As the cooler temperatures begin to set in, many of you are probably starting to knit or crochet with fibers that have insulating properties for warmth; a common fiber to knit with during this time of year is wool. Sheep’s fleece is the most popular type of wool fiber because it’s pretty widely available and versatile. Below, I’ve rounded up a few different wool selections with explanations about their unique qualities, so you can determine which wool might be suitable for your upcoming winter projects.
(image courtesy of Petr Kratochvil)
|Fishermen’s Wool is 100% undyed, virgin wool with natural lanolin oil. Lanolin oil is a waxy natural substance found in sheep fleece that acts as a water repellent, which makes Fishermen’s Wool ideal for accessories or garments for skiiers and fishermen. Wool can absorb up to about 30% of its weight in moisture, while still allowing you to feel warm and dry. Since wool takes dye easily, a skein in Natural or Oatmeal would be nice for experimenting with creating your own hand dyed yarns. If you’re more interested in learning about dyeing, and appropriate dyes for your yarn, take a look at this previous blog post by Jess, Choose the Right Dye for Your Fiber.
We also love Fishermen’s Wool in it’s natural state to knit up beautiful cables and traditional Aran sweaters, which were worn by Fishermen working off the cost of Ireland in the Aran Islands. Click here for a few Aran sweater patterns.
Have you ever knit stripes in the round only to find that they look a little lopsided? It’s not just you. The nature of circular knitting causes stripes to jog, which means that they don’t line up. The good news is there’s a technique for knitting stripes in the round that straightens up your stripes. Best of all, jogless stripes are just as easy to knit as regular stripes, so they don’t slow down your knitting at all! Are you ready to take your stripes to the next level?
This time of year it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and anxiety of starting a new school year. Recently it’s become popular to introduce teens and children to yarncrafts as they head back to school; it’s been seen that crafting has numerous benefits that can help all ages during times of stress. Plus, taking a little time to relax can be helpful for kids and adults, particularly when you take some time to enjoy a hobby you love together.
Crafting is something you can do by yourself to relax. Knitting or crocheting a few rows between classes or on the morning bus can lend a sense of value to these hurry-up-and-wait portions of the day. It’s a great way to decompress at the end of a long day, and can help clear your mind as you work.
Yarncrafting can help you connect with other people. Lots of activities for young people seem to be designed to be done alone; but crafting, particularly yarncrafting, can be a great way to spend a little face-time with friends or family. Lots of schools are developing crafting clubs, and crafting with a group of peers can introduce students to new friends.
We’ve all been there: you’re happily working through your pattern, then you reach for your stitch holder and realize that you don’t have one in your bag. Never fear! There are plenty of everyday desk and office supplies that you can use for a quick fix. Here are some common households items and how they can be used in crafting.
Paperclip: This is one of the most versatile tools you can have! It makes an excellent stitch marker as is, or you can unbend it to create a cable needle or double-pointed needle. Drop a stitch in your knitting? No problem! Just unbend the paperclip except for one end to create an emergency crochet hook.
Binder clip: Need to keep project pieces together for seaming but don’t have any pins handy? Binder clips will keep your project together as you’re seaming.
Rubber band: Snip into small pieces to create custom-sized stitch markers. For a stitch holder, just cut one end, then thread the band through your stitches. Tie the ends together to secure your holder. (You can also use extra yarn or string for these!)
American dollar bill: If you’re trying to measure your work and forgot your tape measure, reach for your wallet! American currency is 6.14 inches long, so you can easily use a bill to estimate measurements. (You can also use a standard piece of printer paper to estimate; the normal size is 8.5 inches by 11 inches!)
Do you have any other ideas on how to turn common household items into emergency yarncrafting supplies? Share your ideas in the comments!
Finishing work is usually saved for the end of the project, but it doesn’t have to be! There are plenty of easy ways that you can speed things up. Here are my favorite ways to add new colors or change skeins without weaving in ends.
The Russian Join: This is a fantastic way to add a new skein of yarn to your work without weaving in any ends. It creates a steady, secure join, so it’s great for most yarns.
The Felted Join: Working with wool or another feltable yarn? Try the felted join! This technique locks your two yarns together, creating a solid join without a darning needle.
Crochet over your ends: Why use a darning needle when you can use your hook? This quick strategy allows you to keep crocheting as you tuck your yarn ends into place.
Do you have a time-saving tip? Be sure to share it in the comments below!
Bright pop colors have increased in popularity over the past few years. It’s always fun to incorporate neons into your yarn crafting, but how can you create a bright project that’s neutral enough for everyday use? The answer is simple: pair your neons with a neutral border! I like to use white for a clean, modern look. To illustrate this, I’ve made a few granny squares in the newest bright shades of Vanna’s Choice: Radiant Orange, Radiant Yellow, and Radiant Lime.
As you can see, the squares are super fun and vibrant, but maybe they’re a touch too fluorescent for an everyday afghan.
Here, I’ve added a border in the Buttermilk shade of Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Extra Soft Wool Blend. The creamy white breaks up the neon and softens the brightness. I can absolutely see myself making an entire afghan out of this color combination!
What do you think of the neon trend? Let us know in the comments!
Let’s face it: weaving in ends is not nearly as fun as crocheting or knitting. My favorite way to avoid weaving in ends is the felted join. Also affectionately dubbed the spit splice, this method is the perfect way to add join a new skein to your work. Keep in mind that this will only work on feltable fibers like non-superwash wool, alpaca, mohair, and so on. Here are step-by-step instructions on this fast and easy technique. I used 2 different colors so that you can better see the technique, but this works brilliantly for attaching the same color yarn practically invisibly.
Step 1: Carefully untwist your yarn for a few inches and separate the half of the plies. This Fishermen’s Wool has 4 total plies, so I’ve divided my yarn into 2 sets of 2 plies each. 2-ply yarn would be separated into 2 sets of 1 ply each, 6-ply yarn would be 2 sets of 3 plies each, and so on.
Step 2: Take one set of your plies. A few inches down (4-5 inches, just to be safe), break these plies. Now you’ll have a set of longer plies and a set of shorter plies.
Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 on the yarn you’ll be joining.
Step 4: Lay the long sets of plies next to each other. This will be the transition section of your yarn. Because each long piece of yarn only has half the plies, you’ll end up with roughly the correct thickness in your join.
Step 5: Get your yarn wet. You can dip it in water, mist with some water, add some saliva — just get it wet. Remember, felting simply requires heat, humidity, and agitation.
Step 6: Let’s felt! Rub the yarns together in your hands briskly. Continue for a few minutes until the fibers have locked together. You may need to add some more water if your yarn isn’t wet enough.
Step 7: Give both sides of the yarn a gentle tug. If they’re firmly locked, congratulations! You’ve made a felted join! If not, just continue the felting process until the yarn is secure.
Now you’ll have an easy and secure join in your yarn, so you can continue crafting with having to weave in ends.
In 2007, we started our on-demand radio show (aka podcast), YarnCraft. Since then, we’ve aired over 100 episodes, featuring behind-the-scenes stories from Lion Brand, interviews with people ranging from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee to Vanna White to Nicky Epstein, and tons of useful tips and pattern recommendations.
I’ve had the pleasure of working on each of these episodes, first as a producer and then later also as a co-host, and I’d like to invite you to check out the show if you haven’t already.
Here are just a few reasons you might enjoy YarnCraft, straight from our listeners…
Each episode features a main theme/topic, as well as other fun segments. We cover topics ranging from patterns for particular seasons to becoming a professional knit or crochet designer.
“YarnCraft inspires me to try things I never would have tried. Hearing advice from other crafters gives me confidence and ideas to create things on my own. I look forward to every podcast and I learn something new each time!” – Erin, Denver, CO
“I just listened to the podcast on shaping…wow, how informative! [...] You inspire me to tackle things I would never even consider. Thank you for providing a podcast that is informative and interesting and benificial to increasing my skills and knowledge of yarncrafting.” – Allison, Morton, IL
Have you liked our Facebook page? If so, you should see all of our tutorials, questions, pictures, and conversations in your Facebook news feed. However, recent changes to the Facebook have made it so that not all of our posts may make it into your feed, even though we’re still updating our page frequently. Thankfully, there’s a super easy solution to make sure you catch all of our updates!
First, visit our Facebook page. After you’ve liked the page, you’ll see a “Liked” button. Simply click that, then make sure the “Show in News Feed” option is checked. That’s all there is to it! If you use interest lists on Facebook, you can also add us to a list for easy content sorting. Now you’ll be able to see our posts directly in your feed instead of having to come to our page.
That’s one of the most popular questions on the Lion Brand FAQ section. Maybe you don’t have a pattern with you when you shop or you want to design your own creation. Having a general idea of the amount of yarn you will need for a project can be helpful in the planning phase before you get started.
Click here to see an approximate yardage for a variety of projects from afghans to scarves and get an idea how much yarn each project takes in some of our most popular yarns.
Did you know that we offer so much more than patterns and products on our site? We’ve developed a wide range of information that is designed to help expand your yarn crafting horizons. From a helpful list of pattern abbreviations to a virtual encyclopedia of stitch patterns, you’ll find a wealth of useful facts, images, and instructions that help you grow your skills and hopefully bring you more enjoyment when you pick up your hooks and needles.
If there anything we don’t have that you’re looking for, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.