X-mess in July

It’s July and if you’re a knitter,  you know it’s time to start thinking about that big ol’ holiday in December, what I like to call the X-mess. Make your list — and only include people who actually appreciate the value of a hand-knit gift — and get started. Which is weird advice coming from the queen of procrastination, who gave her mom a Christmas gift on New Year’s Day last season.

Here are some things I’ve knit and would highly recommend for gifts that you can knock off pretty quickly.

Tom’s Crossed Cowl by Melissa Beach

Crossed Cowl in madelinetosh merino colourway ‘forestry’

Availability: Free online

Why I love it: this is the perfect neckwarmer. I have knit other cowls that are simply too wide — they gape open at the neck which makes them pretty useless as neckwarmers. Fine for decoration, sucky for an actual Canadian winter. This cowl cozies up around the neck without feeling restrictive.

Bonus Benefit: it’s much more compact than a scarf, so you can easily put it in a pocket or purse when you duck inside for a moment.

My versions: I have made two from Madelinetosh Merino, which is my absolute favourite yarn I have ever knit with.

Time Commitment: of course this varies, depending on your own speed of knitting, but for me these each took about 2 – 3 evenings’ worth of knitting.

The Honeycomber Hat by Wendy Barnard

The Honeycomber Hat in Mirasol Nuna


Availability: downloadable for $5.25 

Why I love it: Just look at it! It’s such a great looking hat! It’s knit with DK yarn, which means it’s not that great for super-cold weather, but I found it to be the perfect hat for late fall/early winter/late winter/early spring.

Added Bonus: It looks like complicated colourwork but it’s not. No stranded knitting, no intarsia. You only ever work with one colour at a time on any given row. The colour pattern is formed using slipped stitches.

My version: knit with Mirasol Yarn Nuna (40% silk, 40% wool, 40% bamboo). I used just under one skein each of 1037 Golden and 1041 Plum.

Time Commitment: for me it was 3 – 4 evenings’ worth of knitting.

Wave Cowl by Rebecca Hatcher

Wave Cowl in Noro Cashmere Island colourway 6

Availability: Free online

Why I love it: The wave design (created using Short Rows) really comes to life when knit with a self-striping wool. Every time I see this cowl I am delighted by the brilliant colours of emerald, purple, and sea blue.

My version: Knit with 2 skeins of Noro Cashmere Island, colourway 6. I think this yarn has been discontinued but any worsted-weight Noro should do the trick. I did make modifications to the original pattern to make it slightly conical-shaped, rather than a straight-up tube.

Caveat: this is one of those cowls that I find too wide to be all that practical. If I made this again I would probably cast on fewer stitches, enough to drop one repeat of the wave pattern, for a more snug fit around the neck.

If you can gaze upon these colours and not feel joy, there’s something wrong with you.


Show-Stopper Bracelet by Karen Catlin

Availability: Free online

Why I love it: It’s a lot of fun to create a beaded bracelet by knitting with wire. The process is pretty easy: string all your beads onto non-tarnish wire, cast on a few stitches and knit every row, adding a bead to every stitch or every other stitch or every other row or however you want to do it.

My versions: I’ve knit several versions of this using crystals, stone beads, plastic beads, or a combination. On each I used a multi-strand tube clasp for a fastener.

Time Commitment: I’m pretty sure I knocked these off in one evening. Maybe two.

Bracelet with Fluorite beads and crystals


Here’s that Christmas-cum-New-Years-gift I made for my mum last year. It’s Voluta by Rachel Erin. (And of course it doesn’t fit me in these pics because I made it for my mom — still have to get a picture of her in it.) I started it on Nov. 25th but it was a bitch to knit. I ended up wrapping the completed body, sans sleeves, for my mom to open on Christmas, and gave her the completed cardigan on New Year’s. She loved it! But then again, she is my number one fan and has always loved the knits I’ve made for her, even when I was just getting into knitting and made her some pretty questionable-looking things. Yay, mom!





Do you have a go-to pattern you like to make for Christmas gifts? Or have you ever tried knitting a gift for Christmas and miserably missed the deadline by a mile? I’d love to hear your stories.

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