Monday, July 14, 2014

Top 5 Tips for Knitting Christmas Presents

Monday, July 14, 2014
 photo thecozyhousewife_zps5c9a7390.jpgAs many of you probably know by now, I have decided to knit most, if not all, of our Christmas presents this year. Yeah, I know, Christmas is still several months away, but as I am a new-ish (read: slow-ish) knitter and I have several people that I want to give presents to... it is something I needed to think about. Depending on where you're at in knitting/present giving, you may want to start to think about it too! Christmas is really only 163 days away here people! As this is my first year of knitting Christmas presents, I've had to learn somethings along the way and I thought I would share some of my tips and tricks with you! 

(P.S. This applies to any craft)

5. Make a list, and check it twice

Luckily, since you are not actually Santa, you don't have to determine who's been naughty and who's been nice but you should have a solid idea of everybody that you need to give gifts to. I would recommend starting with family, then moving on to close friends. Knitting or crafting anything takes time so your list does not have to include all of your co-workers or acquaintances. If you really want to give those people in your life something, stick with gift cards or candy canes. 

After you've made your list, check to make sure everyone is on it and that everyone on your list is someone that you would invite over to your house for no special reason (i.e. not a party). If you would, great. If not, maybe you should consider giving them some of those candy canes. 

When you've made your list, and checked it twice, write down some ideas of what you should give to each person. It can be general or specific. Although, the more specific you are, the easier the next tip will be! 
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4. Stock up on yarn (or craft supplies) when it's on sale 

This is probably obvious to most knitters, but it is also why you need to start (at least planning) early! Even if you already have a pretty impressive yarn stash, chances are you'll want to make something that requires a color you do not have. Also, make sure that you buy all of a specific color you need for each project at the same time at the same store so that you can be assured that the yarn was in the same color batch. Otherwise, the color might be just slightly off. 

Also, if you are buying yarn for making gifts, personally I think its best to stick with acrylic yarns because they won't break the bank and they are easy to take care of. Most people I am gifting to won't want to fuss with specialty wash instructions for specialty yarns and honestly probably don't know what the differences in yarn are. When picking yarn, it is best to know  your audience. If you are gifting for a yarn snob, then by all means, use the best yarn you can find. 

3. Figure out a schedule

Want to know why I know that it is only 163 days till Christmas? Because I have to stick to a schedule to make sure that I get all of my presents done on time. In order for me to get all of my Christmas presents done before Christmas then I have approximately 2 weeks for each project. You don't have to schedule each and every project like: I'll do this hat, then this headband, etc. etc. But, you do want to do some basic calculations to see about how long you have for each project. Remember, some will take  you more time, and some less so don't stress!

The math: 

So, its 163 days till Christmas. Say you have 10 people you want to gift things for. 

First, let's see how many weeks that is:

163/7 = about 23 weeks

Take that number of weeks and divide it by the number of people/projects

23/10 = 2.3 

So, you'll have about 2 weeks to finish each project. 

See? Easy-peasy. 

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2. Stay small

This would be my number one tip if the first one wasn't so darn important! Seriously though, staying small is key unless you can do nothing but knit all day. As for me, having a job and schoolwork to do, I may only have a couple of hours to knit per night or sometimes even week. That is why it is so important to stay small while knitting Christmas gifts. If you get done with time to spare, you can always make more... but that sure beats racing the clock and stressing out. 

While I would love to make these things, this for Christmas, I'm staying away from: scarfs (take awhile depending on weight of yarn/etc and they're kind of boring if you make a ton), blankets/afghans, shawls, sweaters, etc. 

Small gift ideas: headbands, hats, gloves, leg warmers, slippers, bookmarks, coffee cup cozies, and phone/ipad/kindle covers.

1. Make sure it's something they'll enjoy/use/etc.

When looking up projects online, it is easy to get caught up in the ohh I would love that or ohh that would be so fun/easy/cool to make. However, this gift is not for you! Ultimately, the person that receiving the gift should not only be appreciative of the time and effort you put in to make it but also the time and effort that you put into picking the right project just for them. Make it personal. Great at making socks? Cool. But who really wants socks for Christmas? Even if they are knitted. If you're going to make socks, at least make sure they are super personalized. For example, a Doctor Who fan would probably be okay with getting socks for Christmas if they were Tardis socks. 

(Psstt... Cool site I found for turning pictures into charts. If its not working for you, just change the size and that should help. Did I mention its free?) 

I've found this relatively easy to do with the girls in my life, but the guys on the other hand were a little harder to figure out. My tip? When in doubt, go with a hat. Everyone needs hats to keep their ears warm in the winter. So even if they may not "get" how awesome having a hand knit hat really is, at least it will be useful (and warm) and they will be grateful. 
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