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The Leisure Arts Crochet Blog
  • Wildlife Afghans: Choose Your Own Adventure Crochet

    Wildlife Afghans lets you mix and match your favorite wildlife and side panels to crochet your own afghan masterpiece.  Do you remember choose your own adventure books? Wildlife Afghans is the crochet equivalent.  First you choose between a bear, moose, deer or wolf.  Then you choose your favorite side panel and corner pieces and you have a one-of-a-kind afghan! We love Wildlife Afghans so much that we invited today's guest blogger, Christine Naugle, to talk about the inspiration for her fabulous designs. Welcome Christine!

    Hey everyone, this is Christine Naugle, the designer behind the Wildlife Cable Afghans book. I am so excited to see the release of this book with Leisure Arts. I am even more excited about why this book is unique, it is unique because you get to design your own blanket! Wildlife Cable Afghans by Christine Naugle

















    When I decided to design a new set of blankets I wanted them to focus on the outdoors and wildlife. I wanted the blankets to be appealing to the men in our lives and/or have a more rustic feel to them. So many designs feature beautiful flowers and romantic colorways that I adore but, to put it simple, they are more feminine. In this new design set, I wanted the afghans to be all about creating unique and eye catching textures, I wanted them to be perfect for someone like my Husband, Dad, or Grandfather. For inspiration I scoured Pinterest for Cabin Decor and found many framed cabin images and sayings. So, I went to my sketch pad and started jotting down multiple frame ideas. The idea of a silhouette came to me first and I decided to try a deer.

    Deer in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle. Deer in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle.

















    The deer was fun to draw, my husband even got involved and taught me the differences between mule deer and white tail deer. He was excited about this blanket design which made me even more excited too. Next up was the side panels. I knew I wanted rich textures, cables, and an eye catching design. Many hours where put into making swatches of different stitch combinations and finally the panels where coming together. Boy, it was so much fun to see this project working out like I envisioned. The corner squares where fun and quick. I knew I wanted them to represent a wagon wheel but in my own design style. Boy Howdy! It worked. I knew immediately that I had to do another afghan design.

    Moose in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle Moose in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle

















    The moose was next up. I loved the prints along the side panels with the simple embossed-like diamond corners. Again, some rich texture to pull the blanket together with the striking silhouette was a success. I was on a roll and had to do at least 2 more designs.

    Bear in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle Bear in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle
    Wolf in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle Wolf in Wildlife Afghans by Christine Naugle































    The bear and wolf blanket designs where just as fun to work up. The bear was extra fun because my children call me, "Momma Bear". My favorite part of the wolf design is the feathered or arrow look to the panels, it is unique and fun to work up.

    But, once again, the best part about these blankets is that you get to decide which pieces you want to work up. The Wildlife Cable Afghan book is designed for you to pick and choose each piece of the blanket to make it unique and to your liking. Simply choose the animal silhouette you like best: deer, bear, wolf or moose. Next select the side panels. The panels is where your texture will really begin. Each panel has a unique cable like pattern that will draw your eyes to the blanket as if it were a photo being displayed. Lastly, you get to select the design of each corner piece. Again, each one of these pieces is unique and feature different looks from a diamond accent, to a dream catcher whimsical design, to a circular cluster (almost wagon wheel effect), to a more simple cabled square. No matter which piece you select, your finished blanket will be personalized to your liking and will be a masterpiece when you are completed.

  • Animal Rugs

    Kids will squeal in delight over the novelty crochet rugs in Kristi Simpson's Rugs for Kids.  The six fun designs help children step into imaginary worlds where creativity is key. From a unicorn, racetrack and rocket ship to a penguin, lamb and cow, every kid will have a favorite rug!  We've invited today's guest blogger, Kristi Simpson, to talk about the inspiration for her fabulous designs in Rugs for Kids.Welcome Kristi!

    Hi! I’m Kristi Simpson, designer of the patterns in the Leisure Arts’ book: Rugs for Kids. I have enjoyed designing and teaching for many years and this book so cute! I enjoyed designing all of these rugs and you can crochet them in a jiffy! Keep your feet warm and floors cute with any and all of these rugs.

    screen-shot-2018-03-02-at-1-26-05-pm Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson




















    The cow is one of my favorites! It is based off of a lacier rug idea. I know many of you have one, don't deny it! Pretty, dainty...and now a cow! Approximate finished size of the cow is 28" (71 cm) diameter. Look at the face and arms; it just brings a fun personality to any room.

    Cow Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson Cow Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson















    Have you ever made a motif rug? What about a motif OWL rug? I loved designing this one, as I had to figure out how to make it proportionate and look like an owl with just a few colors. I love the flower motifs....can you tell? Approximate finished size for the owl, 32" wide x 39" high (81.5 cm x 99 cm).

    Owl Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson Owl Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson













    Say Hello to Penguin! I love this lil, rug! It's fun and easy-- you need to make one! If you wanted to make one for a girl—what would a fun ribbon tied for a bow look like? Or maybe a fun bow for a boy? Have fun with this adorable design. Finished size of the penguin, 36" (91 cm) wide (from wing to wing) x 36" (91 cm) high (from bottom of feet to top edge).

    Penguin Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson Penguin Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson













    Vroom! Vroom! Making this rug was hard to keep a secret from my boys! Even after seeing it in the book they wanted it! What little boy (or girl!) wouldn't? It's made in 4 sections, sewn together and then you add the road pieces on's so much fun! Let's play! Finished racetrack, 30" (76 cm) square.

    Racetrack Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson Racetrack Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson















    Take off with this fun rocket rug! It's a 'blast' to crochet! Okay, I'll stop with the word games, but seriously----you have to make this one, too! It was hard for me to pick a color for the rocket because my boys would want one in every color (red, blue, green, yellow!) What color would YOU USE? Finished size: rocket, 22½" wide x 42" high (57 cm x 106.5 cm)

    Rocket Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson Rocket Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson















    I was inspired by my daughter for this last unicorn rug. She loves horses so much--and when she was little, she believed in unicorns and anything magical and 'princess' themed! If you have a little dreamer in your life, you need to make her a unicorn rug right now! Unicorn measurements: 24" wide x 26" high (61 cm x 66 cm).

    Unicorn Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson Unicorn Rug in Rugs for Kids by Kristi Simpson













    Now that you’ve had a chance to see the rugs, you need to make your own! I hope you enjoy these patterns and your little ones roll all over them!

  • Huggable Amigurumi: Stuffed Animals, Only Better!

    Huggable Amigurumi offers a unique take on Amigurumi.  Instead of miniature crocheted creatures,, Kristi Simpson has created supersized Amigurimi amimals any child will love. We love the huggable crocheted designs so much that we invited today's guest blogger, Kristi Simpson, to talk about the inspiration for her fabulous designs in Huggable Amigurumi. Welcome Kristi!

    Amigurumi patterns flood the internet, but you will not find anything like these sweet Huggables! They are 19” from sitting position and will quickly become one of the family!

    Hi! I’m Kristi Simpson, designer of the patterns in the Leisure Arts’ book: Huggable Amigurumi. I have enjoyed designing and teaching for many years and this book is one of my new favorites! I can’t help it, even in designing, these little buddies made me so excited! I hope in reading about this collection, you will be just as excited and make one (or all 5!) for your next project.

    When thinking about this book I was inspired by the mountain of stuffed animals that my kids have. Seriously, they are going to take over the house….but I was drawn to the larger ones. They all have so much character! I wanted to design a collection that would be fun to have for babies to larger kids that they can use as comfort and play.

    I tried to create a collection that was similar in shape for the body and head but I added details that would set each apart. Some have large ears and hands and feet, others have a bow or collar with mitten hands…. Each are unique but as a collection, it all comes together.

    Now, I have to brag about the wonderful job Leisure Arts did on this book. The photography is phenomenal! It really brought the animals to life and showed the true size—and fun that they are!
    Seriously, isn’t the girl on the cover so sweet!?!?! The cover captured the entire theme, fun and huggable.

    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-31-56-pm Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson

















    Next, I have to say that the first photo for the inside cover is my favorite. Seriously! You can’t see their faces but you can see the bodies, head detail and tails. They look like they are buddies with their arms on each other’s shoulders! I just can’t get over how cute they are lined up like that!


    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-50-48-pm Huggable Amigurumi Designs - Back View











    Now, let’s talk yarn. I used Bernat Softee Chunky throughout. It helps the animals be naturally larger and hold shape. I love working with bulky/chunky yarns and Bernat Softee Chunky offers not only a great yarn but a lot of colors to choose from! So now…meet the Huggables!

    Meet Bunny.

    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-32-32-pm Bunny from Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson

    She was designed with giant floppy ears and a sweet ruffle collar. The head was made from nose to middle back, unlike the others. It is easy and the pattern steps you right through from start to finish! I love the idea of a toddler pulling it along by it’s ears…like a sweet buddy!

    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-32-47-pm Giant Stuffed Bunny in Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson









    Say hello to Elephant.

    Elephant in Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson Elephant from Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson

















    Being from Alabama, the elephant was an easy-pick. I wanted to make it ‘just right’. So, I worked for hours on the trunk so that it would be in perfect proportion. I didn’t want it to just stick straight out, or hang down---so, I worked and worked and made it easy for YOU! Now, the ears. I love them. Large and floppy! I used the variegated yarn on the ends of the hands, feet and the ears so that you can see the contrast and have the extra special touch. And you can see how BIG these animals are by this photo… look at him with the sweet boy!!!!

    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-33-18-pm Giant Stuffed Elephant in Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson


















    Squishy Level 10: Lion

    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-33-35-pm Lion from Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson
















    My kids vote this their favorite hands-down! They love the ears, nose and the mane. I made it from the top down and I step you through each part of it… don’t worry! The mane is actually from the neck, to the top and back down (not all over) so it’s just a fun feature, not all over. I love this one, and how it came together. I can just see it being squished and loved on for many years.

    Cuteness alert! Giraffe is here!















    Okay. This is MY favorite. I love it from the top of his horns to the ends of his hooves. Such cuteness! I love the spunk of his spikey hair fringe to the spots all over! I love it! I actually tried different ways to add his spots: circles, rectangles, odd shapes….but stitching them on was the perfect way to do it! I have been asked to re-make this one multiple times…. It has been a hit!

    Hello Handsome…Meet the Monkey

    screen-shot-2018-01-03-at-4-34-45-pm Monkey from Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson

















    Dressed up in his bow tie, he’s ready to hit the town with his best buddy. His goofy grin always makes me smile and I just love his hands. Seriously, they are made like mitts to give him the most huggable effect! His perky-side ears give him the mischievous monkey look and he’s sure to impress with his big eyes too!

    From designing this book to seeing the final product, I have loved each and every step…..and I just know you’re going to love making (AND GIVING) these squishy Huggables! I hope you create your own Huggable that will be cherished for years to come. So, what are you waiting for? Get your hook and yarn and get busy!

    Kristi Simpson

    All Designs in Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson All Designs in Huggable Amigurumi by Kristi Simpson
  • Crochet Monster Playsets

    Do the Monster Mash all year round with these adorable crochet Monster Playsets for babies and kids in Monster Playsets 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 Monster Playsets. Welcome Michele!

    screen-shot-2017-10-18-at-2-38-43-pm Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks

    It’s Playtime! Creating playwear for your little monster can be quick and easy - I designed these pieces that way!  I’m Michele Maks, the mother of 5, grandmother of 3, who knows that with the patter of little feet that stitching time is often at a premium while monsters take over the house!

    screen-shot-2017-10-18-at-2-39-09-pm Little Monster Hat & Leggings from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks

    Back zipped hoodies a will make your baby or toddler seem scary cute!  The hoodie, like all the pieces in Monster Playsets, can be crocheted in the following sizes: 6 months, 1 years (12 months), 2 years (2T), 3 years (3T), and 4 years (4T).

    screen-shot-2017-10-18-at-2-41-52-pm Furry Hoodie from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks

    Babies and kids of all ages will squeal in delight at the Little Monster blanket.  Theses cozy blankets are stitched with two strands of yarn.

    screen-shot-2017-10-23-at-4-03-50-pm Little Monster Blanket in Blue & Red from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks
    Little Monster Blanket in Pink & Purple from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks Little Monster Blanket in Pink & Purple from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks

    Two different colorways, with matching hats and leggings, will give new meaning to the phrase BITE ME!

    Little Monster Hat in pink and purple from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks Little Monster Hat in pink and purple from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks

    It's amazing how a change of colors gives the crocheted Monster Playset a completely different look!

    Furry Hoodie, Little Monster Hat & Leggings in pink and purple from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks Furry Hoodie, Little Monster Hat & Leggings in pink and purple from Monster Playsets by Michelle Maks

    What could be more huggable, or fun to stitch, than these Monster Playsets?

  • 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


    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!


  • 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:

    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, or follow me on my Bonnie Bay Crochet Facebook page.  I truly wish you all the best!

  • 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, I would love to hear from you. Happy crocheting!

    Designer, Sharon Silverman. Designer, Sharon Silverman.
  • 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!

  • Baby Crochet Inspired by Nature

    Crochet patterns for baby may be plentiful, but few baby crochet designs are as adorable as those in Nature's Gifts for Baby.  Today's Guest Blogger is Sara Leighton.  Sara designed the whimsical patterns you'll find inside of Nature's Gifts for Baby and she's here today to talk about her inspiration for them.  Welcome Sara!

    Hello, there!  I’m Sara Leighton, designer of the patterns in Leisure Arts' recent publication Nature's Gifts for Baby.  I’ve been a part of the wonderful crochet design community for several years now.  This is my first book and it gives me such joy to see it in print.  Many thanks go out to Leisure Arts for working with me and bringing this project to life.

    Nature's Gifts for Baby Front Cover Nature's Gifts for Baby Front Cover

    I’d love to tell you a little bit about the inspiration for each baby set.  There are seven sets in the book, each inspired by the incredible beauty of the natural world.  I love the thought of sweet little babies being all wrapped up in my designs!  What a compliment to have my designs invited into others’ lives as they celebrate their own little gifts of nature.  I’d also like to share some tips for customization for those crocheters who are particularly adventurous.


    Coniferous Set

    Coniferous Set Coniferous Set

    Forests are full of life and magic, just like babies!  I wanted to celebrate those precious moments with a hat and blanket influenced by the grandeur of the Pacific Northwest.  I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for most of my life and thus have been fortunate enough to have its gorgeous forests surround me and inspire me.

    Custom Tip: Make the blanket in any size by starting with any multiple of 6 stitches plus 3.  A larger blanket might mean a big forest of tree appliqués lining the bottom!  Remember that you’ll need more yarn if you’re making a larger blanket.


    Starry Set 

    Starry Set Starry Set

    The night sky has captured our imaginations and inspired many stories across different cultures.  The simple stitches and crisp details of this space-inspired set make it shine.  Truth be told, I was inspired to design this set because I am a space fanatic in my daily life.  It’s a good thing that I work as Campus Manager of a small private school, because working with young people helps me to get away with wearing my space dress, space leggings, space skirt, space scarf, and space earrings (though not all at once)!

    Custom Tip: Change one of the constellations to the baby’s star sign to make the set more personal. You could even write the little one’s name or initials in the stars!


    Fox Set 

    Fox Set Fox Set

    With a flash of bright orange, this sweet little fox set steals your heart.  I wanted to conjure thoughts of playful forest friends in soft snowfall with this whimsical project.  Foxes are fairly trendy these days — and for good reason!  They are totally adorable and irresistibly mischievous.

    Custom Tip: If springtime strikes your fancy, replace the off-white in the blanket with green.  You could also add a bow to the fox for a more feminine look.


    Seedling Set

    Seedling Set Seedling Set

    It’s so fulfilling watching the next generation be born, grow up, and reach their potential. This is a crisp, sweet baby set that seeks to recognize the joy babies bring to our lives as they blossom and change.  This set was inspired by a class activity that I enjoyed when I was in first grade.  We got to explore sunflowers at various stages of their development.  I never forgot the excitement I felt learning all about how living things grow and change.

    Custom Tip: Frame the panels instead of joining them to create unique nursery decor.  You could also make pillows out of them to add some fun to a favorite chair.


    Sunrise Set

    Sunrise Set Sunrise Set

    Mr. Golden Sun shines down on baby in the form of these bright, sunny hexagon motifs.  I like that you can work them up in your spare moments and soon you’ll have a beautiful set for your wee one.  When I was a very young one, under 5, I lived in sunny California.  This set is a tribute to that early and warm part of my life, my own sunrise.

    Custom Tip: The size of this blanket is easy to customize; simply craft more or fewer motifs.  You may even want to experiment with different hexagon arrangements.  If you’d like a larger blanket, be sure to factor in more yarn.


    Water Lilies

    Water Lilies Set Water Lilies Set

    This set was inspired by Monet’s paintings which reflect the simple beauty of a quiet pond.  I have a huge amount of respect for art, especially impressionism, and Monet’s paintings have always been among my favorites.  I finally saw a few in person a few years ago; I cried with happiness.

    Custom Tip: Monet created over 200 paintings in the Water Lilies series, with no two being completely alike. Place your lily pads and flowers however you desire to create your own unique version. Since variegated yarn is used for this set, no two sets will look quite the same.


    Raindrops Set

    Raindrops Set Raindrops Set

    Rain refreshes the earth, bringing water to thirsty plants and animals.  This cool set is a great way to play in puddles - without getting wet!  It rains a lot of the time where I live.  I love it!  The rain brings everything to life.

    Custom Tip: The cloud appliqués are very versatile. You can add as many or as few as you like to your set. Stitch letters onto them, stuff them to turn them into a matching mobile.  The sky is the limit when it comes to creativity. 

    Thanks Sara for your keen insights into the incredibly cute baby crochet designs in Nature's Gifts for Baby. You can find Sara everyday at her blog: Illuminate Crochet.  

    Have a great day!


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