Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Handmade Gifts

If you are like me (and most needleworkers I know are), you probably enjoy planning and making gifts for your friends and family. In fact, many new knitters I have met over the years have listed "making gifts" as a goal. However, the successful handmade gift (one the recipient actually likes) takes much more consideration and planning and currently unusual ideas about etiquette to be successful. This is largely because more effort, more good wishes, more personal tastes, and often more money are on the line with handmade gifts than with store bought ones. Moreover, the gift is a demonstration of a personal skill to someone who matters, so it's a little like stage fright,too.

If the gift is something to be worn, one must consider the size of the garment. Is it possible to find out the recipient's measurements without spilling the beans? Or does gift giving need to involve surprises? Do they have fiber sensitivities or preferences? If one is using a natural or delicate fiber, washing is also a concern. If the gift goes to a child, what will his parents do with the gift when it is no longer useful to the child? What will the recipient do if they don't like it? What do you want the recipient to do if they don't like it?

In some families, handmade gifts are unspoken cues that the giver lacks the funds to buy "real" presents. In others, such gifts will be so treasured that even a gift of dish rags will never be used. In others, they will be used until they are worn out. What reaction would you want?

In groups that value the giving of handmade gifts, handmade gifts may be given on a regular basis. What are the chances of making the same thing that someone else is making?

Moreover, if you make gifts every year, are you repeating yourself? You don't want to burden someone with more of something they need given in such a way that they can't do anything about it. And are you making gifts because you know you can make something the recipient will really like, or just for the sake of making gifts? Personally, I would rather receive a gift card to just about anywhere, than be given a set of holiday specific remote control cozies. Some people probably would love such a gift, but everyone has something that they would not find useful. If you can't think of something to make for someone, go ahead and buy. If nothing else, food is often a safe option.

All of these are important questions to ask before you pick up your hook or needles, and the answers depend on the individual needleworker and recipients, but they are very important to consider.

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