Don’t panic early

When I first decided to open the Christmas spreadsheet today, I thought it was going to be pretty bad. I carry over the spreadsheet from one year to the next, and I do a little work on it before I put it away in the new year. I change the deadline on things that were too tight (the whole thing, essentially) and carry over anything that people really loved (ice lanterns! Advent calendars!) and take away anything that wasn’t a hit. (Jars of pickled beets. Turns out that only I really loved those.) It’s intended to make it so that I can learn from the year before, and not… you know, do something like make 22 jars of pickled beets two years in a row when they weren’t beloved by all. Then when I open the thing in early November, I know just where to start.

Well, I appear to be missing most of November, I think I misplaced it in an airport somewhere, and so I knew I was getting a late start. I was prepared for it to be pretty ugly in there. I thought I would open it, take a look at the things that I had to do, go upstairs to The Long Range Planning Box (where I put things that I make all year) see what I was missing, and then make up a knitting list, and try to get a grip.

Turns out that things are not bad. They are terrible.Β  Horrific. What-the-hell-did-I-do-all-year-and-what-was-I-thinking kind of bad. All the socks (except for one pair, I am a lunatic) in The Long Range Planning Box are one size, and it’s the wrong size. (Upside, they fit me – they’re just no good for gifts for anybody else in the family, except my mum, who ironically, has asked for slippers.) I would have sworn there was a pair of mittens in there (looks like I gave those away) although there’s a few hats – one of which I don’t recall knitting at all. After the heart pounding adventure of comparing the box to the list, I ended up with a pretty intense list. I need:

3 hats. Four pairs of socks (3 of them size large) two little sweaters, one small shawl, a cowl, and a pair of dress mittens. Oh. And slippers.

I also need to go through my stash and patterns and figure out what, er, those projects will be and what I’ll knit them out of, and then I’ll have to sit down, add up how many hours of knitting that is, and see…. Let’s not go there. I’m not going to panic early. The whole point of the spreadsheet is to increase happiness and relaxation, and freaking out about the thing is not who I’m going to be, and besides, maybe it’s not that bad. (I just laughed out loud in a slightly hysterical way that I’m glad you couldn’t hear.)

Mark my words knitters, in 2016, I’m doing one Christmas present a month, or something like that. I heard of a knitter once who arranged two gifts per year for every person on her list – and had them both ready by their birthday. One for then, and one for Christmas and maybe that’s the answer.Β  For this year, all I can do is knit like the wind, prune the list, and I’d cross my fingers and hope for the best, but it’s really hard to knit that way.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends, enjoy your day, and if you need me, I’ll be the lady deep in the stash, clutching a crumpled spreadsheet and a half knit sock, and trying to make a Christmas out of it all.

Crap. I think I better buy a tree.

112 thoughts on “Don’t panic early

  1. I have no good words, just a sigh of commiseration. I am, however, American. That means that today is not a day to worry about upcoming holidays. I’m going to check on the turkey right now and pretend I am no where close to your problems. Good luck with the stash dive.

    • Thanksgiving make me nervous. I knit just a little faster because December is about to start breathing it’s icy breath down my neck and I don’t need that pressure.

  2. I think it’s time for the schedule. The one that details every moment of your knitting life from now until December 25.

    I’m just happy I got the news that I need less dishcloths than I thought (by more than half) and my current stock will work. That’s one less task off the list. Now just to finish three pairs of large socks, a hat and a headband.

    • You’re entirely too lucky I think. I’ve had the joy of having started nice and early, back in August, then I got pneumonia. Just as I thought I’d get started again and my father-in-law ended up in the hospital for over a month. Now I’m sick again and trying to play catch up. I envy you :-). Happy thanksgiving

      • I forgot about the throw pillows I’m making too. Aran cabled covers for some pillow forms.

        It’s a bad stroke of luck, but you can do this! And if you don’t make it, there’s nothing wrong with giving it on the needles. They’ll get it eventually πŸ˜‰

        • You’re sweet. I LOVE the advice. Hopefully I’ll be able to complete everything. Those pillow covers sound fun. Best of luck to all of us trying to finish in time for the holidays. πŸ™‚

  3. Thank God I’m not the only one! I’ve been knitting cowls and hats all year and now I’m learning friends are in the mood for gloves and socks. And to top it off I just dropped my phone in the water and now it’s not working. I’m on the second floor of an apartment building and the secure door entrance on the first floor rings my phone (or did anyway). It’s going to be one of those holidays.

  4. I did a similar glance at Christmas this week, and hit the mall.
    8yo boys like Lego way more than they like knitted stuff, so why fight it?
    Beads and string for girls under 8 (there are a LOT of those at the moment). They all want “fancy” jewelry – this way they can make their own.
    Candles. Chocolates. A nice bottle of wine.
    I’m not quite there, but I’m not knitting it all this year.
    I will stay sane!!

  5. I’m madly knitting fingerless mitts for lots of people on size 8 needles with sock yarn, doubled. It’s working out well for me. FAST and CUTE. Good luck!

  6. I feel your pain! Despite that thing looming ever closer, I have inexplicably decided to focus on finishing the UFOs that have been languishing in the basket for months, or even years. On the upside I managed a little online shopping today, so there will at least be something to wrap!

  7. My problem is I begin to think time/space is much more elastic than it really is. 4 extra hats/mitt sets? Sure! An extra shawl?? Yes! Whyever not?? Mittens as well as 24 pairs of socks? Yippee!

    I think you should check Fuzzy Mittens for the matching gifts that are not owl hats. Her Lamb is darling, and there are clothes.

  8. I know you knit them a few years ago for Christmas, but there’s always the French press felted slippers. They’re really fast and cute and you can choose a different color and buttons from the first pair you knit. You could knit those up really fast and still have a lot of time for your other knit gifts.

  9. You do make me laugh! If you must knit for muggles, first make sure they’re worth it and appreciate it, second go chunky! Third, buy chocolates as a back up plan… Good luck x

  10. Enjoy the foray to the center of the stash. The yarn’ll tell you what it wants to be, then slay the knit dragon one stitch at a time. You’re right–it’s too early to panic.

  11. I would have been a happy recipient of pickled beets. They would have been part of that very nights dinner. Besides, I can knit my own slippers. Perhaps I will…

  12. I’m not doing Christmas this year. At all. Last year I got flu and almost died, but hey, I bought presents and I made dinner. This year I hope I don’t get flu, but all we can manage is the dinner. This is it, because up to now I am the only one investing any effort, time, thought, or money into the project and this year I don’t have the will to deal with any of it. The only reason I’m doing the dinner is for my uncle, who, without it, would have no Christmas at all of any kind. Sorry to Grinch out, but there you have it.

      • Thank you, I will definitely manage a genuine smile because Christmas really is my fave time of year, only some years it’s harder to pull that feeling out of the hat than others! Happy Christmas to you and yours, too. (Canadians say “Merry” but my dear mother always said she’d rather be happy than merry any day!)

      • I too love the blanket fort idea. I appreciate the good thoughts; and often by the time I’ve simulated the spirit of the season often enough, it has actually taken hold. Even when it is only dinner, I am always able to remember that food on the table and a roof over our heads puts us ahead of about 90% of the rest of the world. God Bless.

    • I get Grinchy at Christmas. This year I have a wonderful excuse. We are remodeling, the kitchen is gutted, the appliances won’t be installed until after Christmas, and the decorations are in a POD, off-site.

      • That’s always a good reason to grinch out. I’m Grinching out on store-bought pressies this year because of employment being non-existent for me. Thankfully, I stashed while I was employed, so mom at least will be getting handknits. Dad won’t be getting any, because he’s already proven himself to be a non appreciative muggle.
        And funnily enough, my human-proof involving touching a tag. (Yet another thing I stashed during the employment years, along with cards, wrapping paper, and a few decorations.)

  13. I’d suggest not just raiding the statch of wool but also the stash of half finished projects that we all know you have. You might find a few things that just need final touches.

  14. Happy Thanksgiving from south of our border! You can do it if anyone can! Also, I’m so glad to have you back in blog mode! My days are much brighter when you are present. May the knitting goddess smile upon your needles!

  15. What Melinda C just said … ditto for me. Glad to read your posts again regularly (no pressure or anything). I came to my mum’s house prepared to do all the side dishes and found myself in charge of the turkey too, for the first time. Just a little pressure!
    Enjoy your stash dive. But when in doubt, buy more yarn. Just in case, you know, sheep go on strike.

  16. How about, for each project, you choose the yarn and, say, 3 [hat/sock/shawl/whatever] patterns. Wrap up the yarn and the patterns, and add a card reading “Choose the pattern you love, and I’ll make it for you!!”.

    Or, pick the yarn and the pattern, cast on and knit a chunk, then wrap the project with a card reading “Stay tuned for further developments!”

  17. For the large size socks, if it’s just additional length in the foot you need, can you take the already done socks out of the gift box, rip of the toes, add length to the feet and reknit the toes? Much less time than knitting all new socks.

    • EXACTLY what I was going to suggest! If you can’t find your leftover yarn, start a new trend with a contrasting band around the instep – or a really long contrast toe.

      Courage, ma petite!

  18. I’d say prune, prune, prune, but I know you love all the stuff on your list, and making it through all the prep work gives special joy to the actual day. So, enjoy the rush, stay the course, and keep us posted. We’re all rooting for you.

  19. Well, you have been away working lots. We noticed it., but we get it, no biggie

    Thing is, if you had no time to talk to us, aka procrastination, you probably weren’t knitting so much either.

    But fret not, you have this. Whether knitted gifts or not, no-one will have less love.

  20. At the risk of being a heretic, since you know how to weave and since you can weave an item faster than knitting it, what about woven scarves for some of the folks on the list. Still hand made. Even, perhaps, with hand spun yarn. Something different for those expecting knitted items (Of which each of them has several). And time saving!

  21. I wish you wouldn’t go there. You’ve done so many good and fantastically hard things this year. Why not wind the year down with some calm and peace?

  22. I love beets in any form and would love it if I’d have gotten a jar for Christmas. But I’m also the only one in the family that likes them.

  23. For a cowl, you can make “wham bam thank you lamb” with one skein of Hygge from woolfolk, it is two-hours project and soft and warm. I made one and it is luxurious.

  24. I’m doing my Bachelor-Thesis, so no knitting at all! There is no time for even buying any presents now.
    The Kids will get books I had gathered through the Year. That’s all.

  25. Worsted weight hats are quick, and warm. Worsted or bulky slippers will be quick, and warm. Sense a theme here?

    My family would also be thrilled to have beets! But I’m not making them πŸ™‚

  26. I’m just waiting to see if/when you’ll bend the space-time continuum. I know you’ll make it, and I agree with the above commenter: raiding your UFO pile(s) might save you at least a little time!

  27. I’m thinking lovely hand printed I.O.U. (one knitted item) gift cards are in order. (smile)
    Just kidding, or am I . . . to be continued . . .

  28. I’ve gone rogue this year. I have started winding yarn for December knitting and…they’re gifts ::for me::

    It’s been a great year, but an intense year, and I realized that for the first time I truly don’t want to give knitting this year. I often think I don’t want to but discover partway through summer or autumn that I was wrong. This year I’ve just had a growing sense that I just want all the knitting for me.

    I’m the coldest person I know.
    I’m the knitter.
    I’m not in the mood for gift knitting.

    The math is pretty easy.

  29. Seems like I’ve heard this song before. It’s a puzzlement to me. After all, you knit all.the.time. Spreadsheets are fine but not if you don’t look at them. As my mother always said, “You’ll change the way you do things when it gets painful enough.” Not yet, evidently.

  30. Your knitting spreadsheet is an advent calendar of sorts for me. I know Christmas is near and check your progress with pleasure. I have faith in you!

  31. I’ll be HAPPY to help you with those beets. I adore them, but it is really hard to find affordable pickled beets that do not contain high fructose corn syrup. Don’t despair. Some of us would love that gift too. πŸ˜‰

  32. Here’s a thought. Don’t knit for the people on your list. Instead, knit hats for Syrian refugees and just give your listees a nice card telling them how much happier their sacrifice of a present under the tree has made a new Canadian. Then just churn out the toques. There’s always next year, and it’s not like your family is going to suffer.

    • I like this idea. I am donating money to the food bank, and giving everyone a jar of homemade raspberry jam or our honey, with a note telling them money was donated in their honor. This works in my family, but I understand it doesn’t work for everyone’s. Trying to knit everyone a present I would have had to started last year!

  33. I have been making double-stranded socks for myself. We live in northern WI (and our floors are kind of cold) — seems like such socks might be welcome in Canada, as well. They go AMAZINGLY fast. If you decide to do that, here is what has worked for me: regular handknit socks for myself (foot size 8-1/2 US, don’t know the Canadian equivalent) made of one strand of fingering weight yarn require 60st, foot knit on 2mm needles and leg on 2.5mm needles; double-stranded require 48st, foot knit on 3mm needles and leg on 3.5mm. Whereas it might take me a couple weeks of on-and-off knitting to make a regular pair of sock, I can knock off a double-stranded pair in a few days.

  34. Cowls with chunky yarn are still in vogue, aren’t they? The Sassenach Cowl on Ravelry works really well — just make sure you don’t use a yarn that grows (100% alpaca, I’m looking at YOU). It goes together lightning fast and is a striking accessory.

  35. My knitting plans got discarded when I accidentally got a part time job that is way more than part time, as well as exhausting! Who would think working in a high end gardening-clothing-jewelry-Christmas trees and ornaments shop could be exhausting? And tomorrow will be my first ever experience of Black Friday as I have never previously worked or shopped the day!
    Still will attempt to finish a baby surprise sweater for a new born, a hat for my housemate and fingerless gloves in sock yarn, almost done, for my sister.

  36. I think you traveled more than last year and also did your own amazing race with everything that goes with it. Sooooo….that’s where your time went.
    maybe switch to knitting tube socks because they fit everyone? I know. It’s an abomination. But in an emergency, a thumb hole can be steeked, thumb knit and viola-mittens!
    And the mittens you knit…were yours.
    Don’t forget the day of gingerbread madness-no knitting then.
    Bulky yarn sounds like a brilliant idea. It will cover just about everything on your list. As for the matching thing, pick the smallest part of their bodies and knit for that. Sending my knitting fairies to your house. I don’t have that amount to knit. Maybe you will wake up with a lovely stack of handknit woolies tied in a lovely satin bow with a sprig of holly placed just so, freshly ground gourmet coffee steaming away in your favorite mug and a big batch of warm muffins wrapped in a linen napkin with fresh butter and honey nearby. Love those knitting fairies.

  37. Grownups can get presents later than December 25th. Honest! 12 days of Christmas, was that not the rule?
    And little ones like Lego, so maybe a little shopping and some additional days of knotting after the actual holidays?

  38. Socks: I don’t suppose you could re knit the toes and make them a bit longer to convert at least one pair?
    The List will save you.

  39. I am glad to see you know what needs to be done. You asked for gift ideas for matching things for Lou and Myrie and all I could think of was cuddle sized blankets or stuffed animals. The blankets at least could be chunky yarn and knitting you don’t have to think too much about if you choose a simple pattern, which I find you rarely do, my friend. More French Press slippers, maybe? Socks you tend to knit quickly too. I saw a pattern from Loop called Paoli that I added to my “to knit” list. It is knitted in worsted yarn but looks like it could do work both as a warm scarf and a fancy/dressier scarf. I may knit several of these for next year for gifts. Happy Knitting! You can do this!

  40. Didn’t you mention a while back that you needed socks for yourself? Now you have them…at least your feet will be warm while knitting.

    As for the rest, my theory is that the knitting gods think your readership needs entertainment more than you need sanity this year. So, thank you. πŸ™‚

  41. Bath mitts. Store bought soap. Great quick gift. And since it’s black friday, you can even Amazon the soap!
    Seriously, hope it works out okay without too much stress.

  42. You’re not alone. I promised myself that THIS year, I would not knit all year for others. I didn’t. My Christmas Spreadsheet is littered this year with “Movie Gift Card”…. and yet….here I am in November… knitting like a madwoman…for others. I had no idea of the GUILT that would set in… πŸ˜›

  43. About a month ago I thought about starting OPAM (one present a month) but that is already been taken.. Maybe OGAM would work better? (One Gift A Month) I’m knitting my sister a shawl – luckily a simple one, but still.. Don’t like the stress..

  44. well, you do love to drink coffee and you knit quickly and you can knit without seeing so beers in a cool music event will work. you don’t sleep much and you could hire in a kitchen-bathroom cleaner for December (and cookie baker). Maybe you could learn to knit while driving or bicycling, that would be another hour or two. hmm, you could listen to very exciting thrillers on audio-books, Scarlatti or late Beethoven always makes my fingers fly. Just feel the blog-December spreadsheet-love we are pouring your way πŸ™‚

  45. I think some of those large-footed folks would like a nice box of Chocolates instead of socks again this year. Maybe a lot of these folks need chocolate for Christmas and socks for birthday. Worsted weight held double with big needles makes a fast hat and extra warm, perfect for Canada. Remember, your country is winter? Throw in a few fast hats and Bob’s your uncle! Everything doesn’t need to be on tiny needles. The real answer is to start filling the Christmas box on Dec26, but too late for this year.One year my sister went to the SEE’s chocolate wholesale store and bought a case of 1 pound assorted chocolates. I think that was 15 or 20 boxes. She kicked butt on her list and nobody complained…Chocolate is one size fits all.

    I have 17 totes full of yarn in my stash. But when Knit Picks sent an email about sale yarn at $1 – $1.50 a ball, my hubby went on their website and picked some pretty colors and soon a giant box came for my Christmas present. Good hubby! I’ll keep him. Now where do I put the yarn?
    Julie in San Diego.

  46. I’m intrigued by this Christmas spead sheet, of which you speak. I am A type, so I am excited and frightened by the prospect at the same time. Will you give a tutorial?

  47. Can’t you take the toe out of the finished socks and lengthen them? I’ve done the opposite when someone knit socks for me in the wrong size. I have short feet and everyone knits them too long-except me, of course.

  48. OK< I'm just going to say this: I know you're you, and this is a Knitting Blog, but this is just a thought–for this year, as a special gift to yourself (and let's be honest, to those who share a house with you), it would be entirely OK/acceptable/alright to do something else entirely that does not involve yarn or knitting or fiber (I know, hard to conceive of–stay with me here!) for the majority of your gifts, which would then give you BREATHING SPACE to a) knit a FEW lovely, thoughtful things that you enjoy as you create, and b) actually be emotionally present to the season, to the joy and restorative activities and just the beauty and peace that's available, and which your family celebrates so well!! The key is to pick something that feels like you're doing something great–like maybe from the World Vision gift catalogue, or the Heifer International one, where you give something cool in someone's name–does MSF have something like that?? Or things from Ten Thousand Villages… and then you give yourself permission to enjoy this year as an aberration!! You're already spent so much of your pre-Christmas time and energy making the world a better place for knitters and cyclists–it truly is OK not to keep piling on the expectations until it's just no longer any possible fun at all. I'm just sayin'….=)

  49. I have 2 granddaughters… age 7 and 4. Their sweaters have to be done by Christmas. Everyone else will understand if they get a box of yarn, a pattern and a promise to knit it in the next year.

  50. Mr. Rogers’ mother did 12 sweaters, one a month, for her Christmas presents. Seems there was only one that never changed. Mr. Rogers always wanted a cardigan with a zipper. Saw one once. It was surged, not hand sewn.

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