Despite the fact that it snowed at the end of March, our thoughts are turning to spring as we head into April. At the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC, that means cottons, lace, knitting and crochet, and trying new things! Here’s a peek at what some of us have on our hooks and needles:
This spring, I’m ready to try my hand at my first crocheted sweater. I have always been a big sweater knitter and I save my crochet for scarves and hats. No more. I saw the cover of this month’s Interweave Crochet and it screams out for LB Collection Superwash Merino. I’ve swatched it on two different hook sizes (on for my hips and then the smaller hook for the rest). I know if I hit a problem, I have our expert Crochet Doctor in house–Andrea to the rescue!
For my warmer-weather crafting this year I’m branching out (spring pun!) into new territory, trying my first crochet garment pattern. The crochet project is the Circle Vest from LionBrand.com. It’s originally done in Vanna’s Choice, but I’m doing it in the Recycled Cotton for a more summer-wear option. I think this is the perfect stepping-stone garment, since it doesn’t have sleeves for shaping!
I’ve been working on the Emmaline short-sleeved top from Knitty.com with Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton in Dusty Blue. It’s almost done, so I might be able to wear it soon if the weather ever decides to stop hating us. Wait, what’s that? Snow forecasted for tonight? Never mind
This spring I wanted to explore two of my favorite things, yarn dyeing and lace shawl knitting. I’m experimented with acid dye and the LB Collection Baby Alpaca. Since Alpaca takes dye differently then wool it ended up this great kettle dyed look. Stay tuned for a new dyeing class that I will be teaching in the Studio starting this Summer. Here is the start of my shawl (Little Arrowhead Shawl, a free pattern on KnittingDaily.com).
This spring I’m splitting my time between knit and crochet.
I’ve just finished my crochet garment, the Persimmon Pullover from LionBrand.com. To fit my style, I elongated the pattern and turned it into a tunic to wear over leggings. I used Superwash Merino Cashmere in Wild Berry.
Not to play favorites with crafts, my knit project in progress is Roman sweater (free pattern on Ravelry.com), and I’m using Cotton-Ease in Cherry. I was a bit frustrated because although I achieved gauge my first 2 attempts turned out too large. I tinked (that’s unknitting, knit spelled backwards) those and finally used the X-small size. We will see how it turns out once I seam it. I plan on spray painting it with a metallic color at the end because I saw a similar sweater in a store recently. I really was attracted to the pattern because of the one shoulder diagonal cable and the fact that it would be a good summer sweater.
Want to show us what you’re working on? Add your project to the Customer Gallery on LionBrand.com!
We were absolutely delighted by the overwhelming response we received to our Window Caption Contest! We’ve read through all of the entries, and we’ve selected a winner and 5 honorable mentions!
“Yarnia: The Lion, the Stitch, and the Wardrobe” – Karen Frech
“Pair Ice Skates: $64.99. One Hour Skating Rockefeller Center: $8.00. Handmade Lion Brand Yarn Sweater: Priceless.” – Lori Decker
“Knitting in a winter wonderland.” – Nicole Cushing
“It’s the true ‘March’ of the penguins! In like a Lion, wooly like a lamb!” – Janice MacDonald
“In the jungle, the quiet jungle, the lion skates tonight.” – Rosie Ankers
“Lions and penguins and yarn…Oh my!” – Melanie Blakeney
We want to thank everyone who entered. You all made this contest a huge success, and we loved reading all of your imaginative captions. Congratulations to Karen for winning; we hope you enjoy your prize!
Here at Lion Brand, we appreciate a little fun, and many of us collect whimsical objects to keep around our offices: I keep photos and buttons from all of the different yarn events I’ve attended on my bulletin boards, David collects lions of all sorts, Jess makes and keeps sea creatures on her desk, and there are lots of other cute and quirky examples.
Contributed by various members of the staff (I brought the wooden llama wearing the yellow hat back from my last San Diego trip) these little guys even have a whole wardrobe of coats and accessories made by the staff (that’s what’s hanging on those hooks below the shelf), the sheep and llamas range from those made of yarn or felt to the sheep-shaped needle gauge and the soap-on-a-rope black sheep hanging in the bottom part of the picture.
Want to make a lamb for your own space? Here are a couple of patterns that are adorable:
What fun, yarny goodness do you collect? Leave a comment and tell us about it!
This is a guest blog post by Ben from our NJ offices, who spent the day with Natalie Bayer, the winner of the Lion Brand and Hancock Yarn Imagination Contest.
When Natalie Bayer, age 88 and the Grand Prize Winner of the Yarn Imagination Contest visited the Lion Brand Yarn Studio as part of her prize package, she said to me, “I loved your Studio. It was a once in a lifetime experience!” [Pictured: Natalie and Peggy in front of the Studio]
Natalie–an experienced and professional knitter originally from New Zealand, now living in Virginia Beach, VA–created a Lion themed sweater that won her a round-trip ticket and 3-nights hotel stay in NYC, including a special VIP tour of the Lion Brand Studio given by David Blumenthal, president of Lion Brand. It was a truly special experience for her, and I was glad to be a part of it!
The day started out with Marlene (who you may remember from blog posts such as this one) and myself meeting Natalie and her travel companion, Peggy, at Newark International Airport. Natalie was an instant inspiration. We were immediately drawn to her sassy, charming, witty, funny and upbeat personality.
On the way into New York City, Natalie shared stories with us about her journey to the U.S. and how she learned to knit at 5 years old and has kept on stitching ever since. In her earlier days, she averaged 85 sweaters per year! Natalie also told us, “I’ve knit for profit but mostly for pleasure. For every sweater sold, there are many more that I’ve given away.” Not having been to New York in over 46 years, she was looking forward to visiting our Studio and seeing “all that yarn” and meeting David. In fact, she dressed up for the occasion.
As we walked into the Studio, Natalie’s reaction was priceless. Her jaw dropped as she stood in awe looking at our winter window display. Entering the store she said, “Did I die and go to heaven?”
On the tour, David shared with Natalie a little bit about Lion Brand’s history and values, and Natalie told David, “You have such a community-focused company. It was a great honor to have won the contest and meet you.” [Pictured: David and Natalie]
What really struck me about Natalie is how passionate she is about Lion Brand. She told us that, with her eyes closed, she could touch and recognize our yarns. She’s very particular about her yarns and looks for very specific weights and properties. What’s her favorite yarn? Wool-Ease, she told us, because “Wool-Ease washes so well that my sweaters have been passed down from generation-to-generation and they still feel and look new.”
In addition to the tour of the Studio, we took Natalie and Peggy to Mesa Grill, celebrity chef Bobby Flay’s restaurant around the corner from the Studio. Natalie was also interviewed by Patty, our Studio director for the video below. Finally, we topped off the day with Natalie and Peggy as the special guests at the Studio’s special event night, featuring popular knit & crochet designer Nicky Epstein. [Pictured: Natalie holding her prize-winning sweater, Nicky, and Patty]
Natalie is one of a kind. It was a real treat and pleasure for us to meet her and have her visit our Studio.
Click on the video below to hear from Natalie in her own words:
Keep an eye out for Lion Brand contests throughout the year at your local store and on LionBrand.com!
Here in New York, the holiday windows are a fun and festive tradition during the winter season, and at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, we’re excited to be a part of it. This year’s window features a skating lion and his penguin friends–click here to visit the Studio’s blog and see more photos.
To celebrate the new window, we invite YOU to write a caption for it, and the winner will get $250 to spend on LionBrand.com!
Contest ends on December 17th, 11:59 pm EST. Please note that you MUST use the form below (if you’re viewing this blog post on an RSS reader or in e-mail, please click on the title of the blog post to view it in its entirety). Only one entry per computer. You may return to this blog post and edit your entry at any point before the contest ends. Open to residents over the age of majority of the US and countries to which LionBrand.com ships (please click here to see a list of international countries to which we ship).
Here at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, our unique retail store in NYC, the entire staff knits, crochets, and yarncrafts, sharing their skills in the dozens of classes and workshops we offer…and like other yarncrafters, they love to show off their FOs (that’s “finished objects” in yarn-speak) by wearing them to the Studio. I always love stopping by the Studio and seeing what projects they’re working on both for the Studio and in their personal lives. Earlier this month, two of our lovely Studio mavens happened to have brand new sweaters:
Andrea (left) is wearing her new Victoria Cardigan, knit in the Bluebell color of our beautiful new Baby Wool. It’s a 100% wool yarn that’s machine washable AND dryable, making it super-durable and easy care, and the contemporary spring palette makes for great baby AND adult women’s garments.
Kendra (right) is wearing her modified version of the Owls Sweater, knit in Wool-Ease Chunky in Nantucket. She changed it from a pullover to a cardigan by steeking the sweater and knitting button bands–how cool is that?
Do you have a project that you’ve made in Lion Brand yarns that you’d like to show off? Click here to submit it to our Customer Gallery.
Want to see the Studio’s customers and their projects? Click here to see the Studio’s News & Events Blog’s “Look What I Made” blog posts.
One thing I love about making small projects is the chance to experiment with stitch patterns. We’ve had some great knit blocks turned in from customers that used our stitch finder for inspiration. We’ve seen Basketweave, Moss Stitch, Sugar Cubes and more.
Here are a few crochet blocks from our window that customers have turned in, that looked fun. Our own Studio crochet expert, Gina, took a look to see how they made their squares–see below to make your own afghan blocks in these patterns.
Dark Blue – front post/back post pattern
Row 1: sc across, turn
Row 2: Ch 3, 2 dc, *fpdc, 2 dc, repeat from * to end, turn
Row 3: Ch 3, 2dc, *bpdc, 2dc, repeat from * to end, turn
Repeat last two rows until piece measures 9”. Fasten off and weave in ends.
Green – basic shell stitch pattern
Row 1: Sc across, turn
Row 2: Ch 1, sc, (5 dc in next sc, skip 1, sc, sk 1) repeat ( ) 3 times, end with sc, turn
Row 3: Ch 3, 2 dc in same sc, (sc in 3rd dc of previous shell, 5 dc in next sc), repeat ( ) 3 times, end with sc in 3rd dc, 3 dc in last sc
Repeat last two rows until piece measures 9”. Fasten off and weave in ends.
Light Blue – easy textured pattern
Row 1: Sc across, turn
Row 2: Ch 3, *dc, sc, repeat from * to the end
Row 3: Ch 1, *sc, dc, repeat from * to the end
Repeat last two rows until piece measures 9” tall. Fasten off and weave in ends.
In the NYC area? Join our collection and stop by the Studio to drop off your blocks; learn more by clicking here. If you’re not in the NYC area and would still like to donate, please click here to visit Warm Up America! Foundation’s website and send your blocks directly to the organization.
What stitches do you like to experiment with? Leave a comment and tell us!
This is a guest post from Andrea, a sales associate and teacher at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, our retail store in New York City.
I learned to crochet when I was four years old, and learned how to knit the following year, taught by my great-aunt. What came from her besides knowledge was an invaluable passion for crafting. Throughout middle school and high school, I had explored other areas of fiber-crafting, ultimately resulting in a minor obsession with embroidery. However, that skill was put aside to purse other things once I left home, and I let it slip from my memory. Working at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio has re-ignited that passion in me once again that has always been there lying dormant; not just for knitting and crochet, but for all things involving fiber and my hands.
At the Studio, we are always working on something for our elaborate and diverse window displays. When I was handed an inner tube for our recent Coney Island window that needed some lettering on it, I was amazed at how my hands were once again threading a darning needle and making a chain stitch! I had thought my embroidery skills were long forgotten, but what I discovered was that my hands and muscles never did.
Embroidery interests me mostly because of the minimal material requirement (all you need is a needle and colored thread or yarn!), and the range of designs you can create from very simple to the elaborate. I started with simple wall hanging kits I had inherited from my great-aunt, which have the pattern already drawn out for you in different colors;this was a great way to learn how the stitches can flow together and combine. After my mother had a sufficient collection of fruit and vegetable samplers, I began making my own designs. Designing an embellishment in embroidery is much easier than trying to write out your own color-work chart, or doing a whole lot of math to write your own sweater pattern from scratch. In fact, it is the easiest way to add some color to your work without a lot of commitment. If you don’t like it, you can just take it out! (The same applies for a mistake!!)
One of my favorite stitches, the duplicate stitch, looks exactly like the knit stitch, so you can use it to replicate an intarsia or Fair Isle pattern on your finished piece if you’re interested in trying some color-work, but aren’t quite ready to take on multiple bobbins or strands of yarn.
If you want to learn more about the duplicate stitch, you can find complete instructions plus step-by-step images in the Learning Center on the Lion Brand website (click the highlighted text to view it).
Embroidery is great for putting eyes on those cute Amigurumi, too. You can use a satin stitch to really build up a larger eye, or a simple French knot which really stands out from the fabric nicely. I also use French knots for a lot of other things, like the centers of the daisy stitch which is really adorable on baby items.
If you are interested in trying out some basic embroidery stitches and are in the New York City area, I am giving a class on these stitches and more on September 17th at the Studio. If you aren’t in the New York area, check out www.needlenthread.com for some videos and tutorials for hand embroidery.
And here are some great free patterns from Lion Brand, using embroidery embellishments, that you can tailor to your liking:
If you didn’t have an opportunity to see crochet artist Nathan Vincent’s fascinating yarn taxidermy when it was at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio back in late 2009 (as seen above), and you’re in the New York City area, you now have a second chance to see them! Nathan’s pieces will be on display from now through September 30 at Volume Black, a gallery in downtown Manhattan, located at 89 Washington Street.
From the artist’s website:
My work explores gender permissions and the challenges that arise from straying from the prescribed norms. It questions the qualities of gender by considering what constitutes masculine and feminine. It critiques stereotypical gender mediums by creating “masculine objects” using “feminine processes” such as crochet, sewing, and applique.
Want to learn more about Nathan’s work? Listen to our radio-style podcast YarnCraft’s episode 60 :: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Fiber Artists Ruth Marshall & Nathan Vincent to hear more about his fascinating pieces in his own words.
This fabulous knitted, crocheted, and yarncrafted creation is a wonderful way to celebrate NYC in the summer. Click here to see some of the cool details (like a finger puppet bride and seagull eating french fries).