I always warn new knitters to brace themselves for a flood of, “Oooh, how beautiful! Will you knit me one?”
- Now most knitters can say no to people they don’t like or know, but what about people they don’t dislike (e.g., work colleagues) but with whom they are acquaintances?
- Most knitters knit prolifically – a masterly understatement – for partners, siblings, (grand)children, and (grand)parents, but what about certain not-so-close family members (e.g., 1st/2nd/3rd cousins, your children’s step-siblings and step-nieces/nephews, etc.)?
As with many conundrums, handling them is personal. Here’s what I do, and why. (Please note, I did not base my ultimate decision re gift giving on one example only!)
Work Colleagues: I stopped giving handmade gifts to work colleagues several years ago. This was the coup de grâce: A woman in my office was pregnant with a baby (girl), so I knit a beautiful lacy bonnet based on an Amana colony pattern. (See Susan Strawn Bailey’s “Amana Star-Pattern Baby Bonnet to Knit,” in Piecework, November/December 2000.) I used Dale’s Baby Ull (in cream) and ran a purple ribbon through the edging. (It was really cute.) Then I wrapped the hat in purple tissue paper and included – as I usually do – a little note re pattern origin, fiber used, washing instructions, etc. I never received a thank you – written or verbal! (And, by the way, she was in her mid-30s so certainly old enough to have a grasp on basic etiquette. In addition, her office was next to mine so she saw me regularly!)
My Ex-Husband: After we divorced, my grandmother sent me a sweater she knit for him. I didn’t want to, of course, but I gave it to him. My daughter wanted to knit him a matching ski hat, so I helped her (then in 5th or 6th grade). She found some wool in my stash she liked, and she knit him a great cap. A few weeks later during a visit, she found it had been turned over to the dog as a chew toy. She was devastated (but didn’t blame the dog). As a result, he never received (and never will) any handknits from her. Her father, not the dog, that is. (And my daughter’s a good knitter.)
Distant Family Relations: My daughter’s step-sister was having a baby, and I knit a beautiful jacket for the baby. Once again, nary a thank you. So, no, I don’t knit for distant family relations either.
Paying Customers: No problem, though I have one rule. I will not knit a commissioned piece in acrylic. (I simply don’t like the feel.)
Friends: All my friends close to my heart are recipients of my fiber frenzies. 🙂 They know many of the projects they get are often samples and experiments (many with unplanned outcomes!), but they don’t seem to care.
Close Family: It goes without saying – until they say stop! When my daughter went away to college in the midwest, I missed her terribly. So how did I respond? Like any good knitter! I knit her a sweater a month. By February she called me and said, “Mom, the sweaters are beautiful and I love them, but I don’t have any room left in my closet to keep them. Please stop sending me sweaters!” Thor has not yet said stop! 🙂
Of course I am sure I risk looking like Scrooge by comparison, but I have to ask: What influences you whether and when to gift your handmade creations, and to whom?