On Gifts

The subject of handmade gifts is always a topic that generates a great deal of feeling in the crafty community. There are the horror stories of people demanding blankets from colleagues they barely know, then ‘generously’ offering to cover the cost of materials to the tune of £10, or ‘can you spin my cat/dog/deceased relative’s hair’ requests. In fact, the problem is so common that Ravelry has an entire group dedicated to people who ‘knit only for themselves ‘and for people who bless us and hand us boxes of expensive chocolates, or money’.

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I always love the idea of handmade gifts. If I had time, everyone I truly appreciate would get at least a handmade birthday gift every year. Maybe even one designed especially for them. However, the reality of the processes is more along the lines of i) nearly forget birthday until last minute ii) panic, iii) try and be as thoughtful as I can last minute.

However, maybe I’ve just been very lucky with the recipients, but I really do love giving handmade pieces away, just on a completely stochastic schedule. Sometimes the stars align and I happen to be able to get something done in time for an event or a project is near enough completion that a deadline looming acts as encouragement rather than a source of despair.

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I started another Fan Bookmark a while back (this is the wonderful pattern by Crocheteroo) with a recipient in mind as well as a deadline. Having put the piece down for a bit though, I found it incredibly difficult to get back to. I later realised that this was because I’d managed to screw up the pattern completely – the danger of thinking you know the pattern better than you do.

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I’ve heard a few other bloggers mention that they don’t like giving pieces at gifts that they’ve not really enjoyed or had a lot of frustration working on. It might be a little irrational, but I am very much the same. I feel a lot of what goes into a handmade gift is the thought and time behind it and it’s hard to feel that’s a positive thing when the pattern could have been written chain 1 swear 1 chain 5 frog 4 swear 3.

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I tried rescuing the poor bookmark from whatever disaster I had wrought on it but, I have become quite brutal with projects recently and discovered it’s often more efficient just to slice, dice and start again.

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So, back to the beginning, with a bit of a looser tension and it was a completely different crochet experience. I absolutely love my Tulip Etimo hooks but was often finding the thread was slipping out of the hook, however, when I wasn’t using such a savagely tight tension, the problem suddenly vanished so if you’re having an issue with lace crochet and escaping threads, it might be worth seeing if the tension you’re using is exacerbating the problem.

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Stitch by stitch, the piece came together without the same extreme curling problems I was having before and I found myself flying through rows and actually enjoying the experience again. I really love this pattern and I had a lot of fun using the variegated Olympus Special #40 Cotton with a 1.25 mm hook.

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I’ve never managed to work this pattern without it curling somewhat while I was making it but it always blocks out very easily. Sorting the tails and the final finishing touches was all great fun too. I was very glad I started again and this could go off to its new home as a much better symbol of appreciation.

 

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10 thoughts on “On Gifts

  1. I can relate to much of what you’ve said. The worse is making a gift and not having the receiptent value the time and effort or even like your gift. Not everyone likes homemade or has the same taste so I’m afraid I’ve turned into one of those people who knits personal items for herself. I’m currently working on a set of animaguri for one of the grandkids and hoping they will like them. I’m also keeping in mind how much the one daughter always complains about stuff cluttering the house.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For bigger or more time consuming gifts I tend to actually ask the recipient first if it’s something they want. It does ruin the surprise but if it means they get something in a colour they prefer or don’t get something made from a fibre they’re deathly allergic to I think it is better all round. The amigurumi sounds great and hopefully they’ll be long treasured! I think small gifts are usually less risky.

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  2. What a lovely gift. I’m so glad you enjoyed the experience in the end.
    I am very selective about who I make gifts for. If it’s just going to get out to the back of the cupboard and forgotten I won’t repeat the handmade gift!

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  3. First that piece you worked on is – AMAZING! It is supposed to be a bookmark? I would be framing it instead 🙂
    Handmade gifts are a sensitive topic for me in that I have had some bad experiences with gift giving handmade items but then I remember I have had some beautiful experiences. Over the years I have learned to be careful who is really worth/deserving of a handmade gift and if they would truly appreciate it. Also I had to learn to let go of what becomes of a handmade gift once I give it to someone. It felt like there was a piece on me in the gift and I used to want to know what became of that part of me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much! It is a bookmark but I think a book is like a frame! I’m sorry to hear that you’ve not only had good experiences as when you’ve spent that much time and thought on something it’s hard for it not to feel like a part of you. It is so so worth it for the right people though.

      Liked by 1 person

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