Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.
I spend about half my time these days away from home, standing in front of classrooms full of knitters, teaching them how to do things. That’s my job. I have an awesome job.
I teach these knitters to do all kinds of stuff: how to knit lace, how knit with color, how to put colors together, how to cut knitting, how to sew knitting. And that’s just the top of the list. If you want to make a living in this business, it pays to have many strings to your bow.
No matter what I’m teaching, one sort of question always comes up.
“What if I…?”
For the ellipsis, read any of the following:
…do the opposite of what you are telling me to do?
…try doing the same thing in a way I just thought up?
…try doing something that is not at all this thing we are talking about, but is some other thing I think might be kind of cool?
Or variations thereupon.
I grin, because one über lesson underlies all my lessons:
Play around. Whatever you’re doing, play around.
Can you crochet a granny square? Great! You’re on your way to making an awesome pixel crochet afghan.
What is pixel crochet, you ask? Sarah from Repeat Crafter Me offers this explanation, “basically a pixel crochet blanket is made up of a series of granny squares where each square represents one pixel of the picture. When joined together, the squares (pixels) make a large image.”
So for example, if you wanted to make a Lola afghan, you’d find your favorite Lola image and convert it into a chart using a tool like KnitPro 2.0. Each square in the chart you see below represents one granny square.
It’s easy and fun to do. Below are some examples of crochet pixel afghans. Click the images for charts and explanations for each project.
|8-Bit Avengers Blanket, made by Jessica Jamey – design a pattern with your favorite charts and make it with Modern Baby® *||Crochet Cupcake Pixel Blanket by Repeat Crafter Me – make it with Vanna’s Choice® *||Tetris Afghan by Bethany A. Hamilton – make it with Vanna’s Choice® *||Hello Kitty Afghan made by Tarmine626 – make it with Babysoft® *|
|Pixel Storm Trooper Afghan made by InAnotherCastle – check out the chart and make one with Modern Baby® *||Pick of the Litter Afghan – make one for yourself (or for our resident cat lady, @ShiraRoars!) with Vanna’s Choice® *||8-Bit Transformer Afghan by AmandaJayne00 – pick your favorite chart and make one with Vanna’s Choice® or Modern Baby® *||8-Bit Pinkie Pie Afghan by AmandaJayne00 – pick your favorite chart and make one with Vanna’s Choice® or Modern Baby® *|
* Not a Lion Brand pattern
Too often, knitting and crocheting is seen as antiquated or “old school.” As a millenial-aged knitter, I know this simply isn’t true. I learned to knit because I love crafting, and knitting
was a family tradition I’d always observed, but never participated in. Once I started knitting (almost a year and a half ago now), I couldn’t believe I hadn’t started sooner.
I’ve knit on crowded subway cars, in the park, and in work breakrooms. In fact, when I knit on my lunch-break at my old job, I got several other co-workers hooked! Soon, we had a couple of round looms being passed around so everyone had a turn making hats for the winter.
What I’ve found with knitting public is that it opens up a dialogue. People feel compelled to tell you about the knitters and crocheters in their family and the gifts they’ve received. They ask what you’re making, how long it takes you, what have you made previously… The list goes on! If you take your knitting out of the house, I’m sure you’re familiar.
Knitting can be a social hobby, which is what makes World Wide Knit in Public Day so special! It’s a day to celebrate your passion, join up with fellow crafters, and share your projects in progress. This year’s WWKIP day is June 13th. Guilds all over the world are posting their meet-up spots to celebrate the occasion; chances are, there’s one in your area!
Even if every day is “Knit in Public” day for you, it’s fun to acknowledge a shared interest. Use hashtag #wwkip on social networks to keep up with other knitters, and post your own pics!
Where will you take your knitting to on June 13th? Where’s your favorite place to knit (in public or not)? Share with us!
The Chinese New Year is represented by a rotating cycle of twelve animals. There are years named for dragons, and others named for dogs, snakes, and even rats! This new year, which begins on February 19th, is the Year Of the Sheep! It’s the cutest animal and the yarniest animal … definite reasons to celebrate. If you’re giving a baby gift to a baby born in the next twelve months, this is the gift – try our Little Lamb Sock Critter as your first project for the new year!
Below are a few of our favorite sheep-inspired patterns for your knitting and crochet enjoyment this year!
|Knit Cute Cabled Lamb||Crochet Little Lamb
||Knit Cabled Sheep||Knit Fluffy Little Sheep|
Our number one trend prediction for 2014 (Big, Bigger, Better) was right on target and will continue to be one of the most important trends in 2015. This year we’ll be seeing more chunky knits and fast-finish crochet projects as the most popular yarns of the last year continue to be important. In our line, Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick®, Homespun® Thick & Quick®, Heartland Thick & Quick® and Country® are all category 6 super bulky weight yarns that make your projects work up quickly while being on-trend with lush, big stitches. Big yarns not only work up quickly but they also have rich texture and great stitch definition that you don’t usually see in store bought items. With the maker revolution in full swing, crafters want show that their work was made by a human being!
As featured in the the New York Daily Post, the New York Times and the Good Men Project, we’re proud to share the news that David Babcock completed the New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 2nd with a great time of 3:56. All of us here at Lion Brand are proud of the #KnittingRunner! We’re especially proud that David achieved his goal of running the marathon in under four hours.
While David was in New York last week, we took some time to sit down with him to discuss how he came to be a knitting runner and the challenges he’s faced and overcome. Please enjoy and share widely.
:: can’t see the video? click here: http://youtu.be/FFBd4HoKw3c ::
David ran the marathon to raise funds for the free care and support programs provided by the New York City Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. You can donate to David’s team up until November 30th and the best part, Lion Brand will match your donations until David reaches his fundraising goal of $3500. He’s almost there – every dollar counts, so please give what you can.
In 2012, Lion Brand sponsored a design contest to use Vanna’s Choice® yarn and create an original design. The winner was “Gramma” Nancy Nielsen, who we flew out to California to meet Vanna White as part of her prize. Nancy’s design was an irresistible baby hat that looked like an elephant head and booties that looked like elephant feet. As you can see, Vanna was charmed by the whimsy and creativity of these designs.
It turned out that Nancy also had a whole range of animal hats and matching booties that she had designed as baby gifts. There was a Lion set (and of course we looove lions!) and sets that recreated a duck, lamb, monkey, dig, rabbit and more.
We were so taken with the wealth of designs that we spoke to a friend who edits pattern books at Random House about doing a pattern book of animal hat and bootie sets and today, the book is a reality and Nancy Nielsen is an author.
Gramma Nancy’s Animal Hats (And Booties Too!) was just released. It includes 19 animal hat patterns with many including matching booties and mittens sized for newborns to bigger kids. In the foreword Vanna White wrote for the book she talks about the interesting reason that Nancy was inspired to have this burst of creativity. I’d like to share a quote from that foreword that we can all relate to:
“As all of us who knit or crochet know, there is nothing more special, and more appreciated than giving something handmade that comes from the heart. . . she has touched the hearts of hundreds of people at a special time in their lives. . . ”
If you’re a knitter, looking for ideas for your next baby gift or for a birthday gift, you’ll find years’ worth of affordable ideas in this book. It includes patterns, charming photographs and the amazing stories of generosity that inspired these patterns.
We featured David Muir on our Facebook page earlier this month, which received an overwhelming positive response. We asked him a few questions about himself and how he got interested in crocheting.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself, like where you’re from and why you decided to join the military.
I’m originally from Easton, Maryland but I call Pooler, Georgia home now. I joined the Army because of the “adventure” and “awesome toys” — eventually it became more than that. I worked with a group of individuals that became my great friends, and my family.
I was in the Army for 10 years until I decided to seek new adventures. Many of us were stationed together for 6+ years. At that point, others started getting out or changing duty station. It just changed. It wasn’t the same. I needed to try something new. When I got out of the Army in July 2011 I lived in Spain for the summer. I even worked at a scuba dive shop just for fun.
|David Muir and his first afghan,
made with Hometown USA.
After that I moved to Pooler, GA where I lived with my brother, Danny. I worked for Gulfstream as a Quality Engineer but soon missed my Army brothers. When I heard my old unit was deploying to Afghanistan, I decided to look for a job with the slight chance I’ll see them again. Working on the Apache Helicopter is my specialty so our field is quite small. Unfortunately I didn’t get the same base as my old unit, so I’m not in the military anymore. Now I work for DynCorp Aviation.
Featured in the New York Times and around the world, David Babcock became the Guinness world record holder for knitting the longest scarf (12 feet!) while running a marathon in Kansas City last October. Along with a whole lot of skill and endurance, David credits his choice in using Lion Brand’s Hometown USA as a factor in his accomplishment!
|1. Which came first knitting or running?
It’s not an easy answer — it’s a timeline of failure and discovery for both with middle-aged knees, toys no one wants to play with, and hats no one wants to wear. I started trying to run for exercise in 2009 at age 37, but had a lot of knee pain, so it was an off-and-on thing. I watched the NYC marathon that year and noticed some barefoot runners but it would take almost two years to figure out how to manage the knee pain for myself. The end of that same year a student of mine made a crochet hat for me. Over Christmas break I decided that the hat was too short and learned how to crochet to extend it myself. By February 2010 I had some basic skills and discovered amigurumi-style toy-making. Over the next Christmas break I bought a beginning knitting kit but didn’t get into knitting until that fall in 2011.
By the following spring I had found that minimal-style running resolved my knee issues and by mid-April 2012 I was running in water socks and had found Susie Hewer’s blog. (Editor’s note: Susie Hewer is a runner/knitter as well. She held the world record for knitting the longest scarf while running a marathon before David!)
One of our friends on Facebook called it “the original pig in a blanket” The Mangalista is a breed of pig that was developed in Hungary in the 1930s to provide a fattier meat. The delicacy of Mangalista meat was initially reserved for the Habsburg Royalty, but the rich, fatty flavor made it a popular choice by the end of the 19th century.
Times have changed and tastes and health concerns make the Mangalista a much less desirable pig to eat. It also takes twice as long to raise a super fatty Mangalitsa as it does to raise other pigs, taking over a year for them to reach 300 pounds, rather than 175 pounds.
The curious look of this animal is what we love. Like a character out of Star Wars that sprung from the imagination of a yarn-loving film-maker, the Mangalista post on Facebook turns out to be one of your favorites this year. If you’d like to discover more extraordinary images, stories and ideas, we welcome you to join us on Facebook.