Back to school is going to be lot different this year for most of us, but the excitement of a new year and new possibilities can't be stopped. Whether it's starting back at school, doing school online, homeschooling, or a mixture, we've got what you need.
What's Your Story?
The interactive felt scenes from Play Mats will inspire children to create fun and creative stories. Mix with other toys, and the stories they'll come up with are as endless as their imagination! And everyone knows that creative play like this opens the mind to learning.
Head To Class Totes Classy
If you or your older children are headed off to class, carry school supplies in Italian style with Terrific Totes. Not only are these crochet bags beautiful, they're oh so functional! Tote a computer or tablet, books or whatever else needed for those busy school days.
It's easy to get zoo the school day with crocheted Animal Backpacks for the younger crowd. It fits all the (panda) bear necessities your child will need so they will be free to exercise ze-brain. So quit monkeying around, grab your yarn and needles, and start crocheting!
Do The Math—Crocheting Is The Answer
Crochet doesn't just produce afghans and sweaters, it teaches math and problem solving, and inspires creativity. So while the kids are at home, spend their math and art time with Learn to Crochet for Kids. Not only will they learn important skills, they will create several items perfect for when they do head out to school.
Busy Fingers, Focused Mind
Schooltime means focusing, which can be hard for some of us. Fidget To Focus offers cubes, mats and squares to focus the mind for people of all ages. Plus, the designs are easy to sew, which makes creating them a great activity for your older students!
Your kids can show up at school showing off their school pride with crochet hats, scarves and more from Home Team Gear. Patterns range from large to small, so kids of all grades—including college—can deck out in their school colors.
Penmanship Can Be An Art
Have you ever marveled at exquisite calligraphy-style handwriting? Polish your child's penmanship with Hand Lettering. With just a few simple tools and techniques—and a bit of practice—their writing will be just as spectacular as anything you see in stores or on Pinterest.
Bring your favorite fairytales to life with Storybook Dolls to Knit. The walkabout puppets are based on beloved stories and rhymes, also included in an audio CD. You children can play along with the CD or come up with their own versions!
Now that you've been inspired by our Back to School ideas, choose a project (or 2 or 3) and get started! Your children will love you for it, and they will be inspired to learn.
We'd love to see what you and your kids are creating! Please share your photos by tagging @leisureartsinc or using #leisurearts on your social channels.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ―Mahatma Gandhi
Have you always to start something new and weren't sure where to start? Whether you want to learn how to crochet, how to knit, how to paint, how to tackle a new stitch, the list below gives you the basics on how to become a pro at your new creative endeavor:
Grab a how-to book with expert instruction to guide you step by step
Gather all the materials you will need. Ex: yarn, needle, paint, pen, etc.
Start small with swatches, samples, small projects, etc. before tackling the harder stuff
Practice your new skill regularly—that will help to make it almost automatic
Sit back and revel in your new creations!
In the next few paragraphs, we'll explore several of our books that come with easy-to-follow instructions and progressive projects for you to learn how to conquer new stitches, new skills, and entirely new crafts.
Great Balls of Yarn: Learn Crochet or Expand Your Skills
If you’re new to crochet or if you want to learn a new crochet skill or two, we've got you hook, yarn and fun with these easy-to-follow books! Learn how to crochet with ease and enjoyment.
The progressive projects of The Ultimate Crochet Collection for Beginners take you from easy to more difficult with easy-to-follow instructions and patterns. You'll love learning how to crochet with Marly Bird, and the resulting creations are cute AND functional!
You'll be hooked on crochet with Learn to Crochet with Custom Hooks! We'll supply you with a hook designed especially for beginners, so it will be extra easy to learn how to crochet any of the adorable accessories for kids or adults.
This eye-catching stitch will croc your world! The Beginner's Guide to Crocodile Stitch is the perfect "how-to" to add an eye-catching layer of "scales" to your crochet projects. You'll be surprised how easy it is to learn with our step-by-step instructions, photographs, and videos. On a scale (see what we did there?) of 1-10, this book is definitely a 10!
If you adore crocheting and love the look of knits, you won't want to miss out on this hybrid! Award-winning teacher Kim Guzman walks you through the basics with clear photos and friendly instructions in the Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Tunisian Crochet.
We wouldn't toy with you—your children, grandchildren, friends' children (we could go on and on), will love these toys! And with Learn to Crochet Toys, you'll be a crocheting wizard before you can say "Bodacious ballerina begs you to begin"!
Life's a Stitch: Learning Knitting is Fun and Relaxing, with Beautiful Results
Don't be at your knit's end learning a new skill. Let our pros guide you through a basketful of knitting projects with ease and joy.
Designer Marly Bird walks you every step of the way through how to knit multiple projects in the Complete Knit Collection. You'll not only create awesome gifts—or keepers—you'll gain the skills to be a knitting pro. From trendy dishcloths to a beautiful shawl or afghan, this collection has got you covered.
Not only will this book teach you everything you need to know to make several styles of hats, it includes a kit with everything you need to knit one complete hat. Get started right away without worrying about the materials. If you've been wanting to learn how to knit hats, Knit Hat Book Plus Kit is for you.
Craftastic New Hobbies That Are Easy to Learn
Fun for all levels, Modern Punch Needle takes a modern twist on the traditional needle craft. The step-by-step instructions and 14 progressively harder projects take you from beginner to pro. Once you learn the ins and outs, you'll want to check out this post featuring our newest punch needle kits.
We wouldn't macra-stray you wrong—Get Started In Macramé has 11 gorgeous wall hangings and other projects for beginners to learn how to master this craft from yesteryear. We can also help you out with the supplies you'll need.
The World IS your oyster with Hand Lettering - Great for Weddings & Other Occasions. Your creations can be just as spectacular as you see in stores, or on Pinterest and Instagram. Artist Kathryn Erney will teach you several styles—each building on the last—and before you know it, you’ll have mastered those pen strokes and will be making beautiful pieces!
So whether you want to learn how to knit, how to crochet, or learn a new craft all together, our experts take you step-by-step through the process. Whether you're a beginner or want to enhance your repertoire, at least one of these books is perfect for you. When you're finished, post your photo/s on social media and be sure to tag us @leisureartsinc or use #leisurearts, so we can all enjoy your journey as well!
Let's talk about seaming, okay? It's important! It's simple! If I didn't do it, I would just have a pile of squares instead of a halfway-done project from Baby Afghans! It can even be done by left-handed people, but you can probably still get the idea by watching this video even if you're right-dominant.
I typically seam my work together by facing the right sides together. I'm not really sure why, other than I might be thinking about sewing with fabric. But! There's no raw edge with crochet, so why do something that makes your squares (or strips or hexagons or whatever else you want to join together) bend and warp?
Stitching inside the loops even seems to make a tiny bit of difference in how large my squares appear. Or so I think. It's all very, very gray. I had originally planned to alternate gray squares with yellow ones, but then I changed my mind. So now I need to make 13 more gray squares with yellow centers.
Well, I'm just going to crochet 12 more of those at a later date. For now, I'm focused on the gray blanket because that's the one I plan to give as a gift at a baby shower I'm attending. On Friday.
I might have finished a little sooner if I hadn't been distracted by other cute square projects, but oh well. This is my second time making the pattern, and it's a pretty quick project even if you're not familiar with it. I'm still going to make an extra strip so that the blanket will be a square, and I'm going to continue to be pleased with stitching the inside loops. I'm halfway there!
Somewhere in all my chattering about grandmas and kitchens, I forgot to mention that these round pieces are worked in rows of continuous rounds. Continuous rounds are pretty lovely for round crochet projects because the rows are, well, continuous. The beginnings and endings of your rows blend together smoothly and you can avoid any bumps in your work. Continuous rounds are common in amigurumi and they're also showing up in my potholder pattern.
However, it can be kind of easy to lose your place in your work because the rounds all kind of blend together. If you want to crochet the correct number of rows and/or keep your increase and decrease rows in order, you're going to need to place a stitch marker in your work to keep track of the begining of your rows.
At first I wondered about writing this post. Placing a marker? Wasn't that kind of obvious? Surely people can figure that out on their own, right?
Let's just get this out of the way: I totally learned something new with this. Of course, of course. I have to admit that I was a little confused about where the marker should go and when you knew your row was stopping and how am I able to tie my own shoes?
You know, I'm wondering if I'm even doing that correctly now. Dang, video tutorials. They make me question everything!
If you didn't need this video, then congratulations! But if you did need this video, we don't have to talk about it. Either way, isn't it lovely that we have them?
And this time I thought I'd take a picture of the decrease rows so you can get a better idea about single crocheting two stitches together at the same point on each row:
Single crocheting two stitches together is what happens when you insert your hook through a stitch and draw up the yarn. Instead of pulling your yarnover through your two loops, you insert your hook into the next stitch and pull your yarnover through all three of your loops.
One of the commenters on the right-handed tutorial post said I didn't describe it well, so I thought I'd give it a better shot this time.
I still stand by my original statement that words are hard, and pictures are better. By the way, this is what happens after you single crochet two stitches together:
If you look closely you can see how the fabric is starting to pull a bit. Eventually, it will turn like a corner on the bottom portion of the jacket and be completely adorable!
And, in case you would like to see this demonstrated for a left-handed hooker by an actual demonstrating professional (sorry, not that kind of professional), here's a video!
I'm telling you, video tutorials are my favorite way to learn new techniques. I'm not a shy person, but I start to feel embarrassed if I have to ask someone to show me how to do something 3 or 4 or 10 times because I'm just not getting it, or because I wanted to be super sure of something. But a video? I can watch that all day!
Or at least as many times as I need to in order to try out a new technique. And this little sweater is the perfect practice!
If you're unimpressed, click here to see some of the amazing color choices and pattern variations other crocheters have done. Super impressive stuff!
But I loved my first attempt at this sweet little pattern, in part because of its plain simplicity. My favorite part of this, though, is that it's one piece!
The two front parts of the jacket that look like the rows are turning corners* is made by single crocheting two stitches together. It's completely different from simply skipping a stitch, which creates a little gap in your work. And because you single crochet two stitches together (sc2tog) at the same point on every row, the points begins to pull the fabric upwards to create a corner.
is what happens when you do this:
Crocheting two stitches together can feel weird at first, but making a whole sweater that calls for them is a great way to get in the swing of things.
And actually, I say that because I'm kind of feeling the itch to make another one of these. I don't remember the last one taking very long, and the pattern is sized for babies 6 months, 18 months, and 2 years. Like I've mentioned before, I really want to make my daughter and my nephew matching sweaters. I may not be able to wait until this fall.
And now that I've had a little refresher course in how to single crochet two stitches together, maybe it's time for me to get to work on some Easter sweaters......
*That's the only way I can think to describe it, anyway. And now you know why I show you video tutorials instead of trying to write out instructions and tips myself. Words are hard!
I thought I would give you all a break this week from hearing about my ongoing adventures crocheting the Ripples of Joy afghan from Baby Afghans, but then I changed my mind and decided I have to talk about it some more. Sorry.
But I'm just so dang proud of this!
The colors! The ripples! The size!
Nearly 40" in diameter so far!
I went ahead and purchased an extra skein of blue in case I decide to get incredibly crazy and work THREE repeats of the colors instead of two. We'll see. It will be about 50" across if I just work the rest of the yellow and then crochet the blue and green rows. That's a decent-sized lap blanket, and it would look nice on the back of our couch.
But the idea of making this into a full-size afghan really appeals to me because that would be a lot of joy. I'm going to try to work on this a lot more this weekend to see how much more joy I can stand before I decide to finish this up, or to keep on going.
In the meantime, here's a video tutorial about working in the back loops only for you left-handed hookers. I posted the right-handed video last week, and I certainly don't want to leave anyone out. There's plenty of crochet education for everyone, and the Leisure Arts YouTube channel is here to help!
Did you watch it? Now you know how to work in the back loops left-handed! Even if you're not left-handed! Nothing can stop you from ambidextrously crocheting lovely ripply projects!
I'm still working away on the Ripples of Joy pattern from Baby Afghans. I love it! The pattern is super-intuitive, and I'm incredibly excited to work on it every time I work on it. I'm a little farther along than I was when I took this picture, but I still wanted to show you the color repeats and the ripples.
Ta da! Ripples! This is what happens when you crochet in the back loops only.
You know how the tops of crochet stitches look like little Vs? If you work your crochet stitch in just the back half of the V, then you get this great ridge along your work. Here's a video that explains it a bit better:
In fact, here's a link to all of the video tutorials for techniques used in Baby Afghans. The Leisure Arts website has a ton of tutorials for techniques, and many of them are categorized by book! If you're working from a Leisure Arts pattern that features a little video camera icon by a technique, you can find a video tutorial for it on the video tutorial page!
These are life-savers! Maybe that's a bit too much hyperbole, but if you're going to use hyperbole you may as well go big. Besides, sometimes when you're floundering through a pattern and having trouble making sense of a technique (in my case, especially a technique I usually think I already know but it turns out I'm confusing it with another technique that is completely different), finding something to help you fix your problem can feel like an actual life-saver.
You know what? No. I'm going to go ahead and say this is an actual life-saver. You never know when some textured crochet is going to be super important. There. This is video is a life-saver. I just helped save your life.
(Fine, maybe I just helped you learn a new thing. But I like to think that's pretty important, too.)
Remember when I talked about the treble crochet stitch? Well, I'm going to talk about it some more--but for the lefties this time.
No, not the Communists. Just the left-handed people. I want to make that clear.
Right, okay! So. Being left-handed is usually completely normal, and totally something that most left-handed people deal with in their everyday left-handed lives absolutely fine. Left-handed people can also perform plenty of tasks--starting keys in ignitions, using a camera, zipping up pants, etc.--right-handed. I know a left-handed knitter who knits right-handed because it's just the simplest way for her to learn new techniques.
Well, apparently it's best to use your dominant hand for crocheting. And so for that, you get your own video tutorial on the treble crochet. Feel special.
Now you, too, can make these crazy tall stitches like the ones in the Flower Tile pattern from Dishcloths!
And maybe you can even do it without messing up your stitch count! Like I apparently did! You'll be fine. You're left-handed. You people are very creative and competent.
Or so all the left-handed people like my husband keep telling me. I'd like to see him try this with all his creative talents:
No, really. I'd love to see that. I'm surprisingly unsarcastic when it comes to crochet.
Even if my husband couldn't pull this off (probably because he doesn't know how to crochet, period), I'm sure you can and I'm sure you'll have fun doing it now that you know how to work the treble crochet stitch.