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Archive for the 'Tips & How To' Category


How to Make a Repeating Stitch Into a Scarf or Afghan

April 21st, 2014

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This column by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.

You have a throw pattern with a beautiful stitch pattern, but you’d like to make it wider or narrower. Or perhaps you’d like to make it into a scarf. Maybe the converse is true…you’d like to change a scarf into a throw.

It’s not as difficult as it may seem, even if you are a beginner!

There are two vital concepts that must be understood to accomplish this.

Calculating the Repeating Pattern

The first is the stitch multiple, or the number of stitches needed for one repeat of the stitch pattern. A multiple of 5 stitches means you can cast on any number of stitches that is divisible by 5 such as 25, 30, etc. A multiple of 6 + 1 means you need to cast on any number of stitches that is divisible by 6 plus 1 extra stitch; examples include 25, 37, etc.

Sometimes the pattern will tell you the multiple of stitches used which makes it much easier to make adjustments. If the information is not included, you will need to determine this yourself. You do this simply by adding up how many stitches are used.

Here’s a stitch pattern called Twin Rib:

Row 1: *k3, p3; rep from *
Row 2: *k1, p1; rep from *

Leaves of Grass Stitch
 Leaves of Grass Stitch

Row 1 uses 6 stitches (3 + 3) while Row 2 uses 2 stitches (1 + 1). The pattern is a multiple of 6 because that is the larger number and you need 6 stitches for Row 1 to work correctly. Since 6 is evenly divisible by 2, the 2 stitches in Row 2 are more frequently repeated.

Calculating Your Desired Gauge.

Crochet Cable Stitch The second concept is gauge. You might hate working a gauge swatch, but it really is important. Work your swatch in the stitch pattern. Measure how many stitches you get over 4 inches. Now divide by 4 to determine stitches per inch.

The “magic formula” is stitches per inch x desired width=number of stitches to cast on.Keep in mind that given a certain set of parameters, the exact width you wish to make your project may not be possible without making further adjustments to, for example, your gauge by switching either yarn or needle size.

Let’s say your gauge is 5 stitches per inch, you are using a stitch pattern that is a multiple of 12 and you wish to make a throw 33″ wide. 5 (sts per inch) x 33 (desired width)=165, so you would cast on 165 stitches. However, 165 is not evenly divisible by 12, so that won’t work for your stitch multiple of 12. You’ll need to choose the number closest to 165 evenly divisible by 12, which is 168.

Crochet Cable Stitch

Armed with that bit of knowledge, you can now easily adjust any throw or scarf pattern you have, even if it’s not written at the size you really wanted!

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To sign up for the Weekly Stitch and get columns like this, free patterns, how-to videos and more, click here.


How to Determine if there is an Mistake in the Pattern, Part 2

April 14th, 2014

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This column by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter

Last week I went over how to read an afghan pattern. Today we’re going to look at a sweater example.

Inez Cardigan

This pattern has a series of increases to shape the collar and decreases for the armholes and shoulders but it’s not tricky to break down the number of stitches you should have. To make this example easier to follow, I’ve eliminated the multiple sizes in the pattern.

Shape Collar

Next Row (RS): K 6, inc 1 st in next st, place marker, sl 1, place marker, inc 1 st in next st, k to end of row – 43 sts.
Next Row: Purl.
Next Row: K to 1 st before first marker, inc 1 st in next st, sl marker, sl 1, sl marker, inc 1 st in next st, k to end of row – 45 sts.
Rep last 2 rows 21 more times

There are 2 increases each time the increase row is worked so 21×2=42

You had 45 stitches to begin; 42+45=87 stitches

The pattern continues: and AT THE SAME TIME, when piece measures 17 in. (43 cm) from beg, end with a RS row and shape armhole.
Shape Armhole
Bind off 7 sts at beg of next WS row. Work until armhole measures same as Back to shoulders, end with a RS row and shape shoulder.

You’ve eliminated 7 stitches.
87-7=80 stitches
Shape Shoulder
Bind off 6 sts at beg of next WS row and 6 at beg of following WS row – 68 sts.

You’ve eliminated 6 stitches 2 times.
80-12=68 stitches

Conclusion

Once you understand the pattern line by line, it will be easier for you to follow it and maintain the right stitch count. Stitch markers can be helpful when there are repeats, so that you can mark each section and keep track of them. If you determine that there is an error, you can send a note to the pattern’s publisher so they can correct it in the future. By breaking down the pattern as we have above, you can also often determine what the correct stitch count will be so that you can continue working on your project.
Finally, if a pattern is frustrating you at the moment, take a break! Leave it and look at it with fresh eyes the next day. Often, when you come back to a pattern later on, it becomes obvious what the issue may have been.

To sign up for the Weekly Stitch and get columns like this, free patterns, how-to videos and more, click here.

*Editor’s note: While we triple-check each pattern for errors here at Lion Brand, an occasional one may slip through. If that happens, you can contact us via LionBrand.com. When we issue a correction, we include a note at the top of the pattern (for people who may have previously printed out the pattern, but we also incorporate the changes into the body of the pattern for new people downloading the pattern so that you don’t have to worry about the correction.


Finger-knit a Flower Headband with Audra Kurtz from KurtzCorner

April 8th, 2014

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Audra Kurtz shows you how to finger-knit a flower headband in less than 10 minutes using Hometown USA in the color Neon Pinkyou can use any color you like, there are over 65 to choose from!

If you enjoyed Audra’s tutorial, check out her finger-knit love sign tutorial!


How to Determine if there is a Mistake in the Pattern, Part 1

April 7th, 2014

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This column by Barbara Breiter, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter

You’ve completed a row and something isn’t right. You have 2 sts left. Or you’ve completed the row but the pattern still has instructions for the row you haven’t worked. You try it again and there’s still a problem. What do you do?

It’s possible there is an error in the pattern…it does happen sometimes*. Or despite the fact that you’ve worked it twice now, you may be misunderstanding or skipping part of it.

If you break down the section or row by number of stitches used and number of stitches remaining (if there is an increase or decrease), it will be easier to determine if there is a pattern error or if it’s a knitter/crocheter error.

Let’s look at an example of how to do this.

Cromwell Court Afghan

This pattern is worked over 114 stitches. At the end of this row, you should still have 114 stitches.

Row 3: K3, (k2tog) 3 times, (yo, k1) 6 times, *(k2tog) 6 times, (yo, k1) 6 times; rep from * to last 9 sts, (k2tog) 3 times, k3.

First, let’s look at K3, (k2tog) 3 times, (yo, k1) 6 times,

There are 3 decreases (k2tog) and 6 increases (yo). You have used 15 stitches (k3, k2tog 3 times, k1 6 times [3+6+6]) and you have 18 stitches on the right needle now (3+3+12).

*(k2tog) 6 times, (yo, k1) 6 times; rep from * to last 9 sts,

This repeat has 6 decreases and 6 increases so the number of stitches used is the same as the number you have on your right needle for this section. The yo’s compensate for the k2tog decreases.

There are 18 stitches used (k2tog 6 times, k1 6 times [12+6]) and 18 new stitches (6+12).

This section is repeated 5 times.

We know this because we started with 114 stitches, we used 15 stitches prior to the asterisk, and we will have 9 stitches left to work.

114-15-9=90 stitches worked over the repeat

90 divided by 18 stitches used=5

(k2tog) 3 times, k3.

There are 3 decreases and no increases. So the last section compensates for the 3 extra increases in the first section.
You have used 9 stitches (6+3) and there are 6 new sts (3+3).

So the total number of stitches used is 15+90+9=114
The total number of stitches you now have is 18+90+6=114

Conclusion

Here are four simple tips to help you think there is an error in a pattern:

  1. Try to understand the pattern line by line so you can follow it and maintain the right stitch count.
  2. Use stitch markers, which can be helpful when there are repeats. Mark each section and keep track of them.
  3. If you do determine there is an error, send a note to the pattern’s publisher so can correct it in the future.
  4. If a pattern is frustrating you at the moment, take a break! Leave it and look at it with fresh eyes the next day. Often, when you come back to a pattern later on, it becomes obvious what the issue may have been.

Next week we’ll be looking at another example: a sweater pattern.

To sign up for the Weekly Stitch and get columns like this, free patterns, how-to videos and more, click here.

*Editor’s note: While we triple-check each pattern for errors here at Lion Brand, an occasional one may slip through. If that happens, you can contact us via LionBrand.com. When we issue a correction, we include a note at the top of the pattern (for people who may have previously printed out the pattern, but we also incorporate the changes into the body of the pattern for new people downloading the pattern so that you don’t have to worry about the correction.


Keeping to Pattern

April 6th, 2014

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We’re reposting some of our favorite columns by Barbara Breiterauthor of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, previously featured in our Weekly Stitch newsletter.

When knitting a project that involves a stitch pattern (something other than stockinette or garter stitch) and shaping, such a sweater or hat, you will likely run into the term “keeping to pattern”. It may be written as “keep to established pattern”, “work pattern as established”, or “continue in established pattern”; they all essentially mean the same thing.

When working on the non-shaping section, you will knit your stitch pattern, following the written instructions for each row. But if you increase or decrease at each end of a row while shaping, those rows will no longer begin and end as written because you have added or subtracted stitches. But you need to keep the previous stitches aligned so the stitch pattern continues.

doubleseedstitchMany times, you can simply look at your knitting and see where you are within the stitch pattern. This is why it’s important to learn to “read your knitting” and understand by looking at your work the sequence of knits, purls, yarn-overs, etc. Knitting from a chart is also an advantage here because you can look on each side of the pattern repeat and understand visually where you are in the row.

There are times when it’s more difficult to follow where you are at or perhaps you are just starting out. So let’s work through an example of Double Seed Stitch, sometimes known as Box Stitch:

Multiple of 4
Rows 1 and 2: *k2, p2; rep from *
Rows 3 and 4: *p2, k2; rep from *

Let’s suppose you began with 16 stitches and you have increased one stitch on each end on Row 4. You now have 18 stitches and you can no longer begin Row 1 with a knit stitch because you no longer have a multiple of 8 and knits and purls will no longer align as intended.

How should you be keeping to pattern when you work Row 1 again? You would begin p1, then proceed to begin the row as written. The first stitch you work is the last stitch of the row as written. You are working backwards from the end of the repeat to the beginning of the repeat as you increase stitches.

keepYou will also have one extra stitch at the end of the row. As written, you ended Row 1 p2. Because you have an extra stitch, the row will now end with k1, which is the first stitch of the row as written. The last stitch you work is the first stitch of the row as written…the repeat is starting over again. However, you won’t have enough stitches to complete the row as written.

So, the new Row 1 would be:
P1, *k2, p2; rep from *, end k1

Remember that where you begin and end each row will change each time you add more stitches. If you increased one stitch at each end again, Row 1 would now be:
P2, *k2, p2; rep from *, end k2

Or even more simply:
*p2, k2; rep from *

When you decrease you eliminate stitches, so again you need to recalculate how to begin the row and how it should end.

Let’s suppose you were working over 16 stitches again but this time you decreased at the beginning of Row 1. You would have k2tog and this brings you to p2 as the next step. You would then continue k2, p2.

You don’t need to worry about ending the row when you decrease. As long as you begin in the correct place, the row will end when you’ve run out of stitches and they will all be aligned as intended.

Remember, just as with increasing, where you begin and end will change each time you decrease stitches.


Make a Simple Shrug with Yolanda Soto-Lopez

April 4th, 2014

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One of our most popular patterns, the Simple Shrug, is an easy project that’s perfect for beginners. The pattern is essentially a long rectangle seamed together at the ends to form a “one size fits all” shrug. Many of you have been excited to start this pattern, but wanted more of a visual explanation about seaming the ends and how the whole thing comes together. Now, we’re happy to share with you this wonderfully detailed video that will help guide you on this pattern journey!

Check out this new video with Yolanda Soto-Lopez of “All Crafts Channel” as she walks you through every step of the way for this pattern.


Caring for Your Handmade Items

March 24th, 2014

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You’ve just spent hours crafting a gorgeous sweater (or afghan, or shawl, or scarf…honestly, this article applies to any type of project!) and now you need to know what to do when it needs to be cleaned. We’ve all heard horror stories about washing machines eating afghans, and sweaters shrunk in dryers, and it makes the prospect of caring for things we slaved over rather daunting, to say the least. I’ll do my best in the next few paragraphs to try to alleviate those fears for you.

Read the Label

The first thing to consider is the yarn you used. The label (or the yarn’s page on our website if you’ve misplaced the label) will give you a bunch of information about whether the yarn can be thrown in the washer and dryer, taken to the dry cleaner, steamed, etc.

Not sure what all those symbols mean? We’ve provided a handy key for you in our FAQ. Remember, the information on the yarn’s label applies to the yarn itself, not necessarily your project. In other words, just because the yarn you’ve used will not be damaged by machine washing doesn’t mean that’s the best way to care for your item.

Acrylic or 100% Wool?

Once you’ve checked out the label and seen all the ways you can safely wash the yarn, it’s time to think about the item itself. Is this a baby sweater? An extra large man’s sweater? An afghan? A very lacy shawl? A scarf with a fringe?

Something like a baby sweater, if it is made with a machine-washable and -dryable yarn, can be pretty safely tossed in the machine with no problems (though, as noted in the paragraph below, it will continue to look newer and fresher if it can be cared for more gently). The rest of the items I listed? Not so much. The fringed scarf is going to tangle itself up in all that loose yarn, and all the agitation can be very damaging to the fringe. Your larger sweaters, afghans, and lacy items, are going to get very heavy when they are wet, and the action of the washing machine and dryer will cause the weight of the item to pull on itself, stretching those items out of shape, in some cases quite severely. This can be somewhat alleviated by using a sweater bag with those larger items, as it will keep the item from having room to stretch out.

Making It Last for Years to Come

Finally, think about your expectations for the item. Is this an afghan you expect your rowdy family of five to snuggle up under on the couch every night and the cat to sleep on all day? You probably don’t expect it to look perfect forever, and a little pilling and stretching is going to be par for the course, so throwing it in the machine (in a sweater bag!) is just fine.

Is this a beautiful cabled cardigan you hope to wear for years and years? You’re probably hoping it will continue to look just-off-the-needles for a good long time. As with any delicate item — whether handmade or store-bought — the more gently you care for it the longer it will last and be beautiful. 

Conclusion

Hand-washing and laying flat to dry is almost always the gentlest way to care for a handmade item to ensure the best results over time. It’s inconvenient, sure, but isn’t it worth a little inconvenience to keep the project that took so many hours to make looking and feeling great?

There are more great tips on exactly how to handle your project as you wash it in this article.


6 Helpful Tips for Knitting & Crochet

March 23rd, 2014

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We’re reposting some of our favorite columns by Barbara Breiterauthor of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, previously featured in our Weekly Stitch newsletter.

knit+crochet

Yarn crafts should be an enjoyable experience. Pitfalls abound but many of them are our own doing. I hope these suggestions will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed or disheartened as you explore the world of knitting and crochet.

1. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

You’ve never knit with circulars? Thousands, if not millions, of people have done it. How hard can it be? You won’t learn a new skill unless you give it a go. Try out the new skill and you’d be surprised how many skills come naturally to you.

Need extra help? Lion Brand can show you other ways you can learn to knit or crochet.

2. Break it down.

If you’re working a series of instructions [such as this bobble: Knit into front, back and front of next st, turn and k3, turn and p3, turn and k3, turn and Sl1, k2tog, psso] that you don’t understand, try it step by step without thinking ahead. It’s easy to get overwhelmed looking at the entire sequence. By looking at it in steps, it’s easier to break down.

3. Knit or crochet with a yarn you love.

If you’re finding a texture cumbersome or that the yarn is rough on your hands (doesn’t slide, feels like plastic…whatever the case may be), perhaps it’s not the right yarn for you (or this particular stitch pattern). Pick a smooth yarn for more complex stitch patterns and use a simpler stitch when using more textured yarns. Finding the right pairing will make your project more enjoyable.

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How to Create a Sacred Space for Crafting

March 18th, 2014

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares how to make a healing, relaxing craft space. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.

Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC
Lion Brand Yarn Studio in New York

Yarncrafting is healing. Knitting is relaxing. Crochet is meditative. Honoring that makes our crafting even more productive, beneficial and special in our lives. Make your crafting space a sacred space to help you drop more easily into the creative / spiritual/ healing aspects of your craft time each time that you work.

Select a Space

Start by designating a crafting space, even if it’s just a chair in the corner of a room. Make it your comfiest favorite chair that you really want to spend time in!

Create a Craft Altar

Altars can be religious but they don’t have to be. In her book Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin explores ways to make every little display in the home an altar to something (an altar to toys, an altar to books). This encourages us to pick our favorite things to celebrate what we love in each spot in our home. A crafting altar might include:

  • Vintage crochet hooks / knitting needles on display. See display tips here.
  • Favorite luscious yarns; in episode 22 of YarnCraft Zontee talks about creating yarn vignettes
  • 1-2 handmade items
  • Photos of favorite crafters. Family photos of the older generations of needleworkers in your family are perfect!
  • Special craft books and magazines

You can create a small altar even if you don’t have a craft room. A bookshelf, tabletop or even drawer near the chair or bed where you usually craft will work just fine.

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How to Make the “3 Strand Arm Knit Cowl”

March 18th, 2014

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Ekat shows you how to get the look of this 3 Strand Arm Knit Cowl without using needles! Using the simple technique of arm knitting, you can make this scarf in just half an hour!

Shop for Unique here: http://lby.co/1i2sGRN