Well, my cunning plan for this year worked out. Having knit like a demon all spring and summer, by the first week in December I’d almost finished all the samples for this season and had no immediate deadlines reaching over my shoulder with their sharp, deadliney claws. I was feeling pretty damned pleased with myself. All that was left was the gifts for the niece and nephews–the special fun knitting I’d been saving until now–and I had plenty of time…oh, crap. Mailing times. To Canada. Why do they always sneak up on me? Gah. As it turned out, everything I’d chosen could be made quickly–the first two took a day each–so all was not completely lost. If you’re in a last minute panic, fellow knitter, maybe these ideas will help you, too. They’re not even child-specific, in my humble opinion.
For the niece and youngest nephew’s projects, I’d planned to use handspun yarn: both of the patterns I picked would look great in handspun. However, it turns out both kids are sensitive to wool, and I didn’t have anything appropriate in the fibre stash. They live in the far north, about 10 minutes from Santa’s workshop (okay, they’re in the Yukon), so I went with 100% Yak Sport from Bijou Basin Ranch, held double to make a worsted to Aran weight. You may be thinking that’s a bit fancy for a child’s project (I know I would be), so here’s my rationale: it’s warm as heck (see above re: far north), softer than kitten bellies, and is nice and springy, so no worries about the hat stretching or sagging. I already knew my sister loved the yarn and that it wears well–she gets a lot of use from the mittens I made with the same yarn last year–and besides, gift knitting is a great excuse to use yarns I want to work with but rarely get to, living in such a warm climate.
Hats are pretty quick to make, especially in heavier weight yarns. Woolly has a whole slew of neat hat patterns in worsted to bulky weight, any of which would make an engaging project that might actually make it under the tree in time.
The niece, it transpires, needed a neckwarmer more than a hat. I’d planned to make her a Helical hat (I swear this isn’t a sponsored post, I just love the ingenuity of Woolly’s designs), so I adapted the pattern to make a cowl. I was using heavier yarn and didn’t have the time or the inclination to faff about with gauge, so I found a needle that gave me a fabric I liked (US7/4.5mm), cast on enough stitches to just make it around a 24″/60cm needle (usually a safe bet for a cowl, I find–the work will pull in a bit once it’s off the needles), and then kept casting on until I had a multiple of 12, to fit the stitch pattern. I repeated the bottom pattern on the top, and very quickly had a respectable cowl.
I love the cushiness of the garter stitch in this project, and the way the knit stitches float over all that texture. This pattern also falls into the category of ‘projects that look more difficult than they are’, which is my favourite kind of quick knitting.
The older nephew, at 5, is really into oceanography, so I was delighted to find Susan B. Anderson’s Egg to Turtle pattern. I used some Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in Natural left over from last year’s fox mittens for the egg,
some of the Moss Green yak sport from the Quynn hat for the body, and some Noro Silk Garden leftovers that were kicking around the stash for the shell. The turtle acts as stuffing for the egg and vice versa, so you only need a tiny bit of stuffing for the head.
This one took the longest—it’s a bit fiddly, and I blocked the eggshell and turtle separately before seaming. It’s so very charming, though, and even with the fiddliness I managed to get the whole thing finished in a couple of days. This pattern is free for members of Interweave’s Knitting Daily site; she also has a whole book of these fabulous toys, which I will definitely be picking up very soon.
Now all the last minute knitting is done and mailed to where it needs to be, leaving the rest of the month free for some personal projects (with a bit of work knitting in there, but not much) and maybe even some spinning, at last. May your holiday season be equally relaxing, and may all your gifts be received with delight and wonder.