Growing up in the Blumenthal family, I learned from an early age that gifts made with yarn are also made with care and thoughtfulness.
Being a part of Lion Brand Yarn my entire life, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many hand-made gifts crafted with yarn and patience. Everyone knows that when they get a home-made gift, countless hours and a great deal of care went into making it. I’ve always felt very honored and lucky to receive gifts given with so much thought.
I like to keep gifts like that out in the open where they can be enjoyed. The piece in this picture hangs in my office at Lion Brand Yarn’s New Jersey headquarters. It was made for my father by my second grade teacher, as a thank-you present for all the yarn he’d given her over the years.
From all of us at Lion Brand, here’s wishing you a happy and healthy 4th of July! Since our beginnings in 1878, we’ve been an American family-owned company, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s to celebrating America with barbecuing, fun in the sun, fireworks, and yarn!
Everybody needs a helping hand sometimes. If you’re stuck on a pattern and reach out to us, you might get the chance to chat with Laura! She’s one of our resident experts, and I’m always impressed with her encyclopedic knowledge of all things yarncrafting. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Check out this sweet email from Diane:
Over the past couple of years, since I’ve gotten back into knitting, I’ve run into pattern problems that I couldn’t figure out for myself. You have been such a tremendous help, talking me through the rough spots and making it possible for me to finish several sweaters for our two sets of twin great-grandchildren and one teenage grandson. All of the patterns I used were labeled “Easy,” but in each I needed a little assistance. I appreciate having a support line, and most of all I appreciate knowing that you’re going to be there for my next question.
Thanks so much for your email, Diane! Remember, if you need help with a pattern, please reach out to us! You can call 800-661-7551 on weekdays or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the best things about working at Lion Brand is the great people that you get to work with. When I first started here, one of the first people I became friends with was Liz, who works on yarn development. When we decided to launch the Lion Brand podcast–YarnCraft–back in 2007, Liz was definitely a go-to person for interesting yarncrafting facts and stories to share. Eventually, she and I began co-hosting the show. We’ve done over 100 episodes, sharing pattern recommendations, techniques, stories, interviews with influential yarncrafters, and in doing so, we’ve also found ourselves with a lot of amazing listeners who share their comments and stories with us, some of whom have been with us for years.
Because of my friendship with Liz, I knew that when the company was recently planning her baby shower (for her first baby!), I wanted to do something special for her. I also knew that it would be wonderful to get not only my coworkers involved, but also our wonderful YarnCraft listeners.
When former Lion Brand Yarn Studio associate Gina Damico first told us that she was writing a young adult novel called Croak, we thought it was awesome news. But when she told us that she wanted to design an exclusive pattern inspired by the book, we were even more excited!
So what’s Croak about? It’s the story of Lex, a 16 year-old girl who is sent to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of work on his farm will settle her wild ways. But Uncle Mort’s actually a Grim Reaper and he takes Lex under his wing. Join Lex as she explores the world of the reapers, in Gina’s debut novel.
In honor of her novel, Gina’s created an illusion scarf whose pattern you can only see at certain angles. Gina said about her inspiration:
I’ve always been a big fan of illusion knitting – it’s simple, fun, and creates an amazing effect that will impress the socks AND shoes off everyone you show it to. So when thinking about a fun accessory to create in conjunction with the release of Croak, an illusion scarf was the natural choice. Black and red stripes make for a quirky, offbeat look, and since the book is about grim reapers, the colors fit perfectly. As for the design, skulls were a must. They tie in to the plot, they offer a hint of the dark humor within, and as the saying goes, everyone loves a good skull. (I think that’s a saying. Eh, maybe not.) Thanks so much to Lion Brand for the chance to share my designs, and I hope you enjoy both the pattern and Croak!
Click here for the pattern on LionBrand.com!
Croak comes out TODAY and we’re so excited to get our hands on our own copies, so click here to learn more about it on Amazon and get one for yourself!
EDIT (10/18/12): Get the second book in the series, Scorch, now available in bookstores and online!
This is a guest blog post from Michelle, manager of the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, our flagship store in NYC. Michelle, Brandyce, and Zontee hosted the Lion Brand booth at Stitches West at the end of February.
This was my first-ever trip to a Stitches show, and it was a fabulous experience! Being the Studio Manager means that I spend a lot of my workday at a computer screen, and I don’t usually get out onto the sales floor as often as I’d like to. So Stitches was a welcome change. I got to talk to so many lovely people and see all kinds of beautiful garments and other handmade items. It was like being in a living, moving art gallery! And with the Stitches Fashion Show and so many interesting knit & crochet pieces roaming around, my to-do list grew about a foot!
I really enjoyed being able to chat with customers and hear your feedback. Lots of folks had had the chance to visit the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, and all of your kind comments were and are greatly appreciated! We do our best to make sure you have a great time when you visit us, so to hear so many nice things on the opposite coast is a real boost. And of course we love to hear your feedback and suggestions. It’s great to hear what you’re excited about…even if we had to tear you away from Amazing Man first! (Sorry ladies, he’s spoken for!)
The best part about going to the show is seeing old friends and making new ones! Can’t wait to see you all next time!!
If you’re attending Stitches Midwest or Stitches East later this year, look for the Lion Brand booths there!
Last week, I wrote a blog post asking you about your new year’s resolutions as yarncrafters, and now I’d like to share one of mine.
One of my resolutions this year is to organize my tools–I have so many different kinds of needles, hooks, and accessories that sometimes I have trouble keeping track of what I already own. I think I might want to log them into my account on Ravelry (there are also many apps out there that can help you keep track of your yarncrafting tools) and then put them in some thin vases for display. I’ll have to keep an eye out for some different options.
However, the first thing I’ve done on my organizing journey is to buy a case for some very special, vintage tools. Last year, my grandmother passed away, and each grandchild inherited some mementos from her house. Being that my grandmother was a very prolific needlecrafter and seamstress, my mom brought me my grandmother’s double-pointed needles, steel crochet hooks, and sewing needles. Some of the DPNs are the very long kind (about 15 inches) for making sweaters, before circular needles got popular–I’d never even seen DPNs that long before. As a yarncrafter myself, I really appreciate the beauty of these tools, and I wanted to protect them, as well as to organize them.
To do so, I got one of the beautiful, handmade, hook/needle rolls from CrippenWorks that we have on LionBrand.com. The long DPNs are in the back row of pockets and the crochet hooks and shorter DPNs are in the front. I’m glad to know that the needles are well-protected, and I hope that some day, I can pass them along to my own children.
Click here to see all of the CrippenWorks cases we carry.
My family was blessed to celebrate the 100th birthday of my Mom, Ann (Chanchy) Blumenthal, on November 26th. I share this with you because my Mom is a member of the third generation of the family that owns Lion Brand Yarn Company. From the 1940s to the 1990s, my Mom was active in the business, answering customer letters and phone calls. She served as a trusted advisor to my father, Isidor, the President of Lion Brand from 1958 to 2003, offering her wisdom and ideas on everything from advertising to selecting yarns, colors, and patterns.
I’d like to share some photos from the party.
|Amazing how many different 100th
birthday cards there are!
|The cover of a book of photos|
My mother received a letter from President Obama congratulating her on her birthday. I also wrote a letter on Lion Brand stationery thanking her for her service to our company and signed it with my titles: President, CEO, and Son.
As a member of the fourth generation of our family-owned and operated business, my Mom continues to inspire me.
I like to say that the first rule of knitting and crochet is that everyone makes mistakes. Then the second rule of knitting and crochet would have to be that making a mistake is not the end of the world. Yarn is wonderfully forgiving, and in most cases mistakes can be fixed with a few tricks and careful fingers. At this time of year there can be a lot of pressure on crafters making knit and crochet gifts to finish projects quickly and perfectly the first time. Here at Lion Brand we wanted to share some of our own stories of making mistakes and how we fixed them.
“I knit my first hat in a beautiful sparkling yarn. Halfway through I realized that my join was twisted, so my hat was unsalvageable. It did make a great cowl, though!” – Jess
Jess used a great, time-honored technique of designers and crafters: a mistake is a design element. She could have ripped back and re-started the project, but instead she embraced that her work would be a horribly flawed hat, but an excellent mobius-style cowl. With a little more yarn, she could even make a hat and cowl set with both the correctly joined had and the twisted cowl.
“I knitted a cowl in garter stitch and realized I missed a stitch and had a little hole; when I was done, I cut off a little piece of yarn and tied the two stitches together to close the hole. I just made sure to wear the cowl so that the knot was on the “wrong” side. Since I was knitting in garter stitch, the tied pieces blended in perfectly.” -Brandyce
Dropped stitches can be one of the most frustrating mistakes in knitting, particularly because they can ruin so much of your hard work. When you realize you’ve dropped a stitch, the key is to stay calm and handle your project carefully. Lay your project down on a well lit horizontal surface, and survey the damage. Then you can use the tips from our previous post: How to Fix Knitting Without Frogging.
“I am a knitter who loves working in the round. When I made my first crochet sweater in the round, I was used to working in rounds without stopping. When I read the crochet pattern, I missed one very important word: “turn.” I didn’t really notice my mistake until I divided for the front and back. At that time I was working back and forth. I quickly saw that the fabric created by working back and forth (the same effect as working one round, TURNING and working back) looks totally different then the fabric created when you work the crochet in continuous rounds. Oh well, I thought, RIP. I’ve never felt too bad about ripping something and starting again. It just gives me the chance to do it again better!” – Patty
The instructions in a pattern will often have one or two tiny details that make a big difference in the finished project. Missing a little words or phrases like “turn” can trip up even the most experienced crafters. Reading over your pattern a few times before starting can be a helpful trick, and referencing a picture of the finished pattern can help you catch mistakes before they require you to rip out to many of your stitches.
For more tips on fixing, avoiding, and above all staying calm and having fun while you work, see also:
Do you have a great mistake story, or fix-it tip? Share your stories and suggestions by leaving a comment below.
Last week, David asked me what I was doing on Monday. I was sort of puzzled at the question, since as usual, I would be here in the office, working on things like the YarnCraft podcast, the Weekly Stitch newsletter, and other projects. It turns out that he wanted to know if I would be interested in being on the Martha Stewart Show with Martha herself.
Well, being the daughter of a crafter who calls Martha her guru, I knew that I could not turn down the opportunity! It would be so much fun to follow in the footsteps of my YarnCraft co-host Liz, who was a guest on Martha two years ago, and I could not wait.
When I got to the set, I was whisked away to my own dressing room, which made me feel pretty cool. (I even got a little goodie bag!) I got hair and make-up, rehearsed with the crew, and then it was showtime! It was a really exciting experience to be on live television (thank goodness I didn’t flub anything!), and Martha even admired my necklace! (Click here for the necklace pattern.)
Click here to watch the fashion show (and find links to the other show segments at the end of the video).
It was a fun experience, and let’s just say, Martha, all you have to do is call me, and I’d be happy to be on the show again!