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  • Craft Away Stress

    April is Stress Awareness Month, and it couldn’t have come at a more fitting time! If you are looking for ways to relax and bring those stress levels down, crafting could be your answer. Stepping back and taking these little moments in life to crochet, knit, paint, or do anything creative, does more good for your body than you may realize. When you are crafting, you are taking charge and focusing on your mental and physical health, which is critical in times like these. So craft away your stress with any creative project—here are just a few ideas to help inspire you!

    Jump on the Diamond Art Bandwagon

    Diamond Art by Leisure Arts - Powered by Diamond Dotz - 5D DIY Diamond Painting Kit - Rainy Day Design

    Diamond Art by Leisure Arts - Powered by Diamond Dotz - 5D DIY Diamond Painting Kit - Rainy Day Design #49385

    If you enjoy crafting AND puzzles, it’s time to jump on the Diamond Art bandwagon. Our Rainy Day Diamond Art by Leisure Arts, powered by Diamond Dotz kit has what you need for a stress-free creative activity. The color-coded chart makes it easy for you to complete this abstract modern surrealist beauty, along with the pre-printed adhesive. With high-quality color printed fabric, 13-faceted diamonds, and handy tools like the comfort grip stylus and wax caddy, you’ll be dipping, dotting, and dazzling your way to a colorful masterpiece!

    An Apron a Day Keeps the Stress Away

    Simple to Sew Aprons - 13 Sassy, Sweet & Functional Aprons in a Flash

    Simple to Sew Aprons - 13 Sassy, Sweet & Functional Aprons in a Flash # 7609

    Sooooooo, you want to relax and be productive at the same time? (See what we did there?) Sew your way to calm with functional and adorable Simple to Sew Aprons. Whether you’re into gardening, chicken-raising, crafting, harvesting, or cooking and baking, we’ve got an apron pattern for you. You can never have too many aprons, right? Designer Billie Steward takes you step by step with instructions that will have you sewing these 13 quick projects and calming your nerves before you know it. With styles from bandanna to eggs to summer picnic or retro, these aprons also make amazing gifts.

    Wrap Yourself in Hand-Knitted Warmth

    Knit Cardigans - 12 Luxurious Sweaters will Become Everyday Favorites

    Knit Cardigans - 12 Luxurious Sweaters will Become Everyday Favorites #6999

    Wrap yourself in hand-knitted warmth and comfort with these Knit Cardigans by designer Andi Javori! Choose from 12 gorgeous cardigans, or heck, why not all of them? The hard part will be choosing which to knit first. Most of these aprons are rated Easy, with a couple of Intermediate ones sprinkled in just to keep you on your toes. Grab your knitting needles and make yourself a new sweater today! Each is destined to become a favorite. 

    Double the Creativity, Double the Fun

    Play Mats

    Play Mats #7218C

    You and your kids can double your creativity with Play Mats from Leisure Arts—make your own interactive felt scenes, and then enjoy using them to make up your own fun stories. Seven different sets are all easy to cut and assemble with glue and simple stitching. Designs by Kimberly Layton include a castle complete with princess and unicorn, life under the sea, a sweet cupcake shop, a campsite, a farm, a cottage in the woods, and a neighborhood. Arrange the colorful pieces in endless ways and mix with other toys to expand the settings and characters.

    Let Marvin Mega Boy Come to Your Rescue

    Mini Maker Yarn Crafts - Marvin Mega Boy Crochet Amigurumi Kit #50943

    Mini Maker Yarn Crafts - Marvin Mega Boy Crochet Amigurumi Kit #50943

    Let Marvin Mega Boy save you from your worries! This Mini Maker Yarn Crafts kit is a bite-sized craft experience that will leave you with a cherished and cuddly super hero. The kit has everything you’ll need to create your own adorable 8.5” Marvin Mega Boy amigurumi, including easy-to-follow instructions, yarn, crochet hook and yarn needle. This little guy packs a big punch when it comes to bringing you joy. PS. He also makes a great companion for napping and watching TV.

    Color Your Life with Paper Flowers

    Paper Flowers #7241C

    Paper Flowers #7241

    Not only are Paper Flowers easier to create than you’d expect, they bring out your creativity and wash away stress. With each turning page of this book, designer Jennifer Maker inspires you to create fabulous florals full of texture and color. And you’ll craft it all using tissue paper, cardstock, floral tape, and other readily available craft materials. You’ll uncover 10 projects in all that include a daisy, dandelion, orchid, and rose — one is sure to be your favorite. The best part — you’ll soon be diving into your very own blossoming projects. We’re sure of it.

    Be Homebound in Comfort With This Cozy Quilt

    Homebound - Featuring Two Fabric Colorways for a Modern or Traditional Quilt Pattern Pack #37556

    Homebound - Featuring Two Fabric Colorways for a Modern or Traditional Quilt Pattern Pack #37556

    Picture this: Lounging on your couch binge-watching your latest show, covered in a cozy blanket you quilted yourself! Our Homebound: Quilt with Leisure Arts pattern pack has a classic look, but never goes out of style. By adding a twist here or a fabric substitution there, you can go modern or traditional, or both! The finished lap quilt measures 49' x 65' with optional crib, twin, full, and king/queen sizes. The possibilities are endless-ish! And that makes us (and you!) very content.

    A Bike Ride That Will Soothe Your Soul

    Mini Maker Bicycle Embroidery Stitch Kit - 9 Pieces - Includes Hoop, Pre-Stamped Felt, Needle, Floss and Instructions #49814

    Mini Maker Bicycle Embroidery Stitch Kit - 9 Pieces - Includes Hoop, Pre-Stamped Felt, Needle, Floss and Instructions #49814

    Any Cycologist will tell you that this Bicycle Ride is good for your soul. You’ll have the sudden urge to jump on your own bike, gather flowers, and frolic your heart out, but not until you finish this charming embroidery project. If you find this Bicycle Ride embroidery project as charming as we do, then might we mention that your kit will contain everything you’ll need to embroider it into existence? Plus, the pattern itself is pre-printed on the enclosed fabric, so it’s ideal for beginners and experts alike. Yields one hoop of bicycle bliss. So go ahead – frolic away!

    Yes, We Do Believe in Unicorns

    Mini Maker Unicorn Dreamcatcher Book Plus Kit - Includes 32 page book and everything you need to create 1 dreamcatcher and 1 embroidered hanging #50389

    Mini Maker Unicorn Dreamcatcher Book Plus Kit - Includes 32 page book and everything you need to create 1 dreamcatcher and 1 embroidered hanging #50389

    Do you believes in unicorns? We do! Let this Unicorn Dreamcatcher protect you from your worries. The kit has everything you need to craft yourself to relaxation and create this unique dreamcatcher. But wait, there’s more! A bonus 32-page project book comes with your kit so you can create more great projects. You’ll be creating an organizer, doily dreamcatcher, ribbon chandelier, wreaths and more! Using the easy to follow instructions that come with our Mini Maker kits, you can easily bring creativity into your everyday life.

    Pamper Yourself With Cotton

    All About Cotton #7055C

    All About Cotton #7055

    Pamper yourself and your family with the soft cotton creations featured in All About Cotton. This book guides you easily through 10 projects like making baskets, bottle carrier, tote, plant hanger, bath set, coasters, dishcloth and hanging dishtowel, potholder, napkin ring, and a rug. You’ll use soft and cool, yet sturdy and durable, cotton medium-weight yarn, perfect for quick crochet projects. Not only will you relieve stress by crocheting, you will be beautifying your home as well!

    Choose one, two, three of these projects to bring some calm into your days, and come out of it with memories and cherished items. All of these projects are easy to accomplish and are perfect for you to do by yourself or include your children or other family members. Once you finish one or many of these stress relieving projects, be sure to share it with us @leisureartsinc or using the hashtag #LeisureArts on your social channels. We love to see what's going on in the craft universe. In addition, most of the items we’ve written about in this blog post are included in our April Giveaway on our website. Enter to win all of these great projects and craft your way to calm.

    -Leisure Arts Team

    Craft Away Stress. April is Stress Awareness Month. Start Crafting your stress away!

  • Shading & Blending: Decisions -- Decisions...

    Where to start? I've noticed several members of our Color Art for Everyone Facebook Group are unsure what/why/how to use a particular medium, what shades of colors should be used and what type of coloring books are preferable.

    Various media examples from which to choose. Markers, gel pens, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, petroleum jelly, water and paint brushes. Various media examples from which to choose. Markers, gel pens, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, petroleum jelly, water and paint brushes.

    I can offer suggestions and some practical advice, but being artistic lets you experiment. Everyone can show artistry. Some people's results may be more refined than others, but it is all part of artistic self-expression. It's up to you to be adventurous and have fun! Let loose and try it out; that's the benefit of stress-free coloring.

    Along with your choice of medium, you may want to (re)familiarize yourself with colors. A good example of how colors can work for you is found by viewing a color wheel. Here is a basic example of how to use a color wheel.

    Understanding colors; from inside cover of books in the Color Art for Everyone Series. Understanding colors; from inside cover of books in the Color Art for Everyone Series.

    Don't restrict yourself by using only one medium in your drawing. Coloring is about experimenting, as well as, disconnecting from the logical part of life. Here are some good examples of combining different media.

    Different effects created using various media; from inside cover of books in the Color Art for Everyone Series. Different effects created using various media; from inside cover of books in the Color Art for Everyone Series.

    Should you consider what you desire as your end result? Sure; the look may change your mind in what medium to use. Also, are you planning on giving your page as a gift? Does your answer affect your choice of medium? It may; so here's a page showing result comparisons that may assist you in your decision.

    Compare the different results you may get from using various media; from the inside cover of books in the Art of Coloring series. Compare the different results you may get from using various media; from the inside cover of books in the Art of Coloring series.

    You don't need the most or best in your media choices. You can have rich, colored pages emerge if you practice. As a post-baccalaureate student a few years ago, my Photoshop professor reminded the class of layers and applying layers of color as we see in a painting. It was a great example to think of fine arts as applied to digital art for desired results.

    Start with single colors applied multiple times in each design area. Use this idea to create your colored pages. In the example below, I have made my choices of color and have started to apply the first layer. In some areas, you can see more intense colors emerge as I have applied additional layers.

    Build your color intensity by applying more than one "layer" of color. Can you see the differences? Build your color intensity by applying more than one "layer" of color. Can you see the differences?

    In my project below, the page's repeating design reminded me of wallpaper. Continuing with this idea of applying layers of color, I moved on to the next step by introducing several colors to each design area. I wanted to decide on colors that repeated as did the design, but I also wanted to show dimension within each character of the design.

    Add dimension to your project. Use two or more pencil shades to create depth of light and shadow. Add dimension to your project. Use two or more pencil shades to create depth of light and shadow.

    In the next two examples, I have used markers to create a dimensional effect applying several shades of color in each flower; and, experimented with gel pens and watercolor pencils used with (regular) colored pencils in the page showing the many strands of shells.

    Each flower has at least three marker colors for each petal; from Floral Wonders Color Art for Everyone. Each flower has at least three marker colors for each petal; from Floral Wonders Color Art for Everyone.
    Trying gel pens, watercolor pencils and (regular) colored pencils; from Ocean Wonders Color Art for Everyone. Trying gel pens, watercolor pencils and (regular) colored pencils; from Ocean Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    Now, I wanted to experiment with new applications creating different blended effects. Using petroleum jelly to assist in blending is new to me but has received a lot of attention recently. First, I decided on a page of waves; a page that could express movement from the book Art of Coloring Coastal.

    A different blending effect created by using petroleum jelly. A different blending effect created by using petroleum jelly.

    I started with a simple, light layer of colored pencils in my waves. I then began applying petroleum jelly. There are different methods to apply the petroleum jelly, so do some research and try them out. After my first layer of colored pencils, I dipped a colored pencil of choice in the petroleum jelly and started coloring. The petroleum jelly is used from the pencil tip very quickly, so reapply often. I then decided to return to the area with petroleum jelly and blend by rubbing with a cotton swab. You can see the progression of my page in the following images.

    Emphasize movement by layering multiple shades of dark colors before using your choice of main colors; from Art of Coloring Coastal. Emphasize movement by layering multiple shades of dark colors before using your choice of main colors; from Art of Coloring Coastal.
    This larger wave shows pencils shaded then the beginning use of petroleum jelly. The colors become brighter but perhaps less intense at same time. Decide what effect you want for each particular project; from Art of Coloring Coastal. This larger wave shows pencils shaded then the beginning use of petroleum jelly. The colors become brighter but perhaps less intense at same time. Decide what effect you want for each particular project; from Art of Coloring Coastal.
    Whole page showing both the smaller waves with darker shades of colored pencils only, and one large wave with beginning use of petroleum jelly over colored pencils; from Art of Coloring Coastal. Whole page showing both the smaller waves with darker shades of colored pencils only, and one large wave with beginning use of petroleum jelly over colored pencils; from Art of Coloring Coastal.
    Close-up: larger wave with colored pencil application, then pencil tips dipped in petroleum jelly and finally blended using a cotton swab. Close-up: larger wave with colored pencil application, then pencil tips dipped in petroleum jelly and finally blended using a cotton swab.

    In the two images below I show a close-up, then a summary of steps used to create different looks. First, I show waves using colored pencils as my 'base' layer, with the next layer being watercolor pencils applied on top. Next for your review, I outlined some of the steps by placing notes on my page.

    Depth of space intensifies with larger waves behind the smaller rolling waves. Waves will probably have more color contrasts to suggest their movement. Watercolor pencils have been used with (regular) colored pencils; from Art of Coloring Coastal. Depth of space intensifies with larger waves behind the smaller rolling waves. The taller waves will probably have more color contrasts to suggest surges in their movement. Watercolor pencils have been used with (regular) colored pencils; from Art of Coloring Coastal.
    Notes show some different steps and effects created; from Art of Coloring Coastal. Notes show some different steps and effects created; from Art of Coloring Coastal.

    Another reason why I love our coloring books is their paper. Look how well this page has held up with all of my experimentation using multiple layers of colored pencils, petroleum jelly, and watercolor pencils.

    Back of my coloring page after use of watercolor pencils and colored pencils with petroleum jelly. Back of my coloring page after use of watercolor pencils and colored pencils with petroleum jelly.

    Some tips I have learned: Don't dip too deeply into the petroleum jelly because you'll only get a clump on your entire pencil point -- and it will get too messy on your paper. Re-dipping and applying often is best. Wipe your pencil clean, gently blot the paper with a clean paper towel, and leave your page open to set.

    This post holds a lot of information - and it's incomplete; there's always more! Use your judgment after you try things out. I offer these ideas as suggestions - learn by doing and sharing your experiences with us; join our Color Art for Everyone Facebook Group for the easiest way to share.  If you're looking for new coloring books, visit Leisure Arts today.

    Another thought on the construction of coloring books. Before the resurgence in their popularity, whenever I found a grown-up coloring book, I thought those with spines were better -- until I tried to open up to the page I wanted to color. The spine needed to be broken in order to lay flat; not great for a book's life. For me, saddle-stitched (stapled) books with perforated pages are key! The perforated pages give me the option to remove my pages when done. Oh, yes; I keep my pages intact in their respective coloring book while I'm coloring. I have no difficulty in coloring the entire page because they open to lay flat on any hard surface. My pages in their books travel safely with me -- great transportable entertainment!

    Have fun --

    Martha

     

  • Refresh Facecloth

    I’m so into washcloths right now. They are small, quick, and easy projects to do. I decided to pick a pattern with a stitch that I have never done before. I picked a pattern with a yarn over in it. I have been knitting for years and in all the patterns I have yet to do one with a yarn over. I chose the facecloth from Spa and Bath Sets to Knit by Rhonda White. The pattern is called Refresh. I used yellow Lily’s Sugar n Cream. I can now do a yarn over I have had lots of practice. Just pull your yarn forward as if to purl and knit into the next stitch. Doing this makes a stitch. Remember for every yarn over you usually have decrease stitch.

    First project with a yarn over First project with a yarn over

    If you are going to do this then use a row counter to keep up with your rows. I also used two place makers one on both ends so I could keep up with my knit stitches on the wrong side and a place marker clip by clover for the right side. It ready does help with what row you have to work the correct pattern row. Also, you can use a post it notes to keep up with your rows. You never have to lose your place again!

  • Baby Washcloth

    I was working on a Baby Bunny washcloth from the book Baby Washcloths to Knit by Melissa Bergland Burnham. As I was knitting at my favorite coffee shop a friend who also knits made the comment that he didn't think that the bunny would show up on the white Egyptian cotton yarn. I tried to explain that lighter yarn colors show intricate stitches and cables better than darker yarns like black, navy, dark browns, and dark grays. These colors are very nice but your pattern doesn't show up very well.

    Bunny Washcloth knitted in Egyptian Cotton Bunny Washcloth knitted in Egyptian Cotton

    Thinking about his comment over the weekend I decided to look through my yarn stash and I found a cotton acrylic blend to knit another  Baby Bunny washcloth in black this way I can show him and who ever reads this what I am talking about. You don’t want to spend money and a lot of time on something and not be able to see and show off your skills as a knitter. When knitting these two washcloths keep in mind that I used two different types of yarn so they are two different sizes. The white washcloth is smaller than the black washcloth. Same amount of stitches and rows. On washcloths I don't worry about doing a gauge like I would on a sweater or socks where your gauge does matter.

    Bunny washcloth knitted in cotton acrylic blend Bunny washcloth knitted in cotton acrylic blend. See how hard it is to see the bunny.

     

    So choose wisely! I know a lot of time I fall in love with the feel and color of yarn. This sometimes makes it hard to pick the perfect pattern.

  • Flower Dishcloth

    The book cover of Learn to Crochet African Flower Motifs by Candi Jenson and Heather Vantress caught my eye. I fell in love with the colors and I knew at that moment that I had to get it and I had to crochet things in it. The first project of many is a flower dishcloth. Continue reading

  • Bunny Washcloth

    washcloth 018 Finished Bunny Washcloth

     

    I have knitted and crocheted a couple washcloths before but I have never really followed a pattern before. In the past I usually did a washcloth when learning a new stitch or when I learned how to crochet a few years ago. I did washcloths to learn to single crochet, and double crochet. With Easter coming up in a couple weeks and a new baby cousin on the way. I was in the mood to knit something quick, easy, and for the new baby. Continue reading

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