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Crochet

The Leisure Arts Crochet Blog

  • Wall Hangings That Will Bring Out The Interior Decorator In You

    We've all done it. We've seen the fancy fiber art wall hangings that are typically in niche home decor stores, or luxurious art galleries, and take it off the rack, ready to give it a new home. But then you feel the cold stab of betrayal as you flip the price tag and see that the wall art you loved so much, costs a lot more than you would like to spend. Et Tu, department store markups?

    That's why we had Sharon Silverman come in to save the day with her awesome guest blog, and show you that you can teach those department stores who's boss! You can learn to craft beautiful crochet wall hangings that won't break your bank, and will make you look like you vacation in Cabo every third Wednesday.

    Take it away, Sharon!

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    I love browsing in furniture stores, don’t you? It’s so much fun to see the vignettes they have set up for home, office, and outdoors. Being a fiber artist, I always pay particular attention to the accessories. What kinds of rugs and afghans are popular? How about the pillows? What type of art is on the walls?

    There are plenty of furniture stores to explore in and around the newly expanded King of Prussia Mall, just 35 minutes from my home in Pennsylvania: Arhaus, Ballard Designs, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Crate and Barrel, Restoration Hardware, and more. Recently, I started to notice a common theme in their textiles: lots of fabric and yarn wall-hangings, including some that took me right back to the macramé days of my youth! Seeing those put a smile on my face, but the price tags didn’t. Hundreds of dollars for pieces that I knew I could make myself for a fraction of the cost—and so could you.

    That was the beginning of the idea for Wall Hangings.

    Wall Hangings Wall Hangings

    Once I got the go-ahead from Leisure Arts, I started coming up with designs. I wanted to incorporate flourishes like tassels, pom-poms, and fringe in some of the designs. Exuberant Embellishments uses a variety of yarn weights and textures from Lion Brand Yarn: LB Collection Wool, Romance, Color Clouds, Vanna’s Glamour, and Glitterspun. 

    My Wall Hangings

    Wall Hangings Exuberant Embellishments

    The neutral colors of the piece let the textures and finishes of the yarn stand out. Even though I am usually a fan of lightweight yarn, I really love the chunkiness of the fringe and some of the larger stitches.

    Winding Links also incorporates pom-poms and tassels, but this time in a consistent yarn weight. I used Red Heart Super Saver in brown (Coffee) and Aqua (Aruba Sea), but you could choose any two contrasting colors that complement your décor. 

    Wall Hangings Winding Links

    Winding Links is made in segments and then hung on a dowel. I-cords are used to hang the segments at various heights and to connect them to each other. If you haven’t mastered crocheted I-cord, this is a good chance to practice. After a few tries and misfires, I discovered that I love making it!

    The choice of stitch patterns creates the texture in Fur & Loops. Lion Brand Cotton Bamboo is worked in the loop stitch for the persimmon section, and the fur stitch for the hyacinth section. Looks challenging, right? Don’t tell anyone, but the fur stitch and loop stitch are easy variations on single crochet. They are actually the same stitch, but for fur stitch the loops are cut to make them shaggy.

    Wall Hangings Fur and Loops

     

    The natural world inspired several of my designs. Spiral Stems uses a sturdy twig as the hanger for the individually crocheted spirals in greens and greys from Patons Décor.

    Wall Hangings Spiral Stems

     Some of the spirals are long and skinny, some are shorter and thicker, just like the variations found in plants and trees.

    Wall Hangings Spiral Stems Close Up

    When I worked on a yarn installation at Hagley Museum and Library, the original site of the DuPont powder works in Wilmington, Delaware, I used a lot of crocheted roses to adorn the iron gates.

    Wall Hangings Rose Arbor Detail

    I was reminded of them when I worked on the Wall Hangings designs. They’re fun to make, cheerful to look at, and bring a great pop of color to a room! I used various shades of pink and yellow, as well as green leaves, for Rose Arbor. The flowers are Red Heart Super Saver, and the leaves are Lily Sugar ‘n Cream.

    Wall Hangings Rose Arbor
    Wall Hangings Rose Arbor Close Up

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The monochromatic panels in Windy Sails gives that project a classic look, updated with coiled I-cord decorations at the bottom. Panels use different stitch patterns to create interest. Dowels at the top and bottom keep things neat.

    Wall Hangings Windy Sails

    Leisure Arts holds onto the finished projects, but I liked Curves & Lines so much that I made one for my dining room and another one for my son’s apartment. (I did his in blues with some black and white thrown in, and made the fringe in an arc shape to mimic the trajectory of a rocket after launch. When you’re the mother of a rocket scientist, you get some unusual requests!) All of the projects use Patons Lace. I picked a straight dowel to go across and extend beyond a quilting hoop because that arrangement kind of reminds me of Saturn.

    Wall Hangings Curves and Lines
    Wall Hangings Curves and Lines Alternative

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I try never to miss an opportunity to add beads to my work, and this leaflet was no exception. Beaded Tapestry uses a variety of beads in earth tones on a background of blue Lily Sugar ‘n Cream to create a pattern that’s just abstract enough to make you wonder what it is. A bird? A fox? Just shapes? You decide.

    Wall Hangings Beaded Tapestry
    Wall Hangings Beaded Tapestry Close Up

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The fringe below is adorned with beads of various colors at different heights to finish off this long, graceful hanging in style.

    Wall Hangings Beaded Tapestry Detail

    It was a pleasure working with Leisure Arts on Wall Hangings. Along with doing the editing and photography, they staged the pieces in a variety of attractive settings.

    I encourage crocheters to make wall art using these patterns, rather than paying inflated prices for finished products. The projects are rated Easy, but even experienced crocheters will find them interesting to make—and may even learn some new techniques and stitch patterns along the way. Wall hangings make great gifts, too: one size fits all! 

    As for my professional background, I am the author of 16 crochet books and a private line of patterns. I’m a professional member of the Crochet Guild of America and a design member of The National NeedleArts Association. I was a featured guest on HGTV’s fiber arts program, “Uncommon Threads,” and have been interviewed on numerous radio podcasts. My crochet work includes large-scale museum installations, indoors and out. I am a crochet instructor for Annie’s Online Classes.

    I’m inspired by everything from the beauty of nature to the stunning creations of architects and furniture-makers. And, of course, by yarn! 

    Please join me on Facebook and Pinterest at Sharon Silverman Crochet; on Ravelry, YouTube, Etsy, and Instagram at CrochetSharon; and on my website, www.SharonSilverman.com.

    Happy crocheting!

    Sharon Silverman Sharon Silverman

     

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    Are you ready to make your own Wall Hanging? What are you waiting for! Go get Sharon's book, and show off your newly learned crochet skills.

    Happy Crafting!

    -Leisure Arts Team

  • 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 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!

  • Textured Super Scarves

    Crocheted Super Scarves are all the rage and our favorite Super Scarves designer is back with a sequel!  In Textured Super Scarves, we see our favorite scarves with creatively delicious twists. Today's Guest Blogger, Bonne Barker, is here today to talk about the inspiration for her fabulous designs. Welcome Bonnie!

    Hello all you wonderful crocheters! My name is Bonnie Barker and I am so very thankful to have the opportunity to design for Leisure Arts, a company whose leaflets have been a part of my crocheting life since I was just a kid! Textured Super Scarves is my newest leaflet, and the second booklet on Super Scarves. Most of my designs incorporate crocheted cables in some way, so when asked to design without cables, I jumped at the opportunity to explore other fun areas of crochet.

    Textured Super Scarves by Bonnie Barker Textured Super Scarves by Bonnie Barker

    What makes a scarf SUPER?? Each super scarf is approximately 10’ long and 14” wide! When I was first asked to design scarves with these dimensions, it made me laugh out loud and say, “REALLY?” But after making a couple of these extravagant pieces, I wanted to keep them for myself instead of sending them in for publication! These aren’t just “scarves”. Yes, you surely can wear them as a scarf, but they also become a wonderful wrap that can be worn in a number of different ways! I’m not a size 4 model (never have been and never will be!), but that didn’t keep me from having some photo fun, and yes, in the middle of the summer too!

    Bonnie Barker Models a Super Scarf Creation Bonnie Barker Models a Super Scarf Creation

    The cover photo of this booklet features “Cascading Lace”, which features an open lace-like pattern with some surface texture.  The ends of this scarf is trimmed with classic crocheted pineapples.  I had used this lace texture in a small handbag design and thought it would look lovely in a long scarf.  What do you think?

    Cascading Lace Super Scarf Cascading Lace Super Scarf from Textured Super Scarves

    The Woven Plaid Super Scarf was an experiment in color, something I rarely do when designing cables. This stitch uses front post double crochets and front post treble crochets, both of which are easy to learn. (I have free video crochet tutorials on my Bonnie Bay Crochet Youtube channel to support many of the stitches used in my Leisure Arts patterns. You can find them here: https://www.youtube.com/user/BonnieBayCrochet.)

    Woven Plaid Scarf from Textured Super Scarves Woven Plaid Scarf from Textured Super Scarves

    I was particularly drawn to these colors after seeing another of my designs crocheted by my friend Mary Greene Cheripka. Her color selection was stunning, so I took the liberty to follow her example in my color choice for this scarf. Be sure to have a yarn needle on hand and a sharp pair of scissors. You’ll be hiding a lot of strands on this one, but it will be worth the effort. I also have a video to help you do this on my above mentioned channel!

    Bobbled Beauty Scarf from Textured Super Scarves Bobbled Beauty Scarf from Textured Super Scarves

    Bobbled Beauty was totally inspired by Premier’s Puzzle Yarn while shopping at a local craft store. I had never seen this yarn before and was determined to do something fun with it! I loved the longer color and texture changes. There won’t be any changing of yarns with this design since the yarn does all the work for you! This is another easy pattern, made up of double crochets, chains, and big bobbles.I also love how this scarf looks as if you had to change yarn for each row - but we can keep this as our little secret, ok? Premier’s Puzzle yarn offers a variety of color combinations to suit your personal preference.

    Maple Leaf Scarf from Textured Super Scarves Maple Leaf Scarf from Textured Super Scarves

    I saved my favorite design in this leaflet for last. (This is probably the most challenging design in the leaflet, but still very approachable, even for confident beginning crocheters.) I could not help but to have fond thoughts of my Canadian friends as I crocheted each maple leaf that appears as surface texture in this design. I originally designed this raised texture using front post stitches while making a blanket for a charity gift in remembrance for a young Canadian man who unexpectedly left this world way too soon. The maple leaf isn’t bold and tacky, but subtle.  I love the way the Lion Brand Scarfie yarn makes the leaves almost look like maple leaves in the fall as the color changes gradually.  Here’s a close up photo of the maple leaf motif:

    Maple Leaf Motif Maple Leaf Motif

    The leaves are framed using the double stitch (sc, dc), giving the scarf one of my favorite crocheted textures.  It is framed on both ends using post ribbing.

    If you get a chance to make any of these scarves, I would love to see!  You can always contact me on my website at BonnieBayCrochet.com, or follow me on my Bonnie Bay Crochet Facebook page.  I truly wish you all the best!

  • Easy Afghans

    Easy Afghans provides exciting crochet projects using a variety of techniques to create interesting pattern designs. Read how Guest Blogger, Sharon Silverman, creates unique and easy crochet designs that make her afghans anything other than ordinary!  Welcome Sharon!

    My motto for Easy Afghans was, “`Easy’ doesn’t mean `boring!’” I wanted to create projects that would boost the confidence of newer crocheters and expand their skills, while also providing interesting stitch patterns, techniques, and use of color for crocheters at any level. Leisure Arts was in agreement with the concept.

    Leisure Arts' item #6725 - Easy Afghans, by Sharon Silverman. Leisure Arts' item #6725 - Easy Afghans, by Sharon Silverman.

    Variety was important to me, so I started by choosing yarn for each project. I selected a solid color for two afghans, “Snow” Bernat Satin for Icefall and “Pistachio” Lion Brand Babysoft for Green Willow.

    Icefall. Icefall Afghan from Easy Afghans
    Green Willow. Green Willow Afghan from Easy Afghans

    Each of those projects can add a new technique to a crocheter’s bag of tricks. For Icefall, it’s filet crochet, which combines open and filled squares in a mesh pattern used for lacy items. Charts show how to use chain stitches and double crochet to create the two filet patterns used in the project.

    The solid color for Green Willow is a great way to update a classic look. Anyone who is new to making motifs will master the two styles used here in no time. Clusters and openwork highlight an “X” shape on half the squares and an “O” theme on the others. Maybe I should have named it the Tic-Tac-Toe Afghan! Chunky tassels decorate the corners.

    Seaview. Seaview Afghan from Easy Afghans

    Next I used four solid colors, “Silver Blue,” “Dusty Blue,” “Bright Blue,” and “White,” all in Lion Brand® Vanna’s Choice®, in the design for Seaview. The stripe sequence and the shell pattern are reminiscent of sea and sky. I love the way one row of shells nestles in the middle of the next row.

    Hearthside Coziness. Hearthside Coziness.

    Solid color stripes have an added twist in Autumn Ridge: simple crocheted mesh background is then woven through with individual strands of yarn to create a large plaid afghan perfect for snuggling! Fall colors in Patons Classic Wool Worsted are “Burgundy,” “Pumpkin,” “Winter White,” “Chestnut Brown,” and “Sunset Gold.” Corresponding color fringe is added to the top and  bottom. The effect created by weaving yarn “in and out the windows” is really cool, and elevates this afghan from a plain striped project into one that’s a lot more exciting. The weaving is also something a school-age child can help with. Get ‘em started young!

    Chetwynd Miters. Chetwynd Miters.

    A solid yarn (Red Heart Super Saver “Lavender”) is the perfect counterpoint to the vividly variegated “Sherbet Print” in Chetwynd Miters. Mitered squares look complicated but are actually quite simple to make. Using variegated yarn with a contrasting solid balances the colors and emphasizes the right angles in this square afghan.

    Arundel Castle was inspired by a visit to that English site in the summer, 2013. Look at how many shades of off-white, tan, beige, ecru, and brown are in the stones.

    Interesting stone walls. Interesting stone walls.
    Arundel Castle. Arundel Castle Afghan from Easy Afghans

     

    Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in “Cappuccino” captured all of those colors in a variegated yarn. The two-row pattern repeat is easy to master. Gradual color changes keep the project interesting, and the yarn does all the work!

    The other project in the booklet, Hearthside Coziness, uses a simple peek-a-boo chevron pattern in warm tones of bulky weight yarn, Patons ColorWul “Jardin.”

    Hearthside Coziness. Hearthside Coziness Afghan from Easy Afghans

    It was a pleasure working with Leisure Arts on Easy Afghans. Along with doing the editing and photography, they added helpful video links to the patterns. What a great way for crocheters to learn something new or to get reacquainted with a technique they haven’t used in a while.

    My hope for the leaflet is that relatively new crocheters will discover easy items to suit their skill level (and maybe learn a few new things along the way), experienced crocheters will find the stitch patterns and techniques fun and interesting, and that the finished projects will delight those who make them and any lucky recipients who get these afghans as gifts.

    As for my professional background, I am the author of more than a dozen crochet books (14 so far!) and a private line of patterns. I’m a professional member of the Crochet Guild of America and a design member of The National NeedleArts Association. I was a featured guest on HGTV’s fiber arts program, “Uncommon Threads,” and have been interviewed on numerous radio podcasts. Recently I expanded my crochet work to include large-scale museum installations, indoors and outside.

    My inspiration comes from diverse sources, everything from the beauty of nature to the stunning creations of architects and furniture-makers. Because I live near Longwood Gardens, a horticultural showplace in the Brandywine Valley west of Philadelphia, I get a lot of ideas from their amazing flowers and plants. You can find me on Facebook and Pinterest at Sharon Silverman Crochet; on Ravelry and YouTube at CrochetSharon; and on my website, www.SharonSilverman.com. I would love to hear from you. Happy crocheting!

    Designer, Sharon Silverman. Designer, Sharon Silverman.
  • Crochet for Guys: Sportacular Afghans

    Crochet afghan patterns for guys are hard to find.  Not only does our new crochet book, Sportacular Afghans offer crocheted afghans men will love, but you'll be hard-pressed to find more uniquely designed crocheted afghans. Today's Guest Blogger is Karen Barnes. Karen designed the manly patterns you'll find inside of Sportacular Afghans and she's here today to talk about her inspiration for them. Welcome Karen!

    Hello fellow crocheters! My name is Karen Barnes and I am the designer of Sportacular Afghans. I first want to thank Leisure Arts for believing in my designs, and the Crochet Team for putting together this wonderful book. I wanted to create designs that are realistic without having to do a graph pattern, and can be used for guys but work just as well for anyone. It was important to me to keep the patterns as easy as possible.

    Sportacular Afghans by Karen Barnes Sporatcular Afghans by Karen Barnes

     

    The pool table was my very first design. You might ask why a beige felt for the pool table? Well, that is the color of my pool table. I needed to see the table in order to create it. I have made many of these in different colors for “men” friends who are using the afghan as a blanket or to cover their pool table.

    Crochet Afghan Pool Table Pool Table Afghan from Sportacular Afghans by Karen Barnes

    My second design was the poker table. Originally it was going to be an octagon, but I didn’t like the shape. So I chose the Texas Hold’em Poker Table. This was fun to make. I actually enjoyed setting up the cards and chips. While sewing the pieces on, I was telling my husband whose hand was whose. My husband actually wanted to frame the afghan and hang it in his Man Cave.

    Crochet Poker Table Afghan Poker Table Afghan from Sportacular Afghans by Karen Barnes

    The 3rd design was the bowling alley afghan, inspired by my mother. She loves to bowl at the young age of 74. My second inspiration was how I met my husband on a blind date at a bowling alley. With all of the wonderful color yarns now, it was not hard finding the wood looking yarn to make this. This is a project that you can take with you. You make the lanes in strips, bowling pins and ball are the separate pieces. I drive a school bus, so this was very easy to take along and work on this while I was waiting for the kids.

    Crochet Bowling Alley Afghan Bowling Alley Afghan from Sportacular Afghans by Karen Barnes

    The 4th design was the golf course. My husband and I like to enjoy taking whatever Sundays we can and go play a round of golf. So I went through my encyclopedia of crochet stitches and I saw the grass and fairway stitches (in my mind) and got inspired right away! Originally I was going to make this in a rectangle but I am glad I didn’t. It is a unique shape to where there is no doubt of what it is. The texture on this afghan is wonderful! Makes you want to rub your hands on it.

    Crochet Golf Afghan Golf Green Afghan from Sportacular Afghans by Karen Barnes

    Last but not least is the slot machine. My husband and I enjoy treating ourselves once in a while to go to a casino. In my mind when I was creating this, the 7’s had to look right and be easy to make. I must have wasted 20 sheets of paper printing out casino 7’s looking for the right one to imitate. I have to admit this is one of my favorites and super easy to make. PS: I have to thank my son. He is the one who drew me the picture of the slot machine.

    Crochet Slot Machine Afghan Slot Machine Afghan from Sportacular Afghans by Karen Barnes

    I hope all of you enjoy the afghans as much as I did creating them. I have gotten many compliments on the finished products and the book itself. Stay warm and keep crocheting!

  • Baby Crochet Inspired by Nature

    Crochet patterns for baby may be plentiful, but few baby crochet designs are as adorable as those in Nature's Gifts for Baby.  Today's Guest Blogger is Sara Leighton.  Sara designed the whimsical patterns you'll find inside of Nature's Gifts for Baby and she's here today to talk about her inspiration for them.  Welcome Sara!

    Hello, there!  I’m Sara Leighton, designer of the patterns in Leisure Arts' recent publication Nature's Gifts for Baby.  I’ve been a part of the wonderful crochet design community for several years now.  This is my first book and it gives me such joy to see it in print.  Many thanks go out to Leisure Arts for working with me and bringing this project to life.

    Nature's Gifts for Baby Front Cover Nature's Gifts for Baby Front Cover

    I’d love to tell you a little bit about the inspiration for each baby set.  There are seven sets in the book, each inspired by the incredible beauty of the natural world.  I love the thought of sweet little babies being all wrapped up in my designs!  What a compliment to have my designs invited into others’ lives as they celebrate their own little gifts of nature.  I’d also like to share some tips for customization for those crocheters who are particularly adventurous.

     

    Coniferous Set

    Coniferous Set Coniferous Set

    Forests are full of life and magic, just like babies!  I wanted to celebrate those precious moments with a hat and blanket influenced by the grandeur of the Pacific Northwest.  I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for most of my life and thus have been fortunate enough to have its gorgeous forests surround me and inspire me.

    Custom Tip: Make the blanket in any size by starting with any multiple of 6 stitches plus 3.  A larger blanket might mean a big forest of tree appliqués lining the bottom!  Remember that you’ll need more yarn if you’re making a larger blanket.

     

    Starry Set 

    Starry Set Starry Set

    The night sky has captured our imaginations and inspired many stories across different cultures.  The simple stitches and crisp details of this space-inspired set make it shine.  Truth be told, I was inspired to design this set because I am a space fanatic in my daily life.  It’s a good thing that I work as Campus Manager of a small private school, because working with young people helps me to get away with wearing my space dress, space leggings, space skirt, space scarf, and space earrings (though not all at once)!

    Custom Tip: Change one of the constellations to the baby’s star sign to make the set more personal. You could even write the little one’s name or initials in the stars!

     

    Fox Set 

    Fox Set Fox Set

    With a flash of bright orange, this sweet little fox set steals your heart.  I wanted to conjure thoughts of playful forest friends in soft snowfall with this whimsical project.  Foxes are fairly trendy these days — and for good reason!  They are totally adorable and irresistibly mischievous.

    Custom Tip: If springtime strikes your fancy, replace the off-white in the blanket with green.  You could also add a bow to the fox for a more feminine look.

     

    Seedling Set

    Seedling Set Seedling Set

    It’s so fulfilling watching the next generation be born, grow up, and reach their potential. This is a crisp, sweet baby set that seeks to recognize the joy babies bring to our lives as they blossom and change.  This set was inspired by a class activity that I enjoyed when I was in first grade.  We got to explore sunflowers at various stages of their development.  I never forgot the excitement I felt learning all about how living things grow and change.

    Custom Tip: Frame the panels instead of joining them to create unique nursery decor.  You could also make pillows out of them to add some fun to a favorite chair.

     

    Sunrise Set

    Sunrise Set Sunrise Set

    Mr. Golden Sun shines down on baby in the form of these bright, sunny hexagon motifs.  I like that you can work them up in your spare moments and soon you’ll have a beautiful set for your wee one.  When I was a very young one, under 5, I lived in sunny California.  This set is a tribute to that early and warm part of my life, my own sunrise.

    Custom Tip: The size of this blanket is easy to customize; simply craft more or fewer motifs.  You may even want to experiment with different hexagon arrangements.  If you’d like a larger blanket, be sure to factor in more yarn.

     

    Water Lilies

    Water Lilies Set Water Lilies Set

    This set was inspired by Monet’s paintings which reflect the simple beauty of a quiet pond.  I have a huge amount of respect for art, especially impressionism, and Monet’s paintings have always been among my favorites.  I finally saw a few in person a few years ago; I cried with happiness.

    Custom Tip: Monet created over 200 paintings in the Water Lilies series, with no two being completely alike. Place your lily pads and flowers however you desire to create your own unique version. Since variegated yarn is used for this set, no two sets will look quite the same.

     

    Raindrops Set

    Raindrops Set Raindrops Set

    Rain refreshes the earth, bringing water to thirsty plants and animals.  This cool set is a great way to play in puddles - without getting wet!  It rains a lot of the time where I live.  I love it!  The rain brings everything to life.

    Custom Tip: The cloud appliqués are very versatile. You can add as many or as few as you like to your set. Stitch letters onto them, stuff them to turn them into a matching mobile.  The sky is the limit when it comes to creativity. 

    Thanks Sara for your keen insights into the incredibly cute baby crochet designs in Nature's Gifts for Baby. You can find Sara everyday at her blog: Illuminate Crochet.  

    Have a great day!

    -Veronica

  • Halloween Tote: Reflective® Finish

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Martha

     

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