But... I maked these!
September 4, 2014 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Do people actually appreciate getting hand made knitted items, or are they mostly just annoying gifts? What knitted items would you actually appreciate receiving?

I have learned to knit and I love knitting. My awesomeness in knitting and skill development is swiftly increasing. Hypothetically I'd like to make some knitted items for some friends/family, but only if they would be appreciated and enjoyed. Not in a "I'm not knitting anything for you because you suck and don't deserve it!" way, but more in a "I don't want to give you gifts that you feel obligated to keep but actually won't use or like." I can make dishcloths if that is the most likely to be used and appreciated item, but they are fairly boring for me to make.

Things I would like to make for people:
- socks/legwarmers
- hats
- scarves/cowls
- mitts/fingerless gloves
- shawls/wraps
- small blankets/throws

So I ask you:
- Are hand knitted items something most people would appreciate or am I fooling myself?
- What types of hand knitted things would be most likely to be appreciated?

(and yes, I appreciate that it depends upon the person and that I should know people well enough to have a sense of this, but people are super good at pretending to like things. I can ask people directly if they would like a hand knitted item but people are too polite and wouldn't be so inclined to say "No" lest it hurt my feelings. So, yeah, I really can't tell...)
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Grab Bag (93 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
A few people knitted hats for my son when he was a baby. I loved the ones that were really soft yarn. I wasn't going to put anything rough or itchy on his head though.
posted by amro at 8:46 AM on September 4, 2014

I think to appreciate hand-knitted items, you actually need to know people who knit. 10 years ago, I wouldn't really have thought that much of them. Now that I know that each piece represents untold hours of labor, and that if it were actually priced according to the amount of work you put into it then it would be the most expensive gift by far, I would be beyond grateful.

So: Yes, I would appreciate it. But I am a good and righteous person with knitters in my family. Others? Possibly not so much.
posted by Think_Long at 8:46 AM on September 4, 2014 [15 favorites]

I'm a middle-aged man. To be completely honest with you, I would not enjoy receiving any of those items as a gift. The one exception I can think of is a hand-knitted blanket that I might place on top of one of our cat beds (though these covers typically have a short life, and we usually just throw them out when they get dirty, as they inevitably do).
posted by alex1965 at 8:48 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really don't like handmade gifts like that, personally. (34, female) I appreciate the thought and work that goes into them, but I would rather shop for something that I knew I was going to use.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:48 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would be appreciate gloves (particularly with finger flaps so I can have my hands free to drive) and also dish towels. But that is personal preference. I think you need to know the people you are giving to and what their preferences are, which is something that can't be answered by random AskMeFi strangers.
posted by tckma at 8:49 AM on September 4, 2014

I crocheted throws for a handful of folks last year and as far as I know, they all get a lot of use. I personally would love handknitted socks if they were soft and warm.
posted by SugarAndSass at 8:50 AM on September 4, 2014

You might be a much faster knitter than I am, but I would never knit socks for someone I wasn't sleeping with.

In my experience, if you are going to knit gifts, knit things like hats or mittens, something with a specific use, and much better yet if they live somewhere cold where they will actually use them. And don't do it if you're going to be disappointed if they don't seem to understand how much effort it was or if they don't like it/it isn't their style/they're lukewarm about it.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:50 AM on September 4, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'm a knitter too and I get not wanting to pressure people with handmade gifts they might not want but don't want to throw out. Honestly, it takes out some of the surprise but I might just ask. You're going to be knitting pretty far in advance anyway, right? :) Plus, it takes out some of the "are you allergic to wool" guesswork.

You could also see if they were knitters/knew knitters. Knowing the work that goes into socks, a pair of hand knitted socks would be really meaningful. But I'm not really a scarf person. So you're gonna get a whole spectrum of responses both here and from your loved ones.
posted by clarinet at 8:50 AM on September 4, 2014

Gifts are a funny thing; you should give what the person wants to receive, not what you want to give. So, if the person you are gifting your fine, hand-crafted scarf to would definitely love a good scarf, go ahead! If the person you're gifting your scarf to can't stand the awful itchy things, stop right there!
posted by fatfrank at 8:51 AM on September 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

My mother-in-law knitted me a pair of socks a few years ago and I loved them. Wish I could say as much for my mother-in-law.

I would also be appreciative of a hat, but otherwise not so much.

At least you are not planning to give people bottles of oil/vinegar with stuff in them.
posted by briank at 8:52 AM on September 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

Personally, no, unfortunately, I don't really like getting handmade knitted gifts. In my case, my skin is sensitive to some wool, so I can't wear some things without getting itchy. And I have pretty specific preferences as far as colors I want to wear, especially for things like scarves or hats. A blanket or throw might be nice, but unfortunately not unless I could pick the yarn myself....so, I'd recommend against knitted gifts. If you make little knitted stuffed animals, however, I would appreciate that...
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:55 AM on September 4, 2014

I think other people who are into crafting appreciate them more. I know I do, and I feel like I'm more likely to give homemade gifts to other crafters.
posted by missrachael at 8:57 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think you can set yourself up for being more likely to get an honest answer if you ask in a particular way. Like, don't ask "do you like knitted things?" or "do you want a hat?" mention that you are learning to knit and looking for projects to make and is there anything specific they might want. And emphasize that you really don't want to foist things upon anyone. Mention in your question that it's totally fine if they say no and don't name anything they want. This is not guaranteed, but I think it will help. Also, if you really want them to enjoy whatever you make, make sure to let them have input into the color and weight of the yarn (maybe not type of yarn since that can affect budget in a big way.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:58 AM on September 4, 2014 [8 favorites]

I always appreciate the kind thought and immense time and effort that goes into any knitted gift that I have received. But the knitted gifts that I have most appreciated were those that I have had some hand in picking aspects of - the specific type of knitted gift (leg-warmers, etc.), the color of the yarn and how soft/scratchy it is, the color, the particular design. For me, the lack of surprise definitely doesn't ruin the gift (in fact, I love the anticipation and seeing it in various stages of completion), and having some say in the finished product maximizes the chances that I will actually use it (it's something that I'm in need of, it flatters my body shape or skin-tone, it is comfortable to wear, the color matches with other things in my wardrobe, etc.).
posted by ClaireBear at 8:59 AM on September 4, 2014 [5 favorites]

- scarves/cowls
- shawls/wraps
- small blankets/throws

I would be most likely to love the above, because they don't need to be color-coordinated with much if I'm wearing them outside as fashion, but I can easily throw them onto my neck and shoulders and head if I'm cold in the house. Bear in mind that my understanding of clothes is just barely above a Homo erectus using pelts.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:00 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would love love love to receive any of those, but as I have hard time finding mittens and hats to fit me, I fear that someone who made one for me without using me as a model (or intentionally going large) would end up giving me something I can't use. Socks have that problem sometimes too, although they seem a bit more forgiving.

Friends have knitted me small cuddly toys and that's also awesome, but they have been very specific to me. (Like, a cat-octopus hybrid, a Doctor Who Adipose, etc. A random teddy bear would be sweet and the thought would be appreciated, but he'd end up on a closet shelf. Whereas my cat-octopus has pride of place on my desk at work.)
posted by Stacey at 9:02 AM on September 4, 2014

Mittens! I like mittens but store-bought ones are not NEARLY as warm or sturdy as hand-knit ones. I secretly try to steer the conversation in this direction when someone tells me they knit, in the hopes they will knit me a pair.

I always want more scarves and they are easy to change out with your mood and outfit, and the texture of hand-knit is cool. I also like shawls a lot but they're not as flexible as an accessory, so know your audience.

Loooooove throw blankets. And hand-knit baby blankets for my kids.

Sturdy little-kid cardigans (which are much quicker than adult sweaters!) are really convenient because you don't have to pull it over their heads, but surprisingly hard to find in stores! (It's all sweatshirt hoodies, which is fine, but not for like church or family pictures or whatever.)

I do not like hand-knit socks because the variations in texture freak out my feet, but my husband looooooooooooooves them, especially heavy winter socks he can wear in place of slippers around the house when it's cold out.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:03 AM on September 4, 2014

I'm a 35 year-old woman and I absolutely love getting knitted treats from friends. I am not a knitter or crafty in any way.

As others have said, it depends on the person and what they like. One of my dearest friends is a knitter of great things and knows I am active (and often doing so barefoot), so she has made me a couple of pairs of yoga socks and I love them. However, she tested the waters beforehand and showed me a pair she was working on and asked what I thought of them. By my "OH MY GOD I WANT THOSE!!!" reaction she knew she was good to make a pair for me too.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:05 AM on September 4, 2014

I love getting knitted socks because I hate cold damp weather and cold feet. If you know people who get cold feet (literally) you may want to ask them if they would like socks because OH YES PLEASE.
posted by pointystick at 9:05 AM on September 4, 2014

My sisters and sisters in law make scarves and mittens, and I wear and treasure them.
posted by BibiRose at 9:05 AM on September 4, 2014

I'm a 26 yr old male and I love hand made gifts. Even if it isn't something I really want*, I always appreciate that the person giving it actually gave up their time and effort to make it. It is so much more personal and thoughtful to be handmade.

I may be an outlier here, but I would certainly enjoy pretty much anything even slightly useful. Mittens, scarfs, head wear. You name it, if I could even remotely use it, I would certainly like it.

*one caveat to that: It should be something I COULD actually use. I don't smoke, so I would probably be offended to be given a homemade ash tray(as an example), but anyone in a remotely cold environment could use knitted gloves or hats or what have you.
posted by Twain Device at 9:06 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

For the people who are saying "No, I don't want it", are dishcloths any better, or still a no?

This does sound like a gamble, though. I am leaning towards keeping my knitting for me and my kid (custom one-of-a-kind Minecraft hats and mitts I am working on right now are making him crazy excited) and knit things for other people once I am sure they want in and aren't just being polite.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:09 AM on September 4, 2014

My friend knit my dog a little blue sweater and it delights me in so many ways. She took his measurements and used a pattern scaled to his size.

I also love hand-knit hats (especially with ear flaps) and scarves. I'd LOVE a blanket but wouldn't ever ask any of my friends to make one.

I sew and know the labor of love that goes into each piece, which makes me love them even more.
posted by barnone at 9:10 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I appreciate scarves and throws, though I don't always use them. (I have a very... bulky... scarf in slightly weird colors knitted by a friend who was just learning.) But throws, especially, can be stored in closets and used when needed, which is nice.
posted by jaguar at 9:10 AM on September 4, 2014

And no one's ever given me a shawl or wrap, but I'd likely appreciate one.
posted by jaguar at 9:11 AM on September 4, 2014

.....But....it really does depend on the person. If you have any doubt that people are lying to you, then maybe just...don't make them be a person you knit for.

If you're still uncertain, you could try a couple of approaches which I've done:

1. The grab-bag approach. One year I was totally broke, but had a lot of free time on a commute each day (reading on buses makes me carsick, and I faced a 45-minute bus ride home every day), so I just knit up a whole lot of different hats in different sizes and shapes and styles and colors. I saved them up in a big bag all year, and that was my family's round of Christmas presents - I just dumped them all out onto a table and said "pick the one you want". It was ideal, because that way they could actually pick the one they liked rather than having me thrust something on them. (And I NEVER would have anticipated my uncle would have gone for the elf hat, so it's just as well he got to pick it.)

2. Skip knitting as gifts for people you know, and make it a knit-for-charity thing. There are a shit-ton of different charities that collect knitted items, everything from blankets for Project Linus to baby hats for your hospital's NICU department to hats and scarves for the Christmas At Sea gift baskets to merchant sailors at Christmas, the Red Scarf Project for foster kids who are aged out of the system and are in college, and on and on. They won't be as fussed about not hurting your feelings because they'll be wanting anything.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:12 AM on September 4, 2014 [10 favorites]

These sort of gifts make me feel guilty because for the most part they are going to live in a box. I prefer to pick out what items I am going to wear and what goes in my house, and if I need a hat, I will go out and get one.
My mom sews for a hobby and while i do appreciate the purses she makes me (she tends to ask me about patterns and shows me her fabric), I only carry one at a time.

I haven't used a knitted dishcloth, but I use the potholders and dishclothes my mom makes all the time.
posted by florencetnoa at 9:12 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

A lot of hand-knitted items I see are made with outdated or non-classic colors, or use yarn that's cool as yarn but maybe doesn't work as a clothing item. I think a lot of knitters get really excited about COLOR! or yarn that's really exciting as yarn, but when you put it into a new context as a scarf, or hat, or even sweater, it's just too much or it clashes with most of the clothes a wearer would wear.

When I started teaching myself design, I tried studying color theory - basic lesson: no color exists in isolation, it's all about color combinations in the piece and between the piece and the environment. You can't just ask "what's your favorite color", hear green, and go make something green.

second lesson: color schemes have proportion; if you decide to do green, gold, and black, then you might want, say, 70% green, 25% gold, and 5% black. Or a different distribution - but it makes a huge difference.

third lesson: texture is important. With knitting, though, texture's pretty much taken care of (I'm just including this for completeness)

Then too, there are a lot of different colors of (e.g.) green.

Additionally, if someone loves green, they may have, for example, a green coat. If you're making a scarf to go with that coat, making a green scarf in exactly the same color might not be the best. Does the person wear black boots often? Then a black scarf might be awesome (plus black goes with everything --- or does it?). Do they have more of a woodlandy palette, so that they have a lot of green and brown, so that something like a red-fall-leaf color might be nice?

A huge part of creating well is sourcing materials. If you don't find the right colors at Jo-Ann Fabrics, look further. If the wonderful natural dyes you find at the farmers' market appeal to you but don't work well with the colors your friends are wearing, perhaps you could complement those colors with another color in the same item to set them off and make that soft brown/green more vivid.
posted by amtho at 9:21 AM on September 4, 2014 [10 favorites]

For a simpler answer to your question: it does depend on the recipient. My dude *loves* a slightly-uneven very brown scarf that someone made him years ago. He's very sentimental and will not part with it. The maker and he were involved in a volunteer activity together that he found meaningful, and he also is impressed with the fact that she made it with her own hands.

...which gives me ideas for my own Christmas presents...
posted by amtho at 9:23 AM on September 4, 2014

If you are going to the trouble of hand-making something, I would suggest that it should be an amazing and weird and personal thing that can't be bought, not just another striped dish towel.
On the other hand I would have some respect for a gift of a generic hand knitted item, just because it obviously took a lot of time, kind of the same way I would feel about an obviously expensive but generic gift.
posted by steinwald at 9:24 AM on September 4, 2014 [10 favorites]

I've received stunning pieces from expert knitters and crocheters who also have a great sense of color and style. These treasured pieces are made from very swanky ($$$) yarns and are gorgeous. They're very special to me and I'm quite thankful for these gifts. I've also received very basic beginner pieces from well-intentioned friends who are not yet very skilled and who have bought very poor quality, cheap yarn to work with. Those presents are not as treasured as they generally look messy and are itchy.
posted by quince at 9:25 AM on September 4, 2014 [5 favorites]

A sidewise answer to your question, but I've had especially good responses to hats, mittens, and felted slippers (all my gift recipients live in a cold climate). They're all quick enough knits that I don't feel bad if they end up in the "oops lost my hat need an ugly warm thing" pile. To me the greatest compliment is to be asked for a replacement when the original got lost/worn out/eaten by a snowblower. It means it's getting used! It means they liked it enough to want another!

I get better responses to things that are in some way tailored to the recipient. I knit my sister in law gloves that match a beloved hat. I knit a hat with owls for a friend's daughter obsessed with owls. I put the Trylon and Perisphere on slippers for my father-in-law who studies the 1939 World's Fair. That sort of thing.

I've had the poorest response to shawls. They are loved, but they get put in a special place and never used. Likewise to baby stuff, unless they're already knitters (heck, even then, there were items *I* knit for my kid that never got worn.) Doilies, which I don't personally care for but enjoy knitting, surprisingly go over better with my family. Oh, and holiday ornaments and toys have been good too.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:26 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

For the people who are saying "No, I don't want it", are dishcloths any better, or still a no?

I cook a lot and I think a knit dishcloth would be weird. Handmade items are generally something that you feel obliged to treat with some care, not use to wipe mustard off the floor. A knit dishcloth would sit unused in my house, even if you told me I could use it roughly.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:27 AM on September 4, 2014

One other thing, and then I'll stop.

I have a friend who took up embroidery some years ago. I don't have a great deal of use for embroidered items in general, but it's been truly a joy to see her work gradually improve year on year, and it makes me feel closer to her.
posted by amtho at 9:27 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think there are two ways you can give knitted things: as a thoughtful gift really made for the recipient, or as an outlet for disposing of the byproducts of your hobby.

As a knitter and a giver and receiver of homemade things, I think that the main thing to remember is that you can't expect people to like a thing all that much more just because you put a lot of work into it, especially if they are non-knitter/non-crafters. No one's going to be all, "That's my favorite dishcloth!" I mean, would you ever give this person a store-bought dish cloth as a gift?

In some ways, the extra work can feel like an extra burden: I would throw away this holey scarf, but SHE MADE IT and I must treasure it always. These socks don't really fit inside my boots, but HE MADE THEM so I have to at least keep them in my drawer. And of course with handmade things you can't exchange them for a different size or color.

Hats are universally my most successful knitted gift; they're pretty easy to make and at least in New England everyone can use an extra hat.

Baby stuff is also generally much appreciated, although I am very careful to always make stuff that is both machine washable and soft, because: babies.
posted by mskyle at 9:28 AM on September 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

LOVE the grab bag idea!!! That would be fun!!!
posted by pearlybob at 9:29 AM on September 4, 2014

It would depend. I am so super fussy on clothes & clothing & the textures of things so it would really depend on how well you knew me & what the item was & what it was made of. If you are going to make things for people don't just make them things they could buy so a plain wool scarf would be a no, but a fun funky one that reflected their interests would be great. Because then it's not just hey look I can make things, but hey I can make things personalized for you because I love you have this thing.

When in doubt if you live in a cold climate a scarf in soft wool is always handy, My father was a chef & his favourite thing for handling hot pans etc where squares knitted for him by friends & family using special wool. I inherited his collection after he passed and I love them and would kill to have some new ones.
posted by wwax at 9:29 AM on September 4, 2014

I'm always pained when knitters/crocheters put a lot of time into a thing and that's obvious and it is...acrylic. Or any other cheap low-grade yarn. It feels terrible.

I would swoon if a skilled knitter asked me what I wanted knitted and then knit that. And then of course I would be all "black or periwinkle cable-knit cashmere or merino scarf plz" and they would be all "OMG I like you but not $$$ like you" and that would wreck it. But if you're working with a generous budget with anybody, please, do bespoke knitting...!
posted by kmennie at 9:34 AM on September 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

You know, I'm a knitter and I have lots of very skilled crafty friends/relatives, and I STILL cringe when I get crafted gifts. I'm very, very picky about what I own/decorate with/wear, and people are very, very bad at judging my style. I think amtho also makes a great point, that the things that are fun/pretty to make are not necessarily those most likely to be used.

I would probably be more likely to keep and use a serviceable, basic handcrafted household item than an article of clothing. For instance, my mom likes to buy me tea towels whenever she travels. I am fine with this, as it keeps her from buying me ugly jewelry, and I'm not worked up about my tea towels matching the rug or anything, and I haven't had to buy myself kitchen towels in a decade. The loud, itchy scarf my mother in law made, the gaudy necklace, and the bright green felted purse all got "lost" in the last move.

I rarely knit for other people, and even then it's mostly been speed-knitting soft, warm skull caps in winter for men from dark/neutrally-colored wools. Those have generally been appreciated and put to hard, dirty use in winter yard work. But you know better than me whether the people in your life use/wear such things.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 9:36 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Can never have too many blankets and throws to snuggle under.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:38 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would probably like something like that, but not in proportion to the amount of effort spent, and in most cases I would just end up feeling guilty because I would have a pretty thing that was under-used and mostly just decorated the inside of my closet.
I don't wear knit mittens or hats; I much prefer polarfleece because I feel like the yarn lets the breeze through and doesn't keep me warm. I would like a scarf, but then I already have a bunch, so the thing that would be cool would be something different, like a cowl scarf or a neck-warmer with a button close. I wouldn't be so interested in a blanket, though I do very much like the two crocheted afghans that friends have made for me (based on their frequent visits to my living room and knowledge of the color palate). I have a shawl that my dad knitted for me, and I keep trying to rearrange my fashion style to find a way to wear it, with only moderate success.
I would be more interested in little household things; I did learn how to use hand-crocheted dishcloths (not dish towels, they're more like a sponge substitute) but it took an effort of will to shove this fluffy cute pink thing into a lasagne pan. I would like a mug coozie, or a potholder, or a little bag. Something small, so that if I end up not using it, or losing it, it's not a big guilty feeling.
posted by aimedwander at 9:42 AM on September 4, 2014

I would delighted by the gesture but probably couldn't wear anything if it were clothing or an accessory as I am hyper sensitive to most yarns and few knitters I know use soft baby cotton when they're knitting for grown ups. I'm also very picky about colors, and again, most of the knitters I know seem to knit what they want to give, not give what other people might actually want to receive.

If it were me, though, I'd be getting my knitting fix by donating hats, scarves, and blankets to local shelters and animal centers. They can always use supplies of that sort.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:43 AM on September 4, 2014

Answers to this previous AskMe on handmade gifts may also provide some guidance, as people include knit/crochet items in their discussion.
posted by needled at 9:43 AM on September 4, 2014

I'm a knitter and find the idea of knit dishcloths kind of gross. But I don't like sponges or regular dishcloths either. The germ factor is too high.
posted by cecic at 9:45 AM on September 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

I would love to get this IF! they were knitted out of something of a nice quality. I had a friend who would knit me scarves and hats from a cheap acrylic and I just HATE how it feels on my skin and I finally told her I didn't need any more winter wear. Which is black lie- you can never have too many awesome, home-knitted scarves or hats. But if you're a textile snob like me, it gets really expensive. I mean, just the yarn is probably $40.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:50 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Knit dishcloths sounds weird. My mom loves to give me dishcloths (not knit, fortunately!) as gifts. They're pretty, but I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with them -- I don't cook much and for when I do, I have a dishwasher. They mostly just hang from the dishwasher handle and then fall on the floor whenever I do the dishes. For cleaning counters, I use microfiber cloths, I got a huge box of them cheap on Amazon and they're much better at cleaning than the pretty dishcloths.
posted by phoenixy at 9:52 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

There was a person handing out densely knitted potholders at Burning Man one year and they are really great. Again, it's not acrylic or it would probably melt.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:52 AM on September 4, 2014

I tend not to like receiving stuff like that because I know how much work went into it and it is inevitably something I either have no use for (like dishtowels) or something that is so totally not my style (berets, why) or is very itchy (the previously mentioned evils of acrylic yarns). Also, as others have mentioned above, gifts received tend to be something the knitter likes themselves rather than something the recipient would actually wear.

Also it is very uncomfortable when you see the knitter later on and are wearing brand new items that you bought yourself while their hard work is sat in the back of your coat closet until the end of time.
posted by elizardbits at 9:53 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

As a 30-something guy (FWIW), I would love to receive a handmade scarf, hat or blanket from a friend. Functional and handmade? The best gift (IMO).

But I acknowledge that this is simply personal preference, and you're going to get quite the mix of answers based on peoples' experience (or not) with knitted items. The color or texture of the yarn you use may be a huge factor in whether someone would appreciate your gift or not--it would be for me. I recall getting little knitted toys as a child from a grandmother (I had never met) that I rarely played with because the yarn felt so weird (very cheap - almost as if coated in some kind of plastic?), frayed easily (I was honestly afraid of ruining the toys), and felt unpleasant on my skin.

Admittedly, I didn't realize the time and effort involved in knitting at the time, and since I couldn't really 'use' the knitted items I had ever received, I had a fairly low view of it until I had the opportunity to encounter very nice knitted items that were soft, clever in pattern/color and a delight to wear. I also have been able to actually see people knitting and now have a much greater appreciation for the time and skill involved.

So for me, if the colors were right and a nice soft yarn was used I would love to receive a blanket, scarf or hat a friend has knitted.
posted by stubbehtail at 10:01 AM on September 4, 2014

I'm a middle aged man who knows how to knit and knows the amount of work that goes into something (the fingerless glove I made for myself drove my crazy with the tiny dpn's. The best part about that self gift? When I finished the first glove, I realized I wanted a much thinner yarn; thus the singular glove).

I would feel horribly guilty receiving something hand knit that I didn't specifically ask for. But I'm a horrible gift receiver to begin with, so I'd 1) not appreciate the gift (excluding a miracle), while 2) knowing the amount of time/effort that went into the gift. Before I learned how to knit, I would be like Michael in the Office receiving the hand knit oven glove. I'd like to think that I might have acted nicer even if I thought the same.

Beyond that, for a lot of knit pieces, you really need to know the sizing well. I've made hats for my wife's oddly shaped head, and have had to undo rows to change sizing after testing on the model. For wash clothes, the knit wash clothes that we've made have only been solid enough for delicate face washing - for anything else, they fall apart much faster than puchased items (which are generally cost on-par with the yarn used.

If you absolutely want to knit gifts for people, perhaps consider one of the charities looking for knit hats for cancer patients - donate them in the gift recipients name. Beyond that, only do this for someone requesting something specific. And if they're not a knitter, don't be surprised when they still don't appreciate it.
posted by nobeagle at 10:04 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Unique and decorative/ceremonial items are often a better way to go for crafted items. When you make gloves, you're competing with every other glovemaker in the world. When you make a one-of-kind shawl which is not necessarily meant to be worn every day (or ever), then we're back on solid footing.

Too many times, crafted items are not quite right in one way or another. It doesn't make me any happier to have to file something away, and it wouldn't make you any happier to learn that your hat was sitting in a box.

Also, I'm sorry, but I wouldn't want knit woolen dishcloths. Dishcloths should be easily washable, highly absorbent, fast-drying, and expendable.

I'm not saying crafting never works out - big woolen blankets can work very well, some other things can work as well. Just, be careful, and remember what gift-giving is about.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:08 AM on September 4, 2014

I'm a (lazy and very part-time) knitter and I don't understand this dishcloth trend but I wish it would go away.

Winter scarves, yes. World's Greatest Slippers, yes. Anything else that isn't designed to bedeck a baby, no.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:10 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

If a bolero knit was to somehow find its way into my closet, I would be the happiest peeps alive!!

I would love knitted works more IF:

- quality of the yarn
(acrylic, garish colors = ugh; softer or thinner yarn = gorgeous)

- the size/style of the stitch
(large loopy or giant cable knit, repeating patterns, amaturish = ugh; tight & dainty knit = gorgeous!)

If you find yourself without a muse.... let's just say I wanted to get into knitting but my tendons thought otherwise... there is so much good knitting p0rn out there!

But I agree with people above, it would be best to ask them to point out something they would like, maybe even let them choose the yarn too.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:11 AM on September 4, 2014

I live in Chicago and am under the impression that I will never ever have to much winter wear. However I would want something thick, appropriately sized and something that is easy to wear with the stuff I already own.

I love hand made blankets and my mother is a major quilter, and she also knits and tats. But she had quilts go for 5000 dollars at auctions. Her skill level is unbelievably high. However if somebody have me a basic one color throw I probably wouldn't use it much. In fact I don't use the slightly misshappen knit one my mom mailed to me one time when she was bored.

But the quilt she made for my wedding is priceless. I will never llet that go.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:17 AM on September 4, 2014

I would love a handmade knitted item, provided the person making it knew me and my tastes well enough to make something that suited me. So a bulky pair of mittens? Not really me. A beautiful pair of knee socks? Yes! I also don't wear wool, so the person making me something would have to know that.

I know it takes the surprise out of it, but I'd be thrilled if someone said "I want to make you something! What do you want?" and maybe we could go shop for the yarn together (or at least online!). If someone just knitted me a scarf out of some random yarn without me specifically in mind, I'd doubt I'd wear it.

But I think these rules go for all gift-giving -- you likely wouldn't just go buy the first T-shirt you saw for someone, or just give them a book in a genre you knew they hated. Why should handmade things be any different?
posted by darksong at 10:17 AM on September 4, 2014

28, female. I would be very touched to receive anything hand-made, knitting no exception. Shawls and throw blankets are especially great; mittens and socks less so because hand-knit versions tend tend to be non-waterproof and bulky respectively.
posted by Cygnet at 10:17 AM on September 4, 2014

Also, I'm sorry, but I wouldn't want knit woolen dishcloths. Dishcloths should be easily washable, highly absorbent, fast-drying, and expendable.

Habitually dishcloths are knit in cotton, though.

OP: maybe I'd use a handmade dishcloth, but I'd appreciate it more if it was part of a whole set (towels, dishcloths, and a couple placemats or something).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:23 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, hit post too soon - the times when I've knit things as gifts, other than the grab-bag-o-hats, I would often pair the knit item with something else as a safety measure, so if they secretly thought the thing I knit was fugly they still got something out of it (i.e., pairing a knit facecloth with some fancy soap, pairing a knit potholder with a frying pan or a cookbook, etc.).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:28 AM on September 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

I tend not to like receiving stuff like that because I know how much work went into it and it is inevitably something I either have no use for (like dishtowels) or something that is so totally not my style (berets, why) or is very itchy (the previously mentioned evils of acrylic yarns)

Me three. I'm pretty picky on style, both clothing and home. I also don't have much space, being in NYC. If someone gave me something like this I'd be all FFFFUUUUUUUU because that's really not me, but I would appreciate and love the amount of work that went into it too much to throw away.

If someone gave me something like this, however, I would wear it every day. 😍

I think it's really a matter of "know your audience," and get/make gifts that appeal to their tastes and lifestyle.
posted by functionequalsform at 10:30 AM on September 4, 2014

Habitually dishcloths are knit in cotton, though.

I stand corrected. Still, my wife and I prefer to use off-brand shamwows. Since you asked, I still vote that I wouldn't want to have to make way for your nicer knit dishcloths, no matter the thoughtfulness and fine intentions.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:31 AM on September 4, 2014

I'm a 39-year old lady living in a chilly climate and I like handmade gifts - especially, say, a nice cozy afghan or a scarf. It would tickle me to think of someone I was fond of taking the time to pick out a color I'd like and then putting all that work into crafting it - I like the idea of having something that genuinely has a little bit of a person I loved in it. I would also enjoy having a one-of-a-kind item and being able to tell people that my friend/spouse/grandparent/etc made it for me when anybody commented on it. Come to think of it, I went through a couple of years where the top item on my Xmas list was "a homemade afghan with love in every stitch!"

Not sure if this would be a useful metric for you or not, but I tend to be a rather sentimental sap about things and people, and am not interested in fashion so I don't really have a style you could run the risk of violating; maybe folks you know who are like that would be more likely to appreciate a hand-knitted gift?
posted by DingoMutt at 10:35 AM on September 4, 2014

Pretty much unqualified no from me. I do appreciate the effort and never resent people for gifting that stuff, but I never ever use them and it's awkward to throw it out (again, time and effort is respected!), but then it's clutter and I hate hate hate clutter. So it usually goes in my "sentimental crap" storage bin for now, probably toss the whole thing next time I move and hope the knitters have forgotten about them by then.

I could theoretically imagine getting a knitted gift I actually enjoy and use - maybe a super-soft scarf, blanket, or mittens in colours I like. But it's never happened yet - everything I've ever gotten has been that horrible "generic knitted stuff" texture. I don't care about the ugliness as much as the texture, although the ones I've gotten have been invariably ugly as well. I assume super soft yarn exists, though probably expensive (cashmere? some space-age material?).

I like the idea of asking people beforehand in a low-pressure way what kind of thing they would be likely to actually enjoy/use, since it very much depends on the person, as you see in this thread.
posted by randomnity at 10:41 AM on September 4, 2014

I should add that if someone did ask me beforehand what kind of things I'd like, listened, and made me something that I actually liked enough to use regularly (maybe a scarf in a yarn I like, ideally one that I have both seen and felt beforehand since I'm overly picky about colour/texture), I would be completely thrilled and treasure it always.
posted by randomnity at 10:48 AM on September 4, 2014

Yeah, dishcloths are really sort of a "you either use them or you don't" kind of thing. It's not as ubiquitous an item as a hat or a scarf (everyone who lives in a given regions can get cold in winter). I think the biggest reason knitters are all over them is because they're small.

There's one area in which it seems that knitters have a bit more freedom to indulge of their craft and generosity - baby stuff. No matter whether it's a really intricate cabled sweater or whether it's some cheap-and-cheerful cotton thing, it's gonna get used, and it's gonna be outgrown quickly, so no matter what condition it's in it'll be appreciated. Even the stuff they probably think is a little tacky - there will come a day when everything else in the house has been pooped on because of three straight days of diaper blowout and they haven't had a chance to do laundry yet, and they'll be all "oh wait there's that sweater, it's kinda 'meh' but WHO CARES AT LEAST IT IS CLEAN". Plus something always comes over people when they are looking at baby clothes because d'awwwwww they're so tiny look how adorable, so that gives you an extra measure of goodwill towards your work.

Also, baby stuff being small means you can produce it way faster too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:48 AM on September 4, 2014

I would love hand knitted things, as long as they were of a size that they were not burdensome to wash by hand.
posted by corb at 10:50 AM on September 4, 2014

I'm a knitter, and I've made people gifts with varying degrees of success.

Baby sweaters are always a win (I only knit baby stuff in super-soft, organic cotton). I mostly knit cardigans and moccasin-style slippers for babies, which both seem to go over well. Blankets are good too, but get expensive given my yarn preferences.

Fingerless mitts have gone over best for adult gifts - I've gotten a good reception from my mechanically inclined uncle who's impossible to buy gifts for (dark grey, cabled), my friend who's always freezing in her office (soft cotton, striped), my sister-in-law whose style runs a little 80s.

Hats have been mixed - some people love them, some people make fun of you for giving a hat as a gift (ahem, my dad, even though it was specially sized for his giant head and in really soft yarn).

Scarves have not been winners. I've tried everything from super-soft, pillow-y yarn to lace, and I don't think I've seen a single person wear one -- even when they asked for me to make them a specific scarf and chose the yarn.

I pretty much only knit baby stuff as gifts now unless someone asks for something specific. It seems to be a successful policy.
posted by snaw at 10:52 AM on September 4, 2014

Things I have learned:

- All gifts need to make sense for the recipient. I only give knitted things to people who already own and wear handknits (self-made or bought or received) and choose stitches and fibers and colors based on what I already have proof they like. No non-knitter will ever wear a knitted thing that is the slightest sartorial stretch for them—precisely because it looks like you're wearing an unwanted gift.

- Even if a person likes store-bought knitted things, it can be hard to match up handknits and non-knitters because most handknitting designs are specific to handknitting. They don't generally resemble ready-to-wear knits; they are designed to be interesting to knitters. It's an aesthetic language non-knitters don't speak, and overall it comes off to them as "that looks home-made". Consider kettle-dyed solid yarns, which I adore for their richness and depth. To non-knitters, kettle dyeing looks like a mistake, not a feature to flaunt.

- To expand on that, the stuff that's really boring to make is often the most successful gift (and to be honest, the stuff that I wear most often, too). Stockinette stitch hats. Moss stitch cowls. Plain mittens in a fine gauge. Boring but much more wearable. Many of the things that are Things for knitters—crescent lace shawls (or any lace shawls, really), shrugs, socks that aren't plain, garter stitch anything, etc.—aren't Things for many other people. When's the last time you saw a non-knitter wearing a hood or a scarf that had a right side and a wrong side?

- Some generic projects that can work for lots of different people, but again—only people who are likely to wear stuff/use like this anyway. Simple cowls—long and textural with moss stitch in a thick squishy roving, infinity-style, for a trendier feel or classic and shorter in a lightweight, plain double-knit. Simple watch caps in reverse stockinette stitch and a deep single rib band. Wristwarmers, sometimes, for the right person. Square nesting soft boxes in twine or rope.

- Sometimes people who would otherwise love a knitted gift have a weird thing about not spoiling handmade items. Make it obvious that things are meant to be used, use superwashes and cottons that can be machine-washed, include simple instructions, and don't give anything that requires onerous care unless you're willing to do it (lace that has to be re-blocked with washing, for example).

- The grab bag is a smart. Another way to do it is to take "orders" from regular gift-ees in early Fall and then decide on projects and colors together.

Good luck, and have fun!
posted by peachfuzz at 10:55 AM on September 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

I have enjoyed making blankets for Project Linus when I want to knit but don't know what to make. None of my friends have ever seemed to enjoy or appreciate things I've knit for them. I'll never forget giving my friend a really nicely made cowl from merino wool - one she had complimented when I made a similar one for another friend! - and she literally put it in her dresser drawer in front of me and never looked at it again. Ow. Never again will I knit for a friend. Those little knots just build expectations whether we think they do or not!
posted by sockermom at 10:56 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a really flipping long scarf that a friend made for me a few years ago that I wear all the time. (It's about as long as I am tall, and that makes it awesome.) The color is not my favorite, but I love the length, the soft lovely wool, and the thought that went into such a delightful present.

That said, I live in Florida, so no matter how much I like this scarf, it's only getting worn 2-3 months out of the year, and that's only because I live in North Florida.

A few of my friends knit, and they'll do scarves for charity auctions now and then, and another one did the coolest hand-knitted scarf for a costume, but otherwise, they know where we live and that everybody really doesn't need a closet full of scarves.

So, definitely nth-ing know your audience. I'd really like a blanket, maybe. Socks are popular (but difficult, from what I understand). I'd feel weird about dishtowels.
posted by PearlRose at 11:05 AM on September 4, 2014

If you don't mind an admittedly iffy suggestion: my first dog loved soft toys, and was almost weirdly gentle with them. The dog we had growing up was also gentle with toys, and had an entire set of hand-knitted stuffies her first owner had made for her. As kind of a crazy dog lady, I would have LOVED it if someone had made my pup a special toy - that would probably win even more points than making something for me.

This is dependent on the dog, however - our current little vortex of chaos would have a handmade toy apart in half a second, and then I'd just feel bad (actually, someone DID get her a really cute knitted dinosaur ... that lives on a bookshelf, safely out of her reach). There's also the risk of a dog eating parts of it, if they're that type of dog. If you do know someone whose dog likes to play but not chew up cuddly toys, though, you might consider making them something.
posted by DingoMutt at 11:12 AM on September 4, 2014

Assuming Christmas gifts to friends who celebrate Christmas, small knit ornaments, stockings (maybe geared for their pets?), treeskirts, etc. might be an avenue to explore, at least for friends who don't do glammed-out Christmas decorations.
posted by jaguar at 11:13 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Or cat toys, if you don't mind your creations getting chewed. They'd certainly get used. Though you'd probably want to felt them, and I have no idea how complicated that is or if it's something you'd even want to do.
posted by jaguar at 11:15 AM on September 4, 2014

I would use a scarf, if it was in decent non scratchy yarn and a colour that goes with stuff I already wear. Especially if it was a little decorative accessory type scarf rather than one I can only wear when it's freezing and I'm outside.

I DO wear a cardigan that was custom knitted to my measurements, as a replacement for a specific other cardigan that fit and suited me perfectly but was terribly made and fell to bits. It's a very plain grey fitted work cardigan, in an expensive washable merino, and required modifying the pattern quite a bit to remove a shawl collar and contrast stripes and other strange rammell.
posted by emilyw at 11:16 AM on September 4, 2014

I have two close friends who are amazing knitters and they most just knit for themselves because they simply find it too depressing to spend many hours on something that is not appreciated (not to mention the cost of nice wool). The exceptions are: a baby blanket/baby clothes for a new baby; small things that don't take much time (like a headband if you've noticed a friend wears headbands); large projects specifically commissioned by the recipient (my husband got a cable knit sweater and it is basically the last birthday present he'll ever receive from this friend because it was so time consuming).
posted by betsybetsy at 11:24 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's the method that I used with all my children's daycare teachers this Christmas, with great success. They already knew I knit, because they had seen me doing it or seen my kids wearing things I had made. A couple months ahead of time, I said "I'd really like to thank you for all that you do for my child. Would you like me to make you a small knitted accessory, like a scarf, or a cowl, or a hat?" If the answer was yes, then I'd ask what type or color, and if they wanted a certain kind of fiber.

Then I had a ball searching out the most beautiful, softest yarn and the most suitable pattern and made the items. All were enthusiastically received, at least to my face. These projects were small, didn't take me more than a week or two. The kicker was that these weren't cheap items: two balls of cashmerino for a hat came out to almost $50. But everyone loved theirs, and I hope that they can get some use out of them.
posted by Liesl at 11:32 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have knit presents for my parents. I am 100% sure they were appreciated. I gladly accept handmade gifts made by people who have sprung from my loins. At the moment such items tend to be covered in glitter and glue. This particular set of relationships gets a free pass for handmade items.
posted by bq at 11:32 AM on September 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Knitted cat toys: be super careful that the cat can't/won't unravel the toy and eat the yarn. This could be pretty bad for the cat. Learn more about cats eating string if you don't think it's serious :)

However - similar to cat toys are... Christmas ornaments! Also: knitted finger puppets.
posted by amtho at 11:58 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Inspired! To my short and snobby list of acceptable knitted goods, I would like to add: Christmas ornaments. I will happily put them on my Chanukah bush.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:21 PM on September 4, 2014

My secret quonsor two years ago sent me a knitted.... oh man I dont even know what to call it. An ear wrap? Like a strip of warm softness that you tie around your head and it just covers your ears. I absolutely love it and have gotten so many compliments. So I would totally accept more of those from people. I have a ton of hats but... I don't have any other soft ear wrap things.

My point is, I like getting unusual, yet still functional, knit stuff!
posted by silverstatue at 12:37 PM on September 4, 2014

I have a friend who has knitted me things that would make you cry with envy.

Here's how she does it:

She talks a lot about her projects.

She knows my interests.

She shows me things she's planning to knit.

She asks my advice about her projects.

So it comes up in conversation "this is nice" or "that is nice" AND she's also quite eager for suggestions.

Here's the important thing, I think: she is pretty advanced, loves a challenge, and likes to do the really out-of-this-world stuff.

She has made me stupendous things just because I sent her a link that said "look at this stupendous thing" simply because I thought it would be interesting to her and the next thing you know... :-0 I have to be careful what I say lest I end up taking advantage!
posted by tel3path at 12:42 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, tel3path reminded me - paying attention if someone else sees you knitting and comments upon it can also give you a lead. I was working on one of my grab-bag-o-hats in my old theater company office, and my friend/business partner saw me and asked about it. I told him about the grab-bag-for-my-family bit.

But then he said "I really like those colors," and I made careful note of that and silently resolved to use the leftovers from that current project to make a hat for him as well. He indeed liked it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:45 PM on September 4, 2014

Just adding this to the pool of data: I'm in my late 30s. Don't know how to knit. Pretty dumb at a lot of things. Like knitting. Have received knitted gifts in the past. Would say: it's all in the wording and presentation for blockheads like me.

eg: I was given a hand-made blanket in the past. Damn thing seemed sized for a baby or something. If I were sitting with my legs outstretched, it'd be enough to cover the lower half of my body, minus my damn feet. If it was given to me with "here, it's a blanket!" I'd just have been like "mmmok. Thanks." Instead, it was given to me with "here, it's a MOVIE blanket!" And I don't know why, but now it's the best goddamn movie blanket in existence and I pretty much use it every time I sit down to watch a movie.

Anyway, I love movies. So if I were to receive anything knit and they were, say, MOVIE socks, or a MOVIE hat, I'd be totally blown away. Movie sweaters or movie scarves make less sense, tho.
posted by herrdoktor at 1:07 PM on September 4, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm a compulsive knitter, and for the last five years or so, almost all the gifts I've given to family or close friends have been knitted. This is entirely because I know people well, though, so I know that my in-laws have perpetually cold feet, that my mother and her sisters will always love scarves and shawls, that my father doesn't like knitted things at all, etc. So last winter, my mother got a fancy shawl, my mother-in-law got a simple one, and my father-in-law got socks made for his giant feet; yesterday my favorite aunt got a small shawl for her seventieth birthday.

When you're not giving things like socks or shawls (that is, when you're not giving things with a clear time investment), I find that knitted gifts work best as part of a gift--so knit hat, plus [other thing], say. Small knit items like dishcloths and hats are often read as cheap when they're presented on their own.
posted by MeghanC at 1:29 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes to Christmas ornaments and finger puppets!

Rather than tea towels, I am always looking for good trivets.

Otherwise, I am a picky (read: somewhat controlling) person and I don't like people giving me decorations for my house (unless it's something I have specifically mentioned I want/need). This is likely born of the years that I had to display yarn art (though, not knitting) in my home every time my grandmother came around.

I am also super picky about the colors I wear, so if you're going to give me something wearable, for goodness' sake don't give me something bright red if you never see me wear bright red. There's a reason.
posted by vignettist at 1:34 PM on September 4, 2014

I'm a crocheter. Well, sort of. I crocheted one thing one time.

I wouldn't want mittens or scarves, just out of personal preference. What I would kill for is a tightly knitted woollen hat that fits my head properly. Something that has an obvious front and back, with a longer bit that covers my ears and the back of my neck. In some garish colours with a pompom on a string. If someone told me they were making something but gave me a chance to have some input as to how t would look or fit or what colour it would be, I'd be a happy bunny.

Because I have an idea of how it would take to make something like this, I would never ask for one. I would love to receive one, though.

When I was a kid, various relatives would knit cardigans and jumpers and such for me as an expression of love. As a kid, I hated getting these gifts because I couldn't wear them without being teased and because they'd been forced on me. The only time I got one I wanted was a jumper that had what I think is called a "fisherman's rib" pattern on it. I was about seven years old and I'd seen a character on a TV show who was wearing such a thing, and finally had something I could point to and say "this is what I want". I wore that jumper even when I was teased about it, I think because it was something I'd chosen, down to picking out the pattern and visiting the wool shop to pick out the wool. The canary yellow jumper with the buttons on the neckline did not go down well when I was fourteen.
posted by Solomon at 1:41 PM on September 4, 2014

I'm a knitter, and the list of people I knit for is very, very small, with good reason. I take the view that it is not my family and friends' responsibility to subsidize my hobby, and I only give knit items away to those who I know will appreciate them.

My family? No, definitely not. They might appreciate the effort, but they'd rather have other stuff and the hand knits would end up in a closet. My fellow-knitter friends who have been openly lusting over my past projects? Sure, I'll knit for them, but only if I know it's a slam dunk, because they're just as, if not more picky than me! My nephew who actively requested that I knit him some fingerless mitts? For that instance, yes, of course, but otherwise no, because he usually doesn't care about 95% of the stuff I knit. In the end, I almost always knit for myself or for my adoring husband, and I've found that's loads better than forcing my hobby on other people.
posted by Diagonalize at 2:26 PM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

As a failed knitter, I would appreciate the work that went into any of these and would wear the wearables *if* they were in a fiber that would absolutely not ever itch. Well, not a hat, but not because of it being handmade, just because of it being a hat.

One of my kids had a hooded cardigan as a toddler that was wool knit but with cotton jersey lining so the wool never touched her skin. That thing was GREAT. It was commercially made, though; maybe not within the capabilities of a home crafter.

I really like the trivet idea; have a couple myself, crocheted actually I think, and they get used. I like that they're in neutral colors and have some decorative work at the edges.
posted by lakeroon at 3:02 PM on September 4, 2014

I've never knit a dishcloth (I primarily knit hats and scarves), but I've crocheted more than a few and I use them all the time. There's lots of patterns out there that take an hour or so and provide a lovely knobbly little cotton cloth that's great for scrubbing your pots and pans. And I would love to get more as a gift.

(In my world a dishcloth or dishrag = small square to use wet for washing dishes and a dishtowel = twice the size of a dishcloth made of absorbent cotton to use for drying dishes. Sort of like the difference between a washcloth and a hand towel.)
posted by elsietheeel at 6:12 PM on September 4, 2014

What Diagonalize said. I had to learn the hard way (for years) that almost all of my family does not give a shit and I shouldn't bother unless someone specifically asks for stuff and otherwise indicates they like that sort of thing. It might behoove you to ask someone in a crafty sort of way months before the holidays if they are into that or not.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:22 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

For those people wondering about the utility of dishcloths, an alternate use I have found for them is as a protective layer that allows me to stack non-stick pots and pans in my kitchen cabinets. I knit the dishcloth large enough to extend over the bottom and sides of a pan and place them on non-stick pans. I can stack another pan or pot on it, saving me storage space and also protecting the non-stick surface. Although at this point it starts approaching the above definition of dishtowel with respect to size.
posted by needled at 6:50 PM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Something my mother does to judge people's interest in knits is to offer to knit people whatever they want if they provide her with the yarn and the pattern. She's happy to consult about what yarn would be appropriate for a given thing and how much she'd need and so on, but the recipient has to go out and buy it. That's a significant roadblock for people who don't really want the item but it's a very generous offer for someone who would LOVE homemade socks or whatever but can't knit or doesn't have time themselves.
posted by lollusc at 11:33 PM on September 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm late to the game but wanted to jump in because I craft, too, and because I always enjoy seeing your posts around the boards!

It's funny you asked about dishcloths because they are pretty much the one knitted thing I don't like but, then again, the knitted dishcloths might be the one knitted thing some others want! ;-) I think it's good that you ask people to be honest -- I do this, too -- although it can be tricky. Over the years I've narrowed down my craft-gift recipient list. Something I didn't even realize is that sometimes non-crafty people feel overwhelmed/guilty because they love what you do but can't imagine being able to make something as nice in return. (Of course, neither you nor I would expect that as we like our friends as they are but ykwim.)

I agree with previous posters that crafty people tend to appreciate crafty gifts most, although it does depend. I wholeheartedly agree with tel3path's wisdom above on gauging (ha, no knitting pun intended) people's interest. If you're OK with long-term gifts, letting people pick out the yarn themselves is ideal; I love all knitted items but not all colors or patterns (however, being a crafter myself, I'm perhaps choosier than most and not necessarily for better.)

And if all else fails and you're really unsure what to do with a finished item, MeMail me and we can do some sort of crafty MeFite exchange. (Really!)
posted by smorgasbord at 4:25 PM on September 10, 2014

Oh, one more thing from reading the humorous (and slightly painful points!) that Diagonalize and Solomon made... I can say that knitted/crocheted stuff is definitely coming back in amongst many fashionable teens, like dorky-cool Christmas-ish sweaters for guys and lacey tops for girls, etc. I'd always check first but you might have your perfect recipient in a teen friend or relative!
posted by smorgasbord at 4:36 PM on September 10, 2014

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