Building a stash of handmade gifts – Nine knitting patterns to use again and again (by Robyne Devine)
Almost every knitter I know loves to gift handmade presents for birthdays and holidays, but we also all find ourselves remembering this at the very last minute. While a plethora of “last minute knit” patterns exist, I’ve taken to keeping a list of “go to” patterns that I whip through whenever I have some spare knitting time. I store all these finished knits in a drawer of my yarn dresser (where I store my yarn stash), so that when a birthday, holiday, or celebration sneaks up on me I’ve got something waiting in the wings!
Babies – Everyone knows someone who is having a baby, and most new parents love the gift of handmade items. I love to give smaller gifts – hats, sweaters, and booties – that can grow at least a little bit with the babe.
- My go-to hat pattern: Cabled Hat (http://heyjulie.wordpress.com/2006/08/18/cabled-baby-hats/). This hat looks great made in any color, and stretches unbelievably – I’ve known babes to wear it for their first six months!
- My go-to sweater pattern: 5 hour baby boy sweater (http://gailbable.tripod.com/id41.html ). It looks good on both boys and girls, and most babes can wear it for up to four months if you make it long enough (the sleeves can be rolled up for the first month or two).
- My go-to sleep sack pattern: Snug As A Bug sleepsack (my own pattern – http://robyndevine.blogspot.com/2010/05/snug-as-bug-sleepsack-free-pattern.html ). I can whip one of these up in three days flat, and for babes born in colder months, this can be a god-send!
Men – Men can be a bit harder to knit for. They look for utility above all, I’ve learned, which means neutral colors and design, less flourish and pattern drama but more classic lines and design. A good go-to pattern for men has to be something you’d give to your father, your husband, and your son.
- My go-to gloves pattern: Cigar mitts (http://knitty.com/ISSUEsummer05/PATTcigar.html ). I make the pattern either with all fingers fully completed or with all fingers left open, and always in black, grey, navy or brown – and always in Patons wool. They stand up to anything, are great for working outside or on home improvements, and are classic enough for any man to love.
- My go-to hat pattern: Vancouver (my own pattern – http://robyndevine.blogspot.com/2010/05/vancouver-hat-free-pattern.html). This hat is another fast and classic knit. It’s simplicity hides the fact that any man on your gift list will love it and wear it out – ask my father-in-law!
Women – The women in your life will end up being the hardest to knit for. Every woman I know has a different style, favorite colors, and fabric loves. None the less, I keep a few patterns on-hand for last-minute gifts – I’ve found these classics will make almost any woman happy!
- My go-to scarf pattern: The Star Scarf pattern (http://crafthope.com/2010/01/project-6-orphan-foundation/ ) from Vickie Howell (made for Craft Hope) became an instant classic for me. Simple enough to memorize quickly, this is a great traveling project, and can be worked into a skinny scarf or a more substantial shawl. Again, the yarn makes the style for this beauty – knit in a neutral the scarf becomes perfect for anyone on your list, but by adding a fun color to the pattern you’ve got an instant favorite for those looking for an up-to-the-moment accessory.
- My go-to hat patterns: Any hat by Jane Richmond (http://www.janerichmond.etsy.com/ ) is a winner in my book! Every woman I’ve made one of Jane’s hats for, from friends to family members and spanning generations, has loved her hat to death! They can be made slouchier or snug, and are classic enough that by simply changing up the color of your yarn, you end up with a hat that is traditional to funky and fresh!
Kids – If you thought knitting for the women in your life could be difficult, try knitting for the kids you know! From the minute they become mobile, kids start expressing their likes and dislikes, and that definitely includes knit-wear! I’ve found that sticking with simple items, knit with super soft and WASHABLE fabrics increases the chances the kids in your life will love what you knit for them.
- My go-to hat pattern: Baby Beanie by Ulli Shibuya (free Ravelry download). The pattern calls for fingering weight, so by sizing up to sport weight or even worsted weight, you end up with a hat to fit any kid from a toddler to a teen. Leave off the tab at the top for older kids, and this hat is sure to be worn by girls and boys alike.
- My go-to sweater pattern: Drive Thru, by Knit and Tonic. You can work this sweater into a cardigan (my preferred method) or a pull-over, and it can be made solid or with any variety of patterns to suit any boy or girl. I’ve made these for my nieces this year, and they fell in love instantly!
And if you’ve got a little extra time on your hands, my go-to blanket pattern is the Project Linus blanket from Knitting For Peace. This blanket works up great in any color, and can be adjusted for smaller or larger blankets. We’ve got a few in our home, even!