Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Tips & How To' Category

Portable Projects to Travel With

November 16th, 2015

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In this guest post, Lion Brand’s Technical Editor Jackie Smyth shares great project ideas for traveling knitters and crocheters.

I grew up in Brooklyn, in a family known for our ‘itchy feet’. Travel was our passion – whether a short local jaunt by subway or an endless flight to someplace more exotic.

I also grew up crocheting and knitting. I nearly always had a large project in progress, but I relied on smaller projects as my portable travel companions. Most every hat, shawl or scarf that I’ve made was created ‘in transit’.

Needle crafting is not just the perfect way to fill time between flights or to keep  busy on long train trips – but also a wonderful conversation starter in a strange city.

Most of my travel was long before the age of iPhones and social media. My memory of knitting on a cloudy day in Sarphatipark in Amsterdam is preserved only in a light blue cardi that, sadly, no longer fits.


How things have changed!

Now, posting pictures to your blog, to Instagram, or other favorite site makes it easy to enjoy lasting memories of a project created in a special place.

Meanwhile, all kinds of new accessories make travelling with a project easier than ever:

hiya 2in1 travel
Hiya Hiya Small Project Bag 2-in-1 Tote Travel Wallet


My perfect portable project is something smallish in size that doesn’t require super concentration.   Any of these would work well –

oneballscarfie hudsonseed beginner milbrook
Knit One Ball Scarfie made with Scarfie Knit Hudson Seed Stitch Scarf made with Fishermen’s Wool® Knit Beginner Level 1 Cowl made with Lion’s Pride® Woolspun® Crochet Millbrook Cowl made with Vanna’s Complement

Afghans, when made in blocks or squares, are another favorite portable project. Here are some good ones –

dotty tonal shoreline
Crochet Dotty Dots Afghan made with Modern Baby® Crochet Tonal Diamonds Afghan made with Landscapes® Crochet Shoreline Afghan made with Vanna’s Complement

We’d love to know what project you take when you travel and would especially love to see your photos!

How To Read a Yarn Label

November 12th, 2015

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How To Read a Yarn LabelWe’ve all been there — we reach out for a skein of yarn, allured by its softness, drawn to its color, dreaming up ways to use it… but how can you get the most out of this yarn?

By reading a yarn label, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions about your yarn purchases. Can you machine wash and dry it? What size needle or hook should you use? Will it be enough for your whole project?

Watch as Brand Ambassador Shira Blumenthal walks through the wealth of knowledge found on yarn labels. You’ll learn about yarn weights, fiber content, gauge, and so much more!

:: Can’t see the video above? Click here to watch – :: 

Click here to learn more about:

Yarns mentioned in this video:

How To Use Pinterest to Find the Perfect Pattern

September 24th, 2015

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Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… not that you need another app in your life, but Pinterest is a must-have for crafters! Like other social media applications, you can use this platform as a way to showcase your own work. However, Pinterest thrives by connecting content from all over the internet in a single place. Think of it as a your new virtual vision board!

I like to think of Pinterest as a ‘stashbook’ – a place where I can stash ideas and inspiration I can revisit when I need to.

Primarily, I use Pinterest to save outfit ideas — I often find myself scrolling through my Style board on days when I’m not sure what to wear. Recently, I’ve been using Pinterest to gather inspiration for new knitting projects I’m interested in.

Here’s what my knitting Pinterest board looks like:

knitting board


Right now, I’d say I’m inspired by chunky knits, neutral/light colors, and self-striping and variegated yarns.

I’m especially drawn to that chunky cowl (bottom left, model with blonde hair), but that Pinterest link led to a fashion blog in another language, with no pattern — tough luck for me! Using Pinterest’s search bar, I was able to find a similar cowl with a pattern — Lion Brand®‘s Dobbs Ferry Cowl (top left, model with brown hair) made with Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick®. Using both photos as inspiration, I know all I need to do is mix up the yarn I use and follow the pattern to get the look.

Here’s how to use Pinterest to get what you really want:


How to Weave on a Cardboard Loom with Lion Brand!

August 29th, 2015

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For beginners who are interested in weaving, a cardboard loom is a great way to learn and practice designs before deciding to invest in a sturdier loom – like the Cricket Loom or Martha Stewart CraftsTM Knit & Weave Loom Kit. This step by step tutorial will help you get started on your new journey into weaving!



You will need a 14 X 20 in. (35.5 X 51cm) piece of cardboard, a ruler, a large-eye blunt needle, pencil scissors, and, of course, yarn.

The tutorial below is for a placemat made with Lion® Cotton, but we also recommend Bonbons, Vanna’s Choice®, Cotton-Ease® for beginner weavers.

Making Your Loom

With the ruler and pencil, mark a line 1 in. (2.5 cm) from each short end of cardboard. Beginning 1/2 in. (1.5 cm) from one end of line, and ending 1/2 in. (1.5 cm) from opposite end of line, make 53 evenly spaced (about 1/4 in. (6 mm) apart) marks along length of line. Cut a slit in cardboard at each mark, down to the 1 in. (2.5 cm) border.

Step 1

We are showing you the over 2, under 2 weaving method.

Wrap loom with base yarn, placing one strand in each notch then around the back of the loom to the next notch. At last notch cut yarn, leaving a 6 in. (15 cm) tail. There should be 53 strands. Thread blunt needle with about 10 in. (25.5 cm) of working yarn.

Note: Use a length of working yarn that feels comfortable to you. The longer the yarn, the more chance for tangles! The shorter the yarn, the more ends you’ll have to weave in!

Which Crafting Tools are Allowed in Carry-on Luggage?

July 5th, 2015

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Travel Tips for Knitters and Crocheters
The summer is here so it’s time to plan a big getaway! I don’t like air travel but I do like that it provides me with uninterrupted time to knit and I like that knitting keeps me calm and stress-free while I’m on board! When I tell people that the meditative qualities of knitting have seen me through many journeys, they’re often surprised that I’m allowed to bring my needles on board. While the TSA guidelines can be tricky, knitters and crocheters can put their minds at ease! I’ve collected some frequently asked questions on the subject so you can be in the know about what you are permitted to take on the plane.

Are knitting needles and crochet hooks allowed in carry-on luggage?
Knitting needles and crochet hooks are permitted by the TSA in carry-on luggage on domestic flights in the US. Savvy travelers suggest that you carry wooden or plastic needles over metal and bring circular knitting needles instead of straights which might seem more obtrusive. If you are travelling internationally be sure to check the guidelines of your airline and security agencies abroad. You may be allowed to fly into a country with knitting needles in your carry-on but be required to check them on your return flight.

What about scissors?
You might be surprised to find out that you can bring scissors in your carry-on as long as they have blades that are shorter than four inches. Although they may seem innocuous or be advertised as airplane-approved, thread cutter pendants like these are prohibited by the TSA and should be kept in checked luggage. Don’t have any small scissors? Nail clippers are a good, travel-sized alternative for cutting yarn and they are permitted in carry-ons. If you have questions about other items, the TSA has made a handy search tool.

What if my knitting needles are confiscated?
If you’re worried you might have your needles confiscated, bring a print out of the most recent TSA rules. But keep in mind, screeners can confiscate any items they do not feel are safe regardless of these guidelines. It’s best to leave supplies that are costly to replace or hold sentimental value at home in case you have to part with them. Carry dental floss in your carry-on. You can use the blade to cut yarn and the floss is great for holding stitches in a pinch if you’re asked to surrender your needles.

The security checkpoint is, for many travelers, the most stressful part of a trip. Pack your supplies together in a project bag so that they can easily be inspected and use clear, zip-top bags for smaller notions. Remember to have a back up plan and be courteous!

What should I bring on my trip?
Check out this post for more ideas on what projects and notions to pack and how to prepare for travel crafting. And don’t forget, you can leave your yarn diet home while you’re on vacation!

Have you ever had trouble with your knitting or crochet at the airport? What’s your favorite thing to knit or crochet on a flight?