Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Tips & How To' Category


Expert Tip: How to Picture a Pattern in an Alternate Color

October 7th, 2013

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Working in the yarn industry, I constantly learn from the experts that I meet on the job. One of my favorite tips is from designer Sally Melville. (I’ve interviewed her twice for our podcast, YarnCraftcheck out the first and second episodes featuring Sally).

How often have you looked at a pattern and thought, “That’s definitely not my color”? Sally pointed out that sometimes the color choice deters us from a project that we would otherwise like!

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However, she said, it’s easier to picture the garment in other colors when it’s in black and white. Therefore, she recommended that you copy the photo in black and white (if you have access to a photo-copier) or, if you’re more high tech, you desaturate/grayscale the photo on your computer.

It’s great for solid designs, as well as multicolor designs (you can better picture them in a solid or in different color combinations). Use colored pencils or markers (or paint tools on your computer) to start shading in with colors that appeal to you!

What a great and easy tip!

[Pattern pictured: Knit Lush Collared Blue Cardi]


Cracking the (Pattern) Code, Part 2: Sizes & Finished Measurements

October 6th, 2013

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Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns. Read the first installment here.

Sizes and Finished Measurements

Cracking the (Pattern) Code: Size & Measurement | Lion Brand Notebook

It is important to know whether a throw will barely cover your lap or could easily cover a compact car. It is even more important to know whether a sweater will actually fit you. Most patterns include Size and/or Finished Measurement sections to indicate the expected dimensions of the finished piece.

Sizes are specified in very general terms, such as S (small), 1X (extra large), and 0-6 months. Finished measurements are more specific and should be carefully considered. A garment could have an oversized, relaxed, standard, tight, or very tight fit. An oversized garment has a finished chest measurement 6 or more inches larger than the actual chest measurement of the wearer. For a relaxed fit, the finished chest measurement is 4 to 6 inches larger. For a standard fit, the finished chest measurement is 2 to 4 inches larger, for a tight fit the finished chest measurement is 0-2 inches larger, and for a very tight fit the finished chest measurement can be the same or less than the actual chest measurement.

The designer of a garment intends a certain fit and indicates this through the combination of size and finished measurements. The actual chest measurement for a S (small) woman is 32-34 in. and for a M (medium) woman is 36-38 in. If a designer specifies size S (small) and the finished chest measurement is 40 in., because the finished measurement is 6 in. or more larger than the actual chest measurement, the intended fit is oversized. On the other hand, if a designer specifies size M (medium) and the finished chest measurement is 40 in., the intended fit is standard.

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Learn the Provisional Cast On in 6 Easy Steps!

October 4th, 2013

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The provisional cast on is, as the name implies, a temporary cast on row. It is done with waste yarn so that you can take it out later and have “live” stitches in your working yarn. Waste yarn should generally be a contrast-color yarn (so that it’s easy to locate) and in a smooth, non-grippy fiber (to make it easier to rip out later). This technique is used in projects like infinity scarves because you can join the ends of your work so that it looks seamless. This invisible seaming (known as grafting) is achieved by doing a kitchener stitch with the live stitches that you will pick up from your cast on row. The provisional cast on is also used when you’ll be picking up the stitches in order to work the piece in the other direction (seen sometimes in patterns that feature lace designs, for example). Only use this cast on if directed by your pattern or if you’ll be grafting or picking up the stitches.

There are a few different ways to do a provisional cast on but we are going to do the version that utilizes a crochet hook. Let’s walk through how you work this technique…

provisional cast on

1. With a crochet hook make five chain stitches with your waste yarn.

2. With your left had hold your chain stitches and a knitting needle. Bring the yarn behind the knitting needle and wrap it around the index finger of your left hand (the way you would if you were doing continental knitting). Your crochet hook should still be in the last loop of your chain stitches.

3. Reach your crochet hook over your knitting needle to grab the yarn.

4. Pull the yarn through your loop. This is essentially the same motion you were making when doing the chain stitches.

5. Move your yarn behind the knitting needle again. Repeats steps 3 and 4 until you’ve made the desired amount of stitches.

6. Make five more chain stitches. Cut the yarn, tie a knot at the end, and pull the knot through the last chain stitch. This is now your cast-on row. From here you will attach your working yarn and knit as you normally would.

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Cracking the Code: Following Written Knit and Crochet Instructions

October 1st, 2013

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Technical editor and yarncrafting expert Kj Hay joins us for a series on understanding the different elements of patterns.

Cracking the Code: Following Written Knit and Crochet Instructions | Lion Brand NotebookKnit and crochet patterns provide a wealth of information. At first, understanding written instructions can be as intimidating as learning a foreign language or deciphering a secret code. Over the next several weeks, we’ll discuss different elements of written patterns. Hopefully, the following explanations and tips will help you overcome any pattern reading fears you have.

Skill Level

Patterns typically specify a skill level needed to comfortably complete the project. Because of the wide variety of stitches, techniques, and constructions used in knit and crochet patterns, an appropriate skill level is very difficult to determine. Accordingly, it is best not to rely to heavily on the indicated skill level. Instead, scan through the instructions to help determine if you have the skills needed or are willing to acquire them while working on the project.

Expert tip: When scanning the pattern to determine if the skill level is appropriate for you, pay attention to any special stitches or techniques used, the quality of the yarn used (novelty yarns can be a little trickier to work with than smooth yarns), the tools used (smaller hooks and needles, and double pointed needles can be trickier to work with than larger hooks and needles, and straight needles), and the language used (e.g., AT THE SAME TIME, reverse shaping, and as established).

Not sure what the terms mean? On LionBrand.com, the abbreviations at the bottom of the pattern are live links that take you to an explanation of the term in the Learning Center.

For more articles by Kj, click here.


Understanding Common Pattern Terms, Part 2

September 23rd, 2013

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Throughout this season, 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.

Understanding Common Pattern Terms, Part 2 | Lion Brand NotebookLast week, I wrote about pattern terms and concepts people often find confusing. This week, I am covering a couple more concepts that you will often encounter.

Parentheses, brackets, asterisks, and phrases are commonly found in patterns; they are intended to make it easier to follow, and they also decrease the chances of a typographical error in a pattern. Here’s some help on deciphering what you are being asked to do.

Parentheses

You will find parentheses or () used in two ways:

The first is to indicate you are to repeat everything in parentheses the given number of times. For example:

(k2tog, yo) twice

What it means is that you should work k2tog, yo two times or k2tog, yo, k2tog, yo.

The second way they are used is to show a grouping or sequence of stitches that are related to each other in some way. You might see (2 dc, ch 3, 2 dc) in next ch-1 sp. The pattern is telling you that everything in the parentheses is all worked into the next ch-1 space.

Brackets

Brackets or [] indicate either to repeat something or a sequence of stitches, just as parentheses do; however, a bracket is needed when a set of instructions within the brackets are already in parentheses. Occasionally, you will brackets used instead of parentheses.

In this example, brackets are being used to indicate you are repeating instructions:

[k2, (yo, k2tog) 3 times] twice

The above means that you would repeat everything in the brackets twice while making sure you also repeat yo, k2tog 3 times in the order written.

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The Ups and Downs of Knitting: Counting Your Rows

September 23rd, 2013

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You, our readers, asked for it and we’re happy to oblige! Designer and teacher Heather Lodinsky joins us for a new article on understanding the fundamentals of your knitting.

Knowing exactly where you are in a knitting project requires knowing where you have been. “Reading” your stitches by identifying a knit versus a purl stitch is helpful in showing you where you are in a stitch pattern. In the last article I wrote, I showed how to identify the stitches already worked to know where you are in your knitting.

Sometimes no matter how hard I try, I can easily lose track of which row I am working in a pattern. Life happens—the phone rings, we get talking or we just have to leave our knitting for some reason.  Then I come back to my knitting and…what row was I working? There are various tools out there to help us keep track of our rows. Row counters exist that either attach to your needle, or need to be clicked and there are even “counting boards” where pegs are moved to show what row we are working. Even the simple “hash mark” on a piece of paper works well, but there is still  that human element of just plain forgetting to mark the paper, move the peg or click the counter to the next number. As a knitting teacher, one of the most common questions I am asked is: “What row am I on?”

A skill as important as identifying your stitches is the ability to count your rows without a “counter”. The best way to count stitches is by first identifying a stitch and then being able to count stitches up and down, which will tell us how many rows we have done and what row we need to work next.

Counting Rows in Stockinette Stitch

Stockinette Stitch | Counting Your Rows | Lion Brand Notebook

Click the image to enlarge.

Lets’s first look at stockinette stitch – which, when we are working a flat piece, is knitted on the right side  of the fabric and purled on the wrong side.  First, we have to be able to identify a “knit” stitch.  Look closely at the right side of stockinette stitch and see that a knit stitch looks like a “V”.   This is what we are looking for in order to help us count our rows.

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Understanding Common Pattern Terms, Part 1

September 19th, 2013

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Throughout this season, 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.

Understanding Common Pattern Terms, Part 1 | Lion Brand NotebookA pattern is a blueprint for a project. A well-written pattern doesn’t intentionally confuse you. If you find something confusing, keep in mind that sometimes the pattern is simply trying to convey information to help you. The term might be an industry standard, but one that you’ve never come across before.

Here are some terms and concepts, commonly used but also commonly confusing to many knitters and crocheters.

Work even

Work even means to work in the pattern stitch over the number of stitches you have at the present time. It often follows a sequence where you have just completed increasing or decreasing.

Turn

Although crocheting often uses this term at the end of every row (for example, chain 1, turn), it’s also used in places that, at first glance, don’t appear to make sense. When working short rows, or partial rows of knitting or crocheting, you will see an instruction to turn while not at the end of the row. Simply complete the instructions for that row, and when the pattern states turn, prepare to work in the other direction and the next row by turning your work around just as if you were at the end of the row. It may seem wrong to do so, but sometimes you have to have faith that a pattern works out in the end!

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I Don’t Pray…How Can I Make a Prayer Shawl?

September 17th, 2013

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo joins us for the third installment of her series on prayer shawl crafting. Click here to read her previous blog posts.

Image of Serene Comfort Shawl | Prayer Shawl Crafting | Lion Brand NotebookI don’t consider myself someone who prays. My spiritual path has been varied and complicated and it’s been a long journey to the point of even being able to comfortably say that I have a spiritual path so it’s still another leap to be okay with saying I pray. Nevertheless, I do believe in the value of setting an intention and asking for help, strength, hope … and so I am comfortable making prayer shawls.

Suggested Prayer Shawl Practices for People Who Don’t Pray

There is no right or wrong way to craft a prayer shawl. Whatever you feel comfortable with is enough. It can be as simple as setting the intention to heal the recipient at the start of the project.

Here are some additional options:

  • Repeat a short phrase in your mind as you work. An example: “I wish you strength.”
  • Pause at the end of each row or round to think positive thoughts about the prayer shawl recipient.
  • Stitch with love. Intentionally focus on love and compassion as you craft.
  • When the project is complete, take a moment to say an affirmation or blessing. You may also want to include a sentiment card with the gift.

[Pattern pictured: Crochet Serene Comfort Shawl]

Which prayers, affirmations or thoughts do you use when crafting for others? Share in the comments below!


What Size Do I Make?

September 13th, 2013

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Throughout this season, 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.

What Size Do I Make? | Lion Brand Notebook

You’ve found the perfect sweater pattern. It’s just challenging enough to keep your interest. You think you’ll be able to wear it a good part of the year for many occasions. The yarn is something you can afford.

But before you can begin, you need to answer one question: What size do I make?

Studying the size information, you note there are 4 sizes: small, medium, large, and extra large. Usually you wear a medium. But wait. The pattern states for the medium size, the finished chest measurement is 50″. That does not seem right at all, you think. In fact, it seems like the sweater will be way too large!

Before deciding the pattern is wrong or what size you’ll make, there are a number of considerations to take into account. Ask yourself how you like your sweaters to fit. Do you like them tight? If you do, perhaps you will want to choose a smaller size. Do you like them loose? Do you layer them with lots of other pieces or with just a camisole underneath? Do you wear your cardigans more like jackets or buttoned up as a top? Keep all of your preferences in mind as you consider the size.

Generally a sweater is not worn skintight. The difference between your bust measurement and the finished chest measurement of a sweater is referred to as “ease.” Some garments have more ease than others, depending upon a number of factors.

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A Guest Post: Everything You Wanted to Know About Measuring for a Sweater + Free Sweater Planning Guide

September 12th, 2013

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Measuring-for-a-Sweeater-image

Today, we have a guest post from Johnny Vasquez, a knitwear designer, and “Head Honcho” over at the New Stitch A Day blog.  Johnny will be sharing some important tips to help you learn how to get proper measurements to ensure the perfect fit for your sweater!

One of the most important parts of knitting a sweater is being honest with your body and gauge measurements. If either your body or gauge measurements are even the slightest bit off, you risk having a sweater that doesn’t fit as well as you’d hoped. Taking the time to take accurate measurements before you begin your project will pay off in the long run with a great fitting sweater!

Measuring Gauge
I’ll be honest, when I started knitting I didn’t even know that you were supposed measure gauge. I figured they just put it in the pattern as a given fact – you knit with a specific size needles to correspond to the yarn, and you end up with the given gauge. Right? Not so much.  Gauge varies by person, as it depends on your style of knitting or crocheting (if you have a tight or loose style of crafting, it will affect the gauge)

Your gauge (that is the number of stitches and rows per inch) is incredibly important because it will determine how big or small your sweater will be. This also means that knowing how to measure your gauge is key. To learn how to accurately measure gauge, check out Lion Brand’s information on gauge swatching here.

Taking Body Measurements
Let’s take a look at how to properly take all of the measurements that you will ever need to make a great sweater!

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