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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Leon the Lion, or the Cowardly Lion from Oz?

As the holiday season approaches, a new, and I might add incredibly young, grandmother's thoughts turn to stuffed animals and ornaments. I found this free "Leon the Lion" Red Heart pattern that combines the best of both.

The original pattern called for various green hues but I wanted to go with something a little more natural but still striking. I decided to use a Cotton Supreme Beige from Universal Yarn for the body, Presencia Perle Cotton Black for the eyes of the Lion and a couple of different Eyelash yarns from our friends at Newton's Yarn Country.

 I thought the results were just great and so did my granddaughter Caelyn. Personally, it reminds me of the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz.

The pattern is simple. The most difficult part is gathering the various yarns and stuffing. That's why we decided to put this kit together for you. This is an easy weekend project so you have plenty of time to complete it before the holidays get into full swing. The kit comes complete with the three different colors of yarn used, perle cotton, the stuffing, and the free Red Heart pattern. Enjoy!

There are a limited number of kits available. When they are gone, they are gone forever...

Get your Leon the Lion kit now

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Masham Wool

One of the surprise hits at our Stitches East booth in October 2014 was the Lorna's Laces Masham Worsted. This is a blend of 70% English wool and 30% Masham. Masham sheep have been bred for over a century on the hill farms in the Northern Counties of England. Unfortunately Masham (pronounced massam) wool is difficult to find here in North America as there is rarely enough produced for export.

Masham (pronounced "massem") is a British sheep breed that originated in the hills of northern England. It absorbs dye more intensely than the other fibers, enhancing this tweedy effect. Each fiber absorbs the dye differently, resulting in a marled look with a wonderful depth of color. Superb effects can be created without loss of luster. Masham is known for its special effects and handle in knitting and crochet.

A warm and classically appealing yarn, Masham is an ideal choice for cold-weather garments like sweaters and cardigans. Because of its similarity, it is regularly used to blend with mohair. We find Masham fiber to be silky, have a nice luster, slightly crispy and with just a bit of prickle.

Masham has a nice texture that is reminiscent of merino and blue face Leicester. The natural color of this roving is a soft cream. Lorna's Lace Masham takes advantage of the characteristics of the fiber in selecting their dye colors. Glen Ellyn and Buffalo Grove are lovely lighter pastels with just a hint of the natural cream color showing through. Naperville, Galena and Du Page are dark enough to allow the marled effect to be striking, giving each skein have that wonderful look of stone washed jeans. Take a look that these colors here.

I think if you try this yarn you will love it. Try Masham with this Free Cowl Pattern.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Nettle in the here and now

Nettle Basket Weave Cowl
Nettle Basket Weave Cowl Close-up
 As we become increasingly conscious of the environment and look for better ways stay in balance with nature, we often turn to the past. It seems that our ancestors might have known a thing or two after all. There has been a strong trend over the last several years to find alternatives to cotton. Flax and Hemp come to mind. Another recent addition to the list is Stinging Nettle.

Nettle is unusual in that it can be easily cultivated in cold, wet climates such as Scotland. Nettle yarns have been used for centuries. The yarns are woven, crocheted, and knitted into many different types of items-- everything from clothing and ceremonial accessories to fishing nets and bags. It has been used for years in fine Scottish linens such as tablecloths and sheets. These yarns have a texture similar to natural linen and like linen will soften with wear. Nettle is a natural moth repellent and is often used for backing wool carpets. It is also often used as a carry along yarn. Nettle fiber is unique in that it is hollow. This makes it a natural insulator.

Universal Yarn's Nettle Lana and Nettle Lana Expressions is a soft braided medium weight yarn with gorgeous color variations in earthy tones. Made of 70% organic wool and 30% nettle, it provides both crisp stitch definition and lovely drape.  The combination of wool and nettle imparts a lustrous sheen to the yarn that is hard to beat. The yarn is made in Italy. It comes in a 98 yd. ball.

Jo Ellen is offering her Nettle Button Cowl pattern free as an incentive to try Nettle Lana. The pattern uses two balls of yarn. 

I was skeptical at first when I learned this yarn was made with nettles. Remember your mother telling you to stay out of the nettles and briar patch? I sure do, and they do hurt.

However, this yarn is nothing like that. It is soft and drapes well. This is my new go-to cowl for this winter.

Download your free pattern for your  Nettle Basket Weave Cowl PDF Pattern