I knit holiday presents. Lots of them. I think they're good presents and that my family likes it, in fact, many of them look forward to their yearly influx of woolly things. I know that there's a growing movement out there to save sanity and time by not knitting presents, and I respect that. I really do. Knitting Christmas gifts is not a game for the faint of heart, and it's not something that should be done willy nilly without consideration for some of the pitfalls. It is a lot of knitting and a real challenge, especially if, like me, you don't do anything about this until mid-November. I have therefore prepared a collection of Things That Should Be Considered Before You Decide Knitting This Much Is Smart™.
1. Get yourself a list. I can't stress the planning and neurotic oversight enough. There must be a list. The list must be carefully considered. The list must be constructed weeks in advance when there is no pressure or panic. The list must be revered. My list contained 15 items to be knit before Christmas. The list is now sealed. Nothing will be added to the list during the execution phase, for that way lies madness.
2. Do not put people on the list who do not like your knitting, use your knitting or have dissed your knitting in any way in the past. This includes people who have said that your stuff looks good enough that "you could have bought it", People who have said that they "bought a scarf just like it" as well as people who say they love your knitting, but have never worn it even once. They are not knit appreciators, and the knits shall not be bestowed upon them.
3. Do not use your knits to try and convince people of the power of the knit. If they do not like knitting and have underappreciated knitting in the past, knitting them more and better things is not smart. I can't stress that enough. I know it's hard to believe, but some people just don't like knitted stuff and giving them more won't change that. Think of knits like brussels sprouts. Some people love them, some people don't but inviting someone to dinner and serving up a whole meal of them after your guest said that they think they're gross is insensitive at best. Buy those people something else. Let go. There are just some poor people in the world who don't think knitted stuff is nice. (Admittedly, I still have to work on not thinking of them as damaged and confused people, but I do respect them.)
4. Be honest. If you have only ever managed to knit a third of a sock in a day and you've got nine pairs of socks on your list, you just have to grow a brain. You're not going to make it, you're going to feel bad and you're going to end up in the mall freaking out trying to find something as good as a pair of handknit socks (and there is nothing as good as handknit socks) at the last minute while feeling crappy about yourself. Take a reality pill. Look at the list. Ask yourself what the odds are that you are suddenly, in a busy season full of many other responsibilities, going to miraculously triple or quadruple the amount of knitting that you do. Then take people off the list and put them at the top of next years list.
5. If you are not the sort of person who can't function on less than 8 hours of sleep, this may be a game that makes you cry really hard sometime around the 22nd of December when it's crunch time.
6. If you are the sort of person who gets a cramp when you hear the words "crunch time", you should be at the mall.
7. If you are the sort of person who is going to be really, really , really hurt if your presents are not received with the complete amount of enthusiasm with which they were knit, you should probably not take the risk.. and you should definitely not knit for anyone under 16.
8. Have you ever insisted to someone that you were not at all competitive while they rolled around on the floor convulsed with helpless laughter? (Double points if you then insisted that you were the "least competitive person in the world" - since that's sort of competing to be not-competitive which is really funny. ) If so, a race against time may be fun for your sort of temperament.
9. Do you drink? (I actually don't know if that's vital, I just can't imagine doing it without a little nog to take the edge off.)
10. Make a schedule. This much knitting in the month of December is something I can't manage without an over-controlling, all-powerful, omnipotent schedule. Left to my own devices, I flip out, panic and start thrashing around. For years now my schedule has been made by my friend Lene -who frankly really has a gift for being over-controlling, all-powerful and omnipotent, and would really be happiest if she were in charge of everything. (The scary thing is that if Lene were actually in charge of the world - it would all be sorted by tea-time. A little cluttered maybe.. but sorted.) I tell Lene what I have to knit and by when, and provide her with a list of all the other things I have to get done and because Lene used to knit, she can totally put it all together into a schedule that makes sense. A schedule where I'm knitting plain socks at a concert because Lene knows that I can knit plain socks in the dark. The beauty of the schedule (which includes baking, knitting, cleaning and other seasonal chores) is that if I do as I am told... if I follow Lene's word as though it were law - If I get up every morning and look at the schedule and do what it says on the schedule and only do what it says on the schedule, then - get this.
I will finish everything on time.
It's like a Christmas miracle every year. Following Lene's schedule, here is the last couple of days here, as represented through knitwear.
This yarn, Corridale from Lyman's Sleigh Bell Farm
became this hat. (Pattern mine. 2x2 rib over 100 stitches for a long time. Decrease. Stop knitting.)
and turned into the Star Tam from Homespun, Handknit.
This pretty ball of Madeleinetosh Hand Dyed Sock in Glacier
became this whole sock . (That's the Earl Grey pattern, and the good thing about knitting it again is that it gives me a chance to proof it for a pdf. and that's a good thing.)
Finally, the sailor's rib socks (my plain vanilla pattern with sailors rib jammed on it) out of the Shibui Sock (in bark) are all done too.
See? No problems. I do what the schedule says and whammo. Christmas. All knit up. All I have to do is surrender all control for every moment of my entire existence and I won't have any trouble. All control. All the time. Surrendered.
(For crying out loud. Stop that laughing and get off the floor. I can do it.)