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Sunday
Mar162014

Whit's Knits: Kid's Fair Isle Vest

For this Kid's Fair Isle Vest I used a technique credited to a tiny island north of Scotland (aka Fair Isle) and a stitch pattern from another tiny island, this one west of Estonia (Muhu). In times and places where, by logic, function should have ruled sweater design, instead, knitters seemed to have taken sheer joy in form. It seems to me that, when they cast on for a new sweater, the women from these cold, isolated island places threw all of life's hardships and frustrations right out the window.

Such knitting ingenuity from anywhere, anytime is awe-inspiring, and the creation of this vest was a wonderful opportunity to get inside the minds of the incredible knitting women who came before us. Armed with the beautiful book, Designs and Patterns from Muhu Island, I used a pared-down palette and design to bring a modern sensibility to this extraordinary traditional stitch pattern.

And since my son, the intended recipient of this vest, doesn't plan on spending the next few months aboard a fishing vessel, instead of thick, scratchy wool, I chose Anzula's soft and supple Cricket. A combination of merino, cashmere and a touch of nylon, this subtly hand dyed yarn isn't necessarily seaworthy, but it is what we modern city-dwellers have come to appreciate!

The Kid's Fair Isle Vest is a fun challenge and also a truly satisfying trip into knitting history. Thank you to all those inspiring women who innovated such beauty by lantern light! -Whitney

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Thursday
Mar132014

Molly's Sketchbook: Springtime Running Stitch Napkins

After the darkness of winter, Easter and Passover come at just the right time for a springtime celebration! With the promise of warmth and friends and family around the table, everything feels brighter and more colorful, from the flowers on the table to the flavors of the food. We’re contributing to the good cheer with a pretty set of Springtime Running Stitch Napkins, sewn up  in a sunny rainbow of Liberty of London’s Tana Lawn prints. 

There is no simpler or better way to freshen a table setting than with special napkins. These are easy and fun to make and the vivid Tana Lawn couldn’t be more beautiful. Whip these napkins together on a machine and then take the time to handstitch the edges with a simple running stitch, a detail that won’t go unnoticed!

If you’d like to give this season’s holiday table a burst of vernal color, our Materials for Springtime Running Stitch Napkins kit has everything you need to make a set of six and is available in two lovely colorways. And for the original pattern just click right here! Happy Easter, Happy Passover and Happy spring! --Molly

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Sunday
Mar092014

The Purl Soho Pullover in Alpaca Pure

If you know me (or even just meet me!), you know that I love the basics. The walls in my home are creamy white; my wardrobe is a uniform of interchangeable layers; and ideally my cooking is confined to three fresh ingredients or less. In knitting, too, I love the basics: stockinette stitch, simple silhouettes, no-fuss engineering, and classic natural fibers.

When not much "extra" is going on, then little shifts have a big impact and slight changes become a fascinating design exercise. A simple garter stitch hat in a cool gray is a whole different thing from the same hat in a warm brown. And The Purl Soho Pullover, originally knit in our Worsted Twist merino, takes on a new life in our gorgeous Alpaca Pure, the latest fiber to join our budding collection of Purl Soho yarns!

Alpaca Pure knits up at the same gauge as our Worsted Twist, but its unique qualities create a significantly different sweater. To me, this is fascinating. The subtle differences in the texture, weight and feel of the alpaca mean a whole new sweater!

Alpaca, with its long fibers, is slightly downier than merino. It is also heavier and denser than merino, which means a super cozy Pullover with a drape like a warm waterfall. But a little goes a long way. For a child, the weight of an Alpaca Pure sweater feels snug and comfy, but for adults it might be a little much (stick with the Worsted Twist!). 

And now what I've really been waiting for, the perfect opportunity to show off my beautiful (smart, curious and hilarious) niece, Bobbie, in her favorite new sweater! -Joelle

To make The Purl Soho Pullover in Alpaca Pure for kids' sizes 2 (4, 6, 8, 10) you'll need...

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Thursday
Mar062014

Corinne's Thread: Cozy Sewn Cowl

It will probably not surprise you to hear that I have a huge stash of fabric at home. There is a box of linen under my bed, an amazing stack of vintage chintz in my closet and a whole archive of Seasonal Liberties in my sewing cabinet. All of it was purchased with the best of intentions, but intention does not always equal inspiration. And so my stash waits. 

Michael Miller’s Organic Sherpa reminds me a bit of all my sidelined fabrics. Soft, squishy and huggable, Sherpa is love at first sight; but while it is completely irresistible, it is also unique, and without the right vision, all its plush perfection can end up folded on a shelf.
Purl Soho has carried Michael Miller’s Organic Sherpa since 2007. In the seven years since, we've only featured it once on the Bee, until this season, when you may have noticed that we’ve become a bit infatuated with it. From blankets to bonnets, Organic Sherpa is no longer floundering in our stash! 
And so, caught up in the fever, I’ve whipped up another Sherpa creation. This time I’ve paired it with Kiyohara’s beautiful and subtle Linen Blend Solids to make a Cozy Sewn Cowl. Soft and comfortable, this cowl is so easy to wear and even easier to make. So easy, in fact, I’ve made two: one in an adult size and one for kids. Our Materials for Cozy Sewn Cowl has enough materials to make both, in a selection of 12 pretty colorways. 
Now, if I could only think of what to do with all that chintz! - Corinne

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Sunday
Mar022014

Laura's Loop: Arctic Wrap

My mom and I have a deal. Every Christmas she gives me an IOU for a class I’d like to take, and in return, I share with her what I learn. Over the years I’ve taken quilting classes, Italian, calligraphy, weaving, machine knitting, the list goes on… What will this year’s class be you ask?!?! Indigo dyeing!

I picture this class in a flower-filled garden or a breezy field (proof, I suppose, that I’ve grown very tired of winter). While I wait to find this perfect springtime class, my imagination fills with inky blues and seeping dyes, and so, I decided to translate the as-of-yet unknown art of indigo dyeing into something I do know… knitting. And since this polar winter is seemingly endless, it feels just right for right now! 

For my Arctic Wrap I used Purl Soho’s Worsted Twist merino in the color Heirloom White as a constant backdrop and Purl Soho’s Alpaca Pure for beautiful, shifting color. In a basic 1 stitch x 1 stitch Fair Isle pattern, the blooming halo of Alpaca Pure hovers over the smooth finish of Worsted Twist, highlighting the textural difference and softening the pixilated stitches into a gorgeous knit translation of a dip-dyed fabric. 

Working on this generously sized wrap has kept me cozy warm as I daydream about my indigo dyeing class, the sun on my cheeks, my fingers stained deep blue. Are any of you chronic class takers? What are you most curious about lately? Whatever it is, I hope it inspires you to create… maybe even this Arctic Wrap! -Laura

PS: You can get all of the yarn you'll need for this wrap with Purl Soho's Yarn for Arctic Wrap kit!

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