The Art of Gifting…?

I was wasting hours of my life browsing through Ravelry as I tend to do…today, I filtered by “most projects” and went from there.  As I was perusing different items, many of them mentioned making said items as a gift – for a baby shower, for a holiday, for a birthday, etc.

This got me thinking, and my thought process went as such:

  • Wow… some of these are kind of really ugly.  I wonder if the recipient is as excited to get this item-of-a-really-unfortunate-color-combination as much as the giver thinks they are.
  • Wow, that’s a super judgmental thought coming from someone who has spent a substantial part of her life for the past four years giving away homemade gifts that, in her mind, were the most awesome things ever created.
  • Hmm… if A = B and B = C, then how many of my own awesome homemade gifts were met with the same “…that’s unfortunate” reaction that I’ve had to some of the things I’ve seen others make?

When I first started crocheting (again) a few years ago, I swore I wouldn’t be *that* friend who gave out lumpy, oversized misshapen mittens for a good girlfriend’s birthday and expect her to be happy with the present.  Lamentably, thinking back, I know for a fact I’ve given out equivalents in wrong-sized hats, weirdly shaped scarves, and other sad accoutrements.


I don’t… I can’t… there are no words.

I know there’s the whole “oh you spent so much time on it, it’s the thought that counts”, but let’s be honest here – some things simply don’t translate well. I feel very sad for my friend’s mother who spent what must have been HOURS painstakingly knitting a seafoam, mint green (no they are not the same color), and white striped onesie for her precious new grandson, complete with forty buttons down the one leg for ‘easy’ removal, but yeeeeah… that thing is never going to get worn.

Sometimes I think back to the first gifts I gave out – my 10″ baby hat (before I understood that baby heads are ridiculously massive), that first knitted cowl that didn’t sit right on top OR bottom, the ‘matching’ hats I made for my husband’s females that didn’t fit any of them, and so on and so forth.  Sometimes the perfectionist in me wants to go back to those people and be like look, I have to apologize for <insert weird item here>, I was a beginner at the time, and I recognize that <weird item> was totally inappropriate now.  Can I give you a much better replacement?  But then the lazy procrastinating “wait, why would I give two gifts for the same occasion…?” side rears its ugly head… let’s just say I haven’t actually gone around regiving newer and better items.  😛


I mean, I’m sure there’s SOMEONE out there who would love this… you just gotta find the right recipient…

Up until very recently (like… last month), my yarning had been a very solitary past time.  I did it by myself, in my own company, or with non-yarners who would merely blink in confusion/amazement/whatever while I did my thing.  Whether out of good form or ignorance, nobody ever said “that color?  Maybe you don’t want to use that…” or “…are you sure the mother to be is going to want <whatever weird thing you’re making>?”

Last month I discovered the beautiful society of ‘yarn guilds’.  In Beijing, this constitutes, for the most part, expat wives of wealthy oil/airplane/partsandotherrandomthings husbands working in jobs that take them to exotic places.  Since many countries don’t allow random expat wives to work, well, you might as well knit, and you might as well do it with company.  I’ve only gone two or three times but have already met an astounding array of talented women from a kaleidescope of backgrounds that I never thought I’d meet.


Now, they are all MUCH more talented than I, and I haven’t yet seen anything they’ve made that is anything less than extraordinary, but if I do… what are the rules/etiquette of yarning groups?  Or your fellow yarners in general??  I know the natural reaction of such gatherings is “AAAAH THAT’S SO CUTE!” “OMG THAT’S FABULOUS!” “HOLY COW I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THAT FINISHED!!!”  But… have you ever encountered a “um… that’s an interesting color choice” or “… so who exactly is that for, again?”  If so, what do you do???

I recognize that my past self-titled failed gift efforts are a sunk cost, the cost of any learning curve of any new talent or skill.  I recognize that, for the most part, people (hopefully) aren’t wrinkling their noses whenever I show up with my signature kraft gift box wrapped in ribbon.  I recognize that it’s probably not my place to pass judgment on anyone else’s yarning choice, especially because I can’t possibly know or understand the story behind each and every carefully and lovingly created object.

However, my one public request is, though, that if you ever do see me starting down a yarning path that will unequivocally end in tears, disappointment, and dashed dreams, please, don’t be polite.  TELL ME.  =D