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Higher End: A Side of Lion Brand You May Not Know

My first projects used Lion Brand Yarn that I’d purchased at my local Michaels store. Combined with Red Heart and Caron, that’s all I knew of yarn. (Nobody in my life was a yarn crafter.) This was years ago, probably about 10. I remember piles of Fun Fur and Homespun and Vanna’s Choice. None of which I was a fan of. I never liked textured yarns by any brand. And Vanna’s Choice was just “too acrylic.”

I never considered myself an outright “yarn snob,” but I definitely appreciate good stuff. Recently I’ve become addicted to We Are Knitters. (Particularly their MeriPaca yarn.) Over the years I’ve used a whole lot of Knit Picks yarn, which I consider somewhere between the big box store offerings and the higher end.

Recently I’ve been exposed to a lot of Lion Brand yarn . With a lower price point and weekly promotions, it’s good for being on a tight budget. Easily accessible. Yada yada.

And then there’s the LB Collection. This set of higher end yarns from Lion Brand can only be found in their NYC retail store or tucked away on their website. No running down to Michaels for this stuff. I was completely unaware of its existence until my local knitting guild was visited by Shira Blumenthal, LB’s brand ambassador.

If you go looking for LB Collection yarns in the LBY Studio (34 West 15th street, New York, NY 10011) you need to walk all the way to the back of the shop. It’s like their best kept, public secret. It’s there, but not really discussed.

My favorite in the LB Collection (so far) is the Angora Merino. Kinda want a sweater in the stuff. Is super soft. Right now I’m using small smidgens of it mixed in with Superwash Merino and Merino Yak Alpaca for a garter stitch squares blanket I’m making for my cousin’s wedding. I completely want to keep said blanket for myself, but I will try not to be greedy and actually gift it.

At some point I’ll do an in-depth review of the yarns. For now I will say that the SW Merino is pretty good, very bouncy. Merino Yak Alpaca is a little scratchy. Angora Merino is a dream. And I’m not a huge fan of the Cotton Bamboo, but only because I don’t really like plant fiber yarns. There are other yarns in the collection too. The Jumbo Alpaca I used for two scarves this winter is another.


Note: This post was not commissioned by any brand and was written completely from my point of view.

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Comfort Crochet

Lion Brand zz twist

When teeth get pulled you need some comfort crochet.

This past weekend I had the oh-so-lovely experience of getting two wisdom teeth taken out. I was not looking forward to the ordeal, but on the other hand my mouth had been in such agony for the week prior that I welcomed the inevitable pain of the extraction because at least the bad tooth (and its partner above) would be gone and there was an end in sight.

Ricky (and his family) was amazing and kept me supplied with mush foods. We spent the weekend watching TV and lounging. He serenaded me on guitar and I made some good progress on a new Spring/Summer top I’m designing in Lion Brand’s crochet-specific yarn, ZZ Twist.Lion Brand zz twistThe schtick with this yarn is it’s spun opposite than normal. Most yarn has a “S” twist and this is a Z, hence the name. (It’s a spinning thing. You spin the single ply one way and then when you put the plies together you spin in the opposite direction to balance the twist of the yarn. So this yarn is spun single with an S twist and plied with a Z twist whereas most yarn is the other way around.)

ZZ Twist is supposed to be ideal for [right handed] crocheters due to how you wrap the yarn around the hook. I am no expert on this phenomenon. I can say, however, that it crochets up pretty nicely with a good drape. With that in mind, it seemed like a good yarn to test out a simple crochet top. Crochet design hasn’t been a big focus for me and the things I have designed were mostly accessories or baby items. So the adult-sized top is kind of new ground, so to speak. Let’s see what it turns out like. Especially since it was conceived in a moment of complete agony. I promise photos regardless of the outcome. Let’s see if I’m proud or embarrassed!

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The Yarn Aisle

Let’s go to Michaels, I said. And he said sure. If that isn’t saying something I don’t know what is. ♥️

The boyfriend (Rick) mentioned he wants to learn to crochet. As you can see, we’ve started making moves on that one. Learn to crochet? Interest in yarn? This means being okay with my massive and ever enlarging yarn stash??! Ummm ok.

He has no idea what’s going on with that yarn and hook he’s holding. He’s cute though. I crocheted him the swatch and said here hold this and look pretty for a photo. He was confused. 😂

We’ll keep working in the crochet skills. And the more time he spends with me, the more he’s going to pick up on by osmosis. You can’t escape. It’s inevitable. I remember when I still lived home with my parents one day my dad spit out some yarn facts about CYC standard weights and it cracked me up. It’s happened with friends too. Really drives home just how obsessed with yarn crafting I am. Apparently I talk so much these guys are learning. But hey, everyone should knit or crochet, so it’s all good.

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Weave and Spin

I was intrigued by Lion Brand’s Jumbo Alpaca as soon as I saw it. It comes in a hank of 62 yards. It’s gigantic and soft and kind of bizarre looking and I like things that are a little weird.

Jumbo alpaca

I worked on the knit Statement Scarf first and then set out to create a crochet design. I grabbed a jumbo hook and got going. After not even two full rows I realized I wasn’t going to be happy with the outcome. It was just way to chunky and messy for me.

So if it’s too bulky to crochet, but I needed to crochet, what was left to do? That’s when I pulled out WoolSpun (have a mentioned I love this yarn?) and started in on a mesh stitch to weave the Jumbo Alpaca through.

At first I wasn’t sure. It still looked like it might be messy. However, I learned a long time ago that some art (and crafts) look like total garbage in the process and amazing at the end. Actually, some of the best things look the worst in progress. I’ve learned the lesson, but it’s still a hard one to remember.

If you catch this post before February 8, 2018 then you can get the Weave and Spin crochet kit (2 balls of Woolspun, 1 hank Jumbo Alpaca, pattern PDF) on the Lion Brand website for 25% off. Currently the kit is the only way to get the pattern.

I had perhaps just as much fun modeling this one as I did designing it. Usually you all see my sister in design photos and I’m behind the camera. I switched it up this time tho! I’m not a very practiced model. Annalee was yelling at me the whole time that I was either moving too much or not enough. Haha 😆 You can tell we had some fun though!

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Make a Statement

I knew I wanted to knit this scarf the moment I saw the yarn. The texture and color and idea all made perfect sense together. Jumbo Alpaca is so soft you can pretty much curl up in it and be happy and sleepy and comfortable forever.

And the pompoms in this stuff! Oooo la la! 😍 They’re everybody’s favorite part.

Jumbo Alpaca has a somewhat rustic feel to it. I’m not sure how to even explain the texture. A ladder? It’s not a regular plied yarn and it’s not a single. It’s mostly natural fibers (43% baby alpaca and 43% wool) with 14% polyamide in there holding the fiber fluff together.

As you can see the scarf, which I named the Statement Scarf (because hello, you’re gonna get noticed!) is available in LionBrand.com as a kit (2 skeins if Jumbo Alpaca in the color of your choice and pattern). This, along with Weave and Spin, are my first designs published with Lion Brand.

Easy knit scarf kit

For reference, I am 5’6″ so this is one loooooong scarf!

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So Snuggly

knitting love

This yarn is way far out of my normal comfort zone, especially for a garment. Yup. I’m making a sweater out of this bright pink lumpy bumpy yarn. It will be a simple boxy pullover and I plan on pairing it with my pink plaid lounge pants for Netflix & Knit nights at home.

The yarn is new from Lion Brand and if you couldn’t take a guess, it’s marketed for babies. The name says it all: Baby Soft Boucle. It is indeed soft enough for a baby. There are some other colors that probably make more sense for a grown-ass adult, but go big or go home. Right?

Originally I thought about crocheting with this yarn, but that turned into a big NOPE. You can’t see your stitches in this at all. (Definitely not beginner friendly.) Knitting is working out just fine in plain old garter stitch on US size 11 needles. This also makes it a pretty speedy knit. For he moment the newness and novelty of the yarn is keeping me I retested enough to knit rectangles. Let’s hope my speed outlasts my boredom with repetition so I end up with a wearable snuggly sweater.

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Coming Soon: A Free Pattern

A couple months ago I whipped up this simple hat. The design was originally intended to be part of the In Rhythm hat collection, but I swapped it out. Instead of Knit Picks yarn I settled on Scarfie from Lion Brand. It’s a 2-Color ombré yarn with single ply construction and a bulky weight. It’s super lofty and worked out great for the hat.

Originally I intended it to be just a slouch style, but it looks good cuffed and worn as a beanie as well.

I wear this one pretty often. The coloring works out well for my wardrobe with black matching everything and the pink offering a fun pop to winter colors. I rocked it while shoveling out from our blizzard a few weeks ago.

You can see the difference in fit between my head and my sister. Same hat. Worn uncuffed. It’s less floppy on me. I also tend to pull my hats down further over my ears.

Stay tuned for the free pattern! I’m hope next week (weekend of the 27th/28th) that I get some solid time to work on uploading designs.

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Bring on the Blanket

Every year I think I’m going to start crafting for the holidays nice and early. And every year November comes and I haven’t started a single gift. (I think maybe there was one year this statement wasn’t true.) This year is no exception. It’s November and I decided I was going to make something for at least my mom and dad. Start with the most deserving, right? (Although my dad told me years ago, “no more knit shit.” Ha!)

I decided to start with a blanket for my dad. I wasn’t quite sure what to choose for him, especially remembering the “knit shit” comment (I think that was really aimed at my ill fitting beginner attempts at sweaters, though). Every year I make him a crazy hat. He loves them, but that was getting boring. After hearing him comment on liking this chunky striped blanket in a Lion Brand email I decided the blanket was my choice.

I didn’t have any real plan going in. I chose some colors of Wool-Ease Thick and Quick and went for it. The classic chevron-type ripple seems like a good idea. Now we’ll see where the crochet takes me. And then there’s the really big question of will I finish in time?!

Kaya is quality control. She’s working hard to test out the blanket and make sure it’s up to standards. It’s a rough job, but some kitty has to do it!