Holiday Project Planning

Yep, you read that correctly.  It’s only June and I’m starting to think about planning for any Holiday projects I might like to work into the mix.  There’s only 5-1/2 months left until gifting season.  Plenty of time right?  It depends.

A small project like a hat or pair of mitts could easily be done in a few days/weeks of dedicated Crafting Time.  On the other end of the scale, a blanket, pair of socks, or sweater could easily take many months.  And what if there are several gift projects?  How far in advance do I need to get started so that all of them are finished, wrapped, and shipped in time for gifting?

This post could also be titled “There’s a Spreadsheet for That.”  Though I think that would scare even more people away.  I love a good spreadsheet, but I also realize that most folks don’t.  Here, I’m just using the software tool to do the math for me – how many rows do I need to do each day to reach my goal of having Project X done one month from now.  Nothing scary about that.  A calculator and sheet of paper would work just as well.

I’ll give you an example.

For my aunt’s mitts last year, I timed out that I could work 12 rounds of the pattern in one hour.  I was working each mitt separately, rather than two-at-a-time.  The pattern specifies how many rounds is in each finished mitt.  So I made my spreadsheet figure out how many hours it would take to work all of the rounds for both mitts.

Length to Finish = 166 rounds / 12 rounds per hour = 13.8 hours.

That sounds manageable, right?  Most of us have enough hours to craft that we could get that done in two or three weeks of dedicated knitting time.

What if I added in a bigger project?  Here’s another example.

Take the cute stuffed dragon or bulldog that I made in past years.  Each one is made up of individual African Flower motifs that are joined together.  I timed how long it took me to crochet an individual motif.  Again, the pattern specifies how many motifs are needed to finish each animal.  Using those two numbers, I made the spreadsheet calculate how long it would take me to make all of the motifs for each animal, then added estimates for how long it would take me to join the motifs and stuffing/finishing work.  In the case of the dragon:

Length to Finish = 256 motifs / 2 motifs per hour = 128 hours.

I know that’s a huge number of hours.  Try not to swoon.  This is why we plan in the first place.  There’s an old saying about how to eat an elephant (or dragon) – one bite at a time.

So I think about how many hours of Crafting Time I can reasonably squeeze into one week without neglecting the rest of the world and my own basic needs.  Weekly Crafting Time = Waiting Time + After Dinner Crafting Time + Knit Night + Weekend Crafting Time.  For me, a typical week averages 8-10 hours (some have a lot more, some have a lot less, it’s an average).  Your mileage may vary.  For the sake of your sanity, keep it reasonable.  If I’m only allowing myself to work on the dragon project, then I divide the number of weekly hours available into the number of hours to finish the project.

128 hrs / 8 hrs = 16 weeks to complete the project

What that tells us is this particular project would need to begin work in August to make a December gifting deadline.

Still not swooning.  This is why we begin planning in June.

In my planning spreadsheet, there’s a section for each project and the associated calculations.  Once I’ve worked out how many hours are needed for each project, I take a look at how many weeks of work it all adds up to.  Do I have that many weeks left before the deadline?  If so, I schedule each project in among all of the other things in my daily life.  (“Sorry, I have to go knit right now.  I’m on a deadline!”)  If not, well it’s time for a good hard look at which project(s) can be put off until after the new year.

What’s in the spreadsheet for this year?  It’s a blank page at the moment.  I usually put any Special Requests at the very top.  My family knows how long it takes for these things, so they are sure to make requests well in advance.  Apparently they’re all well stocked in hats, mitts, shawls, and socks at the moment.  So now I get to add in all the little ideas for things I think they might like that they haven’t asked for.  Time for a dip into my Ravelry Favorites list for some ideas.

What’s on your Holiday crafting to do list?

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