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Leisure Arts Blog

  • Tidy Tips with Leisure Arts: Organizing Your Craft

     

     

    Hey craft family! 

    We all wish that we had a super-sonic vacuum that just magically cleaned our homes and arranged everything perfectly (if you haven’t dreamed of this, you’re lying). But the reality is that we make messes every day, and have trouble cleaning up after ourselves. The phrase, “Eh, I’ll do it later” has probably ruined more lives than a natural disaster has. So, let’s be honest, if you’re reading this article, your craft space is probably a natural disaster in and of itself. 

    That’s why this week, we are here to help!

    We’ve compiled a list of tips that help you get in the habit of keeping a tidy and organized workspace, and because we're so nice, we'll give you some neat projects to help you with your newfound mission. Here we go! 

    Compartmentalize… But In A Good Way.

    Salt Water Taffy Collection

    Stashing everything left and right isn’t going to do you any good in the long run. You can lose important items, or even worse, forget you had some items and go out and buy them again (trust me, we’ve all been there). The best thing to do is to categorize your things into sections! By doing this, you know where everything is at all times, and won’t end up with two extra bottles of that fabric glue you needed last week. 

    Boxes, Baskets, and Shelves, Oh My!

    Baskets

    You can’t compartmentalize without having actual compartments. Boxes are the best way to keep things in the right place, but other great storage ideas include shelves, baskets, and hanging storage devices. Here are some great ideas for storage From Leisure Arts that you can make yourself! 

    Baskets - #75496

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    Baskets - yellow

    T shirt Yarn Home Décor - #7222

    T-Shirt Yarn Home Decor

     

    Love and Let Go - Get Rid of the Clutter! 

    If your inner hoarder is cringing on the inside at this post so far, don't worry! If you cannot bear to part with the scraps you tend to keep from other projects, then put them good use, and start a scrap project! This way, you get to be creative and tidy at the same time.

    Here is a similar scrap project idea book that will help you with this project:

    More Projects From Your Scrap Bag - #5169

    More Projects From Your Scrap Bag

     

    Clean Up at the End of the Day - You’ll Thank Me Later

    This tip is the most important, because it will help keep your space constantly clean! If you spend just a little bit of time cleaning up at the end of each work day in your craft area, you have less to worry about and more time to work on your projects for the next day! A little goes a long way, especially when it comes to cleaning!

     

    Hopefully, these projects inspire you to keep a clean workspace, because after all, we work at our best when we have a clear mind, and a clean office.

    Happy Crafting!

     

    -Leisure Arts Team

  • Crafting Across Cultures: Mexico

     

    Hey craft family!

    Today we’re switching it up with a hot new crafting series, affectionately known as “Crafting Across Cultures”. We get so wrapped up in our own projects, and tend to forget about what’s going on with the rest of the world (in crafting, that is). I want to focus in on a specific country for each post in the series, and shine the spotlight on some of the great crafts and Folk Art they have to share with the world. Let's expand everyone’s horizons in craft, and spread new ideas across cultures.

    This Week? We have Mexico! 

    Mexico

    Known for its beautiful textiles and interesting pottery designs, Mexico has had a stronghold in the arts for quite some time (since 1400 BCE, according to Wikipedia). Today, we’re going to focus on the traditions of making these crafts, and the cultural significance it has for Mexico. 

    textiles

    Textiles

    The textiles of Mexico have worn many hats. Clothing was originally made from plants and cottons, which later expanded to more luxurious fabrics like silks and wool after the conquest of the Aztec Empire. Most fabrics are made with naturally dyed fibers, which give nice earthy tones to the coloring and prints in the textiles. Most are embroidered and adorned with fresh patterns that incorporate the Mexican flag in some form or fashion.

    Here are some of Mexico’s most popular textile fashions!

    rebozo

    Rebozo

    This is a garment that is still widely used today in both mixed-race communities and indigenous cultures. This long shawl is used to carry heavy objects close to the body, or support a baby. It’s traditionally a long piece of cloth with fringe on the sides, and can be made as big or as small as the crafter wants.

    saltillo-blanket

    Serape / Saltillo Blanket

    Always featuring a diamond shape in the center, the Saltillo blanket is beautiful and functional. The blankets were historically worn by men during their travels. Made with natural woven fibers, they are always bright in color as a tribute to the gods. It is speculated that if you wear bright colors, you keep evil spirits away and are granted favors from the gods. That’s why these blankets will always have luxurious blues, pinks, greens and purples, all naturally dyed from fruits and insects.

    Otomi embroidery

    Otomi Embroidery

     This is a style of embroidery that is implemented on fabrics in Mexico. This style of hand painting on fabric is based off cliff painting and could take weeks or even years to complete. Otomi Women trace a design on a white cotton cloth, and then go back and stitch with a technique that only appears on one side of the cloth. The designs seem abstract, but relate to cave painting motifs that date back to hundreds of years ago.

    pigments

    The Making of Textiles in Mexico

    The textiles you just saw are traditionally made by spinning, weaving and sewing. Hand weaving fabrics on backstrap looms to create intricate patterns and color combinations are still common practices in Mexico. In fact, this article from Zinnia Folk Arts references that each Mesoamerican culture had a deity that watched over the women who wove and created fabrics. Textile making was known to be a gift to women from the gods. Fabrics were used as a form of payment earlier in time. Whoever had the best fabrics were known to be of a higher social class. Materials and adornments like beads, feathers, and rabbit fur were woven into the nice materials, and cotton was eventually introduced from the areas the Aztecs took over (but was only available to the wealthy). It’s amazing to think about how important materials like fabrics can be to a culture. From fibers to thread, then thread to tradition.

     

    Hope you had fun learning something new today! If there are other crafts to make from Mexico, please share them with us. We’re always curious!

     

    If you want to learn how to start crocheting or weaving so you can make these awesome designs (or designs similar), we have a few books to recommend!

    Learn to Weave

    Learn To Weave

    Learn To Embroider

    Learn to Embroider

    Poncho Rebound 

    Poncho Rebound

    Modern Southwest Afghans

    Modern Southwest Afghans

    Cool String Art

    Cool String Art

    Lastly, If you wanted to learn more about the Crafting Culture in Mexico, we have some pretty neat links for you to click on below!

    History of a trend: Otomi embroidery and patterns

    Textile Making in Mexico by Cristina Potters of "Mexico Cooks" 

    Textiles of Mexico

    Mexican Textiles 101: The Saltillo Blanket or Serape 

    Mexican Textiles 101: Cochineal, A Natural Way to Create Red Dye

    Mexican Textiles 101: What is a Mexican Rebozo? 

     

    Happy Crafting!

     

    -The Leisure Arts Team

  • Color for the Masses: Heath Benefits of Adult Coloring

    Hey Craft Family!

    We’re back this week with a post that will make everyone feel younger, regardless of age. 

    We’re talking about adult coloring! 

    Affectionate Wonders Coloring Book by Leisure Arts

    That’s right, we’re talking about the trend that took craft stores by storm, and has spawned multiple series of books and other adult coloring accessories across the globe. While art therapists have been trying to tell us the health benefits to adult coloring for years, the actual trend didn’t become big until several years ago, and it's still going strong. According to this CNN article, the process of making and creating artwork is used to “explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.”

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    Seems like a long list of promises, don’t you think? That’s because adult coloring works on the same level as a therapy session, essentially. While it may not be the same as a therapy session, the benefits are very similar. Coloring and taking your mind off the stresses you are normally under serves as a form of meditation, and form of practical meditation too. Coloring produces actual products that can come into play in your daily life. Many creatives have found unique DIY uses for their coloring pages. Just follow the blog My Creative Life, they have dozens of great ideas that put your coloring pages to use. Links to some of their best ideas will be at the bottom of this article. 

    My Creative Life Colored Page Pencil Holder

    Adult coloring allows us to tap into the right side of our brain, and lets us unwind and think of nothing but what color to put in the next area of the drawing. OR NOT! You can scribble to your heart’s content. You have the freedom to do whatever you want, and much like the ideas referenced in our Stitching and Wellness article, that freedom is a luxury that we only get to have when we create.

    My Creative Life Colored Page Gift Bag My Creative Life Colored Page Gift Bag

    Leisure Arts has just recently released a new set of coloring on the go books that make it easier for you to be creative anywhere! Below are the covers. 

    Beach Please:

    Mermaid at Heart:

    Love Grows:

    In Full Bloom: 

     

    To try out some of My Creative Life’s best coloring page craft Ideas, check out this link!

     

    Don’t forget, we love to see what you guy are working on. If you end up trying these projects, share them to our Facebook page, or tag us on Instagram! We’re curious as much as we are creative. 

    Happy Crafting! 

    -Leisure Arts Team

  • Stitching With A Conscience: Crafting and Wellness

     

    Hey craft family! 

    We know that last month was ‘Stitch Away Stress’ month, but let’s face it, that’s every month for us hardworking civilians. In a perfect world, life’s biggest pressures would be swept away with the power of a single cross stitch.

    In a Perfect world.  

    The cold hard truth of this life is that some days are going to be harder than others, and that can make us feel overwhelmed. But never fear, crafting is here! We artists have found ways to cope with our stress though many mediums, be it painting, writing, or, our personal favorite, stitching! Crocheting, knitting, sewing and quilting; you name it, and we’ve all tried it at some point. 

    blog-content-5-25

    The act of creating something, anything, gives you a sense of comfort and control, even when you’re at your most uncomfortable and unkempt. We get to choose what to make, how to make it, and what to do with our creation afterwards. I know when I work on my projects, I feel a sense of peace wash over me, and I can go into a nice meditative state. In the New York Times article, “The Health Benefits of Knitting”, Jane Brody quotes that the repetitive action of needlework can induce a "relaxed state" in crafters, very similar to the meditative state one would reach if they were doing yoga. When we get like this, our heart rates lower, our blood pressures drop, and we can almost feel the cortisol (stress) hormones leaving our bodies. 

    blog-content-5-25_2

    With stitching, you can set up your own meditation studio anywhere you go. You could be on the train to the beach with a cup of hot tea beside you; or at home, lounging on the couch, kicking back to the classics while your kids do the dishes and leave you in peace (in a perfect world, am I right?). The point is that the repetitive looping action, working towards a greater goal, with nothing else to worry about but the next stitch in the set, will bring you more peace than any yoga instructor with their 'vegan milkshakes' ever could. 

    screen-shot-2018-05-11-at-8-48-35-am

    If you’re worried about not being artistic enough to reach this bliss, don’t worry! Even if you think you can’t do something well, just the simple act of doing it relieves your stress. In a Huffington Post article, Priscilla Frank writes about a recent discovery after a test was conducted on several participants during an art making session. Forty-five minutes of creative activity significantly lowered cortisol levels in the body, regardless of artistic talent. So, don’t let self-doubt get it in your way of relaxation.

    If you’re looking to find that new project, these books have some of the best projects to work on if you just want to mindlessly create and meditate: 

    screen-shot-2018-05-11-at-8-48-21-am

     

    Fidget to Focus:

     

    screen-shot-2018-05-25-at-9-05-26-am

     

    Quick Thread Projects:

     

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    Make in A Weekend Comfy Knit Throws:

     

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    50 Cross Stitch Quickies - Animals and Friends:

     

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    Make a Crochet Garden

     

    To learn more about the wellness benefits of stitching, check out these articles: 

    The Truth About Knitting and Crochet…

     

    Study Says Making Art Reduces Stress, Even If You Suck At It

     

    The Health Benefits of Knitting

     

    Stay creative, crafters! 

    -Leisure Arts Team

  • After-School Kids' Crafts: Make Crafts & Memories

    Craft projects for kids have never been so adorable. In our newest kids' craft book, After-School Kids' Crafts, you'll find 12 playful projects to make memories with your favorite children! Today's Guest Blogger, Rachel Nipper, is here to share her inspiration for her colorful crafts. Welcome Rachael!

    Hi there, I’m Rachel Nipper, designer of the projects and patterns in Leisure Arts’ recent publication Afterschool Kids’ Crafts. I have a passion for encouraging parents to share arts and crafts time with their children so seeing some of my projects in print for the first time gives me so much joy! Many thanks to Leisure Arts for helping bring this dream of mine to life.

    screen-shot-2018-05-03-at-4-15-34-pm After-School Kids' Crafts by Rachel Nipper

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    My love for creating started at a very young age. Every year the night before Easter morning my Mom would set out brown paper lunch bags, markers, stickers and other craft materials on the kitchen table and would give my siblings and I the assignment to create our own Easter baskets. At the time it never occurred to me that we did this every year because of a lack of finances. Rather, it became a tradition that I looked forward to every year. My Easter basket started out as a simple paper bag decorated with stickers and markers but as I got older my creativity blossomed into cutting paper bag strips and literally weaving them into a beautiful paper basket.

    It was opportunities like this as a child that created a passion in me for the art of creating and it is something I have tried to pass along to my own children. The joy I felt while creating when I was a child is the inspiration behind the projects you’ll find in Afterschool Kids’ Crafts. I’m excited to share a few of my favorites from the book with you today.

    Flower Headband in After-School Kids' Crafts by Rachel Nipper Flower Headband in After-School Kids' Crafts by Rachel Nipper

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    My favorite project in the book was inspired by my beautiful daughter. She plays dress up any chance she gets so I wanted to design a project she could make with me that could be added to her dress up wardrobe and worn over and over again. I layered the felt flowers with different colors and added a contrasting colored button to make the felt headband pop with color.

    Movable Head Turtle in After-School Kids' Crafts by Rachel Nipper Movable Head Turtle in After-School Kids' Crafts by Rachel Nipper

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you follow my kids’ crafts blog you know how much I adore making puppets. Not only do kids get a creative experience with making the puppet but it becomes something they can play with afterwards. This cute turtle puppet is a fabulous way for kids to practice sewing stitches and it also doubles as the cutest little toy, pushing the little turtle head in and out of his shell.

    Butterfly Finger Puppets in After-School Kids' Crafts by Rachel Nipper Butterfly Finger Puppets in After-School Kids' Crafts by Rachel Nipper
    Jellyfish Finger Puppets in After-School Kids' Crafts by Rachel Nipper Jellyfish Finger Puppets in After-School Kids' Crafts by Rachel Nipper.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    You’ll also find these adorable butterfly finger puppets and colorful jellyfish puppets inside the book.

    https://www.leisurearts.com/afterschool-kids-crafts-1.html Unicorn in After-School Kids' Crafts by Rachel Nipper

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Growing up I loved having a creative space in my bedroom for me to hang up artwork and pictures. This beautiful unicorn hoop art project was designed with that in mind. Kids can practice their sewing skills and then have a finished, beautiful project to display on their wall.

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    Another one of my favorites from the book is this simple felt owl purse. Once children have the hang of making a simple running stitch, this darling purse is a perfect beginning sewing project. With so many different color options of felt available, kids will love getting to choose a unique look for their owl purse.

    Key Chain in After-School Kids' Crafts by Rachel Nipper Key Chain in After-School Kids' Crafts by Rachel Nipper

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    There’s something extra special about receiving a gift that someone spent time creating don’t you think? This was the inspiration behind these darling wooden bead tassel keychains. My daughter loves making gifts for her best friends and these keychains are a simple and affordable homemade gift that children can enjoy making for friends, teachers and family members.

    Now that you’ve had a chance to see some of the fun projects in the book, it’s time to get crafty with your kids afterschool! I hope you and your children create fond memories with the patterns and activities in After-School Kids' Crafts.

  • Knit Color Block Blankets: 9 Blankets Baby (and Mom) will Love

    Need baby gift ideas? With brightly colored blocks and stripes and simple pattern stitches, Kristi Simpson's Knit Color Block Blankets are the perfect choice. Create a colorful nursery with 9 new patterns to knit using medium weight yarn.  We've invited Kristi to be today's guest blogger, and discuss the inspiration for her fabulous designs in Knit Color Block Blankets. Welcome Kristi!

     

    Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Hi! I’m Kristi Simpson, designer of the patterns in the Leisure Arts’ book: Knit Color Block Blankets. I enjoyed designing these colorful easy-to-knit blankets and I just know that you’ll love all the different designs that I’ve included. Everything from a stitch sampler to ribbed blanket (in a fun pattern of course!)---and in a huge variety of colors!

    If your kids are anything like mine, they have multiple blankets on their bed, in their closet and in keepsake bins. I was on a mission to create colorful designs that would be a great gift and keepsake—something that I would love for my kids to have. These blankets are fun to knit because of the different ways they are assembled and all the colors you get to knit with. I would like to mention that all the yarns are medium weight. I used a variety of brands and they all work up beautifully and quick.

    You could use new skeins as I did (let’s go yarn shopping!) or even use scrap yarn and bring in your own color scheme with what you have on hand. The sky is the limit when picking colors. You can stick to my design, and say use 3 colors for the blanket, or branch out and use more. I’d love for you to share pictures of your finished blanket on Leisure Arts Facebook page!

    Also, I didn’t ‘carry’ or work in a ‘fair-isle’ style in any of the blanket designs. It’s all worked in ‘blocks’, just as the title says. The stitching and style is great for beginners and beyond. And just to make sure you can visualize how to assemble the blankets, diagrams have been included as needed….. Now, let’s look at the blankets!

    Bright Chevrons Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson Bright Chevrons Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    First, let’s start with Bright Chevrons. I was inspired by my twin boys for this design. They just turned 10 and they love Legos. What lil’ guy doesn’t? So, I wanted to have a fun repeating pattern—but focus on the color ‘stacking’ effect most of all. I used 6 colors from Vanna’s Choice in this blanket—yes, 6!

    I used a larger knitting needed, size 11 (8mm), so that the 4 row repeat could feature the fun ripple. Needless to say—they look like they are ‘stacked’ just like building blocks! How did I make it? Panels! It’s not hard, no carrying yarn or anything. Just follow the pattern and change the yarn when needed—and then sew the completed panels together. You’ll love it! I had to keep this blanket secret when making it or else it wouldn’t have made it out of the house for photos!

    Embossed Diamonds Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson Embossed Diamonds Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Embossed Diamonds is a fun blanket that works up quickly. I used a US 13 (9mm) needle with Bernat Super Value medium weight yarn so it gives it a beautiful drape when made. The border is added on the edges of the work—isn’t it pretty? Can you see the diamonds? It’s fun to see it progress in the pattern….. and I know this will make it to your list for go-to-patterns for gifts!

    Stitch Sampler Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson Stitch Sampler Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Who loves learning new stitches? I do!!!! This Stitch Samper is the perfect way to do just that. Now, don’t run away scared of the seaming. It’s not what it looks like! It’s made in panels—yes, panels! I took the time to figure out how to make them all even and so when you make them it will all line up. SO, get your needles, your Premier Everyday Worsted yarn and learn how to stitch the Lacy Twist, Ridged Eyelet, Ladder Rings, Petite Bobbles and Moss Stitch…. So much fun and so colorful! If I were to make it again, I’d use pinks, purples, cream, grey and maybe a yellow? What would you use?

    Berry Stripes Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson Berry Stripes Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson

     

     

    The simplicity of top-down pattern is easy but with the stripes—it’s so cute! You could change the colors from pink to light blue, or the navy to grey or mauve? So many options! I used Red Heart Hugs—and it has so many color options to choose from. The blanket has a natural border on each side and you’ll use simple stitches such as knit, purl, yo and p2tog to create the garter border, stockinette stitch (the smooth portion) and the lacy section. That’s it! You can do it!

    Ribbed Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson Ribbed Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson

     

     Bring on the ribs! Not food, silly—the stitch! I love this pattern, because it tickles my brain. It alternates the ribbed sections and makes it not only visually interesting but unique to knit! You’ll also use 2 strands held together. What does that mean? Well, it works up thicker because it’s double the yarn, faster because it takes up twice the space and makes all the stitches more dramatic. I used Bernat Super Value because it’s so soft and pretty! It works up by first knitting the first long panel and then adding the side panel by working in ends of rows across the long edge. The pattern has charts and everything you need to guide you through.

    Stripes & Blocks Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson Stripes & Blocks Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Stripes or Blocks? Make it BOTH! The pattern is a repeat of 11 rows—all knit and purl stitches building onto each section. You’ll learn how to pick up stitches on the ends of rows to add the side panels-it’s much easier than you’d think. I love this blanket, it’s made with Vanna’s Choice and the colors just work together so well. Any Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice work together, really. This would be a fun blanket to use scrap yarn with, too…. I can see it now!

     

    Up & Sideways Stripes Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson Up & Sideways Stripes Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Beginning knitters, this is the blanket for you! It only uses the KNIT stitch!!! But look at the design, it’s not boring or plain at all…. very ‘Beachy’ if you ask me. I loved using the Premier Deborah Norville Collection Everyday Worsted--- you can’t go wrong with any of those colors!

     

    Tri-Color Blocks Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson Tri-Color Blocks Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I always show my husband (my biggest fan) my projects before I mail them off (and a million times as I make the item…. you have to do that!) and he declared that this one was his favorite. I made each tri-color block first, sewed them together in rows, added the white panels to each and then sewed the sections together. Don’t take it from me on how easy and fun it is—use the knit stitch, get creative with the colors and make your own tri-color block blanket!

    Two-Color Blocks Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson Two-Color Blocks Blanket in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I saved my favorite for last. This is such a fun blanket to knit! It is made in two-color blocks in a fun stitch combination. My favorite part was picking out the colors from Premier Everyday Collection. My sister almost took this one home with her when she saw it (not even kidding!) …. but I gently told her I could teach her how to knit! Just know that this will bring all the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ when you gift it! Now, let’s look at the texture. When you knit 1 and then slip 1 you will get a cool horizontal bar texture. Do you see it in each block? The border is a ‘log-cabin’ style border….and finishes it perfectly.

    Blankets featured in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson Blankets featured in Knit Color Block Blankets by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    All 9 blankets have a fun mix of colors. They would make great yarn stash-busting projects…. or give you the perfect excuse to go yarn shopping. I vote on option 2 (you NEED more yarn, right?!?) Either way, these blankets will give you a variety of options and styles to add refreshing color to any baby’s room. Thank you for joining me with a look through this book and I hope that you pick up a copy here on Leisure Arts.

    Kristi Simpson

  • Wildlife Afghans: Choose Your Own Adventure Crochet

    Wildlife Afghans lets you mix and match your favorite wildlife and side panels to crochet your own afghan masterpiece.  Do you remember choose your own adventure books? Wildlife Afghans is the crochet equivalent.  First you choose between a bear, moose, deer or wolf.  Then you choose your favorite side panel and corner pieces and you have a one-of-a-kind afghan! We love Wildlife Afghans so much that we invited today's guest blogger, Christine Naugle, to talk about the inspiration for her fabulous designs. Welcome Christine!

    Hey everyone, this is Christine Naugle, the designer behind the Wildlife Cable Afghans book. I am so excited to see the release of this book with Leisure Arts. I am even more excited about why this book is unique, it is unique because you get to design your own blanket!

    https://www.leisurearts.com/wildlife-cable-afghans.html Wildlife Cable Afghans by Christine Naugle

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    When I decided to design a new set of blankets I wanted them to focus on the outdoors and wildlife. I wanted the blankets to be appealing to the men in our lives and/or have a more rustic feel to them. So many designs feature beautiful flowers and romantic colorways that I adore but, to put it simple, they are more feminine. In this new design set, I wanted the afghans to be all about creating unique and eye catching textures, I wanted them to be perfect for someone like my Husband, Dad, or Grandfather. For inspiration I scoured Pinterest for Cabin Decor and found many framed cabin images and sayings. So, I went to my sketch pad and started jotting down multiple frame ideas. The idea of a silhouette came to me first and I decided to try a deer.

    Deer in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle. Deer in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The deer was fun to draw, my husband even got involved and taught me the differences between mule deer and white tail deer. He was excited about this blanket design which made me even more excited too. Next up was the side panels. I knew I wanted rich textures, cables, and an eye catching design. Many hours where put into making swatches of different stitch combinations and finally the panels where coming together. Boy, it was so much fun to see this project working out like I envisioned. The corner squares where fun and quick. I knew I wanted them to represent a wagon wheel but in my own design style. Boy Howdy! It worked. I knew immediately that I had to do another afghan design.

    Moose in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle Moose in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The moose was next up. I loved the prints along the side panels with the simple embossed-like diamond corners. Again, some rich texture to pull the blanket together with the striking silhouette was a success. I was on a roll and had to do at least 2 more designs.

    Bear in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle Bear in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle
    Wolf in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle Wolf in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The bear and wolf blanket designs where just as fun to work up. The bear was extra fun because my children call me, "Momma Bear". My favorite part of the wolf design is the feathered or arrow look to the panels, it is unique and fun to work up.

    But, once again, the best part about these blankets is that you get to decide which pieces you want to work up. The Wildlife Cable Afghan book is designed for you to pick and choose each piece of the blanket to make it unique and to your liking. Simply choose the animal silhouette you like best: deer, bear, wolf or moose. Next select the side panels. The panels is where your texture will really begin. Each panel has a unique cable like pattern that will draw your eyes to the blanket as if it were a photo being displayed. Lastly, you get to select the design of each corner piece. Again, each one of these pieces is unique and feature different looks from a diamond accent, to a dream catcher whimsical design, to a circular cluster (almost wagon wheel effect), to a more simple cabled square. No matter which piece you select, your finished blanket will be personalized to your liking and will be a masterpiece when you are completed.

  • Animal Rugs

    Kids will squeal in delight over the novelty crochet rugs in Kristi Simpson's Rugs for Kids.  The six fun designs help children step into imaginary worlds where creativity is key. From a unicorn, racetrack and rocket ship to a penguin, lamb and cow, every kid will have a favorite rug!  We've invited today's guest blogger, Kristi Simpson, to talk about the inspiration for her fabulous designs in Rugs for Kids.Welcome Kristi!

    Hi! I’m Kristi Simpson, designer of the patterns in the Leisure Arts’ book: Rugs for Kids. I have enjoyed designing and teaching for many years and this book so cute! I enjoyed designing all of these rugs and you can crochet them in a jiffy! Keep your feet warm and floors cute with any and all of these rugs.

    screen-shot-2018-03-02-at-1-26-05-pm Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The cow is one of my favorites! It is based off of a lacier rug idea. I know many of you have one, don't deny it! Pretty, dainty...and now a cow! Approximate finished size of the cow is 28" (71 cm) diameter. Look at the face and arms; it just brings a fun personality to any room.

    Cow Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson Cow Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Have you ever made a motif rug? What about a motif OWL rug? I loved designing this one, as I had to figure out how to make it proportionate and look like an owl with just a few colors. I love the flower motifs....can you tell? Approximate finished size for the owl, 32" wide x 39" high (81.5 cm x 99 cm).

    Owl Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson Owl Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Say Hello to Penguin! I love this lil guy...er, rug! It's fun and easy-- you need to make one! If you wanted to make one for a girl—what would a fun ribbon tied for a bow look like? Or maybe a fun bow for a boy? Have fun with this adorable design. Finished size of the penguin, 36" (91 cm) wide (from wing to wing) x 36" (91 cm) high (from bottom of feet to top edge).

    Penguin Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson Penguin Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Vroom! Vroom! Making this rug was hard to keep a secret from my boys! Even after seeing it in the book they wanted it! What little boy (or girl!) wouldn't? It's made in 4 sections, sewn together and then you add the road pieces on top....it's so much fun! Let's play! Finished racetrack, 30" (76 cm) square.

    Racetrack Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson Racetrack Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Take off with this fun rocket rug! It's a 'blast' to crochet! Okay, I'll stop with the word games, but seriously----you have to make this one, too! It was hard for me to pick a color for the rocket because my boys would want one in every color (red, blue, green, yellow!) What color would YOU USE? Finished size: rocket, 22½" wide x 42" high (57 cm x 106.5 cm)

    Rocket Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson Rocket Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I was inspired by my daughter for this last unicorn rug. She loves horses so much--and when she was little, she believed in unicorns and anything magical and 'princess' themed! If you have a little dreamer in your life, you need to make her a unicorn rug right now! Unicorn measurements: 24" wide x 26" high (61 cm x 66 cm).

    Unicorn Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson Unicorn Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Now that you’ve had a chance to see the rugs, you need to make your own! I hope you enjoy these patterns and your little ones roll all over them!

  • Huggable Amigurumi: Stuffed Animals, Only Better!

    Huggable Amigurumi offers a unique take on Amigurumi.  Instead of miniature crocheted creatures,, Kristi Simpson has created supersized Amigurimi amimals any child will love. We love the huggable crocheted designs so much that we invited today's guest blogger, Kristi Simpson, to talk about the inspiration for her fabulous designs in Huggable Amigurumi. Welcome Kristi!

    Amigurumi patterns flood the internet, but you will not find anything like these sweet Huggables! They are 19” from sitting position and will quickly become one of the family!

    Hi! I’m Kristi Simpson, designer of the patterns in the Leisure Arts’ book: Huggable Amigurumi. I have enjoyed designing and teaching for many years and this book is one of my new favorites! I can’t help it, even in designing, these little buddies made me so excited! I hope in reading about this collection, you will be just as excited and make one (or all 5!) for your next project.

    When thinking about this book I was inspired by the mountain of stuffed animals that my kids have. Seriously, they are going to take over the house….but I was drawn to the larger ones. They all have so much character! I wanted to design a collection that would be fun to have for babies to larger kids that they can use as comfort and play.

    I tried to create a collection that was similar in shape for the body and head but I added details that would set each apart. Some have large ears and hands and feet, others have a bow or collar with mitten hands…. Each are unique but as a collection, it all comes together.

    Now, I have to brag about the wonderful job Leisure Arts did on this book. The photography is phenomenal! It really brought the animals to life and showed the true size—and fun that they are!
    Seriously, isn’t the girl on the cover so sweet!?!?! The cover captured the entire theme, fun and huggable.

    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-31-56-pm Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Next, I have to say that the first photo for the inside cover is my favorite. Seriously! You can’t see their faces but you can see the bodies, head detail and tails. They look like they are buddies with their arms on each other’s shoulders! I just can’t get over how cute they are lined up like that!

     

    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-50-48-pm Huggable Amigurumi Designs - Back View

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Now, let’s talk yarn. I used Bernat Softee Chunky throughout. It helps the animals be naturally larger and hold shape. I love working with bulky/chunky yarns and Bernat Softee Chunky offers not only a great yarn but a lot of colors to choose from! So now…meet the Huggables!

    Meet Bunny.

    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-32-32-pm Bunny from Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson

    She was designed with giant floppy ears and a sweet ruffle collar. The head was made from nose to middle back, unlike the others. It is easy and the pattern steps you right through from start to finish! I love the idea of a toddler pulling it along by it’s ears…like a sweet buddy!

    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-32-47-pm Giant Stuffed Bunny in Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Say hello to Elephant.

    Elephant in Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson Elephant from Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Being from Alabama, the elephant was an easy-pick. I wanted to make it ‘just right’. So, I worked for hours on the trunk so that it would be in perfect proportion. I didn’t want it to just stick straight out, or hang down---so, I worked and worked and made it easy for YOU! Now, the ears. I love them. Large and floppy! I used the variegated yarn on the ends of the hands, feet and the ears so that you can see the contrast and have the extra special touch. And you can see how BIG these animals are by this photo… look at him with the sweet boy!!!!

    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-33-18-pm Giant Stuffed Elephant in Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Squishy Level 10: Lion

    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-33-35-pm Lion from Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    My kids vote this their favorite hands-down! They love the ears, nose and the mane. I made it from the top down and I step you through each part of it… don’t worry! The mane is actually from the neck, to the top and back down (not all over) so it’s just a fun feature, not all over. I love this one, and how it came together. I can just see it being squished and loved on for many years.

    Cuteness alert! Giraffe is here!
    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-34-02-pm

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Okay. This is MY favorite. I love it from the top of his horns to the ends of his hooves. Such cuteness! I love the spunk of his spikey hair fringe to the spots all over! I love it! I actually tried different ways to add his spots: circles, rectangles, odd shapes….but stitching them on was the perfect way to do it! I have been asked to re-make this one multiple times…. It has been a hit!

    Hello Handsome…Meet the Monkey

    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-34-45-pm Monkey from Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Dressed up in his bow tie, he’s ready to hit the town with his best buddy. His goofy grin always makes me smile and I just love his hands. Seriously, they are made like mitts to give him the most huggable effect! His perky-side ears give him the mischievous monkey look and he’s sure to impress with his big eyes too!

    From designing this book to seeing the final product, I have loved each and every step…..and I just know you’re going to love making (AND GIVING) these squishy Huggables! I hope you create your own Huggable that will be cherished for years to come. So, what are you waiting for? Get your hook and yarn and get busy!

    Kristi Simpson

    All Designs in Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson All Designs in Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson
  • Crochet Monster Playsets

    Do the Monster Mash all year round with these adorable crochet Monster Playsets for babies and kids in Monster Playsets by Michele Maks.  We love the cuddly cute designs so much that we invited today's guest blogger, Michele Maks, to talk about her fabulous designs in Monster Playsets. Welcome Michele!

    screen-shot-2017-10-18-at-2-38-43-pm Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks

    It’s Playtime! Creating playwear for your little monster can be quick and easy - I designed these pieces that way!  I’m Michele Maks, the mother of 5, grandmother of 3, who knows that with the patter of little feet that stitching time is often at a premium while monsters take over the house!

    screen-shot-2017-10-18-at-2-39-09-pm Little Monster Hat & Leggings from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks

    Back zipped hoodies a will make your baby or toddler seem scary cute!  The hoodie, like all the pieces in Monster Playsets, can be crocheted in the following sizes: 6 months, 1 years (12 months), 2 years (2T), 3 years (3T), and 4 years (4T).

    screen-shot-2017-10-18-at-2-41-52-pm Furry Hoodie from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks

    Babies and kids of all ages will squeal in delight at the Little Monster blanket.  Theses cozy blankets are stitched with two strands of yarn.

    screen-shot-2017-10-23-at-4-03-50-pm Little Monster Blanket in Blue & Red from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks
    Little Monster Blanket in Pink & Purple from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks Little Monster Blanket in Pink & Purple from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks

    Two different colorways, with matching hats and leggings, will give new meaning to the phrase BITE ME!

    Little Monster Hat in pink and purple from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks Little Monster Hat in pink and purple from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks

    It's amazing how a change of colors gives the crocheted Monster Playset a completely different look!

    Furry Hoodie, Little Monster Hat & Leggings in pink and purple from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks Furry Hoodie, Little Monster Hat & Leggings in pink and purple from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks

    What could be more huggable, or fun to stitch, than these Monster Playsets?

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