Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Tips & How To' Category


10 Ideas to Stay Inspired During a Crafting Hiatus

August 5th, 2014

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo is an expert in the area of using crafting to heal, having researched the topic extensively for her book Crochet Saved My Life. This is part 4 in her 6-part series for us on the topic of yarncraft health. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.

10 Ideas to Stay Inspired During a Crafting Hiatus

Many knitters and crocheters craft every single day. It’s part of a good total wellness plan for a lot of us. But what happens if you have to take a crafting hiatus? An injury, crafting burnout (similar to writers’ block) and health issues can force an unwanted break from knitting and crochet. Here are ten ideas for staying inspired in the event that this occurs to you.

1. Organize photos of your past craft work.

This can be a great way to celebrate the work that you’ve already done. It will remind you of all of the inspiration you’ve had in the past and get you re-excited for the time that you can pick up hooks and needles again. A big photo album works as does a blog or Facebook albums.

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How To Do 4 Different Types of Selvages

August 4th, 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.

seaming_selvageYou may see patterns that talk about selvage stitches (sometimes spelled “selvedge”) and wonder what they could be referring to. All fabric has selvages; they are simply the left and right edges of the piece, or the first and last stitch of each row.

Some patterns specify to work a selvage stitch; you may notice that directions tell you to always knit the first and last stitch of the row or to slip the last stitch of each row. In these cases, the designer has factored in the selvage as part of the design to make it easier for you. However, if you’re creating your own design from a stitch dictionary or just winging it, understanding how to work those selvage stitches (or identify them, if you’re modifying a pattern), will be very helpful.

1. Selvages for Seaming

When you have pieces you are going to seam together, such as the front to the back of a sweater, you will use these edge stitches for seaming. They won’t be visible after the project is seamed. This is particularly useful when you’re creating your own design for a sweater or shrug, which may otherwise end up with yarn-overs and decreases on the edges of the design. Regardless of the pattern stitch used, if you work a stockinette selvage it will make seaming much easier. To do so, simply knit the first and last stitch of every row on the right side and purl them on the wrong side. If a stitch pattern is used, you might check and be sure that the pattern has allowed two extra stitches for seaming so you have a full repeat across after seaming.

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3 Ways to Bind Off/Cast Off

July 28th, 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.

Bind Off

Ahhh, finally done with your latest knitting project. Now you can’t wait to finish so, in a final flurry, you bind off all your stitches and…oh no. The sweater won’t fit over your head or the bound off edge of the blanket is narrower than the cast on edge.

What have you done? You bound off too tightly.

I’ve done it myself. You might not notice if it’s a scarf because a scarf is narrow. The bound off edge does not have as much “give” as the rest of the knitting. That’s why it’s difficult to get the neckline of that sweater to stretch enough to fit over your head.

1. Bind Off Loosely

Always, always, always bind off loosely. This includes the stitches that you are knitting or purling during the process as well as when you pass a stitch over and off. Don’t tug, pull, or yank the yarn as you work each stitch. I know that it seems so loose that it’s tempting. But don’t. If you find you are binding off too tightly and can’t manage to do it more loosely, use needles one or two sizes larger than the size you used to knit the piece.

Binding off, sometimes called casting off, actually creates a final row of fabric, so what stitches you work as you bind off does make a difference. You can simply knit across as you bind off as many people do; but upon close inspection you’ll see the difference in the details.

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Cute Alert! Finger-Knit a Set of Adorable Animal Ears With Audra Kurtz

July 25th, 2014

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This week, Audra Kurtz shows you how to finger knit these adorable animal ears with Wool-Ease Thick & Quick. The animal ears are great props for a newborn baby photo shoot, for Halloween, costume parties, and more!

Check out Audra’s easy tutorial below:

If you enjoyed Audra’s tutorial, check out her YouTube channel, The Kurtz Corner!


5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Trying a New Stitch

July 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.

Simple Basketweave St. George's Variation (Crochet) Seed Stitch
Simple Basketweave Stitch (Knit) St. George’s Variation (Crochet) Seed Stitch (Knit)

There are many stitch patterns available in books, magazines, and online–and probably just as many that have not been invented yet. You will find a large selection in the StitchFinder. To use them for simple projects like scarves, dishcloths, and afghans, keep in mind that these projects can all be simple squares or rectangles. You can just cast on the appropriate number of stitches according to your gauge and desired width (stitches per inch × desired width = the number of stitches to cast on) and start knitting.

But to get the most out of these stitch patterns, you’ll want to consider a few factors before getting started.

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5 Things You Should Know About Color-Changing Yarns

July 18th, 2014

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colorchange-blog

Yarn that is dyed so it changes colors is great fun to knit or crochet. Watching the color pattern reveal itself as you work is a joy. Simply work a project in rows or in the round and what was once a plain project magically turns into something special!

When you run out of yarn and add a new skein, if you begin the second skein as you normally would it will likely not match where you left off. You will see a noticeable color change in your work that could be jarring. To avoid this, you need to unwind the new skein until you find the exact place in the color scheme where the old one ended. This does waste some yarn, but it’s the only way to get the skeins to match up.

1. Prints vs. Stripes

Yarn that is dyed with short lengths of color before it changes is often referred to as a “print” (Wool-Ease®  and Vanna’s Choice® comes in print colors). Generally the color changes every 3 to 4 stitches and combines perhaps 3 total colors. Lion Brand also offers yarns we call “stripes” (Wool Ease® Thick & Quick®, Homespun® Thick & Quick®, Jamie®, and Fun Fur® all come in stripe colorways). The color changes are longer and create distinct stripes with no work at all!

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Why Dye Lots Are Important For Crafting

July 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.

dyelot

What is a dye lot?

Almost all yarn has a dye lot. Yarn is dyed in batches. When a batch is dyed, the dye lot number is assigned; you’ll find this number on the label. When the next batch is dyed, a new dye lot number is assigned. Even though the same dyes are used, there may be noticeable color variations.

Why it’s important for crafting

It’s important that you always purchase enough of the same dye lot in order to complete your project. Before you leave the store, check and make sure the lots are the same. Just because the yarn is on the same shelf, doesn’t mean all the skeins are from the same dye lot.

If you’re not sure you’ll have enough, buy one extra. Check the return policy of the store you’re purchasing from. Many allow returns of unused yarn within a certain time frame. If you don’t finish within that time and have one skein left over, just add it to your stash. You will find a good use for it eventually (or so they say!).

My yarn doesn’t have a dye lot

Occasionally, you’ll find a yarn that does not have a dye lot; this will be indicated on the label. A no dye lot yarn does not necessarily mean that all skeins will be exactly the same color. The yarn is dyed in much bigger batches but eventually it’s sold out and more must be produced and this will be a different dye lot. So proceed with caution.

What if I run out of yarn and can’t find the same lot number?

If you do run short, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to find more of the same dye lot. The longer the amount of time that goes by, the more difficult may will be. If you need more yarn for the trim of a project, such as an edging of a throw, consider a contrasting color.

If there’s no way around it and you can find more of the same color but not the identical dye lot, take the original yarn with you (even if it’s already worked up in a project) to the store. You may be lucky enough to find several different dye lots to choose from. If so, you’ll notice that some may be closer to the original than others. Look carefully at the original and the lot you’re considering in natural light if possible (fluorescent lights can fool the eye).

Editor’s Tip: Lucky for us, the internet age has made it easier to track down yarn in specific dye lots. With a little determination and patience, you may be able to contact other knitters & crocheters on websites like Ravelry.com or Crochetville.org to see if they have the same yarn in a specific dye lot.

Ready? Set? Craft!

When you’ve made your choice and are ready to return to knitting or crocheting your project, work alternating rows with the old and new dye lot (unravel the project to retrieve some of the old yarn if necessary). This will lessen the noticeability of the contrast of the two dye lots.

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An Introduction to Intarsia

July 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.

Intarsia is a simple technique that allows you to knit with multiple colors across a row without carrying the yarn along the back of the work (as you would in stranded knitting). Instead, a separate ball of yarn—or bobbin of yarn to avoid the balls becoming all tangled—is used for each block of color. The more color blocks you are knitting, the more helpful bobbins will be.

What is Intarsia?

By changing colors at the same point in every row, you could knit vertical stripes or create blocks of color, but intarsia can be used for much more complex designs as well. There are many geometric designs that use this technique such as the following:

Blazing Blocks Afghan Animal Talk Cardigan Crochet Intarsia Brocade Poetic Color Pullover
Knit Blazing Blocks Afghan Knit Animal Talk Cardigan Crochet Intarsia Brocade Afghan Knit Poetic Colors Pullover

When to Use Intarsia

Essentially, intarsia is good for patterns where large sections of the design are various colors, as opposed to stranded knitting or tapestry crochet, which are often used for smaller, more detailed patterns.

Now that you understand the basic concept of intarsia, perhaps you want to try one of the patterns above. For this, you’ll want to purchase or make your own bobbins.

How to Use a Bobbin

  1. Bobbins can be found in any yarn store; in lieu of them, you can use a piece of cardboard with slits cut in both ends.
  2. Wind each color yarn around the bobbin, using one bobbin for each color. The bobbins hang freely from the back of your work and as you need to use a color, unwind a small amount at a time. This keeps them from getting tangled. Note: If you are knitting a section that requires only a few stitches, you can use unwound strands instead; it’s generally best to keep them shorter than about 36”.
  3. When it’s time to change colors, be sure the new color you are about to use is twisted around the old color.
  4. Pick up the new color from under the old color. Note: If you skip this step, you’ll have a hole where the colors change. It will be readily seen within two sts; rip back and try again.

For more on intarsia, please click here for our blog post. 

For patterns featuring intarsia, click here

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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.


Make a Baby Mobile with Audra Kurtz

July 6th, 2014

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Audra Kurtz shows you how to make a baby mobile using Lion Brand’s Tweed Stripes®!

If you enjoyed Audra’s tutorial, check out her YouTube channel, The Kurtz Corner!


Add Color With Slip Stitch Patterns: An Introduction

June 30th, 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.

Slip Stitch AfghanSlip stitch patterns are an easy way to add color to your knitting; unlike Fair Isle and Intarsia, you knit with only one color per row so they are less complicated. When knitting slip stitch patterns, some stitches from a previous row are slipped and others are knit or purled with a new color.

When a row is completed, you will have stitches that are slipped which are a different color from the stitches that you just knit with the new color. The slipped stitches will be elongated; this will cause the stitch pattern to pull in, so check your gauge carefully if you substitute one in a pattern that calls for Stockinette or another less dense stitch pattern.

Tips to Know

  1. Slip stitch patterns are most often knit in Stockinette but you will find some that combine knits and purls on the same row; this results in a fabric that is both colorful and textured.
  2. Stitches can even be worked with yarn held in the front or manipulated to create “floats” (strands running across other stitches) for contrast.
  3. Slip stitch patterns can be worked in two or more colors.
  4. Generally you won’t find a stitch pattern that calls for more then 3 stitches to be slipped.
  5. Take caution to make sure the strand from the working yarn that results when slipping the stitch is kept loose (resist the urge to pull that “float” tight) or your fabric will pucker.

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