Giving It Away

Recently, an acquaintance asked if I would knit her something that she had seen in a photo. It was innocently asked, but I had to make my usual reply: I don’t knit on commission. And suggested she might want to learn to knit! She took it well!

This encounter reminded me of my own approach to knitting. I knit for a lot of people, including women and children and babies in Afghanistan, schoolchildren in an underserved area of Maryland, and breast cancer patients recovering from surgery. I knit for  family and friends who appreciate the value of my knitting. I even knit for pets (although it’s usually something really fast!). I would venture to say that 3/4 of my knitting is given away to others.

But there’s a difference between giving it away and being paid to make it. When it is my gift, I have a particular intention with the giving, and it’s on my timeline, almost all of the time. Usually I start the holiday knitting way ahead of the date, be it a birthday or Christmas, so I’m not up at the last minute trying to finish something instead of spending time with the folks.

Giving it away also keeps me free for knitting things I want to knit. Unlike Irish and Scottish women of the last century who knit like the wind to support their families, my knitting is my hobby, even if I do sell a few patterns online. Because my profession is almost always intangible (writing sermons, visiting folks), I love the material-rich textures and colors of fibercraft. And then there are the mental health reasons to use needles: Happiness is a Needle and Thread Away.

I’m just now at the tail end of knitting a good spell for others – after all, holidays were coming. These are the latest things coming off the needles:

First up, a shawl called Artesian by Rosemary Hill, knit in Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the Baltic colorway. It’s a simple concept executed extremely well – nary a purl stitch to be found, and consists mostly of garter and simple mesh lace with some short rows thrown in. Project notes here.  Yes, a gift, but not for Christmas (this person doesn’t celebrate it anyway).

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I also finished up a pair of Christmas socks, the last pair, and of course they were for the largest feet in my family. LOL. A basic ribbed sock recipe from Custom Socks by Kate Atherley. I really like this colorway of the Cascade heritage Handpaints – works well for guys, but with more depth of color than a solid.

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The last project is a hat/scarf combo for a special young girl who loves, loves, LOVES pink and blue, and the brighter the colors, the better. I improvised this hat and scarf in brioche stitch, so it will be extra warm and has that cool reversible effect. I knit this out of an inexpensive acrylic/wool blend that is very soft and machine washable.

There was an issue with the pom-pon. The first one I make was huge! and it turned that because the yarn is somewhat slippery (acrylic, I’m looking at you!), it fell apart on me. So, I had to go with a more modest pom-pon, and hope for the best!

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Now, there are only a couple of more presents to make – neither of which should take much time, so it’s time to knit for me again. The last shipment of Ysolda Teague’s 2015 Shawl Club should arrive in a week or so, that will be perfect timing – can hardly wait to see what’s coming in an early Christmas present for me.

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