Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Crocheting' Category


Gauge Swatch 101: How to Make and Measure Your Swatch

May 14th, 2012

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I admit it: I used to cheat at gauge swatches. I would cast on, work a few rows, then assume I was good to go. Of course, my projects never came out the right size (and I have the ill-fitting sweaters to prove it)! Since then, I’ve decided that I prefer sweaters that fit, so now I’m a believer in the gauge swatch. Not only does a swatch help you measure your gauge, but it also gives you the chance to practice your stitches and see how your project will drape. Are you ready to swatch now? Here’s how to make and measure your swatch in 5 easy steps.

How to Gauge Swatch

Step 1: Cast on using the same technique you’ll use for your project. The gauge section of your pattern will tell you how many stitches per inch to anticipate, usually given over 4 inches. To get the most accurate measurements, you’ll want to cast on enough stitches to give you a 5-6 inch swatch. For example, this pattern has a gauge of 16 stitches = 4 inches, so I’m casting on 24 stitches. Work in your pattern for 5-6 inches, then loosely bind off.
Step 2: Measure vertically and horizontally. Don’t cheat by stretching it! It’s okay if your swatch doesn’t lay flat; hold it flat without stretching as you measure. For more accurate measurement, start your counting a few stitches in from the edge (as the size of your edge stitches may be distorted). Note your stitch and row gauge because it’s all about to change!
Step 3: Wash (and dry) your swatch in the same way that you’ll care for your finished piece.
Step 4: Are you going to block your finished piece? If so, block your swatch. Otherwise, skip ahead to Step 5. Click here for more information on blocking.
Step 5: Measure your swatch again. I repeat, don’t cheat by stretching your swatch! This will be your final gauge, which you’ll match against the pattern.

And that’s all it takes to make a gauge swatch! After following these steps, did your gauge change? Mine sure did! I went from 20 stitches over 4 inches (before washing and blocking) to 16 stitches over 4 inches. Likewise, my row gauge went from 38 rows over 4 inches to 32 rows over 4 inches. Does your gauge match your pattern? If not, it’s time to make another swatch. If your swatch is too small (too many stitches per inch), go up a hook/needle size; if your swatch is too big, go down a hook/needle size.

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Choosing the Right Needle or Hook for Your Yarncrafting

May 10th, 2012

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Just as there are many different variations of yarns, there are types of needles and hooks to choose from as well.  Hooks and needles come in different shapes, sizes, and textures to help you achieve your best results when yarncrafting.  They even come in fun colors and designs, allowing you to add a personal touch to your collection of supplies! Imagine your friend handing you a pair of needles in that royal purple color she knows you love so much; you’ll always remember that moment when you work with those needles.

The most common materials you’ll find your needles or hooks in are plastic, wood and metal.  Needle or hook choice is entirely up to you, but it might be beneficial for you to know that the different materials of the needles/hooks can affect the way your knitting or crochet may feel (and sound) as you work.

It’s good to consider having multiple needles and hooks in varying materials, because their properties may have different effects on your gauge. In other words, you may find that you get a slightly different gauge when you knit/crochet with bamboo compared to when you knit/crochet with metal.  Read below for more info on how the different tool materials affect yarncrafting styles.

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Vote for Our Spring 2012 Crochet-Along Project!

May 9th, 2012

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Spring has sprung, and our crochet hooks are itching for a new project. That means it’s time for a new crochet-along! Before we get started, we need your help to choose the next project.

Vote for the Crochet-Along!
Clockwise from left: Glittery Shrug, Temair Throw, Tunisian Throw

Have you picked your favorite? Click here to submit your vote. We’ll announce the winner here on the Lion Brand Notebook on Thursday, May 17th. We can’t wait to see which project you pick!

New to our online crochet-alongs? Click here to read our guide to getting started. Remember to check the Lion Brand Notebook on Thursdays for the latest crochet-along posts!


From the Video Archive: Beginner Project Ideas to Knit & Crochet

May 7th, 2012

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Looking for some great project ideas for beginners? Whether you are a novice knitter or crochet OR you’re teaching someone in your life to knit or crochet, an exciting project can be the key to getting you excited about these wonderful crafts.

Join me as I show you how to go beyond the scarf, and see just how much you can do with a rectangle!

For more useful blog posts for beginners, check out:

For more useful blog posts on teaching others to knit and crochet, check out:


Crocheting Flowers and Inspiring Others to Yarncraft

May 4th, 2012

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About two weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of attending SNAP!, a three day conference held at Thanksgiving Point, Utah which brought together hundreds of amazing D.I.Y, crafting, and home decor bloggers.  I was surrounded by creative women who have a passion for sharing things like  photos, projects, recipes, and parenting tips online; you could spend hours browsing through the blogs of these talented crafters.

While I was at SNAP!, Zontee joined me in hosting a crochet party after conference hours with the very talented and creative blogger Cindy, from Skip to My Lou.  We thought crochet flowers would be a fun project, since flowers can become great embellishments and accessories.  One simple crochet flower can be used for a broach, headband, and even a hair pin; there are so many different possibilities. A few of these bloggers already knew how to crochet, but most of them didn’t.  Lion Brand Yarn and Skip to my Lou thought that SNAP! would be the perfect venue to round up a few of these bloggers and teach them how to crochet.

Most people got the hang of it and were crocheting little flowers before the end of the event, and those who didn’t have enough time to practice and complete their flower, had a fun time chaining and thinking about the different ways chains can be useful (belts, necklaces, bracelets, garlands, etc.).  It’s always good to challenge yourself a little and learn something new – persistence pays off!


Cindy demonstrating to the crowd.

Heather from Whipperberry knocked out this granny square!

Mandi from Vintage Revivals crocheted her first flower & made a headband.

Marie from Make and Takes and Becca from Blue Cricket Design having fun crocheting.

 

A special thank you to The Chocolate for providing “yarn ball” cupcakes, Natalie of “Sweet” Hobby for providing yarn inspired and granny square cookies, and thanks to Utah Kernel for donating the gourmet popcorn!

Have you taught or inspired any to knit or crochet lately? Share your experience with us!


Announcing May Flowers Month! Get Inspired with Flower Patterns All Month Long

May 3rd, 2012

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As the weather gets warmer, flowers are blooming everywhere. This May, we’ll be bringing you flower-inspired designs all month long!

First, be sure to check out our newsletter, The Weekly Stitch, each week for featured designs from the new book, Crochet Garden by Suzann Thompson.

Click the photo (right) to see the directions for the European Rose, our FIRST excerpted design from this book.

Plus, for even more flower designs, be sure to check out our StitchFinder, where we feature 20 flowers from the book, 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet by Lesley Stanfield including…

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8 Fast & Easy Knit & Crochet Projects for Mother’s Day

May 1st, 2012

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With about two weeks left before Mother’s Day, there’s still plenty of time left to get started on your handmade gift; especially if you use a little trick – working with multiple strands.  Multiple stranding adds more texture, durability, and makes a project done in a simple stitch look great.

By knitting or crocheting with multiple yarns as one, you create a thicker fabric, speeding up the process; this technique also allows you to play with different colors at once, creating your own “tweed” look.  Click on the images below to see the different possibilities you can explore with multi-strand yarn-cafting!

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How to Crochet Broomstick Lace

April 26th, 2012

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Broomstick lace has a beautiful, open look that really shows off the character and texture of your yarn. Dating back to the 1800s, this technique creates large loops of yarn that gently twist to the left, giving the finished project especially elegant drape. For a long time I was intimidated by broomstick lace, so I wanted to share how easy it is to create this beautiful, reversible fabric!

Ready to get started? You’ll need:

  • Yarn for your project: Choose a yarn you want to show off. I chose Martha Stewart Crafts Extra Soft Wool Blend because I love the twist and soft luster.
  • Crochet hook: Use whatever hook you feel works best with your yarn. I used a US K10.5/6.5mm hook for larger, more open stitches.
  • Large knitting needle (or actual broomstick, if you dare!): You can use any large needle for this project; the larger your needle, the larger your loops will be. I used a needle from a pair of ‘Speed Stix’ (US 50/25mm). When making broomstick lace, this tool is often called the “pin.”

How to Crochet Broom Stick Lace Step By Sep Guide with Pictures

 

1. First, make a chain. For this sample I wanted to make repeats of 5, so I chained 15 stitches for 3 repeats. Draw the final chain up over the knitting needle.

2. Crochet back into the chain, drawing up a loop in each stitch and pulling it up over the knitting needle.

3. Repeat until you have drawn up a loop through every stitch in your chain and transferred them onto the knitting needle. This step creates the large loops of yarn you will see in the finished lace.

4. Slide your hook through the first group of loops (for this example that’s 5 loops per repeat) and pull them off the needle. At this point, if it is easier for you to manage, you can remove the large needle from your work altogether.

5. Yarn over and pull through the group of large loops on your hook. Work one single crochet for every loop in the group on your hook (I worked 5 single crochet into the group of 5 loops). Continue this process until all the loops have been crocheted into. Note: make sure to check how many loops you have in each group to avoid accidental increases or decreases.

6. This completes your first row of broomstick lace! You can now draw loops up through each of the single crochet stitches you made in step 5, and continue to repeat steps 1-5 till your project reaches the desired length.

 

What new techniques have you tried that looked tricky at first? What would you tell a crafter who was nervous about trying a new craft for the first time? Leave a comment to share!

 

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10 Tips for Washing Your Handmade Items

April 25th, 2012

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There was a time when I did laundry and the most sorting I would do for my loads would be to separate the whites and colors.  I washed everything in hot water, and threw them all into a hot dryer to dry.  Needless to say, my cashmere sweater was no longer a recognizable garment.  It shrunk incredibly and had multiple holes in it; that sweater was dead.  Thankfully it wasn’t a hand-made item, but it still hurt to lose it – so today, I’ll share some tips on how to properly wash those yarn-crafted goods that you spent your precious time and energy on.

  1. Check Your Label:  The ball band will indicate with symbols, and in text how to wash and dry the yarn.  There will also be a symbol indicating whether or not you may iron the fabric. (When gift giving, it’s best to give the care label with some scraps of the yarn attached to the intended recipient).
  2. Test Your Gauge Swatches: Another reason to gauge swatch! Not only do you want to make sure your gauge is correct, but you want to see how the fabric reacts when it’s washed.  Note your initial swatch measurements, then take note of any size, color or textural changes after washing it (if applicable).
  3. Hand or Machine Wash?If the label says hand wash, hand wash the fabric! If you throw it in the washing machine, you might damage your final piece.  If it’s machine washable, keep it on a low, gentle setting (also to ensure your weaved ends stay in place).
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6 Wonderful Knit & Crochet Wedding Projects Made by Customers Like You!

April 23rd, 2012

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On tomorrow’s episode of YarnCraft (our radio-style podcast about the wonderful world of knitting, crocheting, and yarn), we’ll be talking about projects for formals, proms, and weddings. As we enter the warmer months (at least here in the northern hemisphere), it seems like there are more parties, both indoors and out–which is why we’ll be talking about purses, shawls, and even some non-traditional yarncrafting projects that you may want to tackle.

In the meantime, we often hear from customers that they’ve made special projects as gifts or to decorate for their own or their friends’ weddings. Here are just a few fun projects that I spotted in our Customer Gallery (click on the photos to read their full stories):

Paul created this very cool blanket for his youngest step-daughter’s wedding–his own design, with a little help from his wife. He made it using Pound of Love, and you can really tell a lot of love went into this cool playing card-inspired design. Janice B. made an adorable little bunny bride & groom–and bridesmaid too!–based on our Cake Topper pattern. It was for a recently-married friend who loves bunnies!

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