Making Gifts for Others
Normally, I don't start out to knit or crochet something with the idea in mind that it will be for a specific person. Well, unless it's for me...and it's probable that I start out with me in mind for most everything I knit or crochet.
I have a miserable track record with finishing things that start out being for a specific person. Furthermore, it's worse if I the person knows I'm making something for them. Even if they want to pay me. Ask Marie who waited more than a year for some fingerless mitts. So that's why I just won't do commission work and why, if I am making something for someone, I try not to tell them I'm making them something.
Of course, if you make something for someone and have kept it a secret and not gotten any input from them, you run the risk of making something that the person won't like. Which creates all kinds of sitcom-type possibilities - the hideous afghan that is hurriedly pulled out when the maker visits, or worse, isn't found until the maker discovers it has been used in the doghouse.
I know someone who knitted a scarf for another and saw it later lying crumpled on the floor of the recipient's car along with accumulated detritus of fast-food wrappers and other trash.
So when I set out to make something for my daughter-in-law DeAnn, and determined to keep it a secret until Christmas...I knew I was taking some risks. I mitigated them in several ways:
(1) by making something she had seen, tried on and admired when we went together to a tea sponsored by my LYS, Riverwools and my LBS (local bead shop) Beading Paradise. Yarn and bead samples were given out, and lots of finished objects were passed around. One was the Chanson en Crochet from Wrap Style. DeAnn tried it on and looked smashing in it. I could tell she liked it a lot and I think that the impulse to make one for her came to me that moment.
(2) by telling my granddaughter Raven about the project, swearing her to secrecy, and soliciting her opinion on the color choice. Now color is another issue involved in Knitting for Others: I simply cannot bear to work with colors that I find irritating, no matter how much the other person loves them. So to insure my finishing the project, it's vital that I work in a color that is, at the least, not irritating. Love of process is a huge part of why I do what I do, so the process must be fulfilling and pleasing to me.
(3) by creating for myself a Rule of Non-attachment and No Expectation. I decided that any time I give someone a gift I've made, particularly if it is a surprise....I will give it freely, without attachment to either the object itself or the expectation that the person will love it, wear it, use it. And I will tell that person so! I will tell them that all I need is to know that they know how much love and affection for them comes with the gift and how much pleasure I got from making it and thinking about them. I will tell them that I will absolutely understand if it does not resonate with their spirit and that if not, I would like them to pass the gift along.
I know that the above all sounds a bit woo-woo, and perhaps even ridiculous and impossible. I'm sure that some will think it's just pretty words, that I couldn't possibly really feel that way.
But I do. And I can say that I felt an amazing freedom open for me when I thought that out. A freedom to make something for a particular someone, the opportunity to think about a person I care about as I'm planning, to hold them in my heart as I work. I will still try very hard to make something I believe they will like and, hopefully, love. But it's really okay if that doesn't happen, so long as the object carries my intention to them. It's okay if the object itself moves on.
That particular project for DeAnn turned out splendid all the way around. I loved working on it, and she loves wearing it. She recognized it immediately as the capelet design she'd tried on at the tea. It turns out to be a perfect little wrap for her to wear at work. She's a hair stylist and it gives her the extra warmth when she needs it, with all the freedom to move her arms she needs.
Here is DeAnn modeling it for me one day in her shop, The Parlor:
Because DeAnn finds wool uncomfortable, I made this in a cotton I love to work with: Manos Stria. It works up into quite a light garment compared to other cottons, and the softly shifting color variations are very pleasing to me (you can see them better in this picture:)
I used a leaf button:
The pattern is from the Interweave Press book Wrap Style
and if you have this book, do click the link there for the corrections downloads!
It's a good idea to do a search for errata or corrections for any books you get. Lately, it seems like every pattern I've been drawn to is one with mistakes in it. This capelet had some doozies, but luckily I realized that something was amiss with the pattern before I got to that part, so I had no frogging to do (do you frog crochet or is there another word for undoing rows and rows of crochet?)
Now here's the best news. This capelet pattern is available at the Interweave site for FREE!
And it's the corrected version....
Chanson en Crochet