Birds are tweeting, the vino is on ice and there is a pleasant sound of lawn mowers in the distance. So naturally most knitters start to think of Christmas. The universe is now immediately divided into two camps, the ones who are boggling at me even mentioning the Big C in May, and the ones whose blood-pressure just jumped.
The internet is littered with tales of knitters not realising that Christmas comes on the same date each year, and that there are still only 24 hours in the day. For some people it seems to be a genuine surprise that their plan to knit a pair of socks each day for a full week does not actually happen. There are knitters out there who have tried to knit a colourwork adult jumper in an evening. There are also ones who are then heartbroken that the recipients are either dismissive (or downright rude) on receiving these hard-won gifts.
So far, I have been lucky (or scary) enough not to have received the dreaded “but I wanted it in purple” response. But I freely admit to acts of knitterly delusion over time per stitch ratio. I have scorched in my brain the memory of sitting up at 4am frantically knitting the last part of a pair of socks for Mr LouBug. I also remember frantically knitting KnitWit’s Boy#1 a pair of little devil trousers on Christmas morning praying that traffic would delay them by a vital half an hour.
So, here is my hard won 5 point plan for surviving Christmas knitting.
1. Start early! I allow one month per gift, that usually both caps the number of knits and allows a generous margin for knitting other things.
2. Keep it small. Hats, mittens, small toys (the reindeer pictured above is from Val Pierce’s 20 to make Christmas crochet) will give the same joy as big ticket items. Knitting a bed spread or adult jumper goes above the call of duty (and sanity). Remember our earlier plan of one month per gift, if you think it will take more than a month then consider carefully when you plan to eat and sleep
3. Do not knit something for everyone in your life. Have an informal rota (if possible involve other knitters in the family) and play favourites, some people get something every year just because they are lovely. Remember that it is easier to knit for a select few than get pulled into knitting for everyone, or suddenly every in-law and co-worker looks like they have been left out on purpose.
4. Make sure it is not easy to destroy. There are some lovely acrylics out there, there are some fantastic machine washable wools and there are plenty of people who have never considered washing anything by hand in their life. Save your good yarn for fellow fibre fans and save yourself a heartbreak when you discover it has been felted.
5. Talk to the person you are knitting for. Surprises are great when all it has cost you is money and a trip to the shops, but don’t find out the hard way that the person hates hats, has an aversion to yellow or only wears that one scarf that they love deeply. “What do you want?” is an invite to biting off more than you want, “What colour would you like your mittens?” is much safer.
And don’t forget, there are wonderful things called shops! Just because you can knit, does not mean you have to.
Any other tips for surviving the great Christmas knit?