Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Tips & How To' Category


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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10 Tips on Preventing, Catching, and Fixing Mistakes for Knitters

June 26th, 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.

10tips-mistakes

You’re at the end of the row and worked all the stitches but there are still instructions for 3 stitches left. How did that happen?

Most commonly, an error occurred because the knitter failed to pay attention. Distractions are everywhere; family members are talking, the phone rings, the TV is blaring.  If you’re a newer knitter, it’s particularly important to find quiet time to knit so you can avoid errors. Once you become more adept, multitasking becomes easier.

  1. Try to avoid mistakes before they happen. The row may have ended correctly with no instructions or stitches left over, but things may still be askew.
  2. Learn to “read” your knitting. Recognize how a knit stitch looks different from a purl stitch. Watch the direction in which cables move. Look at your knitting frequently as the stitch pattern develops to see if everything appears as it should. It’s easy to knit instead of purl by mistake; if you see the error now instead of 10 rows later, life will be much easier.
  3. Count your stitches after completing every row, especially if you are a beginning knitter. This may seem like a tedious task but you will know immediately if you accidentally dropped a stitch or looped the yarn over the needle and made a stitch when you shouldn’t have.
  4. If the error is on the row you just completed (or even the row you are still working on), you can unravel the row stitch by stitch and correct the error. You’ll find instructions for doing this by clicking here.
  5. Using stitch markers to mark every 10 stitches or 20 stitches when you have a more complex stitch pattern to keep track of can make it easier for you to keep track of your work. You only have to count the stitches in between a given set of markers to know whether that section of your row is correct. Click here for our stitch markers.

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4 Ways to Combine Different Yarns in One Project

June 23rd, 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.

Some designs, such as the ribbing of a sweater or the brim of a hat, may use a different yarn than the rest of the project. This creates a unique look, much different than if just one yarn had been used for the entire piece – like the Snow and Sunsets Afghan (right) crocheted in Amazing® and Fishermen’s Wool®.

But you can also combine two or even three or more yarns throughout, ultimately creating an entirely new yarn!

One word of caution: be sure to note the care instructions of each yarn. Be sure to care for the project using the instructions of the most delicate yarn.

1. Using Novelty Yarn

You can even combine a novelty eyelash yarn with wool in a felted project; I’ve designed many purses and hats combining yarns in this way. I would suggest you felt a swatch first though to ensure the novelty yarn doesn’t end up with loose loops when felted.

2. Create a Tweed Pattern

Contrasting plain colors create a tweed effect.

3. Muting Colors

Adding a brightly colored yarn can enliven a muted color or adding a more subdued yarn can tone down a color you find too bright.

4. Adding Texture

You can also combine different fibers or types of yarn. Adding a metallic yarn will jazz up a plain yarn. If a yarn is too fuzzy for your taste, adding a plain strand will mitigate the fuzz.

Lastly, Experiment

Swatch and experiment with yarn you have in your stash. You may find that you can use up that yarn that you haven’t known what to do with by combining it with another yarn. The yarns don’t need to be in the same weight category.

Not sure how to get started? Here are a few examples of patterns that combine different yarns:

Marmalade Kimono Knit Team Colors Scarf Fabulous Furry Scarf Multi Strand Top
This cute knit Marmalade Kimono for children is a great example of combining two solid contrasting yarns for a tweed effect. The crochet Team Colors Scarf illustrates the same concept. The knit Fabulous Furry Scarf shows off combining the eyelash yarn Fun Fur with Hometown USA®. This pattern illustrates just how different colors can look when combined with others.

For a refresher on working with multiple strands, see my previous article.

Related links: 

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Make a Cabled Hat with Yolanda From the All Crafts Channel

June 22nd, 2014

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DanielleCabledHatprojectYolanda is back with a brand new video, and this time she’s working through a knit pattern. In the videos below, Yolanda helps guide you through the lovely Cabled Hat pattern in Hometown USA. Since this project calls for a super bulky yarn on big needles, it can be worked up relatively fast. Join Yolanda as she casts on with double pointed needles and shows you how to work through this pattern.

Danielle (pictured left), one of our staff members is a big fan of this quick and easy pattern and has already made multiple hats, noting that they can easily be done in an evening while watching television. Here she is modeling her version in Hometown USA Seattle Sea Mist. Watch the videos, and start knitting today!

 

Part 1

Part 2


A 5-Step Guide to Creating Your Own Yarncrafting Wellness Plan

June 20th, 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 2 in her 6-part series for us on the topic of yarncraft health. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.

Last month we explored the top ten health benefits of yarncrafting. Many of you chimed in with great comments about how crochet and knitting have helped you to heal from a variety of different ailments. Want to get more intentional about that? This five-step guide will help you create your own yarncrafting wellness plan.

1. List The Symptoms You Want to Cure

What are the specific symptoms that you want to reduce in your life? Some of the most common health symptoms that people seek to resolve through crafting are:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Physical pain including headaches, muscle aches, and chronic pain
  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings
  • Feelings of uselessness
  • Grief
  • Addiction including food cravings

Knitting and crochet can help with each of these things. For example, it can be a distraction that reduces physical pain and helps control diet cravings and it can provide relaxation to reduce stress-related headaches and irritability. However, not every symptom will apply to you so think about what you really want to solve. It’s a lot easier to get healthy when you know what specific ailments you’re trying to reduce.

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How to Knit a Horizontal or Vertical Buttonhole

June 16th, 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.

Buttonholes are commonly used in cardigans but you may also find the need to make one for purses, shawls, or scarves.

Many patterns will have an instruction to make a basic buttonhole by working a yarn over and then knitting the next 2 stitches together. This buttonhole is functional but it’s not very stable and it can look a little sloppy. Moreover, the size of the buttonhole is totally dependent on the weight of the yarn and the needle size. The thinner the yarn and the smaller the needle, the tinier buttonhole will be.

So what if you want to create an extra large button?

Vertical Buttonhole

90738adaA vertical buttonhole can be made any length. It can be used in many situations when you would usually work a horizontal buttonhole. If you are working a 6 stitch buttonhole band on a cardigan however, it’s not practical to use this type of buttonhole.

  1. Work across the row to where you want to place the buttonhole.
  2. Drop the yarn, add a second ball and continue across the row.
  3. On the next row, work across until you come to the other ball of yarn, pick it up and complete the row.
  4. Continue until the buttonhole is the length you wish.
  5. Work all the stitches across the next row with one ball of yarn only and this will close the gap.

Horizontal Buttonhole

l10124aThis horizontal buttonhole can be made any size you wish. You’ll need to count your stitches and carefully determine the placement as this buttonhole requires 1 extra stitch…a 3 stitch buttonhole requires 4 stitches total to knit it.

  1. Work to the point where you want the buttonhole.
  2. With yarn in front, slip the next stitch purlwise.
  3. Place the yarn in back and leave it there.
  4. Slip the next stitch purlwise and pass the first slipped stitch over it.
  5. Continue to bind off in this way for the required number of stitches (if you want a 3 stitch buttonhole, do this 3 times total).
  6. Slip the last stitch you bound off back to the left needle and turn. Place the yarn at the back of the work.
  7. Using the Knit Cast-On or the Cable Cast-On, cast on the number of stitches you bound off plus 1. Turn.
  8. With yarn in back, slip the first stitch from the right to the left needle and knit these 2 stitches together.

With a little practice, you’ll master buttonholes in no time!

Try a baby sweater (like the Fresh Melon Sideways Cardigan shown above right) or an accessory pattern like our Embroidered Hood for practice, then graduate to an adult project (like the Modern Raglan Cardigan shown above left)

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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 Increase in a Row or in the Round

June 9th, 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.

As you work on shaping a project, a pattern may ask you to increase or decrease a specific number of stitches evenly across a row or round. But it won’t tell you how often to do this…just to do it evenly.
Increase
You don’t want the increases or decrease bunched up together at one point because it would make your piece lopsided. To avoid this, you want them spaced as evenly as possible across the row or round.

So you’ll need to do some simple math in order to determine how often to increase or decrease so they are spread out evenly.

Getting Started

  • You should know the number of stitches you currently have. The pattern will indicate how many stitches you need to increase or decrease.

    Example: Let’s say you have 100 stitches and the pattern calls for 10 increases. Dividing 100 by 10 equals 10, so you would increase once every 10th stitch.

  • If you’re knitting in rows, you’ll need to add one to the number of stitches you are to increase. Otherwise, in the above example of 100 stitches and 10 increases, the first increase would occur on the 10th stitch and the last increase would occur on the 100th stitch (10, 20, 30, 40, etc.).

    Example: Suppose you have 110 stitches and you’re to increase 10 stitches. Adding 1 to 10 equals 11. Dividing 110 by 11 equals 10, so you would increase one stitch every 10th stitch.

  • Whether knitting in the round or back and forth, the numbers don’t always work out exactly even, and you will get a fraction instead.

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How to Customize a Pattern Using Color

June 5th, 2014

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Hand-knit and hand-crocheted items make great gifts to be treasured and loved. Make them even more special by making them unique. Pick colors special to you or your recipient and you’re sure to please, says Jackie Smyth, our technical editor. We asked Jackie to recommend readers three patterns that feature color as the main attraction. (This column originally appeared in The Weekly Stitch newsletter.)

Knit Slip Stitch Pom Hat Crochet Sante Fe Throw Crochet Little Princess Throw

LBY Newsletter: Knitting and crocheting are great for handmade gifts that really reflect the giver or the recipient. What’s a simple recommendation about how to customize a project?

Jackie: One word—COLOR. The great thing about patterns is that it’s easy to choose other colors in the same yarns and get a totally different look. To make a pattern really personal, choose colors that you like or that have representative meanings to the recipient. Perhaps they love autumn colors or spring colors. The right colors can add a lot of depth to a project.

LBY Newsletter: What if you are nervous about choosing colors that will go together?

Jackie: Going with a yarn that has a great color range is often a good place to start. The Lion Brand Design team works to create yarn collections that are designed that coordinate beautifully.

LBY Newsletter: What’s a yarn you might recommend for someone looking for easy-to-match yarns?

Jackie: Vanna’s Choice® is a great yarn for mixing and matching colors. All 23 of the solid colors in this collection are designed to match and coordinate. You could use three colors in one family—say, Dusty Rose, Rose, and Antique Rose—to get a light-to-dark effect, or you could pick a few contrasting colors like Purple, Chocolate, Pea Green, and Rust that will really pop against each other.

It’s good to look for inspiration from the things around you. The garden is one place to find unexpectedly beautiful contrasting colors. Fashion and architecture are other places to draw inspiration.

LBY Newsletter: Would you recommend a few colorful patterns for our readers?

Jackie: For a simple project, I like the Slip Stitch Pom Hat pattern. We’ve carefully plotted the colors for each pattern stripto create a bold statement piece, but I would encourage you to experiment with your own color combinations. You could draw from the current fashion concept of Normcore and create a more traditionally color hat.

Next, I like the Santa Fe Throw. In colors to match the recipient’s home décor, it but would make a truly fabulous house warming gift.

My third recommendation, the Little Princess Throw, of the impact of color in your project. Tailor your color choice to the baby to create an heirloom – or have fun with gender neutral brights–have fun!

Don’t be afraid to change the colors in a pattern to suit you better. That’s the great thing about knitting and crocheting; you can really make every item your own.

LBY Newsletter: Thank you for your recommendations, Jackie. We look forward to speaking with you again next month.

For more pattern ideas, click to visit our Pattern Finder.

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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.


6 Helpful Tips For Knitting in the Round

June 2nd, 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.

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Knitting in the round can seem daunting, but with a bit of practice, it’s no more difficult than knitting on straight needles. Here are some tips that I hope will make it a bit easier!

1. Circulars and Length

The appropriate circular needle length is the same size or slightly shorter than the circumference of the piece you are knitting. If it’s too short you’ll have trouble keeping all the stitches on the needle; if it’s too long, the fabric will be stretched too taut (this is why you need to switch to double points when decreasing the crown of a hat).

2. A Neater Join

For some people, the usual way of knitting the first stitch of the round can be loose and therefore sloppy. You can tighten it up with the tail when weaving in the end later.

A better way to join it the round can be to cast on one extra stitch. Slip this stitch to the left (the first needle if casting on to double points); this is the beginning of the round and next to the first stitch you cast on. Then knit the two stitches together.

Still better, slip the first stitch you cast on to the right, next to the last cast on stitch. Pass the last cast on stitch (which is now the second stitch on the right) over the slipped stitch, give the yarn a tug and begin your round.

3. Which Double-Pointed Needles to Buy

Aluminum needles can be slippery and your stitches will always want to slide off. Try bamboo or plastic.

Double points come in different lengths. Longer ones can be a bit more awkward but for larger number of stitches, you’ll need them so your stitches don’t fall off.

They come in sets of 4 or 5. If you have the option, always buy 5; then you’ll have it if you need it (and if one disappears you’ll have a spare!).

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