Last month, a few members of the Lion Brand team and I had the pleasure of attending the Fall Knit and Crochet Show in Reno, Nevada. The show offers many classes as well as a marketplace, featuring unique and wonderful products from many different companies. We also gave out 500 goodie bags to people who signed up for classes, and it was great to see people walking around the show with them.
Lion Brand had a booth at the show, and it was so much fun for me to speak with the attendees and hear their feedback. We got to show them our new colors and new yarns and everyone especially loved the new Bonbons multi-packs. It was really exciting to see the expressions on their faces when they got to see it up close and personal. I told everyone that I thought they were so cute I put them in a candy dish in my house!
Growing up in the Blumenthal family, I learned early that yarn is a treasure. Dad used to say that everyone in my family was born with a ball of yarn in their crib, and it was true (often literally!). In recent years it’s sometimes been seen as unusual to know how to knit or crochet, but I can remember a time when crafting was nearly universal, and it was very common to see a basket of yarn in any living room you might happen to visit.
I took this picture in my office at Lion Brand Yarn headquarters; I love keeping antiques that have to do with the tradition of crafting with yarn. This particular piece is an authentic cover of Life Magazine from 1941. The small text in the bottom left-hand corner says “How to Knit” and inside they included knitting instructions and a pattern for a regulation military vest. One line in the article reads, “To the great American question ‘What can I do to help the war effort?’ the commonest answer yet found is ‘Knit.’” Because yarncrafting was so abundant in everyday homes, this was one way folks found to contribute to the war effort.
In that era, it wasn’t out-of-the-ordinary to see people knitting a few stitches at the bus stop, crocheting a few rows in the park, or toting a bag of yarn to the library. Yarn was often a part of home-life too, even if you weren’t born into it like me. Needles would be clicking after supper and during family gatherings, and more than one child from the time has the memory of holding open a hank of yarn for Mom or Grandma while she wound it into a ball (a process I remember personally, one which always seemed to take an unusually long time).
One of the things I love about working with Lion Brand is seeing the culture of knitting and crochet grow with the development of online resources for learning, web-based ways to meet other crafters and online availability of great yarns. My personal dream is to see knitting, crochet and all sorts of yarncrafts become a large part of American culture again. Yarncrafts have an important place in our history, and I’m delighted that today’s communities of yarn-lovers will ensure a place for crafts in our future.
Want to learn more about yarn in history? Try these posts:
Recently, Jack and I went to the Knit & Crochet Show, a wonderful yarn festival held by The Knitting Guild Association and Crochet Guild of America. I’m always happy when the Knit & Crochet Show is held in Manchester, New Hampshire, because it means that in addition to seeing all of my yarny friends (and experiencing the beauty of converted mill buildings like the one shown in the slideshow below), I get to take a drive out of town to visit the mill that produces our Homespun and Silky Twist yarns.
Over the years, I’ve posted about our visits, and since I often get requests for a look at how this yarn is made, I’m happy to share some photos from our latest visit to New Hampshire and the mill.
Built in 1864, the mill is a facility that’s steeped in New England’s rich textile history, and we’re proud that it makes some of our most popular products. Secret tip: Look out in the coming weeks for an announcement about a brand NEW product from Lion Brand that is also made at this location.
If you want to learn more about Homespun, click here to pick up a copy of our book, The Story of Homespun.
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!
Keep your mouse over the slideshow to read the captions. Please note: If you’re viewing this blog post in your email or RSS reader, you may need to click the title to view it online.
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.