I know a lot of people don’t believe in giving knitted and crocheted gifts, and I get that. I really do. Especially just after Christmas.
Giving knitted and crocheted gifts is hard. Hard, hard, hard.
It’s time consuming, it can be expensive, and people can be weird about getting handmade gifts.
But we’re going to be making anyway, right? And most of us trade gifts, right? Why not combine the two, and give away the things we make? More time with yarn, less time at the mall?
But is it worth it?
Every year, I make a note of the best and worst gifts, so I can repeat or avoid them. This kind of Darwinian approach means that with each successive holiday season, my gifting game grows only stronger. I don’t know if it works, but my colour-coded spreadsheet is a thing of beauty.
So how successful was giving knitted and crocheted gifts go for me this year? You’ve seen pics of most of them already, especially if you follow me on instagram. Now that the wrapping’s been cleared, and the dust has settled, here’s the results:
The biggest chunk of work were three mermaid tails for my three little nieces.
I can not overstate how much work this was, and how bad toddlers are at showing appreciation for handmade gifts (to be clear, this is not an insult on the babies or their parents: toddlers are going to act in developmentally appropriate ways and I’m being developmentally inappropriate expecting anything else).
My sister’s child can read her name (A V A), and therefore opened her tail early. “We’re not doing delayed gratification this year,” shrugged my sister, shaking a handful of chocolate out of an advent calendar.
Ava enjoyed unwrapping it but screamed and hid from the tail itself. My sister emailed me a picture of her wearing it a minute after I left the house though.
Tail 2/3 was given on Christmas day. Isla was convinced to briefly put her feet into it before screaming: her best gift was a toy wheelbarrow. But my mother-in-law did tell everyone I “knitted” the mermaid tail, which was gratifying.
The third and final tail met the third and final toddler a couple of days after Christmas. Melody threw it against the wall, but her mum admired the yarn. Later that evening, she put it on and said “Ook, I’m mermaid!” But by then it was too dark to try and instagram it.
It took a while, but it was worth it. And I’ve already told everyone I need photos of them wearing them this winter.
Hats in theory should have a better work-to-appreciation ratio, as they don’t take as long as mermaid tails (nothing takes as long as a mermaid tail), and I generally give them to adults who at least pretend to appreciate them.
This is Murray’s hat for 2016. It’s a very vanilla hat (I don’t even think I used a pattern).
“Oooh, a hat,” he said, trying it on. “Excellent!” Top marks so far.
“The yarn has an extra feature,” I said. Worked in Glowworm yarn, the hat is reflective. None of us will ever let Murray forget about that time he was briefly lost in the wilderness. He told me that wearing the hat I’d crocheted him saved his life – perfectly untrue but very flattering. And enough to get him on to the knit-worthy list for life.
“So the next time you get lost – ” I said.
“They’ll be able to see your head!” finished my sister-in-law, laughing.
“Ha ha, very funny,” said Murray, whipping off the hat and hiding it under a pile of dolls in the toy wheelbarrow.
Was it worth it? Yes, because I got to try a new yarn and we got a laugh at Murray’s expense.
I made a second hat for my sister’s father-in-law, Manual, which I won’t show you a photo of, as I want to write up the pattern. Manual is new to London, and hating the cold weather. A knitted hat will help, if only psychologically. That was worth it.
Given well before Christmas was a pair of socks to my friend Amber (you may remember her from our podcast!). She loved them, and spent the rest of the evening patting them. She said the yarn was just right and even commented on the scent of the lavender Soak I’d washed ’em in. Now that’s a good friend.
Socks are a risky gift because of how dang long they take to knit. This pair was worth it.
Jesse got a new pair of socks too, cast off after Christmas lunch.
“Did you knit them all sitting here, today?” said an incredulous Aunt.
No, explained Jesse, socks take a long time, but they’re not too complicated as the yarn makes the pattern come. Then he explained short-row heels. I had no idea he had actually been listening. Worth it.
Niece #4 made her appearance before her baby shower. (Her older sister pulled the same trick, much to my sister-in-law’s consternation.)
So she got given her baby shower gift at Christmas. “I know it’s too big, but I thought it might fit her in winter,” I explained.
“It’ll probably fit her next winter,” said my sister-in-law. Oh well.
After all the time and effort, the best Christmas knit wasn’t a Christmas gift after all.
My mother-in-law reported at the baby needed socks, and there were no preemie socks to be had anywhere at all. They’d tried three shops, and it was Christmas Eve. Do you think Rachel could knit some? She asked the room in general, as if it was a passing thought of no importance.
“I reckon I could,” I said, and cast on with the yarn earmarked for Ava’s birthday gift.
An hour or so later, these sat under the tree.
Christmas Eve, and there’s not a shop in the land which is selling preemie baby booties for my brand-new early niece! A new babe without a knitting auntie might have cold feet, but this one’s going to be spoiled! An hour or two later, and here’s simple socks just as long as my thumb. Super soft novelty yarn and paw prints embroidered in pink 😍 Welcome to the family, little one. 💕
A photo posted by Rachel (@amiguru.me) on
“Thanks,” said my sister-in-law, “they’re perfect.”
That was worth it.
Creative Crochet Projects is a fast, fun book of delightful patterns which are accessible to beginning crocheters (and a treat for more advanced hookers).
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I'm a kiwi living in Geneva. Knititng and crochet are just two of my passions! Read more about me. or working with me.
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