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Leisure Arts Blog

  • Get Your Lucky On

    Do you Remember what Forrest Gump says when bullies call him stupid? “Stupid is as stupid does.” Forrest’s mama taught him well and I was reminded of this as I went through a great slide presentation by social media strategist Tara Hunt. We often think of luck as something that is beyond our control but this list from a scientific study done by Richard Wiseman puts into words what I’ve been feeling for a long time: "Lucky is as lucky does." We all know a few people who seem to have been born under a lucky star but for the rest of us, luck is something we can create a lot more of. Among the five things listed here, four consist of action verbs like follow, balance, go, and see. Only in the last item do we run into a more passive state of being.

    Do you want some luck in your corner today? Well you’d better get busy! In Korea, waste is considered very unlucky and the actions that people take to avoid waste include using wrapping scarves instead of disposable wrapping paper or disposable bags. Try hemming the sides of some scrap fabric you have lying around the house and using it to wrap a Valentines gift. If you are giving flowers, try this gorgeous technique that FTD is using for wrapping up a vase of flowers.

    To get this look, use a double layered wrapping scarf like these in size small (about 22"x22") and neatly bring up two opposite corners at a time and tie with ribbon. Directions for making your own wraps are on page 80 of The Wrapping Scarf Revolution. Until next time...Happy Wrapping!

  • Pat Sloan's Creative Talk Radio show today

    As the editor of the quilt publications here at Leisure Arts, I'm very lucky to work with a great group of fun, creative designers. One of my favorites, quilt designer Pat Sloan, has a new internet show, Pat Sloan's Creative Talk Radio. She will be interviewing a collection of your favorite designers and creative thinkers (and me) in new shows every Monday afternoon. And today's my day!

    Tune in to at 4p.m. EST today if you'd like to hear our conversation live. And if you don't have a chance to catch it today, the interview will be available for download later. To download this podcast or her interviews with Lynda and Nancy of the Great American Quilt Factory, Bonnie Hunter, or Heidi Kaisand, visit

    If you have the chance to listen live and have a question for me, Pat will take phone calls during the show. Maybe you're an almost-designer with a great idea that you'd like to turn into a book or maybe you'd just like to know how the weather is down here (not snowing...or is it??), call in and we'll chat!

    To celebrate the occasion, Leisure Arts is giving away a set of our newest titles.
    To enter, visit Pat at and leave a comment on her blog telling your favorite part of the interview (and commercials don't count, OK?). The contest is open until 12p.m. EST Friday, February, 12.

    The set includes:

    Pat Sloan's Camera, Color, Quilts!
    Debbie Mumm's I Care with Quilts
    Still Crazy for Baby from Me and My Sister Designs
    Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Quilting

    Entering to win is easy...just tune in and then leave a comment!

  • What’s Cookin’?

    When is the last time you saw tons of Chef’s Hats in one place? I’m pretty sure for me it wasn’t at a craft show, but this year the CHA floor was rockin’ with the big poufy headgear! It was great fun to see. Lots of people were cooking up something and hats were donning heads and on display everywhere. The Cricut booth was overflowing, making cakes it seems – edible and paper. As the crowd spilled into the aisles, excited about the product demos they had just seen, their chef’s hats made a sea of white!

    Check out cricut products on What great products! Hang on - because the newest product (you're seeing here) will be available April/May 2010.

    For a more colorful version of the hats, one had only to walk into the Everything Mary booth. You couldn’t help but to be drawn into the lively display of aprons in bright pinks, greens, yellows and crisp whites with Chef’s Hats to coordinate. You can imagine creating a scene in your own kitchen – who says you can’t throw in a little color in everything you do? Mary shows us you can!

    We’ve been cooking up a few cakes in our kitchen lately – yummy Cupcakes. In fact, we’re celebrating with all sorts of delicious treats that will make you want to grab an apron, put on your hat and start creating. You don’t have to wear a hat, but I think you’ll have an extra helping of fun if you do!

  • Crochet Dude Product Launch at CHA

    At CHA (Craft and Hobby Association’s trade show) in Anaheim last week, we were thrilled to witness Drew Emborsky, aka The Crochet Dude, launch his new line of crochet tools in the Simplicity/Boye Needle booth. There was much excitement – from a make-it/take-it activity to having your photo taken with His Royal Highness sitting on his purple velvet throne – and then instantly having the photo handed to you so he could autograph it! I love technology! (Note: Drew has published four great crochet pattern booklets with us and we are now working on a full-size book of crochet must-have fashions that will be out in September and it is To. Die. For.)

    Here’s Drew on his throne holding one of the kits in his new product line. I personally was enthralled with the Yarn Snips – so sharp and designed so well. I can’t wait to get my hands on my very own pair. The product will be available in June – watch for it at a store new you!

  • More from CHA

    Deborah Norville inspired the knitting crowd with a few pointers and the introduction of more new yarns from her collection. (Find the yarn line created for Deborah by Premier Yarns at It’s great! Her book , Knit with Deborah Norville, was broadly displayed & eagerly received by the crowd. You can find a great variety of classic projects in it to inspire your next knitting project. Be sure & take a look. Already tried one of her patterns? Let us know what you’ve knitted.

  • Leisure Arts at CHA

    The Craft & Hobby Association trade show is underway this week in Anaheim, California, which means excitement for crafters and needleworkers everywhere. Designers, manufacturers, and publishers come together to introduce new products and ideas that are sure to keep the creative juices flowing. Many of them are already available in stores and on websites that are quick to get the latest in front of you.

    A few fun highlights:

    Our editor, Susan Sullivan, participated in the consumer show as part of the Craft Yarn Council of America team. All around the booth, demonstrators were showing all kinds of things you can do with yarn, including teaching the obvious things you can – knit and crochet! The crowd was loving it. Susan entertained the imagination by showing how you can dye your own yarn with kool-aid! That’s right … makes such beautiful colors and it’s oh, so easy. Click here for your how-to and join in the fun. (Note: Kids will love doing this with you.)

    One of our very favorite designers is Mary Taylor – that’s “Out of the Box with Everything Mary” – whom you may know from her videos on She had a colorful booth chock full of super bags and organizers that she designed. As you can see, her ‘make it & take it’ was quite a hit. There was a whole lot of embellishing going on. You can start with a tote bag just like your neighbors, but with an idea or two from Mary - you’re sure to end up with something that’s everything you.

    More highlights to come soon. Only two more days and lots to see and share.

  • Christmas at Good Morning America

    When my publicist Inna Shamis told me back in November to clear my calendar and save the date for an appearance on Good Morning America, I could hardly believe my ears. I had never even been on local tv before and live national tv in front of millions of people a few days before Christmas was hardly the way I imagined making my television debut.

    Now Inna knows better than anyone that our budget is super tight with no room for ANY extraneous expenses. So when she strongly recommended hiring a media coach, I reluctantly listened and went for a morning of coaching with former MTV casting director Amanda Schatz Kitaeff. Boy am I glad I did. “More snap!”, she ordered. “Too serious! Smile like you’re on a third date.”, she chided. I felt like I walked away from that session with precious gems of media wisdom and felt ready for some real practice. With just under 2 months to prepare for GMA, Inna and I shifted into high gear and got bookings on no fewer than 5 local tv shows so I’d have plenty of practice before D-Day.

    D-Week finally arrived and I was told I needed to be in the ABC studio at 5:30am for my 8:30 segment. That didn’t sound too bad until I started to count backward to what that meant in terms of the alarm clock. Figuring an hour and a half for driving and parking in NYC and an hour to get ready, that meant that I had to be up at 3am! Plus we were having snow forecasts throughout the week which could mean treacherous driving conditions. I was talking this over with my sister Sarah and we started brainstorming ways I might avoid looking like a zombie when I finally went on the air. The next morning, she called me breathlessly and told me she had a great idea. As a Christmas gift, she was going to put me up at the Westin Hotel in Times Square! That meant an extra hour and a half of sleep plus no bad weather worries. Aren’t sisters the BEST?

    I had been to Times Square many times before, but driving past the ABC building the night before D-Day, knowing that I was going to be on those massive tv screens the next morning, was both absolutely thrilling and completely intimidating. I took a deep breath and decided to trust the pros at GMA. If they thought I could do it, then they must be right! I said a little prayer and then headed off to 32nd St. with my family for dinner at Kunjip, our all time favorite Korean restaurant. We finished off the night with some Pinkberry fro yo which was right next door, then said our goodbyes as my husband whisked our boys home for school the next day and I headed for the hotel to get some sleep.

    The next day I arrived at ABC studios at 5:30am sharp with my big pink suitcase full of props. After checking in with security, I was led to the green room which was nicely supplied with breakfast goodies and plenty of hot coffee. At about 5:45 I got a call from Darcy, the amazing producer who booked me on the show. She sounded nervous and asked me where I was. Someone apparently forgot to tell her I had arrived and she was worried that I hadn’t shown up! She met me in the green room and led me to the hair and makeup ladies who were wonderful and soon had me perfectly coiffed and all decked out in falsies (eyelashes that is!). They even matched my lipgloss with my bright pink vest, a purchase inspired by Amanda’s advice to “dress more fabulous!”.

    Next was set up and rehearsal with a short briefing with my host Sam Champion. In case you’re wondering, yes, he is every bit the charming Southern gentleman he is on tv and boy, is he ever handsome! There were a ton of people in the studio with the audience in the background and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir set up on the other side of the room. Right next to my table was the Food Network star Sarah Moulton with her selection of great holiday cookbooks. Still the atmosphere was relaxed and the crew and cast just seemed to go with the flow.

    After a few last minutes touch ups to the table display, I was as ready as I would ever be. I took a few deep breaths to relax and get the jitters out and before long Sam was segueing out of one story and into mine. We were live! My book, The Wrapping Scarf Revolution, was having its close-up and we started talking and wrapping and bantering. This was the first time Sam had wrapped with fabric and it would have been a disaster if his demo came out terrible. He didn’t falter for a moment and wrapped like a champion (sorry I couldn’t resist!). After a commercial break, Sam was sweet enough to highlight my stuff one more time.

    When the show was over at 9am, I got to mingle with the cast a bit and even met Ali Wentworth, the hilarious comedienne wife of George Stephanopoulos. I had met JuJu Chang at an event a couple of months back but was so happy to be able to congratulate her in person for landing her new job on GMA.

    After the show, I got a call from my office with news that The Wrapping Scarf Revolution had immediately sold out on Amazon and the ranking had shot up to #2 in the Craft/Papercraft section. In fact, the book kept selling despite not being in stock and it took Amazon nearly 2 weeks to get it back in stock. I took that as proof that the segment was indeed a small success and am so excited to hopefully take my little wrapping scarf revolution to other shows in the new year. Did any of you happen to catch the show? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
  • Trade Shows and Warmer Weather too!

    California, here we come! Twice this month we’ll make our way to the west coast. The TNNA trade show is taking place January 9th – 11th in Long Beach. The CHA trade show will take place from January 24th – 27th in Anaheim. There is also a consumer show in Anaheim on January 22nd & 23rd, so there’s something for everyone, whether you’re shopping for yourself or buying for your retail business.

    We’ve been busy packing up to go. The halls have been lined with books, posters and more to ship and we just can’t wait to share all of the exciting new products. (We’re also okay with heading west for a little bit of warm weather too; it’s cold and snowing here.)

    The highly anticipated Encyclopedia of Sewing by the Kooler Design Studio will make its debut. It’s the fifth book in the popular needlework encyclopedia series published by Leisure Arts. The 240 page book is filled with the history of sewing, basic techniques, custom details, quilting, embellishments, and more. This book is a required addition to every sewing library.

    Terrie Lee Steinmeyer, one of today’s most talented cross stitch designers introduces a super collection of over 140 designs for all occasions in The Best of Terri Lee Steinmeyer. We’ve published Terrie’s designs since 1985; her first leaflet (number 402), More Than Samplers, was a best seller and many more have followed. Her new book is sure to be another favorite.

    Get ready to play and learn some new tricks from some of the hippest scrapbookers in the biz. Creating Keepsakes 2007 Scrapbooker of the Year, Elizabeth Kartchner, has assembled an all-star cast of innovative designers in 52 More Scrapbooking Challenges. This book is packed with inspiring ideas!

    CrochetWear brings a terrific collection of crochet garments that will appeal to the urban woman and the rest of the world. The 25 classic fashions are crocheted in yarns from chunky to light-weight.

    We hope to see you at TNNA and CHA. If you can’t make it, be sure and check our website for a full review of everything from the comfort of home. We’ll share all the excitement this month right here.

  • Little Heartfelt Things, Big Smiles

    Getting ready for Christmas meant the usual shopping frenzy - making the lists and checking them twice. And once everything was accounted for I threw myself into the wrapping marathon. There are some parts of that activity that I really like to do, some I confess I don’t. I like ribbons of all kinds, so bow-making ranks on the “like” list. Making individual gift tags also goes on the “like” list. No pre-made tags for me; it’s so much more fun to pull out the papers and pens and make personal ones. It’s quick, easy and importantly, relaxing to grab some creative time in the middle of all the hustle and bustle.

    Once all of the papers, trims & other craft supplies were out and strewn everywhere, I was inspired to do more with it all. So, at the last minute I decided to create a mini-album for 3 young nieces and a daughter. I didn’t have a grand plan, I just jumped in. They turned out to be quite a hit. It was great seeing their delight in receiving little gifts made especially for them. I really think I’m the one who received the greatest gift - the time spent. Going through photos to find shots that could be used meant reflecting on each of them. Cutting and gluing, figuring out what could be done with little snippets of left over ribbons, brads and what have you was some of the best holiday time for me -- just thinking about the special people in our lives and doing something special for them.

    It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate, it doesn’t have to be a museum quality work of art …it needs only to be a little heartfelt thing, handmade by you and big smiles and hugs will come your way!

  • New Year’s Traditions

    Being from the South I just took it for granted that everyone knew they needed to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck! Eventually, I learned that plenty of people were unaware of this practice and I must say I felt bad for them. Not only on the luck issue but just the fact that black-eyed peas are so tasty!

    This year I decided to go a little different route on the preparation of my good-fortune legumes. My husband brought home a recipe a number of years ago for a delectable little dip that puts those peas to a wonderful use. So, I want to share it with you so you can have good luck and tickle your taste buds on the first day of a new decade.

    Good Luck Black-eyed Pea Dip

    2 cans (15-16 oz.)black-eyed peas (plain, bacon or jalapeno added – your choice), drained

    4-5 green onions chopped – be sure and use the green tops, too

    8-10 slices of jalapeno, chopped

    1 cup of Chow Chow (sweet and spicy relish)

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Just mix it all up. You’re ready to dip! It’s great immediately on a chip or cracker (Trisket is my favorite) but if you can make it and let it spend time in the fridge with all those flavors mingling…oh my!

    Wishing you the very best in 2010! Happy New Year!

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