The essay from David Reidy’s Sticks and String podcast really got me thinking about why I knit. I even stole my blog title from his essay title.
While I do spend some time choosing specific yarns for specific people, I actually don’t worry about the recipient appreciating it. David does, most knitters do I’d dare say.
Don’t get me wrong, it is hugely gratifying when an item is properly cherished. The joy and thank yous from Serenity fans are the only reasons I was able to knit so many of those cunning hats (the monotony of 40+ hats was overwhelmingly tedious).
For me, knitting is far more about the process than the end product. The first sweater I knit was for my friend Nick on the occasion of his graduation from CalPoly. I started it nearly 4 months before he was due to graduate, and finished it about 6 months afterwards (I’m an even slower knitter than David I bet). I’ve never seen Nick wear it. To be fair, he moved to Oregon to do a master’s program and from there he moved to Seattle. So it’s not like we’ve spent that much time in each other’s physical presence since. We rely on Instant Messaging to stay in touch. I think the jumper came out smashing, and that opinion is not going to be swayed by Nick wearing it or not.
So if I’ve given you a hand knit item, and I never see you using it, I won’t be particularly offended. I may worry that you didn’t like it because I pegged your color or style preferences wrongly. This is doubly true for beanies. I knit a ton of them for people at church (mostly surfers), and I understand that they are pretty much reserved for post surfing wear. That’s just fine.
I do agree with David that the choice to make something by hand over a long period of time is what makes the gift special. That I take time to knit something specifically for someone shows that I value that person.
I do tend to deprecate my own talents though and defer the praises I receive about what I’ve made. My charge to those receiving my knitted items is to not let me get away with it. It is special, it is lovely, and darn it, worthy of a compliment or two.