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  • Easy Afghans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Seaview. Seaview Afghan from Easy Afghans

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

    Hearthside Coziness. Hearthside Coziness.

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

    Chetwynd Miters. Chetwynd Miters.

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

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

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

     

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

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

    Hearthside Coziness. Hearthside Coziness Afghan from Easy Afghans

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

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

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

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

    Designer, Sharon Silverman. Designer, Sharon Silverman.
  • One-Skein Baby Projects

    Please welcome our Guest Blogger, Sharon Silverman.  Sharon is the author of Crochet Refresher, Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets, Tunisian Shawls, and most recently One-Skein Baby Projects.  Her very popular Heirloom Frame Crochet Blanket ePattern gets rave reviews on LeisureArts.com.  She has two brand new ePatterns that you can be among the first to download.  They are a Mosaic Blanket ePattern and a Lacy Crescent Shawl.  Sharon is here today to tell us about her latest Leisure Arts Book: One-Skein Baby Projects.  

    “Good things come in small packages,” the saying goes, and that’s certainly true for babies and for crochet projects.  My goal for One-Skein Baby Projects was to create adorable designs that crocheters could whip up for a special little baby without a large investment of time or money. I’m delighted that Leisure Arts was on board with the concept and gave me the go-ahead.

    Photo 1, book cover One-Skein Baby Projects book cover.

    The first part of my design process was to decide what items to focus on, and to select yarn for each project. I was inspired by Bonbons and Vanna’s Palettes. Both are mini-skein sets from Lion Brand. So cute to have all of those colors in one package! Those seemed ideal for toys.

    Photo 2, Pretzel Rattle Pretzel Rattle

    I used Vanna’s Palettes for the Pretzel Rattle. Why a pretzel? I should probably confess that pretzels have fascinated me ever since I wrote a travel guidebook about my home state, Pennsylvania Snacks: Your Guide to Food Factory Tours. I learned that Lititz, Lancaster County is home to the first commercial pretzel bakery in America, and that the history of the pretzel extends as far back as 610 A.D. That’s the first documented instance of European monks rewarding children who had memorized their Bible verses and prayers with a pretiola, Latin for “little reward.”

    A pretzel-shaped rattle has other advantages, too: lots of places for baby to hold on, and holes that are perfect for peek-a-boo.

    Safety is always my top priority when designing baby items. For the rattle, I used an unopened tube of beads completely encased in clear, waterproof packing tape. It’s positioned in the middle of fiberfill stuffing so it’s completely hidden from view, from feel—and from little teeth. Unless an elephant steps on the rattle and then a tiger rips the packing tape and the bead tube to shreds, the beads pose no danger.  (If you are in regular contact with an elephant and a tiger, omit the bead rattle—although a choking hazard may be the least of your worries.)  

    Bouncy Block uses Lion Brand Bonbons for a bright-colored, highly textured cube that’s fun for little hands.

    Photo 3, Bouncy Block Bouncy Block

    I think crocheters will enjoy making this because each side is different. Instead of fiberfill stuffing, I used washable cotton batting because it is denser and keeps the block nice and plump while retaining its shape.

    Every baby needs a “lovey” to cuddle and snuggle with. The Snow Bear Lovey (Bernat Baby Sport and Patons Astra) is a sweet bear-and-blanket combination. I chose a textured stitch pattern on the blanket to keep it interesting for crocheters and for babies. The head, muzzle, nose, ears, and arms are made separately, then assembled and attached to the center of the blanket. The ears are definitely my favorite part of the Snow Bear’s head. Something about them makes me go, “Awww…”

    Photo 4, Snow Bear Lovey

    Once the toys were finished, I worked on baby garments from head to toe—literally!—the Bubble Hat (Red Heart Anne Geddes Baby), Ribbed Vest (Caron Simply Soft), and Booties for Cuties (Red Heart Baby TLC).

    My own children are in their twenties now and hence no longer suitable models for baby gear, so it was thrilling to see the smiling little boy wearing the Bubble Hat and the Ribbed Vest in Leisure Arts’ photos. Way to make my work look good, buddy!

    The hat is sized for 0-3 months, 6 months, and 12 months; the vest is sized for 0-3 months and 3-6 months.

    Baby Bubble Hat Bubble Hat
    Baby Ribbed Vest Ribbed Vest

    Booties for Cuties are designed to keep little tootsies warm. High cuffs cover the ankle and keep the footwear right where it belongs. This project is sized for 3-6 months and 6-9 months.

    Baby Crochet Booties for Cuties Pink Booties for Cuties - Pink
    Crochet Baby Booties for Cuties Blue Booties for Cuties - Blue

    One other garment, the Hibiscus Top in Lion Brand LB Cotton Bamboo, has very recently been published as a stand-alone ePattern by Leisure Arts on its website.

    Crochet Hibiscus Top Hibiscus Top

    Every parent will tell you that you can never have too many bibs or washcloths. The final three projects in the leaflet are two bibs and a set of washcloths.

    The Bright & Easy Bib (Patons Grace) is worked in single crochet so it’s nice and dense. The ties are worked as part of the neckline so there’s no chance they can come loose.

    Crochet Bright & Easy Bib for Baby Bright & Easy Bib

    The Pullover Bib (Bernat Handicrafter Cotton) has a stretchy neckline that makes it easy to get on and off. A variation on single crochet produces a tight weave to keep messes from getting through. This bib is sized for head circumference 14” and for 16”.

    Baby Pullover Bib to Crochet Pullover Bib

    Sunshine Washcloths (Lily Sugar ’n Cream) brighten up baby’s nursery or bath. Thick and thirsty cluster stitches make these quick cloths pretty and practical. Make a few, roll up and tie with ribbon, and pop them in a basket with baby toiletries for a charming shower gift.

    Baby Crochet Sunshine Washcloth Sunshine Washcloth

    It was a pleasure working with Leisure Arts on One-Skein Baby Projects. Along with doing the editing and photography, they added helpful video links to the patterns. What a great way for crocheters to learn something new or to get reacquainted with a technique they haven’t used in a while. In the past I’ve written Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets, Tunisian Shawls, and Crochet Refresher for Leisure Arts; another leaflet, Easy Afghans, will be published this spring. They also offer some standalone ePatterns of my work on their site.

    My hope for One-Skein Baby Projects is that relatively new crocheters will find easy items to suit their skill level, experienced crocheters will enjoy exciting stitch patterns and techniques to hold their interest, and that the finished projects will put a smile on the faces of babies and their parents.

    One-Skein Baby Projects Table of Contents Table of Contents

    To tell you a little bit about me, I’m a lifelong crafter who switched gears from travel writing to crochet design after I rediscovered my love of crochet about ten years ago. I’m a professional member of the Crochet Guild of America and a design member of The National NeedleArts Association. I was a featured guest on HGTV’s fiber arts program, “Uncommon Threads,” and have been interviewed on numerous radio podcasts. Recently I expanded my crochet work to include large-scale museum installations, indoors and out. I love to travel and explore the outdoors, especially with my husband, Alan, and our two grown sons. So far I have visited 48 states, 5 Canadian provinces, and 9 European countries. You can find me on Facebook and Pinterest at Sharon Silverman Crochet; on Ravelry at CrochetSharon; and on my website, www.SharonSilverman.com. I would love to hear from you!

    Happy crocheting!

    Photo 14, Sharon Silverman Sharon Silverman
  • Jack-O-Lantern Dishcloth

    I love Halloween. It is my favorite holiday. I love all the decorations. I like to drive around and look at everyone else’s decorated yards. I leave my decorations up until the day after Day of the Dead. I was looking for something quick and easy project to do. Something that I can work on in and out of the car this week while waiting in the carpool line at school or while waiting on after school activities. I went through all of my Leisure Art Books and found this cute Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin dishcloth in a book called A Dishcloth a Month.

    I was just finishing tucking in all my ends when my friend asked me if it was a new coaster for our table at the new knit shop. I said I had not planned on it but why not. It is slightly big for a coaster but it is really cute idea for decorating a table. So I am in the process of making a few more for our knit/crochet table. I am even going to crochet some without the Jack-O-Lantern face. You just follow the pattern and as if you had changed your color from orange to black. My favorite part I will only have four ends to run in or tuck in. Whichever way you want say it. You can even use brown for the stem instead of the green. Since it is fall I can keep the ones without faces through Thanksgiving. It’s a win! Win! I hope that you have had as much fun with this Jack-O-Lantern pattern as I have. I used 100% cotton. I am going to check and see if Sugar n Cream has a variegated fall colored yarn for some of my solid pumpkins. I think that would be really cute.

     

     

  • Crochet Fingerless Mittens

    Hats & Handwarmers for the Family

    I crocheted these Fingerless Mittens for a friend’s birthday. The colors reminded me of a new box of crayons and she loves lots of colors. I didn’t get this from pattern from a Leisure Arts book. But here is a Leisure Arts book that has a great pattern. It is Hat & Handwarmers for the Family. That you could modify to make it look like the one in the photo. Just crochet to cover the palm of the hand and if you don’t want to crochet the thumb then don’t that is your call.

    Fingerless Mittens - Crochet

    This is how I made my Fingerless Mittens:

    With a size H crochet hook I chained 28 stitches. (If H is too small or big you can go up or down a crochet hook size) I joined it in the round with a slip stitch. I made sure not to twist it. Use a place marker so you know where you joined in the round.

    Row 1: single crochet.

    Row 2: single crochet into the back stitch and repeat for 16 rounds.

    Increase rounds: crochet two single stitches into the stitch before your place marker and into the stitch on the other side of the place marker. Your next round is a single crochet into the black stitch. Continue these two rows four more times until you have 38 stitches.

    Thumb and palm: crochet until 4 stitches before the place marker and chain 3 count four stitches past and crochet. Use a place marker in the second chain so you can keep up were you joined it in the round. You should have skipped a total of 9 stitches. (The last stitch before the chain I did a single crochet through the whole stitch and also a whole stitch when joining the thumb hole. This makes it stronger.) Then single crochet into the back stitch for 8 rounds.

    Fingerless mittens are a great gift idea for birthdays, Christmas, or just because you want to do something for someone special.

     

  • Boot Cuff

    Cool-Weather Family Fashions

    I needed a quick project to take on the go this week. I looked through all my Leisure Arts books and I saw these really cute Boot Cuffs in Cool-Weather Family Fashions. I used a bulky wool yarn. I have no idea what the name of this cream colored yarn is. I hate when my labels fall off. It was a yarn that I had in my stash.

    FullSizeRender (36) Use a place marker on the knit row side. This is the right side.

    Finished Cool Weather Fashions Boot Cuff

    I knitted the Boot Cuffs on size 11 straight needles. I love the pattern that this makes. It is quite a lovey stitch. One row is a rib stitch and the next row is a knit. I’m going to do a scarf or a cowl next with this stitch. If you want to knit this and you don’t like sewing up the sides you of your projects. You could cast on the number of stitches that you need for the size you require onto double point needles. Join in the round making sure not to twist. I know that is what I’m going to do next time I knit these. Remember Christmas is just a little over 3 months away. These would be a quick and easy project for someone who loves to wear boots.

    Boot cuffs as ear warmers Or a boot cuff for a dog cowl or earmuffs. Just kidding!!! I am not that bad!

     

  • Knit Hat

    I have been coloring in my Leisure Arts coloring books off and on all week and my favorite colors right now are neon iridescent colors. When I saw the Toybox Collection yarn called Candy at my local yarn shop called Yarn Kandy the yarn is 100% acrylic. I knew that I had to get it to knit a hat for a friend who runs very early in the morning.

    Beginner Friendly Knitting

    I know that she wears other iridescent clothing when she runs. But I wanted to knit her a hat to keep her ears warm, and something else so that she can be seen when it is still dark. Leisure Arts has neon iridescent colored yarns but it is a bulky yarn. You can use it but you will probably have to cast on less stitches and use a bigger size circular knitting needle.

     

     

    Finished Knit Hat CircleCircular Knitting a Hat

    My knitted hat pattern isn’t a written pattern. It could be written some place. I just haven’t seen it. Leisure Arts has a hat similar to the hat that I have knitted called Beginner-Friendly Knitting by Rita Weiss.  I just played with it until I got it right. I casted on 88 stitches on size 8 circular knitting needles, the first time I casted on 96 and it was way too big. I noticed this after I was 6 inches in and I had to rip it all out and start again. Joined in the round make sure not to twist. Going to start a rib stitch which is K2, P2 for an inch to inch and a half, but don’t forget your place marker to show were you joined. Then knit in the round until the hat is 6 inches. Decrease knit 6 knit 2 together all the way around to were your place marker is. When you start decreasing you are going to needle double point knitting needles. Knit the next row. Continue decreasing until you have 11 stitches left. I know that the photo has a hole I stopped at 22 stitches because my friend who this was for asked to. She wanted it so that hat could have a little ventilation. When you are done cut a 6 inch tail and with a darning needle weave the end through all the stitches on your double point. I always go around twice just to be safe. Tuck in your ends and you have a hat.

    Finished Knit Hat

    I hate to say it but Christmas is going to be here in a blink of an eye. School starts in a few days. Everyone needs a warm hat. Great for Christmas, birthday, or a just because I was thinking about you.

  • Hand Mitts

    One of my favorite storybooks as a small child was the Three Little Kittens that lost their mittens. Well I found my mittens. But something is missing. It is missing the fingertips and thumb coverings. I like finger less mittens because you can still use your fingers for texting; I even knit and crochet with my finger less mittens. I found this quick and easy pattern in a Leisure Arts book called Cool-Weather Family Fashions the pattern is called Hand Mitts.

    IMG_8156

    I used size 11 straight knitting needles and I know that the pattern calls for chunky yarn but the only chunky yarn that I had in my yarn stash is a ½ alpaca and ½wool. I know that the pattern calls for two different colors but I just used the one.  It took an hour to knit one finger less mitten and that included stitching up the side. Now I am ready for cooler weather. Finger less mittens are great ideas for gifts.

  • Bull’s Eye Coasters

    This is just a quick and easy project. Something small that you can carry around with you it’s too hot to try to work on really big projects. I have a baby blanket that I stopped working on in May because it was getting to hot. I found the pattern for Bull’s Eye Coaster from a Leisure Arts book called Modern Motifs. But the book says Bull’s Eye Square. I was going to do crochet a square. But I thought they were so pretty and the perfect size for coaster. I am making them for a gift. I will make the square at a later time I need a couple pot holders for my table.

    FullSizeRender (34)

    I found the pattern to quite easy to follow. I did my very first join with a DC (double crochet). It took me a couple tries to get it down. I was chasing my yarn around the crochet hook. Quite humorous if anyone was watching me. I used The Sassy Skein mercerized cotton, a hot pink and an electric blue. I loved the bright colors. I thought that it would be perfect for a Bull’s Eye target. It makes me want to go out and get a target and throwing darts. Probably not a good idea I don’t want a whole bunch of holes in my wall or in my foot which I did at my aunt’s house when I was a kid learning how to throw. I learned very quickly not to drop darts the land sharp point down.

  • Favorite Sock Pattern

    This is my favorite sock pattern. I have knitted many socks with this pattern and other patterns. This is just a simple tube sock. Much easier than other sock patterns because it doesn’t have a heel flap or gusset to knit and no Kitchener stitch on the toes. I didn’t get this from a Leisure Arts book. But here is a good starter book by Leisure Arts that is very helpful How to Knit Socks: Three Methods Made Easy by Edie Eckman.

    Patons Kroy Sock Yarn Patons Kroy Sock Yarn

    I used Patons Kroy sock yarn for the finished pair of socks it’s a wool and nylon blend yarn. The other photo is another pair of socks is a self-stripping yarn wool yarn by Feederbrook Farms that I discovered at the new yarn shop in Little Rock called Yarn Kandy. Also Leisure Arts has a few sock yarns that you can order from their sight. A Lion Brand yarn called Sock Ease a wool and nylon blend yarn.

    Feederbrook Farms

    Feederbrook Farms

    I used size 5 double point knitting needles. I casted on 48 stitches, joined it in the round did the rib stitch which is knit 2, purl 2. I put a place marker to show where I joined it in the round this way I know where to start when I start my decrease. I continued with the rib stitch for 1 inch to 1½ inches. The knit in the round stockinette stitch til the sock is 14 to 15 inches. When you are ready to decrease knit 6, knit 2 together the next round knit. Decrease one row and knit the next. Do this until you have 8 stitches. Cut a good size tail 6 to 8 inches. With a darning needle weave it through all 8 stitches and bind off. I like to go around the stitches twice this makes it a little stronger. Have fun knitting. I know I do. Socks make a great Christmas gift.

  • Granny Square Headband

    A few weeks ago one of my kids that I nanny for asked me to make them a headband. I asked her what kind of headband and she shrugged her shoulder and said “I don’t know!” So I thought about it and when looking through a crochet book by Leisure Arts called Quick Itty Bitties. I saw this crochet Granny Square Hat. I thought how cute would that be as a headband instead of a hat.

    Granny Square Headband

    I found this cotton yarn Crème de le Crème while on vacation last week in Southport, NC called Angelwings Needle Arts. So I used 5 colors 4 different colors for the granny squares each square has three colors. I know that the pattern calls for more than 4 colors. The 5th color is a light gray I used light gray to crochet the squares together and did a single crochet across the top and the bottom. She can wear this headband now or when it gets cold to keep her ears warm. I like knitting or crocheting with cotton because breaths. This project was quick and easy. It only took a couple hours.

    Granny Square Headband

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