christmas knitting 911 - the infamous search for time management

clock cozy by sarahsthreads (pattern by retrobaby)
time.  it goes by way too quickly....especially when you're excited and planning all sorts of awesome gifts to give to friends and family.  you start out all gung ho and slowly burn out.  you start cancelling projects or switching to others till you end up regretting the earlier joy you had when feeling all inspired and full of inspired energy.  does this happen to you at christmas time?  it's happened to me before.  i'm not gonna lie :P  it's pretty easy to want to make handmade gifts for everyone in your life but the actual act of making all of them seldom becomes reality.  life gets in the way.  and if you do get them all done i want to hear from you.  how do you do it?  did you start in january? what's your secret?

all kidding aside i haven't given up hope on handmade gift giving and my infamous search for time management when it comes to christmas crafting.  i happen to enjoy the planning, the choosing of the yarn, the knitting and that bit of stress/deadline.  it gets me all revved up to knit more than i will the whole year.  but last year that wasn't the case.  i took on way too much, a bigger bite than i could chew and it ended up biting me in the a**.  it was pretty stressful and not fun stressful.  i honestly think it took the joy out of the making for me which is pretty hard to do to this die hard crafter.  i decided to switch things up this year.

saved by the bell pattern by samantha wilson
 i decided to only make handmade gifts for those who requested an item or who i knew would absolutely LOVE what i made.  i decided that all the heart and soul that goes into each gift i make just wasn't worth expending if the gift wasn't going to be well received.  i've learned my lessons over the last few years and that's why i only give gifts with "knitterella" tags on them..hahaha - love them!  but i digress...i started my list a bit earlier than last year, purchased my patterns and yarn ahead of time and then told myself i wouldn't fully start crafting them until december 1st.  i know...nuts right?

i felt like if i started them earlier in the fall i would start to resent having to make them.  that may not make sense to all of you but the best thing i can say is that i make things for people all year.  pressies for my girls, gifts for other people and their kids for bdays and other occasions. only just recently have i started selfish knitting and sewing.  i am soooo addicted.  man does it feel nice to do something to treat myself.  it feels really good.  as a busy mom and wife i feel like spoiling myself with doing something i love that is just for me in the end is perfectly a-ok.  i don't think women in general do enough of it.  i thank my pal jane for that.  she taught me how to truly and fully enjoy knitting beyond what i have in the whole  24+ years that i've been knitting/crocheting.

in order to squeeze the selfish knitting/sewing in i decided that i would start a few projects just for me in the summer/fall and work on them until december 1st.  i made sure the list i had set out to make for december would be doable in the time frame i had given myself.  that's the trick folks...right there.  make sure you have the actual time to finish these projects...not your dream time.  all too often we think we will have tons of time but in reality things take a lot longer and that's when the stress comes in.  other obligations can get in the way.   make sure the projects you choose are realistic and are something you truly would love to make for that person.  i have suffered through knitting gifts in the past and drolled through it dreading every minute.  trust me...that is not the way to spend the xmas holiday crafting time.  boring.

i chose to make only 3 knitted gifts this year.  last year i did way more.  i didn't get them all done on still bothers  this is what and how i'm doing it this year...

i chose one time consuming gift - deirdre by linden down for someone in my family who will remain unnamed....and the yarn....wowsa, i love what i picked out....i am super excited to give it to them.  i so enjoyed making this shawl right from the start and am happy to say i bound off last night!  woot woot!  project one soon to be crossed off the list. i will admit i started this one weeks ago but only did a few rows and then put it aside for december 1st.

then i chose two faster gifts.  two hats.  one by wooly wormhead - the ql slouch (above), for my sister in law who so sweetly asked me for as many handmade goodies as i could manage.  i splurged on the yarn and can't wait to cast this beauty on!  it's going to look so pretty on her!

and the second hat is joe by jane richmond for my hubby who picked this hat out himself and who repeatedly asked me for a new hat all year. i also may throw in two mug hugs for mackenzie's teachers.

in between all my xmas crafting i reward myself with working on my lingering two selfish mommy  i've got audrey on the needles and the classic raglan pullover in the works as well.  i would love to have both done by xmas but that prolly will not happen.  i am not superwoman...but of them may be doable.  but we'll see.  i keep dreaming of wearing my red audrey over the holidays.  but i did get 2 hats and 3 cowls done for myself and 1 cowl for my daughter before december so i'm pretty happy.  that includes the north wind hat by felicia lo of sweet georgia yarns (above) and shannon by jane richmond (below).  i've been wearing them all rotating them daily.  i've never done that before and i have to say i'm loving it!  you can find all my projects and things i have on the go here on my ravelry page.

so far for now i've been enjoying the late nights in front of the fire with a favorite movie on, curled up on the couch with hot chocolate (that may or may not have some yummy liqueur in it...shhhhh.) when my whole family is in bed sleeping while i am knitting away...but hey...that's not every ones cup of tea.  how can you get it all done this year too?  time block.  that's my secret weapon and it is all year.  i time block projects and crafts out.  i schedule what project i am going to work on in what priority order and do multiple things in a day/evening.   

here's an example of my day right now:

7:00am: breakfast with kids
8:00am: blogging/emailing/social media time mixed in with playing, diaper changing, snack making, coffee sipping and any other motherly duties i may have.
10:00am: knitting (project 1) while daughter and i have some one on one time while youngest naps.
12:00pm: lunch making.
12:30pm: knitting (project 2)/hand sewing while kiddos eat lunch along with blog tasks/emails/social media
1:00pm: playtime with kids
3:00pm:  downtime for kids and mommy knits/hand sews again with inbox cleanup.
4:00pm: dinner prep/chores etc
5:00-6:30pm: time with family/dinner/bath
6:30-8:30pm: kids ready for bed/stories/cleanup/mixed in with blogging for tomorrow's post
8:30 - 9:45pm: blogging
9:45 - 10:45pm: knitting
10:45pm - i'm sleepy: selfish knitting and/or hand stitching binding on harper's quilt.  now listen...this is just what i strive for.  there are play dates, appointments, school and other things mixed in there as well.  it doesn't always go as planned but for now it seems to be working.  i carry my knitting around with me and whip it out in the car or anywhere else i deem safe to knit.   my knit nights on saturdays sure don't hurt either because i get from 7-11 of straight knitting done.  it's fabulous.  also due to my back injury i can't sew right now so usually i would have time blocked in for sewing.  normally if i have to do daytime sewing i would do it while the kids eat lunch.  i would then sew again at night in the 9:45-10:45time block and then knit after i'm done blogging till bedtime.  i've had to lose a lot of gifts i was planning on making for others that were sewn and had to just mit defeat on that one.  it's been hard but i try to make every minute count and also make them enjoyable at the same time.  some people may think when do you have downtime but honestly the knitting is so relaxing that it is my downtime and blogging is also my passion so it's all fun in the end.  my hubby is also not home at night when the kids go to bed so it's free time for this momma to get her blogging/craft on :P

so....what do you all do to stay on top of your projects?  are you a very late knit knitter?  a weekend uber knitter? an early bird knitter?  an i started working on them in the spring kind of knitter?  i want to know your tips and tricks on how we can all help each other in the search for time maintenance when it comes to making it through this holiday crafting time without too much stress or grief. dears....share...i'm dying to know how you guys try to "do it all" :) you want win a new cowl? don't have the time to do selfish knitting yourself?  head on over to "nook" to enter to win a pretty begbie cowl just for you!