Oct 11, 2010

Quick Holiday Knits: An Introduction

This is a series of posts, sharing some of my favorite patterns for holiday knitting. Broken up into six parts, you are reading part one right now.

Each year as the holiday season inches closer, I find myself overwhelmed by the number of presents I want to knit. I divide and conquer, make lists, queue items up in my Ravelry account, and get as far as matching yarn in my stash before the system starts to break down – usually in early November, in the form of a Robyn-sized pile of tears on our office floor as I realize I’ve over-estimated myself yet again.

Each year I revise my plan of action, feel much better about the whole thing, and get most of my updated plan handled before things need to be wrapped and given away. I make extensive mental notes, and the next year I vow to make far fewer mistakes – which I usually manage.

By this holiday season, I think I’ve got the whole thing down to a science - not just the patterns I'm using, but how I go about deciding who to knit for. Today I’ll share the general stuffs, and then over the next few Mondays I’ll share patterns with you {five each in five different categories} that can be worked up for a variety of people on your list in less than a weekend.

Before You Start Knitting

The best place to start any type of holiday knitting plan is before any actual knitting takes place. Because I’m a list-maker, I start by writing down all the people I can think of that I’d love to knit something for during the holiday season. This usually takes 20 minutes, and ends with about 60 people over two pages.
I like to make my wild, "if I could just sit around and knit all day" list first, because it gives me a good starting point. Let me be clear – this is not the list I knit from! Once my first list is written, I pull out a different colored pen and do the following:

I cross off at least half of the list.

I start with people who I know to not love the idea of hand-knits as presents. Every knitter knows this person – the pinched look and forced thank you that says "I will never use/wear this thing that took you hours upon hours to make". You know that hat will end up in their closet never to be worn the minute you see that look.  Take these people off your list.

Next, I cross off anyone I haven’t seen in at least six months. Friends, relatives, anyone. If I haven’t seen them recently, I have no idea what sorts of things they would want in a hand-knit. It’s okay to send these people a gift card, if I send them anything at all.

Finally, I cross off anyone that I wouldn’t give a present if I weren’t going to knit it. We all know the feeling - I'm a knitter, I love to knit, so I want to knit a present for every. single. person. i know. That's just silly talk, and is the first sign of a holiday plan gone wrong! If my goal is to become more minimalist, what better time to practice what I preach than the busy holiday season, no?

Finding Patterns

Once I have my list pared down, I get to find patterns – the fun part! It can seem overwhelming to find a simple pattern that would work perfectly for each person on your list, and I’ve felt that stress so much some years that I’ve given up all together.

Thankfully, I’ve found a staple set of patterns I turn to again and again – they knit up fast, look gorgeous finished, and suit a wide variety of people. I’ve tested them out, used them for myself as well as for gifts, and love every minute of knitting each of them!

Over the remainder of this series, I’ll be sharing with you my five favorite patterns each for men, women, kids, babies, and the home. For now however, make your list and then cross half the people on it off – we’ll begin the fun of attaching patterns to names on your list next Monday!

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