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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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.)

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