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Cross Stitch

  • DIY Valentines - Quick and Crafty ways to Celebrate Love

    Valentine's Day is coming up, Makers! We all know that one person who waits till the last minute to buy a gift, or has a hard time coming up with ideas. This post is for them! We've come up with some cute and quick DIY Valentines that you can make within a week of Valentine's Day, so you can look responsible and romantic.

    So, find your favorite craft medium, and see if you've found the perfect homemade gift for your boo!

    ----------------------------CROCHET----------------------------

    The Perfect Gift for Book Nerds

    DIY Valentines Beautiful Bookmarks - Book 6687
    Beautiful Bookmarks - Book 6687 Beautiful Bookmarks - Book 6687

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If your special rose is obsessed with reading, then this is the best gift you can give. A subtle way to show that you care about their hobbies goes a long way, especially when you have such Beautiful Bookmarks like these (above). Easy to make and fun to gift, these bookmarks will bring a smile to anyone's face, especially your little bookworm's.

     

     

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    Beaded Bracelets and Yarn Fun!

    DIY Valentines Beaded Bracelets to Knit - Book 4786
    screen-shot-2019-02-08-at-2-51-44-pm Beaded Bracelets to Knit - Book 4786

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    When you think of jewelry, you might be imagining a bright and beautiful emerald bracelet, or a subtle silver chain. But this year, we want you to think outside the box, and take some inspiration from the spool! these Beaded Bracelets to Knit (above) are beautiful, simple, and breathtaking, making these little bauble perfect homemade gifts for knit enthusiasts to make.

     

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    YouTube Fun! DIY Valentines from the Studio

    DIY Valentines Sneak Peek - DIY Valentine Video -YouTube
    DIY Valentines Sneak Peek - DIY Valentine Video -YouTube

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We had some fun in our video studio this week creating these fun, quick, and cute surprises for that special someone On Valentine's Day. Later on this week, we'll show a quick tutorial on our YouTube channel about how fast you can make these little giftables!

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    Cross Stitch Crafts - Valentines for the Soul

    Loving Hearts - Book 6743 Loving Hearts - Book 6743
    Loving Hearts - Book 6743 Loving Hearts - Book 6743

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Cross Stitch is a popular craft that is super easy to learn - which is why we included this craft category this week. Try your hand at small little votives like these Loving Hearts Cross Stitch frames. These little buddies look so great on a mantle that they can sit there all year round!

     

     

    If you make any of these projects, tag us @leisureartsinc with #LeisureLife. We love to see what's going on in your studios!

    Stay Creative!

    wc_logo_2-11

    -Leisure Arts Team

     

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  • New Year, New Crafts! New Patterns and Projects for Adventurous Crafters.

    Hey again, crafters! We're back again with another post for our New Year, New You campaign for 2019. This year has been a whirlwind so far for us here art Leisure Arts! We're ready to bring you new ideas that will knock your socks off and inspire you to be more crafty in 2019. Our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube all have a new look and even better, we have new books! For the crafter that's been looking for new projects this January, look no further. We have some easy and effortless crafts and patterns that you can create just in time to write about in your bullet journals. Look for your preferred craft avenue, and see if our newest patterns are a perfect match!

     

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    Start Off The Year With Crochet Cheer!

    Crochet is one of our more popular craft channels, and we have the perfect patterns that will start your new craft journey with a smile. These cheery patterns from Happy Crochet are so bright and colorful that you physically can't be upset when you see them. These adorable patterns hold the sheer power of rainbows that will destroy any bad day or rough work week.

    Rainbow Wavy Scarf - Happy Crochet Rainbow Wavy Scarf - Happy Crochet
    Rainbow Rug - Happy Crochet Rainbow Rug - Happy Crochet

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The patterns in this book include fun and functional items like vertical wall hangings, cup cozies, wavy scarves, and even notebook covers! You'll never be bored with the projects in this book, because you have endless color combinations to work with, and all the time in the world to try every project.

    Rainbow Mandala - Happy Crochet Rainbow Mandala - Happy Crochet
    Floral Notebook Cover - Happy Crochet Floral Notebook Cover - Happy Crochet

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We do have two new crochet titles other than Happy Crochet, but they will be featured in a post coming soon, so stay tuned!

     

    ----------------------------KNIT----------------------------

     

    Knit...or Macrame? You Decide!

    Our new releases in knit are taking a vacation in the Bahamas (they weren't ready for the cold weather), but we have a project suggestion that has been recommend to us by many of our followers before: Macrame! We've been told by our knitting fanatics that macrame makes a great project for anyone who loves yarn and is willing to try new adventures. This craft certainly isn't new, but it's 2019! Be bold and try your hand at new techniques and trends. You might even find a way to revamp this older craft into eclectic and fun decor projects.

    Macrame Woven Wall Hanging - Get Started in Macrame
    Yellow Scarf - Cozy Scarves Yellow Scarf - Cozy Scarves

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you're looking into Macrame this year, give Get Started in Macrame a try! This book has everything you need to learn about this captivating yarn craft. But, if you want to stay in your lane of craft (no judgement), then here's Cozy Scarves, one of our most popular books during the Wintertime. With nine different styles and instructions that work for left and right handed stitchers, this book is every knitter's best friend!

     

    ----------------------------QUILT / SEW----------------------------

     

    Become A Free Spirit Stitcher

    Take risks with your thread projects this year, and go beyond the traditional scope of needlepoint. Free Spirit Stitching is our newest book for our quilt and sew friends, and we have some bold and beautiful options to choose from as your next project.

    projects Stitched Wall Hanging - Free Spirit Stitching
    projects Stitched Lace Purse - Free Spirit Stitching

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Give your everyday items a little bit of love with these decadent stitch patterns and overlay designs. Take an ordinary clutch to a style sensation (above right), or recycle old burlap and go wild (above left)! The options are endless with these 8 bohemian designs that incorporate traditional techniques from cross stitch, embroidery, and sewing basics.

     

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    2019 Projects: The Year of Homemade Bling

    I know that we have been pushing our Diamond Art product lately, but we can't forget about the original gem crafts, like jewelry making! It's a classic craft that brings out your creativity, and tests your eye for style. Our newest craft title, Get Started In Jewelry Makingshows off the newest jewelry trends for 2019! The book has a range of unique projects in glass beadwork that is sure to keep anyone busy and everyone happy. Play with marbled glass styles when you craft the Layered Necklace project (bottom right), or play with the fun caricature beads when you work on projects like the owl drop earrings (second row, right).

    Drop Necklace - Get Started in Jewelry Making Drop Necklace - Get Started in Jewelry Making
    Layered Necklace - Get Started in Jewelry Making Layered Necklace - Get Started in Jewelry Making

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The learning process is so easy, you can make these accessories in just one evening. Just imagine how effortless and unique you would look in these baubles, and you can show off your skills to all your friends when you get to tell them you made these beautiful accessories yourself.

    Glass Bead Necklace - Get Started in Jewelry Making Glass Bead Necklace - Get Started in Jewelry Making
    Owl Drop Earrings - Get Started in Jewelry Making Owl Drop Earrings - Get Started in Jewelry Making

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Every new year brings new changes, and we get the chance to reinvent ourselves. For us makers, we have the chance to reinvent the way we create! Make 2019 your year to try new things and give those daunting projects a go. You might end up finding a new hobby that will stick with you until 2020.

     

    Happy Adventuring!

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    -Leisure Arts Team

    projects

  • Dip Dot and Dazzle Your Living Room! DIY Diamond Art Throw Pillows

    You may have already heard (because it's awesome and becoming wildly popular), but we just launched our Diamond Paint by Number product, Diamond Art by Leisure Arts, and it's taking off as a new sensational craft (*Humble Brag*)! Now that you've gotten to see our first line of products, we have so many ideas for them. We think that Diamond Art goes beyond just a scroll on a wall, and can be incorporated into everyday items like handbags, phone cases or in this post, a sparkling pillow! Read on for a tutorial on how to make a one of a kind throw pillow with your dazzling canvases. This is a tutorial that works with almost every design we offer, but in this case, we decided to go simple and sophisticated using our Cherry Blossom Diamond Art Intermediate Canvas. 

    Throw Pillow Cherry Blossom Pillow - DIY Diamond Art

    Supplies

    • A Diamond Art Canvas 
    • Strong Adhesive Backing (fabric glue, hot glue, etc.)
    • Your Favorite Sewing Thread & Needle (embroidery floss, thick sewing thread, etc.)
    • Basic Throw Pillow (varies by type and size, MUST have a solid surface, no fur/velvet)
    • Scissors
    • OPTIONAL - Extra Accessories (pom-poms, tassels, etc.)

     

    Get Started On Your Throw Pillow! 

    Throw Pillow Diamond Art Cherry Blossom Canvas

    1. Dazzle Your Diamond Art Canvas

    There isn't a big learning curve in terms of starting the craft, just dip, dot, and dazzle! Diamond Art is meant to be a leisurely craft that lets you put the canvas away for later if you wanted to. Complete it in one day, or complete it one day next week, the choice is up to you!

    2. Cut Out Your Dazzle Area

    After you've dazzled your way to success, carefully cut out your design, and get ready to sew!

    3. Create Your Trim 

    To keep the edges of the canvas from fraying -and for extra support- carefully line the edges of your cut out canvas with the embroidery floss or thread.

    4. Craft Your Throw Pillow

    Get to work on placing your design onto the center of your throw pillow using your adhesive of choice and a steady hand. Make sure to layout flat, and smooth the canvas out for air bubbles once placed. If you're worried about our beads falling off, don't be! Our adhesive keeps our beads intact with the force of a thousand dazzling suns. (Pro Tip: If you want extra support for your design, stitch a few notches into the pillow itself with extra thread you used for the trim!)

    Throw Pillow

    6. Accessorize (Or Don't)! 

    Now that your Diamond Art is placed, all that’s left are finishing touches. Make your pillow one of a kind by adding extra accessories around the edges, or placing a bead here and there. Show the world how creative you can be with your Diamond Art. Be 'extra' to your heart’s content, and then voila! You have a decorative and dazzling throw pillow.

    It's as simple as that. This is a great and unique way to utilize your Diamond Art canvas to the fullest! Now that you're finished, you can sit back and accept all kinds of compliments from people as they say, "your throw pillow is too pretty to lean against".

    If you try your hand at this, share it to our Diamond Art Facebook Page! We'd love to see what's going on in your studio.

    Want more DIY Diamond Art projects? your wish is our command! Check out our other projects here:

    DIY Diamond Art Phone Case

    DIY Diamond Art Welcome Sign

    Happy Dazzling!

    -Leisure Arts Team

  • Diamond Art is Better Than Jigsaw Puzzles, and We Can Prove it!

    So, we've launched Diamond Art! By now you all have seen our wonderful new products floating around online and in craft stores near you. We've got a wide range of designs that go from simple cherry blossom branches, to full scale succulent gardens, and we love the feedback you guys have been giving us on every single kit. Hopefully you haven't just seen it in stores, but you've gone out and bought one to try for yourself!

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    Diamond Art is an extremely relaxing craft, one that you can work on at your own pace, and on your own time. It's often compared to another relaxing craft that's been around a lot longer: jigsaw puzzles! But in our opinion, we're much better. Here's why!

    Diamond Art...Better Than Jigsaw Puzzles? I Don't Believe It.

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    Believe it! Diamond Art is a more creative and dazzling alternative to the 'same old, same old' of jigsaw puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles have always proven to be a problem in the long run. If you lose a piece, your project is ruined, the hunt to find the pieces takes forever and a half, and the finished product doesn't preserve well. Diamond painting is a stress relieving craft, with little work and effort for a beautiful result that will last you a lifetime.

     

    Convince Me. Why Is Diamond Art More Relaxing?

    Diamond Art Color Coding System Diamond Art

    Every space on your chart is color coded and charted out with a specific number code. The effort of finding your area to dazzle is so small, you won't even realize that you've finished half of your canvas already! Puzzles can be strenuous and time consuming. You spend hours trying to find the right piece that fits in the undesignated spot, and after that long adventure is finished, you have a really nice picture... broken up by lines from the cut pieces. With Diamond Art, you have an uninterrupted blissful picture that you don't have to break apart or Modge Podge.

    Diamond Painting Diamond Art Succulent Kit
    succulent-adv Dazzled Succulent Canvas

     

    The colors from the uncharted canvas are so The colors from the uncharted canvas are so close to the colors of the gems, that you don't really have to think about what you're dotting. just pick a gem pack and dot away! It can be easily stored for later too, so you can pick it up again on a rainy day. Our gems may be tiny, but if kept well, they are super easy to keep track of. The best part is that we provide you with 20 percent extra gems in your kits, just in case an accident happens!

     

    You Don't Have to Break It Apart? Tell Me More.

    Once you're done with your canvas, there are tons of options to show it off. Why stick with just a boring old picture frame, when you can have it on a pillow? Or, turn it into a wall hanging with extra crafts like yarn! You can even use the extra beads, and put them on your shoes. There are endless possibilities for displaying your new artwork, unlike a puzzle, which I promise you, would not look good glued to a pair of Reeboks.

    So, what are you doing piecing together that puzzle of a generic cottage in the woods, when you could be dazzling one of these great designs?

     

    White Cat Kit White Cat Kit
    Succulent Bowl Kit Succulent Bowl Kit
    Diamond Painting Lotus Kit
    Diamond Painting Hummingbird kit

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    You can pick up our freshly released Diamond Art kits online, or at a craft store near you.

     

    Wanna get inspired? Check out our social!

     

    Diamond Art Diamond Painting Group

    Diamond Art By Leisure Arts Facebook

    @la_diamondart on Instagram

     

     

    Happy Dip, Dot, and Dazzling!

     

    -Leisure Arts Team

     

  • The Best Cozies and Coasters for Your Morning Cup

     

    Hey craft family!

    Everyone loves their morning Cup O' Jo, and that term applies to tea drinkers too, or really any hot drink. The one thing we can all agree on, no matter what we are drinking, is that we hate it when our fingertips get stung by the scalding hot temperature of our cup after a few minutes. Or when you set your cup down on that glossy end table, and put a permanent cloudy ring through the first few layers. Which is why this week, we're talking about cozies and coasters, your drink's best friend! Here is our list of some of our favorites.

     

    Cozy Cozies

     

    Cup Cozies - SKU # 75568

    Cozies and Coasters screen-shot-2018-06-27-at-11-01-51-am screen-shot-2018-06-27-at-11-02-24-am

    You can get creative with the ways you keep your coffee warm, like these nature cozies up above, or animal friendly cozies down below! What matters is how much fun you have making it. Most patterns show a basic background, with attachments added to them after the cuff is made. So, these patterns are an easy weekend project that you can just keep adding to whenever you feel like it.

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    These patterns are sure to make you unique when you're out and about on the town, and you get to brag about your crochet skills when people stop you and ask where you bought it from!

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    My Pet Crafts - SKU # 6862

    My Pet Crafts

    This is my personal favorite, from our book My Pet Crafts. How can you not want to make this adorable raccoon felt cozy! If you're not the crochet type, this is a perfect and sleeker alternative.

     

    Crafty Coasters

    You've probably something seen or used one at some point in your life, and if you haven't, I worry about your manners. Coasters are a great way to keep your furnished tables...nicely furnished. These are some great coaster patterns to try out.

     

    All About Cotton - SKU # 7055

    All About Cotton

     

    Knits For Summer - SKU # 7198

    Knits For Summer

     

    Coasters - SKU # 6078

    Coasters Coasters

    Plastic Canvas is a great craft to make coasters from. It's durable, flexible, and overall fun to merge! These coasters are fun and creative, and can show your house guests what you really care about in a fun and practical way.

    Coasters Coasters

     

    Coasters and Lollipop Covers - SKU # 6482

    Coasters and Lollipop Covers Coasters and Lollipop Covers

     

    Big Book of Coasters - SKU # 5855 

    This book has the best range of designs to choose from. It has coasters for every occasion and season!

    Big Book of Coasters Big Book of Coasters

    Big Book of Coasters  Big Book Of Coasters  Big Book of CoastersBig Book of Coasters

     

    Alternatives... Be Unique!

    For the eclectic soul who doesn't want to have cookie cutter coasters. Switch up your crafting routine with these projects!

     

    DIY Pallet Projects - SKU # 7239

    DIY Pallet Projects

    Pallet wood projects are big right now, and this personalized plate doubles as a crafty coaster. Not only can you fit your gigantic coffee cup (not judging) on your tray, but you can fit breakfast, or a nice book on it too.

     

    99 Granny Squares To Crochet - SKU # 6393 

    99 Granny Squares To Crochet 99 Granny Squares Crochet 99 Granny Squares to Crochet

    Granny squares in their simplest forms are just small blocks of crochet that can be combined to make a larger project. So, why not keep this craft in its simplest form for a soft and practical coaster? As you can see from above, there are limitless variations that you can create, and you can even make a nice cozy if you combine the two together!

     

    Doilies Updated - SKU # 7035

    Doilies Updated Doilies Updated

    Doilies work on the same level! Essentially they're just extra fancy coasters. Which is why they can be so versatile now! This book has a lot of great uses and patterns for the modern doily, and I think you'll find some great ideas or coasters here too.

     

    From one avid coffee and tea drinker to another, having that extra something special with your morning drink can set the precedent for the rest of the day. These fun cozy and coaster projects make for great entertainment, that ends up being functional overall.

    Which coaster is your favorite? Let us know in the comments down below. Even better, share your recent projects with us! We love too see what you guys are working on.

     

    Happy Crafting!

     

    -Leisure Arts Team

     

  • Crafting Across Cultures: Mexico

     

    Hey craft family!

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

    This Week? We have Mexico! 

    Mexico

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

    textiles

    Textiles

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

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

    rebozo

    Rebozo

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

    saltillo-blanket

    Serape / Saltillo Blanket

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

    Otomi embroidery

    Otomi Embroidery

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

    pigments

    The Making of Textiles in Mexico

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

     

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

     

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

    Learn to Weave

    Learn To Weave

    Learn To Embroider

    Learn to Embroider

    Poncho Rebound 

    Poncho Rebound

    Modern Southwest Afghans

    Modern Southwest Afghans

    Cool String Art

    Cool String Art

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

    History of a trend: Otomi embroidery and patterns

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

    Textiles of Mexico

    Mexican Textiles 101: The Saltillo Blanket or Serape 

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

    Mexican Textiles 101: What is a Mexican Rebozo? 

     

    Happy Crafting!

     

    -The Leisure Arts Team

     

  • Stitching With A Conscience: Crafting and Wellness

     

    Hey craft family! 

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

    In a Perfect world.  

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

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

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

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

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

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    Fidget to Focus:

     

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    Quick Thread Projects:

     

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    Make in A Weekend Comfy Knit Throws:

     

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    50 Cross Stitch Quickies - Animals and Friends:

     

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    Make a Crochet Garden

     

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

    The Truth About Knitting and Crochet…

     

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

     

    The Health Benefits of Knitting

     

    Stay creative, crafters! 

    -Leisure Arts Team

  • 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

  • Tags, Bags & Paper: Wrap It Up!

    It's time to wrap your presents. Get ideas and gather your supplies! It's time to ramp it up and make those presents a little more special!

    Here's how you can make a nice presentation to the gifts you have specially purchased for the people around you. Don't skimp on the thoughtfulness of the gift by throwing an unwrapped box in a plain gift bag. You can jazz up your gift tags and wrapping paper a bit from using your coloring instruments to adding a little more flair with needle and thread, or adding other store-bought embellishments. Experiment and have fun!

    Wrapping Supplies: Large Glitter Bags (whose glitter effect does NOT come off - fabulous!), Kraft Paper Tags and Burlap Tags. Wrapping Supplies: Large Glitter Bags (whose glitter effect does NOT come off - fabulous!), Kraft Paper Tags and Burlap Tags.

    The best new paper glitter bags I've used in years - the glitter does NOT come off on your hands, or table, or carpet... Look at these Large Glitter Bags in four fabulous colors!

    I will have both wrapped boxed presents, as well as, bagged presents. Now I'll focus on making decorated gift tags to use on all my presents. I used both the Burlap Tags (item #47564) and the Kraft Paper Tags (item #47563) and was very pleased in the versatility that both of these basic designs offered!

    Embellished burlap and paper gift tags; use as ornaments, too! Embellished burlap and paper gift tags; use as ornaments, too! 

    I had so much fun making these tags. I let my creativity grow from simply coloring an ornament design from the Art of Coloring Festive (item #6945), to making tags that were embellished and dimensional that could be hung as ornaments, too!

    Layer your tags, whether burlap or paper, to have both to/from names and a design.

    Close-Up of layered effect using both Burlap and Kraft Paper Tags for a present. Close-Up of layered effect using both Burlap and Kraft Paper Tags for a present.

    Pairing my completed tags with the Large Glitter Bags.

    Pairing a Large Glitter Bag with one of the embellished gift tags. Pairing Large Glitter Bags with just the right embellished gift tag.

    Here's the most elaborate gift tag that I made. I used two Kraft Paper Tags to complete this ornament. I cut-out an oval shape in my first tag that would act as a window; my second tag was kept whole. The first tag would get a piece of hard plastic (cut from another package's blister pack) to cover its window. The second, whole tag would serve as the background; I glued craft super-mini glass marbles to it. I added my colored ornament on top of the marbles. I aligned the first tag with its window to the second and glued them both together.

    Make a cut-out in one paper tag and layer over another with choice of embellishment. Make a cut-out in one paper tag and layer over another with choice of embellishment.

    The snowflake cross stitch gift tag was completed using a Burlap Tag; it was backed with another burlap tag.

    A simple cross-stitch design on a Burlap Tag does well as the foundation for other dimensional tag effects. A simple cross-stitch design on a Burlap Tag does well as the foundation for other dimensional tag effects.

    Now it's time to wrap some boxed presents. HMM...how could I make the box itself a little more interesting. I went to Pinterest to get some ideas on how to decorate gifts using yarn -- other than using pom-poms. This image caught my eye immediately with its yarn woven decorated present.  Did you know Leisure Arts carries Lion Brand® Yarn?

    To decorate packages with yarn, I followed the directions as outlined in the above-mentioned pin and gathered two yarns from my stash.

    Share your love of crafts by adding yarn as part of your gift wrapping. Share your love of crafts by adding yarn as part of your gift wrapping.

    Here I am beginning to weave the second yarn - in a different weight and color as suggested.

    Starting to weave the second color in a different weight yarn. But wait; I think I'll make a change to two strands of medium weight yarn per row -- see the finished package! Starting to weave the second color in a different weight yarn. But wait; I think I'll make a change to two strands of medium weight yarn per row -- see the finished package!

    I liked the variation that I made to the initial set of instructions. I just embellished the embellishment!

    Simple brown paper is a complementary back-drop to the warmth of the yarn and use of a paper gift tag. Simple brown paper is a complementary back-drop to the warmth of the yarn and use of a paper gift tag.

    So I had half of my package of Kraft Paper Tags (30 tags / pack) unused. I wanted to find something additional to do with my remaining tags; I happened to fan mine out when it dawned on me.  With simple additions of several pipe cleaners, I had a wreath. What a great idea to do for younger kids to decorate. What would you do with your extras? Make a deck of cards with two packages of paper tags? What about any extra Burlap Tags (12 tags / pack)?

    Get creative with your tags! I made this wreath by adding pipe cleaners to the fanned paper tags. Get creative with your tags! I made this wreath by adding pipe cleaners to the fanned paper tags.

    I'd love to see your ideas come to life! Post some images of your packages and projects. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season -- keep it creative with less stress and more merry!

    Martha

     

  • New Year, New Project Goals!

    Happy New Year!

    I don't have many resolutions for 2016, but there is one that I've been thinking about a lot lately: I need to have a better handmade gift stash this year.

    I like to make things, and I do make a lot of things throughout the year, but it doesn't take much to make you realize that you're woefully understocked when you have more gift events than you do time and you want to give a gift that's handmade and lovely.  Like....say, when three women in your close friends and family decide to have babies in the same month.  Or when your bank balance reveals that you won't be buying Starbucks gift cards for people at your kid's school and you'd best haul yourself to the yarn stash.  Can I knit three cowls and four mittens in the span of a month?  Why yes, it turns out I can! But should I?

    Uh, the muscle at the top of my forearm is telling me I should not.

    I know I'll get caught shorthanded at some point this year, but I'd like for it to happen less often.  My goals for the 2016 Gift Stash include:

    -some baby stuff.  Any ol' baby stuff.  It's all cute, it's all small, and as long as it's machine washable it's all going to be appreciated.

    -some cowls.  Cowls are great, and even noncrafters appreciate them.  I'm working on buying my yarn in a few more neutral colors so I can have some handknits on hand that aren't....generic, but just more readily welcomed by a larger audience.  I might love some handpainted variegated yarn, but not everyone will.  And I want something that just about everyone will love.  Just two cowls all knitted or crocheted up and rearing to go could shave actual metric tons of stress off of my life.

    -a prayer shawl.  I've never made one, and I hope I don't need to give one away.  But I'd like have one ready so that I can quickly wrap it up and give it to someone rather than look for yarns and a pattern while feeling concerned about a grieving loved one.

    -hats!  You can make them big, small, slouchy, cabled, plain, tight, long, short--it doesn't matter.  I feel like there's no wrong way to go with hats.  I've been in an earflap mood, and I've discovered to my unending delight that people who wear hats to keep warm really don't seem to mind if their hats look goofy.  You can't go wrong with hats!  (Unless you give them to someone who's either unappreciative or just not a hat person.  But that's a different set of problems entirely.)

    So!  Here's what I've got to get me started.  This is a baby blanket that I finished earlier this week:

    012

    It's Square #49 from 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.  I've made three blankets with this pattern and I don't know when I'll get tired of the way front post crochet stitches add some texture to these simple squares.  I love this.  I made thirty squares and stitched them together in five rows of six squares.  I crocheted a couple of rows around the edge and now I have a pretty big baby blanket in my arsenal and I don't even know anyone who's pregnant!

    014

    I feel so good right now!

    Next up is the Martha Cowl from Crochet Scarves and Cowls:

    015

    Forget what I said about more neutral colors.  This is a pattern I've wanted to try for several months that looks really great with a mix of colors and I really liked this yarn.  It's the Folklore colorway from Loops & Threads Impeccable Ombre, and it's really lovely in addition to being trusty ol' acrylic yarn that's ready for some hard living and careless washing habits.

    016

    The pattern is pretty easy to keep up with once you get the hang of it.  It did take me a while to get the hang of it, though, which is fine.  This looks like it was fine, right?  It was fine!

    007

    Since I wasn't crocheting on a deadline, I wasn't too perturbed at having problems following a pattern while being interrupted every 15 seconds by my daughter asking questions or saying "Hey, look!" because 1) like I said, I was in no rush and 2) it is impossible to do much of anything when you're being interrupted every 15 seconds by someone saying "hey look!" and then you actually have to look and come up with fresh and inventive compliments for that someone's Lego-building skills.  That's the biggest reason I want to be more intentional with the TV and crafting time I enjoy so much after my little girl goes to bed (although that sore forearm thing is a close second): I have Lego creations to compliment and games of Candy Land to lose.  I've decided that 2016 is going to be the year I enjoy myself and I'm just not the kind of person who enjoys that rush of adrenaline you get from weaving in your ends ten minutes before you give your project to someone.  What I do enjoy is going about my regular mom life while I think about my fabulous gift stash like I'm a dragon with a cave full of treasure.

     

    I'd better get back to that cowl!

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