Thursday, July 26, 2007

Yarnapalooza Winner #26 and some more thoughts on handmade gifts

Photo of my friend Joi's daughter Maria and Maria's daddy Vic, circa 1985. Maria is wearing a sweater I knitted for her. I put my needles down soon after and didn't pick them up again until 2003.

Congratulations, Julie Krick! You're Yarnapalooza Winner #26!

(Still haven't entered? Hurry! Time's running out.)

Some very interesting comments on my last post about giving handmade gifts and where the search for perfection intersects with the joy of giving.

Georg's comment about the "cheesy" paintings she created and gave as gifts resonated big time. When I first started fooling around with watercolors again in 1992, my mother fell in love with a "test" painting I did of a vase of impossibly blue flowers. She wanted to hang it up over her bookcase. I didn't want her to. She told me she loved it. I told her all the ways in which it was badly flawed. Finally I gave in but not graciously I'm sorry to say. I was embarrassed by the painting and let her know it every chance I got. Guess I don't have to tell you what made me cry the hardest after she died: the fact that the stupid painting of those stupid impossible blue flowers was propped up on her nightstand where she could see it.

Maybe we're not the best judge of what will (and won't) be appreciated. Ever spent a fortune on some fancy schmancy sock yarn then spent hours of your time knitting love and powerful good wishes into every stitch only to see that look of dismay on the giftee's face when she realizes the pretty package didn't come from Nordstrom or Tiffany's but from your loving hands. You know the look, the "I could buy a pair of socks at K-Mart for a buck fifty" look. The look that stabs the knitter/artist/crafter right through the heart.

Sometimes the evil knitter in me feels the urge to attach a sales receipt to a hand-knitted item just to show that my time wasn't all I spent on said giftee, I actually spent some bucks too. But the truth is if that's what it takes to impress or delight the giftee, she'll never receive another handmade item again from me. To both of our relief.

When I was a little girl, my mother painted what seemed like hundreds of Japanese and Chinese waterscapes. I remember them so vividly--beautiful, sad paintings of women crying on the shore while their men sailed off to who knows where. Everyone who saw them loved them. And my mother, being my mother, gave them all away. Every single painting. Like it? It's yours. I thought she was crazy. I couldn't understand why she would leap into action at the first compliment, pull the painting down from the wall, and press it into the shocked admirer's hands. Was she crazy? Didn't she want to keep them for herself? Why did an appreciative word from someone trigger such an outrageous response?

It took me a long, long time but I get it now. When you find someone who loves what you've created, you can't help wanting to shower him or her with the bounty from your own two hands. Not everyone appreciates a gift that doesn't come with a 30 day money back return policy or a gift card from Saks. It's a sad fact of life but true just the same. It doesn't mean you love them any the less but it definitely means there won't be any handknitted socks in their future.

Which strikes me as a real shame for both of us.


Blogger georg said...

There's also a serious limit to wall space. I have about half my paintings. My mother gives me a counted-cross stitch piece (often large) every year. My husband used to paint. I also quilt and have made wallhangings. I do calligraphy and illumination. I live in a tiny house. Where the heck can I put everything??? It's soooo much easier to give stuff away than it is to hold onto it. About a third to a half of the kingdom of Æthelmearc have a scroll (calligraphy and illumination) made by my hand. If all of those were in my house, I could not shut a door without things falling off the double layer of crap on my walls. But no- I made art for the joy of making Art, and I gave it away to make someone else's day. And I am Very Happy not to have that stuff on my walls. It's part of why I like Socks. Ooh- Tiny! and they don't go on my wall when I'm done!

If your mother had kept all of her paintings, where could she have put them? It's easier to let them find new homes.

6:54 AM  

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