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July 02, 2010

Comments

Brenda Jones

Have you attempted to teach Girlfriend to knit? My 8-yo great-granddaughter wants me to teach her and I have promised to do so, but I would enjoy seeing your comments (a good blog topic!) on this, if you have done so.

CambriaW

Sing it, sister! My boys like socks too. And my 4-year old really likes socks. Church socks specifically. And mittens. And neck warmers. And hats. And for those reasons, he gets them :)

Maureen

Lovely post. I learned to make socks last year, mainly because it's one thing a Southern Californian can use. When I gave my first real pair to my DH, he said, "No one ever made me socks". Not his mother and not the first Mrs. DH. Hee. The man knows how to make me join the sock insanity and guarantee a steady, though slow, supply.

He wears them, along with the hat I made him, while watching TV during the bitter SoCal winter. So I know he likes them.

deborah

Amen.

Jen

As much as I love to make things, there is always part of me that feels more than a little insecure about giving handmade gifts. I look at a baby cardigan I recently knit and, even though I know I made it out of caring for my friend and her family and even though I know that it is a beautiful reflection of that care, I see every little mistake I made whilst knitting it and I wonder…is it good enough? Surely something bought at the store would be better, wouldn’t it?

Growing up, we did not have a lot of money. I still remember some of our family “experiments”…like eating vegetarian for a month “to be more civilised” (in fact: because meat was expensive and we didn’t have enough money for it) or going without television for six months because “it rots your brain” (in fact: the TV broke and it took us six months to save up money for a new one). Handmade gifts were part and parcel (sorry…it had to be said!) of growing up without extra disposable income. My mum would make the most amazing Barbie doll clothes for us at Christmas time. There was none of this “buy a new Barbie along with a new outfit for her”; we had one doll each and most of her clothes were handmade!

I suspect that that sort of existence was pretty much the norm for most people prior to the rise of rampant consumerism. Gifts were handmade because they had to be and they really meant something…you certainly didn’t have the time or money to hand gifts out like Chiclets. As being a consumer became a sign of prosperity, handmade gifts settled into the world of the underclass. And there they’ve remained for quite some time.

Over eighty years ago, the promise of “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” was issued and I think it’s safe to say that, for the vast majority of people, that promise has been fulfilled. Why then are so many people returning to the idea of handmade gifts? It’s not just knitting a sweater or a blanket for a new baby…it’s also baking cookies for a helpful neighbour, giving a hand-drawn card to a friend on their birthday, sewing an apron for someone who loves to cook.

It’s awfully trite to say “money can’t buy you love” or “money can’t buy happiness” but maybe it really is that simple. Or maybe we’re just waking up to the fact that the care and love put into a handmade gift should have a higher value than the cost of a similar gift from a store.

As for me, I will continue to make and give handmade gifts. And I’ll try not to feel too bad about it.

Wendy

I love what you had to say, Jen.

Karen

Yeah-
My brother dropped a hint today, in a completely not-subtle manner, that he has plenty of hats now and he would appreciate being back on the socks list, thankyouverymuch!

So, yes. Appreciate them, wear the holes in them, I'm happy to make them.

Dolores

I feel the same way. Well said!!

jomamma

I feel your pain. I think we all do. I had someone ask me just this weekend... "when are you going to make me a hat?" I barely know this person, he's a friend of my sister and though he's nice, it's not like we are friends. People have no idea what goes into it. His 13 yr old son asked me "how long does it take you to make a sweater?" after asking me what I was knitting. He was shocked at the amount of time it takes. And then I got the "why don't you just go buy one..." To that I have the "why don't you bite me?" look.

Hook and Needle

I absolutely feel this. I put so much effort into knitting a pair of socks for Daddy-B once, and the whole time he grumbled about it. "Why don't I just buy some socks?" "This is a lot of work for you." etc. And you know what? I finished them and he wore them EVERY DAY until he wore holes right through them. Then he darned them so he could wear them until the darning pulled apart. They are still next to the bed, I think he is hoping the Sock Elf will come and mend them during the night.

That is why I knit them for you, dearest. Because I love you. And socks made with love are more comfortable than anything else you will ever put on your feet.

Doreen

My sweet late MIL treasured anything I knit for her. I made her a couple of felted bags and she would parade them out to company to show them how talented and wonderful I was.

For the last couple of years of her life she was very ill and her feet were always swollen and cold. I made her a pair of heavy stretchy socks. After visiting with them for a while, my husband asked if I could make her another pair because the only time she didn't have them on was when they were being washed. So, I made her another pair. When she passed away, the socks were a mess because she even wore them in place of shoes.

My father-in-law kept 2 things of hers. They had been married for 62 years. He kept her wedding ring and he wears it on his pinky. And he kept those socks. He wears them on cold nights and when he is getting his chemo treatments in a cold room. He says it makes him feel close to her.

I know it's corny, but whenever someone blows off something I made for them, which I have to admit isn't often, I think of those socks and it just makes me feel better about being a knitter.

Erin

Thank you for this post; as a newbie knitter (I learned 6 months ago and am properly hooked), I really needed to hear this. I've watched my own taste in knitted goods change since learning how it's done, and I guess I expect all my non-knitter friends and family members to share my appreciation for handmade woolens. Sadly, that's not always the case.
Oh well... back to work on my sis's bday shawl, 18 weeks on the needles and counting.

Anne Sheridan

I do the same for my sweet boys. I've made so many earflap hats that they are now sketching new colors they want. But I keep knitting the same thing, now by heart, because every day they appear on their heads. Even in the heat of summer. For all the other less enthusiastic replies....no worry. The hats make up for all of that.

victoria

You have to keep in mind that you knit for the love of knitting, not becvause anyone "needs" the finished product.

Aimee

Amen. I've always been a crafty person, so people are used to getting home/handmade gifts from me, but that doesn't stop them from spurning them :)

My husband, sister and dad love anything I make them. My three brothers, mom and assorted relatives...not always. I made my mom a silk/merino sweater from a pattern that she picked out, and I've never seen her wear it once. But, I got to practice making a sweater in pieces, and I got the yarn on sale, so I'm chalking it up to experience.

And it goes without saying, a husband who loves handknit socks is a keeper.

Amanda

I'm a bit midway on this issue. I'm a new knitter, and I'm in the process of either knitting things for people, or planning things to knit for people. The thing is, I'm not in the least bit worried about not being appreciated, because I made a point of knitting things I *know* these people will like.

As someone who has often been the recipient of gifts she did not ask for and did not want, I do wonder. Part of giving a gift to someone is *knowing* what they like to begin with.

On the one hand, it's rude, VERY, VERY rude, to say to someone, "thanks, but, um, he has lots of blankets," when someone gives you a handknit gift. Something like a blanket is something that you can never have too many of, especially where babies are concerned. If you do decide you don't want or need it, you can politely accept the gift and then put it away, or give it to someone else. There is no need to be bluntly rude in that situation.

On the other hand, however, the knitter does have a responsibility to find out what the intended gift recipient does and doesn't like. Me, for example. I don't wear sweaters, and I never have. I don't like them, both because I'm hot natured and live in a climate where they are only necessary during a small portion of the year, and even during that time, I prefer to wear a coat that I can take off at leisure, because I don't *do* sweaters. Most of the people who know me, know this, because I tend to wear thin, short-sleeved tops year-round. I make no bones about the fact I don't like wearing heavy clothing. So when someone who knows me gives me a sweater...I'm boggled. Why the hell would you give me something you know damn well I am not going to appreciate? In that instance, the one who is being rude is the gift-giver, because I am under NO obligation to be appreciative or even polite about receiving a gift of an item you *knew* I did not like. It shows that you either don't listen to me at all, or that you do, but dismiss everything I say.

If you're going to knit something for someone, you *have* to do it with them in mind, NOT with you hoping that they'll like it merely because it was handmade by you. If you know that they like wearing thick, cushy socks, for instance, they'll probably appreciate such. But if you give them said socks in, say, a color that they hate, well. That's a situation that could easily have been avoided. So is knitting them something in a fiber they dislike. Perhaps they're allergic to wool, in which case it doesn't matter how much they love the sweater you knit, you're never going to see them wear it.

Yes, definitely, there are rude people out there who just don't know how to appreciate something that took a lot of hours of work, not to mention the expense, by the time you've had to buy a dozen balls of yarn. But I think that the VAST majority of the time, the knitter gets the lion's share, if not all, of the blame. A person is most emphatically NOT obligated to appreciate a gift if the gift was made without consideration of that person's likes and dislikes. It's even worse if you actually know that person well, but still disregard that person's personality in favor of your own. I know far too many gift-givers who give gifts based on what THEY would like someone to give them, what THEY think is an appropriate gift. I reject that whole mentality, however. A gift given in love is given with the receiver in mind, NOT the giver. So yes, I think that someone who wants to knit something for someone is most likely NOT going to run into the problem of not being appreciated if they bother to make a gift that the intended person is known to like.

flk

And in your honour, I've cast on some socks for Him!

Julie

I felt the same feeling that you expressed in your post. Thanks for putting it all in perspective and letting me know I'm just not feeling sorry for myself.

josie

funny insight into the pitfalls and pleasures of giving out homemades!! giving to charity ( like prem baby charities)avoids the horror of rejection (:-)!) maybe thats why its so popular???

victoria

You have to knit for the jo of knitting, not because you hope anyone else will really understand the jo and love that you put into the object they receive. The won't understand it.

It's like what the Buddhists say: you have this moment, this real, live, moment in the present. Your happiness is in you -- not in your expectation of what someone else will thing.

victoria

Sorry for the typos. I meant, "You have to knit for the joy of it, and not for what someone else will think."

For me, it's really about more than knitting: I know I will never be happy if I put my happiness in the hands of others, or in my expectations of what the future will bring. I can be happy only in my conscious appreciation of the present.

Alison

If you really must knit for someone else, you could do worse than to knit for another knitter. They will appreciate it.

Estella

This si so very true...it is hard to find the person who loves your work. I tried explaining to my mother once that when I knit something for someone I think about them a lot and my love is knit into the item. I recently had a child request another pair of felted slippers...it made my day!

Check out the video on this post - this is how we'd all love our gifts to be received.
http://mybuttonjar.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-i-knit.html

Luvily

Toally understand. My feelings have been hurt many times. I've just stopped killing myself for others. I make all crafts for me and my kids and one other "appreciative" person and that's it.

Amanda

Yup. Good post.

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