This year we are not making our usual trek to Omaha, Land o’ Grandma. Instead, Grandma will trek to us, for New Year’s.
This means I have to figure out Christmas in New York. Christmas Day is covered: we’ll celebrate in the tradition of the Israelites of old, with Chinese food and a movie. But what about Christmas Eve?
I’ve decided to go full-on Icelandic. Icelanders have a lovely tradition: jolabokaflod, or Christmas Book Flood. On Christmas Eve, everyone gets gifts of books, and then they spend the night reading.
Doesn’t that sound divine? It’s simple. It’s cozy. It supports authors and publishers. We’re doing it!
To help everybody with their last-minute jolabokaflod list, I have a few suggestions.
A Short Book List for Knitters and Others
I’m a huge fan of Des Moines-based knitwear designer Jen Geigley. She designs knitwear at a gauge so large that you could still knit up a couple things in time for Christmas.
Scrappy: the True Colors pullover.
I love the industrial styling, the models, and the knits themselves. Jen’s palette is often subdued and urban, but in Chroma she lets the colors flow. So bright and appealing. Fast fun for knitters, fab fashion for wearers.
But wait, there’s more! Jen put her graphic design skills to work on another recent release, the Knitting Planner 2019.
August: back-to-school blues.
Kate Atherley, the cleverboots who brings us a monthly Techniques in Depth article here on MDK, is one of the most knowledgeable, straight-talking knitters we know. Her latest book, The Knitter’s Dictionary: Knitting Know-How from A to Z, is a handy compendium of knitting techniques that works as both a dictionary, telling you what a term means, and a manual, telling you how to do that thing.
So in one slim, no-nonsense volume, you can find out (and see) what a darning egg is, and also have a handy table on how to make decreases lean left or right, in both knit and purl. What is I-cord? Why is it called I-cord? How do you do it? Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind-off? Spit splicing? The answers are all here.
This is a super gift for a new-ish knitter, but even an old-timer will find it useful. May its printings be many!
For Lovers of Beauty (Whether They Knit or Not)
This one is dear to my heart. Remember the exhibit of Sara Berman’s closet at the Metropolitan Museum in New York? Artists Maira Kalman and Alex Kalman have made a book about it. (The closet itself currently is on exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.)
Things organized neatly. There is a lot to look at here. Note: pom pom chain on the light.
I got some solid tips from gazing into Sara’s closet. For example: why not keep a large pot you don’t use very often in your clothes closet?
Sara Berman’s orderly closet is a true work of art, and the book is a loving meditation on a singular life. To watch two excellent short videos and hear the authors talk about Sara’s life and closet, go here.
In the early 2000s, I attended an exhibition of Sheila Hicks’s small weavings at the Bard Graduate Center. They bowled me over in person, and frequent viewings of that exhibit catalog (one of the most beautiful books-as-object I’ve ever encountered, and still in print) over the years since then have impressed her brilliance on my brain. Sheila Hicks should be a household name. Is she? I hope so. This book, a retrospective of her work, is my Christmas Book Flood gift to myself this year, and I think it would make a fine gift for anyone who loves color, textiles, or just plain beauty.
That’s my list, short and sweet. Here’s wishing everyone a jolly jolabokaflod!