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Wednesday
Dec152010

2010 Holiday Gift List for Sewists, Knitters and Crafters!

'Tis the season for last-minute gift shopping! With precious little time remaining for actually making anything (although there is still time to whip up one very special thing!) we thought we'd offer up a list of ready-to-go gifts for all the sewists, knitters and crafters in your life. These lovely items would be welcome under any creative person's tree!

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Sunday
Dec122010

New Felted Christmas Trees!

Last year Whitney created a wonderful heirloom Felted Christmas Tree pattern that I've had my eye on for this Christmas.  As you no doubt have noticed if you are a regular follower of The Purl Bee, we just can't get enough of pink, red and white at Christmas so I thought it would be fun to revisit Whitney's pattern in our favorite holiday color palette (plus it just so happens that this color palette looks great in my own house!).

Last year's felted trees were knit with Cascade 220, a great basic yarn that is wonderful for felting.  This year's felted trees were knit with Manos Del Uruguay Handspun in Natural, one of my all time favorite yarns,  (two skeins made one large tree and one small tree) and it worked beautifully for this project. 

Please note, for this year's trees, I felted them BEFORE decorating them.  Once they're felted the tall tree is approximately 11-inches tall, the small tree is approximately 6-inches tall.  

I decorated the trees with Koigu KPM in hot pink, color #1150, and bright red, color #2229 (one skein each is enough to decorate about 12 trees).  I love the way the two colors work together, glowing like real ornaments on a tree.

The embroidery stitches I used to decorate the trees are very, very simple.  The challenge of the embroidery is finding a needle that is sharp enough to get through the felted wool, but big enough to accommodate the yarn.  I found several that did the job in this collection of needles.  A thimble for pushing the needle through the felted wool was also a big help.

To decorate the little tree I made little plus marks (in the neighborhood of 1/4-inch wide and 1/4-inch tall) in bright red all over the tree, then went back over a few of the larger plus signs with hot pink.  

On the big tree I first made big plus signs (around 1/2-inch wide x 1/2-inch tall) all over the tree and then went over those again in the center with a diagonal plus sign, both in hot pink.  Then I went over the diagonal plus signs again with bright red.  To finish the large tree I made small plus signs (about 1/4-inch wide by 1/4-inch tall) in hot pink all over between the large motifs.

I did the motifs on both trees totally freehand and without any attempt at uniformity which gives the design a lively quality that I am really fond of. Also, there is no need to cut the yarn between shapes (just bring the needle back out wherever you want the next motif to be) so the decorating goes very quickly.

If you need help with these stitches, please visit Molly's Asterisk Embroidery Tutorial right here which explains the technique for the motifs step by step.

I was so delighted with the way these trees turned out.  They have a sweet simplicity and happy quality that makes me smile every time I look at them.  They make great gifts too!

If you'd like to make them you can find all you need right here:

Merry Christmas!  --Joelle

Thursday
Dec092010

Mary Flanagan Felted Wool Patchwork Quillow

From the moment we saw these gorgeous bundles of ten uniquely textured and hand dyed felted wools from Mary Flanagan, we knew we wanted to make a patchwork blanket with them.  They seemed to be made just for this purpose since felted wool doesn't require hemming, plus it's very soft, warm and inviting.  When we got our bundle home and began to design the quilt, we realized that we would only need nine of the ten pieces to make it, but we were determined to use all 10.  It occurred to us that we could use the 10th piece to make a simple pocket on the back of the quilt into which the entire piece could be folded to make a pillow, and our quilt became a quillow!  It was meant to be.

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Friday
Dec032010

Whit's Knits: Fisherman's Rib Scarf and Cowl

How can any knitter resist a stitch pattern called "Fisherman's Rib"? The name evokes all our most romantic knitting associations: rugged men in densely cabled sweaters materializing out of the fog, abeam a windswept Scottish cliff. Luckily, Fisherman's Rib is as beautiful (and practical) as its name implies, lofty, springy, and super cozy.

But, let's face it, most of us aren't as rugged as your average fisherman. You will rarely hear a fisherman say anything like, "It's lovely, but maybe a little bit scratchy, don't you think?". So for the rest of us, I used the Fisherman's Rib, but not his yarn.

Instead, I took this opportunity to return to one of my very favorite yarns, The Fibre Company's Road to China Worsted. I used it three years ago for the Sullivan Street Bolero and have never forgotten its amazing softness and drape. It's such a gorgeous blend of baby alpaca, cashmere, camel and silk that even the most unweathered on your gift list will be happy with a Fisherman's Rib Scarf or Cowl. Just don't give one to the fisherman in your life. He would never look at his guernseys the same again.

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Sunday
Nov282010

A Purl Soho Pattern: Loeffler Randall Rain Boot and Rain Bootie Stirrup Socks!

Early this fall Jessie Randall from Loeffler Randall had her team contact us to see if we'd be interested in doing a collaboration around their elegant and cool LR Rain Boots and LR Rain Booties.  At Purl Soho we're huge fans of Loeffler Randall (and are honored to have Jessie as one of our customers) so we were thrilled to create this pair of Stirrup Socks especially for their rain boots and booties. 

The Boots

The Loeffler Randall Boots and Booties are the perfect solution to wet fall weather.  They're rain proof so they are completely practical, but they also have an elegant shape and come in great colors, so you can wear them anywhere.   The boot has a back zipper, the booties lace up and they are available in black, army and taupe.  If you want to learn more about them or get yourself a pair, you can find them right here.

The Socks

Once we thought about creating stirrup socks all of our creative juices started flowing.  We realized that a stirrup sock is a great, substantial, but approproachable project for lots of knitters.  Also, being without a heel and toe they'd work well in the elegantly shaped LR boot foot (without the bulk of a hand knit sock), and also the back of the leg shaping means not only that this sock is very pretty, it also fits easily inside a boot leg.  We made the long pair of socks to go with the LR Rain Boot, and the short pair to go with the LR Rain Bootie. 

The biggest challenge of the pattern is using double pointed needles, but luckily we have a fantastic double pointed needle tutorial that you can visit right here if you need it.

Before we even started developing our Stirrup Sock Pattern we knew we'd want to create it with Anzula's Squishy, which is perhaps one of the most perfect sock yarns ever created. Squishy comes in an amazingly generious hank of 385 yards of gorgeous superwash merino wool, cashmere and nylon, and we wanted to be sure you could get an entire long pair from one skein.  As it turns out, one skein (385 yards) will make the one pair of the long version of the stirrup socks OR two pairs (!) of the short version.  Squishy comes in tons of great colors, and is beautiful to work with.  The socks are substantial, cozy without being heavy. 

Loeffler Randall will be offering a free Purl Soho Stirrup Sock pattern inside the box of every pair of Rain Boots and Rain Booties, or you can buy the pattern directly from us right here!

Here are some details on the pattern:

  • Pattern includes directions for long stirrup socks (14-inches from heel opening) and short stirrup socks (8-inches from heel opening).
  • Yardage Requirements: Long Pair, 375 yards; Short Pair, 185 yards
  • Gauge:  36 stitches = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

You will also need:

Oh, and the long stirrup socks work perfectly in Loeffler Randall's beautiful Classic Matilde Flat Boots too! 

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