December 10, 2008
This time of year, like everyone else, I suppose, I'm thinking about giving and gifting. In addition to two traditional gift-giving holidays, we also celebrate three birthdays. (You would think that having grown up with a December 25 birthday, I might have been better at family planning, but my daughters were born Thanksgiving week and New Year's Day.)
So here are my thoughts about giving this year:
1. Charitable giving. It's the end of the year, a perfect time for charitable giving. There are tax incentives, of course, but a lot of charities are suffering with the economy. So instead of some object that you're not sure your recipient needs or wants, consider giving a gift in someone's name. Even for kids this can be a meaningful gift, particularly if you work with them to choose a charity that reasonates with them. The reminder that they are, indeed, fortunate and can act to bring about change in the world is surely long-lasting gift. If you're looking for knitting related charity, check out Knitters Without Borders, spearheaded by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, or consider buying a sheep, a llama, or a whole menagerie of fiber bearing animals to help a struggling family move toward self-sufficiency through Heifer.org.
2. Experiential gifts. I'm very much in favor of experiences over objects when it comes to gift giving. That might be a membership to a local aquarium or museum, it might be guitar lessons or cooking classes. Book a a tour of to learn about your city's history or arrange a special picnic at a park.
3. Handmade. This is not really revelatory on a knitting blog, but even if you aren't feeling crafty, there are plenty of things you can make. Why not make a CD (or playlist) of meaningful songs for a friend? iTunes keyword search and genius gizmo allow you to find songs you never even knew about related to your pet-topic. (Try "knit" and "sweater" and "yarn" for instance.)
If you can't be moved to create something with your own hands, do the next best thing: shop at Etsy. If you've some how managed to miss Etsy up to now, go have a look. Etsy is one stop shopping for all things handmade. Like eBay, you can search for a general item and have hundreds of items from dozens of sellers pop up. Whether it's a handmade journal, jewelry, silk-screened t's, baby clothes or spinning fibers, the array is tantalizing. I'm always amazed by what I find. A necklace with a serotonin molecule, bracelets made from vintage aluminum knitting needles, some beautiful silk/wool/alpaca handspun, and cool fabric shopping bags are some great finds I made in five minutes of browsing.
So those are some thoughts on gift-giving this year. At the top, by the way, is some handspun that I had my newly 11 year-old pick the fibers for and card on her birthday. It's well on it's way to becoming a scarf. With the watery colors, I went with a classic and quick old shale.
If you want to make one, cast on 22 stitches for a smallish person or a biggish yarn or 33 stitches for a biggish person or a smallish yarn. My yarn is about DK weight and I used size 8 needles, so whatever you need to get a nice drapey gauge with your yarn.
Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: Purl.
Row 3: *k2tog, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, yo, k2tog, k2tog, repeat from * to end.
Row 4: Knit.
Repeat these 4 rows until the scarf is as long as your person is tall.