Is it a do or a don't?
The answer to that will vary from year to year. I think it’s important to have a realistic expectation for how much you can get done in a certain time frame, especially during the holiday season when you’re supposed to be making magical memories with your family.
Questions for self-reflection:
Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself to help make the decision more clear.
1. How much do you love them?
I mean, of course you love them if you’re thinking about knitting something for them, but is this a cherished friend or family member, or a new recruit that you’re hoping to impress?
2. How much knitting time do you have in a week?
And I mean how much do you really have. Forget a normal week. There are sure to be extra events and activities that you’ll want to make time for. Baking with the kids, Christmas plays (do we still do that?), shopping, decorating, and general festivities. Maybe staying home to finish knitting your presents is exactly the excuse you’re looking for. Maybe you really don’t want to miss out. Either way, I think it’s important to consider a realistic time table so you’re not stressing yourself out and scaring everyone in your household.
3. How many people?
Is there just one special someone who is getting a wonderful, customized, hand-knitted gift from you this year? Or do you want to make something for everyone? All your kids’ teachers, all your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, parents, children, grandchildren… Know your limits before you get in over your head.
4. Do you know they will love it?
Is this something they want, or do you just hate going shopping? Are you doing this because they’ll cherish it or because you need more excuses to knit? There’s nothing wrong with that, but before you take on more projects than you can handle, take a minute to evaluate whether this is for them, or for you.
5. Do you enjoy tight deadlines?
Picture this: It’s Christmas Eve and you have 1 and a half more hats that need to be finished for Christmas Day. Will you stay up all night knitting and joyfully present these amazing finished objects to your loved ones, or will you realize you make too many mistakes when you’re tired, go to bed, and spend all Christmas day groggily trying to finish them, apologizing that they weren’t done in time, and also know that they would have turned out better if you hadn’t had to rush so much. (What? No; I’ve never done that…)
More things to consider:
If it’s something that needs to fit a certain way, like a hat, gloves, socks, or gasp – a sweater, you’ll need their measurements and they might even need to try it on throughout the knitting process. Will that be possible? Are you okay with it not being a surprise?
I like to think of knitting projects in terms of a spectrum, ranging from quick to long-term, and simple to difficult.
On the quick and simple end of the spectrum, you have small projects, thicker yarn, and easy stitch patterns like garter stitch and stockinette. Think mitts or washcloths.
On the other end are larger projects like blankets, sweaters, fine yarns, and details that require your undivided attention.
Choose your projects wisely my friend. Knitting is supposed to be fun and relaxing, and gifts should be for the sake of the receiver.
So, in conclusion, you have permission to give non-knitted gifts this year. Now go make some gingerbread.