The Christmas Clock is Ticking......Finish Those Gifts! (or at least start them)
What is that sound? Knitting needles clicking? Reindeer hooves prancing? My racing heartbeat as I begin to panic about gift-making? Yes, that's it.....the heartbeat synching with the Christmas clock countdown. It is the beginning of December, which means I am in stage two of my gift-making plan. I follow roughly the same roadmap each year, and it looks something like this:
1) Mid-November: It's not even remotely close to Christmas yet. I have weeks to get everything done.
2) First week of December: Think of everyone for whom I would like to make something. A fingering weight fair-isle sweater for one, two pair of socks for another, a blanket for a third. No problem, plenty of time. I'll start in a few days.
3) Second week of December: No way can I get this fair-isle finished, I'm switching to a worsted cabled sweater. I'll finish the fair-isle after Christmas. Maybe I will keep it! I've finished one sock, I can wait at least another week to start the second. Maybe if I make what was the width of this blanket the length instead, it will still be big enough for a little sofa throw. Sure, this all works. Now I can relax a little.
4) Third week of December: Not happening on the cabled sweater, maybe a cabled hat instead. I have the cuff of the second sock done, I can put it aside for a few days and focus on the sofa pillow. I mean, blanket. Are we out of eggnog?
5) December 23: Cabled headband, done! Turning the heel of the second sock, that won't take very long. Sofa pillow could be seamed along an edge and be a cowl instead. I need to go make some cookies now.
6) Christmas morning: The headband will be fine after she opens it and I have a chance to weave in the ends. It should be obvious that he can't actually wear the second sock with the double points still in it, right? The sofa cowl really turned out great, but it really matches her sofa better than her coat so maybe I will suggest she only wear it while sitting on said sofa.
Everyone I know is used to all of this. One year I actually finished a couple of gifts as planned and on time, and no-one really knew how to feel about that. There are strategies for finishing things in a timely manner, so I'll preach a few of them here (probably definitely will not practice them.....you know the saying though).
1) Choose only the knit- or crochet-worthy people to make for. This is probably the most important step! People who don't appreciate your time and thoughtfulness won't enjoy or use the thing you spent so much time on, thinking of that person all the while. If you've never seen your sister's kids wear the adorable sweaters you made for them last year, don't stress about making something they will like better this year. Make only for those who appreciate and use the magic your hands can make.
2) Be realistic. Most of us only have so much time in a day to make, so choose projects of an appropriate scale, using a thick enough yarn, so that you have a good chance of finishing your gifts. I'm not even going to suggest that you start things early enough; who does that?
3) Budget your time. When you begin your first gift project, note how much progress you made in whatever time you spent on it that first session. You can make a pretty good guess at how many more hours you'll need to complete each gift and set that time aside accordingly. For me, it also helps to tackle the least enjoyable projects first and get them out of the way. Once that is finished, I will happily work away at the more enjoyable ones.
4) Visibly mark your progress. Whenever I sit down to work on something that feels boring or tedious, especially on smaller needles, I find it really helps to use a pin or removable marker to mark where I began working that day. If I can see that I really am making progress, it keeps me motivated to make even more. If you are a numbers nerd (guilty), you could even calculate how many rows your project will take to complete and make yourself do a certain number of rows every day in order to finish on time.
5) Dangle a lovely yarn carrot for yourself. This one is my favorite! When you are too tired to work on your gifts any more tonight, think about something you would really like to make for yourself in January. Or, perhaps a new skill you would love to learn. Maybe plan how you'd like to re-organize your stash. Whatever, just give yourself a future gift to look forward to after you finish making for others. You will have earned it!
Do you have any tricks you use to keep you on track? Please share them in the comments..........we would all love to hear them!!