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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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Molly's Sketchbook: Handstitched Napkins

These lovely handstitched napkins will make a bright and beautiful addition to any Thanksgiving table! They are designed as a part of a set with my Thanksgiving Reverse Applique Placemats which you can find at this link.

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Molly's Sketchbook: Strip Pieced Christmas Stocking

This isn't an ultra quick project but it's not as labor intensive as it might seem, and most importantly it will last a lifetime. It's is made with our beautiful new Stocking Fat Quarter Bundle, simple white muslin, and thick 100% cotton batting. The patchwork of the stocking is put together in a very cool way by strip piecing. That means you don't have to cut a million little squares and piece them all together one by one. Instead you cut long strips, sew them together and then cut the sewn pieces. If you've never tried strip piecing this is a great first project since it's so small and satisfying.

This is also a great first hand quilting project since the hand quilting isn't trying to be totally tiny or even and it's the hand quilting and the hand sewn binding on this project that really make it special. This was was also the most enjoyable part of the process for me. I loved sitting and stitching it, inch by inch as I started to think about the holidays. --Molly

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Molly's Sketchbook: Felt Mittens with Knitted Cuffs

I am so excited that autumn is here! I love the chill in the air and the rich colors of the leaves as they turn from green to red and gold. The fall makes me want to can fruit, bake bread, knit and sew. But alas, I'm not a canner or a very good bread baker... I am however a sewer and a knitter!

The mitt part of the mittens is sewn out of Mary Flanagan Felted Wool, one of my all time favorite things we carry. It is warm and soft and comes in the most beautiful array of hand-dyed colors, from the vibrant "Holiday Red" pictured here to lovely naturals and blues. To compliment the soft feel of the wool I used Blue Sky Alpacas Solid Sport Weight 100% Alpaca to knit the cuff. Since I haven't been knitting very much lately I had forgotten what a joy this yarn is. It comes in such amazing colors and the fabric it makes is unbelievably luxurious.

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Whit's Knits: Granny Square Slippers

My cousin Katie recently spent some time in the Republic of Georgia and brought me back these amazing blue and pink crocheted slippers. She reported that similar slippers were for sale at all the marketplaces, always in bright and unexpected color combinations.

Upon closer inspection, I saw that each slipper was made up of six equally sized granny squares. How beautifully simple! I love when intelligent design meets handcraft, when innovative engineering meets a house slipper.

For my take on the traditional design, I wanted the slippers to look even more homespun and funky, so I used Manos del Uruguay's Handspun Semi Solid yarn. I think the unevenness of the spin and the variations in the kettle dyed colors add a little cozy character to the slippers.

Adjusting the size of these slippers is so easy that I made a pair for both my husband and me. I'm really looking forward to a cozy winter in our matching slippers!

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