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Sunday
Nov152009

Whit's Knits: Men's Rustic Scarf from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts 

It's been five years since Purl's owner, Joelle Hoverson, published her first book, Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. Since then it has become a modern classic in today's knitting world, joining with other books to bring the craft of knitting from the dark ages of garments that seemed to come from a parallel fashion universe to the present day of beautiful, elegant hand knits.

Every day customers come into Purl, dog-eared copy of Last-Minute Knitted Gifts under arm, wanting to replicate their favorite projects. Over the past five years, however, some of Joelle's original yarn recommendations are no longer available.  At Purl we always have to be ready to suggest new, equally exciting alternatives.

One common request is for the yarn to make the Men's Rustic Scarf, a ruggedly masculine scarf perfect for all the men in our lives. Rowan no longer makes the Yorkshire Tweed Chunky that first gave the scarf its distinctive flair, so we decided to update the pattern here with a new, beautiful Blue Sky Alpacas version.

For two of the colors we used Blue Sky's Worsted and for the third we used Blue Sky's Sportweight Alpaca doubled. Both yarns are incredibly soft, which in our experience is the number one concern when it comes to knitting for men (it's true!). The textural shift between the different yarns adds a subtle layer of interest to the scarf, and the drape of alpaca gives this version a gorgeous heft.

I don't necessarily want to say that this scarf is better than the original, but it's definitely a close call! --Whitney

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Wednesday
Nov112009

Molly's Sketchbook: Miniature Patchwork Pincushions

These little pincushions are the perfect gift for any quilter friends. Each one is like a tiny version of a larger quilt, but they are a lot quicker to make. Plus despite their delicate appearance they are really useful. They are stuffed with cotton and steel wool which will keep your pins and needles nice and sharp! --Molly

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Saturday
Nov072009

Free Pattern from Kelbourne Woolens and The Fibre Company: The Fiddlehead Pullover

The Fiddlehead Pullover from Kelborne Woolens is one of the sweetest and most classic baby sweaters we've seen in a long time. It was designed by the creative minds at Kelborne Woolens and we're happy to share it with you exclusively and for free here on The Purl Bee!

This sweater is made from The Fibre Company's amazing yarn Canopy Fingering which is a soft and silky blend of bamboo, alpaca and merino that knits up into an wonderful soft and smooth fabric (the sweater above is knit in the color Fern). Canopy Fingering comes in a pretty palette of nature inspired neutrals which perfectly highlight the subtle details of this adorable vintage style sweater. We love its simple shaping and pretty details, its cute shoulder buttons and faux cable accents. It's such a quintessential little piece, the kind of sweater you can imagine passing down for generations and becoming even softer and more loved as the years go by.

Kelbourne Woolens is the distributer of one of our favorite yarns, the British based Fibre Company. The Fibre Company specializes in artisianal natural yarns like Canopy Fingering. It's no surprise then that the ladies at Kelbourne Woolens chose to name this sweater after something in nature! Fiddleheads are the young, uncurled new growth of the fern plant and are reminiscent of the little mock cables that decorate the sweater. Plus fiddleheads reminded us of the little human sprouts in our lives! If you'd like to make one for your little sprout here's what you'll need:

During the month of November Kelbourne Woolens is hosting a giveaway on The Purl Bee.  You can enter to win the yarn for The Fiddlehead Pullover or two other great Kellborne Woolen patterns! Click here to find out how to enter.  And for even more inspiration, Kelbourne Woolens has a great website where they have a whole bunch of beautiful, free patterns!

Wednesday
Oct282009

Whit's Knits: Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Booties

I have long loved these Elizabeth Zimmermann booties. Last year I made them with fingering weight yarn to fit my newborn baby, and they got him through his first cold winter. Recently my family received wonderful news that made me want to knit some bigger booties.

My sister-in-law has been trying to adopt a baby for a long time, and this month she was finally told that there is a beautiful baby boy who needs her. He gets to come home in January and, by then, will be ten months old. His name is James, and his smile would melt an ice cube.

From waiting in line to waiting for a baby to arrive, knitting is how I get through all the episodes in my life that challenge my patience. I'm pretty sure that the next three months are going to yield a whole pile of hand knits for little James!

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Sunday
Oct252009

Molly's Sketchbook: Reverse Applique Thanksgiving Placemats

Thanksgiving is such a great holiday because it's all about celebrating food! I've celebrated it in a lot of places, including sunny California, freezing New England and even once in Hawaii where a colony of ants attacked the pumpkin pie, but no matter where we are the ritual is always the same, a celebration with family and friends and a uniquely American meal. Turkey, squash, and corn (not to mention tomatoes, beans, and potatoes) are all native to the Americas and I think it's wonderful that we have a day to celebrate our special foods.  On Thanksgiving day I love to think about everyone all across the United States watching the parade on TV and peeling pototoes just like I do every year.  For me Thanksgiving isn't about making the fanciest meal, it's about sharing the experience of cooking and breaking bread with the people I love.

I designed this set of reverse applique Thanksgiving placemats and napkins with all of these things in mind. I wanted to make something by hand that I could use every year for this special day. Sewing something by hand reminds me of cooking in a lot of ways, mostly because you can see the care and love that went into it, even if it doesn't come out perfectly.

Much like cooking Thanksgiving dinner, this is not a last minute project. Reverse applique takes time and consideration but I think that's part of the fun!  And much like the Thanksgiving feast, while they take time to make they are not particularly hard since no fancy stitches or vast knowledge of hand sewing is required.

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