Thanksgiving has passed, the weather has turned colder, and the holiday gift-giving season is just around the corner. I’m already behind on my holiday shopping. How about you? My inbox keeps filling with ads and offers from major retailers and for every email I delete, it seems that two pop up in its place. It’s relentless and doesn’t feel very meaningful. Instead of something mass-produced, I want to give something with a provenance so in addition to giving a present, I’m also giving a connection to where I live and the people around me. I always try to choose gifts with the recipient in mind with hopes that it will be be enjoyed and cherished. I also tend to lean towards gifts that can be used daily and will help make each day a little bit more special. For the gifts I’m not making myself, I’m focusing on buying local and handmade. It feels good to give something made from fiber and friends found here in the Chesapeake Fibershed and I particularly like sharing the story of how each gift is made. There are many talented makers in our region, but here are a few that caught my eye.
For the person on your gift list who always has cold toes, what better than a pair of hand knitted socks from Sweet Tree Hill Farm. Before I saw these socks, I didn’t think much about my socks (other than do they match) but these made me take notice. Their 1910 Socks are made on a very old circular sock machine, knitted in a 1910 farmhouse. The socks are made with yarn they designed from their farm wool and come in natural and hand-dyed colors and a variety of stripe patterns. The socks are minimally processed to keep the natural wool properties of warmth, longevity and comfort. Each pair is individually made, unique, and includes a little bobbin of extra yarn for darning purposes, should the need arise.
One of my nieces lives on a ranch out west and is getting a cosy hat made by Kim Harrison of Ruxville Farm. The hat is made from hand woven and fulled wool fabric that is delightful against the skin and will be perfect on those cold winter mornings when she’s out feeding the horses. (While I don’t have horses to tend, I did buy one of Kim’s hats for myself and have been very happy wearing it on cold days!) Kim makes her charming hats, mittens, and coats from wool produced on her farm. It always amazes me that she does everything – from shepherd to seamstress – in the process to make her wool products. When the same hand feeds and cares for the sheep also weaves and constructs their wool into heirloom quality goods, the resulting product is truly a labor of love and very special. For the cat in your life, Kim also has adorable woven catnip mice.
For those who embrace the Slow Living lifestyle, you’ll be able to find a variety of self-care, home and apparel gifts at Lady Farmer. Mother and daughter team, Mary and Emma Kingsley, have curated a collection of products to help you live well, including a Guide to Slow Living, written by Mary, to help inspire. Their locally made wool dryer balls would be a great stocking stuffer.
For those cozy nights in front of the fire, I’m coveting one of the beautiful throws from Solitude Wool. These custom designed and woven throws are made from 100% wool raised in the Chesapeake Fibershed and feature hand twisted fringes and a variety of twill patterns. The colors are natural or plant-dyed and they come with a Chesapeake Fibershed Checklist that tells the source of every step in the making process. These are a limited edition and each is unique – making them a very special gift for a very special someone in your life.
These are just a few of the beautiful fiber gifts you can find locally. Many of our local farms and artisans sell direct from their websites and on Etsy so take a look to see what you can find. For those of you who would like to see a bit of our beautiful countryside and shop for some fiber gifts along the way, there are local artisan tours this coming weekend. Mark your calendar to attend the Fiber Art Studio Tour, Countryside Artisans Tour, and Carroll County Artists” Studio Tour, all featuring local fiber.
Enjoy the holidays!
Do you have a favorite source for local fiber gifts? Comment below to share your sources with others in our fibershed.