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We are the makers of things, things from yarn. For us Christmas means giving away some of our yarn-y things to people we love and who (hopefully) deserve the awesomeness of a handmade gift. Some of us planned for this and started our holiday gift making back in July. Some of us are genetically incapable of being that organized and are currently giving up sleep to be finished in time.
But I would be a zillion dollars that every single person who reads this post this week is contemplating squeezing in one more. Maybe its motivated by guilt, maybe its an over-abundance of yarn-y ambition but we are all, ALL, wondering if there is time to make just one more thing for a certain someone.
This is where a yarn blogger such as myself whips out a list of quick crochet, fast knits, last-minute projects, to satisfy those urges. In that list will be two-hour hats, super chunky scarfs, baby booties, and maybe even a 3 inch diameter hat specially designed to make a house cat look miserable and pissed for the camera.
Except I don’t have that list. I have something different for you to consider: give the skill not the object. Instead of giving your loved one a scarf, give them what they need to make their own scarf.
Its not that far fetched. In November of 2013 1.3 million Norwegians watched a four hour show about knitting. At the start of 2016, ravelry.com had 6 million members. It seems like every other pinterest pin in the world is crochet related. I’m telling you, there is a lot of interest out there. And here are a few other things to consider:
1) Giving someone a handknit hat is like telling a child a bedtime story. Teaching them to knit is like teaching that child to read.
2) Knit time and crochet time is therapy time. We’ve all felt that right? Right. By giving someone the craft, you are literally giving them inner peace.
3) Of all the knitters and crocheters I know, some of them remember being gifted a handmade sweater/scarf/pair of socks. All of them remember the person who inspired them to learn how to make their own sweaters and scarfs and socks.
4) If you can get your loved one to take up the yarn habit, think of how much closer the two of you will be.
5) If you are telling yourself that there is no way your certain loved one would even consider taking up knitting/crocheting then… maybe you shouldn’t be giving them something you knit/crochet. If that person isn’t remotely interested in how you do what you do, then maybe you should buy them an Amazon gift card instead.
So if you’ll consider giving a beginner’s knitting/crochet kit instead of a quickie scarf (and I hope you do), your gift will need:
Yarn. From my experience in teaching beginners, a thicker yarn is best. Try to get an aran or chunky weight yarn that is a of decent quality but not too slick or slippery. I like Cascade 128 when I can get it. It works up very nice in both knit and crochet and its affordable. If you want something even more affordable (and wool-free) you could try Brava Bulky.
Needles and Hooks. Stick with wood. Again this is just my personal experience talking but I’ve found that beginners have more success with wood. They may move on to metal and really love it but at the start wood is easier to hold. Its always warm in the hands and grips the yarn a bit better. For a beginner, yarn sliding off is a big frustration. Don’t add to that by setting them up with slick, nickel plated what-have-yous. I’ve always pushed beginners to buy a single pair of Clover Takumi needles in US size 10 (6mm) and a Clover Takumi hook in size J (6mm).
Lessons. Teach your loved one yourself! That won’t work for everyone but if you can, do it. If not, buy them a lesson somewhere. Start calling nearby yarn shops and see if they are teaching private lessons. If you can’t find anything, you can but one of those on-line tutorials from craftsy. But teach them yourself if you can. It will give you a bond like no other.
A book… if you want. The best book(s) for beginners are Stitch ‘n Bitch: the Knitter’s Handbook and Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. They are pretty good books for all levels actually. You get good explanations, cute illustrations, and witty writing.
So instead of adding to the Christmas-Crazy-Time by trying to squeeze out one more project, give something you are really passionate about. Give the gift of How. And don’t worry too much if your gift-ee doesn’t take to the the yarn right away. I once gave a new friend a ball of yarn and a crochet hook. It sat on the back of her toilet for 6 months before she got around to playing with it. Now? Now she is planning to crochet her own wedding dress. Sometimes it takes a while. But your gift, and your implicit offer to share your creative obsession, will always be there.