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  • Light Up Your Fall - National LED Light Day!

    October 7th is National LED Light Day -- so light up your surroundings! Fabulous fall decor from colorful leaves and pumpkins, to flying bats and ghosts, who couldn't use an extra candle or two, or three, to add a little glow to their seasonal surroundings? Leisure Arts has an LED 3-Pack Candle Set just for you - and it's being offered at a reduced price! These candles are fake, or faux, and are a great solution for ease of use and enhanced safety; fake means no candle flames ignited or melted wax! Look at what's included in the LED 3-Pack Candle Set along with some of our decorating ideas for you to incorporate into your seasonal decor!

    LED 3-Pack Candle Set includes a remote that offers 12 different color settings, two timer settings and a flickering-light mode. LED 3-Pack Candle Set includes a remote that offers 12 different color settings, two timer settings and a flickering-light mode.

    This is the first "fake" set of  LED Light candles that has gotten me excited to use. Not only do the faux candles feel like wax, each can be illuminated in a different color using the included remote. The remote control offers so many options, including two timer settings.

    LED Light - Unboxed 3 Set The candle heights are 3.9" (10 cm), 4.9" (12.5 cm) and 5.9" (15 cm); the diameter for each is 3" (7.6 cm). Each candle requires three AAA batteries.

    I like the fact that I can decorate each LED Light candle individually and use them as a coordinated theme, or display them separately around the house, or on the covered porch, or other area to be determined by my seasonal decor.

    Decorated LED Light for Fall Decorating each candle with a button garland. No need to worry about this decoration melting!

    As your decorating theme or mood changes, so can the color of the LED Light candles so that you can project your feelings or home's ambience as is suited from moment-to-moment!

    A beautiful amber glow setting LED Light for an evening setting. A beautiful amber glow for an evening setting.

    I have started with a simple tabletop decoration. It projects the change of the fall season into early winter by using leaves and ribbons in different colored patterns, along with the additional  button garlands I used as additional candle embellishments.

    A beautiful LED Light trio displaying various embellishments to use with your tabletop decorations! A beautiful trio displaying various embellishments to use with your tabletop decorations!

    Have fun exploring what type of seasonal decorations you can enhance by incorporating this LED Light candle trio into your lifestyle!

    Martha

  • Halloween Tote: Reflective® Finish

    My last blog entry told you about my trials and tribulations while learning how to crochet in the round. I shared with you my swatches and what I learned from each example.  I was very anxious to get started using the yarn specific for the project, Halloween Tote.  The project is one from Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions.

    All projects in Light-Reflecting Fashions (Leisure Arts' #75526) use Red Heart® Reflective® yarn. All projects in Light-Reflecting Fashions (Leisure Arts' #75526) use Red Heart® Reflective® yarn.

    All the projects in this leaflet use Red Heart® Reflective® yarn.  October 31st is fast approaching so let me make one more review of my project instructions and off I go to get started!

    Having crocheted multiple swatches earlier, familiarized me to the pattern instructions, as well as setting my expectations of working with multiple strands of yarn. Not that some unexpected twists and turns couldn't happen, but I thought I was prepared. Oops; a snag!

    I'm so excited to start the bottom of the tote with Red Heart® Reflective® yarn. Uh-oh; there are two frayed, snagged areas so I'll be careful! I'm so excited to start the bottom of the tote with Red Heart® Reflective® yarn. Uh-oh; there are two frayed, snagged areas so I'll be careful!

    Both of these snagged areas looked worse than they were! I could easily tuck any loose fibers in between all four strands of yarn. I finished the bottom and was pleased that I did not have large holes in the composition of each stitch.

    The range of crochet hook sizes for the Halloween Tote project. I chose the middle hook marked Size P, 11.5 mm. The range of crochet hook sizes for the Halloween Tote project. I chose the middle hook marked Size P [11.5 mm].

    I chose to work with the middle hook as pictured above. The size stamped on it says Size P [11.5 mm]. This is smaller than the millimeter hook range as listed in the book's project instructions (SizeP/Q [15 mm]) but I was pleased with the results and the hook was comfortable to hold.

    As I approached Round 11 I took a closer look at my rounds and was pleased, except...except for the joining stitches! I couldn't understand why each stitch looked so loose on several rounds. Then I counted my most recent round and had one too many stitches! OUCH! I was very frustrated because I thought I marked the proper first single crochet stitch and managed the tension successfully while holding four strands. Quite the contrary!

    I did some research about the joining of rounds and what pitfalls crocheters experience. The reply by Karen of Colour in a Simple Life to one of her reader's problems addressed this issue. Karen showed a marked photograph, as well as a written explanation, which solved my dilemma; read it here in the blog entry, Colour in the Winter Blues from 2013.  Thank you, Karen!

    I do not have a picture of the ugliness of the five rounds before I ripped them out. But I was relieved to know that there was a solution -- and it really worked. I'll show you several pictures of the corrected rounds with their joining stitches looking neat and blending in with the other single crochet stitches quite nicely.

    The end of this round; now I clearly see my first single crochet marked with a stitch marker. The end of this round; now I clearly see my first single crochet marked with a stitch marker.
    The joining stitches for each round now look much tighter and blend more easier with the other stitches than my first try. The joining stitches for each round now look much tighter and blend more easier with the other stitches than my first try.
    Even looking at the joining stitches close up, they look consistent and neat. There could be improvement, but I am happy with each round. Even looking at the joining stitches close up, they look consistent and neat. There could be improvement, but I am happy with each round.
    Marked my first single crochet at the beginning of a new round. Marked my first single crochet at the beginning of a new round.

    I was happy to continue with my orange for the tote's body. Soon, I must change colors to black for the top section which included making handles. Another challenge since I had never done anything other than a flat pattern. It's tricky to work with dark colors because it really is challenging to see the stitches. Thank goodness I wasn't learning a new stitch on top of using a dark color for the first time!

    Almost done; I just joined the black yarn. Dark colors make it harder to see each stitch! Almost done; I just joined the black yarn. Dark colors make it harder to see each stitch!

    I did have to rip out the first handle once, but after that I "saw" the stitches more clearly and could complete the handles successfully. If I was an experienced crocheter, I might have opted to make the handles thicker. I say this because if this tote bag will be used by an avid trick-or-treater who might gather multiple pounds of candy, while swinging the bag to-and-fro, I might try to add another round to the handles.

    It really looks like a tote bag! Now for the finishing touches: the spider web and spider! EEK! It really looks like a tote bag! Now for the finishing touches: the spider web and spider! EEK!

    Okay - let's make this tote bag Halloween-ready...

    Voila; now I can more safely walk the neighborhood for trick-or-treat fun! Voila; now I can more safely walk the neighborhood for trick-or-treat fun!

    The spider web was not difficult to do. Just count the number of stitches/spaces to determine where to stitch your web in a fairly symmetrical placement on your Halloween Tote. Ta-dah, done! I love it, and not in a braggadocios way, but in an accomplished manner. It is a very compact and sturdy tote bag.

    Have fun getting revved up for October 31st by planning your decorations, costumes, and trick-or-treat travel route. Happy Halloween!

    Martha

     

  • Halloween Tote: Swatch Ready

    Aren't these silly questions: Do I really need another tote bag? Do I really need more yarn? I laughed out loud when I saw this Dory comic saved by Knitting Paradise on Pinterest. I have new Light Reflecting Yarn and a pattern for halloween tote, time to get started.

    For the love of yarn; found on Pinterest. For the love of yarn; found on Pinterest.

    I've only been learning to knit and crochet on-and-off for two years now; I've been coloring a lot the past 12 months! In this short amount of time, even I have accumulated five bins of yarn. However the lure of a new project, or a new color or texture of yarn, certainly inspires me to try something new. Plus, if the project is seasonal...BINGO, count me in! 

    Latest goal: I want to make this super-cute seasonal Halloween Tote. It is pictured in Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions, using Red Heart's new line of Reflective yarn. What makes this tote unique is the promise of it being reflective; a silver grey reflective thread is spun with the other yarn fibers. This yarn and tote seem perfect for nighttime trick-or-treating while walking under the street lights, visiting neighborhood houses for treats.

    GOAL: To make a Halloween Tote Bag like the one pictured in Leisure Arts' item 75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions. GOAL: To make a Halloween Tote Bag like the one pictured in Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions.

    Crochet and knit projects require one to learn the language of the craft. In addition, the crocheter and knitter must try to learn the stitches. Once the mechanics of making the stitch(es) is mastered, the crocheter and knitter must work towards having consistent gauge. Gauge is why every project has the measurements for a swatch.

    Challenge No. 1 - Gauge: I've only made projects that were more lenient when it comes to gauge, i.e., dishcloths, a bandana, and fingerless mitts.

    Challenge No. 2 - Multi-strands held together.

    Challenge No. 3 - Working in-the-round.

    Understanding and doing are two different things; my comprehension of the instructions was one thing, my performance was another. I ripped out my first swatch after three rounds. I realized I was adding a chain stitch before every single crochet. Lesson learned: don't try to fit a new project into your schedule if you are tired.

    Here is my second swatch using four strands of Bulky weight yarn. This is NOT the yarn that will be used for my Halloween Tote, but it is the correct weight and number of strands held together. I definitely needed to use stitch markers!

    In-the-Round Swatch No. 2 - Using four strands of Bulky weight as called for in the directions. Oh, boy; the swatch is lopsided! In-the-Round Swatch No. 2 - Using four strands of Bulky weight yarn as called for in the directions. Oh, boy; the swatch is lopsided!

    I discovered that I was not recognizing the correct stitch when ending a round or joining; this resulted in too many stitches. I resorted to doing another swatch holding one strand, making my stitches very loose and using a Light weight yarn. I wanted to see each stitch very clearly.

    In-the-Round Swatch No. 3 - Back to one strand in Light weight; trying to see the construction of each stitch. In-the-Round Swatch No. 3 - Back to one strand in Light weight; trying to see the construction of each stitch.

    I learned where my error was occurring: I was not recognizing the first single crochet at the beginning of each round. When I finished each round, I needed to join the last single crochet to the first single crochet with a slip stitch. Instead, I was joining to the chain made at the beginning of the round. Okay; I learned my error. My fix was to use a stitch marker so I would not question the location of the first single crochet when I needed to finish the round by joining with a slip stitch.

    I didn't like the uneven open spaces that Swatch No. 3 had in some portion of the rounds. Granted I was still experimenting, but I decided to make another swatch. I didn't have any more of my practice Bulky weight yarn, so I chose Super Bulky yarn to make my next swatch. I would be more careful with the construction of my rounds with the hope of having tighter stitches.

    In-the-Round Swatch No. 4 - Using one strand but in Super Bulky weight. Okay; better gauge and count is correct. In-the-Round Swatch No. 4 - Using one strand of yarn but in Super Bulky weight. Okay; better gauge and count is correct.

    Alright; I think this is better! The stitch count is correct with their construction and gauge being more consistent. I felt like this was a major accomplishment -- three cheers for me! At least this was recognizable or passable as the bottom of a tote bag.

    I'm as ready as I can be; now it's time to open my new Reflective yarn and begin. I am a bit tentative, but I will get continual inspiration by looking at the finished Halloween Tote as pictured in Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions.

    This Halloween Tote is one of the featured projects found in #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions. My goal is to make one for this season! This Halloween Tote is one of the featured projects found in Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions. My goal is to make one for this season!

    Wish me luck; I'll keep you posted on my progress!

    Martha

  • Pumpkin Craft Dioramas for Gnomes & Fairies

    Can you tell it's coming? Or, have you already felt it, smelled it, seen it?  The changes are happening. Whatever you call it, autumn or fall, for the Northern Hemisphere September brings the autumnal equinox. For many, it is a much-awaited time of year bringing in crisp weather, football, school activities and....pumpkins! If you love pumpkins, you will want to incorporate them in your seasonal decorations with gnomes and fairies by updating your fall home decor with a pumpkin craft diorama!

    In recent years, I have admired the creative displays showing different methods to decorate pumpkins. I have wanted to make a pumpkin craft diorama but was always tentative with the planning, carving and decorating. This year, I have my gnomes, fairies and accessories, so it was time to take the plunge and make a pumpkin craft diorama!

    First, I needed to purchase a pumpkin; a fake pumpkin. I opted to get a pre-carved artificial pumpkin ready for diorama creativity. One is good, two is better. I bought two pumpkins; a 13 inch tall orange pumpkin, and a round 9 inch white pumpkin. I also purchased mosses as my artificial terrain for inside the pumpkins.

    Inside view of the empty, pre-carved 9 inch white pumpkin. Inside view of the empty, pre-carved 9 inch white pumpkin.

    The next decision I made was not to permanently adhere anything to the pumpkins. I did not use glue or pins or tacks. I also did not carve any other architectural designs in the frame of the pumpkins; I did not add any windows or other doorways. I used mounting putty to help place the mosses and accent pieces from my kits.

    Sheet moss to fill fake pumpkin while creating your pumpkin craft. Diorama terrain will be created using preserved Spanish Moss, preserved Sheet Moss, mounting putty, battery operated tea lights, and polyester fill.

    Hmmm--what else might I try to include in my pumpkin craft dioramas? I used a brand new book as my guide; I relied on Leisure Arts' item 6870 - Pumpkins Pumpkins Pumpkins! as my go-to resource for both the dioramas and other decorative ideas. In addition to my new Pumpkins Pumpkins Pumpkins! book, I chose various accent pieces from my kits by Leisure Arts that include  #47858 - Woodland Garden Kit, #47870 - Fairy Garden Kit, #47961 - 4 Pack Resin Gnomes, #47962 - 4 Pack Resin Fairies:

    Leisure Arts' item 6870 - Pumpkins Pumpkins Pumpkins! offers great decorative ideas for faux pumpkin craft by adding bling, paint & lace, or creating a fairy & gnome home or glittery surface! Leisure Arts' item 6870 - Pumpkins Pumpkins Pumpkins! offers great decorative ideas for faux pumpkins by adding bling, paint & lace, or creating a fairy & gnome home or glittery surface!
    47858 Pieces included in item 47858 - Woodland Garden Kit.
    47870 Pieces included in item 47870 - Fairy Garden Kit.
    47961 Gnome figurines included in item 47961 - 4 Pack Resin Gnomes.
    47962 Fairy figurines included in item 47962 - 4 Pack Resin Fairies.

    Now to begin! Review the size of your pumpkins, including their height, the height and width of your carved opening, the diorama pieces and then start arranging. TIP: Make a few sketches of your design arrangements. Just in case one idea doesn't work, a back-up plan has already been formulated! Start by placing some polyester fill into the bottom of your pumpkins, add your artificial turf of choice and move on to your decorative pieces.

    Some polyester fill was placed inside on the bottom, then covered with some Sheet Moss. Hanging from above is some Spanish Moss. Some polyester fill was placed inside on the bottom, then covered with some Sheet Moss. Hanging from above is some Spanish Moss.

    To incorporate the look of outside terrain being part of my pumpkins, I used two different kinds of mosses to give different textures to the terrain. I tacked up some artificial leaves on the inside back wall of each pumpkin, and some on the outside, too. Thinking of a tabletop display, I also placed a fairy and a gnome outside of the pumpkin craft diorama standing among the fallen leaves as if they were visitors.

    Colorful leaves nestle the fairies and gnome in their wooded pumpkin setting as they gather mushrooms and flowers for fall's festivities. Colorful leaves nestle the fairies and gnome in their wooded pumpkin setting as they gather mushrooms and flowers for fall's festivities.

    Remember, I am not permanently gluing anything to the pumpkins. This can be tricky when it comes to placing the figurines, especially since I am also trying to create the effect of a hilly meadow! I didn't want the gnomes and fairies to fall face down into the moss. I purposely placed a mushroom in front of this fairy to help steady her stance on the hillside. The mushrooms are on long wire stems. (They easily pierced through the sheet moss into the polyester fill underneath.)

    The Fairy Garden has been weeded and prepped for the cooler night air. One of the gnomes assists the fairy while the hedgehog watches. The Fairy Garden has been weeded and prepped for the cooler night air. One of the gnomes assists the fairy while the hedgehog watches.

    I incorporated artificial lighting in my diorama by hanging some tea lights using mounting putty for a very low-light effect; these images do not reflect a low-light setting.

    More leaves are changing colors everyday. An illuminated tea light marks the forest's path while bats fly overhead in the nighttime air. More leaves are changing colors everyday. An illuminated tea light marks the forest's path while bats fly overhead in the nighttime air.

    The pattern templates for the bats and black leaves are included in Leisure Arts' item 6870 - Pumpkins Pumpkins Pumpkins! It's a great additional effect to remind us of the changing seasons - or even to precede the Halloween festivities coming in October!

    I am pleased with my first attempt at pumpkin craft dioramas. Since none of my decorations are permanently adhered to the pumpkins, I can change everything from the backdrops and terrain, to the accent pieces and surrounding thematic settings. Another wonderful positive about the dioramas having changeable pieces is the invitation for interactive play. How awesome it would be for youngsters to play with these figurines in a setting like this!

    A changeable setting currently showing the autumnal leaves surrounding two pumpkins used to house all mystical woodland creatures, fairies and gnomes! A changeable setting currently showing the autumnal leaves surrounding two pumpkin craft dioramas housing mystical woodland creatures, fairies and gnomes!

    Now I have plenty of time to plan for Thanksgiving and Christmas, too. I wonder what the gnomes and fairies will be up to during November and December? I bet they'll have something fun in store for us!

    Until next time, have some creative fun!

    Martha

  • Lacy Chevron Afghan from Breaking Amish & Return to Amish

    Today's Guest Blogger is Ann Elaine from Craftdrawer Crafts.  Her blog is full of ideas for crochet, knit, crafts, sewing and cross stitch.  Today, she tells us about one of her favorite Leisure Arts patterns: Lacy Chevron Afghan.  You may recognize this as Mary's Afghan from the TV shows Breaking Amish and Return to Amish.  Welcome Ann Elaine!

    Lacy Chevron ePattern by Leisure Arts Lacy Chevron ePattern by Leisure Arts

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The Lacy Chevron Afghan is an interesting afghan to crochet. It combines a repeated shell stitched with the look of the ripple afghan pattern. I have always been a fan of the ripple afghan and enjoy the way it looks when combining it with other colors. The Lacy Chevron takes it one step further and gives the afghan the feel of movement within the colors of the yarn. The wave pattern of the Lacy Chevron afghan is one similar to the one featured on an Amish reality television show.

    Leisure Arts Afghan Parade eBook Leisure Arts Afghan Parade eBook

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    In addition to the ePattern, the Lacy Chevron Afghan can also be found in the Afghan Parade eBook along with three other designs for a total of four patterns.  The afghan made by Mary on the shows Breaking Amish and Return to Amish is actually called a Lacy Chevron.  I've tried the pattern with a few random scrap colors for practice and found it’s was fairly easy to crochet once you got the hang of it.

    Close-Up of Lacy Chevron Afghan Close-Up of Lacy Chevron Afghan

    I did find similar patterns to the Lacy Chevron online but the instructions in the original Afghan Parade eBook are written better and much easier to understand. It reminds me of crocheting a repeated shell stitch afghan along with granny squares. It’s best to crochet with a worsted weight yarn and with similar colors to enhance the wave effect. My sample pattern was modified and I crocheted a smaller ripple from the pattern to give it a slightly different look.

    When crocheting the Lacy Chevron it’s good to read through the pattern and take your time. The directions are clear and if you use shades of yarn in the same color it works up beautifully. In the Afghan Parade eBook the afghans featured are all worked in one piece so there are no seams to sew. If you like the look of the Lacy Chevron you will also enjoy crocheting the V-Stitch Shell, the Small Shell Afghan, and the Stained Glass afghan included in the Afghan Parade eBook.

    - Ann

    Thanks Ann!  You can find Ann Elaine everyday at her Blog Craftdrawer Crafts.   If you want more information about the connection between the shows Breaking Amish and Return to Amish and the Lacy Chevron Afghans, check out her blog entry on the subject here: Mary's Crochet Afghan Patterns from Breaking Amish and Return to Amish.

    P.S. If you'd like to make your own Lacy Chevron Afghan, we've just released a new Lacy Chevron Afghan Kit with a modern neutral yarn palette.  You can check it out here: Lacy Chevron Afghan Kit.

    Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 4.25.42 PM Lacy Chevron Afghan Kit with Yarns Included
  • Home Decor: Buttons & Candles for All Seasons

    August is a transition-time of year. Growing up in the northeast, it was the final month of summer vacation. The days were still hot, but the evening air would sometimes be cool. August ended with my birthday and an introduction to a new school year after the final three-day holiday weekend celebrating Labor Day. It was a cue for me to say, "Okay; now I'm ready!" I was anxious for new challenges, seeing familiar faces and getting ready for seasonal changes. This inspired me to create with Buttons and the LED Candle Set.

    I want a change to my summer decor, but I don't want to jump into fall leaves, berries and gourds. I scoured the few magazines readily available at hair salons and doctors' offices, but then turned to Pinterest for some ideas, too. I was inspired by this Vintage Button Garland and the ambience it created in quite a simple way. Plus, it was a perfect embellishment for a "fake" candle. LED candles won't burn so my garland is safe; easy-peasy, nice and easy!

    I gathered the buttons I had previously sorted and started planning. I decided to thread my buttons onto waxed linen in a color similar to the candles in my set. I love my LED Candle Set (item 47363 from Leisure Arts);  they look and feel like real waxed candles, plus they have a remote control to change colors, add flickering flames or set a timer!

    Gather different sizes, shapes and colors of buttons. Use buttons without shanks for this project. Used waxed linen to assist holding your buttons in place. Gather different sizes, shapes and colors of buttons. Use buttons without shanks for this project. Using waxed linen  assists by holding your buttons in place.

    Using the waxed linen allowed me to easily thread my buttons.  Also, I didn't have to place knots on either side of a strung button to prevent its repositioning. The waxed linen has a natural 'tackiness' which assisted in placing the garland on each candle. But, just in case your button garland gets heavy and wants to slide down your candle just a bit, use a little piece of mounting putty behind several buttons to hold the garland in place.

    Close-up of waxed linen removed from its packaging. You may like to use a mounting putty behind a few buttons on your LED candles to help hold your button garland in place. Close-up of waxed linen removed from its packaging. You may like to use a mounting putty behind a few buttons on your LED candles to help hold your button garland in place.

    Since the LED candles don't get hot,  you can safely walk away from your lit candles. I really do love the LED Candle Set (item 47363 from Leisure Arts).

    Here's the LED Candle Set I used. Leisure Arts' item 47363 has three candles of varying height, plus a remote control to set a timer, and options for candles' colors and flickering flames. Here's the LED Candle Set I used. Leisure Arts' item 47363 has three candles of varying heights, plus a remote control to set a timer, and options for candles' colors and flickering flames.

    This transition-time of year includes the colors of deepening yellows, fading greens, and dulling browns to its flashes of remaining bright colors. I decided to replicate those colors on each garland I made. I didn't measure at first. I wanted at least three rows of buttons to wrap around each LED candle. I wrapped the waxed linen six times around a candle to give me the rough estimate of the length I needed. Later, I did measure a piece of waxed linen and it was 6 feet plus; so to be safe, measure a piece that is 7 feet long.

    Experimenting with button placement on the waxed linen garland, and positioning on a candle. Seasonally themed garlands can be made ahead of time and swapped when the time is right! Experimenting with button placement on the waxed linen garland, and positioning on a candle. Seasonally themed garlands can be made ahead of time and swapped when the time is right!

    After making three button garlands, I discovered two unopened plastic containers that had plaid-patterned buttons and leaf-shaped buttons in them. Time to create a seasonally-themed button garland for my candle!

    A fall-themed garland for the short LED candle. A fall-themed garland for the short LED candle.

    I was not going to undo the previous garlands strung, so I decided to further embellish the candles with ribbons and/or their display area. Here are some developing ideas to inspire you for your home decor planning in the upcoming months. If you need some more inspiration, for more ideas using buttons and ribbons, look at Leisure Arts' item 6023 - Crafting with Buttons & Ribbons.

    Buttons galore with a golden yellow ribbon give your LED Candle SET a sense of transition away from summer. Buttons galore with a golden yellow ribbon give your LED Candle SET a sense of transition away from summer.
    Using waxed linen cording prevented the buttons from sliding together. Each end of the waxed linen was then wrapped around several buttons to hold it snuggly in place. Using waxed linen prevented the buttons from sliding together. Each end of the waxed linen cord was then wrapped around several buttons to hold it snuggly in place.

    For a preview of Christmas and winter, I thought of pom-poms. HMM...I tied a seasonal ribbon on one LED candle and the ideas started developing. For a winter theme, the LED candles could be placed on a stand then pom-poms could be stacked at their base -- this idea is just developing! Again there are no worries as these are flameless - I really do like Leisure Arts' LED Candle Set!

    Planning for a Christmas -themed holiday setting. You could place your LED Candle(s) on small pillars, add a ribbon to the candle base and have room on your tabletop for other seasonal decorations. Planning for a Christmas-themed holiday setting. You could place your LED Candle(s) on small pillars, add a ribbon to the candle base and have room on your tabletop for other seasonal decorations.

    What's great is that the button garlands can easily be swapped out with another. So let the themes Begin! Although the button garlands can be stored easily, I would recommend a cool storage area since it is waxed linen.

    A colorful glow to show the three heights of candles contained in the LED Candle Set. A colorful glow to show the three heights of candles contained in the LED Candle Set.

    Plan for your transitional decor with changes in color and themes. Do you need to get your creative juices flowing? Start small; try simple changes and see how a few special touches can give a new ambience to your existing home decor!

    Enjoy!

    Martha

  • Tasteful Palette of Gel Pen Colors

    Happy National Coloring Book Day! I am so excited that all of the coloring enthusiasts can share their creativity on a special day dedicated to the art of coloring. I have the large 36 count box of gel pens from Leisure Arts. Many of you want the variety that is found in such a large set, but at the same time, may get overwhelmed by the variety of colors and styles.

    Don't feel stressed about your choices, try to learn the look of the different styles to help with your color decisions. In order to better understand the colors and styles, my suggestion is to break down the box of gel pens by style. See the front of the box; it outlines the number of gel pen colors in each style: 10 Solid, 8 Metallic, 8 Fluorescent, and 10 Glitter.

    In order to demonstrate the different styles of gel pen colors found in the 36 count box, I decided to look for a coloring book page with similar images. I chose a page from 6703 - Ocean Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    Yeah, gel pens in 36 colors and four styles: Solid, Metallic, Fluorescent and Glitter! Yeah, gel pens in 36 colors and four styles: Solid, Metallic, Fluorescent and Glitter!

    The task before the fun of coloring is to break down the gel pens by style. Some gel pen lids are easier to judge by their appearance that that specific pen belongs to a certain style group. For instance, the Glitter pens have little sparkly specs in their plastic caps. The caps in the Metallic style group have a more muted tone. The best thing for me to do was to make swatches of each color on a blank piece of card stock. Then I could switch out colors if I was unhappy with one or more colors in a style group until I was satisfied with the final group.

    Gel pens are sorted by style (my Neon label should be called, Fluorescent). I also color-coded each style. Gel pens are sorted by style (my Neon label should be called, Fluorescent). I also color-coded each style.

    After I was satisfied with the gel pens I chose for each color style, I went one step further and color-coded each group. I placed a paint swatch of color on the gel pens belonging to each group. For instance, my Metallic style group has a pink paint swatch on the front of the cap, the cap's top and the pen body. This way no matter if the pens were lying down or standing in a container, I could easily grab all of the pens belonging to one group; my coloring life just got easier!

    If you compare the beginning of my coloring below, the fish are colored in the same order as the above-photo showing the gel pens in their color palette styles.

    To demonstrate the different gel pen styles, I chose a drawing with similar images of fish (Leisure Arts' item 6703 - Ocean Wonders Color Art for Everyone). To demonstrate the different gel pen styles, I chose a drawing with similar images of fish (Leisure Arts' item 6703 - Ocean Wonders Color Art for Everyone).

    The top fish showcases the colors from the Solid style. The second from the top fish is smaller and is colored with the Fluorescent gel pens (in the earlier photo, I incorrectly labeled my piece of card stock with the word, Neon).

    Next, you will see the Glitter style used on the fish on the left-hand side that is third from the top. The bottom fish shows the Metallic style and is very pretty is person but tends to be too shiny in my photos to highlight any good contrast. The one thing that I did find a little peculiar about the Metallic [especially the pink color], if I tried to go over a section because all was not properly filled with color, the pink became more grey. It was as if there was too much color build-up.

    I really like looking at the different styles in one project; I can more definitively choose in which color direction I wish to go. Also, it saves me frustration when I think I've chosen one color based on the gel pen's lid, when in fact the ink color is not what I intended at all! I'll finish the fish eyes after I stare at the bodies of the fish for a while. I may not do the background so I can keep the fish as clean examples for each color style.

    Showing their respective gel pen style, the fish are complete except for their eyeballs. Showing their respective gel pen style, the fish are complete except for their eyeballs.

    Consider your first colored page using your 36 count box of gel pens broken out by style as your color swatch. Just like knit and crochet, begin by making a swatch - a palette swatch of colors - for your reference before beginning your project. Spend a little time up front to make your creativity flow more easily. Enjoy!

    Martha

  • Crafters - Make a Yarn Basket from Your Stash!

    I have always used yarn in some sort of craft even before I "learned" the basics of knitting and crocheting as an adult. Two memories encouraged me to crash-the-stash of yarn and get weaving! When I was a Brownie Girl Scout, my troop learned how to craft a God's Eye or Ojo de Dios; a cultural symbol showing a woven motif created by using several colors of yarn wrapped around twigs. That is the first time I recall being amazed how several objects by themselves look and function one way, but used together in a different manner created an entirely new object! It was a magical transformation of sticks and yarn into a beautifully patterned piece of art. When I was an older Girl Scout, I made a woven basket. It took two weeks of soaking and weaving, soaking and weaving, until the basket was completed. It's funny how images from a current book can take you back in time, inviting you to revisit a past passion. Whether you discover the uses of yarn for the first time, or rediscover the transformation of your supplies into new objects, it's time to create a yarn basket project!

    The small project that caught my eye was the woven basket on the outside front cover of Leisure Arts' item 6758 - Yarn Crafts. Not only was it cute (small, compact, and uncomplicated), I could fit this project in to my schedule of other items on my to-do list. Plus, I had [minimal] weaving experience -- come on, decades' old hands-on knowledge still counts, right? Right - I immediately jumped on to making this project!

    This cute woven basket on the front cover (Leisure Arts' sku 6758 - Yarn Crafts), looks perfect for some discontinued yarn I gathered from our yarn stash! This cute woven basket on the front cover of Leisure Arts' item 6758 - Yarn Crafts, looks perfect for some discontinued yarn I gathered from my yarn stash!

    Reviewing the directions in the leaflet, I decided to add some coloring to the cardboard base of my basket. After reviewing my various coloring book choices, I chose a page from Leisure Arts' item 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    I have chosen the page I want to color for the cardboard base of my basket. The page is from Leisure Arts' item 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone. I have chosen the page I want to color for the cardboard base of my basket. The page is from Leisure Arts' item 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    This added step of coloring a page to add to the basket's cardboard base was not the hardest step, but it did take the most time!

    After reviewing the steps on how to weave the Yarn Basket, I decided that my piece of cardboard used for the basket's base would be covered by a coloring book page. After reviewing the steps on how to weave the Yarn Basket, I decided that my piece of cardboard used for the basket's base would be covered by a coloring book page.

    Of course I wanted both the inside and the outside of the basket's base to have a colorful design, so I colored the whole page. I used markers for this part of project, then sprayed acrylic sealer on the page after it was colored.

    Oh, yes; adding my colored sections from a coloring book page will be the perfect addition to the cardboard base (two circles, one for the inside and the other for the outside of the basket). Oh, yes; adding my colored sections from a coloring book page will be the perfect addition to the cardboard base (two circles, one for the inside and the other for the outside of the basket).

    Once my colored pages were cut into circles the same size as my cardboard base, I glued them to each side of the cardboard using a spray adhesive. Next, I used a sharp needle to puncture holes through the paper (that would be the inside of the basket) into the cardboard. Remember my earlier picture showed the cardboard already had the punctured holes; this was done before I made a final decision to add some coloring to my project. After the colored circle was glued to the cardboard, it was easy to puncture a new "layer" of holes going through just the coloring book page into the prepunched cardboard.

    Following the directions outlined in the Yarn Basket project found in Leisure Arts' item 6758 - Yarn Crafts, I inserted toothpicks into each hole and used hot glue to hold them in place. Some toothpicks would not stand straight up so I amended the directions by placing a pony bead around each toothpick. Then I added a different glue that would remain flexible after drying; I used E6000.

    Following the Yarn Basket's directions, 37 toothpicks have been glued into holes into the cardboard. I chose to add pony beads thinking these might add extra stability. (My cardboard example has been covered with a coloring book page). Following the Yarn Basket's directions, 37 toothpicks have been glued into holes into the cardboard. I chose to add pony beads thinking these might add extra stability. (My cardboard example has been covered with a coloring book page).
    Here's a side view of the toothpicks glued into the base cardboard. Most stood straight in place. Here's a side view of the toothpicks glued into the base cardboard. Most stood straight in place.

    I gathered three different bulky or super bulky weight yarn skeins. All three colors used were from partial skeins of discontinued colors. I began weaving - it was so easy and the pattern developed so quickly I wished I had more 'reeds' as my toothpick frame was quickly becoming a recognizable basket. I decided to quit for the night and had no worries regarding "where to start" in the morning.

    The first stage of weaving. A third color has just been added to the basket's body or frame. The first stage of weaving. A third color has just been added to the basket's body or frame.

    I changed colors as often as I liked; I didn't have a master plan. TIP: It was very easy to unweave rows when I decided to change colors at a different location. That's a great bonus - especially if you run short on a yarn color since you might be using up your stash of partial skeins! HINT: As you are weaving, gently push the yarn down each toothpick sliding it as close as possible to the woven row below it. This was a technique taught during my Girl Scout basket weaving experience and I started doing this automatically when weaving my current project! Following this technique gives the yarn basket a compact and tightly woven look.

    After the weaving is completed, a finger crocheted chain was added to the top of the basket. I placed the back ridge of each chain around the tip of each toothpick. Use some glue to hold in place as necessary. Here's a close-up showing both the top and base of the basket. The top shows the crocheted chain in place and the cardboard base with some toothpicks and pony beads still visible.

    A sideview close-up of the basket almost finished. I decided to add E6000 glue (over the hot glue); E6000 remains flexible. A sideview close-up of the basket almost finished. I decided to add E6000 glue (over the hot glue); E6000 remains flexible.

    I made another finger crocheted chain and glued it to the base's ridge. I wanted to conceal the pony beads as much as possible; these were used as structural support rather than as embellishments. A piece of single strand yarn was used to wrap around the basket near its top. As shown in 6758 - Yarn Crafts, I filled my basket with a variety of whole nuts.

    Woven yarn basket is finished and sitting on my countertop! Woven yarn basket is finished and sitting on my countertop!

    What a perfect container for a small space -  but this one little extra container will add definition to any side table, countertop or shelf. I hope to have this basket for years to come. Oh, by the way; I still have that Girl Scout basket I made all those years (decades) ago in summer camp! Fiber art lives on to tell us stories and create memories. Make some art today - enjoy!

    Martha

  • Celebrate National Coloring Book Day with Us!

    Let’s Celebrate National Coloring Book Day together!

    In honor of National Coloring Book Day on August 2nd, we are hosting The Ultimate Coloring Giveaway.  You can win 10 Coloring Books, Colored Pencils, Markers & Gel Pens.  That's a $100 Retail Value!   Show us what you’ve colored and enter our Ultimate Coloring Giveaway.

    coloringbook-page2

    There are four ways to enter:

    1) Post a Colored Page (We’d love to see pages from Leisure Arts Books, but it’s not required) on Facebook using the hashtags #NationalColoringBookDay #LeisureArts.

    2) Post a Colored Page (We’d love to see pages from Leisure Arts Books, but it’s not required) on Instagram using the hashtags #NationalColoringBookDay #LeisureArts.

    3) Re-Pin our Happy National Coloring Book Day Graphic on Pinterest

    Happy National Coloring Book Day 2016

    4) Answer the Poll Question on Rafflecopter below.

    Choose one method or do all four! So start coloring and let’s see those pages!

    Winner will be picked on August 2nd, National Coloring Book Day!

    Enter and you will have a chance to win:

    The Ultimate Art of Coloring Value Pack (10 books)

    72 Pack Leisure Arts Colored Pencils

    60 Pack Leisure Arts Double-Ended Markers

    36 Pack Leisure Arts Gel Pens

    Enter here:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Summer Fun with Gnomes and Fairies

    Have you made a gnome and fairy garden yet? Gardens can be as intricate, whimsical or expansive as you like. I decided to make my first gnome and fairy garden as a tabletop display; it seemed like a tabletop display would be a bit more manageable and accessible for me. It is now mid-July and the gnomes and fairies are having quite a get-together in the forest!

     My first decision was to choose a container for my gnomes and fairies. Since the theme was summer fun, I could get creative with a forest setting using some supplies I had to make different scenes in an imaginary world! My oval basket is quite large measuring approximately 25 inches wide x 18 inches deep giving me a lot of space as my forest backdrop. I filled the basket with styrofoam and plastic bags. I covered this basket stuffing with brown paper to conceal and secure the styrofoam pieces and bags in place.

    Gathering materials for a basket to become a tabletop gnome and fairy display. Basket stuffing includes hard styrofoam, plastic bags for spaces, and brown paper to cover. Gathering materials for a basket to become a tabletop gnome and fairy garden display. Basket stuffing includes hard styrofoam, plastic bags for any spaces between styrofoam pieces, and brown paper to cover.  

    The first part of the scenery to be put into place was the largest item to be used as part of the forest floor's backdrop. It was a  birch metal planter. This planter would be the hedgehog's home; the hedgehog is just one of the pieces found in Leisure Arts' Woodland Garden Kit (47858). I nestled the planter in between the basket's side and the edge of one piece of styrofoam. I added some extra filler to the birch metal planter that consisted of more brown paper, a peat planter and coconut fiber (taken from the lining of a hanging basket).

    Garden Gnome planter filler. A peat planter is inserted into a birch metal planter. This is the future home of the hedgehog.

    Here are some of the other supplies that I used to create the Summer Fun theme for my gnome and fairy basket garden. The coconut fiber was used throughout the basket as the forest floor and buttons were used as flowers. For my first gnome and fairy garden, I did not want to attempt to use live plants and flowers. And, quite honestly, individual plantings might not survive the intense summer heat of Arkansas even if placed in the shade and watered twice daily.

    Some other supplies used to make the Summer Fun Gnome & Fairy Basket include: coconut fiber, glass beads (Size 10), floral tape, dried beans, dried rice, a bottle cap, buttons, dowels, a cotton swab & non-tarnishing silver wire (28 gauge). Some other supplies used to make the Summer Fun Gnome & Fairy Basket include: coconut fiber, glass beads (Size 10), floral tape, dried beans, dried rice, a bottle cap, buttons, dowels, a cotton swab & non-tarnishing silver wire (28 gauge).

    I stacked buttons to make flowers and connected them together using 28 gauge wire. Then I attached the wired button flowers to dowels using floral tape. As the garden grew, a button flower garland was added to outdoor decor. See a later image showing the garland draped over the trellis!

    Tending the flowers in the Fairy Garden, this gnome is assisting with the watering. Tending the flowers in the Fairy Garden, this gnome is assisting with the watering.

    The gnomes and fairies are having fun together! They help each other and check on the woodland creatures, too.

    One fairy packed her day-bag to visit her friend the hedgehog. A welcome sign is held by a gnome greeting visitors to the forest summer activities including a campfire meal of stew and s'mores! One fairy packed her day-bag to visit her friend the hedgehog. A welcome sign is held by a gnome greeting visitors to the forest summer activities including a campfire meal of stew and toasted marshmallows!

    The trees were made by wrapping dowels with floral tape and then adding a small section of a leafy trim.

    One gnome is trimming some overgrown trees. He's being very careful not to remove too much greenery. One fairy is overlooking his trimming efforts. One gnome is trimming some overgrown trees. He's being very careful not to remove too much greenery. One fairy is overlooking his trimming efforts.

    The wading pool is an inverted plastic lid holding glass floral marbles and gravel covered with a lightly painted piece of plastic wrap.

    Gnome and Fairy crafts Just like hummingbirds, fairies love the water! These two fairies are enjoying the wading pool before getting ready for summer nighttime activities.

    The gnomes have cooked their favorite stew; they are very ingenious by using a discarded bottle cap as their pot!  I depicted the stew by using dried rice and beans; I covered all of the stew ingredients with clear nail polish. The gnomes also like toasted marshmallows. The marshmallows are cotton swabs glued to the ends of wire. The charcoal briquettes of the campfire were made by painting some dried black beans grey. Can you see the marshmallows getting toasted for dessert over the hot charcoal?

    Gnome and fairy craft basket. One gnome checked on the campfire before lighting the way across the bridge using a tea light for illumination. He'll travel along the Snail Trail to the wading pool for a quick cool-down before his evening of fun.

    The button flowers are blooming nicely and the garden has been well-tended! There was such an abundance of flowers, a garland was made and hung as outside party decor for the gnome and fairy get-together. It was simply made by weaving the 28 gauge wire through the buttonholes; including glass beads was optional.

    The flower garden has been weeded, mulched and decorated. I love the button garland decorating the garden's grounds! The flower garden has been weeded, mulched and decorated. I love the button garland decorating the garden's grounds!

    What a whimsical time I had creating my first gnome and fairy garden! I can see why gardening is such an enjoyable creative use of time and energy. Even if the location for your gnome and fairy garden is a tree stump or other container, make some whimsical fun by incorporating the gnomes, fairies, forest creatures and accent pieces with your craft and gardening supplies for some Summer Fun!

    Martha

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