December started with a bang, fresh on the heels of Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Goodshop Sunday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday…it’s enough to make even the best of us retreat under the bed until the whole month is over.
But December is also a time when many of us seek ways to express—through gifts and gestures—our appreciation for the people we love. In honor of the gifting tradition, and in an attempt to add meaning to what is becoming increasingly commercial, I wanted to provide a list of people, places, and things that I love and that you might love too, things that I think are worthy of your time and attention. Here’s the 2015 gift list.
Twig and Horn
Did you know that the same people behind Quince & Co. have been cultivating a new, separate line of gifts and accessories for knitters? It’s called Twig and Horn, and it focuses on thoughtfully sourced, American-crafted items like their own lanolin-infused wool soap; a tall elegant needle vase by Ariela Kuh of ANK Ceramics in Lincolnville, Maine; stitch markers in a cork-topped bottle; and even—because really, what knitter doesn’t enjoy a good cup of something hot now and then—a perfectly sized wheel-turned, hand-glazed mug and pour-over set also by ANK Ceramics. Their Instagram feed is a sight to behold.
Just spend five minutes on this Carnation, Washington, yarn store’s Web site and you’ll agree that they have exquisite taste in yarn. But they’re also passionate about wool and, in particular, the stories behind the skeins we use. They’ve released a gorgeous and inspiring ebook called Farm to Needle that celebrates several American fiber producers and even includes patterns. It’s a beautiful, heartfelt project I think you’ll enjoy.
Colorful Natural Dye Kits
Perhaps anticipating this need, Kristine offers several beautifully assembled kits to help you experiment with natural dye in a way that makes sense—and produces a useful object. The kits are for projects in her book, and they include the Northwoods Hat shown here, as well as Flowers at My Fingertips, Sock Hop, and the indigo-dyed Waves Bandana.
Tiny detail: All of the kits require you to buy the book separately in order to get the instructions—but it’s one you’ll definitely want in your collection.
Fringe Supply Co.
Another favorite source for thoughtfully assembled gadgets and accessories is Fringe Supply Co., whose “High-Fiber” tote bag (shown here) has been one of my favorites for years. You’ll also find Kristine’s book and the Northwoods Hat kit sold together, as well as gorgeous brass and steel craft scissors, giant safety pins, and a Yarn Pyramid printthat deserves to hang in every knitter’s home.
A little-known fact is that my high-school mascot was the penguin. Which is just one of many reasons I was overjoyed to learn that my favorite Instagrammer, Anna Maltz, is about to release a whole collection of knitted patterns inspired by none other than this noble little black-and-white flightless waterfowl.
The collection contains 11 projects total, interspersed with stories, photographs, and illustrations. The book, Penguin, is at the printer now and should ship mid-December. I would get your copy before this printing sells out.
Do you have a knitter in your life? Someone you’d like to surprise with a gift that would continue throughout the year? Mention the word “Pom Pom” to your knitter and see if it rings a bell. If it doesn’t, tiptoe over here and get him or her a subscription to this British knitting magazine. Each issue is packed with gorgeous photography, fine editorial, inspiring projects, and even a recipe or two. Maybe add a back issue or two to whet your friend’s appetite. Pom Pom has also just announced Pom Pom Press and will soon be adding print books to its line-up, so you’ll want to bookmark the site and check back often.
In the world of culinary indulgences for your favorite knitter, if this person loves tea, consider this extravagant $65 boxed set of teas from around the world by Palais des Thés. Your set contains 10 metal tubes, each containing a distinct (and presumably tasty) signature flavored and single estate tea from Asia, Africa, and America. (There’s also a green-tea box set if your knitter loves green.)
Or perhaps your knitter is more of a globetrotting coffee drinker? If you have $185 to spare, consider gifting the Rambler essential traveler’s brew kit from Stumptown Coffee. Does your knitter have a sweet tooth? I urge you to spend the $8 on the most exquisite chocolate marshmallow concoction ever created, by San Francisco chocolatier Michael Recchiuti. (Their dark hot chocolate is sublime, by the way.)
Of course I can’t mention chocolate without adding the name of someone very near and dear to me: my brother! Since he began making chocolate from bean to bar in 2010, his work has achieved a level of refinement (and deliciousness) that has caught the eye of the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, and the legendary Formaggio Kitchen—also known as Julia Child’s favorite haunt.
His chocolate CSA is a culinary version of my Great White Bale, with explorations of multiple harvests and roasts in a way that makes you a smarter and more appreciative chocolate lover. The next CSA launches in the spring, and you can find details and a sign-up form here. Thank you for indulging me.
For nearly 15 years, members of the Knitter’s Review community have supported this fine organization in a year-end fundraiser, which I am very proud to host again for 2015. I’ve set a more ambitious goal than ever for this year, and to help sweeten the pot (and your stashes), I’ll be picking ten people among those who donate by December 31st and sending them each a gorgeous surprise skein of Clara Yarn.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, we have more refugees worldwide than at any time since World War II. The crisis will only get worse as winter approaches. The International Rescue Committee is working tirelessly to provide basic aid to crisis-affected families in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere. Just $58 will give tuition, books, and other supplies that will enable a girl to go to school for a year.
Too much? Shave $4 off your donation and you can still give four families the materials they need to construct a temporary shelter. Or consider that just $25 can give a solar lamp and charger so that a family may have access to light and power after dark. It’s amazing to see how, if we just skip a lunch out and cut back on the Starbucks, that same money can have such a profound and broad-reaching impact.
Speaking of gratitude, I wanted to close by letting you know how much I value and appreciate your readership of Knitter’s Review. So much has changed since I hit “publish” on the first newsletter way back in 2000. We live in a different world now.
My desire to have an honest, unbiased, intimate conversation with you about things we love—the knitting world—remains as strong as ever. While we have one more newsletter before the end of the year, I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, and to wish you a bright New Year full of love, hope, and good health.