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The Eye of the Beholder

Nov 1, 2010

Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts is just full of knitting patterns, but it also offers tidbits of holiday goodness for us, the knitters of the gifts.

One of my favorites is on the last page; it's a trio of stories from Interweave staffers that all tell the same tale: Not every knitted holiday gift works out exactly as planned. Here's one of those little stories:

"The year I started knitting lace, I decided to knit shawls for three of the women in my life.

The three shawls were very different, chosen specifically to fit the personalities of their intended recipients: My grandmother's was a mellow green with a finely etched, intricate pattern of feathers; my mother's was a bright, vibrant pink in a bold allover pattern; my aunt's had frills and ruffles all over in a deep jewel tone.

On Christmas morning, they all opened their identical soft packages. Every lady looked disappointed.

They immediately started admiring the shawl another woman had-and then started bargaining and haggling and trading with each other. My grandmother's gentle, old-fashioned lace went to my girlish, frill-loving aunt. My brassy mom wanted my aunt's ultra-feminine ruffles and frills.

And my quiet grandmother claimed the hot pink shawl as her own, adding a box of (also regifted) handmade candy to sweeten the deal for my mother. People know what they want; who am I to tell them otherwise?"

—Eunny Jang, Editor

I love this memory of Eunny's, and it reminds me of a Christmas a few years ago when I knit both my mom and my sister-in-law a scarf. They were totally different; one was a feather-and-fan design knit in a cream, cashmere-merino and the other was a fun mix of a novelty yarn held with a red cashmere. They opened the packages at the same time, looked at each other, exchanged scarves, and then looked at me like, "Sorry, but..."
Fleur-de-Lis Pincushion by Tammy Eigeman Thompson

I just laughed and gave them my blessing. My ultimate goal was for them to be happy with their gifts and to wear them, so I was happy, too.

This year I'm thinking of something totally different for my knitted gifts. I'll knit several small gifts, such as a hat, a pair of footies, a cowl, the Fleur-de-Lis Pincushion from 2010 Gifts, and some fingerless mitts. I'll wrap them all and put them into two boxes, one for men and one for women.

On Christmas Eve, when my family opens just a few, choice gifts, I'll pull out the box and let people choose a package. If they'd rather have something someone else chose, they can beg, barter, and steal. I think my family will enjoy it, and I love starting new traditions.

Want to start the tradition with me? Get your copy of Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts and start knitting those little presents!



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bojolie wrote
on Nov 6, 2010 4:49 PM

Inspirational post!!

on Nov 4, 2010 1:11 PM

Those Mason-Dixon Gals are so clever! Knitted-cuff rubber gloves--hilarious!

KathyAnneW wrote
on Nov 3, 2010 9:55 AM

Greetings again! In case anyone is curious, someone responded to my inquiry on Ravelry about this same question. The book is: Mason Dixon Outside the Lines. I still can't recall where I saw mention of it, but now I can investigate further, again! Thanks for being there!

KathyAnneW wrote
on Nov 2, 2010 7:36 PM

Hello, Kathleen or anyone! If someone can help me, I'd greatly appreciate it. At some point over the past week while looking at emails (or the links from the emails)with knitting thoughts/ideas/products, I know I saw samples of gift items that were really unusual -- one being, for instance, a pair of rubber gloves with knitted cuffs. I think this was one item within a book, the name of which -- for the life of me! -- I can't even begin to think of! Does this ring bells for anyone, such that you could steer me in the right direction? If so -- now that at least the crazy rubber glove idea is appealing to me for a friend -- many, many thanks!

Tiina@5 wrote
on Nov 2, 2010 11:21 AM

I have already knitted and will knit some more of childrens mitts and socks, and a couple of pairs for adults and I will put them all in one big X-mas bag,(not wrapped). Everybody may choose what they want/need. The rest will be given to Lions charity.

So, I think this kind of idea is "hanging in the air" and maybe many other have also started this new tradition.

Moppett1982 wrote
on Nov 2, 2010 5:57 AM

I have a little bit of a different knitted Christmas story, but 20 years later, it is still one of our favorite stories at this time of the year.  I had begun knitting again after a little break.  My family saw me knitting and of course had to ask for what they wanted me to knit.  This year, it was sweaters.  Now, mind you, it was October when we were all together, family putting in orders.  So, I sat down with each of them, asked them what style of sweater, what color, did a few measurements.  I got down to knitting.  I knitted my little fingers off!  At Christmas, I presented all 18 of my family members with their beautifully wrapped sweater boxes.  

"How did you manage?"  "My what a fast knitter you are!"  They all said.

One by one they all opened their beautifully wrapped boxes.  One by one, they pulled out their color and style of choice sweaters.  One by one, they began to laugh.

All the sweaters were Barbie Doll sized!  

It is really fun to go into my family's homes and see those little sweaters hanging in various places!

lmcline wrote
on Nov 1, 2010 2:50 PM

When we were kids we also had a small wrapped gifts "grab bag" tradition -- it was called a "Jack Horner Pie" (like the nursery rhyme).  The intention was to trade, beg and barter until you got the gift you wanted.

I still do Jack Horner Pies occasionally -- in fact just last week at my annual "Girls' Weekend" (5 sisters, 2 SILs, a neice, and our 80 yr old mother) I had a Jack Horner Pie to reduce my stash of knitted gifts - 3 bags, a scarf, a cowl, a teacosy, a shawlette, a hat, and a poncho.  

Of course part of the fun is guessing who will choose what -- and I had guessed hardly any correctly, although I knew I had stuff everyone would like. It's always fun to give and to get! This is one tradition that will live on and on...

harmonise wrote
on Nov 1, 2010 8:15 AM

This reminds me of "Busia's [Polish Grandma] Grab Bag" every Christmas.  She didn't have money to buy everyone gifts so she'd collect or make things throughout the year...mostly dollar store-type of things, crochet pot holders, kitchen towels with a crocheted top, and the "grand prize" was the six-pack of beer! everything would be laid out on a table in another room with a number and the same numbers put into a paper bag that we would draw from. we'd take turns picking numbers, going into the next room for our gift.  then the fun began by about the third person we'd start trading and bargaining for each other's gifts! we laughed so hard!!  this was never the intent of the grab bag and it was never intended to be disrespectful. it all came about very innocently but became a tradition. we tried to carry it on after she passed sister found her "stash" of gifts when we cleaned out her house. it never made it past the first christmas she was gone but it will always be a wonderful memory.

KellyS@2 wrote
on Nov 1, 2010 8:04 AM

I love this idea, Kathleen!  You have inspired me to try something new too.  Thanks!