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The Leisure Arts Crochet Blog
  • 8 Crochet Techniques to Learn for Fall

    Instagram: LeisureArts

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

    1. Irish Crochet

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

    Irish Crochet Lab

    2. Mosaic Crochet

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

    Ravelry: Margret Willson
    Lily Chin's Mosaic Magic

    3. Tapestry Crochet

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

    Jellina Creations
    Ravelry: Carol Ventura
    4. Filet Crochet

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

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

    5. Hairpin Lace

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

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

    8. Bruges Lace 

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


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

    Stay crafty!


  • A Crocheted Cup of Coffee! With a Donut!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

  • I'm Going to Learn Crochet Intarsia! I am So Brave!

    Hello, how are you?  I hope your week is going well and you're making excellent progress with your projects.  I'm about halfway through a swatch.  Yup, that's what I'm actively working on right now.  I decided to get crazy with color work and try out the Beginner's Guide to Crochet Color Work.  I've always wanted to knit or crochet a throw pillow for my living room, and the Kilim pillow pattern really grabbed me.  There is a project for each of the techniques explained in Beginner's Guide to Crochet Color Work--stripes, mosaic, Intarsia, woven Fair Isle, and combinations of these techniques--and the Kilim pillow is the project for Intarsia.

    This is so pretty!

    And what exactly is Intarsia?  Well, I'm so glad I get to pretend you asked!  According to the guide, "Intarsia color work draws highly graphic pictures onto a crocheted fabric, using many colors on each row."  So that's what I'm trying out because that sounds awesome! 

    I had thought about starting with something a little less intimidating like the super pretty Ripple Cowl, which is for striped work.

    Let's be honest, though. I'm still going to make this sometime soon. This looks awesome.

    But I already know how to crochet stripes and I really liked the look of that pillow.  So even though I knew I would need bobbins for this project, I went ahead and plunged into making the gauge swatch.  I know it's a little thing, but any time a project calls for tools I don't normally use--even something as simple as stitch markers.  Those used to freak me out--something in my brain decides that I should panic and get scared of something as simple as a new crafting technique.

    This picture should not trigger a fight-or-flight response, but it did.

    But I was a super brave adventurer and just went for it!  I carried some strands of yarn and pulled yarn from both ends of the skein for one color.  And after that, I decided I would be a firm believer in bobbins.


    This is a tiny little bit of crocheted fabric and I've got all kinds of tangles in the back of this work!  I'm incredibly glad that I just jumped into swatching instead of jumping into the entire pillow because I would have been in some awful level of crochet hell if I had.  Actually, I would have had to unravel this anyway because I need to go down a hook size.  This is looking pretty loosey-goosey.


    But!  I'm still totally going to finish this swatch.  I am going to treat this little bit of crocheting like my Intarsia trouble-shooting experiment.  I literally cannot wait to see what else can go wrong with this project!  No really, I mean that.  This has been a fantastic practice.  I have now crocheted six whole rows of Intarsia and I'm feeling a lot less intimidated.  And I think I might use different colors.  Or the same colors in a different arrangement.  Or something.

     I'm going to keep thinking about it as I finish up this swatch.  This is the practice run for Intarsia where you work out different techniques and work on your tension.  So I'm going to work on this AND probably work the recommended gauge swatch before I make the pillow itself.  It looks beautiful and I can't wait to have it on my couch this fall.  It's going to be a lovely piece of decor and I'm going to be super pumped about having finally made a throw pillow with yarn!  It's going to be awesome.

    I hope your works-in-progress are awesome this week, too.  Happy crafting!

  • 7 Reasons Your Knit/Crochet Projects Aren’t Getting Done

    Hey Crafters! I've seen so many jokes on Pinterest about how crafters can end up with several WIPs. This week I have three knitting projects! 

    Why do crafters always seem to have more than one thing to work on? Here are seven good reasons to have several WIPs.

    1. You love your craft!

    Just think for a moment about how much you love knitting or crocheting (or both!). It isn’t just a skill that you use. It’s a hobby! First you want to make a cowl. Maybe some mittens. You know you have a friend that has a birthday in the near feature. They’ll need a gift! Wouldn't you love to see this yarn worked into that pattern?

    2. Yarn? Yarn.
    This is also a yarn issue. You love yarn! Yarn is soft, warm, it works up beautifully, and it comes in so many wonderful varieties. Your yarn-craving creativity takes over your will to only have one project going. There is just too much yarn to love!

    3. Why Did I Start This? 
    Do you ever get the feeling, in the middle of a project, that your reasons for starting it might not be as valid as you hoped? I do! At first we are all gung-ho, and then the reality of how much work it’s going to take sinks in and we become less excited.

    I got this reason from listening to a Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert. She tells the story of how a poet gets ideas for poems. It’s like a wind that comes rushing through you and then it's gone. Or, it is slightly less exciting
    4. Distractions
    This is an obvious one. Life gets in the way. Since crafting is a hobby, and not a necessity—even though it could be argued that it’s necessary for therapy reasons, it’s often the first thing to be abandoned on our to-do list.
    5. Guilt

    This might not apply to everyone. You might feel guilty admitting that you’ve neglected to pick up your projects for so long. I know it’s silly! But maybe true? 
    I love this paragraph from Hyperbole and a Half. This blog always has a humorous way of explaining things! This paragraph is from a post called “This is Why I Will Never be an Adult”. 

    "The longer I procrastinate on returning phone calls and emails, the more guilty I feel about it.  The guilt I feel causes me to avoid the issue further, which only leads to more guilt and more procrastination.  It gets to the point where I don't email someone for fear of reminding them that they emailed me and thus giving them a reason to be disappointed in me." -Hyperbole and a Half

    6. You Forget 
    This also might seem kind of silly. Forget? Well, you are a creative person. Lots goes on in your craft room. Who knows when a long lost WIP just happens to show up?
    7.  Productivity 

    No games here. Look at all the things you plan to do! You must be a talented crafter. And you are! There is honestly nothing wrong with this. How can you limit yourself to one project? Keep having doing what you love. Don’t beat yourself up over all the projects not getting done. At the end of the day, crafting is for fun, and you are making the most of it. 

    Thanks for Reading! 

    Stay crafty!


  • A Tisket, A Tasket, A Blue Crocheted Basket

    I've crocheted a basket!

    Finally!  I've tried a few basket patterns before, but I've never finished one.  The Oval pattern from Baskets seemed like a pretty perfect pattern to try, though.  We need plenty of containers around the house to hold little odds and ends and I do always love a good cotton yarn project.  And this is a great cotton yarn project.

    This is crocheted with two strands of yarn held together, which will annihilate your joints.  Holy moley.  But if you're really super strong, or if you just take lots of breaks, this is a great project.  After a few wrestling sessions, I made this in the medium size.  It calls for three skeins, and I had two skeins of Robin's Egg Blue by Sugar n' Cream.  I decided to make the bottom of the basket with some Sugar n' Cream Denim.  Once upon a time last summer, I bought three or four skeins of Sugar n' Cream yarn.  My reasons are completely forgotten, and only the stash remains.  I think I have a skein and a half left.  Gracious.  But the dark blue made a nice contrast for the bottom and the top border.

    There are three top borders to choose from with this pattern as well!  I went with the long single crochet option because I love the look of long single crochet stitches.  They're made by crocheting into the stitch in the row below.  It's a simple technique that makes a lovely stitch.

    This basket is going to hold my daughter's hair accessories in our bathroom.  I'm not sure how all those little pony tail holders and barrettes get everywhere, but they do.  Oh my goodness, how they do.  After I give myself a break from working with cotton yarn held double, I'm probably going to make another one for myself to hold some of my crocheting and knitting notions.  I think I'd like to toss all of my stitch markers and measuring tapes into one large container instead of into some of the smaller containers cluttering up the bookcase in my craft corner.  Maybe I'll try the Round Basket pattern next!

    It's even holding craft supplies in this picture!

    For now, though, I've got some hair accessories to pick up and a bathroom to tidy.  I'm pretty excited about this little container and I think it's going to look great.

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Simply the Best

    I crocheted Dishcloth #20 from The Big Book of Dishcloths this week and I love it. 

    When I first started flipping through this book, I wondered if there was a pattern that was just a simple square made of double crochet stitches.  And this was it!  Yup, that's all this is.  The perfect beginner dishcloth, or the perfect dishcloth for someone who's just in the mood for something simple.  Either way, this is perfect for variegated yarn. 

    I was really in the mood to use some of this yarn.  It's Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn and it's in the Camelot colorway.  I love its reds and pinks and not-quite-oranges.  And there's gray!  You wouldn't think gray would work too well with those colors, but it does and I loved it from the moment a destashing friend tossed it my way.  The navy blue yarn I used for the border made a nice contrast.  There are three border options in The Big Book of Dishcloths, and I usually like to pick the one that uses single crochet stitches.  I do love a good single crochet stitch border.

    I enjoy variegated yarn, but sometimes I don't want to use it on patterns that use distracting techniques.  If this dishcloth had a lot of front post crochet stitches, the stitches and the yarn would distract from each other and this might look messy.  I like the simple stitches of Dishcloth #20 with this wildly colorful yarn. 

    My next crocheted dishcloth is going to be fancy, I promise.  There are some really interesting patterns that use up to three different kinds of yarn and I'm excited about trying them out.  But I just had to try out this variegated yarn before I did anything else.  And I'm glad I did, because this one's a beauty.

  • Afghan Mania and the African Flower Motif

    You know what I should be making?  If you guessed "another dadgum blanket," you're so right!  So what if I have a couple of other blankets that I haven't finished!  I've wanted to make the Squared Afghan pattern from Learn to Crochet African Flower Motifs for a while now and last week I snapped a little and got started.  I'd made a square from this once before, and I think getting the hang of it before beginning an actual project helped a lot.  Once I had my colors picked out, I was all set!

    I'm using an I hook and worsted weight yarn in red, teal, and yellow.  I knew that skein of teal yarn from the blanket I talked about a couple of weeks ago would come in handy!  I also had quite a bit of red and yellow yarn, too.

    Obviously, I have already run out and I'm barely halfway through.  Whoops!  Afghans are big.  I don't know why I forget, but I always do.  This takes a lot of yarn!  I bought my third skein of Caron One Pound--okay, my third skein of yellow--for this year and I might be buying more because this is my border color.  And it turns out I grabbed a skein of Hot Red yarn instead of Cherry Red yarn when I was stocking up on more red yarn.  And you can tell.

    But I'll be using Hot Red for all of the rest of my squares, so I think it will look fine.  This is not a state fair blanket, and I'm trusting that the friend I'm making it for will love the almost garishness of the bright colors.  I love red and blue and yellow together, and I love that the blue is more of a teal.  In case you were wondering, the model in the book looks like this:

    And that's lovely.  But I take everything pretty literally, and I haven't seen a lot of blue or green flowers.  And this is coming from someone who has grown a ridiculous amount of zinnias.  I wanted my 'flowers' to have more vibrant colors, and now that I think about it, I may have had zinnias on the brain.  Those, or Gerber daisies.  But something bright and beautiful for sure.  And this is really fitting the bill.  I've made all ten of the Square 1 squares.

    And now I've made one whole whopping Square 2.

    I love them!  This makes a big square (about 10 inches) and this afghan is supposed to measure 44" X 55".  The squares are working up fairly quickly, and I have the pattern mostly memorized.  I really like the African flower motif, and I think I'm going to love how a blanket full of them looks.

    And I'm halfway to finding out for sure!

  • 16 Reasons to Appreciate Crochet This Fall

    Crochet is the way to go when keeping warm! I made a 15 Knits blog post a few weeks ago, and I thought I should also do a post for crochet. 

    Here are 16 different things you can crochet to keep warm. 

    Leg Warmers:
    Leg warmers are a unique way to dress-up an outfit, to wear on the way to or from a workout, or just around the house. They always seem to come back in style, and are especially cute on babies! 

    Ravelry: Bonita Patterns
    Celebrity Baby Fashion 
    Ravelry: Mon Petit Violon

    Although it might not be true that we loose 80% of our heat through our heads (WebMD), no one can deny the warmness of wearing a good hat. Crochet hats are perfect for the job. Check out Celebrity Slouchy Beanies for the Family!

    Hopeful Honey
    Ravelry: Jessica Lee

    Boot Cuffs:
    Rather than having to wear a bulky boot sock. Try boot cuffs that just sit at the top of the boot. This creates a cute layered look, or a pop of color. 

    Ravlery: Kim Handzo 
    Ravelry: Silvermoon Creations
    Boot Cuffs and Ear Warmers

    Head Wraps:
    Another way to keep your head warm--aside from hats. Head wraps are some of the most popular crochet patterns. I see them everywhere! 

    Ravelry: Shana Galbraith
    Etsy: crochetgallery
    Slouchy Beanies and Headwraps

    "Scoodies" (Scarf Hoodies):
    Scoodies are another name for scarves with hoods. A step-up from the regular scarf to something that will also keep your head warm. Something new to try this winter. Check out Hooded Scarves Book 2!

    Ravelry: Melissa Grice
    Ravelry: Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby
    Ravelry: Heidi May

    Bulky Cowls: 
    My favorite way to stay warm in the winter. Big bulky scarves are in this winter so, crocheters stock up! 

    Etsy: Ozetta
    Crocheting a Cowl of Many Colors

    Thanks for reading! Have fun crocheting the rest of the summer away.

    Stay crafty!


  • A Lovely Cottony Cowl


    It's finished!  The cowl pattern from the Textured Set in Hats & Scarves is a textured, cottony dream come true. 

     Okay, the pattern doesn't call for cotton yarn.  But I felt like it and I'm happy with how that turned out.  Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic yarn already has a very nubby feel to it, and the cowl pattern's mix of single and double crochet stitches made this extra super textured.  It's a lovely thing.

    The yarn is Aran weight, which is only slightly bigger than the worsted weight the pattern calls for, but it feels quite a bit fluffier than your average medium weight wool or acrylic yarn.  I used an I hook, which is a bit bigger than what I would normally use.  I was able to work this up in no time!  I just went until I had used up my two skeins (about 200 yards), and that turned out to be just fine.

    See?  It's tall enough to be a disguise!

    I will say that the crocheted fabric is a bit dense.  Not stiff, mind you!  But a little dense, which makes sense because I used heavier yarn.  I don't know if I should hang on to it and wear it a while before giving it as a gift to loosen it up a bit or not.  Maybe keeping it for myself would be in everyone's best interest.  This drapes pretty well, though.  Hey, maybe I'll just keep this because I want it. 

    This nice little cowl is going to sit in my gift stash for a while, though.  Last year's gift-giving season somehow caught me completely off guard, and I love the feeling of having a fantastic gift stash full of handmade things I can give to anyone at a moment's notice.  I'm a firm believer in making things especially for certain special people, but there's also certainly nothing wrong with making something first because you like the pattern and giving it someone later. 

    Just like there's nothing wrong with making something for yourself.  Or so I'm going to be saying if (when?) I move this away from my gift stash and into my closet.

  • African Flower Motifs, Practice Projects, and Gift-Giving

    I'm working on a project from Learn to Crochet African Flower Motifs.  But I'm not going to talk about that just yet.  But I took a break from that particular African flower motif project to work on another one as a fun little break.  I crocheted the...well, I crocheted an African Flower Motif. 


    A lot of the 'Learn to ....' books will have a little introductory section where you learn to crochet the motif featured through the book as a bit of a practice.  There are step-by-step instructions with pictures that let you get the hang of whatever techniques you'll be using in the book's patterns.  So this time I followed the instructions for making a little African flower motif because I'm really enjoying making them, and I needed to make a small one.  I made this one with sport weight yarn and a D hook so that I could have a cute little flower to glue to the front of a birthday card! 

    I should have used an E hook just because fiddling with teeny tiny bits of wool with a teeny tiny bit of a hook irritates me, and also because I think using a small hook pulled the stitches up a bit.  Whoops. 


    My sister liked it anyway.  She was also very excited about her slouchy beanie, too! 

    As a bonus, it wasn't the only crocheted gift I got to give this past weekend!  I finally gave my parents the afghan I made a few months ago from Dishcloths


    Obviously I modified it a little, but not a lot. 


    Bulkier yarn, a bigger hook, and several more rows were really all I need.  And my parents have a nice blanket now!  My mom has already claimed it.  It's been a good weekend for gift-giving!  I love giving handmade gifts, especially to people who enjoy them. 


    It was a great weekend for all of us!

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