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Sunday
Sep252011

Molly's Sketchbook: Long Pom Pom Cowl

This summer on the streets of Soho I noticed that last winter's big cowl trend wasn't going away, even in the hottest weather. Instead of  the bulky knits of winter, these summer versions were sewn in lightweight silk, cotton, and linen fabrics and were worn like flowing necklaces over tank tops and sun dresses. I am someone who hates to be hot, so even though I admired these pretty summer scarves, I couldn't imagine putting something extra around my neck in the sticky heat. But since the weather has started to cool down, I've been yearning for an oversized sewn cowl of my own!

For a simple look with a natural beauty, I chose two of Purl Soho's most special fabrics, Sheer Linen and Duo Weave Linen from Globalweave. They both have a gorgeous drape and come in a lovely palette of soft colors, from lichen to ash to butter.  To contrast with the subtle elegance of the linen, I added a sweet pom pom trim around the edges. The effect is somewhere between a beautiful scarf and a charming necklace!

Wear the Pom Pom Cowl loose and long or doubled up around your neck for warmth. It's the perfect thing to stash in your bag when you're not sure if you'll need another layer. I know it's going to be in my bag all season!

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Thursday
Sep222011

Whit's Knits: Big Snowy Owl

There's something about owls. Is it their baby-wide eyes? Their mysterious nighttime habits? Or their totemic gumdrop shape? I'm not sure, but owls somehow manage to be simultaneously enigmatic and totally lovable.

This one is heavy on the lovable! With a big, pudgy belly and a cozy soft alpaca-blend yarn, the Big Snowy Owl is one heck of a hugger. At a foot and a half tall and a yard around, he's just right for little arms to squeeze and for young imaginations to love. Although, you're never too old for an unconditionally amiable friend!

Making the Big Snowy Owl was probably the most fun knitting I've done all year. From easy stitch patterns to simple shaping, there's never a dull moment! Plus I love just being around the downy softness of Blue Sky Bulky, big wonderful stitch after big wonderful stitch!

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Sunday
Sep182011

Molly's Sketchbook: Twenty Minute Totes in Outside Oslo Fabric

Is it just me, or is this time of year "birthday season"? My early-September birthday seems to start off a bundle of birthdays in my life. Several good friends, my husband, my mother in law, and my niece were all born in September or October.  With all these birthdays in a cluster, it's easy to feel the handmade-present-crunch!

This year, I know just what will save me: the Twenty Minute Tote! I originally designed this as a last minute wedding favor, and ever since, it's been my favorite quick project. You can whip up a bunch of them in a couple of hours (each one really does take 20 minutes or less!) and end up with a stack of pretty presents.  Slip in a book, drop in some fancy chocolates and treats, or tuck in a nice bottle of wine. A homemade tote bag makes anything you put inside a lot more special. Plus, it's just about the most eco-friendly gift wrapping around!

Since this design is so simple, a lot rides on what fabric you choose. This time around, I used a gorgeous new collection of upholstery weight cotton called Outside Oslo. These bold, stylish prints are sophisticated without being serious and come in a rich palette of colors perfect for fall.  I added some sturdy cotton webbing handles for a pop of color, and I love the way they came out!

A quick project, some stunning new fabric, and a whole bunch of birthdays, it's a great way to get going on fall sewing! For all the how-to's, just visit my Twenty Minute Tote Project Journal here!

Thursday
Sep152011

Whit's Knits: Chevron Baby Blanket

If you lived through the 60s and 70s perhaps you have vivid memories of a chevron afghan. Perhaps you appreciated it at the time; were indifferent to it in the 80s; despised it in the 90s; and have developed a deep affection for it over the past decade, itchy acrylic, zany colors and all!

This knitted Chevron Baby Blanket makes some accommodations both for modernity and for babies. Instead of hard-to-cuddle acrylic, this 100% cotton blanket is as deep and soft and cozy as a cloud. And instead of fast food orange and kitchen appliance avocado, this version is a delicate spectrum of natural colors just right for babies!

The next generation of chevron blankets starts with Blue Sky Cotton. Loosely spun into a uniquely cozy cotton, this is one of our very favorite baby blanket yarns. For delicate skin, it's non-allergenic cotton, and for busy parents, it's machine washable (yay!).

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Sunday
Sep112011

Mini Quilt of the Month, September: Bright Bits

September's Mini Quilt of the Month is our most playful and risky one yet! And not just because it looks so cool and edgy, but because it's sewn in such a breezy, off-the-cuff manner. As I sliced and pieced, I felt like I was painting with fabric because the process is so improvisational and free. With a rotary cutter for a paintbrush, you get to wield your tool with a wild abandon not usually associated with quilting.

Like our June Rainbow Mini Quilt, this piece takes its inspiration from the remarkable formalist painter, Ellsworth Kelly. This time we turned to an ink drawing from 1950 called Study for "La Combe II" (you can see the painting here.) We all loved its disjointed graphic quality and knew it would translate beautifully to a quilt. By first piecing thin strips of colored fabric at  random angles against a white background and then cutting it all up and piecing it back together in a different order, I think we achieved a similarly bold statement.

It takes a bit of courage to start slicing through the fabric at haphazard angles, but once you get going, it's hard to stop. It's amazing how quickly and easily a few strips of colored fabric can create something so beautiful. The bright, crisp mix of Kona and Shot Cottons makes the whole thing seem so alive, just like a great painting!

ps- You can see our whole Mini Quilt of the Month series by clicking here.

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