True story: A few years ago, Lindy and I were running a half-marathon and having a tough time of it. (Everyone has good days and bad. This was one of the latter.) We needed a burst of energy, so naturally we started talking about Christmas carols -- which were our favorites, what versions we liked best, and so forth. We got through a good 45 minutes of running like this. When the going gets tough, the tough draw strength from holiday cheer.
Given our mutual love of holidays, movies, and knitting, it was only a matter of time before we teamed up for Knitflix: Holiday movie edition (i.e., Movies to Watch while Knitting as Fast as your Fingers can Fly to Finish that Gift before Christmas).
Here's the truth: this movie is not for everyone. In fact, my brother once watched it at my recommendation and then sent me a text that said: "It's like if Love Actually was a bummer." It's true that Noel, like Love Actually, involves many seemingly unrelated plot lines that connect in surprising ways. Also true, Noel is significantly less feel-good and festive, but there's something about the flawed characters and the bleak, sometimes quiet desperation of their circumstances that rings true to me. It's a messier side of Christmas - a story about navigating a season of merry brightness in the midst of loneliness or grief or fear - a perspective we can probably all relate to on some level.
Also, any movie that sells me Alan Arkin and Paul Walker as a plausible romantic couple? I am here for that. Another thing I'm here for: Daniel Sunjata in anything. Merry Christmas, everyone.
Dawn: I'm going to add to Lindy's list: I love watching the West Wing holiday episodes. In Excelsis Deo, from Season 1, is a particular standout.
Lindy: All I Want for Christmas
In a nutshell, All I Want For Christmas is the story of two New York kids trying to get their estranged parents back together Parent-Trap-style in time for Christmas morning. My siblings and I loved this movie as kids, and we still laugh when we watch it now as grown adults. It's hard not to be amused by a young Ethan Embry locking his stepfather in an ice cream truck bound for New Jersey on Christmas Eve. Also, toward the end, Lauren Bacall sings a duet of "Baby It's Cold Outside" with Thora Birch in front of a giant Christmas tree. Frankly, I don't know what else I need in my life.
Dawn: The Snowman
Full disclosure: I wasn't introduced to this movie until I was an adult, but it is a kids movie, so I'm going to say it counts. The music is incredibly beautiful. It's just right for a calm moment with cocoa on Christmas eve.
Lindy: Random aside - when I was in the fifth grade, we did a weird sort of interpretive dance to the soundtrack of The Snowman as a part of our school's Christmas Pageant. In my memory, the whole thing mostly involved us all wearing pillow cases and pretending to fly around the gymnasium. It's a real testament to the beauty and sweetness of this movie that I still enjoy watching it every year in spite of that childhood embarrassment. Also recommended: Father Christmas (another holiday gem from Raymond Briggs about what Santa Claus gets up to in the off season).
Dawn: I am so psyched to get started on these...
Time for Part 2 of the 2015 gift guide: gifts for crafters.
Is there a knitter in your life? Look no further than cocoknits for beautiful and functional tools, like the knitter's keep kit, which includes a magnetic bracelet and metal tools, so you can keep all your needles and stitch markers handy (and off the floor, where curious toddlers inevitably find them). Clever, right?
via coco knits
I am a huge fan of craft kits (so great! everything you need in one box!), and I am absolutely in love with these adorable animal embroidery kits from kirikipress, which would make perfect Christmas ornaments.
Seriously, I want to do them all:
It will not surprise you to know that I am partial toward homemade Christmas stockings. Growing up, I had A LOT of them. My first stocking was felt and featured a rocking horse and a gingerbread man. Later, I had one fashioned to look like a giant ballet slipper. Now, my favorite are a set of matching green satin and burnout velvet stockings.
But it's easy for me to say that I love handmade Christmas stockings, because I am totally coasting on the hard work of my mother and mother-in-law, who have both made us absolutely gorgeous ones.
If I were starting from scratch, here are a few I would love to make:
I LOVE these stockings from Alterknits Felt, which are exactly what a Who from Whoville would own:
If you're looking for something more modern, check out these beautiful (but strikingly simple and easy) felt stockings from Lia Griffith:
via Lia Griffith
Incidentally, they would look perfect with this wreath.
I am also a fan of these mistletoe & holly stockings from mmmcrafts (while you're there, check out her beautiful 12 days of Christmas felt ornament patterns -- I can't wait for these to be done!). It's hard to get sequins right, but these totally do:
And I love the way these simple knit stockings look together on a mantle -- plus, of course, knit stretches, which is helpful if your stockings are perennially overstuffed, as ours are:
via Shop Millamia
Of course, you don't have to choose between handmade and store-bought stockings. It can take years to accumulate the handmade variety, and you don't always have that time. Plus, it's a good idea to have some extras on hand for holiday guests.
I love the simple coziness of this plaid wool stocking:
And while not exactly stockings, I love these so much -- perfect for gifts from Santa.
It's November, which means that I am indulging in a steady stream of ginger bread and holiday music. Happy holidays!
There''s still plenty of time to finish something for the holidays, as long as, unlike me, you pick something reasonable, and not, say, a blanket map of the 50 states (though I am taking solace in having cleared the Great Lakes).
via Purl Soho
and the adorable polka knot hat by Ellen Mason:
Not a knitter or want to try something new? Try this french press cozy:
or create your own geometric stitched art with this step-by-step tutorial:
via Love Grows Wild
Want to give some holiday cheer? Try making your own wreath. It can be simple and easy, like this one I made:
via Purl Soho
And of course, you definitely have time for Christmas balls!
There are those naysayers who complain about the holiday season starting earlier and earlier each year. I am not one of these people. As soon as Halloween is over, I embrace the holidays with open arms. Christmas carols? Bring em on. Gingerbread? Let's do it. Christmas balls? Definitely.
I just finished this pretty group of four in white and silver.
For the record, I actually wait longer than most to put up the tree. As a December baby, I like to save some space for birthday fun before starting the tree trimming. However, our neighbors put up their tree this week, and though this is undoubtably insanely early, the sight delights me. Clearly, they are kindred spirits.
It's almost here, and we are ready, with a stockpile of candy, a pair of goulish jack-o-lanterns,
Pretty great, right? The spider was Nick's brainchild. He created the legs out of 2x4s, covered them with spray foam, spray painted them, and then finished them off with pipe cleaners -- because hairy spiders are the scariest, aren't they?
Many thanks to Emily, Brigid, and Shannon for contributing to this awesomeness. And Happy Halloween to all!
Lest you think that I have forgotten my resolution to make a Christmas ball every month in 2014,
Wishing you a beautiful spring day. To see how to make your own botanical imprinted easter eggs, check out this tutorial.
More Christmas balls! I ended up finishing four total.
One Christmas ball per month in 2014 -- now there's a New Year's resolution I can get on board with...
I love to embroider, knit, make and grow beautiful things in my house of dreams in Capitol Hill. I grew up inspired by the women in my family, whose hands are never idle.