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Sunday
Feb062011

Molly's Sketchbook: Felt Ball Trivets

Felt Balls are such fun, versitile objects. You can make them into all kinds of cheerful projects, from garlands, to necklaces. We recently started carrying pre-made felt balls, in a bunch of useful sizes and beautiful colors. Having the felt balls pre-made opens up a whole new world of quick projects.

We brainstormed and came up with these ultra-simple, ultra-cute trivets. They take absolutely no time to make and use only one package of twleve pre-made felt balls. Essentially they are just a ring of felt balls, strung together with lovely contrasting Trio silk and wool yarn. The yarn is tied into neat french knots in-between each ball, like a string of pearls, so that it's contrasting color shows though just a bit. The technique could easily be adapted to make necklaces, bracelets or even garlands.

The ring might seem a little floppy, like a necklace or bracelet rather than a traditional trivet, but it becomes a remarkably stable platform once a circular object, like a teapot, is placed on it. You can make these to fit any circular bottomed dishes you may have and they also work under a larger rectangular dish as well (although they won't show as much.)

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Sunday
Jan302011

Mini Quilt of the Month - January: Courthouse Steps 

Quilts often seem a little intimidating, to me at least, because of their size and scale. I'll get inspired to try something but often get discouraged when I think about all the steps involved, from cutting a million little pieces to basting the finished top, to hand finishing the binding. So I was really excited when Joelle and Page approached me about doing a new monthly series on The Purl Bee featuring mini quilts. I love the idea of trying out different quilt ideas on a smaller scale where you can actually finish a bunch of them. It's also a great idea for decorating since they look so cute all hanging together on a wall!

We are always inspired by vintage quilts, their colors, patterns and textures are so incredible and really deserve to be put on the same artistic level as painting.  So, for our very first Mini Quilt of the Month we decided to explore a traditional quilt block called "Courthouse Steps" which takes its name from the stepped pattern it makes. This block is a variation of a log cabin block, which you may be more familiar with, but it's pieced in a slightly different manner.

We are really looking forward to bringing you a new mini quilt project every month this year.  Each one will be thoroughly explained from cutting to finishing so we think they will be a great place to start if you've considered making a quilt but are intimidated by the process. 

Enjoy! -- Molly

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Wednesday
Jan262011

Whit's Knits: Forever Baby Blanket

I call this the Forever Baby Blanket because its design is so timeless and classic. You will never look at it and wonder, "What was I thinking?", which is important when it comes to baby blankets because no one throws away a handknit baby blanket. It is, in fact, forever. It gets wrapped in tissue, surrounded by cedar, and tucked away until a new generation comes along and thanks you for having made such an enduringly beautiful blanket!

I was really excited to use Purl Soho's latest addition to our line of Anzula yarn, For Better or Worsted. Like our beloved Squishy, For Better or Worsted is a superwash merino, cashmere and nylon blend in gorgeous hand dyed colors. It is the perfect baby blanket yarn, machine washable, super duper soft, and special enough for heirloom knitting.

Ever since making the Autumn Equinox Vest I've wanted to revisit the Cartridge Belt Rib. Its distinctive texture is characterised by deep valleys and high ridges, created by a simple slip stitch pattern. For a baby blanket this rib is a wonderful choice because it provides a lofty coziness nothing short of what we want for our precious babies!

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Sunday
Jan232011

Whit's Knits: Four Felted Hot Pads

I had the idea that I would like to knit in a way that was more like painting, a bit more spontaneous, more whimsical, more for the sake of itself. A hot pad seemed a perfect little canvas for my experiments. With some quick sketches formed out of the haze of deep sleep, I set to work!

I started out with a strangely clear vision of what colors I wanted to use: dusty pinks, deep yellows and foggy lavenders. When I'm feeling uncompromising, I always turn to Manos Del Uruguay's Handspun Semi Solids. With dozens of incredible hand dyed colors to choose from, Manos is the closest you can get to mixing your own paints. I knew it! Each color I had envisioned was sitting right there on the shelf!

Riffing off common knitting designs and techniques, I ended up with these four little "paintings": the Argyle Hot Pad, the Striped, the Log Cabin, and the Bordered Square. None are complicated or fancy, but to me each one has a sort of precious completeness to it. I never knew knitting pot holders could be very satisfying!

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Sunday
Jan162011

Molly's Sketchbook: Valentine Heart Barrettes

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Mari's adorable baby daughter Julia. She was wearing the cutest little outfit, including a hand-knit sweater, topped off by a tiny little snap clip barrette in her hair. I had never seen such a teeny tiny barrette. It was so cute that I decided then and there that I would make a project using a set of barrettes just like it.

Last year for Valentines Day I made Rose Barrettes using a more normal sized snap clip and they were a big hit. So this year I decided to use the same method to make a smaller heart shaped barrette using these newly discovered tiny snap clips which were surprisingly easy to find at the drug store.  They work perfectly in big girl's hair too.  Once I got started I was totally addicted. I ended up making numerous versions and over 40 (!) little barrettes! They were so easy and fun to sew and I loved imagining the babies and little girls I know wearing them on Valentines Day.

This is the kind of project that felt was invented for. The bright, saturated colors of our Fuchsia felt bundle are so fun and Valentine-y and the fact that it doesn't need to be hemmed make sewing with it a snap. You could make a few of these for every little girl you know in an evening with no problem!

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