Do you do it?
We decorated the tree today, frosting it with the snow nobody gets down here in the south.
And putting more snow in random places, just because.
My feelings about Christmas knitting are somewhat mixed. On the one hand, guilt-free yarn purchases! Tons of fun for me! Hand-made gifts full of love! But on the other hand, deadline stress, overly-ambitious projects flopping at the last minute, under appreciated gifts and fitting issues.
I don’t particularly have a solution. This Christmas, my parents will be receiving hand-knitted socks; my mother really loves her socks, so no problem there. My dad is a new sock-recipient, so I’m stacking the deck in my favor by knitting the socks in black (the color of his work socks) with a very staid garter rib pattern. The main appeal will be that the socks are wool, and should feel lovely when shoveling the driveway. If those go over well, I might try a gently variegated gray next year, or perhaps a navy blue with cables. It’s exciting! Well, for me, anyway.
Other than these two people, however, I’m not planning to make any hand-made gifts this year. I do bring along my yearly hat stash for my friends and family to pick over as they choose, in addition to actual, formal gift-giving. Since I’m not emotionally attached to any of the hats I give away, I won’t get upset if I never, ever see them worn, or discover them trampled and dirty on the floor in somebody’s mud room.
In general, I think my rubric for gift knitting is similar to everybody else’s:
- Only knit something if you can be fairly confident the recipient wants it.
- If the recipient is ungracious or doesn’t use the item, don’t knit for them again.
- Knitted gifts should probably not be surprises.
- Don’t take “requests.”
Numbers three and four may seem mutually contradictory, but I think they actually work together very well. A gift should be something you choose to give to another person, not something somebody else asks you to buy or make for them. Once you’ve decided on a gift idea, it’s probably a good idea to check with your giftee, but we aren’t obligated, as knitters, to clothe the world through Christmas gifts. The best Christmas knitting is a union of my pleasures, passions and gifts in craft with my recipient’s tastes and desires. I find that rarely, if ever, does a gift “request” take into account my own crafting abilities or preferences. And why should it? The person asking is almost always not a knitter, and can’t particularly distinguish the features of a project that would make it cripplingly hard, or alternatively, mind-numbingly easy. Projects in either category, I find, never get done; they become albatrosses around our necks, making us feel guilty when we ought to be relaxing with some needles and yarn.
My response when somebody makes a gift request to me is to smile and say “Oh, I didn’t know you needed/wanted something like that! I’ll definitely keep that in mind.” If inspiration strikes, I go to the needles– if not, I can usually find a similar item in stores to satisfy the person’s desire. Ultimately, knitting is my hobby. I intend to enjoy it, even during the holidays.