Mark Twain wrote (in his travelogue, Following the Equator) that, “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.” There is a steady, quiet pleasure in knitting for yourself. But nothing quite equals the happiness we’ve found in knitting for others!
The time we spend making for another, holding them in our hearts, thinking of their likes and tastes and needs, is always well spent—but to be sure the physical outcome matches your inner intentions, we’ve created a helpful checklist to help you figure out what you need to know when knitting a gift.
What’s the intended recipient’s personal style? Will they like this? Will they actually wear it? What colors do they choose for themselves?
This part is perhaps the most fun of the planning stages—thinking of your giftee’s personal approach to style. It’s important to take note of what fit they prefer in their garments or how they like to accessorize.
Nuts & Bolts
Do you know what size to knit? Does your recipient run hot or cold? Have they ever said, “It’s itchy!”? Do they lose things a lot? Do they have the time and inclination to take care of this hand-knit piece?
Each of these questions provides a vital portion of practical information. Knowing what size to knit makes sure the garment will fit your friend or loved one. (For help with measurements, check out our Measuring for Sweaters and Measuring for Hats guides.) If they run hot, pick cotton or linen fibers—if they run cold, choose something insulating like sheep’s wool or yak. Consider your giftee’s lifestyle. Are they busy? Do they have an active family and home? If so, pick something hard-wearing and machine-washable. Are they meticulous? Do they have the time to care for a more persnickety fiber? Then feel safe using something more fragile. It’s also a nice idea to include care instructions, a little repair yarn, and a spare button with the knitted gift (our Spool Tags are a fun way to do this).
How much time will this take? How much will it cost?
Remember, ten minutes here and there can really add up! If you’re knitting on a deadline (for a birthday or holiday), you can figure out how much a project might take you by doing a bit of math. Just visit the Good Choices Checklist: Part I—we’ve included a little exercise to help you ascertain your estimated knitting time. (And if you find you’re cutting it very close, explore our Quick Knits collection for projects to whip up at the last minute!) To determine the cost of a project, multiply the number of skeins you’ll need by the price per skein. At this point, it’s a good idea to ask again, “Will the recipient love this that much? Will they wear it?”
For the Knitter
Is this person ‘knitworthy?’ Will I enjoy knitting this? Do I have time? Can I knit and give this without expectations, no strings attached?
Now it’s time to take a moment for yourself. Thinking about your loved ones as you pick a project is crucial to a successful, hand-knit gift. But it’s also important to factor in your own time constraints and knitting style. Your gift must be something that you’re comfortable making. The recipient wouldn’t want you to worry over their gift. Your friend loves you too much for that kind of stress!
Of course, if you do get stuck or stressed, don’t fear! Knitting help and encouragement is as close as your phone or device. You can reach helpful Churchmice by calling our Island shop (during business hours, 10:00 am—6:00 pm PST) at (206) 780-2686 or emailing us at email@example.com. We also have a wonderful Ravelry group where you can join threads full of fellow fiber enthusiasts who might have encountered the same issues. We are always happy to share our love of knitting with you.
If you’re a fairly constant gift knitter, you might have heard of the ‘Sweater Curse.’ The most concise description of this superstition might be Alison Lurie’s discussion in her article for The New Yorker: “If you start knitting a sweater for any man [or woman] in whom you have a serious romantic interest, [they] will break up with you before it is finished.” We don’t take much to curses here at Churchmouse (many Mice have knit sweaters for their significant others without any adverse effects). But it can be hard to ignore a notion as pervasive as the Sweater Curse! We’ve done some research and have some tips to avoid calamity.
- Start with a smaller project.
- Have your significant other help you pick out the project’s style and yarn.
- Be sure it’s a project you’ll have fun knitting.
- Make sure your intended recipient is worth the time and effort you’ll spend on this project.
If you’re still a little nervous, it’s rumored that there’s a wee, magical counter to the curse. Make a single, tiny mistake somewhere in the sweater. Purl where you should knit, or knit where you should purl. It’s thought that a conscious flaw will protect you from bad energy. You never know!