A lot of my projects often are related to food because I’m inspired by a concept I like to call “good enough to eat.” I’ve made berets that look like strawberries and pancakes and recently I crocheted a beret that looks like a “Jammie Dodger,” a jam -filled sandwich cookie.
|For over 30 years working at Lion Brand as a traveling salesperson, it has been one of my greatest joys to witness the growth of the many crafting communities all over the United States. I have always felt immeasurably proud to be a part of a company that enables people to find happiness in each stitch and a sense of accomplishment in every final product.Recently, I was given the opportunity to speak at the Happily Hooked on Crocheting Club, the Connecticut Chapter of the Crochet Guild of America. This group started in 2001 as a bunch of crafters who wanted to get together and share their love for crochet. Now they have expanded to an organization “dedicated to preserving, promoting, and teaching crochet” within the Tri-State Area; it was like looking into Lion Brand’s past.At the end of my talk, the president presented me with a personalized honorary membership, for all of the hard work, passion, and inspiration Lion Brand has helped give the crafters of today.|
|Irene and Ariel in a sweater she made.|
Following the event, there was a “show and tell” parade of garments made by members who used Lion Brand yarn, ending in the biggest surprise of all: my longtime, good friend Irene Iannelli had brought her young daughter, Ariel, that day to model some of her own garments!
Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing how our product has transformed itself into a handmade sweater thanks to an imaginative crafter. Seeing members of Happily Hooked on Crocheting Club enthusiastically welcome Lion Brand and myself into their community makes visiting knit and crochet guilds across the nation all the more worthwhile.
|With Janet (pictured left) and the other ladies from the Guild|
As a fourth generation member of a family-owned business, I’ve always been fascinated with the “living legends” of the yarn industry since, like me, many of them have been involved in the business for 30 or 40 years.
The very talented Janet Johnson Stephens is a particularly influential person. Not only is she a dedicated crafter, but she is an accomplished teacher and designer.
Today’s story comes from Shira Blumenthal, a current employee at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, and the daughter of our President and CEO, David Blumenthal. Shira is excited to share with us how she’s getting ready for her upcoming wedding at the end of the month.
As I was in the final stages of getting ready for my wedding, I was also thinking of some way to thank my bridal party for all their support and hard work. They were a smattering of 11 close friends who I had known throughout my entire life, from 5th grade to the present. With all the last-minute planning, not to mention the overall nervous fact that the event was just weeks away, I just wanted to go away for a bit and relax.
When they had surprised me with a bachelorette weekend at our family house in Woodstock, I couldn’t have been happier.
It was no secret that my family ran Lion Brand or that I loved to knit. So I decided the best thing was to make a thank you gift for everyone. I loved cowls for the sheer fact you could just put it on and go out the door. I am fond of knitting in the round, and knew I could whip up several in no time—which came in handy if I was making them for eleven people.
With the Lion Brand Yarn Studio’s distinctive wall of yarn, it made choosing colors a breeze. I’m traditional at heart and felt a range of natural shades would suit all of them. When we got to the house, I got a bit nostalgic as we drove up to the house—remembering all life’s milestones I’ve had in that house: my first steps, my first words, and now my bachelorette weekend.
When the girls showed me the t-shirts they would all be wearing, complete with a picture of She-Ra and the date of the event. I couldn’t help but laugh, and had wonderful flashbacks of when I first met each of my friends who thought I was named after the famed Princess of Power! Although this was not so, they knew that given any superhero to idolize it would be her!
In turn, I gave them their own goodie bag filled with fun weekend essentials and their own cowls with a customized label to commemorate the weekend. They all loved them and some traded them like friendship bracelets on the playground because of the variety of colors. As my wedding worries were quickly forgotten as we reminisced about the old days, I remembered the excitement that I was getting married and they were going to all be there as I said my vows.
My daughter loves octopuses (or is it octopi?) and is almost never caught without holding one of her 7 stuffed octopuses or wearing one of her growing closet of socks and tees. When I saw this pattern for an octopus costume there was no contest as to what she wanted to be. She got so excited and immediately asked that it be made in her favorite colors: purple and “lellow” (yellow) with pink spots.
Crocheting the entire thing would be a feat that would’ve taken more than a month’s planning. And while I could quilt, the pattern was beyond my skill level. Thankfully Jackie, our Technical Editor, was an expert seamstress and offered to help out. Since I love creating new things using yarn, I wanted to add some personal handmade touches.
But I also didn’t want it to be just handmade – I wanted it to sparkle and glitter.
When I first saw the pattern I immediately wanted crocheted medallions for the suckers and the spots.
Vanna’s Glamour fit perfectly with what I wanted, and her mustard gold yarn went well with the deep purple velvet fabric. Soon I was swept up in a creative moment and started picking out more colors like light gold and pink, which would give the costume a cool, colorful, and textured look. Even Michala, our Design intern, found it so adorable that she also wanted to assist. Since I knew she was fast crocheter, I asked if she could make some medallions whenever she had free time.
By the time I looked away, I found a pile of medallions of varying sizes already on the table. She even had extra time to crochet the eyes and a pink bow too!
Then I saw Martha Stewarts CraftsTM/MC Glitter Eyelash yarn and it all came together. The sparkly polka dots, the giant eyes with purple eyelashes, even the pink bow on its head. When I showed my daughter the finished product she couldn’t wait to get it on her.
|Michala crocheting away||The growing pile of octopus spots||Sewing it altogether.|
The only bad (or good) part will be trying to take it off her once Halloween’s over.
One of my favorite shows to attend has always been the Knit and Crochet Show. And earlier this month during Crochet Guild of America’s Professional Development Day, I got to hear my fellow colleagues and peers in the yarncraft industry speak about what we’ve all learned this past year. What always excited me about this show was hearing other people, who were just as passionate as I was about yarn, talk about what they love.
It always felt like a family coming home for the holidays, reuniting and catching up what everyone has been doing since the last show. It was this experience I always look forward to the most.
This year was particularly special because I got to see Rita Weiss be inducted into the Crochet Hall of Fame. It reminded me of the reason why I work in this business and at Lion Brand. She has served as my role model, and was the reasons why Lion Brand got involved with the Crochet Guild of America. How she has become a household name and what she has done for the yarncraft industry is what I hope that Lion Brand will one day become.
Not only that but because I travel so much it also gives me a chance to see what Lion Brand has been working on this past year. When videos of my family and I talking about Lion Brand and Vanna White giving Lion Brand’s annual proceeds to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, it brought a tear to my heart knowing I was seeing on screen what I always want our customers to know about Lion Brand. Just like a family, we are taught to be generous and to care about others, but most of all that family comes first.
This year I also got to see I got to see Lauren and Brandyce model for the Lion Brand segment of the Crochet Fashion show. It always impresses me how much our employees go above and beyond when it comes to showing their love for Lion Brand. Whether it’s working behind a desk or working the runaway to model this year’s designs.
I can hardly wait what the next show will bring but I do hope to see some of you in July…
Want to check out a Lion Brand booth near you? We’ll be in Hartford, Connecticut for Stitches East from November 10-11!
Lion Brand is an 135-year-old American brand that’s still owned and operated by the Blumenthal family! Six generations of the family have been involved in every aspect of the company from the corporate offices, to being the baby models on the yarn labels, to working at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio. Join the Blumenthals as they recount some of their favorite memories of Lion Brand throughout the years.
If you’re reading this blog post in your email or an RSS reader, please click on the title to view the full blog post and video on our website.
What are some of your favorite memories of Lion Brand from your life? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
I’ve been a knitter, a shop girl at my LYS, the editor in chief of Vogue Knitting and Knit. 1 Magazine, and now, as Creative Director of Lion Brand and my motto has always
I didn’t start out in the hand-knitting industry. I studied writing and film at Oberlin and after college I worked as an assistant editor on feature films. I took time off from the grueling hours of independent film post-production to write my first screenplay,
|Pictured: our new creative director, Adina, and her daughter.|
David Blumenthal (President/CEO) and Dean Blumenthal (EVP/COO) have won the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2013 Award in New Jersey in the ‘Family Business’ category. What perfect timing! Just as we celebrate our 135th anniversary. It means a lot to us to be recognized by such an influential global corporation, especially since we’ve come a long way in five generations from a pushcart on the Lower East Side of Manhattan! For a look inside the company today, see this video: About Lion Brand Yarn Company – 135th Anniversary Special.
(Left to right: David Blumenthal & Dean Blumenthal)
“Being recognized by a prestigious organization like Ernst & Young is such an honor for our 5th generation family business. I’m grateful for the leadership of our fathers who mentored us and taught us by example, and for the expertise and devotion of all our associates.”
Congratulations to David and Dean Blumenthal!
As a traveling salesperson for Lion Brand for over 30 years, I’ve crisscrossed the country meeting knitters and crocheters from all corners of the United States and hearing their stories. In addition to yarncrafters, throughout my travels I’ve sometimes been lucky enough to run into some celebrities. Being that I am a huge sports fan, it is always extra exciting when I run into an athlete. During my travels, I have met the likes of Muhammad Ali and Darryl Strawberry.
My father, like me, traveled for the company for over 40 years and he too ran into his share of famous faces. One of my personal favorites that he had the pleasure of meeting was Deacon Jones of the Fearsome Foursome from Los Angeles Rams. Deacon sadly passed away today and it reminded me of my father, how much he loved traveling for Lion Brand, and of his adventures on the road.
May Deacon rest in peace.
[Pictured: my father George Blumenthal and Deacon Jones.]