Now that we're into what I think of as officially the Christmas season, there is much discussion on social media and podcasts and the like about handmade gifts. It seems that among knitters and makers, philosophies on gift-making run the gamut; some people love making gifts and really go all out, while others save themselves the stress and keep it minimal. There are people who knit socks all year long so that when the holidays roll around, they've already got a stockpile (a sockpile?!!) ready to go. There are people who create spreadsheets and calendars and special planners just for gift making. There are people who get it all done before December so they can spend the whole month knitting for themselves. Then there are the people who wait until the last minute and stay up all night Christmas Eve making hats.

My MO is to make lots of plans that never materialize, then decide in the last couple weeks before Christmas that I hate shopping so much that yes, actually, I do want to make gifts after all and I get all stressed trying to finish them up and sometimes I cast on ten things that never get finished and I end up buying everyone chocolate or wine instead. Last year we did a big road trip and I knit 3 hats and most of a pair of socks in the car, and I don't think any of it even made it to the blog.

This year, as usual, I'm trying not to wait until the last minute. Sometimes, though, the last minute is when the best ideas come to me and I just have to go with it. Like I find out the cello teacher is having major knee surgery right before Christmas and maybe she would appreciate a cozy pair of socks or hat to cheer her up during recovery. Or I realize that my middle schooler went up three shoe sizes since last year and he still wears hand knit socks blesshisheart so he needs a new pair of those in his Christmas stocking.

In addition to starting things at the last minute, I also have a tendency to start things absurdly early. My sweet little niece turns 2 in, oh, about four months, so I've already got a sweater 3/4 of the way done for her birthday. In March.

Clearly, I need to work on timing.

The more I make gifts, the better I'm getting at making good choices. Believe you me, I have made some very poor choices in my gift knitting past. And since I don't have recent projects to share with you now (mostly because I'm behind on taking photos, but also because there are a few things I can't show just yet), I thought I'd go down memory lane and share some of those flops here. Most of these pre-date this blog, which has been around since before Ravelry, if you can imagine such a time. And if you can imagine such a time, you'll also have to imagine the projects I'm about to describe to you, because they are long, long gone by now.

  1. My first failed knitted gift was a boyfriend sweater. The recipient, my boyfriend at the time, is well over 6' tall, and I chose a pattern with a zillion cables. I used old wool yarn my mom had inherited that was scratchy and heavy, some of which might have been raided by mice at one point. The sweater took over a year to finish, and shortly after I gave it to him, we broke up. The sweater lasted a while after the relationship ended, but it came to an untimely end in a Florida river. I have forgotten the details of that story, but I like to think those wooly cables ended up lining an alligator nest somewhere in a Florida swamp.
  2. My second failed knitted gift was a sweater for Stuart. It was a nice sweater but totally wrong for him -- it had color work and the sleeves were really loose-fitting, and...well, you get the idea. I was way off the mark but he loves me anyway.
  3. When my BIL was dating the woman who is now his wife, I knit her a luxurious cabled scarf. I thought it was wonderful. I picked out some baby alpaca yarn in a pale lavender color and made it into this Lily Chin pattern published by Fiber Trends. Nothing wrong so far, right? Well, my SIL Rebecca has lived her entire life in North Carolina. It is rarely cold enough to wear a scarf in North Carolina at all, much less a cabled scarf made out of 100% alpaca yarn. 
  4. I made my mother-in-law a scarf out of mohair that was probably way too warm and definitely way too itchy. I think she wore it once to be polite.
  5. My poor in-laws; I keep failing them in the knitted gifts department. I made my father-in-law a pair of wool socks and failed to make sure the yarn was superwash. He wore them exactly once before they were felted in the wash.
  6. I'm pretty sure I made a baby sweater out of non superwash wool for a non-knitter. 
  7. I made wool socks for my friend as a graduation present, then found out she is extremely sensitive to wool and animal fibers.
  8. Because I am apparently a slow learner, I later made a lacy scarf out of alpaca/silk for the same friend...right before she moved to Florida. I guess I wanted her to be both hot and itchy?
I'm much better at making good choices for gift knitting these days. I take into account the climate in which the intended recipient lives. I no longer make alpaca scarves for anyone who resides in the deep South, for example. I only use washable yarn for baby gifts (unless one of the baby's parents is a knitter and truly doesn't mind hand wash only.) I ask my family members before I make them anything to find out what they actually want (no more sweaters for my husband and son). 

And also, no more scarves. Period.


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