Your Christmas knitting checklist

We don’t want you to panic, but with the schools starting back you might want to think about your Christmas knitting if you are planning to give hand-knitted or crocheted gifts this year.

It is certainly time to make a plan and decide if it is realistic – so ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How many gift do you plan to make?
  2. How big is each gift – a sweater or a hat? If you answered 20 to question one and now note that at least 10 of these are fair isle jumpers or granny square blankets for double beds, it is possible that you have a time problem. So…
  3. How much time per week do you have to knit?
  4. How long does it take you to make (including weaving in ends, sewing up, adding buttons, etc) a pair of socks, a hat, a laptop cosy and so on?
  5. How many of the projects are secret and what proportion of your time is “secret knitting time”? Does anyone else imagine themselves knitting in a wardrobe or broom cupboard to keep a present a surprise?

Now take a look at questions one, two and four to add up the amount of making time you require between now and the early hours of 25 December. Then look back at question three and ask yourself one final simple question – is the amount of knitting/crochet/finishing time available more than you need to complete your gift list? If not, it is time for a rethink now – not in mid December.

Christmas inspiration. Nordic sweater from James C Brett (jb193); Fun hats from Hayfield; Slouchy cable socks by Debbie Bliss (DB084); Kids sweaters in Stylecraft Life (9031); King Cole Christmas selection (8002); On trend Mermaid blankets by Wendy (6022)

Remember that although you might think of a knitted sweater to full circle shawl as a bigger gift, many not knitters will feel as loved receiving a beautiful soft scarf or a pair of snuggly socks. Choosing a luxurious yarn for a small project can also make it more special – so if you had originally budgeted for a sweater quantity of yarn you could think of a smaller project but up your spend per skein. It is also a good idea to purchase all your gift knitting yarn now so there is no delay between projects and so you can pick up something else if you hit a glitch with one item.

And finally while giving people handmade presents is a lovely thing, please remember that you should enjoy yourself too so try to avoid any 3am secret finishing session on the run up to the big day.

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Last minute knitted gifts

Yes, I’m afraid it is only three weeks to Christmas and yet there are still people to knit for. People that you really want to give a handmade gift to but for whom you have not started anything.

Don’t panic, at this time of year there are two important things to remember:

  1. Smaller items will still be loved for the thought and time you put in – this is no time to start on a five colour Christmas sweater.
  2. Bigger yarns are your friend – unless you are a fast sock knitter, it is time to step away from the 4ply

This means that hats and cowls in chunky yarns are good options and even make colour work and other decoration a possibility, because there are only a few stitches to a row for you to whizz through.

Caption; There are lots of quick hat and cowl patterns available – these examples are from Hayfield, Rowan and King Cole

Caption; There are lots of quick hat and cowl patterns available – these examples are from Hayfield, Rowan and King Cole

 

Also in terms of size, for women think fingerless mitts, wrist warmers or aran weight mittens rather than gloves – you save time by not having to do the fiddly fingers and the recipient still has warm hands. For men I find fingerless gloves in DK or aran weight go down much better than fingerless mitts, so you still have to do some finger knitting but a thicker yarn makes this quicker.

Or if you don’t want to have to think about shaping because you’ll be knitting on the bus, while waiting to pick the kids up from school or at any other time you won’t be moving, how about some simple accessories or household items.

Personalised phones covers and iPad cases are good choices. Or how about knitted cushions or felted bowls (a great stash buster) to match someone’s room.

Chunky cushions by Stylecraft - http://www.stylecraft-yarns.co.uk/Weekender+Super+Chunky+Pattern+9041+Cushions/0_CAFA103/PRNB766.htm and an example from the selection for free felted bowl patterns on Ravelry

Chunky cushions by Stylecraft and an example from the selection for free felted bowl patterns on Ravelry

Please share your quick knit gift suggestions with us in the comments.

Time to plan your Christmas knitting

It is August – and although we have had some almost wintery weather – the days are generally warm and the sun does come out. And yet it is also the perfect time to think about Christmas knitting.

Even if you are the sort of person who bemoans Christmas decorations going up earlier and earlier, and hate the “so many shopping days left” countdowns, there are good reasons to think about your festive knitting during the summer holiday period.

christmas knitting

Child’s deer pattern from Stylecraft (9204)

Plan your gift knitting

Time for some deep, searching questions – and you need to be perfectly honest here. How many hand knit items you want to give, what you are going to make and will it involve secret knitting?

The last thing you want to do with gift knitting is panicked finishing at the eleventh hour, desperately sewing up hats or grafting the toe of a sock in the early hours of the morning following the work party. So write your knitted or crocheted gift list now and try to work out how much time you will need to finish everything on the list – a timescale of more than four months and you might want to plan for December 2016 instead.

Think about whether you are knitting for other knitters or for non-knitters. A non-knitter may not be aware how much time a jumper takes and will be equally touched by the thought and work that goes into a hat, socks or mittens that are perfect for them.

christmas knitting

Toys like this bunny with a cosy scarf from Sublime make great gifts

Remember that sewing up or blocking takes time too, and if you are planning a knitted surprise remember that secret knitting time can be limited.

Don’t forget to make time now to source the perfect yarns. I find that choosing the yarn when I’m knitting a present can take me much longer than choosing for myself, probably because when I’m knitting for myself I’m much more willing to rip something out and “repurpose the yarn”.

The Christmas jumper question

Now we have encouraged you to start your Christmas knitting project plan, we need to discuss the knotty issue of the Christmas jumper… or hat or scarf or any other item featuring Father Christmas, Christmas trees, reindeer, etc.

There is nothing wrong with these – except perhaps some rather tired Bridget Jones jokes – but you need to decide how much you want your gifts to be worn or used. Realistically, that stunning intarsia Santa sweater will only get a few wears a year, and if it is for a child, they may grow out of it by next year.

On the other hand the pattern may be just the challenge you want and could be a lot of fun. Just don’t be disappointed if the item has a short life span.

One compromise can be winter rather than specifically Christmas themes – so snowflakes or snowmen for example.

Good luck with any gift knitting you are doing this year. We’re confident you’ll get it all done in time and make sure you have fun as well, thinking of all the happy faces on Christmas morning. And if you still think it’s daft to be thinking about Christmas in August, can I point you towards some of our Twitter followers who started their Christmas projects weeks or even months ago.

Christmas knitting

Elsie snowflake tam by Rowan