Last night two of my best friends (Kathy and Denise) took me out for a very nice birthday dinner. We went to Busboys and Poets and unanimously decided to make it a monthly get together.
While the dinner was lots of fun and very yummy, that’s not what has prompted me to write about it. I was given the most wonderful gift: Kathy made me a scarf.
Now, not only does Kathy knit beautifully (she doesn’t think so, but she does), but I know how long it probably took, how much thought went into it, and that she cared enough to put both time and effort into something for me. Every time I wear it I will think of her.
Something that made me feel a little sad, however, was that Denise said something along the lines of, “I’m sorry I didn’t make you anything; I’m too intimidated because you’re better than I am.” (Not a direct quote, but the general idea.)
I’m sad not because she didn’t make me anything, but because she would think for even a moment that I wouldn’t treasure something she makes. (Denise is also a much better knitter than she believes herself to be… I have friends who lack self-confidence in their knitting.)
To me, and I believe to most knitters, knitted gifts represent four things:
When I give someone a hand knitted gift, I am giving them all of the above, but the biggest two components are time and love. The amount of thought and effort I put into knitting the perfect scarf or purchasing the perfect scarf could easily be roughly equal. What makes my hand knit scarf distinct is the amount of time I take to knit it, and the feelings with which I knit it.
I have never once knit a gift for someone that I rushed through angrily thinking, “why did I decide to spend 40 hours knitting this gift when I could have just gone to the mall and saved myself some time?” I instead have spent my knitting time thinking about how much I hope the recipient will enjoy the gift, the time we’ve spent together, the funny thing he/she said last time we were together, and how they make me happy.
I only put positive energy into a knitted gift, and it represents my feelings towards the person who I give it to.
Someone could give me the ugliest knit pot-holder known to man and as long as they spent time and energy trying to give me something they hoped I would like, I would love it.
A knitting story from the early episodes of the Sticks and String podcast comes back to me as I am writing this post. A woman wrote a short essay about learning to knit.
She knit a bright yellow scarf for her dad. It was so short he had to keep it closed with a safety pin, it had numerous stitch patterns in no apparent order (ribbing, stockinette, seed, a funky cable), and it was a very loud color. It sounds like it was as atrocious as a piece of knitting from an 11 year old can get.
Yet when her father died and she was cleaning out his house, she found that old scarf wrapped up in tissue paper and preserved with pictures and other mementos from his life. Clearly this raggedy bit of knitting was incredibly cherished.
It’s not perfection that matters in life, it’s emotion.
I hope that everyone who has ever doubted their ability to make something for a friend or loved one will consider doing so the next time. Whether you knit, paint, write poems or cook, find the confidence in yourself to try. The end result matters, but not nearly as much as the thought you put into it.
And now I’ll leave you with a picture of my new scarf:
Don’t you like how it looks like a little heart? It was totally unintentional. I photographed it in pretty poor lighting, but you can still see how lovely it is, and what great work Kathy did.