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Monthly Archives: December 2010

  • Around the Office: Studio Sheep & Llamas

    Here at Lion Brand, we appreciate a little fun, and many of us collect whimsical objects to keep around our offices: I keep photos and buttons from all of the different yarn events I've attended on my bulletin boards, David collects lions of all sorts, Jess makes and keeps sea creatures on her desk, and there are lots of other cute and quirky examples.

    If you've ever been to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, you may have seen our friends the Studio Squirrels, but very few people know about the secret herd of sheep and llamas in the Studio's office.

    Contributed by various members of the staff (I brought the wooden llama wearing the yellow hat back from my last San Diego trip) these little guys even have a whole wardrobe of coats and accessories made by the staff (that's what's hanging on those hooks below the shelf), the sheep and llamas range from those made of yarn or felt to the sheep-shaped needle gauge and the soap-on-a-rope black sheep hanging in the bottom part of the picture.

    Want to make a lamb for your own space? Here are a couple of patterns that are adorable:

    What fun, yarny goodness do you collect? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

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  • Did You Know...? All About Yardage

    Looking at yarn requirements for a pattern can be confusing and, especially if you need to substitute yarns, trying to decide how much yarn you will need can be overwhelming. Often a pattern will call for a number of balls of a particular yarn and may or may not include additional information about those balls, such as the number of yards per ball or the weight* of each ball. BUT did you know that the only number you really need to know is the total yardage required for the project?

    The number of balls required is useful if you are using the yarn called for in the project (and for working the math to determine total yardage), but otherwise can be misleading. The weight of each ball is almost useless for determining how much yarn you will need if you are substituting as different fibers, different thicknesses and even different yarn styles of the same fiber can have wildly different yardages for the same weight.

    Let’s take a look at a few different Lion Brand yarns that have the same weight per ball but widely varying yardage. Pay close attention to the differences in fiber and weight category:

    Vanna’s Choice (per ball): 3.5 oz, 170yds, category 4, 100% acrylic

    Baby’s First (per ball): 3.5oz, 120yds, category 5, 55% Acrylic/45% Cotton

    Cotton-Ease (per ball): 3.5oz, 207yds, category 4, 50% cotton/50% acrylic

    LB Collection Organic Wool (per ball): 3.5oz, 185yds, category 4, 100% organic wool

    LB Collection Superwash Merino (per ball): 3.5oz, 306yds, category 3, 100% Superwash Merino

    Let’s say your pattern called for 5 balls of Cotton Ease, but you’d rather use Vanna’s Choice. These are both category 4 yarns, so substituting should be pretty straightforward (though you will , of course, want to do a gauge swatch). However, even though the Vanna’s Choice balls weigh the same as the Cotton-Ease balls, if you buy the “5 balls” required by your pattern, you’ll end up being about 185yds short – that’s more than another full ball of the Vanna’s Choice!

    Just remember when you’re thinking about how much yarn you need for a pattern that yardage is what it’s all about when you’re deciding how much to buy and you’ll be all set.

    For more on substitution and figuring out how many balls of a different yarn you will need when substituting, see our FAQ by clicking here.

    *Please note that “weight” here refers to the actual ounces per ball, not the thickness of the yarn

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  • Inside BABY BLUEPRINT CROCHET: an Interview with Robyn Chachula

    Robyn Chachula is a crochet designer, whose new book, Baby Blueprint Crochet, came out earlier this month. To celebrate, we're pleased to present an exclusive free pattern from Robyn, available on LionBrand.com--click here to view it!

    I had the pleasure of interviewing Robyn on the December 7th episode of YarnCraft (our online radio-style show), during which she shared with us her top 5 gift-ideas for babies and their parents. She was also nice enough to do the following interview for the Lion Brand Notebook:

    Baby Blueprint Crochet Severin Pullover
    free on LionBrand.com

    Can you tell us about Baby Blueprint Crochet?
    Baby Blueprint is the follow up to my book Blueprint Crochet. In BBC, I dive deeper into more complex crochet symbol diagrams. We get into color work, 3-D, and Tunisian just to name a few. I chose baby projects to highlight these new skills, since they are usually small and quick to create. Plus, if you make a mistake babies will not notice nor will they care. So don't bother, ripping out, just keep on going I say. The book has projects from sweaters to vests, toys to blankets, bibs to shoes for both girls and boys. All the projects follow my crazy baby mantra and are bright and cheerful.

    With so many options, what makes a good baby project?
    I think a good baby project is one that is first and foremost fun. Then it needs to be practical in terms of being baby and parent friendly, aka washable. When you can combine those two you have a great baby project.

    What kinds of yarn do you recommend for baby projects?
    I like to crochet with superwash dk merino wool for everything, but if I even whiff of a wool allergy I switch to an acrylic. I always use something that is very washable and comes in bright fun colors. I do not believe in pastels for babies. Most babies can't see pastels for months, so I like to make things with bright colors that they can see.

    [Editor's note: Check out yarns like LB Collection Superwash Merino, machine wash & dry-friendly Baby Wool, Vanna's Choice Baby, or Babysoft for some good baby-friendly options.]

    If you don’t know the baby’s gender, what kind of project would you recommend?
    Toys. You can never go wrong with toys. Animals are great because all babies love animals.

    You also design adult patterns; what do you think are the main differences when designing for children?
    The biggest difference is in the closures for clothes. For kids and babies, you really need to think about how they are going to get into the outfit. Babies heads are much bigger compared to the rest of their bodies so the neck opening needs to be able to open up wider then normal. I usually use either the shoulder or the raglan seam to open up a pullover really wide, then use snaps to close the seam. That reminds me, for babies I will also take extra time with the fasteners. I will always reinforce neck lines with grosgrain ribbon since you know how difficult it can be getting some babies into clothes while you are running after them. Adults can be gentle, but parents usually don't have the time That's why I try to make baby clothes as easy as possible for them to put on their little ones.

    Where do you draw inspiration for your patterns?
    Inspiration for baby projects come from our huge family. We have 17 nieces and nephews all who are quite the characters. All I ever need is one afternoon and they will have inspired a dozen projects for me.

    What’s your favorite design element?
    The stitch pattern. I just love stitch patterns and motifs. I love coming up with new fabrics for any project. I find I can spend days with a new yarn just swatching away testing out how lace or texture works.

    How did you become a crochet designer?
    I was first a structural engineer, and the DIY in me never had me follow patterns but create my own. I made enough things and got enough compliments that I got the courage to submit to magazines. For a number of years, I was doing both engineering and crochet designing full-time. I would work at my engineering job during the day, and in my crochet studio all night. When the economy tanked for architecture and I got laid off, I started crochet designing full-time and have not looked back. They are so similar to me that my brain hardly recognizes if it is designing a building or a sweater. Only difference to me is what materials I am using at the time.

    Swatching: do you really do it?
    Oh yes, I swatch everything. I will swatch for days before I dive into a project. Actually I plan out every detail of a sweater before I make one stitch. That is the engineer in me. I like having a plan that I can use and then deviate from when i need to.

    In your personal yarncrafting life, what is your favorite type of project?
    Favorite projects, are ones for my daughter or dog. Whether that is a little jumper or a bone, I love watching them interact with something I made for them with love.

    To hear more from Robyn, listen to episode 81 of YarnCraft, which you can download on iTunes or listen to directly by clicking here [MP3].

    Related links:

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