Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Who Gets The Christmas Knits?

I was knitting away on a Christmas gift at my LYS recently when the owner asked me if I knitted Christmas gifts for everyone in my family. I told her no, I only made knitted gifts for certain people, not for everyone.

But that got me thinking. What exactly are my criteria for making knitted gifts for people?

I seem to feel safe giving knitted gifts to those in my family who also knit, like my sister and my two daughters. The theory behind this, I suppose, is that since they also knit, they'll appreciate the time and effort that goes into a knitted gift. And since they also knit, they wear items they themselves have made, thus there's no "embarrassment factor" about wearing a hand-knit item of clothing. (Not that anyone shouldn't be PROUD to wear something I've knitted! I'm just sayin'.)

I also feel comfortable giving knitted gifts to my husband, with the proviso that it be something he's requested. If he's asked for it, I know he'll wear it proudly and tell anyone who inquires that I made it. However, those unrequested mittens and scarves? Those go at the back of a deep, dark drawer. So, forewarned is forearmed.

With my mom, I'm never sure. She's the one who taught me to knit at the tender age of five. But somewhere along the way, her life got too busy for knitting and she hasn't done it for many years. I've made things for her, but I'm never sure if her exclamations of delight when opening the package translate into actually wearing the item or not. She's far too polite to ever suggest something might be the wrong color, size or style.

As for my dad, I don't even try to knit for him. I've done it a few times, but he's very fussy about what he wears, particularly if there's even the teeniest possibility of an itch factor. So it's really not worth it, and I doubt he'd understand or appreciate all the time that went into the creation of the gift anyway.

And my son, while he might understand how much time I spent creating an article (after all, he's seen Mom sitting on the couch night after night, knitting away, in his still-at-home years), has very specific tastes about what he'll wear and what he won't, so I wouldn't DARE try to create something for him. His sisters used to say he spent longer preening in the bathroom than they did. 'Nuff said.

Of course, the person who most appreciates the time and effort that goes into a handknitted item! Hah. This sounds like a "doh!" idea, but in my early years of knitting, almost everything I knitted was for someone else. I never seemed to get around to knitting for me. So now I make sure I have plenty of projects going for myself, even if I put them aside now and then to make gifts. I always know that *I* will wear what I make myself!

What are YOUR knitted giftgiving criteria? Does everyone on your list get an item, no one, or something inbetween? Do tell!



Blogger Nephele said...

I have it pretty easy. I was born into the branch of the family that had already alienated everyone. That makes for short gift list. Currenty I have an Aunt who knits but doesn't have easy access to a good LYS so I usually send her yarn. That just leaves my mother (who won't take good care of stuff so I choose my yarns accordingly), my brother and his wife. Three people to knit for? I can handle that.

11:50 AM  
Blogger JellyDonut said...

I knit for my mom because she won't spend the money on herself for good yarn, and she always says she loves everything I knit for her. I knit for my daughter, but only things like hats and scarves. It would drive me nuts to know I'd spend a gazillion hours on a sweater, then see it on the floor or under her bed. I'm going to knit for my bff this year. She told me she once made a sweater for her husband and he NEVER wore it. I also plan to knit for my son and step-son and my step daughter and her husband. I know they will appreciate the effort. Bottom line, I knit for people I love!

12:32 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bretton said...

Great post, Liz. I only knit for people I love or admire. I tend to think deeply about the recipient when I knit--I know this sounds corny but I (the least Zen woman you'll ever meet) believe you can knit all kinds of love and wishes into a garment. I have learned, however, that it's not enough to love or admire the recipient:if there's going to be a repeat performance the following year, I hope for at least a glimmer of understanding. You know what I mean: the people who think making them something is somehow taking the cheap and/or easy way out. If they don't get how valuable the commitment of time and thought is, then even though Imight love them dearly, they're not getting another scarf from this girl. (And yes, sometimes you can actually hear those sighs of relief!)

1:00 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Delisi said...

LOL, nephele! I guess that's the one time when alienated family = a good thing. ;-)

jellydonut, I know what you mean about kids and handknits. I've made lots of sweaters and blankets etc. for my grandchildren. I know they get lots of use out of them while they still fit...but once they're outgrown, they end up in the toybox. Ouch.

Barbara, I agree totally. I won't knit something for a person the second time if the first effort was totally unappreciated. And with the price of "good" yarn these days, a handknitted gift is anything but cheap. Even a simple scarf can cost $30 or more if done with yummy yarn.


1:30 PM  
Blogger georg said...

This is my first year giving knitting away. Previously, I had given quilts- but really knitting is easier. So mom is getting a silk scarf (she whines about wool being itchy and ditto with acrylic), and da is getting a couple of cowls to keep his neck warm. I told him this year's are more experimental and he can help me design something he will be more likely to wear in the future. Next year, I may make it a goal of giving everyone a knit shopping bag though. I have a pound of cotton. Why not? Jazz will get something when he asks for it, and not until.

I may make mom some silk socks, just to annoy her and teach her how comfortable they are. She subtly makes fun of my hand knit socks. "Wool itches. They aren't washable. How can they fit? What's the use of that?"

2:02 PM  
Blogger georg said...

Forgot to add- she stopped knitting and crocheting because yarn came only in acrylic or wool flavors and she's allergic to both. I am slowly wedging open a door of possibility to her- if she feels like walking through.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Patty Reed said...

I only knit for the special people in my life who I know will appreciate it. Which really isn't everyone. I knit things for my daughter, whom I taught to knit and she is just a scarf knitter. I knit for my 11 year old son, as long as it in fluorescent orange, his favorite color. I knit for some of my best friends, including Janet Spaeth, who will wear it to make me feel good even if they don't really like it. But they usually do. And of course I knit for myself, which is the best since I can fully appreciate the time and cost to make it, usually picked the yarn painstakedly. And I love to knit for babies, who don't really care what it is or looks like.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth in Apex, NC said...

I knit for the people I know will appreciate it, but I don't do sweaters for my boys. They just grow too fast still. Scarves and hats, a wrap for my mom, sweater for hubby, and lots for me. The cutest was my dad a few years ago - he loves the hand-knit scarf (from leftovers, go figure) so much that it stays wrapped in tissue in a box on his shelf when he's not wearing it.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Liz, what a great question! I'd never really thought about it before.

I'm not a speedy knitter so I don't knit many gifts to begin with. But I try to spread them around to family members who will appreciate them. Interestingly, I'd be too shy to give a handknit gift to anyone who knitted themselves; I'm not that talented and I'd be embarassed that they'd notice all my mistakes.

Like Barbara, I believe love (along with the dog hairs) gets knitted in so only folks I care about get my handmade gifts.

My daughter gets the lion's share because she genuinely likes and uses my FOs. And it impresses the heck out of her friends. ;-)

I knitted a stunning sweater for my husband many years ago which he almost never wore. To be fair, it was very heavy so the weather had to be nearly arctic to make it comfortable. However, since then he has to make a special request to get a handknit project.

I tend to stick to scarves and shawls as gifts because they don't have to fit. I'm not good at sizing (witness my MIL's giant black sweater that's now been reblocked three times and is FINALLY the right size and sturdiness).

I cannot even imagine someone thinking a handmade gift was cheap! In this mass-produced day and age, anything handcrafted is a precious treasure!

P.S. Nephele, your comment about your branch of the family cracked me up. Why wasn't I so lucky?

3:25 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Delisi said...

Ooh, georg, I have that same cat picture as a magnet on my fridge! I think the shopping bags are great ideas, nice gifts and good for the environment.

LOL Patty about your son and the orange! And you're right about babies, THEY don't long as the moms like it and will dress them in it.

Elizabeth, your dad is definitely a keeper. Someone who truly appreciates a handknit!

Nancy, your MIL's black sweater sounds like a vest I made for my husband. Who wears a 32" chest vest. And the vest came out about 50", so I had to give it to my dad. I bet you can guess I didn't swatch...


9:47 AM  
Blogger Marguerite said...

I only knit socks for people I love. Then, I watch their feet. If they wear the socks, they get more. If they don't wear the socks they get something else, not handknit. And I'm never offended by someone's preference not to wear hand knit socks.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

What an interesting post. I am always taken aback when I ask someone if they would like a scarf and they say no~. I have knit for my sister but I am never sure if she likes what I have done, and I always knit for my son, but he loses every sweater, sigh and alas. My husband appreciates my knitting and I think my friends appreciate the effort, but you never they really like the knitted goods?

7:08 PM  
Blogger Cindi Myers said...

Great post, Liz. I love to give handmade gifts,but the truth is, not everyone appreciates them. I worked really hard on a pair of cashmere and wool socks for my FIL last year -- he's always complaining about cold feet. As far as I know, he's never worn them. This year he's getting a shirt from the store.
But my MIL loved the sweater I made her.

I, too, knit more things for myself. I love them and wear them all the time.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Delisi said...

Marguerite, that's a *great* idea for folks who live close. But my mom lives two states and four hours away, so I don't get to see if she wears the socks I make for her. I did let her choose the pattern and color of the last pair, so I hope that was enough incentive to wear them...

Caroline, I agree, it's so hard to be sure our knitted goods are appreciated. I guess we just have to tell ourselves it was worth it because of all the fun we had making, and giving, the item. (Liz, trying unsuccessfully to convince herself of this)

Cindi, I suppose all you can do is the next time your FIL complains about cold feet, offer to go get the socks for him! At least it may stop him from complaining in your presence. ;-) But I agree, knitting for oneself is likely to be a most appreciative recipient we will find...


9:53 AM  

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