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Feeling the Holiday Stress? Skip These 7 Knitting Projects

We usually devote this time of year to suggesting quick gifts you can make or gifts that are great for practically anyone. But instead, we’ve made a list of a few different projects you should avoid to make sure you don’t have a panic attack.

7 projects to avoid for a stress-free holiday knitting season

Laceweight Ocean Scarf

Craftsy instructor Eunny Jang’s Lace-Weight Ocean Scarf

1. Projects that use lace-weight yarn

Lace progresses so slowly, especially when you’re already distracted by visiting family members, cooking, holiday parties and more. Unless you’re using a simple stitch like stockinette and/or knitting with larger needles, save that lace-weight project for a calmer moment when you can focus and enjoy the process.

2. Patterns in chart form

One of my knitting friends recently brought a shawl with a charted lace border to our stitch group. She was planning to give the shawl to a friend as a holiday gift, but she angrily ended up ripping it out, saying, “Why did I ever do this to myself?!” She had made several mistakes with the chart already and ripped back a couple of times.

We’ve all been there! If you want to make a charted project as a gift, you might just vow to make it in January instead.

Colorwork Swatches

Craftsy instructor Anne Berk’s Colorwork Swatches

3. Anything with lots of colorwork

You need to churn out those gifts fast if you want to actually enjoy family time during the holiday. There’s no time for twisting floats, reading color charts and weaving in ends!

If you want to work with multiple colors, here’s a better bet: use color blocking, simple striping, or a hand-dyed or variegated yarn to more easily incorporate colors. Grabbing lots of small yardages from your stash is another good budget-friendly way to use color without stress.

Tealeaf Sweater

Craftsy instructor Bristol Ivy’s Tealeaf Sweater

4. Just say no to sweaters

Sweaters are the ultimate gift, but knitting them around the holidays is not always the best idea. The yarn for sweaters costs more than most projects since you need so much, slicing into your holiday budget. Save the sweater for a birthday or just for a surprise sometime after Christmas when there’s no pressure to finish such a big project.

Another reason you might want to avoid a sweater — especially as a surprise gift — is because like style and fit are so personal. Some people like positive ease, others like neutral colors. Unless you know the recipient’s style really well, it might be difficult to choose a pattern they would definitely wear.

5. Trying new techniques

If you haven’t tried it, the holidays are probably not the time to learn it and apply it to a gift — unless you are a super zen person. (And if that’s the case, please tell us your secrets!)

Instead, make that technique your New Year’s resolution! You’ll be much calmer in January, and your brain will be ready for some new, challenging stitches.

Cable Comfort ThrowCable Comfort Throw Blanket Knitting Kit

6. Giant blankets

Most blankets don’t have shaping, so they seem like a great idea for a gift. But blankets also take a long time depending on their size, and the supplies cost a lot of money if you’re buying good-quality yarn. 

If you really want to knit a blanket but don’t have a lot of time, consider a smaller lap blanket instead.

Knitted Socks

Craftsy instructor Ann Budd’s knitted socks

7. Socks with special techniques

A few years ago, I knitted a pair of socks for my husband. I thought I would zip right through it, even though the entire leg of the sock was full of stranded colorwork. By the time I got to the foot part of the cuff-down sock, I was exhausted! I had to give the socks to him post-holiday.

Socks are a great gift for practically everyone, but if you’re short on time be sure to stick to a simple, familiar pattern that will move along quickly. If you already know how the construction works, you won’t feel nearly as stressed out!

Have you ever knit a gift that you vowed to never knit again? Tell us about it in the comments!



I made a baby blanket for my daughter’s first child. The basic pattern was easy enough but the entire surface had to be embroidered. I thought I would NEVER finish! I went on to make blankets for each of her other two children, but believe me, it wasn’t THAT pattern!


I’ve knit baby hats for first time mothers and first time grandmothers at work.Not even a thank you or a picture with the hat on.So discouraging.
It is like they expect it because I knit.

Karen Wessel

Oh well. You’re doing it for the baby, not for the rude grandmother/mother. It’s a sweet and kind gesture and I’m sure the little one loves it.

Janine McCaw

That is also a pet peeve of mine, and I suppose many. Just ONE photo!

karen powell

I think this article is demeaning to the fiber craft world. You are basically putting craft fear by telling anyone new or anyone who wants to try one of the 7 techniques listed that these are stressful , expensive and not worth it as a christmas gift.
Some of these 7 topics are not hard, nor expensive nor stressful. If fiber is gotten on sale , recycled from a thrift store or your own stash, they are not expensive… and suggesting that their cost is stressful is wrong. Crafts have been scientifically proven to relax; albeit while when a project is not working out, stress does climb.

What if one of these 7 topics was all your gift person asked for…. then you by writing this article are creating undue stress in a potential fiber creator.

Anyone with gumption willing to tackle any project should be applauded for their tenacity. Many local yarn shops offer classes on many of these topics at this time of year; as we all know many businesses rely on their christmas sales to carry them through the quiet retail spring season. This article has the potential to affect those sales.

I was very sad to read this article.I think it could have been written from a different perspective.


My personal viewpoint (for that is what the article and the above comment are) was perhaps something I was given by my late Mother. She liked to give personal gifts to family members. And she knew us pretty well. She worked on whatever project she had chosen and if it wasn’t completed, she would wrap the unfinished project, the pattern and remaining yarn. That way there was not the stress of finishing by a certain time (or hastily hiding the project from the intended receipient).

I try to reserve my holiday knitting gifts to things I feel motivated to complete or enjoy doing to minimize stress. Things come up in everyone’s lives that can derail the best plans, so having a backup plan helps avoid that ‘got to get it finished’ stress.

Knowing your limitations, be it free time or knitting experience, is key. Perhaps trying your first lace weight shawl with limited time is not a wise move, but if you have done them before and you know how long it will take you… I also work on gifts for people through out the year, so I have created things ahead of the holiday season. So, if giving something that is incomplete is not to your taste, then finishing it for next year may be the way to go.

Life is too short to stress over these things. Know yourself and how you handle knitting projects, make realistic plans for time and expense and have a backup plan for things if things don’t work out as planned. There is always that lovely handmade ‘gift certificate’ for the ‘dreamy’ sweater (I see one of those cute mini sweater ormnaments here), so that the recipient can help with style and color.


I think this article is just focusing on last-minute gifts. As in, if you celebrate Christmas, you are starting your project like 2-5 days before. Otherwise, yes, with planning, you can knit anything. My family exchanges gifts on January 6th rather than December 25th and I am working on a sweater for my younger sister that has cables, which I’ve never done before. However, I began working on it in October so I have given myself plenty of time.

Another gift I am planning on making is a hat with a simple pattern and bulky yarn. I am planning on just making that 2 days before as it is truly a quick project.

Terese Pratt

I disagree with your comment on avoiding charts. I think charts are easier than written instructions, but I want it written too so that I can make sure I am thinking what the designer is thinking. I just look at the written pattern to start, then go ahead with the chart.


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