Holiday traditions: stockings

It’s December. Time to think about decorating the house, inside and out, for the holidays. One way to add an instant feel of festivity is to line the mantlepiece with stockings. But Christmas stockings aren’t mere decorations. First and foremost, they’re receptacles for holding gifts! That is, for children who have been nice rather than naughty.

stocking by mantlepiece 3A contemporary decorated hearth (Source: propertypal)

It is tradition among some, to hang stockings by the chimney on Christmas Eve to be filled by Santa Claus as he does his rounds delivering presents. The evolution of some of our Christmas traditions are a little murky and there are few written records to help.

One of the oldest reference to St. Nicolas goes as far back as the third century. The ancient town of Myra, located in what is now modern-day Turkey, is home to a shrine dedicated to Bishop Nicolas. Over several centuries, tales spread detailing the benevolence and generosity of Bishop Nicholas, and some content that this is where the idea of St. Nick as  a gift-giver began.

Another story holds that the notion of St. Nicolas, a magical night visitor who gave gifts to children, originated with a group of nuns in the Middle Ages. Children were encouraged to leave their shoes out, for gifts. However, St. Nicolas would only leave treats and toys for children who had been good. For children who had been naughty throughout the year, he left sticks, horse manure, sawdust or lumps of coal. Shoes eventually gave way to socks, which gave way to Christmas stockings.

Yet another legend maintains that Saint Nicolas learned about a poor man who worried that he couldn’t afford to pay a dowry for his three daughters. Saint Nicolas decided to help the man, and he took three bags of gold with him down the chimney of the man’s home. Once inside, he found the girls’ stockings hanging on the mantelpiece after washing, and he added the gold bags to the stockings. As the story spread, children began hanging their own stockings in the hopes of receiving gold, or at least gifts on Christmas Eve.

Nevertheless, it is clear that by the 1800s the idea of St. Nick going down the chimney to fill stockings left out by children was an established part of the Christmas landscape. Stockings feature large in on of my favourite Christmas classics, the poem Twas the night before Christmas, written in 1823. In the poem, St. Nick is portrayed as driving his reindeer from house to house on Christmas Eve to deliver presents and stuff the stockings.

Night before Christmas ctg publishingSource: CTG Publishing

For those of you who wish to try your luck with St Nick, we have a beautiful selection of stockings this year at Galerie CO.

 corita rose stocking blog

Luxurious velvet stocking hand-printed by the UK’s Corita Rose (Galerie CO)

christmas stocking wolf blog by nord’s wonderful oversized cotton stockings come wolf, moose and fawn motifs (Galerie CO)


Donna Wilson stocking

Knitted lambswool stocking by Donna Wilson are available in red and green (Galerie CO)

Aline Gilmore stockingAline Gilmore’s stockings made from cozy woolen blankets (Galerie CO)

You could also try and make your own stockings.

There are several resources on line that offer tutorials for how to make stockings using lots of natural or repurposed materials.

stockings burlap 5Elegant elf stockings made from repurposed burlap coffee sacks (Source: habitationBoheme)

Stockings on bannisterColourful and quirky home-made stockings hanging on a bannister (Source: house to home)

Stockings elfWhimsical elf Christmas stocking patterns available (Source: decorating your small space)

If you’re a little nostalgic, like me, and you love the 1823 poem, here it is again just in case you need a little inspiration to get to work on some unique and beautiful stockings to decorate your own home for the holidays.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Clement Moore (first published 23 December 1823)

Night before Christmas(Source:

What are your gift giving traditions?

How do you decorate for the holidays?

Tell us in the comments below, or on our Facebook page or on Instagram or Twitter @galerieco

Donna Wilson’s Aberdeenshire Tartan: Home Colours

It’s that time of year again…time to get out the wool and get cozy. We’ve just received an order from Scottish knitwear and textile designer Donna Wilson, including her whimsical fox scarf made from a newly created tartan pattern.

Earlier this year, Donna was asked to design an exclusive tartan for Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the area where she grew up. Her creation is fresh and  contemporary, yet grounded in the heritage and traditions of tartan as an iconic Scottish design.

DonaWilson_part379064Donna Wilson’s tartan fox available at Galerie CO (source: Donna Wilson)

When people think of the tartan, most think of the colourful pattern of the iconic cloth of the Scottish Highlands. It is a wool-woven cloth with a horizontal and vertical criss-cross design in multiple colours. Highland tartans are associated with specific clans, regions, districts and even families and institutions associated in some way with a Scottish heritage. In Canada, most provinces, territories and several counties and municipalities have an official tartan. So does the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Donna highland-dressA display of highland dress (source: Visit Scotland)

Originally, the word “tartan” described the way that the thread was woven to make the cloth: each thread passed over two threads then under two threads, and so on. The pattern is formed by woven bands of different coloured yarns crossing each other and forming intermediate shades. With six yarns this will produce a total of 21 different colours – the pure ones where the same colours cross each other and complementary half tones where each colour crosses another.

Donna tartan-loomA tartan loom in a Scottish mill (source: Visit Scotland)

The attributes of tartan are thus well-suited to the talents of a textile designer who understands design structure and can combine colours with artistic flair. Add to that someone who is fully aware of the important role that tartan plays as a quintessential and iconic symbol of Scotland, its national dress, and in the family histories of the Scottish people and their descendants around the world–and a perfect designer for tartan emerges.

So it make complete sense that Donna Wilson would be asked to design the exclusive tartan for her home county of Aberdeenshire.

Designing a tartan for Aberdeenshire is a huge honour, especially as a Scottish designer,” said Wilson. “Tartan is such an important part of our tradition and heritage, and we should never lose that. I hope to be able to make a difference to the manufacturers who will be weaving it and create something that will be a lasting symbol of Aberdeenshire.” (Uppercase Magazine)

The Aberdeenshire Council asked her to create a tartan fabric that celebrates the area’s craft heritage.

Donna 01291962Donna displaying the finished product (source: Donna Wilson blog, Twigs and Leaves)

Donna set about the task, first by collaborating with Aberdeenshire school children. She ran a series of workshops with local school children and asked them to identify colours that they felt best represented the area they lived in. She combined these suggestions with colours she drew directly from Aberdeenshire’s cultural heritage and natural surroundings to create the patterns in the material.

Donna Girl with PaintSome colourful submissions from the children of Aberdeenshire (source: Donna Wilson blog, Twigs and Leaves)

To be a true Aberdeenshire tartan, the design needed to have input from local people to find out what colours really represented the area and who better to do that than our young people? I loved working with them and I hope that being part of a process like this will inspire them to think about the possibilities of a career in the creative industries.” (Donna Wilson in The Scotland Herald)

You can see the process unfold here:

As a result of the workshops, the following seven colours were selected for the final design, a palette that reflected the natural beauty of the region:

Donna Aberdeenshire Tartan (2)Final colour choices to feature in the tartan (source: Donna Wilson blog, Twigs and Leaves)

Old Meldrum: A gold/copper inspired by the stills at the Glengarioch Distillery, and as one pupil pointed out—it’s also the colour of whisky!
Stonehaven: A pinky red seen in Aberdeenshire sunsets, and a colour often spotted at the infamous ‘Aunt Betty’s’ sweetshop in Stonehaven.
Aboyne: A frosty lichen green found in the Ladywood Forest.
Fraserburgh: A lilac/blue symbolizing the seas and skies around Fraserburgh.
Kintore: A forest green from all the woodlands around Kintore.
Harvest: A barley colour that reminded Donna of the farm where she grew up, and her favourite time of year.
Peterhead: A minty green from the seas and sea spray of Peterhead.

Donna aberdeen farmAn inspiration for “Harvest” (source: Donna Wilson blog, Twigs and Leaves)

The tartan is woven from 100 % lambs wool in a Scottish mill, which spins its own yarn directly from the fleeces and uses it to weave the textiles.

The tartan that emerged is a beautiful representation of the region. It is available to purchase by the metre from Donna Wilson. It’s also available in her whimsical fox-shaped scarf, which is available at Galerie CO.

Donna TartanDonna Wilson’s tartan design for Aberdeenshire (source: Donna Wilson)

What do you think of Donna’s new tartan? Leave us a comment below or let us know on Facebook or Twitter @GalerieCO

London Design Festival 2014: CO connections

As our regulars know, I am partial to British design. I spent many of my formative years living in London and picked up an enthusiastic appreciation of the English sensibility in design, among other things! I get back quite a bit and a couple of years ago I went over for the annual London Design Festival. What a blast that was! The city full of interesting installations, exhibitions and pop-up shops, showcasing the best of British design. It was quirky, colourful, off-the-wall and I loved every minute of it.

ldf_2014_web_banners_top-02This year the Festival runs from the 13 to 21 of September and I’m not in London, I’m in Montreal. But I will be following what’s going on and reporting back.

In the meantime, if you’re lucky enough to be travelling across the pond this week, have a look at what some of CO’s British suppliers are doing for the Festival, and go visit them and say hello, if you can!

Donna Wilson: Rainy Day Pop-Up Shop

For the duration of the Festival, Donna Wilson will be operating a week-long installation and Pop-Up shop in London’s Shoreditch neighbourhood (BOXPARK / Unit 26, 2-10 Bethnal Green Road).

Donna Wilson fabric“Holding hands” from Donna Wilson’s first collection of fabric (source: Donna Wilson)

To create her Rainy Day Pop-Up Shop, she transformed a space into a Donna Wilson wonderland, featuring hundreds of soft raindrops, murals and panels showcasing her first collection of fabrics, a “selfie station,” knitted creatures everywhere, and limited edition products made especially for the Festival. Select products from Donna’s new autumn/winter collection will be available, along with classic pieces from her signature range. Look for her new collection this fall at Galerie CO.

DonnaWilson_Home_5212 - CopyMaurice, Marcy and Big Ted (source: Donna Wilson)

Donna has also designed a series of woollen fruit for the lifestyle boutique SMUG, that will launch during the Festival.

London Design Festival DonnaWoolen fruit design by Donna Wilson for SMUG (source: Donna Wilson)

Ella Doran: Putting the circular economy into action

Ella Doran will participate in a collaborative live installation at the Victoria & Albert Museum during the London Design Festival 2014: “putting the circular economy into action with ‘huate design’ refurbished upholstered chairs”. The installation is in Gallery 99 and is built from several upholstered chairs that are deconstructed and refurbished in the V&A Design Studio.

For the project, Ella teamed up with two London-based designers (Kyle McCallum and Avantika Agarwal) to create experimental fabrics. She created several designs from material that she collected on a recent trip to Iceland to tie together the look of the diverse chairs that feature in the installation at the V&A.

LDF Ella Doran foldability_collaboration_test_1Folded fabric modules by Kyla McCallum, made of Iceland inspired print fabric Ella Doran designed for the installation (source: London Design Festival)

LDF Ella Doran digital_printing_on_yarnElla Doran’s ‘Rekki in Reykjavik’ digitally printed on horizontally stretched yarn – step 1 ofAvantika Agarwals’s reweave process (source: London Design Festival)

The installation is presented in conjunction with Galapagos Design and The Great Recovery (RSA). Establishd in 2012, and based on the insight that our linear ‘take-make-dispose’ model of manufacturing is throwing up major economic and environmental challenges, The Great Recovery aims to facilitate a shift toward more circular systems, and considers the design industry as pivotal to this process.

Learn more about this interesting initiative that pairs designers with waste management workers to come up with innovative ways to think about new products:

Garudio Studiage: Canine Cartography – Dogs of London

This year, for the London Design Festival, Garudio Studiage will exhibit their interactive magnetic map installation, “Dogs of London,” which explores the connection between Londoners and their dogs (Volte Face, 21 Great Ormond Street). The moveable dog illustrations allow viewers to match their favourite areas and animals.

ldf dog_map_final_wholeDogs of London magnetic map (source: Garudio Studiage)

Where do you think the crazy haired Chinese Crested, or the impeccably groomed Afghan Hound would live?

ldf dog_map_final_detailDogs of London magnets (source: Gaurdio Studiage)

A new range of fridge magnets based on the dog illustrations from the map has also been launched so you can take your favourite dogs home.

ldf dog_magnetsMagnets to take home (source: Garudio Studiage)

HAM: designjunction

HAM will be part of designjunction. Designjunction is among London’s leading design destinations showcasing the very best in furniture, lighting and product design from around the world striking a balance between creative and commercial.

ham-superhero-rabbit_product-images Superhero rabbit print (source: HAM)

HAM will launch its latest collection of ceramics, along with new rabbit prints and cards. Designjunction takes over a centrally-located 1960s sorting office (21-31 New Oxford Street) and you can find HAM at stand G3 on the ground floor.

ham-croquet-rabbit-card-1000-x-1022_product-images Croquet rabbit card (source: HAM)

You will be able to see (and purchase) a full selection of HAM’s new pieces at Galerie CO as of the end of September — including the mugs!

SCP: Simplified Beauty

During the Festival, SCP East (135-139 Curtain Road) plays host to “Simplified Beauty”, an exhibition of contemporary design, a celebration of things made as they should be. Co-curated by SCP founder Sheridan Coakley and British-Japanese designer Reiko Kaneko, the show features a blend of work from Japan, America and Britain, exploring how different cultures approach simplicity and beauty.

SCP-at-London-Design-Festival-2014_dezeen_784_8Adderley Works pendant designed by Reiko Kaneko (source: SCP)

A selection of Japanese products are showcased from the Ishinomaki Laboratory, the internationally acclaimed centre of ceramics, Mashiko, glassware from the Shotoku Glass Company (including the new Ando drinking glass designs by Jasper Morrison), a collection of everyday products by Sori Yanagi and a range of cleverly functioning kitchenware, tableware, utensils and cloths from Matsunoya and Metrocs.

LDF MashikoMashiko ceramics (source: SCP)

From the United States, the show includes a selection of furniture and objects from Brooklyn-based duo, Fort Standard. And SCP presents its own autumn/winter collection for 2014.

SCP-at-London-Design-Festival-2014_dezeen_784_1aElmer sofa by Luch Kurrein, part of SCP’s A/W collection 2014 (source: SCP)

Thornback & Peel: Silent Auction

The talented duo of Juilet Thornback and Delia Peel are launching their new fabric colourways during the Design Festival. To celebrate, they are inviting visitors to drop into the shop in Bloomsbury (7 Rugby Street) to place a bid in a silent auction, for a chance to own a beautiful, vintage mid-century modern chair upholstered in the new fabric. The proceeds of the Silent Auction will be donated to Music as Therapy International, a UK registered charity which devises and delivers innovative, high-impact music therapy projects around the world.

Thornback-and-Peel-LDF-on-Little-Big-BellSilent auction chairs (source: Thornback & Peel)

In the new collection, their classic prints – rabbit & cabbage, pigeon & jelly and jelly & cake – are now available in mustard, charcoal, grey, indigo, duck egg and old pink. Thornback-and-Peel-Silent-Auction-LDFNew fabric colourways (source: Thornback & Peel)