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Designer Guest Blogs

  • 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!

     

  • 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

  • Thoughtful Shawls

    Crocheted Shawls are classic additions for your wardrobe. We love all the stylish and cozy shawls in Thoughtful Shawls so much that it's hard to pick our favorite. Today's Guest Blogger, Michele Maks, is here today to talk about the inspiration for her fabulous designs. Welcome Michele!

    Welcome! I’m Michele Maks, designer of the patterns in Leisure Arts' recent publication, Thoughtful Shawls. Though I’ve been designing professionally since 1985 , I still LOVE to crochet!

    screen-shot-2017-05-11-at-10-21-40-am Thoughtful Shawls by Michele Maks

    Shawls are such versatile garments, and since there is very little shaping in the designs, they make excellent projects for beginners, or someone who is looking for an easy, don’t-need-to-think-too-hard-about-it stitching experience.

    Hudson Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls Hudson Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls

    Hudson Shawl: My inspiration for the Hudson Bay Shawl was in both wanting a simple stitch sequence, suitable for beginners, and the look of traditional North Woods blankets.  You don’t have to be at a logging camp to enjoy this one- imagine it cozying your shoulders as you safely watch a few episodes of Frontier in your apartment!

    Granny Square Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls Granny Square Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls

    Granny Square Shawl: Granny Squares are traditionally used for afghans, but I love them so much, I decided to create a shawl using basic granny techniques. What could be cozier and more open to interpretation than this? How many different color combinations can you imagine? Bet you can’t make just one!

    screen-shot-2017-05-11-at-10-23-41-am Stripes Stole from Thoughtful Shawls

    Stripes Stole: Similar granny styling is used for the stole version of this piece, but this time the colors are determined by the self-striping yarn. Just choose your favorite colorway, and most of the work is done! The yarn and the stitches will flow through your fingers like magic. Again, it will be hard to create only one.

    Patchwork Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls Patchwork Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls

    Patchwork Shawl: Patchwork  is both fun to stitch and fun to wear! Combining your own favorite colors will allow this project to be completely your own!

    Meditation Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls Meditation Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls

    Meditation Shawl: Simple combinations of basic stitches make the cover shawl both a pleasure to stitch and to wear. Your morning yoga poses will never be chilly again when you have your Meditation Shawl with you.

  • 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!

  • Fashion Quilted Accessories

    Unique quilting ideas: that's what our all-new book Fashion Quilted Accessories is all about!  Today's Guest Blogger, Heidi Emmet, designed the fun patterns you'll find inside of Fashion Quilted Accessories and she's here today to talk about her inspiration for them. Welcome Heidi!

    My new book, Fashion Quilted Accessories, is for anyone who enjoys sewing, quilting, and creating something new and different. Each project is geared toward my motto: “Make it up, make it fun, and get it done! I’d love to tell you what inspired me to create the projects for this book. The cover of the book shows my Simply Super Quilted Vest.

    screen-shot-2017-04-06-at-5-11-32-pm Fashion Quilted Accessories by Heidi Emmett

    With a cityscape panel as the centerpiece, I auditioned other fabrics around it. A textured home decorating fabric that has a quilted ‘look and feel’ became the foundation of the vest. Panel pieces are really popular. Whatever panel you choose, use this vest pattern to create your own-one-of-a-kind Art-to-Wear piece.

    screen-shot-2017-04-06-at-5-12-35-pm Simply Super Quilted Vest

    I have really enjoyed the “big” necklaces that are out there. I own a couple. By the end of the day, my neck is so tired by the weight of all those ‘jewels’! I was sitting at my sewing machine and looking at a scrap of heavily machine quilted fabric. The colors of the fabric and stitching reminded me of faceted jewels. What if…… and yes, the “Colorful Circles Necklace and Earrings” project was born. Fun to make and light as a feather, you won’t want to stop at just one set!

    screen-shot-2017-04-06-at-5-12-14-pm Colorful Circles Necklace

    I knew I wanted to create a really different scarf and make a headband (or hat band) to match. I started walking the aisles of Joann’s. The allover butterflies in the quilting fabric section caught my eye. I carried that bolt over to the home decorating fabric department. I needed a “sheer” fabric that had some texture to hold the scarf knot in place and be easy to sew on. Use Terial Magic and an easy method to stitch down the motifs. What a chic and easy project to create.

    screen-shot-2017-04-06-at-5-42-57-pm Butterfly Scarf and Headband

    Check out this pictures of this 1960’s tote from South America:

    ???????????????????????????????????? A Vintage Bag Serves as Inspiration

    I had to bring it home from the thrift shop. It was so different from anything I had seen. As I looked at it more closely, it reminded me of saddlebags used by the Pony Express riders. I added the unusual idea of using a belt as the handle for this tote. I like being able to make the handle shorter or longer. Use all your favorite quilting fabrics in this one.

    Saddlebag Tote Saddlebag Tote

    I have a little draw-string jewelry holder which I use when I travel. I love how it almost opens flat, so I can find all the jewelry pieces that are stored inside. I took the same circle and drawstring idea and blew it waaay up.

    dsc_0265 My Sling Bag Coming Together

    The large circle I made needed to be a fun design in itself. Pinwheels are so interesting to look at, so that’s what I did. Use four of your favorite colors together in this Pinwheel purse.

    screen-shot-2017-04-06-at-5-12-04-pm Sling Bag

    There are so many beautiful scarf weight fabrics out there. Some are silk, rayon, or polyesters. I was looking at a printed piece that I had and doubled it in my hands and looked again. I loved the way the print showed through so subtly. The design had to be simple and easier to sew (very few seams) because of the slippery nature of the fabric. I had been looking through a design book by the great designer of the early 20th century, Erte’. His designs, while very intricate in nature, inspired me to go in reverse with my thinking. I started sketching what design would add a slimming silhouette while showing off a doubled sheer fabric to its best advantage. This vest will be a sensational piece to add to your wardrobe!

    Sensational Scarf Vest Sensational Scarf Vest

    I think I have succeeded in creating accessories that fit all levels of sewing skills from beginner to advanced. I want you to take your quilting to another level with these eye-catching fashions that show off your passion for beautiful fabrics! Thanks so much for visiting with me today. Please visit my blog to see what fun projects I’m working on now: Designsbyheidi.wordpress.com

  • 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!

  • Patricia Lee | The Wrapping Scarf Revolution

    What a thrill to be blogging for Leisure Arts! It has been such a pleasure to work with the wonderful staff to get The Wrapping Scarf Revolution published and I have become thoroughly convinced that the world would be a much better place if we all had the lovely manners of the southern ladies down in Little Rock.

    Yesterday was a beautiful crisp autumn day here in Connecticut. My friend Tracy invited some friends over for lunch and I decided to bring some mandu which are tasty Korean dumplings. You may have tried Japanese or Chinese dumplings which are similar to mandu but I highly recommend you try Korean dumplings if you ever get the chance.
    Mandu is delicious steamed or boiled in a soup, but for Tracy's, I decided to pan fry in healthy grapeseed oil, so that the ladies could enjoy a fun finger food. To make things easy for the hostess, I love to bring food that is already nicely displayed in a dish. Transporting odd shaped dishes of food is a cinch with a wrapping scarf. I was also bringing some cookies in a separate covered container so I stacked the mandu on top of the cookies and wrapped it all up with a wrapping scarf. I used the lotus wrap which you can see demonstrated in this video.
    We had a ball catching up with each other's most recent sagas of childrearing disasters and workplace woes. The mandu was a big hit and I'd love to share the recipe with you sometime in a future post! Until next time, happy wrapping!

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