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  • 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

  • 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?

  • Bountiful Pencils

    My favorite time of year is here -- sort of; fall is having a difficult time arriving with above-average temperatures and little rain! So to encourage all things autumnal to surround me, I pulled out my Bountiful Wonders Color Art for Everyone coloring book (one of my favorites) to decide which page would be my next to color.

    Blank page of pumpkins and gourds to be colored using Premium Colored Pencils (48581) and Watercolor Colored Pencils (48582) by Leisure Arts. Blank page of pumpkins and gourds to be colored using Premium Colored Pencils (48581) and Watercolor Colored Pencils (48582) by Leisure Arts.

    Coloring is so much fun especially when the design is themed around something you love. So coloring a fall-themed design was easy for me. I've been using and loving the new pencils Leisure Arts has to offer. There are two choices; they are the 30-Pack Premium Colored Pencils and the 30-Pack Watercolor Colored Pencils. Both of these new sets of pencils give an extra "wow" factor to a picture!

    As with most pictures I color using colored pencils, it is the layering and blending of colors that bring an image to life.

    Close-up of the colors and blending started on a section of the page from Bountiful Wonders (6993). Close-up of the colors and blending started on a section of the page from Bountiful Wonders (6993).

    Think outside-the-box when it comes to your color palette; don't think you should only use the "traditional" or "natural" colors for the pumpkins and gourds.

    Larger section showing traditional and non-traditional colors chosen for the leaves, pumpkins and gourds (from 6993 - Bountiful Wonders by Leisure Arts). Larger section showing traditional and non-traditional colors chosen for the leaves, pumpkins and gourds (from 6993 - Bountiful Wonders by Leisure Arts).

    Another step to my creation of a 3-D look to a 2-D drawing is the use of a second medium. To aid in this dimensional effect, I introduced some watercolor pencils to my coloring.

    Adding the watercolor colored pencils over certain sections of the premium colored pencils already rendered on page. Adding the Watercolor Colored Pencils over certain sections of the Premium Color Colored Pencils already rendered on a page.

    The final incorporation of both the Premium Color Colored Pencils and Watercolor Color Colored Pencils comes after the water-dipped paint brush blends those layers together. After the pumpkins and gourds are colored, I move on to coloring the falling leaves. I will first use the watercolor pencils on a few of the leaves and highlights on some pumpkins and gourds.

    After the water was added to blend the layer of watercolor pencils over the already existing colored pencil colors. After the water was added to blend the layer of watercolor pencils over the already existing colored pencil colors.

    Working on my page for a little while every day was very convenient for me; morning coffee and coloring. I always enjoy seeing an image come to life with each added color!

    The combined effects of using both the Premium Colored Pencils and the Watercolor Pencils to the page from Bountiful Wonders (6993 by Leisure Arts). The combined effects of using both the Premium Colored Pencils and the Watercolor Pencils to the page from Bountiful Wonders (6993 by Leisure Arts).

    Here are some of the selected pencils that I used on this page. In the below image, the silver pencil shafts are the Premium Colored Pencils on the left, and the gold shafted pencils are the Watercolor Colored Pencils on the right.

    I am very pleased that I used both the 30-Pack Premium Colored Pencils (48581) and the 30-Pack Watercolor Colored Pencils (48582)! I am very pleased that I used both the 30-Pack Premium Colored Pencils (48581) and the 30-Pack Watercolor Colored Pencils (48582)!

    All I have to do is find a nice frame in which to place my completed page. I very much want to keep this page protected, yet share its bounty with my guests.

    Page of pumpkins and gourds from 6993 - Bountiful Wonders Color Art for Everyone by Leisure Arts. Page of pumpkins and gourds from 6993 - Bountiful Wonders Color Art for Everyone by Leisure Arts.

    Happy fall decorating using Bountiful Wonders Color Art for Everyone!

    Martha

     

  • Pom-Pom Halloween

     

    The uses and appearances of pom-poms have expanded from winter gear and sports’ embellishments to include year-round home decor. See how simple pom-poms can become part of your Halloween-themed decorations.

    Pom-poms were frequently only seen on winter accessories, or worn by a team’s cheer squad. It's wonderful that the uses for and appearances of these puffy mounds of yarn have been greatly expanded! Beautiful household items are crafted with pom-poms such as wall hangings and wreaths!

    Halloween is coming in a few weeks and I wanted to get ready with some pom-pom décor. Getting a lot of ideas from Pinterest was easy. Look at this cute mantle garland and another version for one's vertical porch decor; both are awesome! Using these two Pins as my guidelines, I began making pom-poms with an end result in mind.

    Since I had many pom-poms to make in varying sizes, I took the advice of one of our designers and purchased Clover Pom-Pom Makers. To reinsure that you're using your pom-pom maker correctly, watch a video in less than five minutes.  I gathered several yarn weights with different textures. One of my favorites for this project was Red Heart's Reflective yarn. The reflective yarn has a thin gray strip that reflects the light; reflective does not mean glow-in-the-dark.

    Before: Parts to make Halloween characters. Small pom-poms (1.625") and pipe cleaners cut in half. Before: Parts to make Halloween characters. Small pom-poms (1.625") and pipe cleaners cut in half.

    Of course, my Halloween pom-poms were going to include a pumpkin, a spider, and a ghost. First would be the pumpkin. This would be fairly easy to accomplish: one pom-pom with a curled pipe cleaner as its stem.

    My second figure was the spider. Again the main part was the pom-pom as the spider body. Then, I added six pipe cleaner legs. I even challenged myself to make a red spot to indicate a Black Widow spider. I followed color pattern suggestions as found on the back of the Clover Extra Large Pom-Pom Maker's packaging.

    Added a little more drama to the spider character; here's a Black Widow! Added a little more drama to the spider character; here's a Black Widow!

    The last Halloween figure I needed to make was a ghost. This appeared more challenging than I thought. My final decision was to make a pom-pom for the ghost's head and attach it to the loose yarn strands to represent its body. I made three ghosts; each received an added yarn embellishment giving each one its own personality.

    After: Halloween characters include a spider, ghost and pumpkin. After: Halloween characters include a spider, ghost and pumpkin.

    I was ready to display my characters at home and office so I needed both a wall/door decoration, as well as, tabletop decor ideas. I wanted to incorporate extra color into my display and the perfect complement was Leisure Arts' Jute Twine (item 48526)I chose to use three of the six colors.

    Planning my display; love the colored jute! Planning my display; love the colored jute!

    My colleague found the perfect fallen branch from his hickory tree. Upon its arrival in the office, it quickly became a character itself and given the name, "Old Hickory". The branch had so much character with its craggy texture, knuckled sections and lichen patterns, I didn't want to cover all of it.

    Halloween pom-pom characters suspended from "Old Hickory" as door decor. Halloween pom-pom characters suspended from "Old Hickory" as door decor.

    Here are my extra pom-poms used for some added character for one of the most-anticipated days to celebrate around the office.

    Other Halloween decor using pom-poms in two sizes. Other Halloween decor using pom-poms in two sizes.

    I hope you enjoy making pom-poms and  decorating for Halloween; happy haunting!

    Martha

  • Crochet for Babies & Kids

    What do a crocheted ladybug blanket, a bumblebee cardigan and butterfly hat all have in common?  They're just part of the adorable collection of crochet for babies and kids in Cute as a Bug 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 Cute as a Bug. Welcome Michele!

    Oh, how I love to crochet for little ones!

    Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    Hi! I’m Michele Maks, the designer of all the cute crochetwear in Cute as a Bug. Don’t you just love to stitch projects that are as cute and fun as the small people you are stitching for? 

    screen-shot-2017-09-20-at-1-38-59-pm Crochet Star-Struck Hat in Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    While you'll find crocheted ladybug, butterfly and bumblebee items in Cute as a Bug, you'll also find this adorable Star-Struck set which I happen to think is also cute as a bug! What's not to love about these stars and stripes?

    Star-Struck Cardigan in Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks Crochet Star-Struck Cardigan in Cute as a Bug

    Whether you are stitching for a girl or boy, cute and quick and easy is the way to go!

    I think this colorful crochet butterfly is a great example!  In Cute as a Bug you'll also find a matching hat and blanket for this adorable sweater.

    Crochet Butterfly Cardigan from Cute as a Bug Crochet Butterfly Cardigan from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    And this crochet blanket coordinates with the ladybug and bumblebee sets, not only making it super cute, but practical too!

    In Cute as a Bug, you'll find: blankets,

    Crochet Ladybug Blanket from Cute as a Bug Crochet Ladybug Blanket from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    sweaters,

    Crochet Star-Struck Sweater from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks Crochet Star-Struck Sweater from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    and hats – oh, my!

    Crochet Ladybug Hat and Cardigan from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks Crochet Ladybug Hat and Cardigan from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    No Cute as a Bug crochet book for babies and kids would be complete without a bumblebee set to round it out.  This sweater and hat are perfect for both a boy and a girl! Like all the sets in the book, you'll find instructions for sizes ranging from 6 months to four years so babies and kids of many ages can join in on the Cute as a Bug fun!

    screen-shot-2017-09-20-at-1-46-54-pm Crochet Bumbleboee Hat and Cardigan from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    Cute as a bug in a rug; play school will be abuzz about these handmade wardrobe winners!

     

  • Express Yourself: Light Box, Letter Board, Planner & Journal

    It's a new (school) year and kids of all ages want to express themselves - their clothes, accessories, make-up, elective classes and extracurricular activities. Generally speaking, kids usually want to share with others what they're thinking -- and so do adults! Let Leisure Arts help everyone to express themselves with these fun and creative supplies!  

    Everything we do is a means to express ourselves. Every choice we make defines part of us. So let's make a statement! I remember an accessory people wore to help tell others how you were feeling. If someone couldn't guess by your actions, then they could see what mood was displayed if you wore a mood ring. A funny little piece of jewelry that told others how you were feeling -- generally speaking!

    Mood Ring - Original style from the 1970s found for sale online. Mood Ring - Original style from the 1970s found for sale online.

    A more modern approach is to light up a statement -- announce it for all to see. The Cinema Light Box is great to welcome new students to your classroom or visitors to a business.

    Illuminate your feelings with Leisure Arts' Cinema Light Box (item 48586). Illuminate your feelings with Leisure Arts' Cinema Light Box (item 48586).
    Great way to meet school kids, classmates or colleagues! Leisure Arts' Cinema Light Box (item 48586). Great way to meet school kids, classmates or colleagues! Leisure Arts' Cinema Light Box (item 48586).

    For a smaller, hands-on approach try the Cafe Letter Board for multi-line sentences -- even add some color and script with either the Gray and Aqua or Blue and Coral expansion sets.

    State your purpose with Leisure Arts' Cafe Letter Board (item 48583). State your purpose with Leisure Arts' Cafe Letter Board (item 48583).
    Announce what's going to be happening around the office in the near future! (Leisure Arts' Cafe Letter Board [item48583] with gray letters from item 48585 - Cafe Letter Board Accessory Set-Gray & Aqua). Announce what's going to be happening around the office in the near future! (Leisure Arts' Cafe Letter Board [item48583] with gray letters from item 48585 - Cafe Letter Board Accessory Set-Gray & Aqua).
    And don't forget that you can incorporate your love of coloring and organization with either The Art of Planning Kit or The Art of Journaling Kit. There is one accessory set to be used for either kit, too.

    Make a plan as with this page from Leisure Arts' The Art of Planning Kit (item 48579). Also see The Art of Journaling Kit (item 48578)[not pictured]. Make a plan as with this page from Leisure Arts' The Art of Planning Kit (item 48579). Also see The Art of Journaling Kit (item 48578)[not pictured].
    Plan more details for specific days (48579 - The Art of Planning Kit). Plan more details for specific days (48579 - The Art of Planning Kit).

    The pages in either of these kits are perfect for those of you who love to doodle and color but don't have the time to do a detailed page from a coloring or sketch book. You will find designs to color and/or embellish throughout each. I have had a lot of design fun with the new watercolor colored pencils Leisure Arts now carries! The 30-Pack set includes a paint brush, too; just add water!

    Add a little color to your Planner with Leisure Arts' 30-Pack Watercolor Colored Pencils (item 48582). Add a little color to your Planner with Leisure Arts' 30-Pack Watercolor Colored Pencils (item 48582).

    Have Fun • Be Creative • Tell Your Story!

    Martha

  • Retro Christmas Cross Stitch

    Retro Christmas Cross Stitch Christmas is a super fun look at retro Christmas designs that will inspire thoughts of Norman Rockwell paintings and episodes of Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy!  We love the throwback cross stitch designs so much that we invited today's guest blogger, Lee Fisher, to talk about the inspiration for her fabulous designs in Retro Christmas Cross Stitch. Welcome Lee!

    Who doesn’t love Christmas?! The colorful lights, the sound of old familiar carols being sung, the stockings hung on the mantle above a crackling fire, the fragrant aroma of turkey or ham filling the house as one by one friends & family arrive. Gathered in the living room with the Christmas tree all a twinkle & trimmed with decorations that span the years, inevitably the conversation will turn to Christmases past and the memories of childhood.

    These were the thoughts running through my mind as I created the designs for Retro Christmas Cross Stitch. I wanted to capture those images which seem so familiar to our own childhood and the Christmases of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

    Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    When I was growing up we had a big, fat, floor to ceiling artificial Christmas tree with tons of decorations but among my favorites were the frosted gingerbread houses. I remember staring at them & being amazed at how real they looked…I wanted to reach out & taste the frosting! With that in mind I designed “Home Sweet Home”, the sweetest little gingerbread house on the block with its peppermint flowers & frosted gumdrop bushes all topped with a bright red cherry. What a wonderful treat for you to enjoy…and guilt free with zero calories!

    screen-shot-2017-07-19-at-3-42-46-pm Home Sweet Home Gingerbread House Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    A personal favorite of mine is “Let Heaven and Nature Sing” because this design is also taken directly from my life. I am pleased to present…my children~ Brandon, Shannon & Natasha. When they were little we often went caroling for the neighbors with the three little ones bundled up in their little onesie snow suits, caps & mittens absolutely butchering all the traditional Christmas carols at the top of our lungs. But our neighbors were gracious…they always clapped when we were done.

    Let Heaven & Nature Sing Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Let Heaven & Nature Sing Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    In the past, as it is now, traveling was always another important event during the holiday season. Going to Grandma & Grandpa's house, visiting friends or even heading out for Christmas Eve services, being all squashed together in the back seat with siblings and packages was just another part of the excitement of Christmas. On these trips I spent my time looking out the window, wide eyed, taking in all the sights & signs we’d pass. I particularly loved the very colorful & graphic advertising designs of the atomic era. These memories were the inspiration for “Happy New Year” and “Eat Drink & be Merry”.

    Happy New Year Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Happy New Year Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher
    Eat, Drink & Be Merry Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Eat, Drink & Be Merry Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    Christmas is always a time when we remember loved ones both near and far. Another tradition many of us like to observe is the sending of Christmas cards. In my home as a child, every card that came in the mail was treasured and put on display. Some setting on shelves, mantels and hanging on the wall strung on colorful ribbon. I remember some as having the cutest pictures of baby animals in the snow, like my design “Hello Old Friend” seeing his reflection in the Christmas ball. Others were decorated with glittering ornaments and candy cane like our “Merry Christmas” design. And some came with a single, simple sentiment like “Warm Christmas Wishes.”

    Hello Old Friend Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Hello Old Friend Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher
    Merry Christmas Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Merry Christmas Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher
    Warm Christmas Wishes Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Warm Christmas Wishes Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    Of course one of the most enjoyable things about Christmas as a kid was…the gifts! Oh the colorful packages piled high and overflowing with spiraling ribbons & bows. And the excitement of checking all the tags to find your very own name. I remember some of these tags being just as ornate as the ornaments on the tree and always wanting to keep them. With that in mind I wanted to create a design that would be perfect for gift giving and “For my Deer Friend” was born. Finishing this one out as a gift bag or wine bottle bag is perfect and adds a delightful touch of whimsy to the occasion.

    For My Deer Friend Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher For My Deer Friend Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    One of the most magical memories of my childhood was a snowy Christmas eve when I was drowsily tucked up in bed dreaming of Christmas morning, when all of a sudden I heard bells…Jingle Bells!! I ran to the window and swiped away the frosty fog and down below in a swirly mist of snow were two big brown horses in jingle bell harness trotting down the middle of the street pulling a real sleigh and inside was Santa himself bellowing out “Merry Christmas, and to all a good night~ ho-ho-ho!” Over the years there has been a long running debate as to who it was. But to those of us who believe….there is no question about it and so I honor that memory with “And to All a Good Night”.

    And to All a Good Night Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher And to All a Good Night Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    I do hope you enjoy all of these designs as much as I do and that you too will cherish the memories of your childhood. I wish you and yours a wonderfully Retro Christmas!

    Lee Fisher ~ StitchyFish Designs

  • LED Candles for Every Season

    We've all seen color changing LED Candles by now.  But if you're like me, you might be wondering how to fit them into your home decor and if you'd want to use them outside of the holiday season.  I challenged myself to use the Leisure Arts LED Candle Set in my own home for every season of the year.

    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.

    Here are the results of my experiment incorporating the LED Candle Set into my home for a year.  I hope you'll find some inspiration!

    First up is Valentine's Day. I incorporated the LED Candle Set  into my tablescape with red tulips and a wooden sign.  Color-wise, I found red and white worked well for the candles.

    LED Candles at Valentine's Day LED Candles at Valentine's Day

    For Easter, I went in a more fun direction using hydrangeas and Peep Easter Eggs into a flower arrangement.  I used pink, green and yellow for the LED candles and brightly colored Easter eggs in jars to finish off the decor.

    blog2 Easter Decor with LED Candles

    For early summer I opted for a simple flower arrangement and green, blue and white candles.

    blog3 LED Candles in Summer Decor

    For the Fourth of July, I went with the classic red, white and blue candles and used a fun Patriotic planter to highlight the season.

    LED Candles for Independence Day LED Candles for Independence Day

    At the onset of fall, I incorporated a wooden carved owl and a real leaf themed candle into my decor and went with a classic white look for the candles.

    blog7 Fall Decor using LED Candles

    For Thanksgiving, I moved the candles into a cornucopia display and kept the classic white candles.

    blog8 Thanksgiving with LED Candles

    I used my candles a couple of different ways for the Christmas season.  One, on the dining room table in a classic white surrounded by oversized ornaments.

    blog9 Christmas and LED Candles

    I also used them in the living room surrounded by all the classic symbols of Christmas including  Angels, Santa, and more.

    blog10 Classic Christmas with LED Candles

    Finally, for New Year's Eve I went with a fun pink, blue and green color combination, and surrounded the candles with beads, hats, noisemakers and, of course, Chex Mix™!

    blog11 Ringing in the New Year with LED Candles!

    During the year, we also redecorated my 13 year old daughter's bedroom and got her a set of the candles.  The LED Candle Set is great for teenagers.  The candles present no fire hazard and teens can change the colors whenever they please!

    blog6 LED Candles Make a Great Accent for a Teenager's Bedroom

    I hope you've been inspired to play with decorating your own house with LED candles.  Show me what you've done in the comments, or tag Leisure Arts in your Instagram posts!

    Happy decorating!

    Veronica

     

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