Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Mix It Up With Multis

March 1st, 2011

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A couple weeks ago, I posted about self-striping yarns.  Another fun way to play with colors is using “multis”, where each strand contains multiple colors.  Whereas self-striping yarns change gradually, multis have either short bursts of color change or different colors plied together.  You can see how the Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton in Wildflowers (left) has short color changes that won’t create stripes when worked up.  Hometown USA multis (shown in Mardi Gras, right) have contrasting colors spun together; it’s as if you were holding a strand of each color and working them at once.

 

Here’s a project in each of these yarns so you can see how these fun colorways work up (click on the image for the pattern):

 

What’s your favorite project to spruce up with a multi-colored yarn?

 


Explore Self-Striping Yarns

February 8th, 2011

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Unlike the mood rings of our childhoods, color changing yarns don’t actually change color according to a change in their environment.  These are yarns that have multiple colors spun together in unique ways for different effects.  “Self-striping” and “painterly” colors gradually change color as you knit or crochet to create stripes of color.  The color changes can be subtle or bold, but they are fun to play with either way.  Of course, different stitches and patterns are going to make the colorways work up differently.  For example, you can see the difference between garter stitch (left) and double crochet (right) in the scarves below, both of which are made using Amazing in Vineyard. Click here to see all the colorways of Amazing. You can also click on the images below to see each of the patterns.

Some of our other fabulous yarns with self striping or painterly colors include Sock-Ease, which has bursts of contrasting colors, Homespun, which subtly transitions from one color to the another, and Tweed Stripes, a traditionally spun yarn with color unique color blends.  I love the way that color changing yarns can turn a simple project into a stunning one.  Two of my favorite patterns (Sunny Diagonal Blankie and Rose Lichen Cardigan, below) cleverly use self-striping colors of Baby Wool to highlight unique construction.

What’s your favorite thing to make with self-striping yarns?


A Very Special, Limited Time Offer

January 7th, 2011

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We invite you to visit our website, where for a very limited time, you can get  20% off everything you order shipped within the US. Enter the code newyear20 during checkout to receive the discount.  The sale ends at midnight on Tuesday, January 11th.

Take a look at the thousands of free patterns in every category for inspiration and ideas. It’s a great opportunity to replenish your yarn supply, try one of our luxury LB Collection fibers, or give yourself a gift from our tools and accessories collection.


What’s Your Favorite Color of Amazing?

December 13th, 2010

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Color changing yarns are fun and turn simple projects into stunning creations.  Amazing has been such a popular color changing yarn that in its first year, we already doubled the line to 14 colors! Check out how the color changes of Amazing look by clicking here, then vote on your favorite color below. (If you’re viewing this blog post in your e-mail or in an RSS reader, please click the title of the blog post to view it online and use the survey form.)


4 Essential Tools for Your Project Bag

November 17th, 2010

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For every knitter & crocheter, every project brings with it a couple of basic needs: the right size hook/needle, rows to count and keep track of, and of course, ends to weave in. To help you with these basics, here are 4 essential tools that you will want to keep in your project bag (I know I certainly get a lot of use out of these tools), available at LionBrand.com and in your local stores:

Needle gauge: Often needle/hook size numbers get worn down or are just hard to read (or with DPNs, the needles are often unlabeled). Keep a needle gauge in your bag to and simply stick your needle through the various holes to see what size it is. Plus, the 5-inch ruler on the edge, makes it a tool that does double-duty! This tool will work for crocheters too, giving you the number and metric sizes, but if you’re wondering which letter it is, just remember this useful tip from our friend, designer Lily Chin: H = 8 and they sound similar. Working forwards and back, you can now figure out which letter your hook will be!

Row counter: Keep a row counter handy when working on projects where you have to keep track of the pattern repeats or number of rows. Turn the dials every time you complete a row. These Lion Brand row counters even slip onto your circs or straight needles so they don’t get lost! Split-ring stitch markers are another great tool for keeping track of pattern repeats. Slip them on your needles every ten or twenty stitches for place patterns. Since our stitch markers having this neat split-ring design, they’re also perfect for slipping onto the first stitch of your crochet rounds or even slipping onto mistake stitches in your knitting that you want to fix when you come back around to them!

Large-eye blunt needles (or tapestry needles): Essential for weaving in ends, seaming together garments, kitchener stitching your socks, or embroidering facial features onto your amigurumi, every knitter & crocheter needs blunt needles in their bags!

Finally, I like to keep a couple of extras like a pair of small scissors or a yarn cutter and a small crochet hook (useful for fixing mistakes on knitting projects too!). Whether you want to have a set for every project bag or whether you move them from bag to bag, these tools will help to keep you on track, no matter the project.

What are the tools that you always keep in your bag? Leave a comment and let us know!

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What’s Popular at the Knit & Crochet Show

July 19th, 2010

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Earlier this month, Lion Brand Yarn sponsored the Crochet Guild of America’s Professional Development Day and exhibited at the Knit and Crochet Show in Manchester, New Hampshire. Here at Lion Brand we truly enjoy being a part of the consumer shows because it gives us a chance reach out to the public. Having our booth filled with Lion Brand fans and witnessing their creativity is always such a gratifying experience for us. (If you didn’t see Lindsey’s post last week about the projects that Lion Brand customers brought to our booth, be sure to check it out!)

Another wonderful part of the show is finding out what products our customers were really into. As usual, our LB Collection of luxury fibers at affordable prices was a big hit, especially the LB Collection Wool Stainless Steel. We brought the Lace Net Scarf as an example of how this yarn is both soft enough to wear around the neck and how the steel content actually allows it to keep its shape, staying open and lacy with just a little stretch! One of the many reasons we like to attend shows like this one is to show off our yarns in person, as many people prefer to touch yarn and see the colors in person before buying! (Tip: Another great way to see our yarns in person is to order a color card. Click here to see the LB Collection color cards.)

Our color-changing Amazing yarn was also a big hit — people love seeing the swatches and how the colors work over a long stretch of yarn. Haven’t seen how it works? Click  here to see swatches!

Finally, walking the show and seeing all of the Lion Brand tote bags being carried around always brings a smile to my face. It makes me feel as though our fans share the same sense of pride in our brand as I do.

(If you’re looking at this blog post on the website, click on the slideshow to move to the next photo. If you’re viewing this blog post in your e-mail and you’re having trouble with the photos, please click the title to see it on the website.)

We can’t wait to see what this event has in store for us next year!

Were you at the Knit & Crochet Show? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment on this blog post!

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How-To: Kool-Aid Dye with a Microwave

July 8th, 2010

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I love the new colors of Sock-Ease, but I needed a small amount of bright yellow yarn for an upcoming sock project. My solution: dye Sock-Ease with Kool-Aid! This method works great for any animal fibers, including wool, alpaca, mohair, and more. Nylon will also absorb the dye, so sock yarns are great for dyeing. Here’s the process that I used. You’ll need your yarn, some sugar-free Kool-Aid or other comparable drink mix (1 or 2 packets per ounce of yarn dyed), a microwave-safe container, plastic gloves, some scrap yarn, and food coloring (optional).
step 1
Step 1: If your yarn isn’t already in a hank, wind it into a large circle. I wound my Marshmallow Sock-Ease around a binder. Loosely tie a few pieces of scrap yarn around your yarn as shown to keep everything untangled. Note: If you tie the scrap yarn too tightly, the sections of yarn under the ties won’t get dyed!

Step 2: Soak your yarn in some lukewarm water and mild soap. If your yarn isn’t machine washable, be careful not to felt it!

step 3
Step 3: Put on your rubber gloves. Add your sugar-free Kool-Aid to water and stir until the powder is fully dissolved. I used one packet of Lemonade Kool-Aid and a few drops of yellow food dye to make my color really pop. Next, place your yarn into the dye bath and add enough water to completely cover the yarn. Don’t worry if you add a lot of water; this will not dilute the dye.

Step 4: Microwave your yarn in its bath for about two minutes. Let the yarn sit for a minute or two, and then check the color of the dye bath. Repeat the microwave/rest process until the dye bath is clear.

Step 5: After the yarn cools, remove it from the dye bath. Wash the yarn as in step 2 and hang to dry. After the yarn has dried, you can wind it into a ball.
Finish product
My finished yarn was the perfect beautiful, bold yellow, and it’s still machine-washable! I’m so happy with my results that I want to Kool-Aid dye everything.

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Want a Bigger Garment? Use a Thicker Yarn!

June 28th, 2010

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Earlier this season, we released a new yarn that’s like a chunky-weight version of our popular Cotton-Ease. Like Cotton-Ease, Baby’s First is a cotton/acrylic blend made with many fine plies, which gives it great stitch definition, loftiness, and strength. And while it’s called Baby’s First, its sherbet colors are actually great for spring and summer garments for adults too.

Wanting to make something in this yarn, I decided I’d look at quick-to-crochet cardigans that I can layer with summer dresses, but looking at our Pattern Finder, the pattern that caught my eye was this kid’s Bebop Cardi (below), originally made in Vanna’s Choice, a worsted-weight yarn. While its largest size would actually work for a women’s XS, I figured I’d need a slightly bigger size.

Luckily, one great way to resize a pattern is to follow the directions exactly as written, but use a thicker yarn and a bigger hook! Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Sure, but how do you know what size your project is going to end up?” Well, as with almost all projects, gauge is going to come into play when it comes to determining size.

First I made a gauge swatch with the recommended size hook for Baby’s First, the K-hook. The pattern tells me that I need to make the whole swatch in double-crochets, so lucky for me, it’s very quick:

Normally, you’re trying to match the gauge in the pattern (in this case 3 inches to 9 stitches across), BUT since the whole point of this new yarn and hook size is to get a bigger swatch, my next move will be to figure out just how much bigger it is compared to the original swatch. I measure my 9 stitches and I get 3.75 inches or 1.25 times bigger than the original sweater (3.75 inches divided by the original 3 inches = 1.25). To get my projected bust measurement (the best way to size a sweater), I multiply the smallest bust measurement (29 inches) by that 1.25, and I get a  bust measurement of 36.25. That’s a little bigger than I’d like it to be, as I’d like the cardigan to be more fitted, so next I tried one size smaller, using a J-hook.

This gave me 3.5 inches over 9 stitches. It doesn’t sound like a big difference, but remember, over as many stitches as you have in a sweater, it adds up fast. With this hook, my swatch is 1.167 times bigger than the original gauge. This gives me a bust measurement of 33.83 inches. This is much closer to the 34 inch bust that I’d like to achieve. [Note: If you want to make this pattern as a women’s medium or large, get 3.5 inches per 9 stitches, and then you can expect to follow the medium or large directions of the pattern for a 35.6 inch bust and 38.5 inch bust respectively. Again, to get these measurements, I just multiplied the 1.167 by the original medium and large bust measurements. For slightly larger sizes, just do the same math with the K-hook measurements!]

The cardi worked up quickly (the pattern is only 17 rows, following the smallest directions), and here’s the finished product:

As with any project, it’s always best to wash it according to its care instructions after it’s finished (to get rid of any grime from working the yarn and to fluff it up), so into the washer and dryer it went! I also measured the circumference just to double-check that the size was right, and it was just under 34 inches–right on the money.

I’m really looking forward to wearing this cardigan all summer long!

And here’s the back:

Do you have any projects that you’ve modified to suit your needs? Tell us about them by leaving a comment!


It Takes A Village – Winners of Vanna’s Choice Contest Announced!

June 18th, 2010

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The second annual Vanna’s Choice contest has ended and the winners are now posted on the contest website. The entries showed extraordinary talent, skill and creativity. They also demonstrated the amazing versatility of Vanna’s Choice–that it can be used successfully to make virtually any type of garment, afghan, toy, or in the case of the grand prize winner–an entire village. They also showed how the wide range of easy-to-match colors allowed for endless possibilities of creativity in creating beautiful color combinations.

Our judges found selecting winners from among the thousands of entries extremely challenging, but the grand prize winner was a true stand-out.

The grand prize winner, Andrea Miners of Prince George, British Columbia, Canada created a miniature world in her entry entitled Fantasy Village Playmat. Her prize is a trip for 2 to Los Angeles, where she will meet Vanna White, accommodations for 2 nights for 2 people, plus $500 spending money.

We look forward to sharing the story of Andrea’s trip to meet Vanna with you in a future blog post.  Here is an image of the entire village, as well as two close-up detail images.

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Kids’ Craft Camp: Yarn-Wrapped Projects

June 15th, 2010

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Children don’t need to knit or crochet to make amazing projects with yarn. With a little bit of creativity, you and your kids can make imaginative creations from yarn and some household objects! Colorful yarn, glue, paper or plastic cups, cardboard, buttons, safety scissors, and felt are all all of the supplies you need for an entire afternoon of fun crafting. These wrapped animals are just a few of the ideas we came up with.

Yarn wrapped animals
Clockwise from left: Owl Picture Frame, Wrapped Giraffe, and Wrapped Lion.

But you don’t have to just make animals. With just yarn wrapping, we’ve also made bracelets and decorative vases. Try combining lots of different yarn colors and textures to make a truly exciting project. What yarn wrapping project will you create?

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