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Knitting Gifts-How to Avoid Ugly Sweater Syndrome and Goodwill Runs

Updated on December 16, 2009

Congratulations, You Can Knit! Who Needs a Potholder?

 There is nothing more exciting to the novice knitter (and even the most experienced knitter) than handing over a handmade piece of your own artwork to a loved one. Every stitch should shine with love and affection, and there is no doubt in your mind that this fun fur scarf, which vaguely resembles a skinned muppet, is the most fashion forward clothing and appropriate gift in the world. That is, until you see the recipient's stunned, shocked or horrified face. Egads! It's fuzzy! Thus the spiral into knitting depression begins, from which some crafters never emerge, or vow never to gift knitting again. Stop, stop, stop! It doesn't have to be this way! You can knit enjoyable (for you and the recipient) gifts for others that are cherished for years to come, instead of being recycled as a dog bed. Here are some tips for successful gift knitting.

Your sweater could end up here!
Your sweater could end up here!

Make Small, Classic Items

It may be tempting to show your love with a big bang in the form of a sweater, one of the most complicated knits. But unless the recipient is a child or a spouse, aka someone who loves you unconditionally, shy away from the sweater trap. Firstly, they take a while to make, and by the time you actually finish the weather may be off or the recipient may have grown or shrank. Besides, one person's version of "taste" is another person's "terror".

Sure fire gift knits include felted slippers, hats, socks, mittens and the occasional scarf. These are all items that people use, frequently, which also don't take eons to finish. Also, they don't feel like overkill, a large handknit gift made out of expensive yarn that the recipient really doesn't like can make both gifter and giftee very uncomfortable. Save the big stuff for your home or for the one or two people in your life who love what you knit, no matter what it is.

Knit with Nice Yarns

 Remember the handknits your grandma used to give you made out of acrylic so shiny it squeaked? Remember how itchy, and stuffy they were and how you dreamed of taking scissors to that darn sweater and running wild and free? Don't inflict this pain upon future generations! The knitting industry has come a long way since days of yore and now many different companies make affordable yarns from natural sources like cotton, wool, alpaca, and silk. If you are worried about washability stick with a nice cotton or superwash wool, but acrylic just doesn't make a luxurious feeling gift. I mean...here's a scarf made out of plastic! Thanks?

If you need luxury yarns but don't want to sell an organ to get them try Knitpicks or WEBS.

OMG a fun fur sweater, thanks!
OMG a fun fur sweater, thanks!

Fun Fur=Gift Death

 By now you may be able to tell that Fun Fur and I have a slight love-hate relationship. I love the stuff on babies and some dogs, I pee my pants with laughter whenever I see an adult wearing it. It does not look like fur, it looks like above fuzzy caterpillar (no offense little dude). Please, I beg you, put the fun fur away for the kid projects. A five year old girl will probably scream with delight over that pink fun fur poncho and wear it until it has holes in it. Isn't that a much more gratifying response that accidentally seeing your fun fur sweater at an ugly sweater party?

Remember, It's a Hobby Not an Obligation

 Finally, remember that knitting is about having fun, and that you are under no obligation to knit gifts just because you can. It's ok to be a selfish knitter! Many non-crafters do not appreciate the time and effort that goes into a handmade peice, and shrug the product off the same way they would a store bought gift they didn't like, or maybe even distain it more because they equate handmade with cheap. Save the knitted gifts for people who really appreciate it, and never lose sight of the spirit of fun and adventure that got you into knitting in the first place!

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