Crochet Marathoning

It is an annual event in which you either participate whole-heartedly… or skip altogether for lack of intestinal fortitude, time or heaven-help-you, yarn.

The Holiday Crochet Gift Marathon does not have a specific start date nor a finish line (other than Christmas morning) and isn’t the same distance for everyone, which doesn’t seem fair.  Crocheting five projects for our most cherished loved ones is a leisurely stroll around the block; cranking out dozens of pretties to fill an extensive gift list is the whole 26 miles and 385 yards at full tilt.

In my life BCD (before crochet designing) I stayed the course year after year.  Once the professional deadlines began piling up I had to ditch all personal projects.  Work trumps play every time.  It has been nearly a decade since I’ve run the race.  But I remember what it was like.

Fun.  It used to be awesome fun, and I say that with no trace of sarcasm.  I loved the whole process, from compiling the naughty/nice list (in other words, choosing which giftees were most worthy of something hand crocheted and who wouldn’t appreciate the gesture enough to deserve the effort), to coordinating yarns and projects, to the all-night end weaving sessions, to seeing the reactions (usually delight) of the recipients on Christmas. One aspect I often didn’t like was having to give away certain items. There was always a project or two per marathon that I loved enough to want to keep.  This is why you should always follow Marathon Rule #3.

So I have gotten ahead of myself. What I thought to do today is share some helpful and hard-won tips regarding the Holiday Crochet Marathon, most of them common sense. In doing so I don’t claim any expertise in the race, I only hope to show you what I learned, and in the process, make myself feel better about not being able to run this year.

1– Start early.  Earlier than you think.  Earlier than is seemly.  August would have been good, but as it is already November you should really be starting now.  At least before Thanksgiving. An acceptable reason for waiting until after Thanksgiving would be if you want to take advantage of possible Black Friday sale prices on yarn.  But really, you should already be a mile off the starting line.

2– Choose projects for which you have plenty enough yarn on hand.  Do not risk the agony of running out of materials to complete anything.  I cannot stress this enough.  If you have 4 hanks of a yarn, don’t try to squeeze a whole adult sweater out of them.  Choose a different gift project that requires less than 4 hanks.

3– Use yarns you will not miss.  I once crocheted a marathon project in one of my finest acquisitions, the softest, bluest, most luxurious yarn brought back as a souvenir from a trip.  The wrap looked so good on me.  Really. I still regret having given it away. So under no circumstances should you dig into your personal absolute favorite stash.

4– Do use yarns and colors that will be appropriate and  happy for the ultimate recipient.  Say you have a butt load of blue yarn because you just love blue and you’d really like to make gifts with it but  your sister doesn’t like blue. Pick something else for her, in her best color, not yours.

5– Know your limits.  Instead of planning too many marathon gifts, it is better to plan fewer and give yourself extra time in case stuff happens.  If you are a super fast, efficient, single-minded crocheter and can say with absolute certainty that you will not be sidetracked by inclement weather, unexpected guests or other emergencies, then by all means do more.

6– Pace yourself.  Can’t marathon if you burn out too soon. Take a breather after each project.  Pat yourself on the back.  Have some wine or chocolate before going on to the next.

7– No hinting to anyone. Do not tell people that you are making hand-crocheted gifts this year. If they aren’t the ones getting the pretties then they’ll feel miffed.

8– Bigger is not better. Huge, elaborate projects make wonderful special gifts but have no place in the marathon queue. Keep your projects to a manageable size.  This does not mean the gifts have to be easy or simple or plain.  Instead of skimpy, think of smaller projects as unique showcases for your skills.

9– Pay particular attention to the details, like end weaving, blocking if needed, and finishing. This raises the level of your work from homemade to hand-crafted.

10– Pour your passion, your very being into every step of the marathon.  Think about the person for whom you are crocheting while you are crocheting. You’ll discover that each gift will be the most precious thing you could give; not just a pile of looped yarn, but a piece of yourself.

Happy Marathoning!

18 thoughts on “Crochet Marathoning

  1. Doris.. you hit a chord in me with your naughty/nice list! I used to do that too! Of course no one but me knew there was such a list! LOL!

    Now with deadlines.. Rarely do I get to make gifts anymore.

  2. I love #10. That one is always in each project I make or design I develop. I think that putting myself into it makes it that much more special and the person receiving it, I think, can also perceive that special feeling.
    As for marathoning, yes, yes and yes. Between attending uni, doing homework, assembling my end of class project, there’s not much time to do anything else. So I crochet whichever item is on my growing todo list and don’t look back 🙂
    I should be done by Christmas morning… I hope 🙂

  3. You are such a good writer! Projects lined up. What happens when you are in the middle of knitting one shawl (and you’ve frogged 20 rows last night) that may end up for someone (just maybe) and you can’t ditch it for gift crocheting as you will lose that precious momentum? Crochet small gifts in between???

  4. One Christmas, Mom forgot to bring the stockings to my sister’s house. There are four of us sisters, and we all had crochet granny square stockings made by my aunt. My sister and I stepped up and stayed up late Christmas Eve crocheting stockings. I almost brought yarn to mass.

  5. Did plan to crochet gifts for the holidays. Hmm…then my granddaughter was born and I decided to learn to knit. That was not too long after the two pearl river shawls drained the crochet out of me. Can I tell you that I am so enjoying knitting that I kinda put my crochet hooks down. Lol! But there are at least 6 people that I need to crochet gifts for and they are not simple things. So as soon as I finish knitting designing this last bunting….maybe. I think I am hooked though for awhile. Got some beautiful yarn and I agree it’s hard to give away your nice stuff…that too makes me stop and re think often. Not sure what I am going to do maybe knit and crochet stuff…thanks for the reminder.

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  7. Love it! Thanks for the inspiration stop to keep going on my marathon! I also refrain from hinting to anyone that I am making gifts in case I don’t finish :o)

  8. Great tips, Doris! I like #6. Although I’ll also admit to having my wine and chocolate WHILE I’m crocheting not just in between projects. 😉

  9. Talk about a marathon! Somewhere in your Archives, I found the pattern for the little crochet stocking. The Blogger link is broken (saying Page not Found) but I did find it, posted at a different time, with the little drawing. Anyway, I printed it out, put the paper in a page protector for my bag, but after awhile learned that I did not need to refer to it as often.
    As of this morning, I have hooked 4 dozen of the little darlings. Passing them out to my Needlework Group, the waitress at breakfast, the church custodian, and a whole bagful for all the children in a friend’s home daycare.
    A crochet friend asked for the pattern, so I sent the link for the post to her by e-mail. She can pay for the printer’s toner herself.
    I’ve had fun doing them, but have decided it’s time to move along for something different. Probably a Tote/Gift Bag in holiday colors. Thanks for the pattern, and having the idea of small gifts to please so many.

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