Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Tips & How To' Category


How to Choose the Right Needles and Hooks For You

May 19th, 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.

HooksKnitting needles and crochet hooks are as varied as the crafters who utilize them. There is no right or wrong when you select a one. Needles and hooks have specific attributes based on the material they are made from and the manufacturers specifications. Only you can decide what type of needle or hook you like best and you may find that, depending upon the yarn you are using, you’ll reach for a different type than you used for your last project.

If you can afford it, buy several different types so that you can experiment and find your favorite.

Not All the Same

Some needles have very blunt tips while others have sharper tips. Some hooks have rounded heads and others have pointier heads. The shank (the smaller part of the needle or hook prior to where the sized portion begins) varies in length. You may never find these factors of much importance, or you may find it’s the difference between a tool that allows you to work swiftly and one that just seems to hang you up.

Tip: If you find your yarn to be “splitty” with a hook or needles that have sharper tips, try tools with more blunt tips.

NeedlesThese tools are made in a wide variety of materials. You’ll find them available in plastic, aluminum, bamboo, rosewood, ebony, and much more. When selecting the tools for a project, you should consider three factors based on materials: weight, temperature, and how slippery they are.

Weight

Plastic and bamboo is lighter while aluminum is heavier. This is more of a factor in knitting than crocheting because you have two needles you are using and they are longer than hooks. You might prefer aluminum overall, and if you are knitting something light such as booties, the weight of the needles will probably be of little or no consequence. However, with a larger project, you may choose to use a different set of needles.

Temperature

Bamboo and wood remain at a fairly constant temperature. They will not feel cold to the touch on a cold winter night. Aluminum conducts heat and cold so they might feel hot if you are knitting in the sun or cold if it’s cool wherever you may be knitting.

Slippery vs. Non-Slip

Yarns can vary in terms of how “sticky” or “slippery” they are. You may find your slippery yarn sliding right off aluminum needles, which tend to be quite slick. Bamboo, which has more grip, would be a better choice here. On the other hand, if you are knitting with a yarn that tends to stick, you might want to use a more slippery needle. Tip: If your needles or hook is too sticky and you don’t have others to select from, rub some wax paper over it and the yarn will glide much easier.

Other Types of Needles and Hooks

In addition to the above, circular needles and some Tunisian hooks (also called Afghan hooks) may pose yet another factor to consider. The joins, where the needles or hook meet the cable, are different depending upon the brand. Some may catch the yarn while others are much smoother. Some swivel, making the tool more flexible.

Tip: To straighten the cables, put them in hot water for a minute. The kinks will come out of the cable.

Editor’s Note: If you’re finding that you’re having trouble achieving the gauge in a pattern and you’re between hook or needle sizes, try a hook/needles made of a different material, as the “stickiness” or “slipperiness” may affect how tightly or loosely you knit or crochet. Remember, an accurate gauge is the key to getting an accurately sized garment!

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5 Steps To Designing Your Own Scarf

May 12th, 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.

Although there are many lovely scarf patterns available, a scarf is relatively simple to design, and it’s a great way to venture into your very first custom design. By understanding a five simple concepts, you’ll be able to design and knit or crochet beautiful scarves on your own.

While most basic crochet fabrics are relatively flat, many knitters venture into their own scarf pattern by simply working in stockinette stitch, and then they see it rolls and have knit what amounts to a big tube. Stockinette rolls. You can’t stop it. It’s the nature of the fabric that is produced when you knit one row and purl the next. What you can do is work the first and last 3 or 4 rows in garter stitch or seed stitch as well as the first and last 3 or 4 stitches in each row. This will usually keep a stockinette scarf from rolling.

Seasonless Scarf Knit Rainbow Ridge Scarf Angora Lace Scarf
Crochet
Seasonless Scarf
Knit
Rainbow Ridge Scarf
Knit
Angora Lace Scarf

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Make a Simple Shrug with Yolanda Soto-Lopez, Now With Spanish Subtitles!

May 9th, 2014

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One of our most popular patterns, the Simple Shrug, is an easy project that’s perfect for beginners. Many of you have requested that we provide Spanish language support for our patterns, so we are very pleased to bring you this great tutorial by Yolanda Soto-Lopez, now with added Spanish subtitles!

Spanish readers, here are Yolanda’s instructions on how to begin:

En este video aprendera hacer esta linda prenda de dama. Esta prenda es un nivel facil. El patron escrito esta disponible gratis en ingles solamente en el website de lionbrand.com Yo estare traduciendo las instrucciones en los Subtitulos en Español. Necesita bajar el patron numero: 90689D Necesita 4 madejas de estambre de LionBrand Homespun color: Manzana adulzada, un gancho N/13 (9mm) un avuja para estambre. Yo tambien use clips para detener mi prenda para coser los lados. Los materiales estan disponibles en tiendas como Joanne’s, Michael’s, y otras tiendas de lanas/estambres.

Check out the new video with Yolanda Soto-Lopez of “All Crafts Channel”, now with Spanish subtitles!


How to Attach and Make a Fringe Trim for Any Project

May 5th, 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.

Fringe can be added to just about any project: afghans, scarves, shawls, even the bottom of a sweater.

There are countless variations. It can be long or short. You can add just a few strands or a thick bundle. Fringe sections can be spaced close together or far apart. Use the same yarn you used in the project or a contrasting color; you can use an entirely different yarn as well. Or you can combine different yarns within the same section. Strands can be even or you can make them differing lengths, either within the same fringe section or alternating sections. Experiment and have fun!

Here are some examples of projects using fringe:

Croak Skull Illusion Scarf Loom Knit Fringed Poncho Knit Cabled and Fringed Hat
Knit
Croak Skull Illusion Scarf
Loom
Knit Fringe Poncho
Knit
Cabled and Fringe Hat

Some yarn frays quickly at the end when it’s cut; some people like how this looks and others don’t. Eventually all fringe will fray at the ends with wear to some degree. If you would like to minimize this, you can either knot the ends of your fringe or apply a fabric glue or seam sealer, such as Fray Check (a liquid seam sealer used in sewing). Keep in mind that while this will minimize fraying, there will be this glue-like substance on the ends.

Here’s how to make and attach fringe:

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Too Much Yarn, Not Enough Space? Let’s Get You Organized!

May 1st, 2014

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo shares tips for keeping your yarn organized and accessible even when you’re living/ working in a small space. Read Kathryn’s previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.

It’s always a challenge for crafters to keep their yarn organized. If you’re working with limited space, the challenge gets even tougher. Tough, but certainly not impossible. With a little bit of creativity, your yarn stash can be easily organized and accessible even in a small home or studio.

toomuchyarn-notenoughspace1Step One: Destash

Make sure that all of the yarn you have in your home is worth keeping. Much like when you organize your clothes closet, go through your yarn stash and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you love it?
  • Will you use it?
  • Do you have a project in mind for it?
  • Is there some other compelling reason why you must keep it?

Take any yarn that didn’t get a yes to at least one of those questions and de-stash it. You can donate it to charity, send it to an artist who needs yarn, sell it online or host a swap party to exchange it for yarn that you will use.


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Make DIY Flip Flops in Fettuccini® with Audra Kurtz from The Kurtz Corner

April 28th, 2014

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Audra Kurtz shows you how to make custom flip-flops using Lion Brand’s Fettuccini® Yarn!

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


Working with Multiple Strands of Yarn

April 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.

There are so many different patterns that call for working with two, three, or even four strands held together (our Spring 2014 Knit-Along pattern, the Spring Lace Shawl, calls for four). Why do designers like working with multiple strands? There are quite a few reasons. Different colors held together and worked together as one can create a tweedy color effect. Two different yarns together may create a unique texture. Other times, the multiple strands will make for one extremely bulky yarn which enables an afghan to be worked up very quickly. Here are a few examples:

Marmalade Kimono Crochet Mother of the Bride Crochet 5/12 Hour Throw
Knit Marmalade Kimono: Two colors held together for a tweedy look. Crochet Mother of the Bride Shawl: Two different yarns held together for a combined texture. Crochet 5 1/2 Hour Throw: Several strands held together for a fast finish project.

If you’ve never knit or crocheted with multiple strands, don’t worry: just pretend you are working with a single strand; each stitch is made as if you were holding one strand of yarn. That’s really all there is to it.

Once you get started, you may find the strands twist together. People have come up with all kinds of ideas to try to prevent this from happening. You can section off a shoebox, putting one skein in each section, and make holes in the top to feed the yarn through. There’s even a gizmo specifically made for this purpose that you may see in stores. While these organizers will keep your balls from getting tangled into each other, they will not keep the strands of yarn from twisting as you knit or crochet them. This is in part due to how you wrap the yarn around your fingers as you feed it through as you work each stitch. I wrap it several times and every wrap twists it. Don’t worry if this happens though; it makes no difference if the strands are twisted around each other or not. The stitches will look the same regardless.

Here is the one word of caution however: it’s easy for the strands to get so tangled that loose loops start to form. Just take care that you don’t have any of these loops lurking as you work each stitch. If those loops are becoming a frequent problem, try running your fingers through and down the strands toward the skeins to eliminate some of them. If you are still having the problem, hold the strands of yarn and dangle the work itself, letting it spin to untwist the strands. I’ve found this a much easier solution than dangling the individual skeins.

Enjoy your next multiple strand project!

Want to learn more about creating colors by using multiple strands of yarn? Click here to read our popular blog post about the topic. 

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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 Make a Repeating Stitch Into a Scarf or Afghan

April 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.

You have a throw pattern with a beautiful stitch pattern, but you’d like to make it wider or narrower. Or perhaps you’d like to make it into a scarf. Maybe the converse is true…you’d like to change a scarf into a throw.

It’s not as difficult as it may seem, even if you are a beginner!

There are two vital concepts that must be understood to accomplish this.

Calculating the Repeating Pattern

The first is the stitch multiple, or the number of stitches needed for one repeat of the stitch pattern. A multiple of 5 stitches means you can cast on any number of stitches that is divisible by 5 such as 25, 30, etc. A multiple of 6 + 1 means you need to cast on any number of stitches that is divisible by 6 plus 1 extra stitch; examples include 25, 37, etc.

Sometimes the pattern will tell you the multiple of stitches used which makes it much easier to make adjustments. If the information is not included, you will need to determine this yourself. You do this simply by adding up how many stitches are used.

Here’s a stitch pattern called Twin Rib:

Row 1: *k3, p3; rep from *
Row 2: *k1, p1; rep from *

Leaves of Grass Stitch
 Leaves of Grass Stitch

Row 1 uses 6 stitches (3 + 3) while Row 2 uses 2 stitches (1 + 1). The pattern is a multiple of 6 because that is the larger number and you need 6 stitches for Row 1 to work correctly. Since 6 is evenly divisible by 2, the 2 stitches in Row 2 are more frequently repeated.

Calculating Your Desired Gauge.

Crochet Cable Stitch The second concept is gauge. You might hate working a gauge swatch, but it really is important. Work your swatch in the stitch pattern. Measure how many stitches you get over 4 inches. Now divide by 4 to determine stitches per inch.

The “magic formula” is stitches per inch x desired width=number of stitches to cast on.Keep in mind that given a certain set of parameters, the exact width you wish to make your project may not be possible without making further adjustments to, for example, your gauge by switching either yarn or needle size.

Let’s say your gauge is 5 stitches per inch, you are using a stitch pattern that is a multiple of 12 and you wish to make a throw 33″ wide. 5 (sts per inch) x 33 (desired width)=165, so you would cast on 165 stitches. However, 165 is not evenly divisible by 12, so that won’t work for your stitch multiple of 12. You’ll need to choose the number closest to 165 evenly divisible by 12, which is 168.

Crochet Cable Stitch

Armed with that bit of knowledge, you can now easily adjust any throw or scarf pattern you have, even if it’s not written at the size you really wanted!

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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 Determine if there is an Mistake in the Pattern, Part 2

April 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

Last week I went over how to read an afghan pattern. Today we’re going to look at a sweater example.

Inez Cardigan

This pattern has a series of increases to shape the collar and decreases for the armholes and shoulders but it’s not tricky to break down the number of stitches you should have. To make this example easier to follow, I’ve eliminated the multiple sizes in the pattern.

Shape Collar

Next Row (RS): K 6, inc 1 st in next st, place marker, sl 1, place marker, inc 1 st in next st, k to end of row – 43 sts.
Next Row: Purl.
Next Row: K to 1 st before first marker, inc 1 st in next st, sl marker, sl 1, sl marker, inc 1 st in next st, k to end of row – 45 sts.
Rep last 2 rows 21 more times

There are 2 increases each time the increase row is worked so 21×2=42

You had 45 stitches to begin; 42+45=87 stitches

The pattern continues: and AT THE SAME TIME, when piece measures 17 in. (43 cm) from beg, end with a RS row and shape armhole.
Shape Armhole
Bind off 7 sts at beg of next WS row. Work until armhole measures same as Back to shoulders, end with a RS row and shape shoulder.

You’ve eliminated 7 stitches.
87-7=80 stitches
Shape Shoulder
Bind off 6 sts at beg of next WS row and 6 at beg of following WS row – 68 sts.

You’ve eliminated 6 stitches 2 times.
80-12=68 stitches

Conclusion

Once you understand the pattern line by line, it will be easier for you to follow it and maintain the right stitch count. Stitch markers can be helpful when there are repeats, so that you can mark each section and keep track of them. If you determine that there is an error, you can send a note to the pattern’s publisher so they can correct it in the future. By breaking down the pattern as we have above, you can also often determine what the correct stitch count will be so that you can continue working on your project.
Finally, if a pattern is frustrating you at the moment, take a break! Leave it and look at it with fresh eyes the next day. Often, when you come back to a pattern later on, it becomes obvious what the issue may have been.

To sign up for the Weekly Stitch and get columns like this, free patterns, how-to videos and more, click here.

*Editor’s note: While we triple-check each pattern for errors here at Lion Brand, an occasional one may slip through. If that happens, you can contact us via LionBrand.com. When we issue a correction, we include a note at the top of the pattern (for people who may have previously printed out the pattern, but we also incorporate the changes into the body of the pattern for new people downloading the pattern so that you don’t have to worry about the correction.


Finger-knit a Flower Headband with Audra Kurtz from Kurtz Corner

April 8th, 2014

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Audra Kurtz shows you how to finger-knit a flower headband in less than 10 minutes using Hometown USA in the color Neon Pinkyou can use any color you like, there are over 65 to choose from!

If you enjoyed Audra’s tutorial, check out her finger-knit love sign tutorial!

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