knitting and love

Last year, Ivy posited that knitting means love. I don’t remember whether it was on her weblog or on her podcast, but she said that to a knitter, making an item says love.

A friend of mine and I were talking about our various projects. I had a hat that was progressing well but which I was afraid wouldn’t get finished soon enough. She in turn told me about The Scarf That Wouldn’t Die.

She’d already  made ten or twelve scarves for folks this Christmas, but for some reason this scarf refused to be knit. She’d find mistakes, or other things would go wrong. I asked whom it was for, and she sighed. It was for an in-law who can really get under her skin annoying her.

I said, “Do you think it’s harder to knit for someone you dislike?”

She said yes. She thought in her case it was her fear that if she got something wrong, this annoying individual would find the one mistake in the scarf and hold it over her that she had given him a lousy present and that she was a terrible craftswoman. (She’s not, by the way. She can do just about anything. But based on what I’ve heard of this guy, he would do that.)

This made me wonder about my own aversion for knitting for myself, since as I’ve said before, I can’t knit for me. Projects that were previously dead in the water have had new life breathed into them once I decided to donate them. I’m filled with hope while knitting for a charity, and I pray for the people who will receive the item. But knitting for myself…it doesn’t work. I just don’t want to do it, even when I like the thing I’m making.

“Yeah,” my friend said about her own project (which she did manage to finish). “It’s hard to knit for someone you dislike.”

I haven’t knitted anything for myself since I made socks out of the sock yarn my Patient Husband bought me last Christmas. And after which, my knitting mojo was gone. Interesting thought. Rather disturbing. But it makes sense.

I’m still making hats. They’ll get donated. There’s a really pretty pattern with a soft, warm yarn I’m working on now.

What do you think, though?  Is it harder to knit (or write, or play music, or any creative activity) for someone you dislike?


  1. Ivy

    If I don’t like someone, I don’t give them gifts. Why would anyone?

    When you knit you give someone something that can only have come from you, from your hands, from your time. Something unique. When they use it, they’ll know you spent hours working on it for them, and that shows how much you care for them. Thus, it’s a gift of love.

    1. philangelus

      There are people you’re obligated to give gifts to. In my friend’s case, if she gives a scarf to Aunt X, Aunt Y and Aunt Z at the family gathering, then it would be glaringly obvious if she omitted Aunt Q.

  2. Namari

    I don’t make crafts for someone I don’t like. I spend the entire time resenting it, and then usually the person doesn’t appreciate it. I’d rather give a nice gift basket. I don’t exchange gifts with people I don’t like, though, so it hasn’t really come up. Well, other than people who I don’t like demanding such-and-such-craft-item for their birthday/New Years/Veteran’s Day/etc. I just say no.

  3. lbdiamond

    Yes, it is much more difficult to give of yourself, whether it be money (on a gift) or time and creativity (on a hand-made item) to someone you don’t like. That being said, not acting is just as important as acting–it represents a choice that you’ve made. I struggle with this myself. I am of the mind of, if I don’t like you then you won’t see me or receive anything from me. Recently, I’ve been reconsidering that stance. It doesn’t do anyone (either myself or the other person) any good to keep up that wall. It could be an opportunity of growth or self-discovery to make something for someone you don’t like–you could do some self-reflection about why you don’t like the person, or you could re-assess your stance toward them overall. Are they really as “bad” as they seem? Is their quirky habit really that infuriating? I don’t know, maybe so. These are some of the questions I’ve been asking myself. I don’t have the answer, but I hope this is a different perspective from which to view the problem.

  4. cricketB

    Making something for someone is a way of investing time in them. I only knit for people I like. I don’t have any groups that would compare to each other. My mother and MIL have very different tastes, as do my kids. I like everyone I exchange gifts with, so the question doesn’t come up.

    I have trouble if I don’t think it will turn out close to perfect. My current project is a faire isle laptop case. In the first chunk the floats were too tight. Then a chunk where they might be right, but after sitting a few weeks it looks bubbly. The current chunk varies. Short floats are probably too tight but that entire area is short floats, so it will look even. The long floats are … EZ said it’s easier to fix too long than too short, right? It’s no longer a fun experiment, just something to drudge through and see how it looks after blocking. I have my doubts. It’s not fun anymore. I’ve been lucky in that any experiments I did for gifts have worked.

    The projects that stall for years are all for me. My relatives are all very patient, but clearly look forward to getting the gift. I don’t stall. Also, they chose the pattern and materials. When making for me, I already have much of the gift in my hands as I enjoy the wool, work on a new technique, or watch the images come alive on the cross-stitch cloth. There’s also the fear of it not being right. I know I enjoy the making, but suspect the end result will be like half the expensive clothes I’ve bought over the years, so there’s no rush to finish.