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Accessories

Design

Square Bottle’s Refreshingly Clean Design

May 15, 2013

That stinky muck that likes to lurk in the deepest, darkest parts of your drink bottle finally met its match–but only after inspiring Clean Bottle founder Dave Mayer to invent a better bottle.

Square Water Bottle

The moldy mess lead to the creation of an innovative product–a sports bottle that opens on the top and bottom to allow for complete cleaning, but Dave, a triathlete himself, and his team of designers and engineers weren’t done there. Realizing that the design could still be improved, the team set to work to create the Square Water Bottle.

Dave running in the Ironman Triathlon

“I saw that everyone was carrying water bottles but they all had the same dull ‘fuel canister’ look and had some real design flaws,” said Dave. “We wanted to create a bottle that was as aesthetically pleasing as the clothes, handbags, shoes and phones that people also carried with them.”

The shape wasn’t hard to come up with. A square bottle makes sense, because it won’t roll away if knocked over or accidentally dropped. The challenge was making the product they envisioned a reality. It took time, but after around 40 mock ups and prototypes the Square Bottle was born. “Our final product stayed mostly true to the original design,” said Dave. “It took longer to not make compromises but it was worth it.”

Dave as “Bottle Boy” posing with actor Patrick Dempsey and Bottle Boy running alongside cyclists at the Tour De France

The Square Bottle, like it’s predecessor, the original Clean Bottle, is easy to clean, because it screws open at both ends. It’s also durable, because the body is made of durable stainless steel, while the BPA-free plastic Vibrant Fresh Taste Lid ™ keeps your drink from taking on a metallic taste. The bottle is also slim enough to fit in a cup or bottle holder and is complete with an ergonomic handle, so it’s comfortable to take on the go.

Square Bottle on the go with Freda

Creating something that had never existed was no easy task, but time, collaboration, and hard work made it possible. “It was extremely difficult to do a Square bottle – there is a reason no one has done it, but we wanted something totally unique,” Dave,who uses the product himself every day, explained.

“People either want the cheapest or they want the best,” he said. “Aim to be one of these two and create a truly unique product and you will succeed.”

Design

TPC Sawgrass Golf Ball Cufflinks Tee’d Up for Tournament Time

May 9, 2013

With THE PLAYERS Championship underway we’re quietly and quite politely clapping in celebration of one the newest additions to our men’s accessories assortment, PGA TOUR licensed TPC Sawgrass Golf Ball Cufflinks.

These sterling silver cufflinks feature material reclaimed from actual golf balls collected from Sawgrass’ iconic 137 yard 17th hole. While a few pro balls are sure to find their way into the water surrounding the hole during the week-long tournament, the rest of the year the course, located in Ponte Vedra, Florida, is open to the public, helping to create quite a bounty of sunken ball treasure.

As you’ll see in the video below, these balls aren’t exactly easy to recover. It takes a little hunting and some scuba gear to get them back to the green.

Milan Micich, Designer and Sales Manager at Tokens and Icons feels that sterling silver is the perfect complement to these carefully recovered golf balls. “Sterling silver, like TPC Sawgrass itself, is a rich experience,” he said. “There is only one Sawgrass, only one 17th hole island green, designed by Pete and Alice Dye, themselves icons in golf course design. It’s on every weekend golfer’s bucket list, and if a diver is going to evade alligators to scoop mishit balls off of the lake bed, the balls deserve being set in sterling silver.” (After seeing Mr. Gator show his head in that video, we definitely agree!)

“This is a gift [you] can give to a guy that connects to his emotions of having played or wanting to play this famous course and try his luck at 17,” said Milan. “Golf is a place you’ll see men laugh, shout, bicker, cry (ok, whine) and hug all in the space of an afternoon and talk about it for a lifetime…especially should a few go into the drink.”

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Sharon Hitchcock

April 30, 2013
Sharon Hitchcock, UncommonGoods  Buyer – Jewelry & Accessories

My hometown is…
Hmmm….well, let’s see, I was born in Manhattan so I guess I am a New Yorker, but I lived in Austin, Texas for 9 years (Hook ‘em Horns!), and have also resided in Seattle, Washington, DC, and London. Now I call Brooklyn home.

I’m on the lookout for… 
Jewelry and accessories that are beautifully made with thought and care. Pieces and collections that use materials in a distinctly different way, and have a strong point of view.

I’m inspired by…
People-watching in NYC.

My guilty pleasure is…
Can I have two guilty pleasures? ’80s music is a definite. And, flea markets! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a good flea market.

An uncommon fact about me…
Although I have never considered myself to be very musically inclined, I have taught myself to play the ukulele, which I think is the happiest of all instruments.

My favorite place to eat in New York City is…
For fancy-pants food I love Balthazar. I always feel French glam when I go there. To get my Mexican food fix, I head to La Esquina.

My style is…
Hard to define! After a phase of wearing all black every day, I now embrace colors and patterns. Anything with stripes has been a recent favorite. I also collect vintage jewelry and try to wear something from my collection each day.

Since working at UncommonGoods I’ve learned…
So much! I truly do learn something new each day. I love the collaborative environment here, and how supportive the team is of different ideas and points of view.

With a pile of stuff in front of me I would make…
(You’re given paperclips, yarn, cheesecloth, markers, and plastic beads.)

I would make a mini, colorful, and fabulous Eiffel Tower sculpture.

Design

Trend Spotting: Kantha Quilting

April 24, 2013

We recently introduced Kantha Blankets to our assortment and I couldn’t be more excited to bring these to our customers. These eclectic, one-of-a-kind quilts each have a special story to tell while brightening up any room. I thought it would be fun to share a bit about the history of Kantha as well as some fun decorating tips.

Decor8, Celadon, Desh Crafts


Kantha, a word meaning “old cloth” or “rag”, refers an age-old art form traditionally practiced by the women of Bengal. Kantha blankets are made from recycling worn saris originally intended to keep warm during the cooler months. In the traditional Kantha style, five layers of used saris are sewn together with a single running stitch to make a quilted blanket. Once the blanket is finished, Bengali women “sign” their pieces with their name, a mark of pride and identity. Such blankets are passed on as heirlooms to future generations. While this tradition dates back to the late 16th and early 17th century, Kantha is still the most popular form of embroidery practiced by rural women. Aside from providing a source of income for Bengali women, the popularity of Kantha products has given this traditional folk art a stake in the modern global marketplace.

Justina Blakeney, Apartment Therapy


Nowadays, this age-old tradition is finding its way into modern home décor and design. Traditional Kantha is used on a wide array of products, from personal accessories, to pillows, and upholstered furniture. No matter what the execution, the unique, one-of-a-kind nature of this traditional folk art is a show stealer. Each piece is unique and one-of-a-kind and you can truly see the fingerprint of the artisan women who created them.

Hand & Cloth, Justina Blakeney, Anthropologie


I see Kantha as an easy way to incorporate a little colorful, bohemian touch to your living space. Suddenly you can integrate a splashy touch to your otherwise monotone bedding; the blanket, casually strewn over a couch or chair can transform the look of the room to that of one occupied by a world traveler and collector.

Gift Guides

How to Repair a Wool Sweater

February 22, 2013

Getting the opportunity to try uncommon products is one of the great things about working at UncommonGoods. While many of these product-testing experiments become gift labs, every now and then we find a new good with so many uses we can’t fit them all in one “report.” The Woolfiller Sweater Mending Kit is an example of just such a product, AND, since associate buyer Katie and community moderator Cassie both had their eyes on this winter must-have, we decided to diverge from the traditional gift lab format and see just how many uses we could come up with for this clever kit. Four are outlined below, but Cassie and Katie agree that the fun doesn’t have to stop there!

Katie: Having spotted the Woolfiller at a major New York trade show last year, I was anxious to get such a solution-oriented product into our assortment. A fun, hands-on kit to patch up an old favorite or add some flair to a basic sweater seemed like the perfect DIY project nearly anyone could adopt.To put this product to the test, I decided to tackle two specific projects, the first was to patch the embarrassingly large (and winter chill-inviting) elbow holes on one of my favorite sweaters. After completing the elbow hole patches, I wanted more – I had seen some fun images the company provided where people used the bright colored wool to add some creative patches as flair and I wanted to try this out, which lead to Project two: adding flair.

Cassie and I decided to each purchase one kit – a match made in heaven as this green-adoring girl, could partner with Cassie’s purple-loving self and combine to make a cornucopia of rich, jewel-tone wools mixed with solid staple colors (greys, blacks, beiges) which came in extra handy for my second project. But I would also say that one kit is entirely sufficient – each comes with bright color options as well as neutral, basic colors which should cover a range of sweater needs. And to that point, upon unloading our kits onto a communal table, we were both surprised by how much wool comes in each kit – we went about tearing each ball into half and divvying up our goods.

Project 1: Bold Elbow Patches

Katie: After some deliberation, I chose to patch the elbows of my dark, gray sweater with the natural beige wool – aiming for a contrast patch look – like your grandfather’s sweater.

After choosing the color of wool, I reviewed the simple instructions and went to work. I used a pair of scissors to make the first of my ragged elbow holes into a smooth, even oval to ensure my patches would be as clean-looking as possible. Next, I ripped a decent amount (maybe the width of a lime) of wool off the main piece, turned my sweater inside out, put the provided foam piece in the sleeve, laid the wool over the hole, and began poking!

After completing the first of two patches, I turned my sleeve right-side out to inspect my work. Herein I learned one of the bigger lessons of the project – while the instructions suggest turning your piece inside-out to use the product, I found that by doing that I was less aware of the exact line of the hole (because the piece of wool covered it) and as a result I ended up with what can only be described as a “halo” effect around the patch – one sold patch, with a light ring of excess wool surrounding it.

On elbow #2 I decided to try another approach – again I cut away the ragged edge to make a smooth hole, but this time I left the sweater sleeve right-side out, I inserted the felt piece, and lined the wool up perfectly with the hole and started poking away. I found when I did it this way, I was able to guide the wool into a perfect oval while poking and overall felt much more in control of the overall work. When complete, the patch appeared much more perfect and solid.

After completing the elbow patches, I moved onto my next experiment…

Project 2: Adding a Little Flair

Katie: I decided to do a simple trio of mini circles with bright colors. Having learned from my elbow patches, I left my sweater right-side out, tore of tiny circles of wool (about the size of a quarter), and started poking away! I found my technique was much-improved, I used my fingers to expertly guide the wool and before I knew it I had my little flair added in.

In the interest of science, here are my key Findings:

Finding #1:
This kit comes with a lot of wool. I was surprised by how little wool it took to patch up my rather large elbow holes. I have a lot of wool leftover and am just waiting for a quiet Sunday to get to patchin’ my slew of other well-worn sweaters.

Finding #2:
The more you poke – the more “felted” the wool becomes. Good thing poking is super fun.

Finding #3:
As mentioned above, the kit recommends turning the piece inside-out and then using the wool filler, however, I found this created a slight ‘halo effect’ around the actual patch, and when I tested using the kit the opposite way – with the sweater turned right-side out, I was very pleased with the results – I could control the pokes more and create a clean oval with no halo.

Finding #4:
The Woolfiller is a really easy, creative way to patch.

Having now completed two projects on one beloved, well-worn sweater, I can vouch for the usability and honestly–the fun– this product provided.I passed the DIY-sweater-patch torch along to Cassie.

Project 3: The No-Show Repair

Cassie: I also had a beloved sweater with a hole in it. Unlike Katie, I didn’t want my repair job to be super noticeable. My hole was just under the arm of a multi-colored sweater, so I hoped I could blend the new wool in and make the sweater look like new. Taking her findings into consideration, I began my exercise in craftology.

I started out the same way, by finding the hole, turning the sweater inside out, and inserting the foam block. Then I picked out a couple of colors that I thought would mix nicely with my sweater’s pattern.

I placed the wool over the holes and started poking. It was really fun, and, because the sweater is 100% wool the new wool took almost instantly. I pricked at the wool with the felting needle for less than a minute before the patch was completely attached, but I kept at it for a little longer, just to make sure it was blended well.

I turned the sweater back inside in and gave it a few more pokes, just to give the wool a smoother look. The finished product looked good, and the patch feels just like the rest of the sweater.

While I agree with most of Katie’s key findings, I found that starting with the sweater inside out worked great for a small, blended patch. She preferred the look of the patch when she placed the wool directly over the hole without turning her garment inside out first. I’d recommend doing a test on your own piece, by woolfilling just a small section of the patch, before completing your own project.

Project 4: Super Star Style

Cassie: Giving my sweater a quick fix was fun and easy, but after seeing Katie’s bold patches and the little bundle of flair she added to her project, I was a little jealous. I wanted to give my own colorful creation a try, so I decided to add a little shape to an old cardigan.

First I drew a star shape on a small piece of scratch paper. Then, I cut out the star, leaving an outline. Next, I placed the outline over the elbow of my sweater. (Remember to insert the foam block first.)

I didn’t turn the sweater inside out this time, since I wasn’t actually making a real “patch,” I was just covering up the existing material with new wool.

I put a little ball of bright pink wool in the center of the star shape, then started stretching it out to fill the cutout as I poked it with the felting needle. I didn’t secure the star before starting this process, which made it a little trickier than it had to be. Next time I’ll hold it in place with some fabric tape or a safety pin.

I gradually added more wool and pulled it into the shape of the star as I worked at it with the felting needle. Once I had the outline filled in I removed the paper and then poked carefully around the outside edges of the star to give it a sharper shape.

Since the cardigan isn’t entirely wool (it’s a blend also containing nylon and cotton), it took a lot longer for the woolfiller to adhere this time than it did with the 100% wool sweater I’d used it on before.

The star turned out well, but there was one problem. I was so focused on creating my shape that I forgot to move my foam block the whole time I was poking. The wool (and the sweater) got stuck to the block, so It was somewhat difficult to remove when I was done. Make sure to readjust the block several times during your project to make sure this doesn’t happen!

I’ll definitely try this again next time I want to give an old sweater a new look. Next time, I might try a heart, a triangle or square, or maybe even a letter.


Through our multiple sweater patching projects, we learned that the Woolfiller Sweater Mending Kit is a great way to repair a damaged sweater, give old wool a new look, or add a personal touch to your favorite pieces.

And, bonus, it’s not just for sweaters. It works on any pretty much anything made of wool!