Right now, many crocheters and knitters are revving up for the holiday crafting season. Unfortunately, this time of year can be filled with late nights, repetitive stress injuries, and disappointment. In the hopes of sparing you these dramas, I’m sharing my 5 tips for holiday crafting success.
1) Create gifts only for those who are “worthy”
It can be tempting to make handmade gifts for everyone on your holiday gift list. If you love your craft and are skilled, often the fruits of your labor are more valuable than any gift you can afford to buy. But there are two realities you should consider before trying to crochet or knit gifts for everyone on your life.
- You are only one person with a finite amount of time.
- Not everyone is truly crochet- or knit-worthy.
By knocking the non-worthy off your list, you can manage your holiday crafting time more realistically, and increase the odds that the gift will actually be appreciated. When your gifts are appreciated, neither you nor the recipient is disappointed, so everyone wins!
What are some signs of a knit- or crochet-worthy recipient?
- S/he has enjoyed and used previous handmade items you’ve gifted, or
- S/he is also a crafter, and appreciates the skill and labor that goes into a handmade gift, or
- S/he has complemented your work and seems to grasp that handmade gifts are difficult to produce!
2) Make a list – and check it (at least) twice
I usually start with 3 lists for holiday crafting: the must-makes, the maybe-makes, and the if-I-have-extra-timers.
The must-makes are the gifts at the top of my production schedule. The recipients are the most “worthy,” I have a clear idea of the project I plan to make, and the yarn is already in my stash or readily available. These are the projects I start right away.
The maybe-makes are the next tier of gifts. Perhaps the recipient is not as “worthy,” or I’m not quite sure what to crochet or knit, or I don’t have a suitable yarn, or, the recipient is really looking forward to another (non-handcrafted) gift. These are the projects I may (or may not) start once the must-makes are finished.
The if-I-have-extra-timers are the last tier of gifts. These include projects for people I don’t always exchange gifts with and quick and easy projects that can be used as gift wrap or embellishment. For instance, if I have the time, I may crochet a set of washcloths to go with a luxury bath kit, or coasters to go with a set of gourmet jams.
The lists keep me on track throughout the holiday crafting season, and I frequently make adjustments. I may find a perfect gift for someone while shopping, and decide to take them off the must-makes list, for example. Then, I may move up a project from the maybe-makes list.
And, of course, it helps to be realistic about your lists. Think about how much time is left before the holidays and what else is going on in your life during this time of year before even adding projects or recipients to the lists.
3) Remember the recipient
This tip may seem simple but it can be a difficult one to keep at the forefront of your mind, particularly if you spot a project that you’d love to create. The best handmade gifts are the ones that are enjoyed by the recipients, so taking some time to consider his/her needs, interests, and preferences before picking up the hook or needles can really make the holiday crafting season go much smoother and spare you (and the recipient) some hurt feelings down the line.
The key things to consider are project type, color, fiber, and care instructions. Your cousin who doesn’t wear jewelry will probably not love those crocheted earrings, even if they are lovely. Your friend with a very specific color scheme in her apartment will probably never display that stunning blanket (in a clashing color) that you labored over for weeks. Your uncle that is allergic to wool (or *thinks* he’s allergic to wool) will tuck that wool scarf in the back of the closet (even if it’s Merino!). And, your son who can barely do his own laundry will not be hand washing anything in the near future, so please use machine washable yarns.
4) Take breaks
Especially if your lists are long, it can be tempting to crochet or knit during every spare hour of every day through the holidays. But remember to be kind to your body. Repetitive stress injuries can make it impossible for you to enjoy your favorite craft again, so to avoid them be sure to take frequent breaks from your crafting (at least every half hour). Stretching, especially your neck and hands, can also keep you flexible and comfortable.
5) Add in something fun!
I frequently hear from crafters who dread this time of year. Gift making becomes an albatross around the neck, or a hated obligation. If you feel this way, drop as many projects from your lists as you need to and remember, you don’t owe anyone a handmade gift. Make some fun projects – for yourself, for gifts, or for charity – so you can remember why you love to crochet or knit in the first place.