Every year I participate in a handmade Secret Santa gift exchange. Working at Lion Brand has definitely inspired me to learn to knit, and as a person who usually crochets, I wanted to make something different and challenging this year.
I found the Ribbed Bolero pattern to be a good place to start. It’s a good beginner project to both improve knitting skills, and to make a great gift at the same time. It’s just like making a scarf — just much wider and folded in half. This pattern is perfect as I had also been looking for a 2-ball project that uses Homespun®.
One of the many skills I gained from this project was learning to differentiate between a stockinette (which the pattern called for) and a garter stitch (which I accidentally did). I was surprised (and relieved) that it still looked similar the picture, except with a different stitch – and it only cost $15!
Below I’ve selected several 2-ball projects that will let you practice your craft and make a great handmade gift at the same time. Let the gift knitting begin!
|Knit His or Her Hat||Crochet Simple Shrug||Knit My First #Scarfie||Knit Hat in a Flash|
Lion Brand Yarn Company is a family owned and operated business. Currently, the fourth and fifth generation of the family are working in the company. The children below are all members of the sixth generation and they’re dressed in fashions all knit and crocheted with American-made Heartland yarn. These patterns are easy to make and will delight the next generation in your family.
At this time of year, when families gather together, we wanted to share the faces that make us smile. Hoping you are fortunate enough to see the people who mean a lot to you this Thanksgiving. When you take a break from the traveling, and the cooking, and the cleaning, say hello in the comments below and tell us about your holiday meal.
|Crochet Next Generation Afghan and Hat||Knit Next Generation Crewneck Vest||Crochet Next Generation Crewneck Cardigan||Knit Next Generation V-Neck Cardigan|
|Knit Next Generation Crewneck Cardigan||Crochet Next Generation Vest||Knit Next Generation Crewneck Dress||Crochet Next Generation Vest|
Felting and acrylic aren’t usually words that go together, so when the opportunity arose to try out some of Lion Brand’s “Spinnables” 100% acrylic fiber, I was skeptical. You might recognize this fiber because it’s our Homespun® before it’s spun into yarn! (We wrote about how Homespun® is made HERE.)
|Here is a look at the fiber. It’s incredibly soft and silky. I frequently felt with superfine Merino wool, but even that does not compare to the softness of this fiber! It reminds me more of silk than of wool.|
|Next step was to try felting a simple object. I picked a cat, although I think the result looks more like a gummy bear. So let’s say it’s a gummy cat. The acrylic fiber felted surprisingly quickly and densely! The gummy cat feels very solid, although the surface texture retains some of the fiber’s silky smoothness. I started with a coarse felting needle and moved on to a finer one as the fiber began to firm up.|
|All finished! I only had one color to work with, but with multiple colors it would be possible to add details like eyes if desired (of course, a gummy cat doesn’t need them). Because of its extreme softness, this fiber is better suited to projects with simple shapes and rounded edges.|
|All-in-all, I think acrylic fiber is an excellent alternative to wool and a great way for those who forgo animal products to get into needle felting. I look forward to experimenting with it further and to seeing what others come up with.|
“Spinnables” fiber is available in 3 oz packages of assorted colors – more than enough for several small projects like this. You can find it at the Lion Brand Outlet and on our website. If you are new to needle felting, we also have everything else you need to get started. We hope you’ll give it a try!
|Dinner with friends, from left to right: Evan Blumenthal, Danielle Holke, Jack Blumenthal, Carla Horvath, Mary Colucci, Brandyce Pechillo, Tammy Hildebrand, Kimberly McAlindin.|
The fond memories of last month’s 2014 Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) conference and Knit & Crochet Show in Manchester, NH are still fresh in my mind. It was the 20th Anniversary of the CGOA and the Anniversary Celebration Committee planned a sensational event, chock-full of crochet pride.
Once I arrived at the hotel and saw the many crochet squares and yarnbombs decorating the courtyard and lobby, I knew it was going to be a great event.
As in years passed, I am always honored to be able to attend the CGOA Annual dinner and fashion show, an annual event that is always a crowd pleaser. This year it had 250 people in attendance!
I was blown away by the impressive talent of participating members; no surprise that plenty of door prizes and awards were given out.
The shopping floor was a flurry of activity, housing vendors from all over New England and beyond. It was also a great opportunity for me to catch up with all my friends in the knitting and crochet community. For instance, I was able to congratulate Gwen Blakely Kinsler in person on her induction to the CGOA Hall of Fame this year. Like a majority of crafters, she has tremendous love and passion for crocheting and the guild.
My college-aged son, who attended the conference with me for the first time, was quite impressed to see how many people I knew … and who knew me.
During the conference I attended my last in-person Board Meeting with the CGOA. It has been a great pleasure to have been a board member since 2011 and to have been able to participate in these meetings, but I know that I’m leaving the board in good hands.
To end on a brighter note: I took the opportunity to visit one of the mills that produces some of our yarn. I was able to see the process and production in which everything is made. Being able to see the very beginnings of a Lion Brand yarn and the attention to detail that is put into each skein makes me love being part of this family and company.
This month, our CEO, David Blumenthal, celebrated a big birthday. We honored the day at our annual company barbecue. As a special way of recognizing David’s birthday, an afghan was created from a patchwork of knit and crochet squares created by people who work at Lion Brand, as well as some names you may know from the world of knitting and crochet. Included among the designers and makers of squares were Nicky Epstein, author, designer and creator of one of Lion Brand’s most enduring patterns, the Tree of Life; Trisha Malcolm, the editorial director of Soho Publishing; and Nathan Vincent, the fiber artist who designed the 7 Wonders Of The Yarn World. There were also squares made by Vanna White and her daughter Gigi.
David was surprised and thrilled with his gift as you can probably tell from the smile on his face!
If you are giving a group gift to someone, why not try this idea of having a number of people contribute squares to make an afghan to commemorate the occasion? Here are a few afghan patterns to get you started:
|Knit 9 Cousins Lapghan||Crochet Baby Squares Storyteller Afghan||Knit Basketweave and Slip Stitch Afghan||Crochet Americana Afghan|
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As a fourth generation family member of Lion Brand, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to meet and talk with very passionate people that are prominent within the yarn industry; people like Janet Johnson Stephens, Rita Weiss, and Gwen Blakely Kinsler. I met Gwen a number of years ago when I spoke to her Guild in Rolling Meadows, Illinois and I was impressed with the many ways she has contributed to the craft industry.
Gwen was instrumental in establishing the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) organization 20 years ago and is also an author, designer, teacher and writer of everything crochet.
This year, the Crochet Guild of America chose Gwen as their 2014 recipient for the Jean Leinhauser Hall of Fame Award. Her passion and determination to host the first meeting with crochet enthusiasts in Chicago is now recognized as an incremental part of yarn history.
For everyone who is passionate about yarn and loves to crochet, Gwen Blakely Kinsler is an inspiration. I’d like to congratulate her on this well-deserved honor.
Every summer Lion Brand invites all the associates to a barbecue. There’s a lavish spread of food from barbecued steaks and other grilled favorites to a delicious array of salads and yummy desserts. We also let our competitive stripes show with sports contests (do water balloon fights count?) a scavenger hunt, and guessing games. You’ll always find plenty of people working on their knit and crochet projects as they wait for the next activity to begin, and to top it all off, we are treated to a chair massage!
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I spent my July 4th at the New York Historical Society to see an exhibit on Civil War Textiles. While most of the exhibit was quilts, I was quite surprised to find this very patriotic crochet shawl. It was made in 1861 (that’s older than Lion Brand!) and was presented to the Massachusetts governor and his wife to thank them for their support in the Civil War and abolitionist reforms.
I was most impressed by its simplistic design and could actually imagine someone making something similar today. It’s really amazing to see how the art of crochet (and knitting) has been an integral part of American history, don’t you think?
Happy 4th of July! We’ll be celebrating with barbecues, watching the fireworks, getting together with friends and family, and decorating with Red, White and Blue. We wish you a safe and enjoyable day.
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Hand-knit and hand-crocheted items make great gifts to be treasured and loved. Make them even more special by making them unique. Pick colors special to you or your recipient and you’re sure to please, says Jackie Smyth, our technical editor. We asked Jackie to recommend readers three patterns that feature color as the main attraction. (This column originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.)
|Knit Slip Stitch Pom Hat||Crochet Sante Fe Throw||Crochet Little Princess Throw|
LBY Newsletter: Knitting and crocheting are great for handmade gifts that really reflect the giver or the recipient. What’s a simple recommendation about how to customize a project?
Jackie: One word—COLOR. The great thing about patterns is that it’s easy to choose other colors in the same yarns and get a totally different look. To make a pattern really personal, choose colors that you like or that have representative meanings to the recipient. Perhaps they love autumn colors or spring colors. The right colors can add a lot of depth to a project.
LBY Newsletter: What if you are nervous about choosing colors that will go together?
Jackie: Going with a yarn that has a great color range is often a good place to start. The Lion Brand Design team works to create yarn collections that are designed that coordinate beautifully.
LBY Newsletter: What’s a yarn you might recommend for someone looking for easy-to-match yarns?
Jackie: Vanna’s Choice® is a great yarn for mixing and matching colors. All 23 of the solid colors in this collection are designed to match and coordinate. You could use three colors in one family—say, Dusty Rose, Rose, and Antique Rose—to get a light-to-dark effect, or you could pick a few contrasting colors like Purple, Chocolate, Pea Green, and Rust that will really pop against each other.
It’s good to look for inspiration from the things around you. The garden is one place to find unexpectedly beautiful contrasting colors. Fashion and architecture are other places to draw inspiration.
LBY Newsletter: Would you recommend a few colorful patterns for our readers?
Jackie: For a simple project, I like the Slip Stitch Pom Hat pattern. We’ve carefully plotted the colors for each pattern stripto create a bold statement piece, but I would encourage you to experiment with your own color combinations. You could draw from the current fashion concept of Normcore and create a more traditionally color hat.
Next, I like the Santa Fe Throw. In colors to match the recipient’s home décor, it but would make a truly fabulous house warming gift.
My third recommendation, the Little Princess Throw, of the impact of color in your project. Tailor your color choice to the baby to create an heirloom – or have fun with gender neutral brights–have fun!
Don’t be afraid to change the colors in a pattern to suit you better. That’s the great thing about knitting and crocheting; you can really make every item your own.
LBY Newsletter: Thank you for your recommendations, Jackie. We look forward to speaking with you again next month.
For more pattern ideas, click to visit our Pattern Finder.
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