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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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Molly's Sketchbook: Felt Hot Pads

Sometimes we get a new product in that is so universally adored by the entire staff of Purl Soho that we know we need to make a Purl Bee project out of it. Our latest obsession is the new natural colorway of the Mary Flanagan Felted Wool called "Oatmeal". It soft and fluffy and ever so slightly heathered in gorgeous natural ecru and brown shades. Every time I pass by it's shelf in the store I want to pull it out and touch it.

I have always loved Mary Flanagan's whole spectrum of  13-inch by 16-inch pieces of felted wool. They are so fluffy and soft. I've sewn it into all kinds of things, from baby dolls, to blankets, to mittens. This time I wanted to make something you could use, see, and touch every day. Page, Joelle, and I all brainstormed and come up with these fluffy hot pads, which are so easy to make!

In order to make one piece of precious felt into two hot pads we used Carr Textiles Organic Cotton Duck as a backing. This canvas weight fabric is so sturdy and comes in great colors. The natural color that we used is smooth and slightly flecked which compliments and contrasts with the wool nicely. To add a kitchen-y feel we accented them with bright red  Fettucia Cotton Ribbon and did some simple quilting with bright red cotton thread. They are sewn with two layers of our thickest cotton batting making them very heat resistant and super lofty. Their rectangular shape makes them ideal for grabbing hot dishes out of the oven and holding onto pan handles. They are also pretty enough to use as trivets directly on the table.

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Whit's Knits: Big Herringbone Cowl

This winter New York City streets are filled with people who have learned the secret of keeping warm. They are all wrapped up in the big soft folds of the oversized cowl. A long loop that you twist and double around your neck, it's definitely a glamorous touch in a what can otherwise be pretty frumpy season. Don't you love when fashion and function meet in such happy harmony?

This cowl was inspired by Joelle's classic Herringbone Poncho from her very first book, Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I have always been so taken with the drape and texture of Joelle's poncho that I was really excited to borrow her idea for this project!

I stuck with Joelle's choice of yarn, Blue Sky's Worsted, because it is by far one of Purl Soho's softest, most cuddly yarns, perfect for wearing around sensitive skin areas like your neck. A blend of fine merino wool and royal alpaca, it has a beautiful weight that creates cascading, dramatic fabrics. Just what I was looking for!

The cowl's final look keeps one foot in the past with a traditional herringbone stitch. It's such a distinctive stitch on such a powerful garment, you're going to feel about one foot taller when you wear yours!

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The Purl Bee's Best of 2010!

2010 was an exciting year around the world, and also for us right here at Purl Soho! While the shop was busy relocating to its new beautiful digs, The Purl Bee was working hard to deliver a whole year's worth of original patterns. The theme of our year was Timeless Design. We really thought hard about bringing you ideas that would actually fit into your lifestyle not just this year, but next year and the year after that and after that... We hope we succeeded, and we look forward to filling 2011 with our Purl touch! Here's a look back at some of our 2010 favorites...

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Molly's Sketchbook: New Year's Eve Coasters

A New Year's Eve party can be a hopeful, fun, and bubbly celebration, it's a great excuse to toast the passage of time and the good things yet to come.  I created these coasters to add a bit of sophisticated fun to any New Year's Celebration.  Page and I had both just taken the little girls in our lives to see the Nutcracker and came away completely inspired by the soft, elegant and magical palette of the Sugar Plum Fairies.  We picked our palette of silvery gray, lavender, pink and turquoise to share that magic.  We think they'll be beautiful and festive with sparkling champagne sitting atop them!

Each coaster is pieced like a quilt square, with two half square triangles, one dark grey, and one lighter color. The resulting simple, graphic design lends itself to so many pretty display options that are a lot of fun to play with.  After they were done I spent a lot of time just arranging them in different patterns.  It's so amazing how many shapes simple triangles can make!

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