Awesome knitting Christmas gift ideas?
November 11, 2010 3:55 PM   Subscribe

I want to buy my best friend a badass knitting gift for Christmas. I know nothing about knitting.

What would those in the know recommend as a gift, and where would you recommend getting it? She is a beginner (only started this year), but crazy excited about knitting and already making things that boggle my mind.

My budget is around $50. She lives halfway across America from me, so shipping costs may be a concern.

I have read this previous question, but it was posted in 2005 and a lot can change in five years!
posted by christie to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (33 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
A set of interchangeable needles runs a bit over your target, but it's the best gift for a relatively new knitter.
posted by amber_dale at 3:57 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm an experienced knitter and bought myself a knit kit, although I would have loved to receive one as a gift! Everything in it is useful to any knitter who has gone beyond making scarves. (No affiliation with the product, btw.)
posted by smilingtiger at 4:00 PM on November 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

Circular knitting needles! You can get plain ones (which are still fab) or swanky ones.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:03 PM on November 11, 2010

My wife is a knitter, and her favorite knitting-related gift (a.k.a. I see her use it all the time) is the Knit Kit - sort of a swiss army knife for knitters (scissors, measuring tape, row counter, etc.).

Here's a link to it at the Make store, but I'm sure many other places also have it, too.

And on preview -- yeah, what smilingtiger says.
posted by mattybonez at 4:06 PM on November 11, 2010

A gift certificate from Purl Soho would make me squeal with glee!
posted by antiquated at 4:06 PM on November 11, 2010

A nice book of patterns. I like books that are very thick and have lots and lots of different ideas, as well as books with lots of photos. You can order from Amazon, which would make shipping a breeze.

Some ideas:

Stitch & Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook

Last Minute Knitted Gifts

101 One-Skein Wonders

A lot of people swear by this little guy. If you chose this, maybe also send a pretty skein of yarn or some wee knitting gadgets like a stitch counter, yarn needles, etc.
posted by Sara C. at 4:06 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

A set of interchangeable circular needles would indeed be fabulous, but as they can be pretty expensive, a better solution is a gift certificate to KnitPicks! They sell good, inexpensive individual fixed circular needles that can be bought individually so your friend can get just the sizes she needs. Plus, they've got really great yarn and accessories.
posted by phatkitten at 4:15 PM on November 11, 2010

I get a tremendous amount of joy when I retrieve a set of needles from one of the three beautiful handmade cases I've been given over the years. The place I'm familiar with has closed up shop, but I'm sure there are plenty on Etsy, and I'd recommend something specified for double-points, circulars, or straight—if they're that specific about the function, they're probably well designed.

Otherwise, I refer to the Vogue Knitting for basic how-to reference of techniques. That's a great, authoritative, useful addition to any knitter's library.
posted by stargazer360 at 4:18 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Actually, it looks like Knit Picks has their acrylic interchangeable set for $49.99. Fixed circulars are annoying.
posted by amber_dale at 4:21 PM on November 11, 2010

If you give us a hint about where she lives we might be able to guide you to a local (to her) yarn store where you could purchase a gift certificate for her. I don't know what her usual yarn shopping habits are but $50 can buy some really nice yarn and some knitters are picky about what needles & notions they like to use. Plus, no shipping charges for you.
posted by camyram at 4:23 PM on November 11, 2010

I don't knit either, but a post on Unclutterer led me to covet these Etsy knitting needle cases. If your friend loves organization, she might like having a place to put her tools.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:29 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nthing the Knit Kit. I only bought mine because the shop was having a Going Out of Business Sale...but it's really awesome. It's got all the tools I could need in a very handy way. The only thing I don't like about mine is that it's white and pink. When I'm at my knitting group they call it my 'birth control.'
posted by Caravantea at 4:32 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

A ball winder.
posted by jon1270 at 4:33 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

I knit and MonkeyToe's needle cases made my heart go pitty pat. So awesome!
posted by chatongriffes at 4:37 PM on November 11, 2010

Has she tried bamboo needles yet? When I was new I picked up the cheap metal ones at the craft store. When I finally tried the bamboo kind, my knitting life was forever changed!

Also, the book Itty Bitty Hats is adorable and has lots of easy projects for someone just learning how to use circular needles. Also seconding the Vogue Knitting handbook.
posted by wwartorff at 4:38 PM on November 11, 2010

The interchangeable circulars get an A+++ from me. (I have the Knitpicks ones; I think the Denise ones are cheaper but I've seen some very bad reviews for them.)

Knitpicks also has an umbrella swift for right around $50, which might be overkill for a beginning knitter but I sure would love to get one. Does she buy yarn at a craft store or a specialized yarn store?

(Reasoning: craft stores mostly sell yarn in balls, which don't need to be wound. Yarn stores mostly sell yarn in skeins, which DO need to be wound and this takes approximately forever if you do it by hand.)

This depends more on knowing someone's tastes both in terms of color and what this person likes to knit, but one or two really great skeins of yarn would make an awesome present. E.g. Sanguine Gryphon, Madelinetosh, Sundara.
posted by Jeanne at 4:39 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

How about a subscription to Vogue Knits or Interweave Knits? Or both, for the budget you mentioned.
posted by werkzeuger at 5:00 PM on November 11, 2010

I was just thinking about how I would really enjoy a yarn swift and ball winder. They aren't cheap (dunno the actual price range) but would satisfy the really awesome requirement.
posted by purpletangerine at 5:05 PM on November 11, 2010

I'm a new knitter, and the knit kit looks like the coolest thing ever! I'm totally getting MYSELF one.
posted by odayoday at 5:06 PM on November 11, 2010

Ok, I just checked it out on Amazon. Looks like the ball winder is in the $20-25 range, and a swift is about double that. So maybe the ball winder this time, with some really pretty skeins of yarn. She can get the swift another time, perhaps.
posted by purpletangerine at 5:07 PM on November 11, 2010

I am a knitter and if you were giving me a gift I would like you to go to your local yarn store and ask some questions then pick out some yarn that you like. It might help you to know what kind of things your friend likes to knit and then steer towards the appropriate yarn.
posted by Ochre,Hugh at 5:11 PM on November 11, 2010

As a new enthusiastic knitter, I've realized it's more about the yarn than the do-dads when it comes to what gets me excited about knitting. I'd love a gift certificate to a local yarn store so I could pick out something for myself in the right quantities for the next project I want to take on.
posted by cecic at 6:31 PM on November 11, 2010

As a new knitter, i really wish i'd had the interchangeable needle kit that i later bought myself, and that lots of people have recommended.

Another good gift might be some really expensive wonderful yarn (like cashmere), but you'll want to be confident about your colour choices and/or ensure its exchangeable (which it almost certainly will be).

The knitting book that i found most useful when i first started was, surprisingly, Knitting For Dummies. I still refer to it sometimes, and when someone absconded with it, i actually bought it again. Its probably an awesome gift who's awesomeness will only become apparent with time, though.
posted by Kololo at 6:33 PM on November 11, 2010

Thank you all for the amazing responses so far! I've gone from having zero ideas to swimming in great ones.

My friend lives in San Francisco. Recommendations for stores local to her would be fabulous.
posted by christie at 6:59 PM on November 11, 2010

In San Francisco, ImagiKnit.
posted by Jeanne at 7:14 PM on November 11, 2010

Seconding ImagiKnit! Oh my FSM, I have spent my entire annual yarn budget in one go there. But. SO. worth it.

staff can be a bit snooty but oh my the yarn is sooooooooooo pretty
posted by smirkette at 8:55 PM on November 11, 2010

Wow, I didn't even know about the Knit Kit, but it looks awesome!

I have one of the handmade knitting cases mentioned above, and I love it. It holds a lot of needles of various sizes, and has a few smaller pockets that I use for notions like crochet hooks and stitch markers.
posted by lexicakes at 9:27 PM on November 11, 2010

I wanted to recommend against buying a set of interchangeable needles unless you've very aware of your friend's needle preferences. I'm a knitting junkie, but hate interchangeable needles. I've owned two sets of them (both gifts), and had extended access to a third set, and all three of them sat in the corner and gathered dust.

Yarn or gift certificates for yarn are always fantastic. If you don't like giving gift certificates, I'd recommend a Barbara Walker stitch treasury. They're sort of spendy--$30 a pop on Amazon--but they cover a ton of stitches and have bits of advice woven in. And maybe that doesn't sound terribly interesting or useful, but my experience has been that patterns of all sorts are a dime a dozen online, as are tutorials and articles about knitting.

Stitch patterns are much, much harder to find, but having a good source for them allows you to customize many patterns to your liking. Don't like the cable on that sweater? Just find something of a similar size in the stitch pattern book and swap it out! Want a scarf that no one else has? Find a stitch pattern that you like, pick a yarn, and off you go. There are plenty of treasuries out there, but Walker's are far and away the most comprehensive.

Sort of knitting-related, and maybe a fun thing to toss in, have you thought about putting a little drop spindle in with whatever else you give her? Many knitters also spin, and drop spindles are a cheap (seriously, under $10 to buy a low-end one) and easy way to learn. I wouldn't do this by itself, but it might be a nice little something extra.
posted by MeghanC at 9:39 PM on November 11, 2010

This thread from Dec 2009 has a lot of knitting gift ideas. It is geared toward the more experienced knitter, but it sounds like your friend is pretty capable.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:23 PM on November 11, 2010

This is my friend and she makes gorgeous needle rolls.

A subscription to Rowan Magazine for one year is about $50 at the current exchange rate. My then boyfriend now husband got it for me for Christmas one year and I squealed with delight (you actually just receive a pretty card that says you have been subscribed).
posted by like_neon at 1:59 AM on November 12, 2010

I can only just manage the knit stitch, but when I have some competency (and time to practice once I've finished a Christmas present) I'd love to make Ysolda Teague's hats. Her website has a pattern book you can buy.

How about a knitting magazine subscription? I know The Knitter and Simply Knitting are well regarded, although these are UK magazines.
posted by mippy at 9:05 AM on November 12, 2010

The best resource for any knitter is and it's free. Please tell her about it.

I vote for a gift certificate for (her) local yarn shop. That is sure to please, where some of the knitting patterns or books might not appeal to her.
posted by MichelleinMD at 10:34 AM on November 12, 2010

You could order your own custom yarn.

Note: Store owner is a friend of mine.
posted by funkiwan at 2:49 PM on November 12, 2010

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