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Entries in Gift List (183)

Monday
Sep052011

Molly's Sketchbook: Swaddling Blankets

I love making handmade presents in anticipation of a new baby. I will always remember knitting my soon-to-be niece a baby blanket while I was on a road trip through Europe many years ago. As I looked out the window and watched the fields and mountains pass by I thought about what she was going to be like with every stitch. What would they name her? Who would she look like? Would she like me? I felt like my good wishes for her were being knitted psychically into the blanket. Ever since then I've tried to make something special for each of the new babies that have come into my life.

In addition to heartfelt, I also try to make my handmade gifts practical. There isn't much point in putting so much care and effort into something if it won't be used. So lately, my go-to baby gift has been a set of Swaddling Blankets with a hand-finished edge. They strike a good balance between usefulness and homemade detail. They are the right size to swaddle a baby (42-inches square), but they work perfectly well as a burp cloth or stroller blanket too.

I actually made my first set of Swaddling Blankets a few years ago as a project for the Purl Bee. Now I'm giving the original pattern a fresh look with this season's  fabrics. I  designed two sets of two blankets each, one set  in pretty pink:

and one in crisp blue:

I used the graphic Nani Iro double gauze stripes as the outsides and bright, lightweight Shot Cotton for the lining. These two fabrics together make a wonderful blanket, so airy and soft.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Sep012011

Laura's Loop: Heel Stitch Hat

It happens to the best of us... You wander into a yarn shop, anxious, antsy, raring to knit, but then, you are faced with it: the Wall. It's packed full of vibrantly colored fiber, cubbies upon cubbies of yarn, arranged to inspire. But instead of igniting direction, this vertical display of skeins causes, what I like to call (in a hushed voice), Knitter's Wall (gasp!).

It's the knitter's version of writer's block. You find yourself standing there, staring aimlessly, hands thrown in the air, asking yourself, asking the wall, "What should I knit?!?!?!"

Although you can't find Knitter's Wall in any psychology books, I don't need to tell you, it is a real affliction. The good news... there's a solution! All you need is a warm-up project, a project to get those finger muscles moving and knitting neurons shooting. Something that's sparks your interest, grabs your attention, and gets you back into your knitting groove.  The even better news... I've got just the thing for you! The Heel Stitch Hat. 

Heel Stitch is traditionally used for, you guessed it, the heel of a sock. Designed for its durability and cushioning effect, I knew such a striking texture and impressive loft would make up an incredibly handsome and cozy hat.  For gorgeous stitch definition and sumptuous warmth, I used Swan's Island's beautiful Worsted weight organic merino, but most any worsted weight yarn will suit! Once you've completed it, you'll have a hat to keep the cool air out and Knitter's Wall at bay 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug262011

Molly's Sketchbook: Apple Coasters

When I was a kid I dreaded the day that I would start seeing commercials for school supplies and my mom would suggest we go buy a new backpack. I didn't even want to think about giving up my summer freedom. Sometimes, to add insult to injury, the first day of school would be on my birthday!

But these days, with first-days-of-school far behind me, I actually look forward to this time of year more than any other. I love the crisp weather, the foliage, my birthday, and I really love apples! Since apples are so quintessentially autumn and because they're so graphically appealing, I was inspired to celebrate this beautiful time of year with a super cute set of Apple Coasters. They'll add a barrel of autumnal cheer to any table!  Or start your kid's school year off right with the perfect teacher gift.

The Apple Coasters are close cousins to my summertime Citrus Coasters, which is to say that they are a total breeze to make, no fancy stitches or skills required. For this season's version we chose our favorite reds, greens, and yellows for our new 100% wool felt Apple Bundle. I just love the way they look all together, so fresh and bright!

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Aug182011

Laura's Loop: Whit's Pom Pom Peds

I have been working on the Purl Bee team for only a short while (6 months, last week!), but the Purl Bee has had a place in my life for years. I have been a faithful reader and follower of the blog almost since its creation!  My crafting bag of tricks is filled with techniques picked up from this very site. I can remember my first foray into hand hemming with Page's beautiful Rolled Hem Handkerchiefs, just as I remember feeling that Whitney was holding my hand right through my very first pair of socks, the Pom Pom Peds.

The Pom Pom Peds were my first hand-knit socks, and to this day, they remain my favorite! Whitney describes the pattern as being perfect for beginner sock knitters and short attention span knitters. How right she is! The first time I knit them, all my fears and insecurities about sock knitting flew out the window. Now these peds are my go-to pattern for last minute gifts or for short subway rides. I have turned to this pattern again and again due to its simple construction and super friendly instructions.

So when I set my eyes on the new Purl-tastic color of Anzula's Squishy, Hyacinth, I knew exactly what I was going to knit:  my old friend, the Pom Pom Peds in Hyacinth and Natural. Squishy has been a Purl Soho favorite for a little over a year now. Joelle used it to make her 'Squishy' Log Cabin Baby Blanket and her Stirrup Socksand Whitney used it to knit her Ribbed Hand Warmers, but I still can't help thinking of Squishy as the new kid on the block. I am constantly astonished by how amazing it is, as if I am encountering it for the first time, every time. Its lofty spin of merino and cashmere not only makes it sumptuous to wear, but also luscious to knit. Plus, Squishy comes in a range of gorgeous hand dyed colors, from petal soft Dusty Rose to high octane Ducky to toasty warm Coco.

Two of these generous 385-yard-skeins (one in each color) are enough for four pairs of Pom Pom Peds as long as you are conservative with your tails and pom poms. Worst case scenario, you'll end up with three socks in each color to mix and match at your whim!  Hope y'all enjoy these peds as much as I do. Thanks for the great pattern, Whitney! To make your own pair vist our Pom Pom Peds Project Journal right here.  --Laura

Thursday
Aug112011

Molly's Sketchbook: Adjustable Unisex Apron

I wear aprons all the time, and I'm not kidding when I say "all the time". My typical at-home outfit involves a bandana to keep my hair back and an apron to keep at bay all of the thread and fabric fuzz that follow me everywhere. When friends stop by unexpectedly they are always surprised by my house frau attire, but nobody wants a lint brush for a best friend!

As you might imagine, I have a good collection of aprons, many of them vintage and quite feminine. Some of my favorites include a pink one from the 50s made out of a feedsack and one with ruffles and a pie shaped pocket that my sister made for me. Even though I love them all, these fanciful aprons don't come in very handy when it's time to roll up my sleeves and get messy in the kitchen, nor does my husband really appreciate his options. So I decided to make a rugged, adjustable unisex apron for both of us to use in the kitchen. It's big enough to be worn by a 6 foot tall guy but can easily be folded up to fit a 5 foot 4 gal like myself. Plus the no-nonsense styling means neither of us will risk batter-splattered ruffles!

The Adjustable Unisex Apron is an update of a pattern I designed way back in 2008 called the BBQ Apron. Although this version is perfect for Labor Day grilling, its classic design and super simple construction make it useful well beyond the BBQ pit.  I used some amazing new fabric, Kokka Canvas Ticking, which seems like it was born to be an apron. It's both soft and strong and will wear and wash beautifully. I love its classic denimy feel and its subtle colors. Best of all this apron is beyond simple to make. It's so easy that I think I might make two so my husband and I don't have to share! 

(P.S. The beautiful wooden spoons in the pictures above can be found at Timber from Live Wire Farm right here.)

Update:

To make the version of this apron posted on 2/9/12 you'll need the following materials (everything else is the same!):

 The matching dishtowels can be found here.

Click to read more ...

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