I'm not referring to the parking lots at the mall or the back-to-back Christmas gatherings or the number of lightbulbs per square foot in my neighbourhood. I'm referring to the affliction that annually strikes many knitters (and probably crocheters and sewers too) as early as the first week of December but usually in the second and third weeks of this otherwise run-of-the-mill-crazy month. Certainly, I use words like madness and insanity in a rather loose manner (and entirely too often) but sometimes I can't help but wonder.
What I'm talking about is gift knitting and the belief that December is a perfectly rational time to start it. A hat, you tell yourself will take no time at all. And a little baby sweater for your cousin's newest baby? So easy! And yes, knitted toys are a little finicky to work up, but so small and relatively quick compared to the hours I could spend shopping for something half as adorable. Then I should probably finish that sweater I started for my significant other which only has the rest of the front, back, sleeves, collar, and button-bands left. And while it's blocking, I do have all these colourful partials that would make the cutest colourwork miniature stockings that I can adorn all these presents with. Wouldn't that be a great stash buster and ridonculously cute? And so the list grows into something gargantuan that couldn't have been conquered had you started in June like you should have.
A knitter's ability to reckon time is already suspect, but the nearer Christmas looms, the less a knitter can grasp that time is immutable (for all practical purposes) or accept the limits of their human biology. But reality does set in, and we sleep, and we eat, and we don't completely shun our families and friends (we just take our knitting with us to their parties and hope no one notices).
The scary thing about it all though? I've done this countless Christmases and I've long ago banned myself from gift knitting, because frankly, the majority of those gifts were never completed* and some, I'm not too proud to admit, are to this day still in the skein stage, yet I start toying with the possibility of just knitting a few small things for the people I think will actually appreciate it--every single year--around this time. I'm not sure I can be convinced that this isn't a form of madness.
I thought I might be recovering from this condition after years (perhaps even decades) of denial. Last year, I made exactly zero attempts to knit something for anyone other than my own self, even if I did give it some consideration. However, this year I foresee a set-back. You see, that hypothetical gift list a few paragraphs ago isn't. I actually made that list yesterday, right before I pinched myself hard and looked for a bucket of ice water to dunk my head in.
Maybe just the hat then?
And the doll.
*Once I abandoned all hope of finishing the gift in time, I would end up spending hours, last-minute, scouring the internet to find that person something just right and in time. As in, I spent double the money (and time) I would have otherwise--buying yarn that didn't get used plus a gift that I probably could have bought a month earlier during Black Friday sales.