Q for You: ARE you a holiday gift knitter?

Q for You: ARE you a holiday gift knitter?

I always feel like a bit of an oddball this time of year when everyone’s talking about their holiday gift knitting — and I’m blogging about what patterns you might choose — while I’m just not really a gift knitter. In my defense, we’re not a gifty family. Even in years when we’re together for Hannukah or Christmas (we have contingencies that are variously observant of both) we either don’t do gifts or we draw names and only have one person to find something for. And Bob and I established a tradition long ago of either buying something we both want/need for our home or taking a little trip or … nothing.

But even if we were a fervent gift-giving clan, I don’t think I’d be gift knitting. The pressure! I do sometimes knit for other people — like the hats I knitted my sister’s whole family for spring break, or the vest currently on my needles for my husband, above — but we’ve talked before about the fact that I’m what’s known as a “selfish knitter,” and I don’t apologize for it. For one thing, I’m attempting to make most of my own clothes, so my rate of production has mattered. For another, what motivates me to knit is wanting to possess the finished thing. Knitting something for someone without knowing if they even want it is hugely demotivating for me. And the minute I tell someone I’ll knit whatever for them, I no longer want to do it; once it becomes an obligation, the thrill is gone. I’ve happily and successfully knitted things for others, or given things away after the fact; and I’ve knitted things for other people that are languishing in a drawer somewhere. So I know both the joys and the disappointments. But it’s mostly just not what knitting is about, for me. I’m reluctant to use the buzzword “self-care,” but knitting is a thing I do for myself, on all the levels. I’ve had this idea for years that I could start a tradition of knitting one thing each year, one recipient, and cycle through my loved ones. Maybe I’ll try to think of Bob’s vest as the first of those! (To be clear, I have no regrets or complaints about this vest: I can’t wait to see it on him.)

As always, I ask these questions because I love nothing more than how different we all are, and love hearing all the differing perspectives and experiences. So that’s my Q for You today: Are you a gift knitter? And if so, what are you knitting?

Cheers and happy Friday, everyone!


PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What sells you on a pattern?

87 thoughts on “Q for You: ARE you a holiday gift knitter?

  1. I am completely a “selfish knitter” and make no apologies for that. I knit for me and the joy it brings me. I have given knits away and knit things for others but the pressure that pure gift knitting brings me is just not worth it. Honestly I’m not sure anyone in my circle of family and friends would understand my love of wool and needles and what a handmade garment means to me. (that’s why I love this community!)
    That being said I do have two knit worthy folks in my life at the moment. My husband will wear any knitted hat I make him and he LOVES a pair of handknit socks and will wear them weeks on end until I pull them off his feet for a washing. There’s also a sweet new grandbaby to think about and she is worthy of a few handknit lovelies.
    When I feel up to it of course ;)

  2. Yes! Your sentiments exactly! I do make promises I regret almost immediately! The last time I gifted a hat, the recipient’s mother threw it in the wash and it came out the size of a doll’s hat! It’s hard to compete with an acrylic washable dryable hat from target!

  3. I’m not a gift knitter. We don’t give gifts in my family. I do make things for other people, but about half or more of what I knit is for myself. I knit hats and such things for my children and husband when they need things. I have intended to knit some sweaters for them, but I have cubital tunnel syndrome and I have to take breaks from knitting that can be several months long at times when my hand gets too numb to even hold the knitting needle.

  4. I’m not a gift knitter. I don’t like the pressure of finishing things and I’m not a fast knitter. I knit for pleasure and adding a deadline takes the pleasure away – the reason I am not a test knitter. I will knit for my daughter – she loves what I knit and is happy to have it whenever I finish it.

  5. I could have written EVERY word in your essay!! Thank you for putting this on the table for discussion. Anyone who happily knits for others and/or has their knitted gifts received with joy and appreciation is fortunate. From what I’ve seen amongst some of my knitting pals gift knitting is a period of joyless pressure to meet a goal that has morphed into a huge chore.

    I knit joyfully for me. Only me. I want those finished items to wear with pride and pleasure. I can’t knit fast enough and my queue is of immeasurable length. And I continue to add to the list and stash. Once in a rare while I will knit for another with the recipient and project carefully selected and as a total surprise which I can gift with limitless love in every stitch. That circle of recipients is extremely small – deliberately. My knitting time on earth is finite and knitting is my balm, yoga, therapist, hot tea, deep sleep, and supreme satisfaction. It might as well be breath.

  6. For the holidays, I give almost nothing *but* knitted gifts. As someone who is working hard to be more of a minimalist, I don’t like giving gifts to people that aren’t personal, or made by hand… and I’m lucky that, over the years, my family has shown me which handknit projects they really love and use. So mother-in-law gets a few pairs of easy slipper socks, brother gets socks, another friend gets Turkish Bed Socks… (it’s a lotta socks). I work on them throughout the year – mostly as car/trip projects – and salt them away for the holidays or birthdays. Makes me happy to give something with a little extra meaning – and gives me a chance to support LYSs by purchasing ‘souvenir skeins’ with purpose as well.

    • That is all truly wonderful — you’re lucky to have that level of understanding all around you!

  7. For adults, not often. But I love knitting baby sweaters for gifts, Fast and so cute! And if they’re cardigans, you you can go crazy with the cute buttons.

    • I love the idea of knitting baby sweaters but have yet to ever knit one! I think the washability factor gets in my way.

  8. I used to be a gift knitter and the stress and pressure started in August. I only knit for people I knew/thought would appreciate a handmade gift. And then one year, a friend told me her system – just knit what I want throughout the year, put it in a basket at Christmas, and let people choose. I tired it and it worked well. I was surprised at some of the choices people made. I did manage to make a small dent in my stash that year. That said, I haven’t done it again partly because I always forget to knit small items during the year and then I’m right back to stress knitting from August-December. Maybe next year. I need to make another dent in my stash.

  9. I have a very tiny knitworthy list, it’s immediate family and other knitters. That’s it. And even with them, I don’t do surprises. Rather, I ask them what they would love to wear and I make that. It’s too much time and effort to give a handmade gift that isn’t cherished.

    However, this year I might give my coworkers pint-sized pines (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/pint-sized-pines) in addition to some other small store-bought gift. Those will take literally 5 minutes to make and I’m not sure there’s a person alive who wouldn’t be thrilled to get a tiny cork tree.

    • I love that idea, Yolanda! I’m going to make that my goal this coming year! There are so many patterns I want to try but I always feel I should have someone in mind and that’s where I get stuck. So now I can make what catches my imagination and the recipients sort themselves out –or not! Whatever’s left can be mine or donated.

  10. Selfish knitter here. In the past I have knitted for others..and occasionally will for a friend’s first baby or something like that. And I do knit for my children sometimes..(because my desire for slow fashion and to see my children in wool and not Target sweaters/hats all the time)…but like you, I want to clothe myself and wear the finished object. When people say “you should start an Etsy shop” or “sell what you knit” I just say “I just want to clothe me and my babies”. Maybe someday I will knit for my husband but the hats i’ve made for him don’t get worn and makes me hesitant to knit anything else for him.
    As soon as I say I want to knit something for someone or someone’s baby though….all desire and good will goes away. Haha
    It’s much better if I keep it to myself..it’s more likely to happen.

  11. Your post today resonates with me and made me feel so much better! I too am mostly a selfish knitter for the same reasons you are. I’ve always felt a little guilty just knitting for myself, but I too am working towards a handmade wardrobe and I am a slow knitter so my production output limits how many items I can make in a certain time period. Saying that, I have knitted hats for my mom for Christmas, but she loves hats and so appreciates the items I make for her, so it makes the knitting of those items a pleasure.

  12. My family is totally knit worthy – they love hand knits, use them, and take care of them properly. But I only knit them gifts with lots of guidance, so I know they will like what they get. Especially true of my nieces and nephew, as they have much more style sense than I do. My nephew came to MDS&W this spring and gave many hints as to style and yarn he would like for a sweater, so that’s what he’s getting. Plenty of lead time, and I know he’ll appreciate it. Other than that, a few things that I have already done and family members have admired get put away for gifts too. So yes to knit gifts, no to a ton of them so I feel pressured. In general I love knitting for other people though. Gives me a chance to send them some good energy…

  13. The trick is not to make it stressful. I’m knitting a bunch of little things at the moment from our Field Guide No. 8: Merry Making with no particular recipient in mind. Each hat or cowl gives me the totally personal pleasure of playing with yarns and color and variations on Thea Colman’s patterns. Two nights knitting maybe for a hat. Then, when I have my little pile of handknits, I’ll figure out who to give them to. It’s a hat, you know, not a cable sweater. So the stakes are low in terms of whether they end up using it. Knitting is supposed to be fun, right?

  14. My family has evolved into a no-gift family. We’re all adults, and we agreed years ago that it made no sense to spend money we didn’t have buying things we didn’t need. So no holiday gift knitting for me.
    That said, I do occasionally feel moved to knit a gift, usually inspired by an impending baby or some other momentous event.

  15. I mostly knit (and sew), because I don’t know many people who appreciate wool or handmade items as much as I do! My mom, however, is extremely knitworthy and I make her about one pair of socks a year, as well as hats, shawls, etc. Also, she will wear anything that I made because I loved the pattern but, once finished, realized I would never wear it. In fact, I do love knitting accessories for other people and have done it often. I have now committed to making a sweater for each of my parents though, and realized that after this I should definitely remain a selfish sweater knitter! I completely agree with you, Karen, about the obligation taking away the thrill. Even when it is for someone I love, and I love the *idea* of outfitting my family in handknit sweaters, as soon as I commit to it, it just becomes a big “ugh” compared to knitting for myself. For the holidays, I usually decide at the last minute to try to gift lovingly handmade items instead of buying into consumerism, but I don’t leave myself enough time so only end up making a couple gifts.

  16. I knit hats for the ‘Littles’ in my life – my young granddaughters, friend’s and family’s children. I like color work and I can explore colors and patterns in small projects. Finished #7 yesterday – the final hat just needing a Pom Pom. They are my car project and saved for times when I can’t be in my studio creating ‘art’.

  17. nah most of the time (like over 75%) I find that they don’t wear knitted gifts and it takes so long. now I only do it when my mom asks me to make her something because she will wear it. That said I am gonna make two pairs of log cabin mitts because they go quickly and will probably get worn bc mittens go missing all the time!

  18. I do knit gifts but usually only surprise gifts and definitely not for a Christmas gift. I teach at a community college and it’s too crazy to think about gifts during the fall semester. I sometimes do birthday gift knitting and usually ‘just because’ gift knitting but rarely does the recipient know in advance. Like you, I feel that the deadline pressure sucks the joy out of the knitting.

    • I’m with Pat here — I’m a college lecturer working an overload, and while I do ‘just because’ gift knitting, the semester is too crazy for thinking about crafting my gifts. I need to avoid deadline pressure for things that aren’t work!

      That said, I do usually consult the recipient ahead of time on gift projects. The best way to ensure the items I give others will be worn is to check ahead of time to see what the recipient wants. This means the gifts aren’t a surprise. For example, right now I’m knitting a pair of mittens for my oldest son. He picked the yarn, I consulted him on the pattern, and I’ve measured his hands, so…I’m fairly confident they’ll be used.

  19. I have three grands, and have been knitting for them since they were born. The oldest is now 8 and they really LOVE the hats and mitts that I knit for them. The youngest even enjoys the hand-me-down knits from his older brother. This year I’ve knit them all hats and mitts, and my daughter has requested that they receive them early because it is so stinking cold here in GA! I love to knit for them, but only them. I’m presently knitting a really pretty scarf which a friend saw on one of my Instagram posts. She left a lovely comment. I’ve got plenty of scarves, so this one will go to her as a complete and much appreciated surprise. That’s how I like to gift knit.

  20. Yes, I can be a gift knitter, but the majority of the time I am also a selfish knitter. This year I knit hats for my husband and son. I also made tiny sweaters as ornaments to give to friends. So not a huge amount of time invested, so relatively stress free.

  21. I am a gift knitter but I rarely, if ever, knit a gift at a certain time for a certain purpose (i.e. baby blanket for new bambino). Instead, I find projects I would like to make, generally accessories (cuz no fit required), that use stash yarn and teach me new skills and allow me to knit with enjoyment, and I store them in my “knit boutique” aka a special drawer in my room. Then, when an occasion comes up, I have all kinds of pretty things that will work for boys, girls, kids, grown ups, pets etc. I let the item tell me who it wants to be given to. It’s a terrific system and I’m never stressed by deadlines. I also rarely buy gifts, cuz I also sew, bake, cook and make my own skin care and body products. I LOVE to give things I’ve made and others do seem to enjoy the activity as much as I do, for the most part.

  22. Gift knitter. For the last 14 years, from March til December I knit a special gift for every member of my family- kids, siblings, in-laws- except my hub who does not wear knits- along with other special friends. Usually in excess of 20 items. Hats, scarves, mitts, shawls, cowls, or socks. some years have themes, or colors, some are driven by a single amazing pattern, but always tailored to the recipient. My sister sometimes gets a sweater. I totally love it. I knit on the train, during meetings, watching tv, waiting during music lessons and sports practice. It fills me with love for the one I am knitting for and brings me closer to them even when they are far away. It calms be down and fills me up. PThen from January through March I knit for me!

  23. Throughout the year, I gift friends and my sisters with knitted accessories I’ve made. Right now I’m making a shawl for a friend as she admired mine and I’m not ready to part with it. Slow going and no enthusiasm as it’s the exact same pattern with the SAME fingering yarn. Ugh–won’t do that again as half of the fun of knitting is to see how a yarn knits up or to learn a new technique. I’ll just say, “l’ll put your name on it” and gift it when I’ve found a new favorite.

    For Xmas, I’m sewing table runners for my sisters and a few friends. Much faster going as I can finish one in an afternoon.

    • Yes! I totally agree with Lisa when she says “it fills me with love for the one I am knitting for and brings me closer to them…” I love to knit for others and myself. My family talks about wearing my hand knits as their armor as they go out into the world and sometimes I give knits to others when I’m sensing they are in need of some care. Whether they wear it or treat it right is irrelevant to me. I see it as sending love out into the world.

  24. No. Do NOT knit for holiday giving. This time of year giving has gotten way simple in our family, too. Mostly. And its a relief. Our shop is busy, I have lots of making to keep up and knitting is my gift to myself to slow down and relaxing a bit. I laughed out loud when you said once you tell someone you’ll make them something you don’t want to any more. This post just wiped out the last lingering nudge of guilt I’ve had that I’m not surprising my sister and sis’n’law with hand knit mitts. (I have a very bad past history of “must make/buy MORE!”) The handmade gift I give everyone on my list is the gift of a new holiday card each year, made by me. Takes me forever to get them all done and I love doing them. I have to get them in the mail early on so that the new design can then go in the gallery – that’s my motivation not to drag it out. So… no gift knitting this time of year! But plenty of knitting to calm down.

  25. Yes, I’m a gift knitter, but for people I will probably never meet. I spend the year knitting for the library’s Mitten Tree, which passes the mittens, gloves, scarves, hats and socks to local charities that distribute them. This is immensely satisfying to me, as I get the excitement of buying lots of yarn (the good yarn, bought mostly from the sale bins), the fun of knitting various patterns and sizes (and enlarging my skills on the way), and the immense joy of knowing the recipients want and need these items.

  26. I make my son’s hats each year. They are 5 and 8. It is a quick knit (or crochet) and they are always loved. This year my husband asked for one too. The hats and occasional baby blankets are my only gift knitting. Everything else is selfish knitting, that’s the way I like it.

  27. I’ve learned to only gift knits to people if they have actually asked for something. I’m a slow knitter and yarn is not an insignificant investment. After a few gift knitting flops, I’ve found that I don’t want to invest a lot of time and money into something that a loved one doesn’t really want in the first place. But once someone has asked for something, then I am wholeheartedly ready to cast on.

    I think gift knitting can almost be a bit more fun than my “selfish” knitting. There’s a lot of colors, patterns, shapes that I would never chose for myself, but when I’m making an item for someone else with different tastes, then I get to step outside of my own comfort zone. I’m making my sisters each a pair of fluorite socks in bright pink and purple gradients, whereas my personal colorway would have been dark neutrals.

  28. I have to really love you to knit a gift for you, or you need to be a new baby (and preferably a new baby that I really love.) I have so little knitting time and I’ve had enough people poo-poo handcrafted gifts, that I tend to keep my gift knitting very limited.

  29. Oh thank you! Now I know that I’m not the only “selfish knitter” out there. I knit for the pleasure it gives me. My family doesn’t value most hand made gifts (I’m also a quilter) and the added stress of deadlines makes me a little crazy and eliminates the joy I get from knitting. I prefer to occasionally surprise someone with something I’ve made for them because it is the perfect item for that person and given for no specific occasion.

    • I once knit gifts for my husbands entire family and no one liked a thing and so I was done. I did knit some things for my nephew but I never saw even saw a photo of him in anything (even if they stuck him in it just to send a photo. He wears stuff my mother in law makes so the issue could be they do not like my taste, which happens but it made me sad. That being said, I am not knitting anything for the new baby. I bought something instead.

  30. I guess that I feel all of the above. I knitted hats for my family of 8 one year. It took a long time and one hat had to be quite late. It is hard to please everyone in the choice of hats. I thought that it would be quick but it wasn’t. I would love to see that vest that you are knitting for your husband. It looks like two colors of blue.

  31. Gift knitting had turned into such a chore for me, and then people in my family were getting a little entitled about it, so I walked away. It’s still a really odd feeling for me to pencil in only things to buy for them because it just goes against the grain of my thinking, but we’re a family that’s very big on giving gifts, so…

    It gets harder with adults as we all get more established as the years go by and don’t “depend” on gifts from parents and grandparents in order to have a “nice little something” for ourselves.

    Kids, though…goodness, it’s fun to buy for kids. I wish we could just do away with gift-giving to adults completely. I don’t need more bubble bath, I don’t want junk from the Dollar Store, and I prefer to pick out my own clothing and home decor. It just gets to a point where it’s just a little ridiculous, y’know? Try as I do to let Grandma know that I’d really rather not have her spend her limited retirement savings on gifts for my husband and me, she just can’t not do it. Let me take you out for lunch, and let me get the cheque. (Because, once again, LIMITED RETIREMENT SAVINGS.) It’s enough.

    I do like to make things for new babies, though. But I don’t give them at showers because…well, I’m good at what I do, and there’s always one or two other ladies that have just started learning to knit or quilt who give a handmade gift and really bask in the praise their newly-acquired skills garner. The last time I gave a handmade gift at a shower, it completely eclipsed the previous newbie handmade gift and the young woman looked so crestfallen. Not my problem per se, but I know how loser-ish it would have made me feel if it had happened to me at her age. So now I wait until Baby has arrived and I take my handmade gift over with a meal. It’s been a great litmus test about whether or not I should make a handmade gift–do I have the kind of relationship with the parents that I would take over a meal after the birth? If yes, craft away; if not, well, maybe I should just get a quick gift next time I’m out running errands.

  32. Lots of conversation here. Everyone is different. But I feel like you took the words right out of my mouth right from the “oddball” part to the pressure that has led me to become a “self-knitter” rather than a gift knitter. The only other person who benefits from my knitting is Hubby. Thanks for making me feel better about that!

  33. I was about to say, essentially, no. I did knit my 54 y/o brother a Christmas stocking this year to replace one knit by our Aunt that was damaged by mice. She had knit each of us a stocking for our first Christmases and we all still hang them each year. That thought reminded me of the other ones I had knit for babies of friends, my brother’s husband who “needed” one and quite a few other knitted gifts from me or to me from Gran, Aunt B, my mom . . . all much loved except for the matching coral pink skirts from Gran to my sister and I (7 & 9-ish?), made with a very chunky corrugation stitch that felt like a tube of thick foam. I believe they were Mod. So I guess I gift knit when a fun project hits me and it’s usually something that won’t get washed or a hat that is not much of a tragedy if it goes through the wrong wash cycle.

  34. I’m a life-long handmade gift giver. Most of my gifts are handmade of some sort: from knitted accessories to soap to foodstuffs. I used to make each of my children a sweater every year and keep it secret while I was knitting, but I don’t do such big projects any more. I do buy some things if I really like them and think they will be just right for someone. That’s neither good nor bad – better or best. It’s just what I do. Any gift, to me, is giving a little of the giver.

  35. I learned to knit in 2010 (the year I got married!) and up until the middle of last year, I’d knit maybe two things for myself (a cowl which I sadly lost, and boot cuffs); that first year, as is a cliche I’m sure, everyone got a scarf, haha. I was (and still am) happy to knit for others, but I’ve become much more thoughtful about it. I realized that I would go from “that would be so cute for so-and-so” to “I must make that for them” in a nano second — all the pressure and imaginary deadlines being my own.
    Having three children since 2012 has also played a role in helping me slow down. I’ve finally started knitting for myself (sweaters!) and it feels so good! And I just finished some hats for my trio :). As far as knitting-for-others projects, this year I knit tunics for my best friend’s daughters (she is also a knitter so she appreciates them on all the levels). I now prioritize myself, my husband, and kiddos when it comes to deciding on future projects, and then I pick one or two other people (friends, extended family) for whom I’ll knit that year. Knitting helps me decompress and also rejuvenates me in its turns, and I don’t want to lose that; I’m much gentler with myself on “deadlines” and I’m refusing to feel guilty for knitting more and more for myself.

  36. Our nearby fabric shop had a sale recently and I went up to the check-out counter with a stack of fabrics. The clerk said something about alot of gifts being made from the stack. I did a big gulp. “No, it’s all for me,” I said sheepishly. Then, I decided that this is okay since few appreciate the time and effort that goes into some handmade gifts. I do – because I grew up with a mother who sewed and knitted, and even I appreciate it more now since I do it myself.

  37. Horses for courses, I think. I like knitting for other people because it gives me the chance to try different patterns and yarns. One recipient recently was so enthused that she has taken up knitting herself. And I don’t knit to a deadline – it’s done when it’s done. I also knit for Keep Bristol Warm. In the coldest time we go into town one Sunday night and tie scarves to streetlights and leave hats and gloves on benches and bollards, with a note saying ‘Take me if you need me.’ One year I worked through five of Karen’s hat patterns and gave them all away.

  38. I, too, knit for me and occasionally for charity or for baby gifts. I’ve done knits for gandchildren too. I mainly knit for myself and make no apologies for it as I’ve gifted others previously w/scarves etc. and they’ve kept one and given the other to a friend. As I don’t knit constantly, I’m knitting for me.

  39. This year I’m making socks for all my immediate family! I took it as a knitting challenge since I’ve never knit socks before – my chosen projects are usually sweaters or larger garments. And since my family are scattered across warm and cold climates it’s become another challenge to work with different, fun fibers. So pretty much I knit gifts but they’re really just all about me.

  40. Definitely a gift knitter, although I’m usually finished with all the knitted gifts by Dec. 1, as opposed to this year, in which I’m still knitting the last few things.

  41. I mainly knit for myself (sweaters, cowls) and my husband and girls (socks, hats). OccasionalIy I will gift knit for family, like this year where my SIL will be receiving a chunky natural coloured cabled cowl which I know she will like. Have plans to knit my mum a nice cowl for her birthday early next year (pattern and yarn all ready to go).

  42. Our family tradition, started when my kids were small, is that I knit everyone a pair of socks. We use one of the pair for our stockings on the mantel. The tradition meant that I got a pair of socks, too, usually finished in February. Everyone gets a new pair of wool, hand knit socks every year as my primary gift to them (and, usually, anyone who joins us for the holidays). This year, my daughter has undertaken to knit my pair, beginning in July. I know I will treasure them, and the wear my family puts on their socks, suggests that they like this tradition.

  43. I used to be a Christmas gift knitter, but not so much anymore. There are a couple people in my life who I know truly cherish my knits, and so I love knitting for them. Once I knitted my mother a surprise bellows sweater for Christmas and she cried when she opened the gift! But for the most part, I’ve found that no matter how much I enjoy the making process and no matter how beautiful the finished product is, it really disappoints me if the recipient doesn’t seem to cherish it, so I’ve mostly stopped wasting the time and labour.
    I do always gift knits for new babies though – mostly for the novelty of getting to knit the adorable (quick) patterns!

  44. I’m knitting three gifts. Two hats and a shawl. I gift to people I know will appreciate the work I have done. It’s an ideal way to give an unique gift, made with thought and love. I love it when I see them wearing what I’ve made

  45. I love how everyone takes pleasure in their gift knitting or not being into knitting for others – not least because I feel both ways. Most of the year I just knit for me, but my parents and in-laws deeply love hand-knit socks (especially my father-in-law, who prefers them to anything store-bought), so I knit for them every year. I know they get worn (I use machine-washable wool to be safe), and it doesn’t feel like pressure to me because I always have a pair or three of socks on the go at any time and only have two feet of my own (and only one that can wear fitted socks at the moment since the other is broken). My family is a long line of makers (knitting, sewing, woodworking, gardening, etc), so my parents appreciate the time and energy and materials that go into hand-knits and get things if they ask for them.

  46. I am sorry to say, I feel sorry for people who don’t knit for others and don’t give gifts, the best part about thinking and planning for the holidays. The part I like the most is planning with our family about making things, baking things, planning together, looking at Christmas lights. To only have yourself to think about for knitting I am afraid I would run out of reasons to buy yarn if I wasn’t thinking about others. Here in No. California, we have had the tragic fires where 50,000+ people had to leave their homes or lost everything; that need warm clothing; so we have groups of people sewing, crocheting and knitting kids items; we have a group of ladies who knit preemie babies hats for the hospitals; we also knit hats for cancer victims for the holiday; we knit blankets for babies in our church during holidays. And as a way for 4H to make money, we have kids crocheting and knitting items to sell downtown during our Christmas lighting of the tree, the holiday light parade and have food and holiday selling vendors. My neighbor takes in Foster kids and just got 2 babies under 1 year old, they are on my list to make knit some baby items for Christmas. So I can gladly, clearly and excitedly say, I love having projects to make for Christmas and love thinking and buying the yarns to make as many gift giving as I can before December 25th.

    • How lovely that your use of knitting brings such pleasure and comfort to others. Many of us have chosen different paths for our charitable works and it’s often too easy to have expectations of knitters/crocheters that we don’t have of other crafters. I would no more expect a woodworker to make me a bookcase than I would a quilter to make me a quilt. All of my charity work is anonymous and done with unbounded love – it just doesn’t include knitting.

      • Wow, knitting is not the only way to be charitable, or give gifts. Not everyone values or wants handmade items. It is to bad with have this knit shaming going on about other people’s choices.

  47. I am definitely NOT a gift knitter. That said, every knitted item I’ve completed this year was a gift because I somehow committed myself over and over and over in 2018, despite my better judgment. On the one hand, it’s nice that I have been able to make others happy with my crafting and I’m glad I stretched myself this year to think about my crafting differently this year. On the other hand, I’ve definitely felt like knitting was a chore this year, and not a joy, and as a result, I’ve done less of it this year than before (which makes me sad). I can’t wait to be finished with my last gift of the year (the most boring blanket in the history of blankets). I’ve committed to 1 thing for next year, but honestly, I’m done after that. Right or wrong, I’ve confirmed that gift knitting sucks the fun out of the craft for me.

  48. Nope. Not a gift knitter, at least not on deadline or obligation. But I do “shop” my stash of handknits (design prototypes, mostly) and give gifts from there. They’re already done!

    Knitting for joy, always.

  49. I do knit gifts for some folks. I enjoy thinking about the colors and styles they will like. But I don’t knit for EVERYONE ever. And I don’t let myself be pressured by the date. I have more than once wrapped a wip on the needles, then taken it back to finish it. And I do plenty of selfish knitting. Because I just love the things I make as much as I love making them.

  50. Some of the “not a gift knitter” remarks I can relate to — I don’t knit to deadlines, and a sense of obligation is the surest project killer. And yet, I can’t say I’m not a gift knitter, because most of the things I make are for others. I am definitely not primarily motivated by wanting to own something myself — for me, that kind of attachment is the worst kind of pressure! I also just don’t think I need that many knitted things, certainly not as many as I’d like to knit.

    Deep down, the thing that I love most about making things — whether it’s cooking, knitting, sewing, or anything else — is making them for other people (if I have a crowd to feed, I’ll happily produce an elaborate feast; if I’m on my own, I can barely find the motivation to boil an egg). I love the planning and the choosing, and the feeling of meditation as the making of the thing focuses my mind and heart on the recipient. It’s nice when people love the things I make (and I try hard to think about them, not about me, when I’m planning — that’s the fun part!), but I don’t find that I’m terribly disappointed if the reaction is muted or uncomprehending. It’s a gift, freely given. It is my love for them in physical form. If I’m not prepared to release it with no expectation, then I’m not ready to give it.

  51. I gave up the bulk of my knitting for others (besides the knits for the newborns) years ago; it seems, even if the yarn/pattern etc were closely “supervised” (I love that!), something would be wrong, or the reception lukewarm. What I do now is similar to what Yolanda mentioned earlier; when the family crowd gets together, I bring out a bag of projects that I have made for myself but no longer use, don’t look right, have too many of, etc. I tell them I brought some extra things that people can help themselves to if they want. The first time I did this, I was so shocked when everyone went at the pile, including the fussy SIL, & not one thing was left! They all had at least one thing that they loved :-) I’ve continued to do this, still haven’t had to bring anything home. Go figure!!!

    • This certainly resonates with me, Julia! I do a lot of gift knitting, and only some of it is planned–every Christmas, there are socks galore. Socks are (relatively) quick, and I get to play with yarn, texture, color etc so it is great fun to do, and I know they are worn. Some of my relatives wear only my handmade socks from October to May, and have declared to third parties that they are loath to take them off even to be washed (this warms the heart of the sock knitter, and ensures that the tradition continues!) Those socks are on the go pretty much year round. I also have made other items, including Fair Isle sweaters, for certain knitworthy individuals, but those were surprises (so no pressure if I couldn’t finish in time). The family joke now, is that I somehow can’t make a sweater for myself, since the last four times that I’ve tried, they came out all wrong for me, but (magically?) perfectly fitting someone else. As long as it fits somebody who’ll wear it and love it, I guess that’s OK, and I’ll just have to keep trying. I really like the idea of making accessories and letting people choose, may give that a try as well.

  52. I don’t often knit for occasions – holidays, birthdays, etc. What I do enjoy, however, is the pairing of material, pattern and recipient. This goes both for sewing and knitting, and is year round. I love playing with ideas of what certain yarns or fabrics can become, and who the finished objects could be suited for. Once those three elements come together I really enjoy making the objects, and gifting them when they are done. About half of the time they aren’t even surprises because I can’t contain my excitement! :) Right now I am anxious to get started on a kids plaid jacket for a friends son, and a pair of colorwork mittens for a friend who usually loves and wears to death the things I make her. That is certainly also a motivating factor!

  53. I think I might be in the minority here, but I very rarely knit for myself. So it’s actually pretty fun during the holiday season to go stash diving and find skeins that might find better homes somewhere else knitted up as a nice pair of socks or hat. It makes me pretty happy when the recipient tells me they’re actually wearing their gift knit. Right now I’m working on a pair of very festive sparkly socks for my sister. Hopefully they’ll spice up her very monotone wardrobe!

  54. I found this post so interesting because at least two thirds of the things I knit and crochet are for other people. I’ve knit Arans for my two British nephews (with their and their mums input so they fit beautifully and they love them), many hats for my son, numerous garments of all kinds for my daughter and a crochet cotton blanket as a wedding gift for very close friends of hers. I’ve also replicated a colourwork cardigan in mohair for a SIL to replace a favourite one that had got too threadbare to wear. I very seldom make things without discussion and consultation with the recipient tho. That said, right now I’m working on a City of Roses shawl as a surprise for a friend, but I know she’ll love it because she admired mine. But I’m planning on joining in your January KAL and that will be for me!

  55. I knit almost exclusively for myself, but as a new mom, I’ve found that knitting for my now 18 month old daughter feels pretty much exactly the same. I still have the joy of seeing the garment worn, which is as good as wearing it myself since it’s on my darling little cutie, and she’s still too young to decide she doesn’t like it. Plus if I’m a little off gauge, it’ll fit her eventually!

  56. Why do we feel that we need to make for others? Why is being a “selfish knitter” a thing? So what is it about knitting that means we ‘must’ knit for others? Because the guilt is real.

  57. You finally put into words what I haven’t been able to! “Self care.” YES. that’s what it is for me, too. I do knit gifts at time, but the minute someone asks for a “commission” piece, I shut down. I had an Etsy shop for a while when I was fairly new to knitting and it was fun for a little bit but it eventually became such a slog. I didn’t enjoy knitting anymore. I knit for myself – the process is just as much for me as the finished product is. Thanks for such a great, relatable post!

  58. Ditto – 100% agree that the minute I agree to make it, it instantly feels like an obligation. I rarely knit for others, but, about one a year, gather up my handmades that I’m not using and offer them to family and close friends. It’s a way to re-home things I’ve made (maybe because they were fun to make but not really my style) and feels good to give them to people I love right around the holiday season.

  59. I dislike the term “selfish knitting” can we call it personal knitting instead? Other hobbies (cooking and baking come to mind) that can be for one’s self or for others, aren’t typically referred to as selfish. I digress….I rarely knit for others because it is generally not appreciated. Occasionally I will knit for others when the situation is right though, and this year I am donating a knit shawl to my daughter’s school auction (though I am worried about low bidder turnout, I keep wearing it at school to drum up interest.) As a very new knitter, about 10 years ago, I knit a hat for my oldest friend. It was a little small and had a lot of beginner knitting qualities. He graciously accepted it but I had no clue if he ever wore it. Last winter, he sent me a photo of his son wearing it, telling me it was his favorite hat, and even if he never wore it, I was so touched he kept it.

  60. I am with Sarah here, because “selfish” when used with knitting or sewing has always rubbed me the wrong way. There’s a sense of shame associated with the term or at the very least a sort of justification required. The position of needle arts in the female sphere has evolved from necessary, in the service of the household, to more decorous pursuit. It’s a hobby. If it brings you pleasure to create things, shouldn’t the focus be on that? You have made an object, kept your hands and eyes busy, hopefully enjoyed the feel of the wool on your fingers, and in the process, maybe added to your skill set. Who ends up wearing it becomes secondary. I wonder if other craftspeople (woodworkers, potters etc) debate the merits of making things for oneself vs others? I can’t help but think they don’t.

  61. This post has completely opened my eyes because I’ve always assumed that most people are gift knitters, like me. Although I think I’m equally a personal knitter and a gift knitter. It’s nice to know that everyone seems to find a way that works for them and that each way is equally valuable.

    I take great pleasure in making things for my closest family and friends. I make sure to knit only for those people who I know will appreciate it. Sometimes I have a hunch that someone will really love or use something and I make it for them as a surprise. If I’m unsure, I will consult with the person before I start making it and have them tell me what they want so I can tailor the item for their needs. The people that I knit things for are an absolute delight which I’m really greatful for. The things I make are cherished and lovingly care for (much better than I care for my own handknits) and it gives me such pleasure. I’ve previously made things for people who have absolutely no use or appreciation for something handmade. It’s a very disappointing experience and I don’t really want to repeat it, so I choose the people who get handmade items carefully. It’s not a criticism of those people who prefer non-selfmade things, they just get other well-chosen store-bought-gifts and that is fine as well!

    I like making things during the year and saving it for christmas to give as a gift. It takes the pressure out of the holiday season because it saves me the stress of coming up with ideas at the end of the year. I never put pressure on my knitting. If I’m not finished early enough before christmas I just think of something else to give to that person and then they’ll get their handknit for their birdthday or just randomly throughout the year. I really understand that knitting under pressure is no fun! Someone above has written that making for others fills them with love for that person even if they aren’t close. That is absolutely the way I feel and it makes the making extra special. Although the joy of making something for myself and looking forward to wearing it is equally as enjoyable!!

  62. I hate the phrase “selfish knitting” and I think it’s sexist. When a man has a specific ability like carpentry, nobody calls him selfish when he works on his house or builds himself bookshelves. I think that phrase comes from de-valuing women’s interests. But, sigh, my extended family always expects new mitts every year…

    • Completely agree and have expressed this exact sentiment many times. There is too often an implication that what we “choose” to do must be done for others. I can no linger count the silences when my reply is “…for me” as though something is wrong with that,

  63. Thank you for your wonderful blog. I have always been for the most part a selfish knitter. I do like knitting Christmas gifts for my family members but I knit so slow that they usually receive them after Christmas. Sometimes several months after. Up until this blog, when I’m reading some forum where everyone says all they do is knit for other people or charities, I have felt like there was something wrong with me because I mostly knit for myself. I love making knit socks and shawls for me just me. Knitting is my therapy. Thank you for helping me to see I’m not a weirdo for wanting to keep my knits that I put so much time and love into.

  64. I’m not much of a gift knitter, mostly because I lack people in my life who are ideal knitwear recipients. That said, my mom is getting a sweater I cast on for myself for Christmas this year, since she’s a very hard person to find gifts for and she loved it when she saw me working on it.

  65. I love to give gifts, so I am very much a gift knitter. I know that my gifts are not always appreciated as much as I would like, but this seems to be true of gifts in general! People are tricky. I generally start in May or June for my holiday list, and then I can still knit plenty of projects for myself. And January-April is the time for the projects I’ve wanted to knit, but couldn’t quite commit to before the holidays

    I also gift knit because I knit so much, and generally so fast, that I could not possible use all the things I knit in a year. I could knit less, but I love it too much to knit less. So, knitting for others allows me to knit constantly and not worry about an overflowing closet of endless hand knits for my life in northern California.

  66. A bit late on sharing, but, one year I knit 4 blankets, a pair of slipper socks and a dog sweater all for Christmas gifts- they were all seemingly well received but after rarely seeing any of these (other than the dog sweater) be really used, I’ve become a (somewhat of a) selfish knitter in that I’ll knit small gifts for babies/charity (mostly hats and booties, occasionally a blanket) but typically just knit for myself or my infant son.

    The flip side to this is when my son was born in early August I was gifted a few knit blankets which I really do cherish and value. I guess I’m selfish both in that I like to knit for myself but I also love and appreciate knit gifts given to me. I think it’s the sentiment of knowing someone took time, effort, and energy into knitting something beautiful and practical for me/my son. I’m not sure if others feel the same way with the knits I’ve gifted (to those who don’t knit) or if it’s just respect between knitters. I guess it goes back to the common thought of gifting a knitter something they could knit themselves when the process of knitting is a large part of what makes the knit item so valued.

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