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  • Cozy Comforts: The Winter Essentials and More!

    Hey Makers! We have been loving this winter weather, mostly because of all the cozy fashion we get to make and wear. You can break out that signature oversized sweater and mittens and go have snowball fights, or use that fluffy and soft afghan to cozy up by the fire and watch movies. Scroll to find your favorite cozy project!

    Weighted Blanket Relaxation

    Cozy Weighted Blankets - Book #7568

    Sleep through the night with the stress-free snuggle of a weighted blanket! Cozy Weighted Blankets is a craft sewing book that will transform your sleep with 15 family friendly projects destined to help you get a better night’s rest. Even the most restless sleepers deserve stress-free and sleep filled evenings, so craft your own weighted blanket, and avoid paying the high cost of readymade weighted blankets! From family sized wraps to throws just for you, you’ll find your perfect replacement to that childhood stuffed animal and fill your night with calming cuddles instead of restless tosses and turns. This is a project that takes a little bit of time and commitment, but trust us, it's worth it when you are relaxing by the fire.

    Knit Cozy Pillows

    Cozy Pillows - Book #75625

    Revamp your living room or office into a cozy den with just a few simple pillows! In Cozy Pillows you can knit 10 home décor pillows with eye-catching stitch patterns. Get creative with patterns like Eyelet Diamond and Cables, Six-Stitch Cable, Hourglass Eyelets, and more. Featuring yarn weights from light to super bulky, most pillows are for easy or easy-plus skill level; the bolster is for intermediate. You can have a range of pillows for all décor styles, and you can customize them to your liking with colors and accents! You can never have too many pillows.

    Comfy Afghan Mornings

    Homespun Comfort Afghans - Book # 75686

    Share the coziness and beauty of Lion Brand Homespun yarn using any of the seven cuddly throws in Homespun Comfort Afghans. From ripples and braids to hexagons and strips, each crochet design works up quickly using our easy-to-follow instructions. This attractive collection of afghans will make great gifts for those you love! You can use bulky yarn for a fluffy wrap, or medium weight yarn for texture. This mustard yellow afghan is a great wrap for chilly mornings!

    Camping With Crochet

    Fair Isle Crochet - Book #7234

    If you're in the market for unique winter patterns, then Fair Isle Crochet is your book. Fair Isle is a technique used to create patterns with multiple colors. Only two colors are used per row, and the unused color is worked over, weaving it into the fabric. Designer and instructor extraordinaire, Melissa Leapman will guide you through this new crochet technique, so don't worry! All designs are rated easy, so you’ll be finishing up your first project in no time. You can make projects like this Laurel Leaves Hat & Scarf, and look ready for any winer outdoor adventure. So pick up some colorful worsted weight yarn, and crochet away!

    Warm Hugs For Your Hands

    Fair Isle Mittens - Book #7453

    Crochet the cutest, coziest mittens for yourself and all your cold-handed friends with this Fair Isle Mittens book! Every mitten in this book achieves its unique and colorful style thanks to designer, Lori Adams and her use of the Fair Isle Technique. Lori was inspired by knitted mittens that she had seen in a store, and knew that there had to be a crochet equivalent out there. So she created these great crochet patterns that look knit with simple stitches and a little patience! These heart patterned mittens that you see above are the perfect gesture to show someone how much you care about them. If you want a more in depth look into these Fair Isle patterns, Lori has a great video talking about her book!

    Cozy Kitchen Afternoons

    Modern Patchwork - Book #7493

    Take your quilting to the next, totally trendy level with this Modern Patchwork book! Inside you’ll find 12 contemporary projects by some of today’s most skilled and accomplished quilt designers. Patterns feature bold colors with a mix of solids and prints and plenty of negative space. The result? Twelve truly stunning projects, including this culinary brights apron that you see above. You can be stylish as you make Sunday brunch! Aprons are always cozy because you get to make your comfort foods in style. It reminds you of your childhood when you were baking cookies with mom, or waiting on pies from grandma! So grab some fun fabric and jump on the modern quilt bandwagon with these fresh patterns that inspire your creativity.

    Snowy Mornings and Soft Afghans

    Crochet Afghan Revival - Book #7572

    You'll be on a crochet marathon when you see all of the patterns in Crochet Afghan Revival. This book has over 40 stunning afghans to spread warmth and joy and keep your fingers ridiculously happy! Inside you’ll see that traditional patterns meet modern color combinations, and there’s an afghan for every room, every style, every season, every mood, and every occasion. You’ll even discover a few coordinating pillow patterns! This snowball afghan is the perfect wintry blanket to decorate your couch with. The neutral colors will balance any colors in a room, and the variations of gray give the afghan depth and dimension. Most projects are rated easy with a few intermediate ones mixed in to keep you on your toes. So grab a hook and yarn, and crochet your way to comfort!

    Oversized Comfort

    Oversized Sweaters - Book #7476

    Weekends are for comfort, and so are these crochet patterns from Oversized Sweaters! Lounge in a long hoodie or go downtown in a stylish sweater. Throw on a poncho or swing jacket for extra warmth or slip into a soft pullover and sleep in an extra hour or three. This book is all about looking cute and comfy, like this striped sweater that you see above. All projects are rated easy and work up quickly using simple stitches and medium to bulky weight yarn. The possibilities for maximum comfort are endless! Pick the sweater pattern that is right for you, and stitch yourself a new winter staple.

    Go Anywhere Outfits

    Cozy up with your yarn and this Casual Weekend Knits book – full of 25 go anywhere projects. And thanks to designer Andi Javori, you’ll have 25 phenomenal knitting projects to nourish your spirit and keep your fingers happy, like this pom-pom hat and mittens set! All of these projects are perfect for any occasion, and can be dressed up or down with the right accessories! They can also work up quickly with our easy-to-follow instructions. So grab your needles and knit away!

    All of these books are the perfect guides to comfort, with projects that will last you well past winter! Have you made these projects? Share them with us! Be sure to tag us @leisureartsinc or use #leisurearts, we love to see what's going on in your studios. Be sure to check out all of these great items that we have up for grabs during our February giveaway! Remember to enter for a chance to win all of these goodies.

    If you want to enter our February Cozy Comforts giveaway, click here.

    Happy Making!

    -Leisure Arts Team

  • Crafting Across Cultures: Mexico

     

    Hey craft family!

    Today we’re switching it up with a hot new crafting series, affectionately known as “Crafting Across Cultures”. We get so wrapped up in our own projects, and tend to forget about what’s going on with the rest of the world (in crafting, that is). I want to focus in on a specific country for each post in the series, and shine the spotlight on some of the great crafts and Folk Art they have to share with the world. Let's expand everyone’s horizons in craft, and spread new ideas across cultures.

    This Week? We have Mexico! 

    Mexico

    Known for its beautiful textiles and interesting pottery designs, Mexico has had a stronghold in the arts for quite some time (since 1400 BCE, according to Wikipedia). Today, we’re going to focus on the traditions of making these crafts, and the cultural significance it has for Mexico. 

    textiles

    Textiles

    The textiles of Mexico have worn many hats. Clothing was originally made from plants and cottons, which later expanded to more luxurious fabrics like silks and wool after the conquest of the Aztec Empire. Most fabrics are made with naturally dyed fibers, which give nice earthy tones to the coloring and prints in the textiles. Most are embroidered and adorned with fresh patterns that incorporate the Mexican flag in some form or fashion.

    Here are some of Mexico’s most popular textile fashions!

    rebozo

    Rebozo

    This is a garment that is still widely used today in both mixed-race communities and indigenous cultures. This long shawl is used to carry heavy objects close to the body, or support a baby. It’s traditionally a long piece of cloth with fringe on the sides, and can be made as big or as small as the crafter wants.

    saltillo-blanket

    Serape / Saltillo Blanket

    Always featuring a diamond shape in the center, the Saltillo blanket is beautiful and functional. The blankets were historically worn by men during their travels. Made with natural woven fibers, they are always bright in color as a tribute to the gods. It is speculated that if you wear bright colors, you keep evil spirits away and are granted favors from the gods. That’s why these blankets will always have luxurious blues, pinks, greens and purples, all naturally dyed from fruits and insects.

    Otomi embroidery

    Otomi Embroidery

     This is a style of embroidery that is implemented on fabrics in Mexico. This style of hand painting on fabric is based off cliff painting and could take weeks or even years to complete. Otomi Women trace a design on a white cotton cloth, and then go back and stitch with a technique that only appears on one side of the cloth. The designs seem abstract, but relate to cave painting motifs that date back to hundreds of years ago.

    pigments

    The Making of Textiles in Mexico

    The textiles you just saw are traditionally made by spinning, weaving and sewing. Hand weaving fabrics on backstrap looms to create intricate patterns and color combinations are still common practices in Mexico. In fact, this article from Zinnia Folk Arts references that each Mesoamerican culture had a deity that watched over the women who wove and created fabrics. Textile making was known to be a gift to women from the gods. Fabrics were used as a form of payment earlier in time. Whoever had the best fabrics were known to be of a higher social class. Materials and adornments like beads, feathers, and rabbit fur were woven into the nice materials, and cotton was eventually introduced from the areas the Aztecs took over (but was only available to the wealthy). It’s amazing to think about how important materials like fabrics can be to a culture. From fibers to thread, then thread to tradition.

     

    Hope you had fun learning something new today! If there are other crafts to make from Mexico, please share them with us. We’re always curious!

     

    If you want to learn how to start crocheting or weaving so you can make these awesome designs (or designs similar), we have a few books to recommend!

    Learn to Weave

    Learn To Weave

    Learn To Embroider

    Learn to Embroider

    Poncho Rebound 

    Poncho Rebound

    Modern Southwest Afghans

    Modern Southwest Afghans

    Cool String Art

    Cool String Art

    Lastly, If you wanted to learn more about the Crafting Culture in Mexico, we have some pretty neat links for you to click on below!

    History of a trend: Otomi embroidery and patterns

    Textile Making in Mexico by Cristina Potters of "Mexico Cooks" 

    Textiles of Mexico

    Mexican Textiles 101: The Saltillo Blanket or Serape 

    Mexican Textiles 101: Cochineal, A Natural Way to Create Red Dye

    Mexican Textiles 101: What is a Mexican Rebozo? 

     

    Happy Crafting!

     

    -The Leisure Arts Team

     

  • Crochet for Babies & Kids

    What do a crocheted ladybug blanket, a bumblebee cardigan and butterfly hat all have in common?  They're just part of the adorable collection of crochet for babies and kids in Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks.  We love the cuddly cute designs so much that we invited today's guest blogger, Michele Maks, to talk about her fabulous designs in Cute as a Bug. Welcome Michele!

    Oh, how I love to crochet for little ones!

    Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    Hi! I’m Michele Maks, the designer of all the cute crochetwear in Cute as a Bug. Don’t you just love to stitch projects that are as cute and fun as the small people you are stitching for? 

    screen-shot-2017-09-20-at-1-38-59-pm Crochet Star-Struck Hat in Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    While you'll find crocheted ladybug, butterfly and bumblebee items in Cute as a Bug, you'll also find this adorable Star-Struck set which I happen to think is also cute as a bug! What's not to love about these stars and stripes?

    Star-Struck Cardigan in Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks Crochet Star-Struck Cardigan in Cute as a Bug

    Whether you are stitching for a girl or boy, cute and quick and easy is the way to go!

    I think this colorful crochet butterfly is a great example!  In Cute as a Bug you'll also find a matching hat and blanket for this adorable sweater.

    Crochet Butterfly Cardigan from Cute as a Bug Crochet Butterfly Cardigan from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    And this crochet blanket coordinates with the ladybug and bumblebee sets, not only making it super cute, but practical too!

    In Cute as a Bug, you'll find: blankets,

    Crochet Ladybug Blanket from Cute as a Bug Crochet Ladybug Blanket from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    sweaters,

    Crochet Star-Struck Sweater from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks Crochet Star-Struck Sweater from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    and hats – oh, my!

    Crochet Ladybug Hat and Cardigan from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks Crochet Ladybug Hat and Cardigan from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    No Cute as a Bug crochet book for babies and kids would be complete without a bumblebee set to round it out.  This sweater and hat are perfect for both a boy and a girl! Like all the sets in the book, you'll find instructions for sizes ranging from 6 months to four years so babies and kids of many ages can join in on the Cute as a Bug fun!

    screen-shot-2017-09-20-at-1-46-54-pm Crochet Bumbleboee Hat and Cardigan from Cute as a Bug by Michele Maks

    Cute as a bug in a rug; play school will be abuzz about these handmade wardrobe winners!

     

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