Lion Brand Notebook

News, Ideas and Information for Crafting with Yarn

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Patterns We Keep Coming Back To: Anne loves the Honest Warmth Shawl made with Homespun®!

June 28th, 2015

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Honest Warmth Shawl

This Pattern Journal comes to us from Anne B. in New Hampshire. Anne shares this story about one of her favorite Lion Brand patterns, the Honest Warmth Shawl.


Erica cast on the three stitches to begin the Honest Warmth Shawl. This would be the third one she had knit. The first, knit in Lion Brand’s Homespun® in Rococo, was for Mum. The soft golds and whites were the perfect color that Mum always liked to wear, and brought out the healthy rose of her skin. The second shawl, for Gram, was Baroque, the purples and blues the colors Gram always loved best. She had knit the shawls one after the other, consciously infusing each stitch with warm memories and love, imagining with each row how the warmth would envelop them like a hug, keeping the cold drafty breezes of New Hampshire off their hips and shoulders. But this shawl was a little different. This one was for Mum’s Japanese sister.

Mariko was visiting in two months time, and her visit was very special. Erica wanted this shawl to show the respect and honor the family felt at receiving this visit. She had researched color meaning in Japan. Mariko was a doctor, and she knew that Japanese culture associated white with the medical profession, referring to nurses as “angels in white”. She also knew that Mariko might appreciate the warmth on a cool New Hampshire evening. She saw the Homespun® in Deco, and knew the light cream was perfect.

As Erica knit this shawl, she thought of the hard work Mariko had done to become a doctor. And she thought of the bonds forged when Mariko had visited the United States as a teenager, living with her host American family for a whole year. Mariko had returned many times to visit over the decades, sometimes bringing her own family to meet her. One time, when she was a little girl, Erica had played for a weekend with Mariko’s daughter and son.

As the shawl grew over the evenings of knitting, Erica recalled the times she had met Mariko as she grew up. The last time she had seen her, Mariko had given gifts to Erica’s own daughters, enchanting the little girls with beautiful origami paper and clever pens. She hoped her gift would show the appreciation and love the families had forged over the years and generations.
Once finished, Erica wrapped the Honest Warmth Shawl in beautiful paper, tied it carefully with a bow and added a fabric flower. It was perfect.

A story submitted by Anne B. from New Hampshire.

Enjoy 20% off the Honest Warmth Shawl kit for a limited time!

Would you like to be featured in an upcoming Pattern Journal? Submit a story, click here.


10 Benefits of Making and Receiving Prayer Shawls

April 25th, 2015

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Blogger and author Kathryn Vercillo is an expert in the area of using crafting to heal, having researched the topic extensively for her book Crochet Saved My Life. In this post she explores how prayer shawls help both the maker and the recipient of the handmade item. Read Kathryn’s previous blog posts on the Lion Brand Notebook here.

prayer_shawl_april2015A knit or crochet prayer shawl is intended as a gesture of warmth and comfort for the person who receives the item. The maker prays (or sets their intention) for that person with every stitch. When the item is done, a special prayer or ritual may be done to add emotional value to the item before it is sent to charity or given to the person in need. However, it’s not just the person receiving the shawl who benefits from the act; the crafter also heals.

Benefits of Receiving a Prayer Shawl

People who receive prayer shawls often consider them to be special items that they will keep forever. A prayer shawl can be given to help someone who is going through a difficult illness, grieving the loss of a loved one or reeling from a disaster. The item provides physical comfort, actual warmth and a tangible reminder that there are others in the world that care for them.

Wrapped in the snug hug of a prayer shawl, the person can feel the love that went into those stitches. Barbara, who commented on a previous post we did about prayer shawls shared, “When I had surgery the pastor brought one to the hospital and prayed for me and wrapped it around me. It was very comforting. When I feel anxious I wrap myself in it and I feel the love that was knit into each stitch.”

Benefits of Making a Prayer Shawl

Making a prayer shawl has as many benefits as receiving one. Oftentimes when someone we care about is hurting, we desperately want to help but don’t know how. Making a prayer shawl is a way to channel that stressful energy into something positive. Other benefits people cite of making a knit or crochet prayer shawl include:

  • It takes your mind off of your own stress as you help someone else.
  • It can heal old wounds. For example, someone who has been through cancer herself might crochet prayer shawls for chemo patients and heal their own pain with each stitch.
  • Prayer shawl crafting can be done in groups, which offer camaraderie and companionship to the maker.
  • Some people find it easier to make time for crafting when they have a purpose, such as charity crafting, which allows them to reap many health benefits.
  • It is a way to bring prayer or meditation into your daily life. Research shows that there are numerous benefits to prayer.

Making a prayer shawl is a great way to connect you to your own community. Linda Kennedy finds this is true as she makes baby blankets for the women at her church. (Although we call them prayer shawls, intentional crafting items can be anything at all!) She shares, “I know them and think about them often as I am working on theirs. I have heard some of the women talking about how they can’t wait to get their blanket for their baby. It makes me so happy!” Linda put special attention into a white crochet baby blanket that she made for a mother whose baby had heart problems and they weren’t sure whether or not she would make it and found that this was a way to connect to her during a difficult time. Each experience of prayerful crafting is unique and special. Speaking of another item she made for someone from church, Linda says, “When they gave it to her, she cried because she didn’t think anyone would do something like that for her. Seeing how I can touch someone’s heart is so comfort to me!”

Anja’s Squares: A Story of Making and Receiving

Katinka Steyn shared a story about the healing power of both making and receiving intentionally crafted items. It all began in December 2013 when her eldest daughter Anja had to undergo open-heart surgery after a stent lodged in her heart. She posted in her South African Facebook Group Ons Hekel (which means “we crochet”) about what was happening and “countless messages of prayers and encouragement started pouring in”. Anja made it through surgery and was discharged but continued to have chest pain. On January 22, 2014, Anja passed away in her home.

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Tea With Shira: Can You Guess How Many Lion Brand Yarns are Made in America?

April 3rd, 2015

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We love hearing from our customers and our Brand Ambassador Shira is on standby to answer your questions! First up, she reports on which Lion Brand yarns are made right here in the USA.

Check out the video below to learn more and bookmark our updated list of made in America yarns our right here.

::Have trouble viewing this video? Click here: https://youtu.be/b_soGG0Rl-8::

Do you have a question for Shira? You can leave them in the comments below or tweet her at @shiraroars and she just might answer your question in her next video!


Check Out Our Most Popular Patterns from February!

March 4th, 2015

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febpoppat

Knitters and crocheters love the trend of using simple shapes to create stunning garments.  For instance, did you know that the Tribeca Tunic, Rainbow Squares Afghan, and the Easy Sparkling Top are based on simple rectangles and squares?

And proving further that the combination of simple and stunning is a winner, the Simple Crochet Shrug continues to be a popular pattern; it was our most popular pattern in January too!

Even the Cromwell Court Afghan and the 5 1/2 Hour Throw use a repetitive pattern – perfect projects for  watching season three of House of Cards.

Here is a selection of popular patterns from last month:

Psy and Thai's Kitty Cozy Knit Tribeca Tunic Neck's Best Thing Triangle Shawl
Crochet Psy and Thai’s Kitty Cozy Knit Tribeca Tunic Crochet Neck’s Best Thing Shawl
Knit Tree of Life Afghan Crochet Rainbow Squares Afghan Knit Cromwell Court Afghan
Knit Tree of Life Afghan Crochet Rainbow Squares Afghan Knit Cromwell Court Afghan
Crochet 5 1/2 Hour Throw Knit Easy Rectangle Cardigan and Cowl Crochet Easy Sparkling Top
Crochet 5 1/2 Hour Throw Knit Easy Rectangle and Cowl Crochet Easy Sparkling Top

What have you been making this past month? Share with use below.


Hand Carved Amish Looms: The End Of An Era

August 29th, 2014

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32 inch amish loom Amish Loom 19 inch
32 inch Portable Amish Loom 19 inch Portable Amish Loom

About 12 years ago I received a call from someone who wanted to help an Amish friend sell his hand crafted looms.  It sounded like an interesting and unique way to use yarn so I decided to get in touch with him.  I was told that Joe was a carpenter who lived and worked on a farm in Mio, Michigan, where the population was somewhere under 2,000.  Joe did have a phone and I was able to call, but the phone was in the barn, since the Amish are not permitted to have telephones in their homes. So I had to call many times and let it ring a lot in order to reach Joe when he happened to be there.

Joe built his entire home himself, with help from neighbors, and made his living as a carpenter.  As a hobby, he started crafting looms from local wood.  They were beautiful works of art.  Eventually a few of his neighbors started using the looms to make shawls and blankets to sell.  The women who used the looms loved to work with Homespun® because of its silky feel and the fact that it worked so well with the loom.

Over the years we bought the looms to sell online, although the supply was not always easy to get.  There was the fact that Joe made every single one himself, which meant there was a limit to how many we could purchase, and there were life events that interfered.  One year there was a fire in the barn that put him out of commission for 6 months and one year his wife was ill so he stopped making the looms.

Joe is retired now, so there won’t be any more looms. We’re selling the last of the inventory, although we’ll definitely be keeping one as a keepsake.  If you’d like a piece of history and a beautiful object crafted lovingly by hand, now is your chance. One of a kind made by one person in the world doesn’t last forever.

(If you’re interested in other looms, we have a selection which you can find here.)


2014 Pantone Color of the Year is. . . Radiant Orchid!

January 8th, 2014

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radiant_orchid

At the beginning of every year Pantone appoints one color to inspire world trends for the months ahead. A regular practice since 2000, Pantone recently announced this year’s color: “Radiant Orchid.” According to the leading color authority, Radiant Orchid “inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health,” and was chosen to influence fashion, personal style and all creative matters in 2014.

Purple is a color that’s often associated with encouraging individual creativity and used in meditation to help visualize a harmonious, spiritual balance. Expect to see this purple popping up on  inspiration and mood boards everywhere—and of course yarn projects.

With personalization becoming a bigger aspect in fashion this year, we find that purple a great color to work with because of its complexity. While it is a simple combination of blue and red, the variety of shades you choose to use in a project can vary, depending on the mood you wish to reflect.

Two Tone Mobius Cowl Knit Lace Beret Crochet Easy Peasy Hat and Scarf Set
Crochet Two Tone Mobius Cowl
in Homespun® Thick and Quick®
in Mixed Berries and Claret
Knit Lace Beret
in Vanna’s Sequins
in Merlot
Crochet Easy Peasy Hat and Scarf Set
in Tweed Stripes
in Orchid

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Knit and Crochet and Yarn Trends For 2014

December 23rd, 2013

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1. Big, Bigger, Better

Big, Bigger, Best
1) Arm Knitting. 2) “Speed Stix” Knitting Needles. 3) Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick® 4) Homespun® Thick & Quick®

We’ll see people supersizing everything in 2014 with big needle knit and crochet garments and home décor that display chunky, oversized stitches in oversized silhouettes. In 2014 we’ll be showing you a collection of designs that will keep you right on trend. Many of Lion Brand’s yarns are ideal for the “Big” trend including Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick®, Homespun®, Homespun® Thick & Quick®, Hometown USA® . . . with more to come in 2014.

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Tips and Tricks Using Homespun and Homespun Thick & Quick

December 4th, 2013

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homespuntq-tips

Homespun® and Homespun® Thick & Quick® have become two of our most popular yarns because of their softness, colorways, and versatility. Whether it is the unique painterly shades or the bouclé texture, people are just drawn to it. Before trying out a new yarn it’s always good to know the best ways to use it in order to create amazing projects. Here are some things that we at Lion Brand think you should know when it comes to handling this plush yarn

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Celebrating Homespun Handmade: 9 Projects from Our Customer Gallery

January 8th, 2013

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Homespun is definitely a favorite yarn amongst many Lion Brand fans, and it especially seems to be a “go-to” yarn for those looking to making an afghan. Most of you have expressed your enjoyment of working with Homespun because it’s soft, has a beautiful color range, and unique texture – not to mention, it works up super quick.

It’s always so great to see what our yarns inspire other people to knit/crochet, whether it be an original pattern, or from a pattern on our site.  Thank you for uploading pictures to our customer gallery, and please continue to do so! Here’s a roundup of some great projects made by fans like you, with Homespun.

Afghan in the Round
Afghan in the Round
Pattern: Woodland Circle Afghan
By: Delilah Sanchez
Vintage Ripple Afghan
Vintage Ripple Afghan
Pattern: Vintage Ripple Throw
By: Carolyn Boulet
In Fine Style!
In Fine Style!
(original pattern)
By: Robert Toth

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How To Choose the Best Yarn for Your Project; Understanding How Texture and Color Interact

February 9th, 2012

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When choosing the best yarn for a project, there are a few different factors that come into play.  You need to consider what you want the focus of your project to be; will it focus on stitch definition, color or texture?  For instance, if you’re working on a complicated lace stitch, you will probably work with a solid color yarn (preferably a lighter color), so your beautiful stitch work isn’t overlooked by a self striping or variegated effect of a yarn.  If you work with a bulkier or bouclé style yarn, you can whip up a fast project with a simple stitch that still looks amazing.  A heavily textured bouclé yarn hides stitches, so it’s great for an advanced beginner who wants to stick to basic patterns, but can handle navigating through the loops and bumps.  Below are some examples to demonstrate how the interaction of color and texture affect your final project.

Moon Rock Hat
Moon Rock Hat

Moon Pebble Hat
The pattern featured on the far left is the Moon Rock Hat, crocheted in Amazing; and the pattern to the right of it is the Moon Pebble Hat crocheted in Homespun.  Due to the color variegation of the Amazing yarn, the individual bobbles on this hat seem to stand out more because they’re different colors.  Since the Moon Pebble Hat is crocheted in one color of Homespun, your focus is solely on the hat itself, and the bobbles become more of a “feature”, not the main attraction.
Sunny Diagonal Blankie
Sunny Diagonal Blankie
Summery Diagonal Blanket
Summery Diagonal Blankie
When I think about how to make my simple stitch project look more than “simple”, self striping yarns are my yarn of choice.  I love how the diagonal stitch plus the self striping effect of the Nature’s Choice Organic gives this blanket a completely new look.  Since the Summery Diagonal Blankie is done in a solid color of Jamie, it isn’t as obvious that this pattern uses the same diagonal pattern; but it has more of a classic feel, and it won’t hide stitch mistakes (a side note for those who hate to frog!).
Raglan Sleeve Topper
Raglan Sleeve Topper
Raglan Sleeve Topper
Raglan Sleeve Topper
The Raglan Sleeve Topper on the far left is knit in the Natural shade of Fishermen’s Wool, a nice off-white color that truly enhances the stitch definition of this pattern.  The Raglan Sleeve Topper on the right is knit in the same pattern, but has a different look to it because it was knit in the self-striping Amazing.  In Amazing, the Topper has more of a fun, attention grabbing feel to it, while the Topper in Fishermen’s Wool provides a more classic, timeless look to the piece.
Zig Zag Pillow
Zig Zag Pillow
Herringbone Stitch Pillow
Herringbone Stitch Pillow
These pillows are a great example of how color and texture affect a stitch pattern.  The Zig Zag pillow was crocheted with Homespun, a bouclé yarn with subtle painterly effects.  The stitch pattern itself creates the zig zag effect while the bouclé style adds more texture.  The Herringbone Stitch Pillow to the right was knit in the Linen color of Wool-Ease Thick & Quick; a great yarn to showcase this particular stitch because its bulkiness adds more texture, and the light color helps make the stitches pop.
Cushy Knit Cowl
Cushy Knit Cowl
Stockinette Cowl
Stockinette Cowl
Both cowls are knit in the stockinette stitch, but have very different looks because of the yarn.  The Cushy Knit Cowl was knit in Luxe Fur, a cat. 6 super bulky yarn, while the Stockinette Cowl was knit in Martha Stewart CraftsTM/MC Extra Soft Wool Blend, a cat. 4 worsted weight yarn.  The Extra Soft Wool Blend provides more drape, and the individual stitches stand out more than the stitches on the Cushy Knit Cowl.  The cowl in Luxe Fur makes you think more about the functionality of the piece, as opposed to the aesthetics of the stitch-work; you’re more likely to wear it on a cold winter day.

What techniques do you use to enhance your projects? Textured yarns with simple stitches, light weight yarns for complicated stitches, a little bit of both? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below.

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