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The Leisure Arts Crochet Blog
  • A Happy Scrappy Afghan

    I finished the afghan pattern from Learn to Crochet Circles into Squares!  I'm so happy with this!

    I've been working on this blanket in fits and starts for quite a while.  I crocheted most of my circles in a weekend earlier this summer.

    And then I made most of my squares a month or so ago.
     

    And then I realized last week that I hadn't finished this pretty little lap afghan, and I jumped back into this with crochet hooks blazing.  Well, I really only had one crochet hook.  That's really all I needed. My H hook and I crocheted squares around the last few circles, and I started seaming the squares together on Friday night.  And then I seamed some more on Saturday.  And on Sunday.  I'm slow at seaming.  I'm even slower at weaving in all those ends from the seaming.  But this was worth it.

    I can't enter this in the state fair, like I had originally planned, but I can happily put this in my gift stash.  I had thought I knew who I would give this to when I was about halfway through the square-making stage of this project, but now I'm not sure.  I'm wondering about giving this to my nephew.  This is pretty large to be a baby blanket--36" X 40"--but he'll be toddler size any day now.

     

    I put a lot of hours into this blanket, and it makes me happy to think of it going to my favorite little guy.  I don't have blanket levels of love for many people.  Do you know what I mean?  I like to crochet or knit baby blankets because that seems like a great way to let a baby AND parents feel loved, but I don't normally make blankets for people who aren't newborns.  Sometimes I'll say that I "blanket love" someone, but I don't say it very often!

    This blanket is a little time-consuming, but it's also pretty simple to crochet.  You can use up a lot of scraps and play around with your color possibilities, and of course you can make it a bit smaller or larger than the pattern's recommended five rows of six squares.  You can do whatever you want! This pattern is easy to modify, which is one of the nicest things I can say about a pattern.  I love mixing up colors and square sizes and any other aspect of a pattern that can be changed up.  Best of all, you will definitely have learned how to crochet circles into squares if you try out this pattern.

     

    No wait, the very best part is that you're going to have a beautifully colorful blanket if you try out this project.  That's my favorite part.

  • 4 WIPs You Should Always Have Going

    Having troubles choosing your next project? 

    Here are 4 types of projects that you should have going. Once you finish them start another of the same kind!
    1. The Birthday Gift
    My favorite part about being a crafter is giving my projects as birthday presents. Because projects often take longer to make than you anticipate, it's good to plan these out. Whose birthday is next? How long do I have? 
    2. A Big Project
    This project is a hard one to start. You know it’s going to take forever! But if you have it going on along with your other projects, the time might just fly by.

    Ideas:

    An Afghan 
    Mile-A-Minute Shell Afghans - $4.99

    Sweater

    Ravelry: Marlaina "Marly" Bird
    3. A Little Project
    These remind you of the cheerful bliss you experience every time you finish a WIP.

    Ideas:

    Crochet Clutch
    Quick Itty Bitties - $4.99
    Mittens 

    Right now Mittens are my little projects. They are so cute! Every time I finish making them I want to start another pair! Check out I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Mittens.

    Pinterest
    ...and my favorite. 

    4. Something NEW. Something for YOU!
    Most of our projects are for giving away. The process of making them is the real fun! But who is going to appreciate your work more than you? Try motivating yourself with just one WIP.
    If the project is for you, than there is less stress. This is a great opportunity to learn something new!

    Ideas:

    The “50 patterns” books are my favorites. You can keep your crafts lively by learning a new stitch for a project.

    Aran Scarf
    Ravelry: MillaMia Sweden

    Lion Brand
    Experiment with Motifs

    Ravelry: Eclectic Gipsyland

    Thanks for reading!


    Stay crafty! 

    -Marie

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Special Snowflake

    I crocheted the dishcloth pattern from Learn to Crochet African Flower Motifs!

    I've made this before, but I decided I didn't like my color choices once I was done.  And I think the pictures for the post I wrote about it were ugly because I hadn't figured out some of settings on my camera.  Yes, I know that the camera came with an instruction manual.  No, I don't know what it's trying to tell me most of the time.

    So I wanted a do-over.  And here it is!  I love the African flower motif--that's why I was so tickled with how my blanket has looked so far.  But I thought that if I crocheted this dishcloth with white and blue yarn that it could look like a snowflake. I'm not sure if it does.  Maybe I should have worked this with yellows and pinks and greens.  Maybe that's what I'll do next time.  I think I'll call this a snowflake dishcloth anyway.

    It has six points, the yarn is in wintery colors, and I've declared this dishcloth to be a snowflake dishcloth. So ta da! 

    I already feel better at this attempt at an African flower motif dishcloth because I went ahead and used the recommended I hook for this.  I normally go down a hook size or two in my crochet projects because I have a pretty loose gauge.  But with African flower motifs, you should probably use a bigger hook than what you think you might need.  The long single crochet stitch (when you crochet into the stitch two rows down) can pull the crocheted fabric of your project and you're going to want it to stretch instead of bunching.

    There are some cute patterns in Learn to Crochet African Flower Motifs, and I think the dishcloth pattern is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to this motif. 

    And it makes a lovely little dishcloth as well. 

  • A Sweet Bit of Sunshine

    I'm crocheting the Sunshine pattern from Blankets for Toddlers.  So far, so good!

    This is one of those patterns where you make a chain, work your set-up row, and then crochet the same row for a million eternities or until you reach your desired length.  This is excellent murder mystery TV crocheting.  Just absolutely fantastic.  I'm making this for some friends' niece, who is a small baby.  This is supposed to be 45" long, but that seems like a bit much for someone who is not actually a toddler.  So I'll probably work on this until it's as long as it is wide and work a quick single crochet border around this in bright pink.  It's going to be great. 

    I picked this pattern because I love shells.  I love crocheting them.  I love the way they look. 

    And I love that the pattern is named "Sunshine."  I know light purple is more of a sunrise or sunset thing, but I like it for this blanket.  I have three skeins and this pattern will use up all of them.  It's just about the perfect yardage requirement, so now you know.  Three skeins of Red Heart Super Saver = one blanket. 

    Oh!  I can't believe I'm just thinking to mention this!  You could need more.  Each of the patterns in Blankets for Toddlers have instructions on how to modify the blanket to be crocheted with one strand of yarn, or with two strands held double.  Then you would need more yarn.  An afghan crocheted with two strands would be great for play pallets or toddlers who live in chillier climates.   It sounds fluffy!  And like an excellent stashbuster. 

    I'm more than happy to stick with my one little strand of yarn, though.  I'm making good progress and I think I'll have this finished pretty soon--maybe even by the end of this weekend!

    Good luck with your works-in-progress this week!

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Now With Slant Stitches!

    Hello, I have crocheted slant stitches!  I had been seeing tutorials for this look on Pinterest lately, and was thinking about trying it out.  When I realized that Dishcloth #34 in The Big Book of Dishcloths used it, I had to do it!

    I say this a lot, but I feel like it's okay to preach this like it's my religion: if you want to try out something new, find a dishcloth pattern that incorporates it.  It's perfect practice, it's a small project, and you have a useful and beautiful dishcloth to show for your trouble when you're finished.

    So.  The slant stitch.  You're crocheting your double crochet stitches, and then you skip a stitch.  Then you crochet three crochet stitches (or however many your pattern tells you to).

    I'm really bad at using my camera with my left hand, y'all.  Sorry for what you're about to see.

    Then!  You yarn over like you're about to make another double crochet stitch.  But!  You insert your hook into the skipped stitch three stitches back.  I know, plot twist!

    You work a yarnover and pull that yarn wayyyy out and pull it through two loops, yarnover, and pull it through your last two loops--you know, regular double crochet stuff.

    Except that you worked it a few stitches backwards.

    Then you skip a stitch and work three double crochet stitches and repeat the whole thing over again until you have this cool-looking dishcloth to show for it.

    This was fun!  I apparently should have worked another row or two, but once I decided to use orange yarn for my border I guess I got a little impatient.  I like the bright orange with the red, but I do wish I'd used the single crochet stitch border instead of this double crochet stitch border.  Oh well.

    I really like the slant stitch!  I'm pretty pumped that I learned it, and I hope I find another pattern that calls for it soon.  The dishcloth was great practice and I'm happy to have it in my gift stash.  Win win!

  • Crocheting a Sweet Little Bear Hat

    I love bear hats.  Actually, I'm a sucker for any kind of animal hat.  But bear hats seem to be my favorite.  The fact that I've made three of them in the past year probably proves it.  My most recent one is the Bear Hat from Baby Hats.

    I made this in the 3 month size with worsted weight yarn and an I hook.  I also added another row to the body because it looked just a tad short to me.  Or maybe that's because I also think hats should be a little bit longer than the pattern calls for--seriously, I do this nearly every time.  I'm sure it would have been fine perched on some baby's head for a few seconds before getting pulled off and chewed on, but now I feel a little more secure about the height.  There was a little bit of overthinking for a little hat, but that extra row took literally another minute.  I feel like I've talked about the height of this hat too much.

    Let's talk about the ears, though, because I think I've found my favorite ear method.  You just crochet a circle and fold it in half.  Having a flat bottom that's made of two layers of crochet helps it sit flat when you stitch to the sides of the body.  And the ears are kind of big.  I think that's adorable.  I love big ears on babies, and on their hats.  So precious.

    This is for my husband's cousin, and I made sure to use acrylic (good ol' Red Heart) so this could be washed and dried with regular baby clothes.  Sometimes I want to use super nice yarn and make heirloom-type projects.  But other times, well, I'm a sucker for an adorable animal hat and I want to give a gift that non-yarny first-time parents can use to keep their baby warm without a lot of extra fuss.  This is such a sweet little hat.

    I had made another pattern from Baby Hats--the Pixie Bonnet--and remembered it being simple and quick, but this project may have been simpler and quicker!  All of the patterns are listed as "Easy", and would be excellent projects for newer crocheters or anyone who's a little short on time.  You could crochet up a bear hat in less than an hour and no one would ever know you were unprepared for that baby shower!  No judgement from me.  Babies (and sometimes their parties) can really sneak up on you.  No one has to know this didn't take forever, and you can feel really good about how stinking cute this is.  Let me show you the ears again.

    This might just be my favorite bear hat! 

  • In Praise of Yarnbombing Your Own Home

    It's September.  I have already enjoyed a pumpkin spice latte, gone hiking, placed the fall wreath on my front door, and decorated my balcony with a banner made from Square 3 from 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.

    I'm really in the swing of things this fall!

    I recently took down the banner I made from Square 49 from 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.   I loved that banner.  With cotton yarn and a slightly nautical look, this was a perfect summery banner for my balcony.

     

    But we're slipping slowly out of summer weather, and the banner has been starting to show some wear and tear.  It needs a good trip through the washing machine, and some squares are a little faded from the sun.  It was time for a new look.

    When I made my fall banner last year, I didn't think about the length of the banner.  I don't know why I wasn't thinking, but I definitely wasn't!  Maybe I got excited about the fall colors, or the fact that I was crocheting granny triangles instead of granny squares.

    Something went a little haywire in my excitement and I made quite a few granny triangles and when I strung them up I had a banner longer than any space in my home.  The balcony is a good place for this!

    Sometimes I feel a little weird about tossing my handmade items out into the elements.  I worry that having a bunch of things out on the balcony will look a little trashy.  I almost worry about some yarnbomb-hating person reading this and getting all huffy (I've seen it happen before. Did you know people on the Internet have really strong opinions?!), but not quite because I'm an adult and don't care.  If I had made someone a blanket and they left it out in the rain, I'd be in a huff to end all huffs.  But these are a few squares that I enjoyed making and now I've out where I can enjoy them.  I can't think of a more fun way to declare "A crafter lives here!" than doing silly things like this every once in a while.

    We live in an apartment and since we're stuck with Apartment Beige walls we can't change and ugly carpet we can't change and a really ineffective dishwasher we can't change, decorating our little home is a big change we can make to make this space truly ours.  We have family photos and my daughter's drawings on the wall, my husband's posters and cookbooks spread everywhere, and I've covered every major piece of furniture with an afghan.  Banners and blankets make our home cheerful and inviting.  I think adding a little yarn to our balcony keeps it looking festive and homey.

    I'm starting to wonder about Christmas decorations.

  • Cowls, Mods, and the Best Laid Plans

    I crocheted a cowl from Scarves & Cowls!  It was the Anna cowl, to be exact.  It's lovely.

    A few words about Scarves & Cowls.  All of the patterns have names, and each pattern has a cowl version and a scarf version.  And then--then!--there's a chart to help you customize your cowl or scarf to difference widths or lengths.  This is a dream come true for anyone picking out patterns based on their stash. 

    I've wanted to try the Anna cowl for a while.  One, it calls for Lion Brand Amazing and I automatically love anything that calls for Lion Brand Amazing.  It's my favorite.  And two, it's a very simple pattern.

    There are times when I want a project that's incredibly involved and challenging.  And then there are times when I want to work on something that includes phrases like "And then work Row 2 until your project reaches this certain length or until you're happy with it. Whatever."  I may be paraphrasing a bit, but I was in a mood for one of those 'Row 2 forever' patterns and this really hit the spot.  It's a mix of single crochet stitches and half double crochet stitches worked flat and I think the stitches look like little flowers.

    I had two partial skeins of Lion Brand Amazing, so I made a beginning chain from the chart.  I used the Roses and the Aurora colors.  I think the red blended into the pink pretty well!

    Also, the cowl doesn't have to be twisted before seaming, but it's an option for people who want to.  And I always want to, at least with crochet cowls. This was an easy and quick project.  Amazing yarn is Aran weight, and the pattern calls for a J hook.  I made this in one (somewhat late) night last week before my husband was set to take out daughter to visit my mom.  I had intended to make her something earlier in the week, but the day sort of sneaked up on me and there I was--giftless the night before.  So I got started on this that night, and then I took these pictures before I went to work.

    And then my husband didn't take it with him.

    Ahem.

    Ugh.  At least I enjoyed working on this, and I think it turned out beautifully.  I'm looking forward to trying more of the patterns from Scarves & Cowls because they look like fun and I think they'll be wonderful gifts.  

    One more thing: hi Mom!  I hope you like this!  It's very warm, and it's headed your way!

    Eventually.

  • 8 Crochet Techniques to Learn for Fall

    Instagram: LeisureArts














    Ever thought of taking your fall crochet skills "beyond the basics"? Here are some unique techniques to spice up your crochet projects. You can learn these techniques and more in Crochet Beyond the Basics.

    1. Irish Crochet

    Irish Crochet is just gorgeous. It's all about working around a "padding" cord. Which makes this technique perfect for crochet flowers and intricate lace. 

    Pinterest
    Irish Crochet Lab

    2. Mosaic Crochet

    Mosaic Crochet seems as though you are crocheting on top of crochet. It's all about contrasting colors and the results are stunning! The second photo is a pattern by Lily Chin. She was twice named Fastest Crocheter in the World. Her book Lily Chin's Mosaic Magic  makes this technique surprisingly simple. 

    Ravelry: Margret Willson
    Lily Chin's Mosaic Magic

    3. Tapestry Crochet

    Tapestry Crochet is about working with two colors on the same row. The technique is to switch colors smoothly so the fabric almost looks woven. This technique would be perfect for creating a crochet tribal print pattern. 

    Jellina Creations
    Ravelry: Carol Ventura
    4. Filet Crochet


    Filet Crochet is amazing! It must take so much time mapping out how to crochet images into your pattern. This technique uses simple crochet techniques. It is easier to read by charts instead of written out instructions. 

    Ravelry: Johnnadette (pattern by Kim Guzman)
    Ravelry: Katya Novikova 
    Needle-Works Butterfly

    5. Hairpin Lace

    Hairpin Lace looks very high fashion. It started in the nineteenth century using actual hairpins. This is a difficult technique, but the results are worth it! 

    Ravelry: Jennifer Hansen
    Pinterest
    6. Symbol Crochet
     
    Do you ever fall in love with a pattern and realize it's written in symbols? This Blossom Slippers pattern was that pattern for me. They are so cute. But, I have never learned to follow symbols. Fear no more of patterns written in different languages. Symbol crochet is universal! 
    Ravelry: Pierrot
    7. Broomstick Lace
     
    Broomstick Lace was the inspiration for this blog post. It's so unique. I had to try it out. It is a little awkward trying to hold size 19 knitting needles while crocheting. But I'll get the hang of it! Makes me think maybe using an actual broomstick might be easier?
    Ravelry: B.hooked Crochet
    Ravelry: Kristin Omdahl

    8. Bruges Lace 

    Bruges Lace was inspired by ribbon lace. Crocheters learned to make material that looks like ribbon lace, but is much easier to make. It only requires simple crochet skills and the results are stunning! 

    Pinterest

    Thanks for reading! I hope you were inspired to learn something new. Check out Crochet Beyond the Basics to learn all these techniques and more! 

    Stay crafty!

    -Marie

  • A Crocheted Cup of Coffee! With a Donut!

    I almost wish my three-year-old hadn't found my copy of Ice Box Crochet.  I had certainly planned on making a few items from it because crocheted food is adorable and these little amigurumi crafts would make great gifts.  But oh man.  That girl read through all 90+ pages of this like it was a story book.  Or, more accurately, like it was a catalog.

    Or maybe I should say like a menu?  Because girlfriend has been placing orders.

    So far she has asked me 'knit' her a loaf of bread, a hamburger, a pizza, a bowl of spaghetti, several donuts, and the refrigerator.  I cannot wait until she's older and I can tell her "When you were little, you asked me to crochet you a little toy refrigerator" while she rolls her eyes.

    I probably am going to crochet her that refrigerator, Lord help me.  So far, though, I've stuck with some more basic patterns.  This past Saturday, I sat down during her nap and crocheted a cup of coffee, a donut, and a medium plate.  Yes, there are many sizes you can make the plates.  There are also trays, bowls, and a dessert stand.  In case you couldn't already tell, this book is full of superfun and slightly weird projects.

    These patterns call for lightweight yarn (Category 2) and steel hooks.  But I don't have a lot of lightweight yarn and I have just about zero patience or ability to shove stuffing into itty bitty projects made with what is basically sock yarn.  Some people love that, and I'm happy for them.  Just like I'm happy for people who do intricate papercutting art, or those wild and crazy guys who build ships in bottles.  Good for you!  I totally want to see what you've done!  I never want to try it myself!

    If I had had to seam these pieces when they were half this size, I would scream.

    But what I do have a lot of (in addition to surly laziness) is worsted weight yarn (Category 4) in nearly every color of the rainbow.  So I grabbed an F hook because that's what amigurumi patterns typically call for when you're using worsted weight yarn.  It worked fine, and my gauge was tight enough that the fiberfill didn't come through the stitches.  Another thing that keeps your stuffing from busting out of the crochet is to avoid overstuffing.  However, I'm pretty sure I understuffed the cup of coffee. 

    Whoops.

    The good news is that my little coffee-lover (not coffee-drinker.  But she's fascinated by the stuff) didn't care.

    In fact, she was thrilled with her surprise.  Thrilled! 

    She even shared some with her bear.  That's a pretty big deal!

    Making these with medium weight yarn meant they were a little closer to 'playing' size.  The coffee is about 4" high, and the plate is nearly 4" across.  That's a good size for little hands to use for imaginative play. 

     

    I've been trying to think about how big that refrigerator will be when it's worked up in medium yarn, and it's scaring me a little.  I think I'll make a bowl of spaghetti or something before I do that, though.  As excited as she was with her donut and coffee, she's already wanting more.  I have a hard time telling her no when it comes to little yarny projects, and we've both looked through Ice Box Crochet a lot. 

     

    We've both got a lot of fun ideas for what I should make next!

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