You are sitting with family members you only see once a year, and the only thing your aunt knows about you is that you are a knitter. Below are a few scenarios for how to cope with well-meaning gift givers so you can be gracious and educate the offender at the same time:
Scenario 1 – You receive one small ball of yarn: A small box opens up to an 87-yard ball of heaven, full of bamboo and silk and gorgeous color and…what do you do with it? You can say to the giver, “Where did you get this? It’s beautiful and I would love to see if I could get more!” or “None of the projects in my queue use this small of an amount of yarn, but it’s too pretty to just hide in my stash somewhere…thank you!” One ball of yarn can be used as trim for a sweater, fringe for a color-coordinated scarf, the flap of a handbag or backpack, the cuffs for a pair of socks, or even brim or body of a hat.
Scenario 2 – The gift is a commission to make something for the giver: Did your brother buy you two balls of Cascade 220 with a note that says, “I want a scarf made out of this stuff!”? If you have previously discussed it, this is perfectly okay; just help your brother pick out a pattern, and you are golden. If this was a surprise to you, then you can say, “You know, I am not sure when I can get to this because I have a list of other projects to make first.” Offer to teach the person how to knit, so he or she can make the item instead. Otherwise, later in the day or on another day, be honest with the person if you will not be making the item they want. “This tea-length coat you wanted is a months-long commitment for me. May I make you something smaller and we can take the rest of the yarn back to the store?”
Scenario 3 – You receive Red Heart Super Saver and you only ever knit with animal fiber: You can turn your thank-you into a lighthearted joke. “I usually only knit with wool and silk…it will be nice to make something that’s actually washable!” Acrylic yarn is excellent for making toys and other items to donate for church sales and school fundraisers. If you truly detest acrylic, bring it to your local knitting group, library, YMCA, or other place where knitting lessons are taught in the community and offer your gift up for lessons.
Scenario 4 – You receive animal fiber and you only ever knit with Red Heart Super Saver: Say, “Hmm…I’ve never used yarn like this before. Could be fun…thank you!” If you are allergic, you may want to tell the gifter so you do not get a repeat the following year. He or she may also want to just take you shopping for different yarn you can use. If not, then stash it away while you contemplate what to make with it. As long as you are conscious of the washing instructions, then you can head in the right direction with it.
Scenario 5 – You receive the ugliest ball of yarn ever spun: Colors are a challenge; even the best-intended gift-giver can be way off when it comes to your taste in color. If you receive a sweater-quantity of lime green yarn, say thank you and make an afghan with it to give to the giver the following year. If it is a ball of art-yarn, hand-painted yarn, or a colorway you just think is horrible, then give it a chance. Some yarns just look better knitted than they do in the skein. If you make something in seed stitch or linen stitch to show the colors working together, you may change your mind on the skein. If not, you have the first Christmas gift for next year already made.
Scenario 6 – You receive something you REALLY do not want: Tell the gifter, “Thanks so much, but I may already have this size needle (or whatever) at home. Can you tell me where you bought this in case I need to exchange it?” If exchange is not a possibility, then gather your knitting group together for a swap. You may not need a pair of size 8 straight needles, but someone else in your group may need them, and they may have a ball of yarn they do not want to exchange with you.
Scenario 7 – You receive a gift card: Score! Thank the person who gave it to you, purchase whatever you want, and get knitting.
No matter what your traditions, gift-giving or gift-getting style, or holiday etiquette may be, just remember that it is acceptable to whip out your knitting while everyone is opening gifts, and a polite “thank you” always goes a long way.
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