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Our Anniversary: 140 Years of Lion Brand

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Our Anniversary: 140 Years of Lion Brand

This year marks a milestone for Lion Brand Yarn Company, our 140th Anniversary! It’s hard to believe we’ve been creating yarn & crafting with you for almost a century and a half, but we’ve treasured every moment. We wanted to share some of the highlights with you, as well as moments in national & world history, to commemorate our many years of making. To 140 years of Lion Brand, and to 140 more!

Our Timeline: 140 Years of Lion Brand

19th Century


It all began in 1878, 5 generations ago. We enter the marketplace, and receive the coveted Wool Mark for excellence.

Also in this year, the phonograph is patented by Thomas Edison!

And ‘Anna Karenina’ by Tolstoy is published, and has been valiantly attempted by book clubs the world over ever since.


Arguably the most important event of the decade, the word ‘sweater’ is coined in 1887, referring to the wool jerseys worn by rowing teams to produce sweating & reduce weight.

Undergarments called ‘combinations’ are popular – a cami attached to knee-length drawers. Woolen combinations are recommended for good health. Please let us know if you’re still rocking this look.

Coca-Cola is invented.


For those lamenting the interminable Millennial Pink, it might bring relief to know this entire decade is known as the ‘Mauve Decade’, because William Henry Perkin’s aniline dye allowed the widespread use of that colour in fashion.

In 1893, New Zealand becomes the first country to grant women the right to vote!

The Newsboys’ Strike of 1899 would later inspire the popular Disney film ‘Newsies’, which became a Broadway musical.

20th Century


In this decade, we place our first national advertisement in the Ladies Home Journal. This is how we met many of our first customers!

In 1902 the Electric Theatre, the first movie theater in the United States, opens in Los Angeles.

‘Anne of Green Gables’ & ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ are published, still childhood classics to this day.

Marie & Pierre Curie discover what they call ‘radioactivity’.


In 1912, we issue our first pattern book, ‘The Manual of Worsted Work’. We’ve published thousands of free patterns since, but it’d be an interesting to see which fashions made the cut in this first book!

The First World War and numerous national revolutions bring monumental change to world politics, shaping the course of the century.

Picasso & Matisse are painting, and changing the art world forever with their abstract explorations of subject & medium.

The first crossword puzzle is published.


The iconic Jazz Age has been much-storied in literature, especially by the Lost Generation ex-pats living abroad.

And film is forever changed with the premier of the first ‘talkie’ (talking motion picture), ‘The Jazz Singer’.

Women achieve the right to vote, Virginia Woolf writes ‘A Room of One’s Own’, & many women emulate Louise Brooks’ freeing bobbed hairstyle.

A. A. Milne publishes ‘Winnie the Pooh’, and he’s beloved.


The Stock Market Crash gives way to the Great Depression, and Roosevelt initiates the ‘New Deal’.

Film blossoms into color in 1930, and the Golden Age of Hollywood is underway. 50 classics are made in this decade, including ‘Gone with the Wind’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz’.

Disney is born with ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’, and captures our imaginations.

1938 marks the invention of nylon stockings and the chocolate chip cookie (thank you, Ruth Graves Wakefield!).

WWII sparks the ‘Knit Your Bit’ effort, to send knitted goods to troops abroad. Crafting has always gone hand-in-hand with kindness, & we still provide monthly suggestions to crafting for good causes.


At the beginning of the decade, Life magazine features a cover story, ‘How to Knit’, and a new generation of crafters is born.

In 1941, the first paid television advertisement airs for Bulova watches, on New York station WNBT (now, WNBC). It plays before a Dodgers & Phillies game.

World War II, and the horrors of the Holocaust, commanded the world’s attention for the first half of this decade.

The art world responded with what are considered some of the most definitive works by American artists – ‘Casablanca’, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, and the literature of Hemmingway and plays of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller.

While many textiles were rationed & scarce, the end of the decade brought the ‘New Look’ by Dior, a reassertion of the promise of grace and style for the post-war world.


Rosalind Franklin discovers the double-helix structure, which leads to the discovery of DNA. The cells of Henrietta Lacks are the first to be cultured outside the human body, and lead to extraordinary advances in modern medicine.

NASA is organized, to take us into space.

Finally, rock & roll!

European cinema experiences a renaissance, with the rise of Ingmar Bergman and the beginning of the French New Wave.

DuPont Orlon Acrylic becomes a popular wool alternative, because it’s machine-washable and color-fast.


Lion Brand becomes the first hand knitting company to win the coveted Woolmark Prize  in 1965.

The decade is one of complex cultural and political movements with our nation and around the world, marked by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the National Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the assassinations of President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Girl groups dominate popular music charts.

In 1969, we put someone on the moon!

And hippie fashion popularizes the crocheted vest, and the crochet trend hits a high point! Ponchos, bright colors, and bell & balloon sleeves were all the rage… sounds familiar!


The crochet trend continues, especially macrame and granny squares.

‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ gives us a peek into the life of an enterprising young woman, and the fashions of the era! She’s immortalized as a statue in Minneapolis, MN in 2002.

Stephen Hawking publishes his theory of black holes.

In 1978, Lion Brand receives a declaration in honor from the City of New York for our 100th Anniversary!


Lion Brand opens this decade by introducing the Jamie Yarn, the first yarn to have a photo on the label! Since then, many members of the extended Lion Brand family have modeled for the company. You might know Shira! Fifth generation, Curvy Girl model & ambassador.

The personal computer becomes a household item, and our complex relationship with personal devices begins!

Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna.


We start this decade on the catwalk! Lion Brand creates the annual fashion show at the Craft & Hobby Association Trade show in 1992.

The Rachel, Jennifer Aniston’s hairstyle on ‘Friends’, becomes a cultural phenomenon.

In 1994, we welcome Vanna White as our spokesperson, and her yarns remain favorites of our crafters.

Welcome to the internet! We join the world wide web in 1996, and our website is home today to patterns, kits, stories, yarns and so much more. Thank you for visiting us online today!

In 1997, the Hale-Bopp comet swings into view for the first time in 4,200 years.

21st Century


A new millennium! Crafters everywhere celebrate by sporting crocheted hats & beanies, and the craze hasn’t stopped.

We’re perhaps not far enough removed to be able to glance at the events of this decade and know which will have been watershed moments for us.

J. K. Rowling concludes the Harry Potter series, the best-selling book series of all time.

In 2005, Martha Stewart leaves prison wearing a crochet poncho. We share the pattern, and our website crashes, because hundreds of thousands of people try to download it at once!

Billboard magazine names Beyonce the female artist of the decade.

Technological advances surpass the wildest expectations outlined by favorite films of the 1980s, including the sequencing of the human genome.

In 2008, our very special Lion Brand Yarn Studio opens on 15th Street in New York City. A ‘unique retail store and education center’, we strive to offer the learning component to support our crafting neighbors in all their projects. We’re also a place for fun & community, hosting movie nights, Sock Hops, and free events.

Barack Obama wins an historic election, and goes on to lead us as President of the United States for two terms.


In 2013, we were honored to present a check to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for $1,000,000. This amount represented the total donations for Vanna White’s signature lines of yarn. As of today, Lion Brand & Vanna White have donated over $1.5 Million to St. Jude!

Our twenty-teens have been shaped by social media, which has dramatically changed the way we get our news, stay in touch with friends & loved ones, and share our lives online.

2016 marks the import of hygge, a Danish movement celebrating warmth, comfort and self-care. We are all encouraged to cozy up, and spend time with loved ones. Great advice not only for the colder winter nights, but for always.

The rise of the self-care movement has increased our awareness of the power of crafting, particularly yarn-crafting, as a tool to destress, focus, and accentuate the positive. Social media has allowed crafters to connect in ways never imagined, joining Facebook groups, sharing WIPs online, and appreciating one another’s work.


This year, we’re celebrating London Kaye! She’s an NYC-based street artist whose installations have decorated our windows in NYC. We’re proud to offer new kits for her projects, which will debut at Vogue Knitting Live in January. We hope to see you there. We’re also anticipating the 10th Anniversary of our Studio in New York City, and we’ll continue to offer fabulous classes, workshops, & master classes there.

But the year is just beginning, & there’s so much to look forward to!

To 140 More

What a remarkable 140 years of Lion Brand it’s been! We’ve shared & refined our mission to create a more colorful, connected, and giving world, and we are so grateful that you’ve been a part of it. While our diamond anniversary has come and gone (twice over!), we can think of no greater gift to mark this auspicious occasion than to spend another skein with you. Thank you for choosing us, for crafting with us, and for connecting with us here, in person at our Studio, and through the magic of social media. We love to hear your thoughts, engage with your questions, and especially see what you’re working on – keep sharing! You are the most special part of our Lion Brand family. Happy Anniversary to you!

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  • What happened to Tea with Shira? I
    Loved that

  • Yes, please bring back Tea With Shira! It would be great to have another new years interview with Shira and Trisha Malcolm talking about trends for 2018.
    Thanks, Margot

  • Hello, happy anniversary! I enjoyed taking a stroll down your long memory lane. I love Lion Brand yarn, especially the Tweeds and have been hunting for Luau but have been told it has been discontinued. I hope you will bring that colorway back. So beautiful when crocheted up into a poncho. I bought a good bit of it, making a poncho, two hats, and a scarf, all beautiful, but wanted more to make more of the same. Please think about bringing that colorway back. Again Happy Anniversary to Lion Brand!!

  • Ummm…Need a good proof reader maybe?? I know I’m not that good at math, but this number seems a wee bit off! “…the Hale-Bopp comet swings into view for the first time in 4,2000 years.”

    • Good catch, Lynn!

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