If you’re like me, the prospect of snowy, wintery nights by the fireside knitting cozy items for my loved ones with a steamy cup of coffee, cocoa or apple cider at my side fills me with a feeling of warmth and comfort. Unfortunately, I hail from Chicago and our winter months are filled with an unpredictable array of snow, rain and sleet that is far from picturesque. And I don’t have a fireplace, so I settle for an electric blanket instead. At least I have coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
But I do make the best of these cold, wool-happy moments by knitting up a storm – partly because it’s the holiday season and also out of necessity: It’s cold out there; I need whatever warmth I can get. Many of us crafters out there have been busily planning and working on holiday crafts for weeks or even months – our craft rooms a scene out of Santa’s workshop, except without those helpful elves working long nights year-round. If you fall into this category, you’re probably all set with gifts and ready to kick off next week – when the first day of winter, Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa – all are observed. If, however, you are not as organized as Martha Stewart and time has caught up with you, you may be still frantically knitting away or still searching for some last-minute quick knits to get you through the season. (I’m still working on my 12 sets of Snowmen families. Only 24 to go!)
If you’re overwhelmed in your Rav Pattern searches this holiday season, you’re not alone. Each delivers a number of pages to sift through, some in overwhelming amounts. Winter alone yields 160 pages of patterns filled with everything from snowflake motifs to general winter wear. Winter Solstice narrows the results a bit, but searching for Christmas and Hanukkah can be equally harrowing. For ideas, Theme Pattern Seekers is a place to start with threads focused on Christmas (including nativities, Santas, angels, wreaths, snowmen, snowflakes, stars and stockings), Winter and Solstice Patterns and Hanukkah (including Jewish Themed and Celebration Patterns). The threads are updated often as Rav’s pattern database grows and more crafters suggest appropriate patterns.
Getting some help from friends
A number of Ravelry Groups are available to lend a helping hand. Holiday Knits is an all-inclusive holiday group that covers “Christmas/Hanukkah/Gift-giving-holiday-of-your-choice.” Hand Made Holiday focuses on handmade projects for the holidays.Crochet Christmas prepares all year long for the holidays. Twelve Months till Christmas has a thread of this year’s craft gift list to inspire some ideas. The Christmas Knitting group has specific threads on favorite stocking patterns and where to get holiday-colored sock yarn.For Hanukkah, the winter holiday can feature gifts such as the Menorah Pillow, dreidels and the star of David.
Don’t limit your group search to holiday-specific ones. Other Rav groups are focused on quick-turnaround projects for last-minute gifts. There boards can be a wealth information for project ideas that might fit your gift-giving bill. Here are just a few: Quick Gifts, One Skein Projects, Only Half a Skein, One Skein Wonders, One Skein Crochet and LMKG (last minute knitted gifts).
Thinking outside the box, and maybe in it
During this holiday crunch time, think small. A handknit/handcrochet gift is a much-appreciated wonder. You don’t have to get crazy knitting up Aunt Bernie that adorable colorwork sweater with the dog motif in eight days. A set of dishcloths tied with a festive ribbon will still touch her heart. If you’re a sock knitter, some stockinette ankle socks can be turned around in no time. Dad could probably use a necktie and the nieces would look cute with some headbands. Don’t forget Rover and Socks – pet toys can be whipped up in a jiffy. Hats, scarves and gloves are nice little gifts that would be a nice addition to a pretty wrapped gift. Looking for someone specific? Perhaps what to get “your man”? How about moms and dads. Look through these threads for some ideas.
Speaking of what to give …
Do you have some knitters/crocheters on your gift list this year? Try some suggestions from the folks at Hand Made Holidays. How about for the knitter that has everything? The Remnants board has a thread for knitting gifts for other knitters.
It’s the season of giving
Typically this is also the time for giving: giving gifts, giving time, giving money. There are a number of Rav groups dedicated to various causes out there to help. Operation Christmas Child Knitters and Crocheters are making mittens, hats, scarves, gloves and facecloths for Samaritans Purse. Christmas At Sea are getting hats, scarves and vests to mariners on the rivers and high seas.
Originally published December 15, 2008 in This Week In Ravelry (issue #45). Photos courtesy of Kate Hamilton