SOWA, 2009

Cathedral High School Gymnasium, 74 Union Park St, Boston | December 11-12: 10 am–6 pm | $5 | sowaholidaymarket.com

Every weekend from May through October, people gather on Harrison Ave to walk through the SoWa Open Market. Come winter, SoWa moves out of the streets and into the gym. Now in its seventh season, the annual holiday market has less space and higher stakes.

"We had about 800 applications that came in and only 80 available spots," says SoWa founder Chris Masci. "We have to carefully jury the applications that come in."

With an acceptance rate lower than many colleges', little wonder the crafts that make it in have gained SoWa national recognition. Although most vendors hail from New England, Masci says, people from all over the country come to show their handmade wares.

Sleepy Sheep, $18 | Made in Lowell | etsy.com/shop/madeinlowell
This stuffed animal has no apparent purpose other than to be unreasonably adorable. Made from a ball of fluffy felted wool, the critter measures only three inches long. It's the perfect sleep aid for insomniac toddlers who haven't yet learned to count very high. ("One, one, one, one . . .")

Butter Dish in Pattern #1, $24 | Neutrino Designs | neutrinodesigns.com
Neutrino Designs makes white and orange tableware. This ceramic butter dish features a pattern that resembles a cross between a Marimekko flower and a DNA strand. This ain't your grandma's place setting — unless your grandma was Marie Curie or a mid-century Scandinavian designer.

Double Brooch, $300 | Lauren Blais Jewelry | laurenblais.com
This, the double rainbow of double brooches, stuns with real fur, sterling silver, and droozy — a word that both benefits Scrabble players and denotes a blanket of tiny, sparkling crystals. Blais, a Jamaica Plain–based metalsmith, forges baubles inspired by Victorian mourning jewelry.

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