Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Archive for the 'Yarniverse' Category


Shira’s Guild Visits!

May 23rd, 2016

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Hello Out There!!!

One of the many things I get to do as a Brand Ambassador for Lion Brand Yarn is travel around the country and I to talk different knit and crochet groups or guilds.  Since I started my position as Brand Ambassador I have been to many groups, but the biggest guild I have spoken to was in Madison, WI — a knitting guild made up of over 300+ knitters!  (Fun Fact: it’s really cold in Madison, WI in February!)

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My Goal

When I talk to a group there are a three main things I talk about .

  1. Lion Brand Yarn is not as big as you think! Sometimes people don’t realize that our company is just under 100 people.  I convey the message, I love being able to see people’s faces sometimes it’s like their minds are being blown! t
  1. We are also a family business.  Family business are rare these days especially one that is in its 5th generation (me being a part of the 5th).
  1. I get a chance to let the knitters and crocheters feel and neck test all day long 😉  I bring new colors of yarns and new yarns for people to put their hands on and really get the chance to see what it feels like for themselves!  I also bring knit and crocheted garments with me out of the corresponding yarns so they can see how they work up!

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Feeling #Lucky

I feel honored to be able to talk to these crafters.  They are so talented to be able to see what they do with Lion Brand is amazing.  Some are avid users of Lion Brand and some, well, some admit to me “I didn’t know you had such beautiful yarns until you came!  I can’t wait to buy Lion Brand now!”

That’s my end all goal.  I am there to inspire!  I am there get people excited about knitting and crocheting with Lion Brand Yarn!

These are some photos that I love from some of Guild adventures!

If you are interested in having me come visit your guild please email me at Shiraroars@lionbrand.com.  Please note, a minimum attendance of 70 people must be present for me to visit.

 


Love that Lasts: Knitted Stuffed Animals

May 10th, 2016

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Want to knit a sheepdog?  Or an elephant, rabbit, bear, or skunk?  Go for it!  I began knitting toys decades ago, for myself as much as for special kids.  Lately I’ve been knitting toys for my grandchildren.  Knit a sweater for a toddler, and she’ll outgrow it in a season.  Knit a stuffed animal for a toddler, and she’ll have a forever friend.

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I have two rules about knitting stuffed toys.  The first:  Always use a washable yarn that’s mothproof.  You want your animal to have a good, long life.  Acrylic is best for surviving love’s energy, moths, and the dust of time. I favor Vanna’s Choice® for its durability and clear, vibrant colors.  (I also admire that Lion Brand donates a percentage of Vanna’s Choice® sales to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.)

The second rule:  Assume that the toy will not look exactly like the pattern illustration. Just as expectant parents have a vague idea of how their newborn will look, so too do knitters have a general sense of a project’s outcome.  But stuffed animals, like kids, have characters independent of the creator, and they always become distinctive selves. I promise that you’ll be delighted by the uniqueness of your knitted pet.

Recently, when I made the Knitted Farm Animals Sheep Dog, I observed my rules, and I’m completely in love with the result.  Sheep Dog is knitted in black and white Vanna’s Choice® acrylic worsted.  Even though I carefully followed the instructions, he definitely has his own look, different from the pattern photo.  Why?

Unlike many toy designs, Sheep Dog is knitted on straight needles, rather than double points. Sheep Dog has twelve flat pieces that are sewn together. That’s significant sewing, and his face is embroidered, too. (Here’s a tip:  leave six inches of yarn attached to each piece after binding off, and use it for seaming.) The extra steps required by the sewing, as opposed to the fewer steps required by knitting in the round, impact the toy’s appearance.

Yet Sheep Dog has a flexibility enabled by the joint-like connections of some seams. If you look at the photo of Sheep Dog next to Babar (a free pattern on Ravelry, also knitted in Vanna’s Choice®), you’ll see that Babar’s legs—knitted on double points and integral to his torso—don’t bend, but Sheep Dog can easily sit because his legs are hinged to his body by seams.

Since Sheep Dog’s face is embroidered—except for his nose, which is a very small knitted triangle—each knitter will impart her own sewing “signature” to his features.  That’s the main reason his individual look is guaranteed.  Gauge, and density of stuffing, will also affect Sheep Dog’s appearance.  I stuffed Sheep Dog somewhat loosely, to impart a floppy “Beanie Baby” look.  Additionally, I didn’t strictly follow the designer’s instructions for sewing Sheep Dog’s ears or tail, because I wanted him droopy.

Sheep Dog took about a weekend to knit and assemble.  If you’re the kind of knitter who likes swift results, toys are good projects.  Just be aware that you might have a hard time surrendering your knitted pets for adoption.

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Make Two by Franklin Habit

May 5th, 2016

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franklin_400x400Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

Every so often, usually during a rare moment when I feel pretty good about myself, a well-meaning relation sends me one of those perennial news items about a lady who has crocheted the same blanket for every baby born in her town since 1957, or another lady who singlehandedly keeps an entire children’s hospital supplied with knitted teddy bears, or that other lady who cranks out 100,000 pairs of mittens annually to warm the chilly hands of the poor.

These inspiring stories are invariably accompanied by a note saying, “Hey, you could do something like this.”

Sure, okay. Maybe I could also sail to China on a mulberry leaf, or spin straw into rigatoni.

I’m not so good at repetitive knitting.

Or maybe I am. I don’t know, because I pretty much refuse to do it. I have a deep-seated, abiding aversion to knitting the same thing twice. It is only through the cultivation of an iron will that I do not have a wardrobe of full of unwed socks and one-armed sweaters.

I am not proud of this. I see it as a character flaw to be smoothed away, much like my fear of flying. Both keep me from living life to the fullest.

To overcome the aerophobia, I’ve found it comforting to interact with people who love airplanes. My father, for example, is a pilot; and keeps an airplane in his backyard where normal people keep a toolshed. When taking off, or bouncing through unstable air, I hang on tight and try to remember his frequent rhapsodies on the wonder of flight and the laws of aerodynamics. I also listen to Frank Sinatra singing “Come Fly With Me,” and pretend I am having a ball up where the air is rarified. Sometimes it helps. Fake it ’til you make it.

So I thought it might be useful to hear from knitters and crocheters who find joy in repetitious work, even if not to the extent of knitting the same mitten 100,000 times.

I put the word out and found that People Have Opinions About This. Mind you, people who knit and crochet have opinions about everything; but I was nearly carried into the next state by the flood of comments.

(more…)


Yarncrafting Costumes: Designing a Moon Crown

April 21st, 2016

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My knitted costuming adventures continue! This time on a cosmic scale…

I’m very drawn to the moon – for its symbolism and beauty, and as a visual marker of the passage of time. When the theme of “cosmic carnival” was announced for a costume party, I jumped on the opportunity to create a moon-related costume. At first I considered trying to recreate the Moon Tarot card – a concept I might pursue at a later date. For this project, I wanted something simpler and less time-consuming to make, since (as usual) I was working on a tight deadline. I decided to knit the phases of the moon into a headpiece.

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For my yarn, I chose Vanna’s Glamour® held double. I used two strands of Onyx for the new moon and darkened portions of moon phases, and held together a strand each of Topaz and Platinum for the full moon and light sections of lunar moon phases. The champagne and silver shades combined to create a subtle marled effect.

When I’m in the brainstorming stages of a costume project, I like to chat with the knowledgeable staff at our Lion Brand Yarn Studio to hash out design ideas. What technique would work well to knit flat circles for the moon phases? They recommended a pattern using short rows, which I adapted for this project.

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For the crescent, first quarter, and waxing gibbous moon phases, which required both the light and dark yarns, I used the intarsia technique to incorporate both colors.

Jewelry wire and floral wire have quickly become essential in my crafty costume toolbox. I used thick gauge jewelry wire to attach the circles to the store-bought crown that formed the base of my headpiece. This wire is sturdy enough to hold the circles upright. Thin gauge floral wire was perfect for wrapping around the thicker wire to fasten the components to the crown even more securely.

A silver dress from my costume stash, silver accessories, and glitter rounded out the look. With a string of LED lights wrapped around the crown, this lunar queen was all set to light up the cosmic carnival!

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Free to Good Home

April 14th, 2016

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franklin_400x400Writer, illustrator, and knitter Franklin Habit joins us for his monthly column featuring humor and insights into a yarncrafter’s life.

Welcome, good people, to the Franklin Habit Home for Neglected Knitting Projects.

You’re in luck. It’s Adoption Week, during which time we waive all fees, background checks, and paperwork. It will be my pleasure to show you around. Petting is not only permitted, it’s encouraged. If you see anything you like, simply speak up and it’s yours.

If you don’t see anything you like, we will stuff something in your bag and force you to take it home. We’re that desperate. No backsies.

You’ll find the home is divided into a series of pleasant, airy pavilions, each devoted to a different sort of neglected project. Let’s begin with Slow Haven, where hours upon hours of patient knitting have brought these sad creatures no closer to completion.

May I interest you in…

One quarter of a blanket cunningly intended to use up the odds and ends of 150 partial balls of sock yarn? Such a charming concept. Not merely a blanket, but a blanket full of memories. All those different yarns jumbled together in one joyous samba parade of wild color. Who could resist?

Reasons for Surrender: Color mix looks less like samba parade than political riot. Grows at the rate of one inch per week, forcing the knitter constantly to contemplate how old she will be when it is finished.

Or perhaps…

A Shetland cobweb lace shawl comprising one repeat of center chart and six untouched balls of eensy weensy yarn. Purchased on impulse at spectacular fiber festival; best friend purchased same kit so that “…we can knit them together.”

Reasons for Surrender: Chart has vanished. Pattern is out of print. Best friend finished hers in six weeks. (No longer speaking to friend.)

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Now, if you’ll please follow me over the hill, we’ll take a peek into Twilight Garden, the shady grove wherein we place projects that have outlived their usefulness without leaving their needles.

Have you room in your heart for…

A baby sweater minus one sleeve and the button band? Such a promising beginning. Look at that darling two-color yoke. I’d go so far as to say the work is perfect. A small bag containing the perfect ducky buttons is included.

Reason for Surrender: Baby is now thirty-six years old, and like the sweater has failed to live up to its early promise.

Take a look at…

An unspecified amount of the bottom of a bottom-up sweater.

Reason for Surrender: Instructions state, “Work in stockinette until piece measures fifteen inches from cast-on edge.” Somehow, knitter has never managed to get both this project and her tape measure into the same room.

Or please consider…

In white fingering-weight yarn, a charming congratulations on your wedding baby divorce retirement funeral shawl, lacking only the knitted-on edging.

Reasons for Surrender: The clue is in the name.

We shall now make several wrong turns and come to the Salon des Whoops. This, by far our largest building, is a secured area for projects that were pretty much doomed from the start. We don’t tell them that, though. They’ve already suffered enough.

 Perhaps you might have some use for…

The half-finished body of a wool cardigan in eighteen colors?

Reason for Surrender: Upon returning from extensive tour of Shetland Islands, maker suddenly remembered that she lives in Miami Beach.

Or…

A single sock with an un-grafted toe?

Reason for Surrender: Maker suddenly remembered why she hates knitting socks.

Or…

Pattern, four skeins of top-quality merino/silk, wound into balls, and one circular needle. 

Reason for Surrender: Cast on for pattern is 537 stitches.

Or…

Afghan Block-of-the-Month Club January block, completed; plus half of February block, and two rows of March block, and all the yarns for April through December.

Reason for Surrender: If you have to ask, you must be new here. Excellent. You really should try a block-of-the-month club. Hold still while I stuff this thing in your bag.

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Writer, illustrator, and photographer Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008–now in its third printing) and proprietor of The Panopticon (the-panopticon.blogspot.com), one of the most popular knitting blogs on Internet. On an average day, upwards of 2,500 readers worldwide drop in for a mix of essays, cartoons, and the continuing adventures of Dolores the Sheep. Franklin’s other publishing experience in the fiber world includes contributions to Vogue Knitting, Yarn Market News, Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, PieceWork, Cast On: A Podcast for Knitters, Twist Collective, and a regular column on historic knitting patterns for Knitty.com.

These days, Franklin knits and spins in Chicago, Illinois, sharing a small city apartment with a Schacht spinning wheel and colony of sock yarn that multiplies alarmingly whenever his back is turned.

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