Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Tips & How To' Category


Make a Simple Shrug with Yolanda Soto-Lopez

April 4th, 2014

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One of our most popular patterns, the Simple Shrug, is an easy project that’s perfect for beginners. The pattern is essentially a long rectangle seamed together at the ends to form a “one size fits all” shrug. Many of you have been excited to start this pattern, but wanted more of a visual explanation about seaming the ends and how the whole thing comes together. Now, we’re happy to share with you this wonderfully detailed video that will help guide you on this pattern journey!

Check out this new video with Yolanda Soto-Lopez of “All Crafts Channel” as she walks you through every step of the way for this pattern.


Caring for Your Handmade Items

March 24th, 2014

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You’ve just spent hours crafting a gorgeous sweater (or afghan, or shawl, or scarf…honestly, this article applies to any type of project!) and now you need to know what to do when it needs to be cleaned. We’ve all heard horror stories about washing machines eating afghans, and sweaters shrunk in dryers, and it makes the prospect of caring for things we slaved over rather daunting, to say the least. I’ll do my best in the next few paragraphs to try to alleviate those fears for you.

Read the Label

The first thing to consider is the yarn you used. The label (or the yarn’s page on our website if you’ve misplaced the label) will give you a bunch of information about whether the yarn can be thrown in the washer and dryer, taken to the dry cleaner, steamed, etc.

Not sure what all those symbols mean? We’ve provided a handy key for you in our FAQ. Remember, the information on the yarn’s label applies to the yarn itself, not necessarily your project. In other words, just because the yarn you’ve used will not be damaged by machine washing doesn’t mean that’s the best way to care for your item.

Acrylic or 100% Wool?

Once you’ve checked out the label and seen all the ways you can safely wash the yarn, it’s time to think about the item itself. Is this a baby sweater? An extra large man’s sweater? An afghan? A very lacy shawl? A scarf with a fringe?

Something like a baby sweater, if it is made with a machine-washable and -dryable yarn, can be pretty safely tossed in the machine with no problems (though, as noted in the paragraph below, it will continue to look newer and fresher if it can be cared for more gently). The rest of the items I listed? Not so much. The fringed scarf is going to tangle itself up in all that loose yarn, and all the agitation can be very damaging to the fringe. Your larger sweaters, afghans, and lacy items, are going to get very heavy when they are wet, and the action of the washing machine and dryer will cause the weight of the item to pull on itself, stretching those items out of shape, in some cases quite severely. This can be somewhat alleviated by using a sweater bag with those larger items, as it will keep the item from having room to stretch out.

Making It Last for Years to Come

Finally, think about your expectations for the item. Is this an afghan you expect your rowdy family of five to snuggle up under on the couch every night and the cat to sleep on all day? You probably don’t expect it to look perfect forever, and a little pilling and stretching is going to be par for the course, so throwing it in the machine (in a sweater bag!) is just fine.

Is this a beautiful cabled cardigan you hope to wear for years and years? You’re probably hoping it will continue to look just-off-the-needles for a good long time. As with any delicate item — whether handmade or store-bought — the more gently you care for it the longer it will last and be beautiful. 

Conclusion

Hand-washing and laying flat to dry is almost always the gentlest way to care for a handmade item to ensure the best results over time. It’s inconvenient, sure, but isn’t it worth a little inconvenience to keep the project that took so many hours to make looking and feeling great?

There are more great tips on exactly how to handle your project as you wash it in this article.


6 Helpful Tips for Knitting & Crochet

March 23rd, 2014

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We’re reposting some of our favorite columns by Barbara Breiterauthor of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting & Crocheting, previously featured in our Weekly Stitch newsletter.

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Yarn crafts should be an enjoyable experience. Pitfalls abound but many of them are our own doing. I hope these suggestions will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed or disheartened as you explore the world of knitting and crochet.

1. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

You’ve never knit with circulars? Thousands, if not millions, of people have done it. How hard can it be? You won’t learn a new skill unless you give it a go. Try out the new skill and you’d be surprised how many skills come naturally to you.

Need extra help? Lion Brand can show you other ways you can learn to knit or crochet.

2. Break it down.

If you’re working a series of instructions [such as this bobble: Knit into front, back and front of next st, turn and k3, turn and p3, turn and k3, turn and Sl1, k2tog, psso] that you don’t understand, try it step by step without thinking ahead. It’s easy to get overwhelmed looking at the entire sequence. By looking at it in steps, it’s easier to break down.

3. Knit or crochet with a yarn you love.

If you’re finding a texture cumbersome or that the yarn is rough on your hands (doesn’t slide, feels like plastic…whatever the case may be), perhaps it’s not the right yarn for you (or this particular stitch pattern). Pick a smooth yarn for more complex stitch patterns and use a simpler stitch when using more textured yarns. Finding the right pairing will make your project more enjoyable.

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How to Create a Sacred Space for Crafting

March 18th, 2014

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares how to make a healing, relaxing craft space. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.

Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC
Lion Brand Yarn Studio in New York

Yarncrafting is healing. Knitting is relaxing. Crochet is meditative. Honoring that makes our crafting even more productive, beneficial and special in our lives. Make your crafting space a sacred space to help you drop more easily into the creative / spiritual/ healing aspects of your craft time each time that you work.

Select a Space

Start by designating a crafting space, even if it’s just a chair in the corner of a room. Make it your comfiest favorite chair that you really want to spend time in!

Create a Craft Altar

Altars can be religious but they don’t have to be. In her book Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin explores ways to make every little display in the home an altar to something (an altar to toys, an altar to books). This encourages us to pick our favorite things to celebrate what we love in each spot in our home. A crafting altar might include:

  • Vintage crochet hooks / knitting needles on display. See display tips here.
  • Favorite luscious yarns; in episode 22 of YarnCraft Zontee talks about creating yarn vignettes
  • 1-2 handmade items
  • Photos of favorite crafters. Family photos of the older generations of needleworkers in your family are perfect!
  • Special craft books and magazines

You can create a small altar even if you don’t have a craft room. A bookshelf, tabletop or even drawer near the chair or bed where you usually craft will work just fine.

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How to Make the “3 Strand Arm Knit Cowl”

March 18th, 2014

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Ekat shows you how to get the look of this 3 Strand Arm Knit Cowl without using needles! Using the simple technique of arm knitting, you can make this scarf in just half an hour!

Shop for Unique here: http://lby.co/1i2sGRN


How to Make the “Lush Plush Arm Knit Cowl”

March 11th, 2014

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Shira shows you how to get the look of this Lush Plush Arm Knit Cowl without using needles! Using the simple technique of arm knitting, you can make this scarf in just half an hour!

Shop for Homespun® Thick & Quick® here: http://lby.co/1i1ccck

Update: if you’re unsure of how to seam the piece, we have a pictorial walkthrough for you.


5 Projects That Take Crafting for Loved Ones to the Next Level

February 21st, 2014

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares five creative exercises that you can use to show your love through crafting. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.

Crafters are a generous lot. We often crochet and knit for others. We craft gifts for birthdays and holidays. We knit and crochet prayer shawls for strangers. We infuse our handmade items with love, and hope that love comes through for the recipient. It’s a wonderful thing. But we can go even further with this intention, choosing ways to craft for and with the people we love, so that the love comes through in deeper and more meaningful ways.

Here are five ideas for making that happen:

1. Appreciation Blanket + Journal. This is a twist on the crochet mood blanket, a popular project this year. Each day (or week) you crochet/ knit either one row or one motif (such as a granny square) that will go into a blanket intended for a special person. Select colors based on the feeling you have for the person each day you work on it. For example, the blanket will have rows of red when you feel love, pink for appreciation, and white for awe. Write down this color code in the front page of a journal. After each row, write a single line expressing why you chose that color for that day. In the end, you’ll have a cozy blanket and this touching journal that will be treasured forever. This is a great gift for pregnant moms seeking to create baby’s first blanket with intentional love. l20643a
Little Boy Blue Blanket

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Video: How to Do Front and Back Post Stitches

February 15th, 2014

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Maggie Weldon is a crochet expert who loves to share her expertise with those wanting to master the art of crochet.

Make beautifully textured colorwork projects with this simple stitch! Maggie Weldon illustrates how to do front and back post double crochets, half double crochets, and single crochets. Watch the video below to learn these easy techniques:

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.


Make an Infinity Scarf in 30 Minutes with Audra Kurtz

February 7th, 2014

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Join Audra Kurtz and learn how to create a 30 minute infinity scarf using a very simple arm knitting technique.

So easy, anyone can do it!

Made with Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick®. Brought to you by The Kurtz Corner.


Crafting Your Way Through Cabin Fever

January 21st, 2014

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares tips for using knitting or crochet to relieve the restlessness of cabin fever this winter. Read her previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here

We’ve survived the Polar Vortex but winter is really just beginning. There are a lot of days ahead when we might be stuck in the house because of the weather. You might get gripped by cabin fever; that restless, anxious, irritable feeling that we all sometimes get when we’re stuck inside for too long. Crocheting or knitting can be the best way to alleviate that feeling.

What is Cabin Fever?

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The first thing to do is recognize that you have cabin fever! Cabin fever, which typically happens when you’re inside for an extended period of time, often due to extreme outdoor weather conditions, is characterized by:

  • Extreme irritability
  • Extreme feelings of restlessness
  • A strong desire to get away from the people
    who are with you
  • Frustration, defensiveness and annoyance
    with those people
  • Extreme boredom; nothing feels like fun to do
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Feelings of depression

It helps to be aware that these feelings might be caused by cabin fever because then you can recognize what it is and do something about it!

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