A letter to a Non-Knitter

Dear Non-Knitter;
Before you say anything about the handcrafted gift I just presented you please keep a few things in mind. Yes, I could have gone to a store and wrestled between getting you this or that a few days before now, but instead started weeks/months/years ago by picking out the perfect shade of yarn to go with your skin/eyes/hair, then stitched countless swatches of different stitch patters and piecing them together, moving them around, adding and dropping a few finally coming up with the pattern i would use to make your gift.

Now that WE have that I have all this figured out I have to figure out your measurements without your knowledge...Now this a very clever trick witch i will not expose in this letter, for it will unravel many a knitting secrets. Now that I have your measurements I have to put those into a equation using the stitches I chose to use and I have to do a bit of math...that's right I said math. I have to figure out how many stitches to cast on so that your gift isn't to small of big for you.
After I have don't this I can FINALLY cast on to actually make your gift. This could be anywhere from tens to over a hundred stitches. Now here where the fun begins. Sitting in my comfy chair, bus seat, plane,doctors office I knit. And knit. And knit, all the while thinking to myself how much this will look good on you. for these aren't just stitches I'm making with these needles and yarn, I am softly saying a little prayer for you, whispering I love you into each stitch. All 500,8395 of them...Yes, I really did count them...

After I have all the pieces made, and trust me I probably had to knit some pieces more than once so that they would have the same gauge as the rest of the pieces, I have to sew them together in the right order and place, this might a few tries to get right since sewing isn't my greatest gift. But I push through knowing that this gift is for you.

Now I have everything together, the color is beautiful and the garment is blocked, dried, and ready to be gifted to you.

All that time I spent just to give you a scarf, a sweater, a blanket, or those socks. Each stitch made with love for you from me. So when ever you feel that your alone or life gets hard go find this gift of love and pull it around tight and know that someone loves you and that they spent the time to actually make this for you...
Sharing a handicraft is done out of love. Their is no monetary cost that can cover the time that goes into it each piece. So if you are ever lucky enough to receive one of these precious items, please treasure it and understand that it is a piece of art in itself made specifically for you.

Now doesn't that make this gift a bit better than that Gift Certificate to Where Ever-Mart...

With Love,
A Knitter


MMario's picture

Preaching to the choir

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

PaulJMC's picture

Love it !

In cielo non c'e vino...beviamolo sulla terra!

Tom Hart's picture

I recently joined a "Public Knitters" group on Ravelry. They call non-knitters "muggles". I'm not sure it's realistic to expect them to understand...

mysterJay's picture

Lovely. :)

2manyhobbies's picture

I have a bit of a different take on this. There can be a lot reasons why you decide to hand-knit a gift for someone, including:

- because you care about them in proportion to the effort you're putting into it
- to showcase your skills (the recipient being just something to do with it after it's photographed and displayed on Ravelry) ... if this sounds derisive at all, I don't intend it to be, i'm guilty myself
- to keep your hands busy (after all knitting can be an obsession) on cold winter nights
- to bring about a sense of personal accomplishment when it's completed
- because you were knitting it anyway (it's an exciting new pattern), and when you're done it just happens to fit someone you know and need a gift for

For those people who you truly care so deeply for in proportion to the effort you've invested, I think most often those people will be close enough to you to already recognize the effort and the care it symbolizes. If not, they're the people you can normally call a philistine and get away with it :).

For the other people, recognize that you have probably gotten a lot more out of the creation of this gift than the recipient ever will. For less money than you've likely spent on the yarn, the recipient could have probably found an item of similar utility to them and in their own pick of style. It's really putting a lot of burden on the recipient to "like this gift or else" because of the time you've spent on it.

Gifting an item of clothing is always one of the more dangerous choices, unless the recipient has picked the item themselves or unless you know them very well. I have gifted to charity or returned a goodly quantity of clothing that my boyfriend's mother has given me as gifts over the years. It doesn't mean I don't appreciate the gift, only that "style" and what appeals to a person is an ephemeral thing that's very difficult for other people to know.

So, in some sense, a hand-knitted sweater can be an albatross literally hung around your neck. Even if you could return it, which you obviously can't, you know that the person who knitted it for you expects to see you wear it (even out in public, eek!). If that's Grandma, that's ok (suck it up), but if it's someone less close, it puts you in a difficult situation.

From this, my hand-knitting gifting policy goes like this... if someone specifically requests a particular item or if they express a genuine interest in one I've made (as in, "wow, I wish I had one like that"), then they're a likely victim - they've asked for it. If it's someone I care deeply for, then they better well know that their appreciation (or the mimicry thereof) should match the effort, or else there will be hell to pay.

For everyone else, tell them if the item doesn't work out for them, to please just donate it to charity or give it to someone who can use it - no hurt feelings either way. Or better yet, for everyone else, there's Walmart.

2manyhobbies's picture

As an aside, our next-door neighbor was over recently just as I was finishing the sweater I was working on, and her comment was: "That looks very wear-able".

I scratch my head, wondering if this was a back-handed compliment, and then it dawned on me that, like many women of-a-certain-generation, the aspiration of anything hand-made was to look "just as good as you could buy at the store." For these people, hand-knitting has nothing of the "handmade" halo that for subsequent generations elevates handiwork above frugality. And for these people, try to identify them quickly, and never ever seek to knit something for them.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

To both of the essayists - Impossible Princess and 2ManyHobbies - this is two very well put reasons why we do this "knitting thing". Thanks for writing them. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Spicemanknit's picture

What a wonderful letter. Yes, this letter should be given to anyone special enough to receive a hand knitted item. I used to hear from female knitters , "never knit your boyfriend a sweater". I remember making a baby set (sweater, cap, booties) for a close friend's baby. I barely got a thank you from her and I never saw this baby set on her baby. My feelings were badly hurt and thought my work was not good enough. Now, when I knit something for someone, I make sure they are worthy of it and that they will appreciate it.