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News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Tips & How To' Category


2 Ways to Start a Circle in Crochet from Dora Ohrenstein

February 12th, 2015

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Learn 2 Methods for Crocheting a Circle

Thanks to our friends over at Storey Publishing, we’re sharing a handy excerpt from Dora Ohrenstein’s latest book, The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop (The Essential Techniques for Becoming a More Versatile, Adventurous Crocheter).

Dora’s latest book features numerous tips on gauge, crochet shaping and construction, colorwork and more – so we suggest that you go ahead and check out the book in its entirety, you’ll be glad you did.

In the meantime, have a look at the excellent excerpt below. Coupled with instructional photos, you’ll quickly and easily learn two different methods for starting a crochet circle – a ring with chains and the magic circle.

Try them out to see which method you like best!


Starting the Circle

There are several different ways to begin working in the round. You can make several chains (the most common method), make an adjustable ring, or use the first chain as a ring. Let’s look at the first two.

Make a Ring with Chains

To make a ring with chains, work several chains, then slip stitch in the first chain to form a ring. The number of chains is determined by how many stitches you intend to work into the ring and how tightly you want the ring to close. If you are following a pattern, the number of chains will be specified. Supposing, however, that you are working a hat pattern, and after working the specified number of chains and stitches in the first round, you find you have a larger hole at the center than you’d like. Go ahead and try again with fewer chains: it will cause no harm whatsoever. For other items worked in the round, such as motifs and flowers, the size of the “hole” at the center can make a difference, as it affects the overall size of the finished piece. In these instances, it’s wise to stick with the instructions as written.

Ring with chains

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10 Truths: Knitting and Crocheting Prayer Shawls

February 12th, 2015

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“A shawl is like a warm hug.”

Giving a prayer shawl to a friend or family member going through a difficult time is an appropriate gesture when there isn’t anything you can do to make their situation better. A handmade knit or crochet gift can offer comfort beyond words and the process can often have the power to heal one’s self too.

Over the years we’ve collected wisdom and insights from our favorite writers on making and giving prayer shawls (sometimes also known as comfort or healing shawls). These four articles below capture the essence of the prayer shawl and offer ten great tips – from patterns to process to the philosophy behind them – this collection is a great starting point for anyone who’d like to learn more about making prayer shawls:

Also see

Homespun® is on sale now – save 20% at lionbrand.com and Lion Brand retail locations in February.

How have prayer shawls helped you? Share in the comments below!



8 Things To Think About Before Starting Your Next Knit or Crochet Project

February 9th, 2015

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8-things-to-think-about-kcprojectSo you’ve finished a project and are ready to a start new one – congratulations!

Whether you plan to knit a hat or crochet your first vest or tackle a new stitch, there are a few things you can think about before you pick up a hook or needle.

A great place to get started is reading Lion Brand’s nine-part series Cracking the (Pattern) Code. You’ll learn about choosing the right yarns and tools, how to check your gauge, how to read patterns and more.

From there, you may want to continue on to more advanced topics and helpful tips like the ones below:

Are there any pre-planning ideas you recommend before starting a project? Share with us below!

:: Pattern seen in the picture above is the Moody Blue Bag made in Fettuccini® Yarn.


New! Learn to Crochet 3 Easy Cowls with Moogly

January 30th, 2015

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Learn How to Crochet With Moogly!

  In the Round, In Style: Crochet Cowls Made Easy Cowls are quite the craze amongst crocheters, and it’s easy to see why! They’re small projects that make a big impact in any wardrobe — plus, they’re quick, easy and fabulously fun to work. Join me, Tamara Kelly, the mind behind Moogly, in my online Craftsy class, Quick and Easy Crochet Cowls, to create quick and captivating cowl projects that will work up with ease, and open up a brand new world as you crochet in the round! During class, we’ll work our way through three dazzling cowls. Start with the easiest, then turn your sights to a lace cowl, getting acquainted with lace charts as you crochet. And finally, create something a little more advanced, adding fabulous granny square embellishment to the final cowl. Plus, throughout class, you’ll get tips and tricks for blocking and finishing to really make those cowls pop! And, did I mention that the first 1,000 students to enroll get a heavenly, heathered treat? That’s right — enroll today and get a free skein of Lion Brand Amazing® yarn!

 For our first lesson, we’ll make the aptly–named 45–Minute Cowl. I’ll show you how to work two strands at once from the same skein, and we’ll start our foundation row, learning to properly measure gauge. As we move on, I’ll give you tips for joining the beginning row in the round, including a more professional way to start the round, and take you through each stitch used. Then, we’ll complete this cowl with fabulous finishing tips that will help you take care of those ends!In our third lesson, we explore lovely lace in the round. You’ll improve your chart–reading skills as I walk you through the pattern and show you how it translates to the chart. Join your first round, and enjoy my nifty trick you can use in all your in–the–round projects so that your chain doesn’t get twisted! While we crochet, I’ll explain how the stitch pattern develops round by round, and you’ll learn which loops to work into to create the beautiful shells of this stunning cowl.

 We’ll finish lesson four by flipping the cowl once we’ve worked it half way, working into the foundation chain once more to build fabric out in the opposite direction. Once we’re finished, it’s time for the beautiful Brompton Abbey Cowl! This more advanced cowl is still very approachable — it just takes a few special stitches, like picots, which I’ll show you step by step. Plus, I’ll share some advice on adjusting length and width, so you can customize for the fit you crave! Then, we’ll create our cowl’s dazzling centerpiece by crocheting and attaching the granny squares. I’ll show you how to make the center spiral, square–off corners for a traditional look and attach the squares to the neck piece. For our final lesson, we’ll add finishing touches with a beautiful picot edge and functional snaps, and end class with blocking tips for all your projects! Get three incredible designs, plus a FREE skein of Lion Brand Amazing yarn, when you sign up for Quick and Easy Crochet Cowls today.

 For me, as much as I’ve fallen in love with crochet over the years, it’s the aspect of community and sharing with other crocheters that has truly become my passion. That’s why I started Moogly, a crochet website, and made it my mission to connect with crocheters, sharing my knowledge by blogging, designing, curating pattern collections, crafting tutorials and more! Now, I get to connect with you too — thanks to Craftsy! With Craftsy you get expert instruction and ample support, with me and the crochet community by your side. Plus, with online lessons you can watch when you want and where you want, you get to learn on your terms, in crystal clear high–definition!So, join me, and get ready to cowl with delight! Learn all the skills you need to start creating cowls and other in–the–round projects with complete confidence.

Join me in for only $19.99that’s 33% off today!


3 Different Ways to Shape the Neckline of a Sweater

January 29th, 2015

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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.

shapenecklineWhen making a pullover sweater in either knitting or crochet, there are many different ways to construct a sweater. In some cases, you will be working from the top-down in one piece (working from the neckline downwards, adding stitches for your raglan sleeves, and then coming back in for the body); you might also work in the round from the bottom edge, splitting the stitches at the arm holes and then working on the front and back separately.

Often you’ll see instructions like this:

Shape Neck

    K14 (15, 16, 16) sts, join a 2nd ball of yarn and bind off next 6 (8, 8, 10) sts, k to end. Working both sides at once with separate balls of yarn, dec 1 st at each neck edge every other row 3 times – 11 (12, 13, 13) sts. Work until same length as Back to shoulders.

When you shape the neck of the front of a pullover, in particular a crew neck or a v-neck, you are ensuring that the neck opening will be large enough so that it fits over the head. There are two components: the width and the depth.

The depth is generally several inches. This is why the neckline shaping begins before the front armhole reaches the depth of the back armhole (where usually only width is of consequence to the total neck opening).

To begin, stitches are eliminated in the center and then decreasing takes place on each side of these center stitches to further widen and shape the neck opening. When the depth is completed, the shoulder stitches are usually bound off.

We’ll be discussing how to shape a neckline when you work the sweater in pieces, starting from the bottom edge and working up towards the neckline.

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Lion Brand’s Top 10 Tutorials from 2014!

January 6th, 2015

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top10tutorials

“How to Knit” and “How to Crochet” were ranked as two of the Top 5 Google Searches for How-Tos in 2014 — so if you haven’t decided on a new year’s resolution yet, why not learn to knit or crochet?

There’s a reason why these two crafts have become so popular.  Research (and lots of anecdotal evidence) tells us that knitting and crocheting helps to relieve stress, makes it easier to get through difficult times, and helps us to feel more productive.

Whether you are an absolute beginner or a long time knitter or crocheter who wants to improve your skills, we have plenty of resources to help you learn.  In addition to Stitchfinder, an amazing collection of stitch explanations for over 200 knit and crochet stitches, our blog is another great place to find tutorials and tips, as well as articles on how knitting and crochet are great for your health.

Check out our most popular tutorials from 2014:

  1. How to Russian Join Yarn in 7 Easy Steps
  2. Video: How to Arm Knit
  3. Make a Simple Shrug with Yolanda Soto-Lopez
  4. The Ups and Downs of Knitting: Counting Your Rows
  5. Make an Infinity Scarf in 30 Minutes with Audra Kurtz
  6. What is Fingering/Sock/Sport/DK/Worsted…Weight Yarn
  7. Keep Yarn Organized: Learn How to Wind a Center-Pull Ball By Hand
  8. How to Crochet Broomstick Lace
  9. Unlock the Secrets of Crochet Cables
  10. How to Use Stitch Markers

What’s your crafting resolution for 2015?


How to Make a Fluffy Pom Pom Topper in 4 Easy Steps!

December 20th, 2014

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This article series was featured previously in our Weekly Stitch newsletter. The Weekly Stitch features new products, tips, and more, so if you enjoy this article and would like more content like it, subscribe!

Wrap Your Gift with a Fluffy Pom Pom Topper

Make a big statement with a fluffy pom-pom! Make it one color for a classy look, or combine two colors for something bolder! Once the gift is unwrapped, the pom-pom can also be used as a luggage tag.

For this project, you will need yarn (for the gift on the left, we use Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick® in the color Fisherman, coupled with Vanna’s Glamour® in the color Diamond; and for the gift on the right we use Alpine Wool in the colors Chili and Olive), along with a pom-pom maker.  For the tutorial below we used Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick® in Starlight.

To make your pom-pom follow the directions on the pom-pom maker package or see below on how to make one using cardboard.

Step 1

pomtutorial1
Take a rectangular piece of cardboard about 2″ X 4″ and use scissors to cut two, half-inch slits. Cut a piece of yarn to a desired length — I cut mine about a foot to wrap around my present — and secure the ends in the slits.
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9 Travel Tips for Knitters and Crocheters

November 25th, 2014

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The holidays are here and that means that it’s travelling season! For some of us, packing knitting or crochet for a trip can be as important as bringing clothes! Travelling can provide some of the best opportunities for uninterrupted knitting or crocheting time. But these crafts involve a little bit of planning to take the show on the road. Here are some tips for travelling with your knitting or crochet!

knit crochet travel tips
1. Consider Your Project
While over the river and through the woods may give you enough time to stitch up a whole sweater, it may not be practical to work on complicated colorwork or bulky blankets when you’re packing light. Projects that are worked in pieces like granny square afghans or single skein projects such as socks are great for travelling because they don’t take up a lot of room in your luggage.

2. Keep it Simple…or Not!
When deciding on the complexity of your project, each trip is different. Ask yourself a few questions about your travels: Will you be able to devote your attention to intricate cables or should you stick to a stockinette stitch project? Will you be bored working on a simple scarf or will it allow you to chat with family and friends? Do you want to bring two projects so you’re prepared for different situations?

3. Know What You Need
Now that you’ve picked your project, it’s time to prep. Do a gauge swatch in advance so you bring the right needles or hooks. Take time to ensure that you’ve got everything you need for your project because you won’t able to pop into a craft store if you’re boarding a trans-continental flight! Read over your pattern so that you understand all of the techniques involved. Be sure to pack all of the yarns and notions required to complete your work.

4. Leave the Good Stuff at Home
Even if you’re careful, things happen! Losing something you’ve worked hard on can be heartbreaking but it’s even worse if your favorite set of needles or antique scissors go astray as well. Your time and effort is irreplaceable but those handmade crochet hooks cost a pretty penny. Plan for the worst: Bring less expensive supplies and yarns, just in case you become separated.

5. Make a Travel-Sized Notions Case
Use an empty tin (like the ones those famously strong mints come in) to store notions. Fill it with a tape measure, tapestry needle, stitch markers, and whatever else your pattern calls for. This kit is a great size to fit in a small project bag or even your purse and everything is together in one place.

6. Dental Floss is the Traveler’s Best Friend!
A travel-sized dental floss can be incredibly handy on the go. The blade can be used to cut yarn and the floss can become an improvised stitch holder or even a stitch marker in a pinch!

7. Carry Extras
Back ups are key! It’s always a good idea to pack away an extra crochet hook or set of knitting needles just in case one goes on its own adventure. You won’t regret printing out a second copy of your pattern, either! If you like to keep your patterns on your smartphone or another electronic device, bring a printed version in case you run out of battery!

8. Knitters, Use Circular Knitting Needles
Circular knitting needles may not be your favorites but their flexibility makes them perfect for packing. You can use them the same way you’d knit with straight needles but you won’t bump your seatmate’s elbows. For projects knit in the round, the magic loop method can save you from bringing double pointed needles on your trip. Those double pointed sock needles love to run away!

9. Locate Your Nearest Local Yarn Shop
While you may not need to make an emergency trip to the yarn store, it’s always fun to pop into the local shop when you’re traveling. For a list of stores where Lion Brand is carried, search here. If you’re somewhere unfamiliar, a local shop can give you a feel for the scene and the regulars are sure to have recommendations for places to visit in the area. Besides, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can always connect with a knitter or crocheter at the yarn shop!

What are your favorite patterns to make on the road? What tips do you recommend to make travelling easier?


Airline Travel Rules For Knitters and Crocheters

November 21st, 2014

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This time of year many of us will be traveling for the holidays.  It’s a stressful time and we need our knitting needles and crochet hooks now more than ever.  The time you spend at airports waiting for your flight and on the plane won’t be wasted if you’ve got your yarn with you to make gifts or to simply enjoy the meditative feeling you get when you knit or crochet.  One thing you don’t need is to worry about whether you can take the tools you need a plane.   Here are 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?
On domestic flights in the US, knitting needles and crochet hooks are permitted by the TSA in carry-on luggage. The TSA suggests that you carry wooden or plastic needles over metal. Circular knitting needles are preferred over straight. Each country is different, though. 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?
Scissors with blades shorter than four inches are permitted in carry-on luggage on domestic flights. Although they may seem innocuous, thread cutter pendants like these are prohibited by the TSA and should be kept in checked luggage. Nail clippers are a good, travel-sized alternative for cutting yarn and 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?
It’s always handy to carry a print-out of the TSA policies but keep in mind, screeners can confiscate any items they do not feel are safe regardless of these guidelines. If you’re able to confirm ahead of your trip that the airport has mail facilities or a service such as Airport Mailers, you may be able to send prohibited items home instead of losing them for good. You may want to carry a padded, self-addressed, stamped envelope just in case you are not permitted to bring your needles or scissors on board. 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.

While it can be frustrating, remember that this season can be stressful for everyone. It’s helpful to have a back up plan and always be courteous!

What’s your experience been? Have you ever had trouble with your knitting or crochet at the airport?


How to Make a Yarn Wreath in 4 Easy Steps!

November 17th, 2014

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This article series was featured previously in our Weekly Stitch newsletter, which features new products, tips, and more. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

mohairwreaths
A great gift for a knitter or crocheter – turn two balls of yarn into two cute wreaths in minutes! Use them as ornaments, then knit or crochet them into fabulous projects.

For this project you’ll need two balls of yarn (here we’re using LB Collection® Silk Mohair in Azure and Sunbeam), as well a tapestry needle.

Step 1

mohair1

Remove labels from yarn, (hang on to them if giving to a yarncrafter!) and remove a little bit of yarn from each ball. If your yarn isn’t already in a cake or doughnut shape, wrap it around a water bottle or cup to make “cakes.” From the yarn you removed from each ball, cut 2 lengths of yarn (1 of each color), long enough to wrap around your package. Set them aside. Thread tapestry needle with remaining yarn in first color.

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