Suzy warned me about writing this post.  She tells me it is going to stir up controversy!  But, this is what has been on my mind lately…if you read all the way to the end, I will tell you why…hehehe…

Feb 7 - BlanketYard sales, thrift shops, rummages sales…I love to go to them, but I hate to see anything hand knitted, crocheted or woven there, abandoned and unloved.  I know how much went into making those things even when we’re talking about what I consider to be hideous colors with cheap materials.  Unfortunately for my dear husband, I often find myself valiantly rescuing these castoffs.  Over the years, I have drug home some real odditites…and yet, I still pine for the unfortunate items I didn’t rescue.  They are the “ones that got away” (To the pink and green hand knitted sweater in the ratty Toronto thrift store:  I think of you often) .

Feb 7 - DollIf you are reading this post, the odds are that you have put some hard work into making a hand-crafted item of fibery goodness for someone at least once.  You have certainly experienced the hopeful joy as you labored on the item as to how the recipient would love your treasure.  Upon opening your gift, did you study their face as I do to see the level of excitement they displayed? 

I am sure that some of my offerings have not cut it; yet, I don’t want to face it.  I keep swearing off giving knitted/crocheted/woven gifts and then find myself doing it again.  

So, I have developed some policies that I try to abide by.  I can’t promise that I follow these to a “T” but these are my guidelines:

Feb 7 - SocksFirst and most important, you must not give a large handmade item such as a handknit sweater to a romantic partner whom you are not married to unless you want to get rid of them.  This is commonly known as the “Boyfriend Curse”.  I was very careful not to make anything big for my now husband until we were married.  Then, finally he got a pair of hand knit socks that were a lot of work and very special.  But, I waited till after the deal was sealed and now he has both a hat and a pair of socks.  Actually, he had two pairs of socks, but  a pair shrunk in the wash.  Perhaps this is the “Boyfriend Curse” in reverse or something.  

Feb 7 - ShawlSecond, it is best only to give handmade items to folks who also engage in making such things.  These are the people who understand that the hand dyed/hand spun/hand woven triangle shawl is an amazing thing to possess and truly appreciate that you labored over each step in the process starting with washing the fiber.  For people who do not engage in the fiber arts, you are better off just buying a Big Box Store (aka Walmart) gift card. 

Stay away from things where size is a factor.  In other words, no knitting of sweaters for others.  Stick to things that are one size fits all.  Along these lines, pay attention to which colors the person actually wears or which fibers they can or cannot wear.  If this seems like to much to consider, again, just buy a Walmart gift card.  

Yard Sale Santa has new life as a yarn bomb at the beach!
Yard Sale Santa has new life as a yarn bomb at the beach!

Now let’s look at the reverse side of this issue:  receiving handmade items.   As artisans, we surely know how to behave when presented with such a treasure, right?  We know that the oohing and ahhing must be plentiful!  It is best to make sure that when we are with the giver, we make ensure they see their item is being put to frequent and good use.   But, you have to be sort of low key and not showy about it.  

If you have hung in with me this far, you deserve to know the devious reason for this post.  A certain partner of mine is going to be celebrating a rather important birthday this month.  So, of all the people reading this, actually the person who is most likely to be mad at me for writing this is her!!!!  Yup, Wool Wench’s birthday is coming up.  And, I have been feverishly working on what I’ve been calling my Secret Weaving Project aka Suzy’s Birthday Present.  Pretty much every time we chat on Skype, I make sure to make reference to it.  Feb 7 - ThreadsSo, it’s driving her crazy.  Now, with the publishing this post, I am probably going to push her right over the edge.  I wonder if there is a way I can suspend her admin rights so as to make sure she doesn’t delete this?

In any event, there’s been a lot involved in the project – I’ve woven it, embellished the edges, twisted fringe and each night I spend time before I go to bed adding embroidery. Feb 7 - Edge I’m following most of my rules:  she will know how much work it is, I’ve checked on which colors she does not like to wear and I think I’m safe on the whole sizing issue.  I couldn’t think of any better way for her to know how much I treasure our friendship and partnership.  Feb 7 - Embellish

But, me being me, I have to end this by telling you that more than once I have wondered where this piece will end up after we are all long gone.  I’m going to just stick with my favorite fantasy where everything that I make ends up in a museum…:-)

Now, quick!  Someone please leave a comment on this post to prevent Suzy from deleting this post!!

 

 

 

 

 

38 thoughts on “On Making Things for Others

  • February 7, 2014 at 12:01 pm
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    You are right on Arlene! But one addition, I just have to make comfort gifts whenever needed and I can’t stop myself! Good knows where these comforts end up!

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    • February 7, 2014 at 12:03 pm
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      Marti! You have a special place in my heart: most importantly for being a comrade in arms in the giving of handmade fibery things and two for commenting on this post. Woolwench, my post shall live!

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  • February 7, 2014 at 12:04 pm
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    Oh how exciting cant wait to see the reveal and Im sure she will adore it. I also rescue some things at yard sales etc and estate sales. Where will my UFO`s end up is something I ponder.
    Jen

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  • February 7, 2014 at 12:08 pm
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    Arlene, you are a gem! I wonder when YOUR birthday comes around what Suzy will have in store for YOU. Will we get to see the masterpiece at Pam’s in April?

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    • February 7, 2014 at 12:43 pm
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      Thanks, Bobbi! We can probably get Suzy to bring it along with her!!

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  • February 7, 2014 at 12:09 pm
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    Arlene,
    I have to admit I have saved many unloved pieces from a terrible fate myself. I hate to see anything that some one spent time and effort on get tossed away.
    Now here is a thought, speaking of museums. I think it would be fun to see what everyone would want placed in this museum. Choosing only one of the most beautiful things that they have made to be donated to this imaginary fiber museum. Not only would it be thought provoking , but interesting to see what everyone would donate to the museum for all to enjoy. We could have our own virtual museum. Think on this.
    Darlene

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  • February 7, 2014 at 12:14 pm
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    Suzy how can you possibly deny your journeymen this BIG surprise? We can hardly wait to celebrate your Birthday and your beautiful friendship with Arlene! We are all coming to the party!!!!

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  • February 7, 2014 at 12:17 pm
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    I too would love to see a virtual museum. Special treasures for us all to love! Thank you

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  • February 7, 2014 at 12:24 pm
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    I am a selfish crafter, and I only make stuff for those I love and those who I know will cherish and love the gift I have made them. But there is also another side to this… I have stopped giving handmade stuff to my mom even if she loves getting them, because she cherishes it too much to wear! I have no idea on how many pair of lovely hand knit socks I have given her that just lives in a dresser since she is so afraid that if she wears them she will get holes in them. I hate seeing those handmade things in flea markets and such, but I do not have a desire to give them a new home most of the time. Often seeing old stramei embroideries I want to take them home and remake something from them like bags etc.

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  • February 7, 2014 at 12:28 pm
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    I make things for others as well. Usually close family members. But even then, sometimes I don’t, because of the reason that you mentioned. They don’t know what goes into making them or how much love and work is put into creating each and every item.

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  • February 7, 2014 at 12:47 pm
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    You are so right! It isn’t that the noncrafter is unappreciative – they just don’t appreciate all the work and “value” of the piece. Also never ever knit on request – unless it is your daughter or someone you usually knit for.

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  • February 7, 2014 at 12:53 pm
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    OH! No. No plug pulling on THIS post. She’s got you fair and square, Suzy. 🙂 When a thing is crafted and gifted— filled of Love, Honor, Respect— whether Family or Friends— All is right with the world. 🙂 Blessings~

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  • February 7, 2014 at 12:57 pm
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    As always, I LOVE your writing! 🙂 I totally appreciate your Guidelines as well. lol 🙂

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  • February 7, 2014 at 1:39 pm
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    My friend once organised a quilt to commemorate the Falklands War, as her son fought in it, and she wanted to raise funds for the injured soldiers. We all had to make blocks and her son manged to get badges and insignia of his regiment. The quilt was duly raffled, and for some reason my friend had to go back to see the winner a few weeks later. He had been working on his motor bike, and he was lying on top of the quilt wearing his greasy overalls and boots . She took out her checkbook and bought it back off him on the spot!

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  • February 7, 2014 at 1:46 pm
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    I also rescue handknits from thrift shops (I’m sitting under a hand knit afghan right now — it’s solid ecru/ivory , in a basketweave pattern of blocks of knit and purl and the yarn seems nice, maybe a wool blend — who in their right mind didn’t want THAT! Yet it was $4 at Goodwill!) I used to knit lots of gifts — like, a sweater at Christmas for everyone in the family — but don’t do that anymore. And now I only knit for family who specifically ask for something, and who I know will appreciate it — after my mom regifted something to the next door neighbor!

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  • February 7, 2014 at 2:18 pm
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    Very moving, and oh so true! I’ve made many (ahem) treasures for people over my lifetime, and wonder sometimes where they are now. I’ve even sold a few, and wonder what sort of room they are living in, and what kind of people bought it, are they the treasuring sort or squish it into a closet somewhere sort, are they still happy they bought it…..and what comments have they received over the years…and, well, I just wonder. I’ve learned to think that I’ve sent all of my treasures on a journey, they are gathering stories of their own now. It’s very special, your friendship and partnership with Suzy, you are both fortunate for that, and we all benefit, the love and creativity ripples outward around the world. And now we all await with bated breath, for the great birthday!!! How special it will be.

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  • February 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm
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    I am curious what you are making for Suzy! And you are right. some people love handmade items, and some don’t . I am wearing mittens that my aunt made me about 30 years ago and i love them.
    I think you have a good guideline !

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  • February 7, 2014 at 2:33 pm
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    Arlene, you are a gem for posting this. I have a sad story to tell that reinforces much of what you have written about. Your proposed rules are a template for all of us to follow. The heart of the matter I believe is love and appreciation, and my hand made items now go to those who I know will truly treasure what they have received. My story is this. Many years ago I purchased a four harness countermarche swedish loom. (Sadly it was lost in a fire.) For six months I wove gifts for my entire family. Sisters, parents, brothers-in-law all received scarves, bags, and shawls, all lovingly woven on that loom. I was so very excited about these holiday presents. After they were opened, one of my sisters said to me, “Can’t you ever buy anything?” I was crushed, deflated and also angry. I knew at that moment to practice the rules you have set out for us to think about. Now I truly think them through as I create fibery goodness gifts. I will so look forward to see what you have made for our Wool Wench. I know it will be a work of art, and totally appreciated.

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    • February 7, 2014 at 2:41 pm
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      Oh, my gosh, Leslie! That would crush me too!!

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    • February 7, 2014 at 4:47 pm
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      O my heart breaks at the thought of this. I’ve been there too. Lessons we learn.

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  • February 7, 2014 at 2:42 pm
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    Hahabwaaaa! First of all I’m not siding here Suzy but Arlene is making this a special b-day for you by letting us know so that we can celebrate your life!!! I for one am glad she let us know.
    Arlene I so agree with your post it’s scary. Although I didn’t have the boyfriend rule, but all the rest. I have given gifts and they have come back to me a year to later. How about that one ha ha ! So I have ruled too. But I love making little gifts for those that I know will appreciate them!!!

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  • February 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm
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    I, too, learned the hard way to only make things for those who will appreciate them. Also have been on the receiving end of things that I wish I could magically disappear but I think, I hope, I showed appreciation for the effort.

    But I can only imagine the beauty that you are creating for Suzy….the most important thing i feel going into it is lots and lots of love and thoughtfulness. How can it go wrong?

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  • February 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm
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    Long ago, before I knew as much as I do now, someone made me a pair of yellow flecked with blue socks. I didn’t like them at all. Nor did I appreciate the meticulously perfect workmanship. I failed to acknowledge the gift in the manner it deserved and have felt bad about this ever since. The person is long gone. I still wear the socks. Now when I make something as a gift for a non-fibery person, I display it in my house in a place where the person will see it, or I wear it, or somehow let the person see it without knowing its real intention. Then they either receive the item or not depending on their reaction. Therefore no hurt feelings and no obligations. However fibery people get what I make for them, based on what I know about them. This has never failed. You should be good, Arlene. I’ve also come to understand that some people just plain don’t like what we do. This is true of one of my best friends. Our tastes are not the same, but we still appreciate what the other does.

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  • February 7, 2014 at 5:34 pm
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    Arlene, you are one of a kind awesome! Suzy will absolutely adore and cherish this special birthday present! Lucky girl!

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  • February 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm
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    So now that you have teased us, you will share a picture once its in its new owners hands, right?

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    • February 7, 2014 at 6:45 pm
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      oh, yes, of course!!! No pressure on me now to make the embroidery look good!!!

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      • February 8, 2014 at 7:14 pm
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        Embroidery!? It has embroidery?!! I am bursting here..!

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  • February 7, 2014 at 8:33 pm
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    I love to make and give handmade wool socks to people that I love. Giving socks is a real expression of love because they are among the few knitted items that will wear out relatively quickly with use. With the gift, I make sure that the giftee knows the above sentiment even if they are not fibery persons themselves. For the most part, the giftee appreciates the sentiment and the gift. It does not hurt to let recipients know in precise words what the gift to them means about how you feel about them. It only makes the gift and the sentiment more meaningful. It also helps the person to know that if they do wear out the gift, it is a good thing and they should tell me about it. They might even get another pair of socks!

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  • February 7, 2014 at 11:00 pm
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    Sounds like an amazing surprise.., I made my husband a sweater about 20 years ago.. Sleeves were to short, he gave it away last year. I didn’t feel that bad about it till now…

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  • February 8, 2014 at 12:13 am
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    Oh, Arlene, you have such a big heart! I’m completely sure that Suzy will adore what you’ve made for her and as you said, she’ll know how much work went into it! It’s very kind and loving for you to give her something that is so much of yourself. I’m certain it will remain a treasure.
    As for your guidelines for giving fibery goodness to others — I’ve adopted many of the same rules as you have. It is very hard for me to give my creations to anyone. No one fully knows what has gone into them. For the few items I’ve given to those close to me, I kiss them (the items) and wish them ‘loving use’ for their lifetimes as they go on their journey.

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  • February 8, 2014 at 1:29 am
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    I feel guilty if I give a gift that I didn’t make! For Christmas we draw names and have to make that person a gift, this is a real lesson in the work involved for anything handmade, not just fibery stuff.

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  • February 9, 2014 at 4:23 am
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    I think your criteria for giving (and receiving) handmade gifts are right on. Case in point: the beautiful cowl I made a friend that took months to make with it’s intricate lace pattern and sparkly (but fussy) yarn–she barely looked at it and stuck it back in the bag. I have many stories like this so I have learned the hard way. However, Suzy is going to love this and so will we vicariously–you must share some pix when it’s all done!

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  • February 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm
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    Firstly, Happy birthday Woolwench!!!

    Second, I to feel sad for those projects, and need to save them. Though I don’t go into thrift shops often, when I do, I need to snag the love that went into those things.

    Can’t wait to see Suzy’s gift! It looks fantastic already!

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  • February 10, 2014 at 5:17 pm
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    I can’t wait to see your work Arlene! I too am in the park of making for people who ask or I know understand and cherish what I have made. Happy Birthday Suzy, you are so lucky to have a friend who cares so much about you. 🙂

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  • February 11, 2014 at 7:06 am
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    I’ve had to learn not to impose my passions on others who don’t share them, and adjust my gift giving accordingly. It’s cut down on the resentment factor-lol!

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  • February 13, 2014 at 3:22 pm
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    Can’t wait to see your fiber art..so special!
    Im sure it will be a treasured for ever!

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  • February 20, 2014 at 4:30 am
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    I suppose you right Aarlene, and prolly Suzy kinda agree, so the post is still here!:) I am so excited at the moment as I manage to sit still and enrolled myself to the next Fibery Goodness journey….:)

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