The handmade gift conundrum

So the season of gift giving has been and gone again, and I am lucky to get double helpings as my birthday is Boxing Day.  People always ask me if I mind but really the answer is no, mostly because I spoil myself in little ways all through the year, as the L’Oreal ad keeps telling me “I’m worth it!”

One of my most favourite gifts this last year was handmade by my wonderful friend Julie aka Jamsandwich here it is…

It’s adorable isn’t it and it was filled with yarn and came with sheepy shortbreads too.  Yum!  The inside is every bit as beautiful as the outside too.

One perfect project bag and one happy new owner.  I feel very lucky to have the wonderful friends that I have but I am beyond lucky to have a friend who takes the time to create something so gorgeous for little old me, especially as she made one for me last year too.

I know a lot of you crafty people out there have made many hand crafted gifts for your loved ones over the festive season and throughout the year but while I love being the recipient, being the crafter of a gift gives me so much angst as to nearly cause a peptic ulcer.  I am hopelessly insecure as a crafter, or maybe I’m just hopelessly insecure full stop, yes, it’s the latter.

It should be that giving a handcrafted gift is no different to giving a bought gift.  In both instances you run the risk of the gift not being to the recipient’s taste.  But to put so much time and effort into choosing a pattern and yarn for the pattern then knitting it just for it to end up in the back of a drawer or worse in the charity bin , arrrghhhh!

However, if you overcome that hurdle and find the perfect yarn and pattern for your chosen recipient the next hurdle looms.

The “good enough” thing is always an issue.  Assuming the recipient isn’t a complete Troglodyte who thinks handmade means cheap or thrifty, assuming they “get” the whole handmade means lovingly crafted.  What if my efforts really are not that good?  I am always amazed when people heart my projects on Ravelry but they can’t see the finishing on a photo, in real life they can (I know I need to improve my finishing techniques).  Making gifts for a fellow crafter is my worst nightmare, no matter how genuinely they say they like my efforts there is always some doubt, some people are just very good at being polite.

I have had good experiences of handmade gift giving last year which were not fraught with doubt and worry.  The first was when on holiday in England and my niece took a fancy to a pair of mitts and a hat I had knitted and so I gave them to her.  No problems there, the recipient had already declared her liking for them.  Of course she might have been being polite in the first instance, she is very well brought up and then I’ve foisted my hand-knits on her, oh bum!

Of course I have also knitted things for my lovely menfolk and they have liked them and those that didn’t want socks and scarves didn’t get them.  Fairy snuff!

The second experience was when Sam asked me to knit his girlfriend a beret for Christmas and we chose the yarn from my stash and the pattern from my library and I knit merrily away.  If Melissa didn’t like it I could blame Sam, ha, great get out clause.  She said she liked it by the way Sam says she wears it a lot, I hope she likes it.

If only you could know, if only I wasn’t such a wuss!

Perhaps I should face my fears, or perhaps I can just knit in the corner and pretend Christmas isn’t an annual thing.  Denial is so comforting.  I did have a great idea when one of my lovely friends declared she was no longer going to be a selfish knitter and knit more gifts this year.  I suggested that she gave the gift that keeps on giving and teach others how to knit.  I also suggested if she made it a one woman crusade that she might win the Nobel Peace Prize but I’m not sure she’s convinced.  If we all did this though,we could bring about world peace because people would be making jumpers not making war.

Ok, I think I might be a bit deranged but still, help me, I need help dear knitterly friends.

By the way Julie thank you, my present makes me smile and think of you every day.  Also, I’ve changed my mind and I’m not giving you the yarn and pattern for the Yorkshire Rose I’m making you one! Please like it, please.

Happy knitting Melanie x

4 thoughts on “The handmade gift conundrum

  1. Will she like it? Will she think I’m being tight making something instead of getting something from a ‘real’ shop? Is it her taste? Is it well enough made to give away? What if it falls to bits? Should I have made the handle longer/shorter? Is it the right size? Is it good enough? Am I good enough? …………………

    It’s not just you! But sometimes you just need to go ahead and do it because they will probably love it as much as you do and really appreciate your time and effort.

    BUT please don’t knit me an eyelash yarn scarf!!!!

  2. Julie, when I am an accomplished spinner and dyer of yarn I promish I will spin and dye a yarn that bears your name for you. I’m going to start being brave I promise, but first with safe people.

  3. Please be brave and make me something, anything or something for Ben or Amy, we would love something made by Aunty Mel in Australia. By the way we were only talking about the hat you gave to Becky the other day and she still loves and still wears it with pride.

    Love you lots

    Jo, Neil, Ben & Amy xxxx

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