corner. Cut your yarn and tape to secure.
Card Display in Glitter Eyelash How-To
Repeat this process, starting in the upper right corner and working to the lower left corner. You will have created a diamond pattern on the front. If you find that your display isn’t taunt enough, try craft gluing your yarn for more security.

And now your home (and gifts) will be looking fabulous with just a few minutes of work!

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