This time of year always finds me with fibre in my hands. Whether I am knitting a new hat for my brother or spinning a skein for my mother-in-law, wool and I are inseparable before Christmas. I made a resolution a few years ago that I wouldn’t ‘do’ presents unless they were handmade. Since then, I have only gifted items that I have created myself. Of course this involves a huge time and energy commitment, but I would rather invest my precious hours and creativity into crafting something meaningful then rushing around looking for ‘just the right thing’ to buy.
Over the years, I have learned a few lessons about gifting my handmade items. You have to pay attention to the giftee’s needs. You have to realistic with your goals. You have to be prepared to mend. And you have to be prepared for a little disappointment if you haven’t judged well.
Lesson One: Start early.
I know this blog post comes a little late for that, but it’s advice that can be followed for most occasions. Knitting is something that is done best when inspired, and it is no fun to ‘have’ to knit for a deadline. I have no problems with starting to brainstorm my yarn and pattern selections as early as September to make sure I have everything done – it gives me a full season of knitting to look forward too!
Lesson Two: Don’t be afraid to ask.
Sure, it’s nice to be able to surprise your friends and family, but sometimes it’s just not what they want or need! I have taken to asking certain members of my family exactly what they want. I even take my mother to the LYS so she can pick out the perfect colour. Since I have adopted this habit, I have not disappointed Mom (or myself!) on Christmas morning. Every winter I see the same hats, gloves and cowl appear year after year because they are exactly what she wanted.
Lesson Three: Select the base for the person.
Before casting on any gift, it’s really important to understand the lifestyle of the giftee and how our present is going to be used (or abused). For instance, I know that any present for my mother-in-law will be treated with the greatest care because she is a fellow knitter. She is willing to hand-wash and block her own work, so she would have no problem doing the same for something I made her. On the other hand, my two year old nephew is going to spill, outgrow or destroy anything I will make him. My safest bet is superwash or acrylic if I want to create anything for him. A family member who is prone to loosing mittens might be better off with easy-to-replace commercial yarn rather than handspun.
Lesson Four: Consider knit-worthiness.
As hard as it is to admit, not everyone will appreciate your knitting for what it is. They won’t understand the value of hand-knit socks as compared to something machine made. If this is the case, you may want to reconsider knitting for them and just focus on the people who truly value the talents and energy you are investing in your gifts.
Lesson Five: Provide instruction.
Even a seasoned fibre artist may not know exactly how to care for your gift if you do not provide the proper information. Whenever I give away something I have made, I like to provide a little “instruction sheet”. I will include a description of what material the object is made of, how to wash and store it properly, and sometimes information on how to block it back into shape. I also like to include a few yards of the yarn used to that if the gift gets damaged it can be mended easily.
As a holiday gift to you, I have created a little ‘instruction card’ that you can print and use as you wish. You can download it here.
From all of us here at SweetGeorgia, we wish you a wonderful holiday, successful spinning and happy knitting.