Dear Clara: Should I Say Something or Not?

March 6, 2017

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41 Comments
  • Excellent advice!

  • BRILLIANT response! Filing it away for later.

  • I made a tiny cotton sweater and hat for the birth of our first grandchild. Many pictures were taken and printed and framed. The outfit is inside out (I can see the seams.) Oh well, mum and dad were exhausted and there is a beautiful, happy baby inside those inside out items!

  • Such wise words. How did you get to be so smart?

  • This is the most elegant, tactful, well-written advice column I’ve see in a long time. I’d like read your advice on any non-knitting topic. Perhaps a second career?

  • If it’s as beautifully knit as the sample in your photo, I’d say nothing and just admire how nicely it was knit..

  • Beautiful response to an uncomfortable situation many knitters may find themselves in. I thought I would share what I do when I gift knitted items. After the initial unveiling of the handknit, I always sit down with them and tell them a bit about it… What it’s made of, why I chose that fiber or color for them, and I always show them which side is the ‘right’ side and how to tell. It makes it a bit more personal when they get a glimpse into my mind as I went through each step of the process to make something just for them. ☺

  • Great advice. I totally agree. I post pics of shawls I’m knitting on Instagram. Sometimes, I take a pic of the wrong side. For some reason, I don’t realize it’s the wrong side until my neice tells me very tactfully. I really do appreciate her letting me know.

  • Yep, that’s the way to go. “I love that you like both sides!” I have a pair of cabled socks that I made. Like the inside look as much or more than the inside!

  • My mom has worn a shawl I made with the wrong side out. Oh well! There are cute labels you can buy on etsy for people who knit and sew. (You could also use plain twill tape.) That would help to identify the inside of a hat. Not great for shawls, alas.

  • I have used similar (albeit diluted) statements like, “The hat looks great on you, and your know, you can wear it with the other side out – either way is fine.” What I really love, dear Clara, is, “Would you like a scarf to go with it?”

  • I agree whole heartedly, Clara!

    I knit myself a hat from Vogue Knitting that had cables and bobbles with a swath of stst. And then I quickly discovered given my varigated yarn it looked much better inside out. I never wear it any other way.

  • I was thinking abut how to phrase my response to her, thinking that probably a positive one would be best. Thanks for your suggestion! And the broccoli story!

  • Oh Clara! You are too wise for words. 🙂 Thank you.

  • Great comment and lovely wisdom, Clara!

  • As usual, your response is so wonderful, heartfully felt and sensitively composed. And, rest assured. If I ever catch you with broccoli or spinach in your teeth, I will TOTALLY tell you. Lovely, lovely post.

  • i have knit two baby blankets for a friend’s two babies, both lovely thank you cards have included photos of babies wrapped in blankets wrong side out, I love it, and the babies love the blankets which is the whole point. Relax, other knitters can tell outsides from ins.

  • This is a tricky one for sure! I have 3 brothers, and they love to wear the inside of the hats I make them facing out. Since they’re family, I know I can just say “hey, wear that however you want, but if anyone asks, that is the inside.” I have also had friends ask, when I give them a handmade gift, how they should wear it. My go-to response is “I’m not in the habit of telling people how to use a gift I give them, but, when I made it, I called this the outside”. I have always felt that an important part of deciding to give a handmade gift is accepting and embracing the reality that they will use it in whatever way they want, often in a way that you didn’t intend or anticipate. Frankly, my friends have styled their knits in some really cool, unique, maybe technically “incorrect” ways. I say let go, if you can! FREEDOM!

  • The saddest part of life to me right now is that people feel the need to comment about everything. Broccoli in the teeth, items inside out, etc. all part of being human. We need more acceptance and grace in our society.

    • Very, very good point Patti. We seem to be in an empathy drought these days. Also, here’s a laugh: Just this morning, on my way to the coffee shop where I am now working, I discovered I was wearing my cowl inside-out. And the world didn’t fall apart.

  • There are also some brands, Free People, that make the inside the outside of their knit items. Maybe she’s a fan?

  • If I react spontaneously to something – in this case, “Oh! I never thought of wearing it that way, but I LOVE IT!” – I think my sincerity probably overrides any possible negative interpretation of what I’m saying. It’s when I hesitate – worrying about how my words will be interpreted and feeling my social ineptitude to the core of my being, and then being all earnest and careful in what I finally say – that I get into trouble. (Sigh.)

    • Oh me too. The second I start to filter through the “I don’t want to sound like an XYZ or hurt this person’s feelings,” my tone and voice and words change and THAT’s when the awkwardness arrives. Sincerity and joy, always the way to go. If we can.

  • Left over from my days with little ones, a snip of brightly colored contrasty yarn tied to the inside identifys both the back and inside of a hat! Just point it out at the time of gifting. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her after the public display.

  • Clara, they just discussed this topic on GMA! Some star for some function had first dinner with friends, then was photographed on the red carpet, and all. However, the pics came out of her with a big smile and something like broccoli stuck to her side teeth! I think they said thst she tweeted that she’s looking for new friends because no one told her about the food being stuck in her teeth.

    • Ha! Too good and too true. Also, may we all be the friend we would like to have. Maybe the law of attraction will do the trick.

  • At the women’s march a woman in front of me was wearing a pale pink hand knitted cabled hat inside out. I tapped her on the shoulder and said I thought it was inside out. She immediately took it off and put it on right side out, and thanked me. She said a relative had knit it. It was beautiful.

    • *like*

  • I designed and knit hats for my son and his bride to wear on their honeymoon hike in Scotland. Knowing I would be offering the pattern at some point, I asked for them to take photos of them wearing them in the beautiful Scottish hills. Well, she wore the lace trimmed hat inside out in every photo, as she liked the tidy self edged brim rolling up, not under. She was right- it was a better look! I rewrote the pattern, but still cherish those original honeymoon hiker hat photos. 🙂 P.S. Any hand knit so nicely finished that the inside is wearable is the mark of my kind of knitter.

  • It’s cool that your question mark swatch at the top looks like a Q on the “wrong” side. Another example of the inside working as an outside.

    • I saw that knitting at the top of the column and thought, “Wow, what cool knitting. I wonder what technique that is?” So funny! Thanks for pointing it out!

  • Tell your friend that the hat can be worn either way!

  • Wise advice indeed. I often ask if I can pop a runaway tag inside the top of a t-shirt on perfect strangers…if I can do it quietly and discretely. I have always wondered after I’ve returned home with my slip hanging or something between my teeth, why oh why someone didn’t do me the great favor of mentioning it? It’s a far greater embarrassment, even if it is in hindsight, than being told so one can correct it early on, rather than wandering all day, hither and yon, displaying the offending mishap to all and sundry. I do hope she mentions it to her friend in private, however, and NOT online/publically, as so many seem to delight in doing.

  • Lovely way of thinking. Play it forward!

  • Well said!

  • Perfect! Very sage advice.

  • I love the way you addressed the question, Clara. It speaks to more than a correction it speaks to kindness. Thank you.

  • Brilliant, sensitive response.

  • Agreed is great advice, you need to say some thing before anyone else does and tells her you would have noticed, a matching scarf is a great idea!

  • Love your response! As always, thoughtfully and gracefully written. Here’s a rule of civilization I learned a long time ago–if there’s some gaffe a person can fix (bra strap showing, broccoli between the teeth), tell them about it. If they can’t do anything about it, say nothing.

  • Tactful, gracious, kind, and simple….a perfect solution….and so well written! Thank you!

Travel Alert:

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