At this seasonal time of year many knitters are hard at work creating masterpieces to be given for gifts. From socks to scarves to toys, there are many ways that yarn can be turned into lovely items that are appreciated by young and the young at heart. Knitting for Christmas seems to have become somewhat of a tradition, judging by the patterns which are readily available.

It is possible for even the most inexperienced knitter to create a wearable scarf. The yarns that are available these days often make even the most basic stitch look interestingly complicated. Scarves needn't be simple, though. Cables, colors, and entrelac patterns all present different levels of challenge to the knitter.

Hats, particularly beanie hats or those with a monster or animal theme, increase in popularity over the holidays, especially for the young ones. In her book, 'Weekend Hats,' Cecily MacDonald shows how it is possible to knit a simple beanie hat in an evening, if not too fine a yarn is used (2). Choose colors and patterns to add interest, perhaps adding a quirky finish that shows thought and attention was put into the creation of the headwear.

Socks have taken on a life of their own. In the book 'Think outside the Sox,' the craft of knitting socks reaches amazing new heights (1). For those who need a simpler project, sock patterns can be found on many websites and in various pattern books. Socks are usually knit in the round. They make a great project for a budding knitter to learn a new skill.

Toys are always popular during the holidays, and not just for kids! Jean Greenhowe has designed an entire library of knitted toys that are both safe for children, as well as wonderful heirloom keepsakes for adults. When knitting toys for children, select yarns and stuffing that is flame retardant, and be careful of using small additions such as buttons. The wonderful thing about Jean's creations is that everything is knitted, and attached firmly. Try her book 'Knitted Toys,' or for more festive projects, 'Christmas Special.' (3)

Like them or loathe them, sweaters abound at Christmas time, and they are what many people consider when they start knitting for Christmas. There are lovely laces, captivating cables, crazy colors, and whimsical themes, and all at varying degrees of skill levels. From the sublime to the ridiculous, sweaters are here to stay. Unless the garment has been discussed at some length with the recipient, though, it may not be a good idea to spend a lot of time and money on yarn to knit a sweater for an adult. Children will adore a pullover that features their favorite cartoon character, but a grown-up may not be so enthusiastic!

Garments and toys are not the only items that come off an avid knitter's needles. Knitted dishcloths, covers for potpourri sachets, placemats, doilies, and other household items might be considered as appropriate gifts too. Knitted Christmas stockings make wonderful gifts. The patterns for them are easily available, and range from the traditional red stocking with the white trim, to more elaborate versions, such as high-heeled Victorian boots. Small stockings can be knit as tree decorations or to be the wrapping for a tiny gift. The beauty of knitted stockings is that they can be used from year to year, for a gift that lasts a long time.

There are many ways that those keen on working with yarn can do knitting for Christmas. Some planning is necessary, though; to be really successful, the projects must be given enough time, with a bit extra allowed for unforeseen hiccups. There's nothing worse than running out of time, or yarn, before the gift can be shared with its recipient. However, with a bit of thought and attention, the hand-knitted gift is one that will be treasured for years to come.

 

(1)   Rowley, Elaine. Think outside the Sox. Xrx Books, 2010. Print.

(2)   MacDonald, Cecily G. Weekend Hats: 25 Knitted Caps, Berets, Cloches, and More. Interweave, 2011. Print

(3)   Greenhowe, Jean. Knitted Toys. Bounty Books, 1994. Print.

Greenhowe, Jean. Christmas Special. Jean Greenhow Designs. 1991. Print.