I posted this in reply to a thread in the Ravelry forums, but perhaps I should have just made it a blog post, because it ended up much longer than a message board post should be. Someone had started a thread about knitting gifts for others because she’d gotten a gift she’d really wanted in return, and the question she posed was, what is the best gift you’ve ever received in return for your knitting? As conversations usually do, this took a turn, and some people began discussing the appreciation (or lack thereof) that recipients show when they receive a knitted item – because really, that’s the best gift of all. My reply:
This year I’m knitting some gifts for Christmas, and they are ALL for my husband and kids, because I know they will be happy to receive them and will wear them. My husband has been after me for socks and arm warmers, and my little boy wants a hat – and then they will also get anything else I have time to make (I have already stashed plenty so even if it doesn’t get made before Christmas, it will afterwards). My daughter is only 9 weeks old so she’s easy to please. 😉 My little boy pretty much knows that if a box comes in the mail for me, it’s almost a certainty that it’s yarn. Yesterday he saw a box by the door (and yes, it was yarn) and pipes up in his wee three-year-old voice, “Cole’s hat?” asking if that was the yarn I was going to use to make him the promised knitwear. I think his hat isn’t going to wait until Christmas, actually, he wants it so much – I’ll just give it to him as soon as it’s done and make him something(s) else for under the tree.
The rest of my family and friends, except for my mom – I give up. I made one of my closest friends a pair of Fetchings for her birthday; she was over at my house a couple of days ago and I figured, might as well show her what she’s getting, even though I hadn’t quite finished both of them yet, since her birthday has passed. In her favorite color, and thinking that she could wear them in the morning when we are both freezing at work and whining about how cold we are during the winter months (we work together). Her reaction was very lackluster and really downright unappreciative. And she wears gloves and cabled sweaters, so I thought that wristwarmers with cables would work, and would be nice in the classroom since you still have your fingers free. She said she liked the color but otherwise seemed to not care if I ever even finished them. Her reaction to the $5 mug infuser for tea I bought her from World Market (given to her that same night), on the other hand? Was like I’d just given her gold. Eh. I’m only making her anything else if she asks for it.
I knit my dad socks – my first pair of socks ever, and soft, squishy ones out of Artyarns Supermerino – for his birthday a couple of years back. He lives in a part of Southern California that never really gets cold enough to break out lots of knitwear, but I thought that he could just wear these like slipper socks around the house when it gets a little cold, which it does with their tile floors. I thought that since he does it with regular socks, knitted ones would be even better. I had to ask him to even put them on to see if they fit. I don’t think he’s put them on since. Every time I think of them I just feel embarrassed, because he apparently thought they were a lousy gift.
My mom, on the other hand, treasures anything I make and still has things I crocheted growing up that aren’t even that great. A silly bird toy that I stuffed with TOILET PAPER because I didn’t have any polyfil. A huge granny square blanket made out of Red Heart acrylic that frankly, I don’t even like – I find it scratchy – but she won’t even let anyone else use it and gets irritated with my dad if she catches him with it. Maybe I should have made her the socks – heck, maybe I will! After Christmas (my parents don’t celebrate it).
As for my brother… we don’t speak (his choice, I’ve learned to live with it), so that’s not happening.
Bottom line is that it does hurt my feelings a little bit to spend time making something for someone I care about, and then see them not appreciate my efforts. The only gift I desire in return is sincere appreciation, and when it’s not there, I feel stupid like I just handed someone the booby prize. So after this last one with my friend, I’ve learned my lesson and I’m only making things for people that I know – from past experience or direct request – will like what I’ve spent hours making for them. My little boy being thrilled and jumping around with glee over things like socks and hats? That’s time well spent. 🙂