Homemade gifts are always popular because, while they have the potential to save some money, they also show the recipient that you care enough to spend time creating something just for them. Knitting and crochet projects are great options for homemade gifts because they’re functional, they help you learn a new skill and the options regarding colour and design are pretty much limitless.
I have taught many people how to knit and crochet over the years, and I am here with the insights I have gained to help you successfully complete whatever knitted or crocheted gift you have in mind.
Start your project as soon as possible. Ideally, you would have started weeks ago, but your second-best option is to start now.
However, before you start, it is important to consider if you really do have the time to start a yarn craft for your loved one. You need to consider the time it will take to gather supplies (not much), learn the skill (varies wildly, but at least a couple hours) and actually create the project (depends on what you choose to make and how many times you’ll start over). You’ll probably need to start over.
In my time as a knitting and crochet instructor, I have seen people with no experience in either craft learn it in one night and then come back a week later with a nearly finished project, so completing your gift within a short amount of time is possible.
If you don’t have the time to knit or crochet someone a gift for this year, that’s okay. Start learning now so you can give a homemade gift next year.
Knitting or Crochet?
Now that you’ve decided you do have the time to take on a knitting or crochet project, it is time to choose which craft to learn. It is fairly simple to learn the basic stitches for both knitting and crochet.
However, it is a bit easier to take on more complicated projects with crochet than it is with knitting. Crochet also has the benefit of being more forgiving. If you mess up a stitch, you can just pull it out and start over right away—this is not the case with knitting.
When choosing which to learn is what kind of project you want to work on. Both methods are great for hats or scarves, but if you’re looking to make something round like a coaster or pot holder, you might want to choose crochet, whereas knitting is better for socks. The cost of materials will be essentially the same.
There are many options for those hoping to learn knitting and crochet. Personally, I prefer using Youtube to learn basic skills as well as new stitches or techniques. You can also find many webpages or books teaching basic steps.
There are many programs around the region that will help you learn these skills moer directly. .
Check out the Kitchener Public Library, Waterloo Public Library and Cambridge Idea Exchange for programs that will teach you one of these crafts. The City of Kitchener and The City of Waterloo also provide directories of programs in KW.
Choosing a project
Scarves, hats and even blankets are great because they’ll keep your loved ones warm through the winter, but simpler projects like pot holders, coasters, mug cozies or book marks will take much less time. More complicated projects like sweaters or socks should be left for your more experienced future self.
One of my favorite things to crochet a dice bag pattern. It’s simple, takes only a couple hours and you can easily change the size and design based on the needs and preferences of your gift receiver.
The materials depend on the project, but the minimum materials are yarn, scissors, a darning needle (to weave in the ends) and either knitting needles or a crochet hook.
The pattern you’re using should tell you what size of hook, needle or yarn you need in order to complete the project.
Note that the US and UK sizing for knitting needles and crochet hooks are different, so be sure to check which system your pattern is using. Decisions about colours and fibre types are up to you.
Acrylic is generally the cheapest. However, since it is made of plastic, it should be avoided for projects like pot holders that will come into contact with heat or dish towels that will need to absorb water. In addition, acrylic clothing does not breathe as well as natural fibres.
For natural fibres, make sure you account for any allergies your gift recipient might have.
Some suggestions for places to find yarn craft materials include Shall We Knit in Kitchener, Galt House of Yarn in Cambridge, Riverside Studio in New Hamburg, and Len’s Mills in Waterloo and Cambridge.
As a beginner, you’re bound to make a few mistakes, but it’s important to remember that the person receiving the gift will only see the time and care you put into it.