Today's post is an open letter to everyone who loves a knitter, whether you are also a knitter or not.
At this time of year, I'm often asked (on the sly, and with some hesitation) by the spouses and families of knitters, what sort of something would make a good present. There certainly is no shortage of great, knitterly things out there, but knowing the magical hearts desire of your very own knitter can be a challenge.
So, for those of you who love a knitter (or maybe a whole flock of them), here are a few special things I know I could never do without, and I think every knitter deserves:
We knitters think this should be obvious, but it might not be, if you don't knit. Our craft takes a long time to create. That's one of the many things we love about it: this one thing in our lives doesn't require us to hurry. And we love doing it so much that we feel sorry for ourselves when we don't get to. You can tell this is happening when we start to act snappish and twitchy: You might think we forgot to take our medicine, and you are right. But the medicine we need is a chance to just sit still and knit. If you love a knitter, the best gift you can give them is time to play with string. Promise to do the dishes/laundry/goat-milking at some regular interval that will provide meaningful, reliable knitting time for the one you love. Then really follow through: when it's time for the chore you've chosen, be there to do it with a smile on your face, reminding your knitter that you meant every word of your promise.
Where does your knitter like to knit? If you're not sure, look around the cozy spots in your house (fireplace, TV, bathtub) for stray needles. See if a chair is nearby, and look for other traces of knitting activity: open knitting books, stray charts, stitch markers, empty coffee cups. If these elements are present, you've probably located the knitting lair. Now take an objective look, and ask yourself, could anything be done to improve this area for your knitter? Is the view of the TV unobstructed? Is there a table nearby to rest that pattern on? How is the light - might a bright new floor lamp make things nicer? You don't have to build an art studio for your knitter (though if you want to, that would be really nice). Vacuum the seat cushions (check for spare needles first!), fluff the pillows, dust the tabletop and add a little vase of flowers. Then put on some music your knitter loves, maybe light a candle, and then GO AWAY. Great Present. Don't wait for Christmas to try this one.
Now this one is hard to get your head around, if you don't knit, but trust me: it's really crucial to your knitter's well-being. Knitters need Other Knitters. Your knitter needs to attend events where new friends can be made, knitted projects shown off, and general communing with string happens. No matter how much your knitter loves spending time with you, unless you can wax poetic on the virtues of the short-row sock heel, your knitter still needs other people who speak the language. CLICK HERE for a listing of many, many wonderful knitting events that your knitter would love to attend, then arrange to send them. It's a big deal, I know, which is why your knitter might be inclined not to do it for themselves. You'll be thanked in ways you cannot imagine, if you encourage and support your knitter's interaction with their community. And you'll be spared from learning more about sock heels than you need to. Win. Win.
This might have been what you thought of first, when considering the possibilities for knitting gifts. Good Job: You're Right! The hard part for non-knitters can be understanding what these things even are, never mind how many and what sizes are on the wish list. If you want to get it right, you have two choices:
1. Secretly ask one of your knitter's cronies what their dream tools are or
2. Stealthily ask your knitter what things are and what they do, *and this is important* don't wait until holiday shopping time. In order to really knock your knitter's handmade socks off, you'll have to show a little interest when they aren't expecting it.
If neither of those options will work this time, don't worry. Take a stack of bills, and stuff them into an envelope labeled "For Knitting". Your knitter will take it from there, and you will have triumphed.
Everywhere I take my knitting collection, I'm asked where I got my fabulous labels. Which always causes me to launch into the following sermon:
"If I could ask one gift for every knitter, it would be that everyone have their very own personal label to sew into each of their finished projects. In addition to identifying the maker for posterity, there is something really wonderful about the act of officially taking credit for your hard work. Knitting is the one craft which offers true mastery at every level of expertise, and all knitters should proudly sign their names to their masterpieces."
CLICK HERE to design custom knitting labels, either yourself, or with help from the pros.
The only thing knitters love more than yarn is knitting books. If you don't believe me, take a look around the places where they like to relax: A quick study of my own environment revealed knitting books in the following locations (I swear I am not making this up):
Stacks covering both ends of my desk
On, around, and under the living room sofa
Filling 4 full-height bookcases
Piled on both nightstands in my bedroom, in addition to the bookcase at the foot of the bed, and all over the floor around it.
Several rogue volumes arranged on the kitchen island, where I was (allegedly) stirring something, and reading at the same time.
Disclaimer: I didn't check any of the bathrooms, because neither of us want to know about that.
The point is, your knitter has a wishlist of books as long as both our arms; I guarantee it. If you're lucky, an official inventory has been created at some big online bookselling website, and all you have to do is ask. If not, refer to the envelope-of-cash technique explained under "Tools", above. Your knitter will know just what to do.
I hope these ideas will help you find the perfect surprise for the knitter(s) you love. Feel free to forward, link and post this list wherever you think it might help a soul in need. And please, leave a comment if you know of any I forgot!