Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Did You Know . . . ?' Category


3 Tips for Yarn Substitution

April 3rd, 2012

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Do you ever seen an amazing pattern and think, “Wow, I love that, but I wish it were made in a different yarn”? Substituting a different yarn is an easy way to make a pattern truly unique. There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a different yarn. Let’s use the Inishturk Sweater as an example to illustrate each of these tips.

1. Check your gauge. You’ll get the best results when you substitute a yarn with the same or similar gauge. But what if you’re browsing yarn in a store? You can’t just pull out your hooks and needles and do a gauge swatch without buying the yarn! In this case, look for a yarn within the same weight category, and then gauge swatch after your purchase. In our example, the Inishturk Sweater is knit in Fishermen’s Wool, which is a worsted weight yarn, so you could consider substitution yarns like Amazing, Vanna’s Choice, Cotton-Ease, and more. If you really want to use a yarn with a different gauge, you’ll need to do some math. Click here for a blog post all about substituting different yarn weights.

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Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along, Week 6: Embellishing and Blocking Your Finished Sweater

March 29th, 2012

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Knit-Along BadgeHi, everyone. Today I’m going to be talking about the final stages of making your sweater, and how you can keep on adding design elements even after all the knitting is complete! Once you’ve picked up the bands and sewn the sleeve seams and woven in all those ends, there’s still things you can do to change the look of your sweater.

Adding Embellishments

One of my favorite ways to add some interest to a plain stockinette sweater is embroidery. I enjoy doing a method called duplicate stitch, with which you can put pictures on your garment, similar in look to intarsia, but much less fiddly! If you find an intarsia chart you like the look of, you can actually use this method to embroider it on to your sweater. It’s also a great way to use up random scraps of yarn!

With duplicate stitch, you are actually mimicking the look of stockinette stitch. You use a darning needle threaded with yarn in a different color to your base fabric, drawing over the chosen stitches so that they are covered with the different colored strand of yarn. This is a very easy method to add little motifs to your work. Be wary of covering large areas of fabric with this method, however, as it does make the fabric doubly thick in the covered areas.

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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!


Custom Raglan Cardi Knit-Along, Week 4: All About Sleeves

March 15th, 2012

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Knit-Along BadgeHi everyone! This week is going to be all about sleeves. In this pattern, the sleeves are put on hold until the body is completed. Then, the sleeve stitches are slipped back on the needle, and the ribbed border is started for short, t-shirt-length sleeves.

Lengthening the Sleeves

I decided that I’d like to do full-length sleeves. Lengthening your sleeves is pretty easy, especially if you’d like a casual looking sleeve with no shaping–just keep working until the sleeve is as long as you’d like it to be. However, I wanted more fitted looking sleeves, so I measured around my upper arm, just below my elbow and then around my wrist. Next I took vertical measurements to get the distance between those 3 points. Then, to work out how many and where my decreases should fall, I just used the same formula from my last post that I used for decreasing for the waist. For the sleeves, you’ll only be decreasing twice in each decrease row, once at each edge, rather than the four decreases across a row for the body. I placed my decreases two stitches in from the edge, to leave the edges nice and neat for seaming later on.

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Increases for Knitting

March 14th, 2012

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Last week, I discussed directional decreases for knitting. Of course, there are also many types of increases you can use to create shaping.

Knit Increases

Let’s go over the increases, starting with the bottom. The yarn over (yo) increase is a great decorative option that works well on either side of your work. Keep in mind that the finished stitch leaves an eyelet.

The knit in front and back (kfb) increase is also referred to as a bar increase. The completed increase appears to be your regular knit stitch on the right, plus a new purl stitch on the left. Because the new stitch is formed to the left, your original knit stitch will slant a little to the right. Despite this, the kfb is a quick, simple increase that works on either side.

For directional increases, I most often use make 1 right (m1r) and make 1 left (m1l). These variations of the make 1 increase create smooth, almost invisible increases that mirror each other very well. That’s why they’re my go-to increases.

Another option for directional increases is a lifted increase. The right lifted increases (RLI) and left lifted increase (LLI) have similar results to the make 1 increases, so they’re a great choice if you’re doing increases every few rows. However, I’d advise against them if you’re increases every right side row, as this increase can create some puckering and a noticeable line when used on every other row.

While there are other knitting increases, I find that these 4 techniques get me through most situations. Now you know how each increase looks, so when your knitting pattern calls for a vague “increase 1 stitch”, you can make your stitch selection with confidence.

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Directional Single Decreases for Knitting

March 6th, 2012

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When I knit my first hat, I noticed that the decreases on the top swirled to the right. This is because knitted single decreases slant to the left or the right. The most common decrease, knit 2 together (k2tog), leans to the right. Of course, there will be times that you need your knitting to lean to the left: lace patterns, sweater shaping, knitting socks, and so on. For these decreases, you have a few options.
Knit Directional Decreases
If you work your k2tog through the back loops (k2tog tbl), you’ll end up with a left-leaning decrease. I find that this stitch often becomes elongated, though. The slip, slip, knit (ssk) decrease matches the size of k2tog a little better, so it’s the left-leaning decrease that I use the most. The slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over (skp) decrease will also lean to the left. As you can see, I’ve used right-leaning decreases on the left side of my swatch and left-leaning decreases on the right. With these easy stitches, you can create even directional decreasing on each side. Interested in directional increases? I’ll have a post on that next week.
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How to Use the Yarn Pages on LionBrand.com

February 28th, 2012

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A few weeks ago, I shared a Customer Tip of the Week in our Weekly Stitch newsletter from Elaine B., who said:

“I only just realized that at the bottom of each yarn’s detail page on LionBrand.com, there is a section called “Patterns for this Yarn.” This is VERY helpful to someone like me who will buy a bunch of yarn when it is on sale, and then wonder what to make.”

This got me thinking that it might be useful to highlight what else you can find on a yarn’s individual page (which you can find by clicking on “Our Yarns” at the top of LionBrand.com and then click on a particular yarn).

What’s on Each Yarn Page

For each of Lion Brand’s yarn lines, the top of each of these product pages has a description of the yarn, along with all of the important details (the size of the ball, what it’s made of, its weight category (thickness), recommended hook & needle size, and its care instructions).

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Yarn Dyeing: Selecting the Right Dye for Your Fiber

February 27th, 2012

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Select the right dye for your fiberDyeing your own yarn is the perfect way to customize your yarncrafting project, but not all dyes will work on every fiber. Before you begin, it’s critical to make sure you use the correct dye to ensure that your color comes out great. Consider this your cheat sheet for which common dyes will work with which fibers.

“Pantry” dyes: This isn’t an official term, but it’s how I cluster together food-safe acid dyes like sugar-free Kool-Aid, food color, sugar-free Jell-O, and Wilton icing dyes. These dyes are easy to use, so they’re great for blossoming dyers (click here for our Kool-Aid dyeing tutorail). These dyes work on animal fibers (wool, mohair, angora, alpaca, etc.) and blends with high animal fiber content.

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6 Must-Know Facts About Working with Cotton

February 22nd, 2012

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If you’re thinking about starting projects for spring, then you’re probably leaning towards using a cotton yarn.  Cotton is an extremely popular knit and crochet yarn for spring and summer because of its durability, easy care, and breathability.  Cotton is a versatile yarn that can be used for a range of projects; but there are different types of cotton yarns, so it’s best to know which one suits your project needs best.

Many people love all natural fibers, but did you know that there are some really good benefits to working with cotton/synthetic blends as well?

Cotton Plant from dnfisher Flickr(image courtesy of dnfisher)

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Did You Know…Some of Our Most Popular Yarns Are Made in the USA

February 20th, 2012

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Beautiful fibers come from all over the world, so we at Lion Brand travel the world to bring you fibers that you’ll love. We bring you Superwash Merino Cashmere and LB Collection® Cashmere from Italy, whose mills are known for luxurious yarns and fabrics. We bring you LB Collection® Baby Alpaca from Peru, where they’ve been raising them for thousands of years, and also LB Collection® Wool Stainless Steel from Japan, where the yarn culture is always cutting edge.

But did you know that some of our most popular yarns like Homespun and Hometown USA are made in the USA? In fact, the mill that makes Homespun and Holiday Homespun is a wonderful, historic facility in New Hampshire that was built in 1864 and running on hydroelectric power since 1915. I’ve visited the mill a few times myself, and you can read about one of my visits by clicking here.

Made in the USA

Our current yarns made in the USA include (updated 6/1/2013):

There are so many wonderful fibers from so many incredible yarn cultures, but for those of you who are looking for USA-made products, we hope that you’ll consider these yarn lines.

The pattern shown above is the knit Lion Country Afghan; click here to see the pattern on LionBrand.com.