Hip to Piece Squares Kimono Slippers
I have always loved Sarah Minshall‘s charming sewing and quilting projects, and her new kimono slippers are absolutely adorable. She has a gorgeous selection in different fabrics and women’s sizes in her Etsy shop. From her description: “These adorable house shoes are fully lined and have a removable insole that has been sewn with two layers of thick fleece interfacing. Just warm enough for keeping on your toes inside an air conditioned house or on a cool night!”
My absolute favorites are the lovely Red Lotus print lined with vibrant yellow, but looking at the whole array together is awfully tempting too!
Hip to Piece Squares Kimono Slippers, $35
The Pendleton Woolen Mill Store
I’m so fortunate to live ten minutes away from the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store here in Portland, which sells not only Pendleton’s legendary blankets, but their beautiful wool apparel and blanket fabric by the yard, and the very same wool yarn they use for their own weaving by the cone. Depending on your crafty project (or dream!) you can buy everything from gorgeous Indian-print blanket fabrics as wide as 112 inches across, or skinny, versatile wooly worms for crochet or craft projects, often at amazing prices. Tables of wool apparel and jacket-weight fabric in various weights and patterns are available for sale, along with rolls of wider woven blanket material. The real – bordering on unbelievable – bargain is the wool fabric and remnants by weight, organized in bins from 50¢ to $5.00 a pound. I recently made this simple wool patchwork quilt with the amazing find of 55 sample cards of their assorted plaid fabrics from the bins there ($2.40), backed with blanket material from the front tables ($12.90, which I used about 2/3 of), for a total of one blissful afternoon of quilting, and under $15 in cost – !
The Woolen Mill Store blog even offers a weekly “truck report” which details exactly what treasures arrive from the mills to go straight to the store floor, every Friday – an amazing and inspiring resource for weekend crafting! If you’re not in Portland, or not planning a visit anytime soon, they have an eBay shop and will ship internationally if you order directly, too, or just call the store. The wool they carry of all types (fabric, yarn, roving) is rounded out with buttons, notions, craft books and magazines, and tools to delight any crafter’s heart – especially this time of year.
Pendleton Woolen Mill Store, prices start at 50¢ a pound
Penzey’s Hot Chocolate
If you’ve ever shopped a local Penzey’s, you know the dizzying variety of all things spice they carry, in jars or in bulk. (They also have a catalog and website, but wow, the brick and mortar stores are really something.) After my husband and I were the lucky recipients of a Wedding Gift Crate full of dozens of their spices, I have a few go-to favorites for cooking and baking. But now that the weather is getting chilly and days are getting darker, I have to say that the nicest Penzey’s offering of all is their remarkable hot chocolate.
If you’re looking for a holiday gift or a starter set for yourself, I like the Cocoa Lover’s Gift Box ($13.49) – four jars including cocoa, cinnamon, and their mint and regular hot chocolate mix. My personal favorite is their hot chocolate mix, which is hand-mixed from sugar, natural cocoa, Ceylon cinnamon, and real vanilla beans – it’s amazing. You can choose a ½ cup jar for $2.75 or a pound bulk bag for $6.40, which would be adorable re-packaged in little jars with crafty embellishments for everyone on your list! Or if you like to start from scratch, they sell several high-quality cocoas that you can mix your own blends from. Paired with a vintage or handmade ceramic mug (or a travel coffee cup), this would be a perfect holiday gift.
Penzey’s, many options starting at $2.75
Tea Leaves Cardigan
My friend Daniela just knitted Melissa LaBarre’s Tea Leaves Cardigan and stopped by the day she’d sewn the buttons on, and I was amazed by how simple and stylish and just right it was. I’m kind of a permanent advanced beginner in the world of knitting, but she gave me hope that I could pull off a project as cool as this too! Hers is a striking, subtle gray, but Ravelry has a whole rainbow of finished and in-progress sweaters to check out.
Daniela described it as a dream to knit: “Beautiful top-down round yoke sweater construction, and not even ONE seam to sew” – my kind of knitting! Find details of the pattern and plenty of other hints and tips on Ravelry, and pick up the downloadable pattern along with stunning yarns at Madelinetosh.
Tea Leaves Cardigan pattern, $6.00
Silicone Baking Cups
This is such a simple kitchen essential – reusable, free-standing baking cups for making muffins, cupcakes, or tiny-sized portions of just about anything, sweet or savory. I used to go through paper or foil cupcake liners at top speed, and then my friend Jo surprised me with a set of 12 silicone cups as a birthday present, and I don’t think I’ve bought a single package of disposable ones since!
The genius of these is that they’re non-stick, sturdy enough to hold their shape perfectly without a special muffin pan, easy to take off your perfectly baked treat, wash and dry quickly, and are ready to go back in the oven again right away. If you do much (or really any!) baking – and let’s face it, fall is a lovely time to have fresh, hot treats out of the oven – they’re a very handy to have around the kitchen. I like my little set from Sur La Table, but you can find them at all kinds of stores locally and online.
Silicone Baking Cups, $14.95 for 12