Thursday, September 21, 2006

a bit of rambling on "holiday knitting"

I keep coming across knitters (online) who are Working On Their Holiday Knitting. At first I felt pressure to get going on MY "holiday knitting." Then I remembered: I don't want to. Been there, done that. Last year I knit something for everyone. Some larger projects, some smaller, but everyone got something. My friends and family were appreciative, and gushed adequately, but I have yet to see one of those knitted gifts in action, out in the real world. Which is somewhat disappointing. I LOVE giving handknit gifts. Love it. But I get WAY more excited about it than the recipient! Of course, one can't reasonably expect a non-knitter to understand all the time and effort that went into knitting a pair of...fingerless gloves, for example. How could they begin to imagine all the prep work; the pattern-researching, the yarn-shopping, the color-contemplation? How could they possibly fathom the swatching and the knitting and the ripping and the re-knitting and the shaping and the cabling and oh drat I dropped a stitch and for the love of pete where's that crochet hook the little scoundrel is getting away from me! know, all that. They don't know. I don't know if I even want them to know! It's so much easier to hand over a finished item and hear "(Gasp!) Did you make this?" and feel like you're a little bit fabulous for making something out of yarn and love.

I guess it's pretty satisfying when they do seem to like the gift (even if they never wear that lace scarf that took you forever because it was your first lace project AND your first time reading a chart and you thought it was SO pretty but you parted with it anyway on account of the love), but I think I stressed myself out with the lofty goal I set last year. It became un-fun and the rewards did not outweigh the sacrifices and I decided that it was ok to become more of a selfish knitter. For some reason, I think a lot of us feel like we should be knitting for other people (I still feel compelled to knit for baby showers). But I'm trying to let go of that feeling of obligation. That's the part I get hung up on. It's MY hobby, for crying out loud! I can do what I want! My father certainly doesn't give away all the fish he catches. My sister doesn't feel obligated to play a little personalized tune for each of us on the piano every time we get together. Why do I make myself feel like I have to knit gifts for people? It's completely my own fault. Obviously I should be knitting for people when I want to knit for them, not because I invented some kind of obligation in my head. And anyway, I came to the realization that (duh) not everyone will want something I knit for them for every single gift-giving occasion, every time! Maybe I'm making them feel obligated to wear the Kidsilk Haze capelet (which is actually a pretty impractical garment, albeit lovely). So maybe if I knit for myself, with the occasional (practical? uber-beautiful?) knitted gift thrown in here and there, everybody wins.

I'm trying to decide what to do about my sock. It's long enough that I could finish it off any time now, but...(sigh)...the ankle still doesn't fit like it should. I don't want to bother knitting another if, when all is said and done, I have not one, but TWO ill-fitting socks. I'm leaning toward ripping it out and starting over with another pattern. At least I'll have a better idea of what I'm doing this time. Anyone know if there's anything to this short row vs. heel flap thing? Will doing a heel flap improve the fit of my sock? Does top-down vs. toe-up have any bearing on the matter?

I am determined to finish this pair of socks, since I'm suddenly finding sock patterns and yarns significantly more tempting than I used to. And after all, a handknit pair of socks would make such a lovely Christmas gift.


Blogger Kelly B said...

It's such a struggle, isn't it? I think when you love something so much there's a natural tendancy to want to share it with other people... and it's sometimes tough to remember that other people may not be so into it (think of my bf's mom with her tea cosies!). I'll readily admit that I'm an extremely selfish knitter- a little to the extreme in fact (Nate has been begging for something handknit for 2 years now!).

Maybe us chicks should organize a holiday secret santa type thing? I usually hate those things, but it might be nice- at the very least we'd know the recipient of our gift would truly appreciate it!!!

9:32 AM  
Blogger Karin said...

It can be stressful knitting for people. Fortunately for me the stuff I've made has been pretty well used. This Christmas I am knitting two scarves, one each for my aunt and uncle. That's it. I do knit for babies though (as currently chronicled by my blog). I feel like with a new baby people are really appreciative of heirlooms that will always remind them of when their child was a newborn, and so their child can use it someday when they have kids of their own. I hope. Or else all my hard work is going to waste too!

10:33 AM  
Blogger Lolly said...

AH, this is something I am struggling with right now. I knit gifts for everyone in 2004, but did not last year... I am feeling a small need to make some small things this year. But, you are right - why do we feel like we need to! It's not really fair, is it? :)

Socks just in time for Socktoberfest!

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i generally don't knit gifts for anyone (holiday or otherwise) unless i know they will appreciate it. unfortunately, most of the people i know, do. as a rule, i don't really knit holiday gifts -- too much pressure. occasionally, i'll do a scarf. i do birthdays, babies, and occasionally a wedding (and often am late!)

re the sock: you're more than welcome to try on my jaywalker and see if you have any preference on the turned heel. i quite like how it fits ... i will try to make it to knitting tonite at least for a little bit. work is kicking my a$$.

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i didn't literally mean that "unfortunately" ... it's just that it keeps me busy! ;)

4:52 PM  
Blogger Kalli said...

I think many people who have high insteps, deep heels, or larger ankles sometimes have trouble with short row heels (especially if the sock is rather snug in general). I love the look of short row heels (and like to knit them) and prefer them to the flap, but on some socks the short row heel doesn't fit me. The Eclectic Heel is a compromise between the two; I'm in the process of trying it for the first time. I have links about using it with the magic loop in my blog entry here:

Toe-up or down shouldn't really matter with regard to fit, but it's rare to find a toe-up heel flap pattern (but they do exist, i.e. in the book Sensational Knitted Socks, in the Diamante pattern on Knitty). I think toe-up socks are more fun to knit because you can try them on as you go and because I hate kitchener stitching toes -- mine always turn out pointy.

And hurray for the Magic Loop! I'm such a huge fan myself.

3:16 PM  

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