It's the most shameless time of the year

In case you hadn't noticed, it's November, which kicks off the holiday season with a one-two celebration of two historically important births: me and Jesus. Naturally, as we head into the holidays, I've been spending quite a bit of time thinking about the true meaning of the season: gifts. Getting them, that is. Oh, don't act like you're not already wondering what you can con your loved ones into handing over in the weeks to come. Oh. You're not?


Huh. Well, further proof that you are a better person than me. In my defense, my family will start requesting gift lists from one another in the coming weeks, so thinking about this stuff does become quite a priority. Nothing makes your loved ones madder when you tell them you don't need or want anything for Christmas. (Not a problem I've ever encountered, mind you, but I have a husband who's ridiculously selfless and completely satisfied with his current lot in life and, let me tell you, it PISSES OFF my family, who are dying to shop for him.)

I have to admit I also love reading wish lists on other people's blogs. It seems craftsters are particularly prone to waxing poetic on their blogs about the things they covet -- whether it's a certain piece of fabric or skein of luxury yarn, tools for taking on a brand new craft or a just-published book full of fresh ideas. Maybe it's because we, the craftsy set, are always eager to try something new. Or maybe we're just greedy pigs. Either way, I enjoy such lists because they often introduce me to new products or ideas and get me thinking about what I enjoy and what brings me pleasure. And that is, more often than not: stuff. New stuff.

All of which is my long-winded slightly sheepish introduction to a list of things I've been eyeing and coveting lately. Please peruse, if only to make yourself feel superior because you're too busy collecting spare coins for Darfurian orphans with congenital birth defects to worry about what Santa will bring you.

*Paper may just be paper, but why do I feel so much more like a writer when I’m scribbling in a Moleskine journal ? Perhaps it’s because it’s the same brand of notebook favored by Hemingway and Van Gogh. More likely I’m just a sucker for marketing and perceived cache. Regardless, there’s room in my life for a new Moleskine Large Ruled Journal and, especially, the limited edition 2008 Red Large Daily Planner for planning my large days.

*OrigamiPendant Speaking of paper, I’m big into the handcrafting thing and lately I’ve been taken by how many beautiful paper crafts there are out there. I love seeing other people’s creative endeavors and dig the idea of supporting individual artists, especially via Etsy. At present, I’m particularly digging these super-affordable and super-adorable paper origami pendants (pictured above), and sets of silk-screened or stamped handmade note cards like this cute-as-pie bunch or these spare and lovely botanical designs .

*Books are also made of paper (segue!) and even though I have a zillion lined up for reading, there are still more I want to add to my shelves. I’ve been immersing myself in short stories lately and I keep coming back to Amy Hempel, whose classic short story “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried” completely changed the way I read and the way I wanted to write. So while I don’t often go for bulky hardcover editions, “The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel” is one tome I’d like to have weighing down the bookshelf in its hard shell incarnation.

*Also…I’ve long admired the work of Madison Smartt Bell although I don’t know nearly enough of it. Thus, I’ve taken note that his name and works have popped up a lot this part year in writing workshops, particularly in reference to his book “Narrative Design: Working with Imagination, Craft and Form.” Wouldn’t even have to be a new copy of this one; I kind of like writing books I know others have thumbed through.

*maira I’m mad about Maira Kalman , the illustrator, designer and children’s book author whose crazy beautiful Max (poet, dog, dreamer) series first caught my attention about 15 years ago. (You probably know her work even if you don’t know her name – the above New Yorker cover is a favorite.) A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a much-treasured volume of the classic The Elements of Style, made fresh anew by Kalman’s drawings. Thus, I’m happy that her columns from the New York Times’ Times Select have been compiled, accompanied by her illustrations, in a new collection entitled “The Principles of Uncertainty.” If you know someone who likes the quirky and unusual, this would make a terrific gift. (And that's not just an embarrassingly transparent hint -- it's a genuine gift suggestion for others!)

*While we’re on the topic of reading material…I already get entirely too many magazines, especially those featuring cool projects I wish I could take on but don’t have time for. Thus, it’s probably unwise to mention that I’ve fallen prey to a couple new home-design-craft type mags out there, especially since one is from Martha Stewart Publications (gasp!). Nonetheless, I wouldn’t sneeze at a subscription to either Blueprint or Domino .

*Back to books for a moment, yet onto crafts at the same time. Isn't it funny how there are things your heart desires, but you feel a bit embarrassed saying so? (I realize upon writing that last sentence that porn lovers and people who watch Dancing with the Stars are reading this and thinking, "Uh, no.") Such is my yearning for the book “Sublime Stitching”. There! I’ve said it! I want to learn how to embroider! How on earth a woman who knits and sews still feels like embroidery is too “traditional” a craft, I don’t know. But I’m taken with the retro-cool designs in this book and think a little embroidery could go a long way to personalizing and embellishing the knits and sewn goods I churn out.

*reprodepot Speaking of retro, there’s hardly a fabric at Repro Depot I wouldn’t like to have a few yards of. (The Fabric Fairy has some lovely choices too.) Especially the spare Japanese designs (like the one above) that are just begging to be made into gifts for the babies in my life (or those soon to arrive) -- bibs? crib blankets? onesies? Who knows?

*You’d think I’d already have all the knitting gadgets a girl could have, but clearly I don’t. Although I don’t knit quite as much as I used to, when I do, it’s usually more complicated work, involving cables or lace work, which need to be tracked – often in different sections – over the course of a pattern. That’s where the Row Counter Plus would come in, handily keeping e-track of everything I’m currently tracking with a not-so-reliable system of one manual row counter and scribbled-upon scraps of paper.

*After two years on a medical treatment that prevented me from using any cosmetics or toiletries containing plant oil, I’m back, baby. And the world of fragrance is blissfully wide open to me again. There is no time I’m happier than in my tub and while I steer clear of most things that smell like something you can eat (with the notable exception of Philosophy’s Lemonade line ), I’m partial to botanical scents and lavender. Thus, I’m itching to stock up on Lush bubble bars and bath bombs , all things lavender by L’Occitane en Provence and, hell, anything that bubbles up, scrubs, softens, smoothes, soothes and smells good.

Phew. That was hella fun making that list. 'bout YOU? What's on your wish list, holiday or otherwise? Comments section is below. Use it, folks.