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What makes a good handmade gift? This time of year every knitter will ask themselves that question. Should we knit Christmas gifts for the people we love? Will they understand the love and the hours of work that went into it? What should you knit for them, and is there enough time to finish it before Christmas?
My first piece of advice is this: don’t take on more than you can knit. If you’re not a speed knitter and you would like to knit something for everybody in your life, then you should probably have started in January… Knitting is your hobby, your relief, your break from the world, so don’t turn it into the Nightmare Before Christmas. Pick a few people who you know will really appreciate it, and knit them something really awesome that is fast and easy to knit. You will thank me later.
Here are some guidelines for gift knitting
- Knit something in a chunky yarn – Chunky yarn knitted on big fat needles means a fast knitted project. You will be able to make more gifts if you go for the bulkier yarns. Stay far away from anything lighter than worsted weight, unless the project is really small.
- Knit something small – Small projects make excellent gifts. Hats, fingerless mittens, headbands, scrunchies, potholders, dishcloths, Christmas decorations. Again, small means fast but it will also mean that you can afford a better quality yarn, which brings me to my next point…
- Don’t go cheap on the yarn – When knitting gifts I recommend choosing the best quality yarn that your budget allows. Not all friends and family will appreciate the time and effort that goes into knitting, but they will appreciate merino, silk blends, mohair and alpaca. For example, you can knit a beautiful scrunchie with as little as 0.7 oz (20 g) of silk mohair, and it will be the most luxurious thing in the world.
- Use their favorite colors – Your gift is much more likely to bring joy if you pick the colors carefully.
- Knit something they will actually want to wear / use – If you have never seen them wear a scarf in their lives, maybe that’s not the right gift. Always keep the recipient in mind when choosing a project.
- Don’t knit a fitted garment – Knitting a fitted sweater for someone you love is a wonderful thing and you should absolutely do that. Just don’t do it for a surprise gift that needs to be given on a specific day. It takes a long time to knit a sweater, so involve the recipient in the design choices, and let them choose the color of the yarn. Make sure you take their measurements and do your gauge swatches so that you end up with a garment that actually fits. And don’t make any promises about when it will be finished…
Introducing the Purlicious Beanie
I have designed a really cute knitted hat in Malabrigo Rasta yarn that ticks all the boxes for a perfect knitted Christmas gift. It is really easy and fun to knit, and the chunky 100% merino yarn is knitted on US size 13 needles (9 mm), so it knits up in no time. You only need one hank of Rasta to knit the hat. It is appropriate for beginners to advanced beginners.
The Purlicious Beanie has a classic beanie shape with a close fit to the head. It looks great both with and without a giant pom pom, but I am a huge fan of unnecessarily large poms. The fabric is very stretchy so the same set of instructions will fit most head sizes from a small female head to typical male head. There’s a lot of structure to the fabric which works really well with a hand-dyed yarn like Malabrigo Rasta.
Here’s a close-up look, showing off all that gorgeous structure:
You can purchase the Purlicious Beanie from my Ravelry Store. It is available in English and Danish. $ 4.50
If you live in Denmark you can also purchase a yarn kit for the Purlicious Beanie in my webstore Strik med Henni – Shop, complete with Faux-Fur Pom bomb and a cute pom button to attach the Pom to the hat.
Malabrigo Rasta yarn
The hat is designed for Malabrigo Rasta, which is a super bulky 100 % merino wool. It is the softest most delicious yarn you will ever touch. If you have been following along, you will know I am partial to yarn by Malabrigo. It’s luxurious and the colors are truly unique. I have knitted my beanie in the color Sunset, but it would look good in any of their amazing colors. I am about to knit another Purlicious in Violetta Africana and I cannot wait to see the result. Malabrigo Rasta is on the expensive side, but if you were to purchase a store-bought hat, you would never get such an amazing quality of merino wool for the same money. You can buy Malabrigo in many local yarn stores, and if there’s one that’s still open near you, I urge you to support it. If that’s not possible, you can buy Malabrigo Rasta online from LoveCrafts for $ 22 using my affiliate link which means you will be supporting my blog by a small amount at no extra cost to you! You only need one hank for the beanie.
Budget yarn alternatives
Some years the Christmas purse might be a little tight, so here are some more budget friendly yarn substitutes.
Novita Hygge is an excellent substitute with a similar gauge. It is only $ 8.40 / hank, but you might need a little bit more than one hank to complete the hat. The color choices are somewhat limited but it’s a near perfect match when it comes to the texture of the yarn, the drape and elasticity. It’s 100% wool, but it is not merino, and here lies the main difference. It is nowhere near as soft, and if you are one of the many people who find wool itchy, that might be a problem.
Lion Brand Hometown is an acrylic alternative with a spot-on gauge. It is cheap, $ 5.29 / hank, and I think you can just get by with a single hank. The structure of the yarn is quite different from the Rasta yarn. It is plied, where Rasta is single ply, so the finished beanie will look quite different, but the pattern will work just fine. Hometown is softer than Hygge, but not as soft as Rasta. Because it’s acrylic, it is machine washable which is always a plus.
Knitting needles and notions
The hat is knitted in the round on 16” circular needles US size 13 (9mm). I quite like wood and bamboo for knitting with the Malabrigo Rasta yarn, because the soft tips of the needles are in no danger of splitting the thick yarn. Chiaogoo’s fixed length circulars are a favorite. You will also need a set of DPNs in the same size for the top of the hat. Other than that you will need a darning needle and a stitch marker that works on fat needles, and of course a pom pom if you like.
I get my Faux-Fur Pom Bombs from Wool and Knits, and they are simply gorgeous. If you are located in North America, you can buy them directly from her Etsy store and if you happen to be located in Denmark you can buy them from my webshop strikmedhenni-shop.dk. You can also save the money, and make a really cute pom pom out of the yarn left over from knitting the hat. Take a look at how in this video by Treasurie:
The Purlicious Beanie pattern is suitable for a beginner to an advanced beginner. It is both fast and easy to knit. You will need to know how to knit and purl and how to knit in the round. The ribbing is twisted ribbing which involves twisting your knit stitches by knitting through the back of the loop. It takes a little getting used to, but it is quite easy to make twisted ribbing when you knit in the round, because you don’t have to purl through the back of the loop. Please do let me know in the comments if this causes you any trouble, and I will add some more information to guide you through this step.
What is this knitting in the round thing?
If you are completely new to knitting in the round take a look at my Introduction to Circular Knitting. That should get you started hat knitting in no time. I have two more blog posts that might be helpful to knit a hat:
Prevent knitting inside out
During the first few rounds of circular knitting, you can easily lose track of which way you’re knitting if you put your knitwork down for a minute or two. That can result in accidentally knitting on the inside of the work, and it will mess with your pattern. I’ve written an article about how you make sure, you are knitting on the right side of the knitwork when knitting in the round.
The BEST way to attach a pom pom
There are many ways to attach a pom pom, but I have found one way, that has the rest beat. It’s fast and easy, works for all types of poms and yarn, keeps the pom close to the hat, doesn’t involve sewing, and the pom pom is easy to take on and off. Learn the secret trick in my guide to attach a pom pom to a knitted hat.
What will you be knitting for Christmas?
Do you knit Christmas gifts, and have you done so in the past? Please join the discussion in the comments and let us know – what is your favorite gift to knit? We could all use a little inspiration, right about now.