Dear Clara: My Drawers Runneth Over!

September 1, 2017

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31 Comments
  • Check with your local hospital or cancer center. Mine has a cupboard which Chemo patients get to pick hand knit items from each time they come in for Chemo. Fingerless mitts are a top choice. If your facility does not have one, see if you can band together with a LYS or knitting friends to make one.

  • While I don’t remember the details, I am reminded of Kay’s swap with a friend of handcrafted items. Making a desired item for each other might be the solution.

  • Check out the Ravelry group, “For the Children of Pine Ridge,” for information about a worthy destination for knitted goods.

  • I’m not sure I entirely agree with her, but Marie Kondo says, “Presents are not ‘things’ but a means of conveying someone’s feelings. When viewed from this perspective, you don’t need to feel guilty for parting with a gift. Just thank it for the joy it gave you when you first received it … surely the person who gave it to you doesn’t want you to use it out of a sense of obligation, or to put it away without using it, only to feel guilty every time you see it. When you discard or donate it, you do so for the sake of the giver, too,” (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, page 108).

    • Some of Marie Kondo’s friends are super annoyed with her, lol. I think she’s probably right, but it takes courage to take her advice!

      • LOL!!!

  • Loved this one, Clara! I knit way too many shawls and scarves for friends who rarely if ever wear them. (We live in Texas, after all. The friends who live in Minnesota probably wear all of them!) I would be happy if they used them as gifts to pass along and in fact I even tell that to some of them. I also have one friend who uses them as interior decoration and that’s good too. I hope none of them feel burdened by my gifts. (But I will probably not stop giving them; sorry.)

  • Clara, such a kind and thoughtful response, and the other comments have some great ideas, too. Thanks for posting this — it’s making me think about how to be a better gift-giver and gift-getter.

  • I loved the response, but i also think that the it should be remembered that the giver gave the gift of her time as well as a gift made from nice materials, and the time should be honored. Please don’t toss it in a Goodwill pile, honor her effort by taking the time to find an appropriate charity which will ensure that it is loved and used. If you don’t know of such charities in your community, I can assure you that you LYS will, or do a little search on Ravelry to find such groups as there are many of them.

  • In my case I opted for the truth, which is that I live in a small space, am downsizing and haven’t room even for the things I knit. This, accompanied by expressions of gratitude that my knitting friend had thought of me, seemed to do the trick. Perhaps it worked in this case because the person in question expresses her own thoughts and feelings directly and that she has a number of other, non-knitting, friends for whom to make things.

  • I live in an area that gets rainy and cold from November through April-sometimes May! I knit way too many things when first learning and take them to the homeless center saying these have to be given for free to anyone who wants them.
    Hmm..makes me wonder about the gifts I HAVE given. I pick neutral colors and nice yarns-thinking I have good taste-haha-I like them, wonder if they did?

  • England has many more charities with little shops selling donated goods. My ex-husband told me about one of his girlfriends who made a dress and then didn’t like it so she donated it to one of these shops. She lived about a two hour drive from him. One day he was showing her around the town he lived in and she was shocked to see the dress she had made on display in the local branch of the charity she had donated it to. This was some six months after she had donated it. So, donating it miles from where the giver lives isn’t any guarantee that she’ll never see it.

  • This situation reminds me of the best approach I’ve learned to gifting handknits, and I think I learned it from Ann.

    If a good friend really admires something I’m wearing that I’ve knit, I just take if off and say, “here, have it and wear it” and if I really love it myself, I knit another one for me. But this way at least I know they really loved it in that minute that they saw it and I think they are more likely to truly enjoy it because they chose it themselves.

    People are funny old souls and I’ve had friends who’ve asked me FOR YEARS to knit them a cowl or whatnot, and when I show them the yarn they say, oh, that doesn’t go with my coat. And then I’m like, WE’RE DONE. (Nonverbalized thought, but some people really just need to shop for their own stuff.)

    • This is further proof of your brilliance and generosity.

    • I am always so happy to give someone the shawl off my back, (or my needles). That way I know I’m given them something that they want

    • Well, now I know how to steal all my favorite knits from you when I see you, Kay.

  • What sweet ideas, especially the various charities. I *KNOW* that I have given knitted gifts in my overzealous early-knitting days that were not necessarily appreciated aesthetically (though always received with warm gratitude and recognition of my projects’ time commitment). What I’ve learned over time – besides better knitting skills – is that clothing is a very personal experience for people, and most of the gifts I now make are usually when a friend/family has pointed something out to me that they like and explained what colors they like. Mostly, I now knit for myself (we knitters tend to worry about whether that is ‘selfish’; I stand strongly in the NO! category). I know what I like, my knitting time is limited, I know the value of the yarn, and I know I can frog it if it is really not working for me.

  • Surely, there is a way to say how much you love that she knits for you, the beautiful yarns…but somehow every time you put one on, you take it off before you leave the house because they aren’t quite “you” and there are (one? a couple? a few?) that you’re keeping to display or fondle or wear occasionally, what does she think of taking the others back to regift/you are thinking of passing it on to a specific recipient/the local nursing home/the frog bin for passing to Girl Scouts for recrafting…
    “Junonia, I was going through my dresser drawers in preparation for fall, and I have such a lovely collection of beautiful things from you. I was feeling terrible that I don’t get enough use out of them…”

  • I love knitting hats, but neither my daughters nor I wear them. So I donate them to American Cancer Society for chemo patients, where I know they are wanted and used. Win-win!

  • Clara, if a tsunami ever hits my little shack in central MA, I’m calling YOU! 🙂
    It’s never happened to me but I can see how being the recipient of a handmade item that one does not really love can be a tough situation if the giver is a good friend, or someone you’re likely to see often. And likewise, being the giver of an unappreciated handknit can be pretty miserable, as I think many of us learn the hard way. I now limit my knit-giving to people I KNOW really want the item, even if it’s a scarf I happen to be wearing – shoot, I can make another for myself. But one of my favorite things to do is invite a sock-admiring guest to choose a pair of handknit socks from my Magical Cornucopial Drawer of Brand New Handknits. It is an experience that a non-knitter is unlikely to have anywhere else – and makes me feel like some kind of genie 🙂

    • Brillant /Bravo!

  • My sister in law used to give my mother many strange items of clothing and accessories that she had knitted and crocheted. When my kids were small their granny passed these on to them to frog as a pasttime and then the yarn was passed on to others to reknit. In this way the (usually unwearable) garments found a purpose and nothing was wasted. My sister in law visited my mother rarely and was never aware of her gifts fate.

  • Last December, people in my office collected scarves, hats and mittens to attach to the trees for the homeless. They disappeared quickly–there is a shelter near here. I would imagine that in many communities there are alternatives to Goodwill or the Salvation Army if there is concern the item would not end up helping someone.

    I have a similar issue with a friend who sews and I sometimes order items for my children from her. She has made me clothes that I never intend to wear in public. I need to take a picture of myself wearing the sleeveless mini dress with horizontal stripes she just gave me. I will send her the picture and then put it into the back of my closet for now….

  • I am a process knitter so if I gift a knit item it was because I wanted to know it more than I wanted to gift it. If I give you a gift, knitted, quilted, embroidered, whatever, it is your gift. If the recipient wants to re-gift it then my real gift was saving you the trouble of having to buy a gift for someone else.

  • There are also organizations that gift knitted items to people who are ill or experiencing grief. I received a prayer shawl when my husband was in a care center under hospice care. Their organizations do hats for cancer patients. Check the internet to see what is available to you locally. You will also have to tell your friend about the donation “just in case” it shows up on TV, in print or in person.

  • I read all the comments and applaud those who donate their knits to the homeless or chemo patients but you have to consider the yarn you use, its care requirements, and the abilities of the giftee to have time, water, inclination to hand wash and dry flat a wool item. Sometimes, as sorry as I am to say it, acrylic is the way to go. I’m partial to the wool/acrylic blends for charity knitting as they’re soft and can be machine washed and dried safely.

  • I have a tendency to knit socks as gifts when in doubt, I’m currently knitting 2 pairs for a wedding present. What do you all think? I mean, I wear socks in fabrics that I’d never wear as an outer garment.

    • I should mention that I’m not a very fast or prolific kntter. lol

  • I usually tell recipients of my knitting to pass it along if it doesn’t work for them. A hat that I knew was probably too small ended up being worn by the child of the recipient; the child was about age 2 but loved the hat even though it was big. I don’t think the child ever wore the sweater that I knit for her, but she has young relatives that presumably “inherited” it.

  • Ever since my then two-year-old granddaughter told me quite clearly, regarding a sweater I had lovingly knit for her, “Bubbe take it home in the suitcase,” made several attempts to stuff it in my suitcase herself as I was packing to go home, and subsequently tried to flush it down the toilet when I nevertheless managed to leave it for her, I have requested input from the intended recipient (children and adults alike) regarding pattern, color, etc., before launching into a gift knit. It does eliminate the element of surprise but greatly increases the likelihood of the gift knit actually being appreciated and worn/used by the giftee.

    • You are a wise grandmother!

Travel Alert:

Join us for a festive dinner at Vogue Knitting Live Chicago featuring Clara Parkes and us! Friday, March 9. Details here.