Holiday Knitting: A Polemic
I am a selfish knitter and not in the way that it has been defined by anxious knitters trying to explain why they’re selfish (but not actually) because they don’t knit for other people.
I’m just selfish.
I knit a pair of handwarmers for my older sister and she’s demanding a reknit because she says they’re too baggy. (They are, but I think they stretched a bit in washing. They can wait.) Other than that, I studiously avoid knitting for other people.
One part does have to do with a limited stash. By limited, I don’t mean that I don’t have enough yarn, it’s just that I can’t go out and buy yarn for a project whenever I feel like it. But the other part has to do with the fact that I refuse to knit for another human being that will take it and say, in a carefully-modulated voice,
I like people to enjoy gifts and so I don’t want to knit for someone that won’t like it. But for some odd reason, Christmas (which, let’s face it, is THE holiday that’s been pimped by the retailers) always spurs dozens of anxious forum posts from knitters.
They want to know what they should knit for their fashion concious son, or if their mother-in-law deserves a 9 foot by 9 foot Orenburg lace shawl knit entirely from yarn whose fibers have been combed from the disgestive tract of the rare cashmere-and-silk devouring Yarnimal and hand dyed by holy priests dedicated to the art of color and the harmonies of craft.
And this is after their mother-in-law took their last knitted gift (an classic aran cardigan blessed by the hands of Norah Gaughan herself) and used it to mop up her spilled coffee.
My question is NOT what you think it will be. It is not, “Does Norah Gaughan bless sweaters and if so, can I arrange an emergency exorcism for that Orange Thing under my bed?”
No, no, my question is nothing like that. It’s a lot less sensible, a little more plaintive and lot more cosmic.
If you can buy your surly teenager son an iTunes gift card and call it a day, why would you spend 8 hours combing through patterns to find a beanie pattern that he won’t wear anyway? Why do you finally settle on coffee colored Aran slippers to accompany the disdained cardigan and hope that this year, your mother-in-law will refrain from laughing as she opens her gift?
After all, most people do know someone that appreciates handknit gifts. Why not cross mother-in-law and surly son from your list and concentrate on the striped socks for your grateful aunt?
It’s gotta be the symptoms of a disease, you know? Unreasoning grace and blessings in the face of ingratitude and bad treatment. Merino wool in return for malice, silk lace for spite? It’s like living with someone that can’t be pleased: people simply try to come up with better and better offerings in an attempt to make them happy.
Maybe it’s cruel to call out people for being too kind and too generous. After all, if everyone did something good, regardless of what they received, we might get something good flowing here. The holiday spirit would descend on all and love and harmony would fill the air as you peacefully knit that beanie for your loving son that puts it on and says, “Gee, Ma, just what I wanted,” and skips off with his friend to make snowballs.
And Norah Gaughan would come down every knitters’ chimney and bless every cardigan and pullover…
even if it’s coffee-stained.