Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Tips & How To' Category


Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 8: Understanding Instructions

November 17th, 2013

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Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns. Click here to read her earlier blog posts.

Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 8: Line-by-Line InstructionsObviously the most important information in crochet and knit patterns are the instructions. They are also the most challenging to decrypt. Instructions consist of two basic types, 1) row/round instructions, and 2) prose instructions. Row/Round instructions provide detailed directions for completing one row or round. Prose instructions are sentences or paragraphs that provide more general directions for completing a section, repeating sections, or finishing a piece.

Row/Round Instructions

Each Row/Round instruction consists of a name, a series of steps separated by commas or semi-colons, and as mentioned earlier, possibly a stitch count at the end of the instruction. Names of Row/Round instructions can indicate the order (e.g., Row 10, Next Round), purpose (e.g., Decrease Rnd, Set-Up Row), and/or relationship to the fabric (e.g. (RS), (WS)). Some of this information may be included in parentheses, e.g., Row 12 (Decrease – WS).

The series of instruction steps are usually arranged in a specific order.

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Video: How to Make a Fishtail Rubber Band Bracelet

November 14th, 2013

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Did you know that you can use your Martha Stewart Crafts™ Knit & Weave Loom Kit to make rubber band bracelets? The small configurations will fit perfectly into a purse so you can take a crafting break anywhere. What’s great about the Martha Stewart Crafts™ Knit & Weave Loom Kit is that different members of the family can be using it at the same time! While your son or daughter is making bracelet, you could be using another configuration to make a hat or scarf!

If you’re reading this blog post in your email or an RSS reader, please click on the title to view the full blog post and video on our website.


Kitchen-Safe Dyeing, Part 1: Turmeric

November 14th, 2013

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Sister and brother duo, Elizabeth and Robby Miracle, first created this dyeing series for a Lion Brand newsletter several years ago. Although that newsletter is no longer around, we loved the idea of making kitchen-safe dyes so much, that we’ve updated it and reprinted the series here. 

Kitchen-Safe Dyeing | Lion Brand Notebook

Creating your own dyes can be a fun and exciting way to personalize projects.  This month, we show you how to make all-natural dyes and use them with different cotton and wool yarns.

We used only edible items purchased at our local market, boiling water (and in some cases, salt or vinegar) to make beautiful, all-natural dyes.

After trying our dyes, you will probably want to experiment with other natural food dyes of your own.  Start by using fruits or vegetables that stain and experiment!  You can mix dye baths to make different colors.  You will probably find, as we did, that the colors are all — surprise — “earth” tones!

Because this project requires boiling water, adult supervision is required.

Turmeric Dye

This quantity of dye will easily color 2 skeins of LB Collection Pure Wool or , 2 skeins of Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton. Other options include: Alpine Wool, Fishermen’s Wool, LB Collection Organic Wool, LB Collection Superwash Merino, Martha Stewart Crafts™ Merino, Martha Stewart Crafts™ Roving Wool, Martha Stewart Crafts™ Cotton Hemp, Kitchen Cotton. Click here to see all Lion Brand yarns. 

turmeric-cottona  turmeric-woola
Dyed Cotton Dyed Wool

Ingredients:
1 oz ground turmeric
3 quarts water

Bring mixture to a boil in a stainless steel or enamel pot and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  It will reduce in volume some what while boiling. As soon as it is finished cooking, you can use it.

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Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 7: Understanding the Punctuation

November 10th, 2013

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Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns. Click here to read her earlier blog posts.

Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 7: Understanding the Punctuation | Lion Brand NotebookPunctuation differs from publisher to publisher, but in all cases is used to separate and group instructions. Typically, commas, semi-colons, colons, and dashes are used to separate. Parentheses, brackets, curly braces, and asterisks are used to group. Commas and semi-colons are used to separate each part of an instruction making the parts a bit easier to see and read.

Instructions and parts of instructions are grouped for several reasons; 1) To indicate that multiple stitches are to be worked into the same location and, 2) To indicate that instructions are to be repeated.

Parentheses are most often used to group stitches to be worked into one location. For example, “(k1, p1, k1) in next st” indicates that all 3 stitches within the parentheses are to be worked into the next stitch before it is removed from the left needle. Brackets, curly braces, and asterisks paired with “repeat” are used most often to group instructions to be repeated.

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Expert Tip: Make a Reference Schematic for YOUR Perfect Sweater

November 5th, 2013

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I’ve learned a ton of new skills and tricks from working at Lion Brand. One of my favorite tips comes from crochet designer Robyn Chachula. (I’ve interviewed her several times for our podcast, YarnCraftcheck out the first and second episodes featuring Robyn.)

Robyn says that you should create a schematic based on YOUR favorite sweater so that whenever you come across a pattern for a sweater that you like, you can check it against your reference schematic to see which areas of the pattern you might need to modify to fit your body better. I love it!

Need more help? Here are some resources on measuring your body:

[Schematic pictured: Knit Classic Nordic Pullover]


Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 6: Abbreviations

November 4th, 2013

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Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns. Click here to read her earlier blog posts.

Cracking the (Pattern) Code: Abbreviations | Lion Brand NotebookThe extensive use of abbreviations can make knit and crochet patterns appear to be written in Klingon or Elvish rather than a human language. There are two sources of abbreviations used in pattern instructions; 1) Standard abbreviations, and 2) Special abbreviations.

Standard Abbreviations

The meaning of standard abbreviations and the unabbreviated forms are widely known and understood in the knit/crochet world. Accordingly, standard abbreviations are simply listed at the beginning or end of pattern instructions or in the reference section of magazines and books. Further explanation and illustration of such abbreviations can be found in any basic book about knit or crochet, or by searching the web. Examples of standard abbreviations include: st(s) = stitch(es), rep = repeat, RS = right side, and yo = yarn over.

Editor’s note: You can find abbreviations on LionBrand.com in our Learning Center, and when you click on the individual term, a brief explanation will open. Click here for the Abbreviations page.

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Video: How to Make a Simple Rubber Band Bracelet

October 29th, 2013

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Learn to use your Martha Stewart Crafts™ Knit & Weave Loom Kit to make a basic rubber band bracelet.

Click here to get the written instructions for this project.


If you’re reading this blog post in your email or an RSS reader, please click on the title to view the full blog post and video on our website.


Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 5: Understanding Gauge

October 28th, 2013

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Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns. Click here to read her earlier blog posts.

Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 5: Understanding GaugeGauge is very important in all but the simplest designs. The gauge at which you work determines the finished size of the piece and the firmness of the fabric. If your gauge is off your afghan may barely cover a doll, or your slippers may fit the Jolly Green Giant quite comfortably. On the other hand, if your gauge is accurate but the yarn inappropriate for the gauge your sweater may be so firm you can’t lower your arms or so “holey” you could only wear it at home with the curtains drawn.

Gauge is the measure of the number of stitches and rows worked to yield a piece of fabric of a specific size. Gauge is usually given in terms of the numbers of stitches and rows worked to yield a piece of fabric that is 4 x 4 in. (10 x 10 cm) square.

If the size or drape of a finished project is important (and most of the time size and drape are important) take the time to check your gauge. To check your gauge, begin by using the size hook or needles listed. If more than one size of hook or needles is listed, the gauge statement should indicate which of the sizes is intended. Work a piece of fabric (known as a swatch) in the indicated pattern stitch that is at least 4 x 4 in. (10 x 10 cm) square or at least the size specified in the gauge statement, whichever is larger. Lay the piece flat without stretching or bunching it, place a ruler on the piece and count the number of stitches and number of rows over 4 in. (10 cm). Compare these numbers with the numbers in the gauge statement. If the number of stitches in 4 in. (10 cm) of your swatch is less than the number of stitches indicated by the gauge statement, you need to make another swatch using a smaller hook or needles. If the number of stitches in 4 in. (10 cm) of your swatch is more than the number of stitches indicated by the gauge statement, you need to try again using a larger hook or needles. Continue to make swatches using a larger or smaller hook or needles as needed until you achieve the gauge.

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Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 4: Selecting the Right Tools

October 21st, 2013

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Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns. Click here to read her earlier blog posts.

Hooks and Needles

Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 4: Selecting the Right ToolsThe sizes of the hooks or needles listed in a pattern indicate the size used by the designer to achieve the listed gauge and to complete the item shown. Gauge is the number of stitches and rows worked in a piece fabric of a certain size. The hook or needle size helps determine the gauge and the gauge determines the size and drape of the fabric. Different knitters and crocheters, even when they use the exact same size hook, yarn, and pattern stitch, will often create fabric of different gauge. Accordingly, you may need to use different size hooks or needles to achieve the same results as the designer. Begin with the listed size, but check your results and be willing and prepared to change to a different size (see Gauge section below for more details).

Hooks and needles of different types may also be indicated. Knitting needles come in straights of different lengths, circulars of different lengths, and double-pointed. Crochet hooks can be standard, Tunisian, or double-ended. Be sure that you have (or are willing to acquire) the skill needed to use specific hooks and needles, especially double pointed knitting needles or Tunisian or double-ended crochet hooks.

Pro Tips

The hook and needle sizes listed may or may not be the same as the recommended size listed on the yarn ball band. The recommended size listed on a ball band is a size needed for a fabric of average drape (or firmness) made from the most basic of pattern stitches (single crochet or Stockinette st). A specific project is likely to warrant a different drape and the use of pattern stitches other than the basics, thus needing a different size hook or needles.

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Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 3: Selecting Yarn & Buying the Right Quantity

October 13th, 2013

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Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns. Click here to read her earlier blog posts.

Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 3: Selecting Yarn & Buying the Right QuantityCrochet and knit patterns list a specific yarn and the number of balls of yarn needed. Using the specified yarn is the best way to achieve the intended results. If you would like slightly different results (e.g., different fiber content due to a sensitivity) or the specified yarn is not available, you may wish to substitute a different yarn. There are at least three things to consider when selecting a substitute yarn: 1) Weight, 2) Quantity, and 3) Drape. Yarns can be grouped into different weight categories, as described on the Craft Yarn Council web-site.

For best results, when a substitution must be made, select a yarn of the same weight and with similar fiber content. Yarn comes in balls of different weights and lengths. When determining how many balls of a substitute yarn will be needed, compare the total yardage. For example, if there are 120 yards in each ball of the specified yarn and 4 balls are needed, 4 x 120 yards = 480 total yards are needed.

If you wish to substitute a yarn that comes in balls of 110 yards each, you will need 480 / 110 = 4.63 balls, or 5 balls, of the substitute yarn. Different yarns look and behave a bit differently when knit or crocheted even when the exact same pattern stitch is used. A substitute yarn may yield firmer or looser fabric than the specified yarn. Make a swatch in the project pattern stitch, study the drape of the resulting fabric, and decide if the drape is acceptable.

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