Author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting Barbara Breiter joins us for her monthly column featuring frequently asked questions.
As warm weather approaches (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), some may find themselves tempted to put away their knitting or crochet for the summer. But this is the season for baseball games, picnics, taking the kids to the park, and flying and driving to vacation destinations. That’s a lot of down time that could be spent crafting!
I don’t care how low the air conditioner’s temperature is set; when warm weather sets in, I don’t want all the bulk of an afghan sitting on my lap as I knit.
But you can still knit/crochet an afghan in strips or blocks, so they won’t be nearly as warm to work on. Then, when falls comes again you can sew them together!
This Knit Patchwork Sampler Throw is a perfect example and has different stitch patterns so you’ll maintain interest. Another made in strips is the Crochet Cozy Checkerboard Throw; it doesn’t have complicated stitch patterns so you won’t need to refer to the pattern very often, which is great when you can’t really concentrate on your crafting.
Happy Flag Day to our friends across the US! In celebration of this holiday, and because July 4 is just three weeks away, I wanted to share some of my favorite American flag-inspired knit and crochet projects. Which one will you make to celebrate Independence Day?
|Get just a touch of Americana with this crochet USA Afghan, worked up in our very own made-in-America Hometown USA yarn. Perfect for picnics, this blanket is quick to crochet and will be super soft and warm for years to come.||Crochet this All-American Granny Square Throw for a patriotic and classic Americana afghan. Make it with Jiffy in True Red, Fishermen and Denim for a stunning throw that’s perfect for picnics or cool summer evenings on the porch.||This knit intarsia blanket is one of my favorites. Knit in one piece in 25 different shades of Vanna’s Choice, the Lion Country Afghan is a true work of yarncrafted art.|
June is National Adopt a Cat Month, and if you have a feline friend sharing your home or about to be welcomed into your family, I’m sure he or she would love a new toy! Here’s a roundup of some fun, fast and easy cat toys to knit or crochet for that special cat in your life. Don’t forget to make a few extra for the kitties at your local shelter–they will be forever thankful!
|Knit these Catnip Mice in Fun Fur for a furry toy for your furry friend. Use deep neutrals like Taupe, Lava, or Black to create a lifelike mouse, or some of our great new neons for a little splash of color in kitty’s toy basket.|
|Crochet this Goldfish Cat Toy with Microspun (or Vanna’s Choice!) for a festive fishy to add to your cat’s toy collection.|
Looking for beginner projects that look spectacular? I ask Jackie Smyth, Lion Brand’s technical editor, about her recommendations on three easy-to-make, high impact afghans that are perfect gift projects.
What are gift ideas for beginner knitters and crocheters?
A classic handknit or hand-crocheted gift is definitely the afghan or throw. You many not realize it, but some of our favorite afghan patterns here in the design department are actually beginner patterns. “Beginner” just refers to the different skills required to make an item, not how it ends up looking. I’ve picked out three really beautiful beginner afghans — that all look more advanced than they really are — to share with you today.
|Knit Sunshine Day Baby Throw||Knit “My Blankie”||Crochet Candy Shop Afghan|
Can you tell us a little about them?
The first pattern is our Sunshine Day Baby Throw for kids. It’s made in pieces and each piece is simply made with two different strands of yarn, worked in stockinette stitch. The two contrasting colors work up together to look like tweed, which gives it more depth and interest. The second pattern is called “My Blankie” and it’s also a great gift item. The stripes are also each done in two strands of contrasting yarn, which gives it a tweedy look. Both items are simple, knit blankets perfect for kids because they’re made with washable yarns — the first with Cotton-Ease and the second with Vanna’s Choice.
They’re both really beautiful patterns. What about a beginner afghan as a gift for an adult?
I’d like to recommend our crocheted Candy Shop Afghan in Hometown USA, because it has such vibrant colors and coordinates with any decor. This project is made in pieces that are later sewn together, which makes it portable and easy to make when you’re on the go.
So what are the key take-aways for our readers?
Beginner patterns can be beautiful. Look for patterns that use multiple strands of yarn for visual interest, and look for patterns that are made in pieces for portability.
For more afghan patterns, visit our Pattern Finder.
A version of this article first ran in The Weekly Stitch newsletter in October 2007. Click here to sign up for the newsletter and get articles, free patterns, and exclusive offers in your inbox each week.
A few weeks ago, we posted some photos of the food-inspired crochet art of textile artist Kate Jenkins on our Facebook page, and it started quite a conversation! Lots of people found these projects to be super fun; in addition to being decorative, some have also mentioned how great they are for babies and children’s toys. So, in honor Memorial Day and the kicking off of BBQ season, I thought it would only be appropriate to share some of my favorite knit and crochet food patterns!
|Crochet Eggplant||Crochet Apple||Crochet Corn on the Cob|
Flowers have bloomed, the sun is out longer, the temperatures have risen, and – we’re at the beginning of wedding season!
Since many of you are probably looking for handmade elements to include in the ceremony or reception, I’ve gathered a roundup of some of our lovely wedding patterns to help you or the bride-to-be find the perfect wedding project. From bridal accessories, to reception decor and gifts, there’s surely a pattern to help inspire you!
*Pattern in image: Amigurumi Two Peas in a Pod
Crochet Bridal Shawl
Knit Eyelet Shawl
Crochet Bridal Shrug
Lion Brand’s Design Department shares tips on one of their favorite tips for creating a unique (and quick-to-make) project.
Yarn blending is the technique of stranding together several yarns to create a knit or crochet fabric. It takes all of the beautiful qualities of its component yarns and blends them into something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
HOW TO DO IT:
Yarn blending is so simple, yet it can yield infinite varieties and unexpected results. You can never predict what a yarn blend will look like until it is worked up. Therefore, an integral part of this process is creating swatches. After a few rows, you will get an idea of how the fabric will look and can evaluate the combination. Then you can adjust your work, adding in new yarns that you like. Since blends tend to be bulky, a swatch can be made in no time.
[Pictured: Knit Simple Cowl.]
It’s National Bike Month! Whether you like to cruise through beach towns during vacation or use your bicycle as a primary mode of transportation, there is something so lovely about the riding of a bike. You can cruise carefree, go on an intense workout ride, or travel around knowing you’ve reduced your carbon footprint. Whatever the reason for your ride, why not celebrate Bike Month with a little bicycle yarn-bombing? As we know, temperatures are (finally!) rising, and big, heavy projects can seem even more daunting in the warmer months, but these quick and easy knit and crochet projects are a perfect opportunity to try out new yarns or color combinations and work on great pocket-sized projects. The best part is, when you’re done, you’ll have a truly customized bike that shows off your creative side!
|Knit Bike Seat Cover in Tweed Stripes||Crochet Bike Seat Cover (from Ravelry)|
Though it’s often the 4th of July that we think of for cookouts, May is actually National Barbecue Month! It’s no surprise, really, as May is often the first chance we get to start enjoying warmer weather and pulling the cover off the once snow-covered grill out on the patio. With Memorial Day upon us in just a few short weeks, you may have a barbecue of your own to start preparing for, and why not work on something other than a menu? These patterns, from our site and Ravelry, are the perfect projects to celebrate National Barbecue Month–and enjoy straight through until Labor Day!
|Show off your patriotic side with this easy-to-crochet apron, made with Cotton-Ease. With a pocket in the front for your grilling tools or recipe, this apron is the perfect addition to your barbecue repertoire. Get the pattern here.|
|These simple grill mitts make grabbing hot skewers from the grill easy as can be. They can be knitted or crocheted in Lion Cotton or Kitchen Cotton in whatever color you fancy. Get the knit version here, or get the crochet version here.|
I’m a sucker for new yarns. I’ve been crocheting since I was eight and knitting since high school, and I’ve realized that sometimes I get myself into a rut: making the same patterns over and over again, using the same yarn or colors, or not stopping to learn new techniques. Each time I see a new yarn make its way into the department, it’s a new opportunity for me to pet something new and dream up different projects. Our newest yarn, Heartland was no exception. I sat down on the floor in front of all of the colors on Friday afternoon, just before my lunch break, and snagged two skeins that looked too precious to pass up: Great Smoky Mountains, which is a gorgeous multi-dimensional tweedy charcoal gray, and Denali, a pale, heathery pink. Of course, anybody who knows me at all knows that pink is my go-to color for almost everything, but I decided that, for whichever project I chose, I’d let the gray do most of the talking. How could I not? With all those different shades in there, it seemed like it had a lot to say–you know, visually. I only talk to my yarn when nobody else is around.