On Friday I wrote a story about knitters working on holiday gifts in August. I went to Uncommon Threads for a couple hours during the store’s lock-in on Aug. 10 to see if anyone was working on holiday gifts yet. A few were, but Lisa Dexheimer, the owner at Uncommon Threads, told me she gets a big demand for projects for newborn babies and children. Holiday knitters don’t usually show up until November.
When I posted the link to my article on my personal Facebook page, my friend Sarah asked, “Why didn’t you mention your millllllllllllions of dishcloths?!”
What, you mean these dishcloths?
Anyone who knows I knit (really, anyone who talks to me for about five minutes) might know that I make almost all of my Christmas gifts. I love to talk about my knitting. I’ve been knitting for exactly half of my life and I can get a bit romantic about it, so bear with me.
For Christmas presents, I usually give handknit dishcloths wrapped in some adorable wrapping paper, or in the case of this past Christmas, glitter-encrusted boxes that shed sparkles all over the floor of my aunt and uncle’s home.
If time permits, I knit other random gifts for people: A pair of socks for my grandmother last year, beer cozies for my aunt and uncle, and hats for my cousins.
I’ve never given my husband only one sock for Christmas, although one year when we were dating and both in college, I bought the yarn and didn’t have time to even get the socks started. So he got a really lame scented candle while he waited for his socks until mid-April. (In my defense, I was taking 18 credits that semester. I had a lot to do.)
A knitting close call was when I decided to make a sweater for my cousin too close to Christmas. I was up until 4 a.m. Christmas Day knitting it. I took a short nap before sewing buttons on it, wrapping it, and handing it over.
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a knitting humor writer, blogger, and quite possibly my most favorite knitter ever, has written numerous times on the inevitable holiday knitting crunch: The moment, the eleventh hour, when all hope is lost, when there is no way you will finish every Christmas gift you set out to knit. Visit any of the December archives on her blog and see what I mean.
This year, I started knitting my holiday gifts early. As soon as my holiday gifts from last year were complete, I started on gifts for this year (minus a brief hiatus in the spring, during which I experienced knitting burnout, followed by a mild afghan distraction.) My husband helped me knit. The result was two years’ worth of dishcloths (that’s 56 dishcloths,) completed earlier this month.
So what’s next? Here’s what I’ve learned from holiday knitting, at the tender age of 24 (and it applies to any craft, really):
1.) Be realistic.Don’t plan to knit more projects than you can
handle. If it takes you five months to knit a pair of socks, don’t plan to knit 10 pairs of socks for Christmas. If Dec. 22 rolls around and you still have a good way to go, consider going to the mall before losing sleep over a sweater you might not finish. Don’t be a knitting hero.
2.) Only knit for those who LOVE your knitting. Family members, babies, spouses and really REALLY good friends (the ones who would fight to the gates of hell and back for you) are your best bets.
3.) Knitting can be cheaper than buying gifts. I spent less than $30 on the yarn to knit dishcloths for seven families. On the other hand, like any hobby, knitting can be as expensive as you want it to be. You could easily drop $300 or more on the yarn for a sweater. Always use quality materials, but be reasonable, of course.
4.) Plan a staycation for the crafting crunch, if you have to. For me, Christmas is looming immediately after I’ve finished eating Thanksgiving dinner (sometimes even before then because I work in retail.) This year, I planned a week off work in December to stay home and finish holiday knitting. Since my holiday knitting is done, I’ll probably be knitting extra things for friends and for my husband.
5.) Remember to knit because you love someone. If you’re anxious, grumpy or uninspired when you’re knitting, something is wrong and you need to stop. Knitting is a relaxing art, a calming craft and a way to keep your loved ones warm and happy. Think about the person for whom you knit and knit love into every stitch.